My advice to those who have been or will be burglarized is not to invite a security system salesperson to your house the next day. Please, I beg of you, learn from my mistake.
I knew before the meeting with said security system salesperson that he/she would use the break-in to prey on our feelings of vulnerability. I knew it, I was uncomfortable with it, but I was unprepared for the near comic genius of the hard sell.
Let me explain. First of all, the salesman the company dispatched to our house was Milton from Office Space.
I wish I were kidding, and I hate to judge a person on their looks, but when you’re wearing giant, square glasses and pants that buckle around the center of your beer gut, you make a bang-up first impression. I’m quite certain that salespeople understand that presentation is very important, and as the events I am about to describe unfolded, both my husband and I realized that every detail, right down to the man’s orthopedic shoes, was part of an extremely rehearsed presentation.
The pitch was amateurish at best. It involved an iPad, a Powerpoint-like slide show, and the salesman stumbling to remember his lines. Being the upstanding and well-mannered societal members that we are, Shaun and I listened very politely. We even let this stranger walk around our house and describe the various ways intruders were going to break in, all a gimmick to instill fear and jack up the price of installation with numerous window sensors.
By the time the guy got to the YouTube video that was supposed to demonstrate how we were all going to die in a fire unless we bought their “superior” fire alarms, I’d had enough. I said I didn’t want to watch a six-minute video, and he said he’d skip ahead. He then proceeded to fumble with the touch-screen timeline, trying to get to the part where a terrarium filled with smoke failed to set off a regular fire alarm. The “journalist” in the video – because as you know local news stations make a habit of running six-minute exposés – was totally shocked. Who believes this malarkey?
At this point I said we’d take the quote and let them know, which led to the most unbelievable part of the pitch – the straw that broke the staged camel’s back. The salesman said, “I have to call my supervisor to let her know what we discussed here today.” Really. You can’t do that on your own time? We heard every word of both sides of this conversation. The phone was either turned up all the way or possibly even on speakerphone. The supervisor was feeding the guy sales lines, which he was repeating verbatim. They lowered the price of the installation but upped the monthly cost. I insisted we’d let them know, then I got really mad.
The salesman/supervisor duo offered, since it was going to take a week to set up an installation appointment, to let us fill out the paperwork now. I would have three days to cancel if I decided to go with another company and if not, the appointment would be ready to go. This is the same trick the bastards at Empire flooring tried to fool me with. It is a highly dishonest business practice, meant to profit from forgetfulness and deceitful contracts you probably won’t take the time to read. If you can’t sell your product on its own merits then your product isn’t good enough. This kind of hard sell makes me seethe, partly because I have to fend it off, but also because I know there are people who will fall for it and be relieved of some of their hard-earned cash. You know, kind of like the burglars relieved us of some of our prized possessions. Taking advantage of the less fortunate is truly shameful.
So needless to say we did not give this company our business. The meeting piled toxic emotions on top of toxic emotions, making an already intense situation exponentially worse. And when it was all over, we realized that part of the hard sell was sending out a dumpy-looking, line-fumbling sales guy that we might feel sorry for. I haven’t been so irritated since I bought my car, but at least when that was over, I owned a frickin’ car. Suffice it to say I’m done being well-mannered in these types of situations. I was once a bitchy teenage girl, and it’s really easy for me to get into that headspace. In fact, I kind of like it. But you won’t like it salespeople. Nope, you won’t like it at all. You’ve been warned.
Anyway, we did beef up our security by, among other things, replacing the vulnerable door with a door made out of solid wood – no glass. We’re still considering a different security system and – spoiler alert! – we bought a dog.