They Aren’t Your Friends

Oh, how I despise uninvited attempts to sell me things!  If I decide for myself that I need an item or a service, I go shopping for it either in person or online.  Under that circumstance, if I come to your store I’m glad for your help in clarifying my choice of purchase.  If you try to create a fake friendship out of our transaction it won’t work. Radio Shack tries it every time I buy electronic doo-dads.  I just make up a new name, address and email and pay in cash.  I’m NOT giving them my real email so they can keep me abreast of “great new deals”.  I have one credit card I use regularly and another one for backup in case the system is down on the first one.  I cancelled all the store cards, gas cards etc. because my inbox was always full of more spam than messages from people I want to communicate with.

In the days before there was a DO NOT CALL list, we screened most incoming phone calls.  Sometimes, if I felt ornery, I would play MOTIVATION KILLER.  The object of this game is to answer the phone, allow the salesperson to begin barfing out their spiel, then derail them with a direct appeal to their humanity – you know, the part of them that isn’t doing the selling.  First I would ask their name.  Let’s say the guy’s name was Mark.  The name gave me a psychological target to lock onto and begin the unbalancing act.

“Mark…is this your dream job?”

(“Uhh, what?”)

“No, really, I’m serious.  When you were a kid thinking about what you would most like to do when you grew up, was calling up strangers with product offers what came to mind.”

(Well, no, but…)

“No buts about it, Mark!  What would your loved ones think if they knew that what you did to get money was try to convince uninterested people to buy whatever it is you’re selling?  Would they be PROUD OF YOU?”

(Look, I’m just trying to make a living…)

“That’s my point exactly, Mark.  Times are tough.  We all need to make a living – but at what cost, Mark?  AT WHAT COST?  Don’t you think YOU deserve better than to be forced to try and squeeze into places where you have not been invited?  And what about your boss, Mark? Gets a bigger paycheck than you do?  Why doesn’t your boss have to call up people who didn’t ask to be called?  Are you getting a fair shake at this dream job of yours?”


Most of the time I didn’t get this far into my psychological warfare before the salespeople gave up.  Even though I was hard on them, I considered it an exercise in tough love.  People who do telemarketing are addicts.  They are enslaved by the adrenaline of possible “money for nothing”.  Good products and services do not have to be sold by cold calling strangers from boiler rooms.  Satisfied customers generate positive word-of-mouth.  They tell their friends and neighbors, and those who need the goods and services will seek out the recommended party.  Advertising is important, but so is preserving ethical boundaries when you advertise.  Some signage is ok.  So much signage that it blots out the view of nature (and road signs) is not ok.

The most important difference between an ethical salesperson and an unethical one is whether or not they are INVITED to sell by a potential customer.  If I’m going through town and I see a store sign saying MARY’S LAMPS, I might think, “Hmm, I need a new lamp for my desk.”  I might stop, go in, ask for help, and buy one.  It’s all above board.  The sign OFFERED me a product.  The acceptance of that invitation was in my control.  The salespeople did not come to me.  I went to them.  That is as it should be, each and every time.

When I watch television I do not watch commercials.  We use a DVR, and we spin through the commercials as fast as possible, going at least 60x normal speed.  If I do it right, I don’t even know what was being advertised.  I also watch mostly films on channels that only promote their own programming, not products.  I avoid passive attempts to sell to me in every area of my life.  I WAS a salesman.  I know how seductive the money can be.  You make a lot more if you lie well.

I get more “junk mail” than regular mail, by a wide margin.  Junk is a polite euphemism.  Perhaps it should be called “malignant cancer of the spirit mail”, though that term is kind of clunky.  The fact remains that no one needs it.  If you think they do, and you’ve bought into the argument that it’s just making people aware of things that could make their lives better, you have my pity.  You are an addict.  If you sell for a living, I will not hold you in less esteem as a person nor refrain from friendship with you.  Unless you try to sell to me before I have asked you to.  I do not reinforce addictive behavior.

Like most bloggers, I get more attempts to put spam in this space than I get comments, though I have to hand it to those of you who comment.  You write back only 10-20% less than the spam attempts.  Something’s going right in here.


Filed under Ethics and Morality, humor, Money, Thinking about thinking

14 responses to “They Aren’t Your Friends

  1. Hello! debdded interesting debdded site!

    • All I can say is WOW. After strolling your whole blog. Wow, you have put so much effort into this site, I don’t understand why people have not approached you to place ads on the sides of your blog. Amazed on how much information you have in your blog and actual good writing. It’s not pop culture or nonsense writing. Actual good writing! Refreshing.

      • I enjoy writing, LN. It’s really that simple. I view the blog as workout space. I’m glad you enjoy reading it, but even if you didn’t, I would still be doing it. You have to get about 25k “hits” a day before they approach you to place ads. Instead, I get those “sometimes” ads (YouTube video commercials) WP places, because I have a lot of subscribers.

  2. Glad to have input into your blog that may (sort of) been unsolicited but is not considered unwanted LOL!
    Yes I’m definitely singing from the same page with you on this one, we are lucky to get the BBC here with our 30 something cable channels and it’s totally commercial free, so we watch the News channels, National Geographic, Discovery and then Dutch channels for News reports and that’s about it.
    We have a sticker on our door for “no junk mail” and I tend to just tell cold callers that ” I’m busy and now isn’t a good moment Thanks” and before they can reply I say “Goodbye” politely and hang up.
    No-one has dared phone back a second time yet!
    Yes the Spam comments on the blog are weird, some ” attempt” to somehow sound like they are “commenting” on my blog, some try to draw me into a confrontational reply “please defend your view as it appears flawed” and other spam is just plain gibberish.
    Luckily people who are genuinely interested have posted some amazingly insightful comments and whilst I don’t blog for “stats” it is wonderful to get feedback, a different perspective and ideas that I might not have otherwise known about. People’s comments have also led me to some amazing blogs — very truly the icing on the cake!

  3. Here’s the text from another one. (I deleted the link, which said something like Make1kPerWeek. It was one of those cheating sites, where students can pay for pre-written term papers.)

    Hey fellow writer! I wanted to drop you a quick note letting you know that I stopped by your site. I see you have not posted a new post in a while. (she lied, clumsily) Hopefully I can offer you the inspiration of a dedicated viewer. 🙂
    Anyways, I hope you signed up as a writer by using the link in my prior note and are making some spare dollars. I wanted to share one more technique with you. I use a script that is getting me nearly one thousand dollars every week. That is on top of my writing interest. Here is the url, if you might be interested.

  4. And this grammatical nightmare came courtesy of some online poker site:

    “An impressive share, I simply given this onto a colleague who was doing slightly evaluation on this. And he actually bought me breakfast because I discovered it for him.. smile. So let me reword that: Thnx for the deal with! However yeah Thnkx for spending the time to debate this, I feel strongly about it and love studying more on this topic. If attainable, as you change into expertise, would you thoughts updating your blog with more details? It is extremely helpful for me. Massive thumb up for this blog submit!”

    (Fake friendship attempts are more amusing after I’ve had more sleep.)

  5. GAD! Here’s yet another one:
    “Dear blogger! I am Sharyl.
    I would like to show you a job that pays $55-$110 each HOUR starting right now.
    This does NOT involve Affiliate marketing online, MLMs, SEO, or list farming!
    Im going to tell you all you want to know concerning myself, how I got where I am, and about our money getting script
    that drew in over $356,390 this last October in just a couple of minutes.

    Right now you have NO clue how close you are to making a genuine fulltime salary on the net. (Yes I do. I’m as close as I want to be.)

  6. Will you forgive me for saying something contrary, but in my most humble opinion, that’s rude. Sometimes to keep body and soul together, you have to take a job, especially in these times. A “Sorry, I can’t right now” or “Sorry not interested” when the salesperson pauses for a breath and hang up fast!

    that is only my opinion though. I could be wrong.

    • Oh, you’re quite correct. When someone interrupts my dinner or a rare opportunity to make out with my wife, I’m not always polite in response. Nobody has to take these jobs, Lisa. They could be caregivers, house cleaners, wash dishes, drive trucks or taxis, flip burgers, serve drinks, bag groceries, make coffee at Starbucks, greet at Wal-Mart, or any of a hundred more honorable professions. It’s the lure of easy money. There are people above them in rank who are manipulating them and making bigger bucks off their sweat. To me it’s one of the main evils of Capitalism. I would say things like I did to make them want to quit, and never take another job like that again. Remember my “Most Evil Job Ever” post? I was once on the other side of this argument. I know what it’s like to sell my integrity cheaply, for mere money.

  7. Thanks for the excellent details listed here in your website, what follows is a little quiz for your blog site readers. Who actually proclaimed the following quote? . . . .A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.

    • Now, now… This is my space. I’ll run the quizzes, thank you.

      It’s attributed to a guy named Herm Albright who died 66 years ago. Albright apparently worked for the Paul Elder independent bookstore in San Francisco for 25 years, but aside from this and a few other witty quips that get circulated around the Net little is known about him.

      (This commenter sells back braces.)

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