weirdest vacuum cleaner sales experience ever
By amiedanny on January 08, 2009
Settle in...this is a bit of a long one, but I think, worth the read.
A couple of weeks ago, I got a telemarketing call from Kirby, wanting to
peddle their new carpet cleaning system in return for the chance to shampoo the
carpet in two rooms of my house. Normally, when telemarketers call, I politely
decline, then strongly decline, then get mad and loudly decline and ultimately
hang up. However, with company coming the next week, I figured this was a good
opportunity to get a stubborn stain out of our front room carpet and make the
place look a bit more presentable.
The first red flag should have been when it took me a full 5 minutes to
convince the lady over the phone that no, my spouse would not be here
at the time of the demonstration. See, she gets paid per opinion, so she was
trying valiantly to find a time when we would both be here during the week.
Early evening? How about Friday? Tuesday morning? I can't tell you how many
different ways I tried to explain that he works Monday thru Friday, and is gone
from 9:30a-10:30p at night, at least. We were leaving on vacation four days
later, so there was no weekend that worked out, and their 'special' supposedly
only went thru the end of December which was the following Wednesday. Finally I
just said, "Look, I have company coming on Tuesday, I'd really like to have the
carpets done by Monday so they look nice for my company." Finally she conceded
to come knowing only I would be home during the demonstration.
The woman who called gave me the impression that it would be she who would be
coming to our house, so I had no concerns about her coming when hubby wasn't
home. But when she hadn't come by the expected time, I called the company
directly and found out that the salesman had experienced car problems
along the way and would be about an hour late. The receptionist even added that
the salesman should have called me to let me know he'd be late. "No problem," I
stated, "As long as he'll clean 3 rooms instead of
2." She agreed that this was reasonable.
An hour and a half later, two men made their way into my home, an older
mexican man (the boss of sorts) and a younger african american man (the
salesman). They introduced themselves kindly and professionally, and then the
boss man left in their vehicle to go take other salesmen to other calls. I
thought this was weird, but at this point I was just rolling with it.
I stated up front that they owed me 3 rooms instead of 2 due to their
lateness (I said it with a smile, to keep things light) and then the
presentation began. He began by asking me all the expected questions: how did I
clean my carpets now and how often, what kind of vacuum cleaner I used, etc. He
asked what I did for a living and was interested to see that I did home
Within 5 minutes of his sales pitch, he said something very surprising,
basically to the effect that I, as a daycare provider, should care more about my
carpets and that he, as a professional in the carpet industry, could come up
behind me and basically take business away from me due to cleanliness issues,
that he didn't like doing it, but that he'd done it before and he'd do it again.
He said all this with a smile while he was putting his vacuum together, so
nonchalantly that I was questioning my own understanding of his words.
Evidently I made a face, because he said, "I see that face you're making
"Well yeah," I interrupted, "I actually can't believe you just said
"Oh." He shut up.
"I mean, that was really rude...to pretty much threaten me that you'll pursue
my clients and take away my business if I don't buy your vacuum cleaner?"
He backtracked quickly then, apologizing over and over again saying that he
was so embarassed and had really stuck his foot in his mouth. He even added, "I
wouldn't be surprised if you threw me out after that."
I told him that I should and he apologized again for a good 30-45 seconds
before it started feeling really awkward. Finally he just said, "Well, let me
just get thru this part really quick and clean your carpets, I can see that the
demonstration is over." But then he kept going on and on about the Kirby system.
I honestly think this kid had a short term memory disorder, because he repeated
himself so often, it was embarassing. He kept asking me the same questions over
an over again (how did I clean my carpets now and how often, what kind of vacuum
cleaner I used, etc), and finally I told him that he'd already asked me those
questions. I mean really, I can understand repeating yourself once or twice; a
salesman likely sees several clients a day, and possibly forgets what part of
his schtick he's already given, but I'm not kidding, 4-5 times I heard about
certain features of this vacuum ver batim. 4-5 times I heard how his business
was taking him to Vegas next week and to New York City the week after that. And
so on and so on.
So I sat back and proceeded to watch him demonstrate how the vacuum worked
for the next 25 minutes, and all the while he kept saying, "Just let me just
finish this up so I can clean your carpets," over and over.
I said, "You know, you keep saying that, but then you keep talking so...I'd
really just like to have the carpets done now." Dexter, as was his name, then
called his office to let them know that he'd blown the demonstration big
time--and to his credit, he took full blame and told them that he'd messed up
and how he'd offended me--and started getting to work on the carpets. Again, I
had to remind him that he was cleaning 3 rooms, not 2.
Then, the awkward moments...what was I supposed to do while he was cleaning?
My kids were in the living room with us watching a movie, so I certainly
couldn't go to another room. And when Dexter went into my room, I sent Sean in
there to supervise.
Ok, so the end of the session was finally upon us and again, he apologized
left and right and as he was, I finally asked, "Well, what did you mean by that
and why would you say such a thing to someone you're trying to get business
from?!" He went into how it had nothing to do with his business, but how he used
to take care of his niece and nephew (or someone) and how someone else tried to
take them out of his care, but he was able to use the cleanliness of his carpets
and the lack thereof of the other person in question, in order to maintain the
custody or care or whatever he had over the kids. He said he'd never used that
in his sales pitch before. "I suggest you don't." I said flatly. He promised he
Then he mentioned how he and his girlfriend were having a hard time deciding
to have kids because the girlfriend is career driven and wants to continue
working, and wants to hire a nanny to take care of the kids. He said, "I am so
so so opposed to someone foreign raising my kids; parents need to be home. I am
so against having daycare raise my kids." He continued on that vein for a while
as I sat there just absorbing the fact that he was again slamming my choice of
work rudely in front of my face, discrediting me and my profession, completely
oblivious that he was once again offending me. Sigh. Clueless.
So, the awkwardness came to a close (I thought) and he took his 3 large boxes
of vacuum pieces and left. . . of course, his ride was gone, if you remember,
dropping off other salesmen to other calls. I asked if his ride was coming, he
assured me that it was, and we said our adieus.
Well, a good 35-40 minutes later, a daycare daddy showed up to take one of
the girls home. I greeted him at the door only to notice that Dexter the handy
dandy kirby vacuum salesman was still sitting on my front sidewalk waiting for
his ride! Surprised, was I.
Then I noticed that our street was wet. My first thought was that it was
raining and the poor fellow, obnoxious as he may be, was sitting out there
getting wet. Then I realized that it wasn't rain water, but melted snow. Our
neighbor across the street had been to Flagstaff earlier in the day with his
kids and brought back a truckbed full of snow that he'd dumped in his front
yard, allowing all the neighborhood kids to play in it. Evidently Dexter had
been playing with them too. So I quickly got my kids in jackets and sent them
outside to play in the snow, and mentioned to Dexter that I was surprised he was
still here. He told me how it was not a problem and that he was having fun in
the snow. Ok...
So another 30 minutes went by, my kids played with the neighborhood kids, I
went and talked to my neighbors, etc, and the poor guy was still out there,
waiting for his ride. Everyone got cold, the snow melted, and it started to
rain, so everyone packed up and went inside.
Well, now what? I couldn't leave the guy standing outside in the rain, and
with all his equipment no less! So I asked him if he wanted to hang out in my
garage to which he gratefully accepted. I got all my kids fixed up with a movie
in the house and joined him in the open garage because I wasn't going to just
let him sit there--not only was he a stranger, but I knew it would look odd to
my neighbors to see a strange black man sitting in my garage.
For the next 30 minutes, we sat there where I basically learned his life
story. He told me at least one more time how he was going to Vegas the next week
and New Years the week after that. He apologized again for offending me. And
then I finally loosened up and stopped being mad at him and just started feeling
sorry for him. Whatever his faults may have been, he was actually an OK guy. He
showed me pictures of his girlfriend (who was coming to pick him up because the
other vehicle continued to have car problems) and then provided another awkward
moment when he said another completely inappropriate thing.
He said, "I was standing out on your sidewalk playing in the snow when your
husband showed up. I told him I had been here cleaning the carpets and he said,
I was like...my husband? "Oh, you mean the dad picking up the daycare girl?
No no, he's not my husband."
"OOOOHHHH," he said, and started to laugh. "Cuz I was thinking, 'dang, she is
way to hot to be with a guy like that!'"
...Which is wrong on so many levels I can't even tell you.
1st of all: rude.
2nd of all, daycare dad, James is my friend and so is his wife, Chris--some
of my best friends in fact.
3rd: inappropriate. Awkward.
Now the only reason he would say such a thing about James is because, OK,
he's not exactly a guy you'd want to meet down a dark alley. He's a bit rough
around the edges, hispanic, with a long beard, and many a tattoo--but he's a
card-carrying member of the church, a really nice guy, and a teddy bear at that.
He calls me Miss Amie even when I'm away from the kids. He's a total sweetie.
But I can see how people can judge quickly from his rough exterior.
Anyway...I tried to laugh off the awkwardness and ignore the 'hot'
Oy. So he had originally gotten to my house at around 1p. I think he finally
left around 5:30. It was a really really bizarre experience. One I was shaking
my head about for a long time afterward. To his credit, he never did try to sell
me his machine--we never talked numbers. He knew he'd cooked that goose. He was
too embarassed by his faux pas or he was too intimidated by my 'hotness' or
something. I was just glad and relieved to finally see him go.
As he was leaving, I told him I was totally gonna blog about this strange
experience--in my head I was already writing it, talking about all the
inappropriate things he'd said and done, you know, NOT a positive review--and he
pipes up, "Make sure to use my name! Dexter!"
All righty, Dexter. The next time Kirby calls me, I am hanging up
Although my carpets look great.