Parenting

How to handle door-to-door salespeople

Ian is tired of door-to-door salespeople constantly bothering his family.

Photo: sturti/iStockphoto

It’s 6:00 p.m. and you’re just sitting down to dinner with the family when the doorbell rings.

You’re not expecting anybody at the door, so you’re inclined to leave it unanswered. But there’s always a nagging feeling that it could be something important. Perhaps it’s a neighbour who is having an emergency situation. Maybe the police are stopping by to let you know about some suspicious activity in the neighbourhood. Or possibly it’s the folks from Publisher’s Clearing House with an oversized novelty cheque to hand over to you.

So, like an idiot, you walk to the front door to answer it — only to find a complete stranger holding a clipboard. And for some reason, they always have a freaking clipboard.

As spring approaches, we are now entering the height of door-to-door sales season in Canada. These guys want to aerate your lawn, seal your driveway and check your hot water tank. And don’t be surprised if they try and sell you organic meat now, too.

When you have kids, there is never a good time for a door-to-door salesperson to come by the house. Our kids used to have their afternoon naps disrupted by these guys ringing our doorbell. So we actually took to buying a sign that reads, “No agents, peddlers or solicitors” and we hung it right next to the front door.

But of course, that doesn’t stop them. They pay no attention to our sign and proceed without a care in the world.

In fact, the next time one of these guys rings the doorbell, I am tempted to say, “Are you raising money to fight illiteracy? Clearly you can’t read my sign, so I would love to help your cause.”

It’s also annoying when someone comes to your door, flashes you a quick badge — which could very well be an expired library card — and demands to see your latest gas or electricity bill. He says he works for a subsidiary of your gas company and it’s imperative he sees your bill.

In those situations, I would love to say, “Sir, from where you’re standing, I would invite you to take a peek inside my home. See the piles of Littlest Pet Shop toys? Or the overflowing baskets of unfolded laundry? What are the odds you think I’m finding that bill in the next 30 minutes?”

Last week, we had an annoying incident with a door-to-door salesperson who rang our doorbell at 8 p.m. Our kids ran to the door and opened it — for which we later scolded them for doing. We told them that in the future, they shouldn’t answer the door unless we’re expecting a visit from friends. To their surprise, a large, burly man was standing there holding his obligatory clipboard when they opened the door.

My wife ended up interacting with him and he was rude and aggressive. He basically suggested our water was dangerous and if we didn’t install his company’s filter immediately, we may as well start drinking from a well in a third-world country. He even started walking into our house, before my wife had to forcibly close the door in his face. A few moments later, a police car drove by our house and had a chat with this salesman — it turned out that numerous neighbours had complained about his tactics.

I don’t mind if kids come by our house selling Girl Guide cookies or chocolate-covered almonds for their fundraisers. But in those situations, it’s often families from the neighbourhood who are doing the canvassing and they know the best times to ring our doorbell. Basically, that window is Monday to Friday from 5:15 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. and on weekends from 11:00 a.m. to 11:15 a.m.

Outside of those time slots, we’re busy and will be extremely annoyed if our doorbell rings.