doorstep sellers/collectors/converters

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starbug
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doorstep sellers/collectors/converters

Post by starbug » Jun 10th 2005, 11:53 am

OK, I'm having the world's most boring day. So my mind has begun to wander... and I was thinking about the last couple of weeks, when I was at home during the week for large chunks of time. And I was thinking about how many times our doorbell rings and it is someone
a) collecting for charity
b) trying to sell something
c) trying to convert me to some religion or other.

Seriously, I never knew how many people knock on the door during the day, in an average week. We get the occasional one in the evening (which really irritates - I feel like saying 'sure, I'll buy/sign/whatever, but how about if I come by your house during your free time and we can sort it out then') but it's not too bad. So I was stunned to realise how many of these people there are out there.

Now, being your average repressed Brit I always struggle when confronted at my doorstep with a real live person asking me something (the something usually involving 'give me money') and being a slightly paranoid Londoner the thought of danger is always lurking. Is this person going to stab me if I say no? Is the best thing to do just to close the door on them? Will I get a brick through my window tomorrow as a result?

My usual response, I'm ashamed to say, is to give them a little bit of money to make them go away. But that's generally because it really doesn't happen often (I thought) and I usually think they probably have a good reason for knocking on my door. But I am getting fed up perpetuating the 'it's fine to disturb me in my home and ask me for money' thing, and I am fed up of handing people money. One guy last week knocked on the door, shoved his 'ID' badge in my face and said that he was collecting for disadvantaged kids in London. OK, I think, even though I checked his ID and it told me absolutely nothing, this is probably a decent enough cause, and he was trying to at least give me a small magazine in return. So I gave him £1 for his magazine. After he left I discovered it was a highly discriminatory religious magazine basically saying you are damned straight to hell if you drink alcohol, allow your kids to listen to pop music, etc etc. I was so infuriated with myself for giving him money before I sussed out he was lying.

I was wondering whether the door-step caller trying to extract money, whether it be for charity, religion (!) or sales purposes, is as prevalent in other countries? How do you respond to these people? I don't like to be rude as they are another human being and are probably just trying to make a living or help others etc.

But I have now decided that any callers, in person, to my house, will be met with the following response. If they are a charity collector, I will say 'I have recently made it my policy not to give money to charities who ask for it on the doorstep of my home. If you have some leaflets I will be happy to take them, read them at my convenience, and consider a donation. But I'm not giving you any money today.' Ditto for sales people. If I get a religious conversion person, they will get 'I'm not interested' and the door shut in their face.

Is this too harsh? What would you do?

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pgh kenny
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Post by pgh kenny » Jun 10th 2005, 2:54 pm

My view is that I don't answer the door unless it is for someone I am expecting. If it is a friend stopping by for a surprise visit, they'll call me on their cell phone to get in. I've thought about putting a no solicitation sign on my door, but generally people go away pretty quickly if you just don't answer the door.

season
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That's what I do.

Post by season » Jun 11th 2005, 4:33 am

That is exactly how I deal with it. I noticed people start knocking more often from about Autumn when it gets dark early. Once, someone knocked about 8:00pm, when I asked who is it the idiot just replied, 'Me'. I just left it alone.

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lance
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Post by lance » Jun 13th 2005, 12:20 am

Starbug,

Interesting thread. In my experience not so much anymore.

Back during the early 80s in Houston we received many, many door to door people. Mostly Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses came. They were generally polite if persistant. We said "Thanks, were happy Catholics (not necessarily true but...) were not interested."

Funniest thing I heard about was from my friend Sundeep. Sundeep is an American of East Indian descent and a Hindu. He got stopped on the street by a member of the Jews for Jesus crowd. He told the guy, "Man do you have the wrong guy to preach to."

In Cincinnati the homeless advocates came up with a more interesting idea. Instead of having people beg for money, they sold newspapers written by homeless people. Each vendor had a license from the city and took home $.85 on the dollar for each paper they sold.

-LanceMan

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starbug
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Post by starbug » Jun 13th 2005, 10:04 am

lance wrote: In Cincinnati the homeless advocates came up with a more interesting idea. Instead of having people beg for money, they sold newspapers written by homeless people. Each vendor had a license from the city and took home $.85 on the dollar for each paper they sold.

-LanceMan
Yeah, we've had that in London for a while... it's called the Big Issue. I'm not sure how much of it is actually written by homeless people though :? http://www.bigissue.com/bigissue.html

We had another one yesterday, who knocked on the door and when Mr. S answered it, held up a sign saying 'do you need help with housework or children?' Hmmm. Because I'd trust my children being looked after by someone who can't communicate with them in their own language... Of course I believe that people who don't have good english can do jobs in this country. But looking after my child (which I don't have, but if I did :wink: ) isn't one of them.

My dad studied theology and philosophy (he's now Rev. Starbug) and some Jehovah's witnesses apparently knocked on his door when he was in college. He was hung over, but invited them in and proceeded to discuss their beliefs with them at length, disagree with them coherently and my mum says they were literally there for 2 hours. They didn't come back!

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season
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Post by season » Jun 14th 2005, 5:01 am

Take the advice of Jasper Carrot: As Jehovah Witnesses are use to people slamming the door, invite them in your house which will baffle them, make them comfortable to keep them weary, and offer them drinks until they get absolutely rat arsed!

He's a classic.

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Natasha (candygirl)
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Post by Natasha (candygirl) » Jul 15th 2005, 12:46 am

There is a paper sold by the homeless in Berkeley as well, but unfortunately many of them are way too aggressive which gives the rest of them a bad name. I have seen these guys hassle people, following them for blocks. Another time I saw a guy tell a homeless guy, "Sorry, I don't have any money." Then the guy went across the street to the ATM, went next door to buy some coffee, then gave a different guy his change. The first homeless guy saw what happened and charged up to this man demanding to know why he had been lied to! The poor guy said, "I wasn't lying - I didn't have any money when I saw you!" The homeless guy then said, "You shouldn't have given that other guy your change - I asked you first!"

My friend said that there are programs in large cities (Chicago, New York, etc) where they recruit inner city people, bus them to different large cities, and then have them go door to door selling stuff. He said they come to his parents' house every summer without fail. Last year, the guy who visited his parents was selling newspaper subscriptions, so my friend's dad politely declined, explaining that he already subscribes. The solicitor then said, "Well, why don't you get another subscription?" Uhhh, because if I wanted to read the paper twice, I would just read the first copy two times? Then the guy got really pissy and said, "Well, why don't you just give me some money?"

What some people are doing now is buying bulk candy at places like Cost Co then having kids stand on street corners to sell it, claiming that it's for their basketball team when they are not affiliated with any basketball team. I have seen these kids trying to get college kids (who, let's face it, are usually broke too) to buy these candy bars. My issue isn't just the bald faced lies, but the fact that they are doing this at noon during the school year. If you are going to lie and say you are on a junior high basketball team, you don't want to give the impression that you are cutting school!
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