Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A Jerk, or Not a Jerk, that is the Question

It's not my fault. The blame lies with the Rainbow vacuum cleaner people and the awkward position that their "free" giveaways can put people in. At least, that's how I feel about it, and this post is written so that you can judge whether or not I am a calloused, heartless jerk or merely normal.

In the providence of God, my wife signed up for a free giveaway from the Rainbow Vacuum company. And of all the happy surprises, she won some sort of house air-freshener gizmo. The catch is that they have to bring it to your house and demonstrate the vacuum cleaner.

I know a little bit about the vacuum cleaner and the sales pitch because I had an aunt who sold them once. I also know that this vacuum is very expensive. I further know that even if this thing could suck microbes out of the entire neighborhood when we used it, there ain't no way I'm shelling out nearly $2,000 for a vacuum cleaner. So when the salesperson came, I skipped the demo. As near as I can tell, this prevented me from wasting 2 hours of valuable time.

Here are the problems that I have with this set-up in order:

1. They aren't really giving you anything "for free." At the end of the demonstration, my wife found out that you must pony-up $25 for the scents to work the free gizmo. We declined. Now we have a free gizmo that won't work anyway.

2. No matter how nicely you watch the demo, you always feel like a jerk when you say, "No thanks." to the salesman. You hate to see the disappointment, but that's what you get.

3. They pressure you to give referrals. We declined. We don't give out the names and phone numbers of friends and family to get business solicitations. I find that rude.

4. They make you feel obligated to buy something when, in reality, they volunteered a free thing.

5. The entire thing is a no-win situation.

I understand that they are trying to make a living, and I sympathize with that. But after all this is over, I wind up feeling like a jerk, and I cannot tell you how happy I am to see them leave.

Just so this doesn't wind up being a meaningless rant, I see some parallels between this and how many people do evangelism. So, don't do it like that. I wish I could be more profound than that, and maybe I will be tomorrow, but right now I want to get back to my commentaries!

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