Handling door-to-door salespeople frugally (and politely)

If you follow me on Facebook, you know that I had an unsettling encounter with a really rude door-to-door salesperson recently, and that episode reminded me that I have some stuff to say on the topic.

Basically, I find myself feeling very frustrated with the whole concept of door-to-door sales for a number of reasons.

If I realize that I want/need to buy something, I will go and buy it.

I don’t need someone to come and tell me that I need a particular product/service right then. I’m pretty sure that I am capable of researching my options and obtaining the desired item/service all by myself.

Aren’t I amazing??

I hate it when people try to talk me into buying something, which is why I hated my job at Nordstrom (they pushed us to push people into buying). I so dislike being hit with the pushy sales talk and I felt horrible having to try to do that to other people (I did it as little as possible and instead just tried to be really helpful and informative to customers).

I so don’t miss that job.

The stuff they’re selling is way overpriced.

Seriously, magazine subscriptions don’t need to cost $70 for 3 years. I can buy books for almost nothing at half.com, or I can get them for free at the library. I can get a great bargain on generic cleaning products almost anywhere. Shelf-stable pizza tastes like cardboard, and I’d really rather have even a frozen pizza (which costs less and tastes better).

A lot of the pitches I’ve heard recently are little more than asking for charitable donations (to a person, not an organization).

These type of door-to-door visitors are typically high school grads who are going around selling books/magazines/newspapers. I should say that ostensibly that’s what they’re doing. But really, they’re not selling a product…they don’t tell me how fabulous the books/newspapers/magazines are or how great a deal they’re offering.

No, they say things like, “Could you help me out? I’m trying to do something positive with my life, and I know I can count on you to help me get 1000 points.”

This makes me kind of cross, because I think that if you want to do something positive with your life and you want to get money for college, you should go and maybe get a job or apply for scholarships instead of going door-to-door asking for donations. I hate that they try to make me feel guilty over this, like I’m somehow sentencing them to a life of crime or welfare dependence if I don’t buy an over-pricedmagazine.

For goodness’ sake, it’s not like selling over-priced newspaper subscriptions is the only way to do something positive with your life. In fact, I’d say that’s a sort of poor way to go if you want to do something positive with your life…depending on other people’s generosity and using guilt manipulation is hardly a brilliant way to go through life.

And yes, the economy is poor, but if things are so bad that you can’t get a job at even a fast food place, then you’re probably not going to be successful going door to door either. People with no money for fast food don’t have money for overpriced books either.

I do want people to do positive things with their lives, I do want to have a generous heart, and I do want people to be able to go to college (assuming that’s the route they need to take to get a job that uses their gifts)…I just think that buying overpriced stuff I don’t want is perhaps not the best way to help people.

So, what do do?

I do try to not answer the door if I think it’s a salesperson, but sometimes I open the door thinking it’s someone else, and I get an unpleasant surprise.

Lately, I’ve just been politely saying, “I’m so sorry, but I don’t buy from door-to-door salespeople.”, but to help me not even have to say that, Mr. FG and I ordered the “No Soliciting” sign pictured at the top of this post. Hopefully that will keep people from knocking.

And if that doesn’t work, maybe we’ll have to buy this one. ;)

Or maybe something even more specific.

So, how do you deal with door-to-door salespeople?

edit: Though I do get visits from Jehovah’s Witnesses on a regular basis, I purposely didn’t discuss those types of visits due to the off-topic nature of that subject. But since it’s come up in a lot of the comments, please do remember that there are Jehovah’s Witnesses in my readership, and please be as kind to them in the comments as you would be in person. Even if we disagree, we should be polite and considerate. Shanks, and carry on!


Today’s 365 post: Serious Sonia

Joshua’s 365 post: Hanging Magic


  1. says

    Since we bought our house, door-to-door salespeople have become the bane of my existence! We don’t get kids and teenagers selling stuff very much. Instead, we receive a steady stream of Jehovah’s Witnesses and people trying to sell us new doors, windows, gutters, cleaning products, and other stuff we would have already researched and purchased if we needed it/could afford it at this moment in time.

    I usually try to avoid answering the door, but occasionally I’m expecting someone (or a package!) and accidentally open it. Also, our deck is on the side of our house instead of in our backyard, so it’s pretty easy for salespeople to approach us when we’re out there. Aside from avoiding opening the door, I usually just tell them politely that we’re not interested. I always feel like I’m being a jerk, but there it is. I’m tired of being approached in my home to buy stuff! (Or convert to a religion).

    I am a little glad that our salespeople are mostly of the “enormous purchases for the home” variety, because it’s easier to say no than if the Girl Scouts showed up at our door. And I must admit that I wish the Girl Scouts would come to our door.

  2. Juliette says

    I have a friend who put up a sign near her front door that says, “No soliciting, except for neighborhood kids.” I thought that was cute. I don’t really know if it helps though. And I am of the same opinion as you on the whole subject of door to door sales. I can’t imagine that they sale enough to make it worth it because everyone I know also feels this way.

  3. says

    Once a young guy came to sell magazines at our house. He started his pitch by saying, “I just know you folks want to help me earn my spring break trip to Cancun!” It was all my dh could do to hold back from saying, “Um no…”

    We get a lot of Jehovah’s Witnesses and a few Kirby salesmen a year now. Last summer, a person selling cancer insurance stopped by when we were playing outside. He wouldn’t take a hint and I eventually told him he had to leave immediately. I’m definitely getting a No Soliciting sign. What a great idea!

    • Pam K. says

      Um, no, I would far rather donate my money to the homeless or the food pantry than finance your Cancun vacation! Hard to believe that people would actually have the nerve to ask you to finance something like that!

  4. says

    We use a No Soliciting sign, and also a computer printed “addendum” that says we don’t want anyone “selling” their religion or political opinions, either. If they ring the bell anyway, if it’s a little kid, I give them the benefit of the doubt and just tell them I’m not interested. If it’s a big kid or adult, I ask them if they understand what No Soliciting means. If that doesn’t work, I just shut the door in their face.

    Occasionally someone will catch my husband working outside and try to sell to him. They find out quickly they don’t want to do that. He’ll either tell them to get the heck off our property or he’ll play mind games with them until they leave on their own. He once told a salesperson to talk to his Step-dad, who was also outside. Step-dad will talk anyone’s ear off. The salesman ended up walking away as Step-dad was in mid-conversation. :)

    • Amanda says

      I always buy from kids, maybe it is because I have a 2 year old, and I am just a sucker. But I can’t help myself, we always buy from the kids selling candy bars outside the grocery store, and the ones that knock on our door. :D

  5. Amber says

    We also had a salesperson that told us he was trying to earn points for a vacation. Yeah, we haven’t even been on our honeymoon yet, so why on earth would I just give away money so you can go to Cancun with your friends?

  6. says

    I’m with you Kristen, I really dislike the door-to-door guys. And lately it’s been a lot of roof-repair people (due to hail in my neck of the woods) and a lot of pest-control or lawn maintenance people. Since I’m home with my young kids all day (as I know you are as are many other moms) I try not to open the door since you never know what kind of person stands on the other side. I usually hide in the other room and peek out to see who it is without them seeing me. Then I call or text my stay at home mom neighbors to warn them of the incoming salesman. :)

    And if I get Jehovah’s witnesses or the like who come to talk to me about Jesus or to tell me about their church, I just tell them I’m Catholic. That usually gets them off my doorstep pretty quick. I love my faith. :)

    • Michele says

      Love the sign.
      I have no problem saying “no” to solicitors in a polite way. Another way to keep their visit quick is not only to tell them of your already existing faith, but to invite them to church!! I just love how God brings them to my doorstep so that I can spread the gospel without leaving my home. Turning it around and bringing out a Pampered Chef Catalog and asking them if they want to buy because you are having a party helps too!

      • namastemama says

        that is hilarious. I will have to get a Pampered Chef catalog, or some other. Maybe a whole stack!

    • EngineerMom says

      I’m Catholic, too, and I’ve noticed that gets rid of most religious door-to-door people. One of the most hilarious moments was when I was standing at the door, holding my crying two-year-old, and the lady was trying to tell me that being Catholic meant I didn’t have a personal relationship with Jesus, yadda yadda yadda. That’s when I told her I tried going to a nondenominational church in college, and that experience is what drove me BACK to the Catholic church, and to please leave since my son desperately needed a nap.

      • says

        I ALWAYS have people knock on my door when my toddler is having a meltdown, or the baby is hungry! And whoever it is knocking on the door seems to think that I can actually hear and understand what it is that they are saying. Um do they not hear the screaming and crying coming from my house? We had a father and son come by and try to convert us to some type of religion, but as soon as I opened the door I just told them that I was Saved and believed in the Lord Jesus Christ. That was all I had to say and they said ok thank you goodbye. My Husband was VERY surprised that they left so fast!!

    • James Young says

      I’m a Jehovah’s Witness and that doesn’t work by saying you’re a Catholic! We don’t care what faith you are, that’s not the reason we go door to door. Jesus commissioned his early disciples to do this work, and the first century Christians did the same. We are doing what we were instructed to do. So if you don’t want the Witnesses coming to your doors, just tell them. Our job is to preach about God’s Kingdom, not to get you on a membership drive! If you take the time to listen, you might actually learn something!

  7. says

    I generally lurk here but I had to say I LOVE that blue sign you posted.
    Yesterday I dealt with my first door to door salesperson here. She was a really nice Midwestern girl but I didn’t need what she was selling. It would have been cool but a lot of money for stuff I can accomplish at the library. I felt really bad sending her on her way. What killed me about it was my neighbor who didn’t purchase anything sent her to my house! I just pulled in my driveway so there was no escape.
    I think I need a blue sign…

  8. says

    We seem to get a lot of people trying to “save” us. I respect their strong beliefs but I also don’t feel comfortable explaining to them my spiritual journey and you don’t want to be rude as they often have wee ones with them…

    The worst though has to be a new breed of salespeople that come to the door and explain that there is a problem with your water heater and they will replace it. It is a total scam and a lot of elderly people are getting signed-up for pricey contracts.

    Having said that, I think you might have me beat though with the kid who wanted to go to Cancun. :)

  9. Maggi says

    Ugh. I know what you mean. It is the one and only time that I am thrilled to have a large (but very gentle) greyhound who LOVES to bark at people who come to the door. I act like I’m struggling to hold him back and the salesperson/con artist gets all wide-eyed and they start backing up. Usually it does the trick.

    Then I give my dog a nice treat. :)

  10. says

    I never buy from people who come to my door – we don’t open it if we don’t know who it is. I will sometimes make an exception for a neighborhood kid that I recognize. I also refuse to do business with someone who cold calls me at work. I’d like to put a No Soliciting sign up at work. Just this week we had someone trying to sell 1/2 off for paintball at my work. I work in a building for a professional firm. We told management & they were escorted from the building. The building has a sign but they usually ignore it.

    Also those kids trying to get “points to better themselves” or win a trip or a scholarship? I’m pretty sure those are scams. I think those kids are bussed in to neighborhoods while working for a big organization. I’m sure one of the news shows did an investigation on it.

  11. HeatherS says

    We get salespeople once in a while and my husband is way too polite to tell people no so I usually handle them. The kids are ok but my kids are usually selling the same stuff but the teens/young adults selling books and magazines are irritating! I also don’t like the house repair people with their roof repairs, vinyl siding and windows. I usually just shut them up by saying my husband is an architect and would find your product very tacky! I only pull that one out when they won’t take no for an answer the first time.

    I think the worst has to be the time that two young men approached my son and cousin (they were like 4 and 10) on the sidewalk outside my house and tried to talk to them about their religion. I was out of the house in a flash when I saw two strangers talking to the kids and gave them an earful about talking to kids when their parents are not present. They left very quickly!

  12. Katherine says

    About those Girl Scout cookies – a girl’s troop gets only 50 cents from each sale, and “corporate” gets the remainder. Around here, each box goes for $3.50.

    • Molly says

      I don’t mind that – “Corporate” GS is what pays for many trips that are AWESOME for the girls. It also keeps the cost of dues and camps low.
      This year I actually had to hunt out some girl scouts selling at a table – and it took me a long time!
      Also, nobody solicits in apartment buildings with doormen – woohoo!

      • says

        Most of the cookie money goes to the camps, the provinces (in Canada), scholarships, bridging events etc. In our area the units each receive 1.50 per 4 dollar box.

        I actually went to a house to buy off Kijiji and saw that they had a case in the vestibule…I asked if I could purchase 4 boxes since my daughter is not involved this year.
        I feel that the girls and their cookies are a tradition. I never buy cookies from the store, but I stock up when the girls come around.

  13. says

    I used to get people coming by ALL the time which I hated… then I moved to a house where my front yard is fenced in so you have to go through the gate to get to the front door. I have a rottweiller in the fence…. problem solved! The only time I had someone ring the bell was to ask to steam clean my carpet and the first thing I asked was how she got through the gate. Turns out my hubs had taken the dog out for a walk.

  14. Katherine says

    Sorry to make what should have been one post into two…..if a person wants to support the local Girl Scouts, it is MUCH more “frugal” to offer the Girl Scout a donation. For instance, if you donate $3.50, that’s the equivalent of a Scout selling seven boxes of cookies! (I was a leader for four years…)

  15. says

    My mom HATES talking to door to door sales people and Jehova’s Witnesses. If we’re sitting on the front porch with her and she spots one coming down the street she forces everyone to move into the house and shuts the front door. It’s super obvious to the salesman which always feels a little rude to me, but you know what? It totally works!! I guess the salesmen figure that if she’s in that big of a hurry and fuss not to talk to them it’s not worth their while to come to my mom’s door.

  16. Paula says

    Here in Germany there is a similar phenomenon of door to door magazine subscription sales. However, and maybe this is true in the U.S. too, the terrible thing for these “salespeople” is that they have been tricked into signing a contract in which they have to fulfill their daily sales points quotas in order to pay for the transportation and accommodation provided by an unscrupulous company to bring them from town to town to sell the magazines. Many folks who end up doing this do not believe they are qualified to do anything else and when they sign the contracts they are already in debt to the company and many work for a long time without earning anything for themselves. It’s a horrible business and I feel sorry for the folks caught up in it, but buying the magazines only encourages the companies who exploit these people. What a racket.

    • Kristen says

      That’s so sad. And you’re right, the only way to help put these types of companies out of business is to not buy.

  17. Jen says

    Unless they are selling girl scout cookies or boy scout popcorn, I let my three very big and scary dogs great them.

    • Kristen says

      Hopefully your dogs aren’t dangerous. Because much as I hate it when salespeople come to my door, I definitely don’t think we should inflict bodily harm on them or even be unkind. :)

  18. Tasha says

    I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who HATES solicitations, both phone and door-to-door. On the phone I just cut the person off with “We are on the do not call list” and hang up. Door to door types I just don’t answer the door. My husband will talk on the phone and to door to door people but he enjoys the mind games. This post has finally motivated me to get off my duff and prepare a computer print out “no solicitors” sign that I have been talking about for a while.

  19. says

    When I worked in a beauty shop, door-to-door people would come through often. The ignore the signs and often comment on how cute they were. I would get so mad! My friend had a lot of hair spray and tanning lotion so I would let them show me what was in the bag and then I would pick up EVERY bottle I could grab and start “selling” it to them. I would even start reading the ingredient list just so they could not talk! They NEVER liked that and they never wanted to buy anything from me!

  20. Sarah T says

    For the longest time, our doorbell was broken. It has its advantages you know. :) Our family and friends knew that if they really needed us, to either come to the back door or knock really loud. Ha!

  21. Lucy says

    We have properly posted No Trespassing signs, but they are ignored by solicitors by and karge. If I actually open the door to one I say “Posted No Trespassing; I’m calling the Sheriff.” They usually beat it. Or maybe it is the shotgun propped up just beside the door? (No kids here.)

    My husband brought me a sign that I haven’t put up. It says “No Trespassing – Violators Will Be Shot – Survivors Will Be Shot Again”. Maybe I’ll put that up today!

  22. Emily says

    I loved this post! haha Especially “my kids are selling same crap you are”. I don’t have kids, but I might be investing in that sign one day when I do ;)

  23. Susanna says

    It’s not allowed in the townhomes where I live yet frm time to time a Jehovah’s Witness will do it and I always hope they stop at the HOA president’s home first ’cause that nips it in the bud. My 2 big dogs barking help as well. Luckily the only stuff I have to deal with are those stupid flyers for maid service, pizza, etc stuck in my door handle from time to time – oh and the alarm rep who claimed the townhome association welcomed him to give us a specail deal on an alarm system with monitoring – um no mention of that in the newsletter. I need to redo my note not to ring the doorbell or knock – I work rotating shifts and the two times someone did dare to ring the bell I appeared in my pajamas with a look that would kill..they got the message.

    I’m afraid with the economy the way it is this kind of thing is going to be even more and more along with increased sales calls. technology has eliminated a lot o jobs(long distance doesnt’ pay any more, receptionists have gone parttme or replaced with answering systems, etc) and no one realy wants to do the dirty work..it’s easier to dial and ring doorbellsa nd both put the person on the spot. It’s easier to avoid going by the fast food places than it is to say not to one right in your face. frugal lifestyles have also cut down on a lot of extra spending though I still see restaurant parking lots full – I”m just not often joining them!

    • SnowCat MacDobhran says

      The appropriate note for your door is “Daysleeper – Do Not Wake”. I find it is much more effective for the door knockers. The flyers just go right into the recycling bin.

  24. Jill says

    It seems now that the weather is getting nice again, the door to door salesman are back out in full swing. We get at least two per week. It’s so hard to be quiet and pretend we’re not home when the windows are open and the radio is usually going in the background (plus, it’s tough getting a one year old to stay silent when he thinks we’re playing peekabo by hiding!!). We’ve had vacuum salesmen, magazine salesmen and a guy trying to sell his mom’s homemade laundry soap so far this month. The vacuum salesmen are the worse…SO PUSHY!!!

    What a great idea to get a no soliciting sign! I think I’ll pull out my craft supplies this afternoon while the baby is napping and make something!

  25. Angela says

    Here in Canada the people who come to our door selling things can be very pushy and often ask personal questions about our banking or our water heater. My husband is normally the one who answers the door, and he’s way too polite in my opinion. I’m trying to convince him to say something like, “I don’t even tell my mother that information. Thank you, goodbye.” Maybe I should start answering the door.

  26. Katy says

    This post remind me of my mother who has been gone for 9 years now. I sure miss her. Her method of dealing with people at the door talking about religion was to say “I don’t buy my religion at the door”. She said she felt a little guilty about it because they would look so hurt. One day she wasn’t home and my youngest brother, then maybe 13 or 14 was home and invited them into the house. My mother came back from the grocery to find two very uncomfortable Jehovah’s Witnesses sitting in the living room listening to my brother reading poetry by William Blake. They were delighted to be rescued!

  27. Jenny says

    We live in a rural area at the top of a long driveway and we put a “No Soliciting” sign at the bottom. That seemed to take care of the few we had except for the Jehovah’s Witnesses who were very persistent. Since it’s a small town, when one of the bigwigs in their church showed up in the drive, I explained to him that this driveway houses a Lutheran, a Jew, an atheist and Unitarian, and none of us were interested in converting so could they please take us off their list? Haven’t seen them since.
    Of course, now that I’ve said that, they’ll be here this weekend!

  28. says

    I’m like you, I don’t answer the door if i think it nis a sales person of any sort.

    Recently I got caught by a charity asking for money at my door. It was awful, she started off by asking some really emotive questions, like ” do you think children should be protected from poverty”? Er what was I going to say to that. of course once you answer the first question then they are in and it is really difficult to halt the conversation.
    If i gave to every charity that turned up at my door i would need charity myself.

    If i want to give to charity which i do i will and i will certainly not give cash or sign a direct debit at the door.

    • Kristen says

      Ohh, I’ve gotten phone calls that start off with questions like that. “Do you think sweet, adorable, harmless baby whales should be dunked into vats of oil?”

      (of course, no one has actually said that to me but their questions are just about as loaded)

      • AK says

        My personal favorite is the “please support the highway patrol association” or something of that nature. The wha? :) Then, they ask, “You don’t want to support law enforcement?” to which I want to reply, “I do, by living within the law every single day.”

        • Kristen says

          Oh, we get that on the phone mostly. Usually it’s asking for donations for the families of deceased firemen or patrolmen. But I don’t know anything about these organizations, and I can’t exactly support every family whose husband has died (and I do think that if you’re in a dangerous line of work, you should do whatever you can to get life insurance so that your family isn’t destitute if you die).

          • WilliamB says

            They do get life insurance, including through work. Note that coverage and rates are affected by being in a dangerous line of work.

            My answer to law enforcement pitches such as this is “Please send me your materials in the mail. Since you’re affiliated with law enforcement, you *know* how many scams there are out there, including ones alleging to be for law enforcement associations. You just never know who’s calling, you know?”

    • Elaine says

      Kate, the answer to her question is “yes, that’s why donate to my favorite charity. Good Bye.”

      I usually get grade school kids at my house. I donate to the first one, then no more.

  29. says

    I have worked in gospel ministry for many years. 15 years ago or more, it was considered allright to go knocking on doors to find people that would want to be prayed for, picked up for church in our church bus, or just have a chat at the door.
    Those days seem to be over in America.
    A free contry allows us to go door to door. those inside can choose to not open the door, or by just sit quietly until that person goes away.
    Those are people at your door. Anyone can say politely ” No thank you, I am not interested” Maybe that person at your door needs a smile from you.
    Just a thought from a very old lady who went door to door for many years seaching for those folks who needed a visit.

    • Lucinda says

      You make a fair point. However, while you can choose to open your door or not, if you don’t know who is at the door, it isn’t like you are making an informed choice. You may be expecting a friend or a package. You aren’t choosing to open your door to a sales pitch.

      Also, we live in a small town and I have had the same people, not same groups but the same people, show up to my house repeatedly. I have (while smiling) politely told them repeatedly I am not interested and yet they still come. Who is being rude now? It is very frustrating.

    • Elaine says

      NO NO NO!!!! It is NOT all right with me for people I did not invite to my house to disturb me. And I will NOT be held hostage in my own home because someone wants to sell me something I don’t want. These people don’t get smiles from me, although I am polite when I close my door to them.

      • says

        I agree, Elaine! I’ve had very few salespeople actually take my polite “No, thank you,” for an answer. even when I’m holding a fidgety and/or terrified toddler in my arms. It’s very hard to avoid solicitors when your windows are open, you’re out on your deck, or you’re expecting a package. I wouldn’t mind solicitors nearly as much if they were as polite as I am to them. (And yes, there’s nothing WRONG with going door to door, but there’s also nothing wrong with wanting solicitors to stay away from your house).

        • Kristen says

          Most of the time I can manage to get them to leave, but there was this one guy that just would not. stop. talking. I did finally just have to say, “I’m so sorry, but I’m not interested.” and shut the door in his face. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before but in this case, I don’t think there was another option!

    • says

      I agree that 15 years ago it was alright to go knocking doors to find people who needed your message, but I think that door-to-door anything is becoming outdated as people in general, not just the door-knockers, become less polite and less willing to open up their doors or their homes to strangers.

      Sometimes saying, “No thank you, I am not interested.” doesn’t work. My husband did door-to-door sales and a lot of the people he worked with would push and push until people became rude with them, and then they would keep pushing. The people who owned the office my husband worked for actually encouraged their salespeople to not take no for an answer. I definitely sympathize with door-to-door salespeople because I know it’s a tough job to have and they are counting on those sales to feed their family, but sometimes, you have to be firm to the point of being rude.

      • Elaine says

        Rebecca, I agree.

        Approaching strange people’s homes and disturbing them is very rude and offensive, and yet, people keep doing it.

        Go figure.

  30. Karen says

    I have had a notice on my door that says “No Sales Calls” for three or four years. It is largely ignored. Every time the price of natural gas goes up, we get a flurry of fixed rate for xx years salespeople who essentially tell you how stupid you are for not taking advantage of their offer. So far, by not doing so, I have not yet paid as much as they want me to. Unfortunately, these are usually people not yet old enough to have ever had a gas bill themselves, are bussed from hundreds of miles away, and have an obvious script to recite. I don’t even let them get started anymore, and close the door as I say I am not interested.

    I also had a young woman with multiple piercings and extensive tatooes (sp?) who wanted me to contribute to her university tuition with a donation of refundable bottles or cans. Out front was a late model diesel truck, with a business logo on the door and the back full of empties. I don’t think so.

    The one that had me really annoyed though, was not door to door. Our son wanted to play high school rugby this year so we paid the registration fees, and were prepared to pay extras for things like away trips, uniforms, etc. I was rather floored when we got an email from someone who punctuated with smiley faces, detailing the alcohol we should purchase to donate to a fundraising raffle to be held at a pub night, plus the alcohol we should purchase to donate to a wine basket for a separate raffle, and that we would “have to” pay the fundraiser portion of the pub night cost whether we attended or not. Did I mention that this was for a high school rugby team? I ended up refusing to respond (I didn’t know how to, and still be civil), and we made a cash donation to the team instead. I also intend to send a letter to the school advising them that they are not to give out my email or any other personal information without my consent.

    • ann says

      I hope you also informed the high school of what they were asking for in the email! I sincerely hope there is a responsible adult working with the team who can protect your son and the other students from the temptation to drink. I played rugby in college for a while (loved it!) and alcohol is sadly a very big part of the rugby culture. Fortunately I had one good friend on the team who did not drink alcohol, so we banded together. I hope your son has a great experience with the game! And I hope the school (or someone!) keeps a close watchful eye on the rugby program!

  31. says

    Once when I was home from college for the summer, a pair of Mormons came to my door. My mother was due home any moment to pick me up for some previous commitment. It was about 100 degrees and humid, and these poor guys looked so uncomfortable! I invited them in and offered them a drink and we chatted a bit…. and the minutes passed… and passed…. and my mother showed up 1/2 an hour later! By that time I was the one who needed a drink…. and not the kind I offered the Mormons! ;)

    I do so dislike pushy salespeople. We have many elderly neighbors who are easily led. There were home-security salesmen prowling our neighborhood and scaring people into buying their products. When he came to my house, and said, “I’m not selling anything,” I told him that was good because I was not buying anything. He continued his high-pressure sales pitch. I said that I was going to stand on my porch and if I saw him talking to any neighbor I felt was going to be vulnerable to manipulative sales pitches, then I was going to interrupt him and tell my neighbors that he was up to no good.

    Having said that — I have been in sales before and while I know all the tricks, I know how bad it can feel when you get a polite rejection, to say nothing of an impolite or demeaning rejection. I most generally say, “I thank you for your visit but don’t want to waste your time. If you’d like to leave any literature I’d be happy to look it over at my convenience.”

    We also run into the problem of fundraisers for OUR kids… school, soccer, baseball, etc. Both DH and I work from home and we don’t have local family, so we do indeed send the kids door-to-door if they choose to raise money for their endeavors (I don’t make them do it though). And I can never resist a kid in his sports uniform selling candy!

  32. Lindsey says

    For some reason, our solicitor sign doesn’t always deter religious groups. For that reason, whenever I encounter someone peddling their religious beliefs at my door, I just politely say “Thank you but we already belong to a church. You are more than welcome to attend our church if you wish.” Something about inviting them always seems to do the trick and they make a beeline to the next house. : ) Effective and polite and just a little bit of a taste of their own medicine.

  33. Christina says

    Wow. I’m not a fan of door to door people either but this really negative rant and judgments really turned me off. I’m kinda in shock that this post came from you. I’m usually a lurker, and rarely ever post and have been reading you for 2+ years…I don’t think all door to door people are negative and I’ve heard many accounts of people’s lives being changed from a door to door salesperson or Bible worker or missionary. I don’t think that everyone should be perceived or judged in this same harsh light. Sorry!

    • Kristen says

      I’m sorry that my post offended you. I don’t think I said that all door to door people are negative, but I’m sorry if that’s the message I sent out.

      Also, I didn’t cover the topic of missionaries because this post was about dealing with salespeople frugally. :) I do feel like there are more effective ways to spread the gospel than by going door to door, though, especially in our current culture.

        • Kristen says

          I’ll say again that I’m sorry my post offended you. Though I typed out my honest feelings, I want to remain teachable. Is there a particular part of my post that you’d like me to reconsider?

          I want to reiterate also that I don’t have anything personal against people who go door to door, and that I also don’t have a problem with giving to worthy causes or with helping people financially. What bothers me is the guilt-tripping sort of “Buy this stuff you don’t really want so I can have money for college” schtick that has been so common in my area.

    • Sarah A. G. says

      With Kristen’s post, I am in sound agreement (especially as there were no impolite comments directed toward religious groups). I find door-to-door sellers of anything to be intrusive and inappropriate, for the most part. However, some of the responses and comments I have read today have been very disappointing, as they are rank with unkindness. Two responders (though I will mention no names) in particular were especially harsh and caustic sounding.

      Firstly, no matter how pushy and intrusive a salesperson may be, it does not excuse rudeness on the part of the one receiving the sales pitch. It is easy to say “Thanks but I’m not interested.” If they insist, repeat yourself firmly but kindly and simply close the door. They are responsible for their actions, I am responsible for mine, and so on. Common courtesy should not be optional based on whether you approve of the person addressing you.

      Secondly, this post was addressing salespeople, not religious groups. Some of the insensitive comments posted by readers today about Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons have been in poor taste, not to mention off-topic. I am not part of either of these religious organizations, but they deserve the same sensitivity and respect as anyone else. If they come to my door, I politely tell them that I am not interested, wish them a good day, and close the door. No good ever comes of making someone feel bad or foolish.

      I think today’s post struck a healthy balance: someone (Kristen) rightly expressed her opinion, but kept it dignified and respectful.

      • says

        I agree that comments about religious organizations were off-topic; I was one of the first to bring that up and I apologize (apparently I wasn’t paying enough attention to the “frugal” part of the post). However, I have nothing against Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses and hope I haven’t said anything to lead anyone to believe that I do. I simply don’t want any religious groups coming to my door. When they do, I always treat them with courtesy and respect.

    • Rachel says

      I’ve been reading this blog for several years, and while I’m not necessarily offended I’m certainly a bit perplexed by this post. Though couched in terms of “frugality,” it really just reads like frustrated venting about salespeople with a frugality angle tacked on as an after thought.

      Do I like people coming to my door to sell me something? No. But I also don’t think it’s difficult to politely say I’m not interested and close the door. I mean, buying a sign? Really? That’s “frugal?” Hardly.

      • Kristen says

        Oh, no, I didn’t mean that buying a sign was frugal! lol I’m sorry if I didn’t make that clear. The frugal part is the saying no.

        I should probably have fleshed that out more. Perhaps a back story would help…several years ago, when Mr. FG and I were in a pretty tight spot financially, a door to door salesperson came to our door, talked to us for like 45 minutes, and I ended up plopping down $70 for a magazine subscription because I felt so guilty. At that time, it was a super poor decision because we really needed that $70. So from then on, I have been more frugal with salespeople because I remember how much I needed that $70 and how little I needed the magazine.

        So, buying a sign isn’t frugal, but saying no to solicitors is!

    • says

      I have to agree with Kristen…

      The post did not reference religious peoples and this was not a harsh post at all, it lightly reference ONE person who was rude to her at the door and then talked about how making in the moment decisions about buying something overpriced is not very frugal. It was a post about how buying something from the door-to-door people was not financially responsible for frugal people.

    • Kim says

      With all due respect, I think Christina, Con, and Rachel are the ones being harsh about this post. You are all missing the point. I don’t pick up on anything ‘negative’ in her post nor do I see anything ‘negative’ from the comments of other readers. To describe her post as a “rant” is unfair and judgmental in itself. Kristen was laying out her opinion about door-to-door sales and discussing how saying ‘no’ to solicitors can save you a lot of money and hassle.

      Come down off the high horse you’re riding on and just agree to disagree. It’s frustrating to see someone have to apologize for their opinion.

  34. Janna says

    I got 8 solicitors in one day while I was nursing newborn twins. I put up a handwritten no solicitors sign that day. Then a few months later, when I had a little bit of time, I painted a cute sign on wood that says “No solicitors except children”. I don’t want the neighborhood kids to think they can’t approach me to sell magazines, candy, wrapping paper, etc… for their school fundraisers.

  35. Margaret says

    For the record, I do not feel your post was negative. Living frugally is difficult in our society… I feel like I put forth a lot of effort to avoid situations that pressure me into spending beyond the budget that my husband and I have agreed to based on our values. It’s bad enough defending my decisions to family, friends, neighbors, etc. Home is like my only sanctuary. Although I thankfully do not receive a lot of door to door solicitors, I can see how frustrating that would be. No one should give you a hard time about making decisions for the well-being of *your* family.

  36. Margaret says

    I need that last sign. Our plain old “NO SOLICITING” just doesn’t seem to do it.
    I do not usually answer the door but on occasions I do. I just stop them in mid-sentence and tell I am not interested. If the insist on pushing, I ask what part of ‘not interested’ they don’t understand and close the door.

  37. says

    We have a “no soliciting” sign on our front door b/c I got fed up with sales people. The final straw was the religious book salesman that came to the door at about 6:30PM on a Sunday evening after I had spent the whole afternoon doing yard work. Not in the mood……

    Get a sign that’s more specific. “No soliciting” only works about 50% of the time. The Girl Scouts know the meaning of the word, unfortunately. I have had the religious groups (not just JW here) skip me and others tell me that they really aren’t selling anything.

    • Kristen says

      Well, nuts. I’m so sad to hear that my pretty slate No Soliciting sign may not work. Boo.

      I’m going to hope for the best.

  38. Kristie says

    Your post was not negative! You feel the same way the majority of your readers feel. Please don’t feel bad!

  39. TracyDK says

    We don’ t tend to get solicitors here. There have been a few times, but I haven’t had anyone be rude to me. Most of the time, a simple “No thank you, I’m completely uninterested.” works. I know one time I asked the lady if it looked like we were rich because we do live in a poorer part of town. That got the point across. We do get our fair share of religious people though. And not one has been Jehovah’s Witness. Most of the time, they’re Mormons. I am not rude to them, though I turn them away. I generally tell them that I respect their thoughts and beliefs, I just don’t subscribe to them personally and that generally does the trick. Sometimes though, they are very persistent and that’s when I tell them that there is no amount of talking that will change my mind. Generally, I get a thank you and a see you later.

  40. Holly says

    I don’t have a no soliciting sign but I want one. When anyone comes to our door regarding religion I’ll be polite and take any literature (although it’s usually trashed immediately.) I’ll tell them we are Christian. I always invite guys from Teen Challenge in to visit and share their testimony and offer them water or other drink. I keep extra water bottles for polite and considerate people who come to our door. It’s my way of offering a “cup of cold water” to those who pass through. It is pretty warm here in Arizona so the water goes a long way.
    *A note, the guys from Teen Challenge come on Saturday’s when my whole family is home. I wouldn’t invite just anyone into my home but we have a long relationship with Teen Challenge.

  41. Jessi says

    I hate those magazine sales companies! They send people by here every year. We live in an apartment complex in a college town and they are very persistent. We’ve heard all the stories: raising money for college, raising money for a trip, in a boys vs girls competition, etc. Some of it is a scam. The first year, my husband got talked into purchasing a subscription because they told him it would be sent to the troops over seas. It didn’t happen. We eventually got our money back but it took quite a while. Others have been extremely rude, one asked for our change jar by the door when we refused to subscribe and another called my husband a very nasty word for a gay man. If we see them coming, we don’t open the door. But sometimes they surprise us.

    On a some what related note, I hung up on a telemarketer (fundraiser) for the first time yesterday. I told him I wasn’t interested and he launched into his pitch anyways. I sort of feel bad about it. I dunno. Was that wrong?

    • Melissa Z says

      No. You are not wrong to not want to waste your (and possibly your family’s) valuable time. If you politely say not interested & the salesperson ignores you, the salesperson is being rude. It’s not rudeness to protect yourself from overzealous, rude, or unscrupulous salespeople.

  42. says

    Love it! I gotta get that sign. My husband is a pastor and we live right by the church. We had Jehovah’s Witnesses show up one day, unaware it was the parsonage. I said (with a smile and a sense of humor), “My husband is the pastor over there, so you probably won’t have a lot of luck converting me.”:-) Handy excuse, huh? In the pastor, I have gotten into debates but people usually are not convinced by debates. I think it’s better to be kind and respectful and have firm boundaries. I try to do that with telemarketers too. (Until they won’t take my polite no for an answer!:-))

  43. pwrrkc6 says

    I have never posted before either, but have to say I am also dissapointed in many of the comments made today. I don’t understand how rudeness towards people with religious intentions has anything to do with being frugal? I understand the irritation with having them arrive at your door , but again, not on a site dedicated to frugality.

    • Rachel says

      Yes — the comments have been especially surprising. I rarely read the comments here as I’m mostly a lurker, but it makes me wonder if the (mostly women) who comment are always this judgmental and negative or if it’s just a response to the tone of this post? I guess I’m just a little shocked altogether.

      • Melissa Z says

        I think it may be the topic. After repeating the same thing “no, not interested” over & over, one tends to get less & less polite about the phrase, especially after people ignore you when you say “no, not interested” politely.

        I did market research/surveys, and we were told to reschedule calls for people unless they yelled, cursed, or repeated 3 times (in the same phonecall) to not call again.

        Knowing that (or learning through experience), it is really tempting to just skip the politeness & do something that works.

        So while I don’t really excuse rudeness (I had to deal with rude people) I do understand the frustration.

    • Lucy says

      I can’t speak for others, but every religion-oriented visit I have ever had in the US involved a plea for a donation or purchase of literature if I let it go on long enough. I consider that solicitation.

      A sign would be a frugal purchase if solicitors take you away from your home-based job or if you have trouble saying “no” convincingly!

  44. ann says

    I don’t mind it when people who offer a door to door service are door to door salesmen. Does that make sense? Like, people who do lawn care or pick up dry cleaning–it makes sense for them to do their selling door to door because their business is door to door. When I say I don’t mind, I mean I don’t mind if they stop by and give their business card and briefly describe their service (preferably with a flyer). Then I can read it and call them if I’m interested–I don’t feel pressured to give an answer.

  45. says

    I live in a neighborhood that’s neat and organized with nice sidewalks all over the place. We get bombarded by every type of solicitor. I made a no solicitors sign and then changed it to door to door salespeople and people leaving flyers. It didn’t work.

    We have three large churches near us and they all canvas our neighborhood. They don’t believe me when I politely tell them that we go to the same church my husband’s family has gone to for the last 200 years (no lie) and ask to be taken off their visitation list. Now I don’t answer the door.

  46. says

    Id just like to make a quick comment about the Jehovahs Witnesses. I actually grew up a Jehovahs Witness and while I have since decided I am not ready for religion in my life atm I still find all these comments rather funny! Believe it or not, living in Australia, I had more Mormans come to visit then anything else! lovely people though.

    And too help you all out, the system for Jehovahs Witnesses works on the basis that if someone actually says ‘Thank you, but id rather not have any more visits at this point in the future could you please remove me from your list?’ (or are actually violent! you do get them!) then they will actually be removed from the ‘territory’ as such for a period or usually around 2 years. 2 years because obviously people move around. If after that they come back, just say it again and you will be removed again!

    Hope this helps you all!

    P.S. electricity companies are the worst door to door salesmen here in AUS! to the point that the government requires them to call a special department and have the customer speak to someone who reads their rights to say no, the sale and records your acceptance. You also have 30 days by law to change your mind. If a company signs you and you say you did not sign, the voice recording is pulled and compared to your own and if it is not you, it is punishable by law as fraud!

  47. Michelle says

    One thing nobody’s mentioned yet is political solicitors. Out here in Portland it’s quite common to have people coming to the door asking for signatures on their petition and money to support their particular cause. I created a policy for myself–I never give out money at the door and I also have one charitable cause that we support exclusively. That gives me two polite ways to say No.

    When a door-to-door salesman (generally somebody selling storm windows or siding) comes, I let my 90-lb black labrador answer the door with me. I have to hold her collar tightly since she is straining to get at the salesperson, who generally leaves rather quickly when I say No. What they don’t know, however, is she is dying to get outside and greet them rather than eat them. :)

    I think the biggest problem with solicitors isn’t so much them trying to sell something overpriced as it is that they’re just plain annoying…they interrupt your life offering you something that you don’t want, and they often try to make you feel guilty for not wanting to buy it. And who wants to be made to feel guilty?

  48. Leah says

    My only thought about this is that being a door-to-door-salesman is actually a job and these days/or in some states, that may be the only type of job available. Probably they don’t like their job either…kinda like Nordstrom. But yeah, definitely not a frugal way to shop!

  49. Sarah says

    My problem is scam artists come to the door. They try to look for things to steal and scope out the place plus snoop ect. I just do not answer it anymore but, I will get one of those signs. I know those people have to work but, I have a tight budget and cannot buy that stuff.

  50. priskill says

    Ahh — I have to agree — so i tend to just say, “No thank you!” without further discussion. It helps that I don’t even open the door without asking who it is and if it’s a solicitor of any sort (siding, religion, or those darned people who paint your house number on the curb and then demand payment after the fact — sheesh!) i just call out, “No thanks — have a nice day!” That’s polite, right, but doesn’t bog either party down in timewasting activities — we can both move on to more productive activities. Of course, little kids and neighbors are exceptions!

    For the record, I did not feel offended by the post or responses to it — it is annoying to be interrupted by people trying to sell something — material or spiritual — you don’t want or need, although it was good to be reminded to be kind. Sometimes i fergit . . .

  51. Connie says

    Boy, what a slamfest this was! I either not answer the door or I do. A few seconds out of my time to politely said “I’m not interested, but thanks” is no big deal. I see where the post was coming from, and where the comments were coming from…I guess a lot of people just venting. If one is disciplined enough to not buy into this stuff, I think a simple “I’m not interested” would do. I have to imagine that some of these people hate that this is their job and being rude to them doesn’t make them feel any better. My two cents for what it’s (not) worth. (As an aside…if one is truly a Christian, they might ask themselves “What would Jesus do.” I would imagine He would be kind.) But hey, we’re all human and that is not always so simple!

    • Kristen says

      I definitely think that we should be kind when we deal with door to door salespeople, and I hope I haven’t said anything to the contrary. Much as I loathe having a sales pitch thrown at me, that would not justify unkindness or rudeness on my part.

  52. Melissa says

    We just got a solicitor last night after I read this :) They were selling a golf club membership.

    I saw several people post that religious groups are off-topic and I see that this is probably why the no-soliciting signs don’t work on them – because they don’t think they are soliciting. I look at it a different way. I know they want me to turn to their religion and they don’t have any financial intent but the end result is that if I join with them I will need to contribute to the church financially. I usually just take the pamphlet they are giving and thank them. I hate to waste their pamphlets but I haven’t found a better way yet. Since I don’t have another church and I don’t want to get into a religious discussion with them, it seems the best way to deal with it.

    • says

      I don’t think it would be inappropriate to thank them for their time and tell them that while you respect their beliefs it’s not for you…then tell them you’d prefer they keep their pamphlet or written information so that they can give it to someone who truly needs it and would use it as it was originally intended.

      If you wanted to take it a step further (or they continued) you could always say that you will keep them in mind if you decide you would like to check out some new churches in the area. This way you’re not deceiving them by telling them you go somewhere else to church, you’re simply letting them know you’re not interested in continuing the conversation, and you’re not filling up your trash can with unwanted pamphlets.

  53. Jenny says

    I have to say that I don’t think your post was rude or offensive in any way. Some of the comments do seem a little over the top (especially the ones about dogs and guns!), but that is not your responsibility.

    For what it’s worth, until last month we lived in a neighborhood that had a large “No Soliciting” sign at the entrance, which was consistently and regularly ignored. I do pretty much always answer my door and I do try to be polite. So, we took to saying, very politely, “I’m sorry, we don’t buy anything over the phone or door to door. Did you notice the ‘No Soliciting’ sign at the front of the neighborhood?” Almost universally, the person would apologize and leave.

    Not a big deal, really.

    For missionaries of various denominations, I almost always smile and say, “Thank you, but we’re very happy in our church.” Again, they smile and leave. That’s all I’ve ever needed to do.

  54. Pam says

    I’m with most of you, I rarely answer the door unless I know a friend or someone is stopping by. Especially if my husband isn’t home. However, here in Indianapolis, there’s been a bit of a crime wave where robbers are coming to the door and knocking and if no one answers, they are kicking the door in! So who knows what to do. I’m still erring on not answering the door.

    • says

      Pam–I live in Indy as well. I didn’t know that! I will definitely be more careful about not answering–or at least more alert when I don’t. It makes me nervous to be home alone and not answer though…

  55. Khristene says

    Where did Mr. FG get your No Soliciting sign? I’ve been looking for a nice one for ages and they all look terrible.

    • Kristen says

      We got it on Ebay…it just arrived yesterday, and I’m very pleased with how it looks.

      Just google “slate no soliciting sign ebay” and it should come up.

  56. says

    As someone who was a Mormon missionary, I didn’t think any of the comments were rude! All of your suggestions are great. There are, of course, a few missionaries who will persist, but for the most part a polite ‘No, thank you’ does the trick.

    I also bought into a magazine scam. I ended up putting a stop payment on my check after reading up a bit on the group that sold the magazines. Their “business” practices make me very angry.

    As for other solicitors, I just don’t answer the door. Thankfully we have a peephole, so I can just see if it’s someone I know. I don’t think I could survive without one!

    Finally, great post! It was well-written and I agree wholeheartedly.

  57. Cheryl says

    A few years ago a group of door to door sales kids were bussed in to our town. There was a older lady who had answered the door and talked to one of the young men. I don’t know if she bought anything or not but the young man left and continued on. Later that day he came back and when she answered the door, he asked her for a drink of water. She recognized him as the same boy as before and invited him in for a glass of water. She was on the phone at the time with a member of her church. She went to get water for the boy and he stabbed her to death while she was still on the phone. I was home that day with my daughter who was young at the time and I vividly remember hearing the sirens and seeing the police canvasing our neighborhood. Since then our town banned door to door sales people but that hasn’t stopped them.

  58. says

    I’ve been reading this blog for about a month now and I haven’t commented yet, but this post, or I guess more accurately the comments to this post, just made me want to chime in.

    After moving to a big city, the only job my husband could find was working for Kirby. Yes, Kirby, the $1,700.00 vacuum that you can’t live without. Having had him in that kind of a job gave me a lot of perspective on the business. It’s true some people make their living doing door-to-door sales and that is how they feed their family. It is also very true that some door-to-door salespeople are very rude, have been trained to sweet-talk you all they can, and won’t take no for an answer. The Kirby office that my husband worked for taught their salespeople the things to say and do just to guilt people into letting them into people’s homes and then guilt them into buying the vacuum (things like making mention that your children play on carpet THAT dirty, ect.).

    Now, as I said, not all salespeople are bad or negative and I did not get that impression from this blog post at all. Same goes for religious door-to-door people. But, some people just won’t take ‘No thank you” either.

    What I don’t understand is how people came to see this as being a negative post at all. You’d think that I, someone who had a door-to-door salesman husband, would be offended, but I found it to be pretty right on and true to what it’s really like today. Being a door-to-door person 20 years ago was a lot different than it is now. Not only do the people in the homes have a different mentality and disposition but so are the door knockers… It is my opinion that this is just not an era for door-to-door sales.

    Overall, I don’t understand what all the fuss about this post is. I found it to be funny and pretty right on the money. More often than not, door-to-door salespeople are very pushy and can be unfriendly, and you didn’t even say that they all were, you just referenced ONE actually rude salesperson. it’s not like you’re trying to give them all a bad name. On top of that, you didn’t even mention religious door-to-door people so I don’t know why anyone would get offended about that. Also, I think saying no to door-to-door salespeople is a very frugal idea because their products are overpriced and you shouldn’t make a decision to pay, oh $1,700 (for instance) for something on a whim.

    So, I think this was a very good post and I am definitely going to keep reading more. :)

    Just my two cents.

    • Kristen says

      Oh my…that’s awful that they teach the salespeople to say rude stuff like that. Yuck. That’s just so…slimey.

      And I appreciate your honest opinion. Thank you. :)

  59. says

    Just a thought….my husband recently started working for the water department here in our city. He has to go to every home in the city and change out a part in their water meter. Everyone in the city has to have this done or their water will get shut off.

    It certainly has changed my opinion about door-to-door people. I don’t like pushy salespeople either, but being polite and kind instead of slamming the door angrily or being plain rude goes a long way. And my husband is SO appreciative when someone offers iced tea or a water bottle.

    I do understand that sometimes you have to say no and people won’t take no for an answer. But please, be kind first =)

  60. Virginia Dare says

    Being in an apartment building, just about the only door-to-door salesperson we get is the firewood man during the winter, and he is often a welcome sight! Our building is older, and has the unusual feature of wood-burning fireplaces. When you are on the fifth floor, it is nice to buy firewood from someone who will bring it up to your unit!
    Slightly off-topic, I was once advised that if a colleague or acquaintance says “would you like to buy some [whatever] from my kid” and you just don’t want what they’re selling, offer to make a donation instead. (Example: would I like to buy a poinsettia for $10 to support your daughter’s volleyball team? No, we are going away for Christmas, but I’d be happy to make a $10 donation.) The reasons have already been alluded to in other comments. However, what actually happened every time I have done this is the person says, “oh, nevermind.” So far, it’s just as frugal as flat-out declining! LOL

  61. AK says

    There have been Dateline-news-style stories about these companies that lure inner city teens into travelling in vans all summer, to be dumped off in neighborhoods across the US and scam people with the magazine pitches. It is a sorry practice, and the teens at your door are likely desperate and undernourished. Because I loathe the door-to-door practices of these organizations, I always turn them away, even though the situation pains my heart. The child on my doorstep has often just openly lied to me (that they live nearby, that so-and-so down the street just ordered from them, that they attend a local school, that they are saving points for a trip) and they always present a dingy, laminated card. My gentle neighbor has an excellent practice of offering these kids water and granola bars, because she worries they are hungry and thirsty. I’ve wondered about doing something similar with my children…having them pack little sacks of water and a snack for the door-to-door folks.

    Because we homeschool, having the doorbell ring unnecessarily really is an interruption, but putting up a sign feels unwelcoming to me. I always want the opportunity to entertain “angels unaware.” :)

    I am saddened that in our neighborhood, we seem to get DAILY solicitors in the summer. They hock everything from lawn services, to pest control, to AT&T Uverse, to newspapers. The sales tactics are HIGH PRESSURE and I do feel myself growing angry. “Ma’am, you don’t even have a MOMENT for me to show you my cleaner? You aren’t interested in CLEANING?” Oh mercy.

    I’ve always found door-to-door faithful folk, of any denomination, to be gentle spirits who generally just want to leave a little magazine.

    • says

      When my husband worked for Kirby, they used the whole “You aren’t interested in CLEANING?” thing also. My husband refused to say it because he felt it was too rude. lol

      • juliana says

        Is it just me – or is no one really interested in cleaning?? Isn’t it something we do because we have to (hygiene and pride in our homes)? I do it…but I put as little thought and NO interest into it as possible outside cleaning times! If a salesman said this to me I would reply with great pride that “no, I have a a life, with many varied interests…..not one of which includes cleaning!!”

    • priskill says

      Thanks for this reminder about young folks who might get sucked into dishonest selling. Really liked the suggestion of the gently neighbor who offers sustenance to kids without supporting directly the dishonest business. It is good to be reminded to be kind . . .

  62. Pam McCormick says

    So many thoughts flooded my brain with everyones comments! ONE thought did keep re-occurring…how this hit a nerve and how stressed everyone is.I have acted badly in the past to Many who have come to my door- I just couldn’t take it, whether it was sales/religion/services…I wanted to say I am working my butt off,I can’t afford anything,and I am about as stressed as everyone else I really just need peace and quiet PLEASE….but was too young and overwhelmed at the time now not so much totally comfortable handling things.I never open the door to a stranger,never answer my phone live-cell phone is always live since they are people I have given the number to,only buy what I reach out to get and peace and tranquility I have found.Peace to everyone this weekend as we remember this Memorial Day all those who have given so much.

  63. Liz Stewart says

    Our worst experience was with a travel company who claimed we had won a trip to Branson. Of course it would come with strings attached (we could only travel on certain dates, it could only be two travelers, no kids, and we had to pay $200-300 for the trip, which was supposed to be cheaper than if we took the trip ourselves) My husband was way too soft with them, and couldn’t get the guy off the phone for 20 minutes or so. Did I mention this was on a weeknight around 8:30 pm, and we hadn’t had dinner yet because hubs ended up working SUPER late? He finally handed the phone to me and when the “manager” tried to go into his shpeal, I told him no we weren’t interested, no means no, no does not mean keep trying, and that I was hanging up the phone now because it was late and our family had yet to eat dinner. Of course by this time I was less than plesant with him after watching my hubs being “led” by their pitch to say yes. Sorry, just a personal story…

  64. says

    I just saw a person I don’t know walking away from my door. I don’t know what type of solicitor they were, but they didn’t knock or ring the bell. I only noticed because one of my cats will run and hide if anyone approaches our door. So, a “No Soliciting” sign can work. The solicitor’s time wasn’t wasted, and neither was my time or money.

  65. says

    I’m late to the convo here– but oh my goodness! I know we live in the same area, Kristen, and it sure seems like there’s been a huge increase in the number of door-to-door salespeople lately. The worst part is I work at home so I’m almost always there and the whole thing starts off badly because I’m annoyed about being interrupted.

    The magazine-selling young people are the scariest. They have this 100 mph speech and do.not.stop.talking. unless you shut the door on them (which makes me feel absolutely awful!). And they seem get really defensive quickly and say rude things as I’m declining and closing the door. :P

    I was a newspaper carrier from age 10-12 (required to get new customers periodically) and had to do a lot of other door-to-door fundraising as a kid. Even at age 10 I hated it and I would never have approached a house with a “no soliciting” or “no trespassing” sign. I’m pretty sure I avoided houses with “beware of dog” too. The presence of any sign usually indicates the resident does not like to be bothered and will not be receptive! (This is the reason I have no such signs at my house… I don’t want to send out that unfriendly vibe… but I sure am reconsidering that lately!!)

    Mostly I just wish that businesses would update their business practices to fit our current culture and buying habits. It used to be that people didn’t have easy access to information and maybe needed a salesperson/people to inform them of their buying options and bring products to their area. With the internet, TV, catalogs, and suburban communities with stores EVERYWHERE, pretty much everyone knows what they want, when they want it, and how to get it. Invading personal property and schedules when there is only a tiny chance the target even needs what you’re selling is a total waste, IMO. I’d imagine the only way they stay in business is by preying on vulnerable people, such as the elderly and lonely. I wish these silly companies could hire those magazine-peddlers to promote a product in more respectful, culturally-sensitive ways.

    • says

      ACK! Please delete my first couple comments!!! I thought my internet wasn’t working and kept refreshing the page and clicking submit. So embarrassing!

  66. Laura says

    I agree the door to door stuff is annoying & for the record I wasn’t offended by your post. What no one seems to be mentioning though, is that the door to door selling/promoting/converting is also potentially dangerous for both parties. The person doing the selling has no idea who is going to open the door or what response they’ll receive & the person who opens the door has no idea who is on the other side or what they’ll do once the door is open. I installed a peep hole in my door & if I don’t know you unless you’re delivering the pizza I just ordered the door stays closed & locked.

  67. Shana says

    If I’m not expecting company, I just plain don’t answer the doorbell when it is rung. Period. If it is someone like a friend who just happened to drop by, they know my phone number and can call to tell me it’s them.

    I don’t open the door for strangers. Ever. Period. :)

  68. says

    Hi – When I was in Junior High, I sold cleaning products door-to-door to start raising money for my college education. That said – I must add that I totally agree with you on all points! And I think your first little gray “No Soliciting” sign is the best way to deter salespeople. It’s firm, but nice and polite. Those signs always kept me from knocking! But in all honesty, looking back I can see that my company’s products were pricey, and people probably could have purchased just as good of quality products anywhere that better housewares are sold. And there are lots of stores like that.

    So my business cost my parents a lot to get me into, and folded pretty quickly due to lack of sales, and I learned a valuable lesson. And I did earn 2 college degrees without the hoped-for income from that endeavor!

  69. Debra says

    We generally don’t answer the door unless we know who it is, for safety reasons. I talked with female Mormon missionaries at one time though. I was respectful of them and they were respectful of my agnostic beliefs. They were very pleasant and polite and I found it to be an interesting exchange. Our differences make the world more interesting.

  70. CC says

    My what a lot of comments. I found this post interesting, just like the one at Get Rich Slowly about office spending. They both are about others trying to tell you what you should be doing with your time and money. Don’t play along and your the stick in the mud.

    Anyway I don’t get door sales because our yard is fenced. We do have some everyone once in a while come in and two men scared me one day because they had my screen door open and was going to come right in the house. But for my mastiff that was sleeping inside who they scared also. I’m not sure what they were up to and was glad they left.

    My father had the same problem but he keeps his screen locked and when they tried to open it they couldn’t. He was nice to them at first(alarm sales) but then after they tried to come in and wouldn’t leave and started being rude he had to threaten to call the police.

    We have had crimes in our town from people who pretend to be someone they are not, salespeople, utilities workers, etc. So rude or not you have to take your own and your families safety in account when approached in this manner. More women get hurt because they don’t want to hurt someones feelings and don’t listen to their on instincts. If you are on the up and up you don’t mind a call to the utility office or whatever. If you are rude and make me fill foolish then I’m done.

  71. says

    We are too cheap to buy a No Soliciting sign, so we just typed up a short one “Please, No Soliciting” on the computer and stuck it to the front door.

    It has drastically reduced the number of people that show up trying to sell us crap.

    Last week we had our first solicitor in over 3 months. My husband said “no thanks, we aren’t interested – there’s our sign” and pointed to the No Soliciting sign. :P

  72. says

    I’m a sucker for the “can you help me” category of sales people. On our high street, we also get charity panhandlers, people who aggressively try to get you to sign over part of your paycheck to otherwise reputable organisations such as Cancer research and the American Red Cross.

  73. Megan says

    In Australia, there’s a terrible scam in which people come to your door and pretend to be from your energy provider, without ever explicitly stating that they are. They then say they are signing you up to a cheaper plan, and if you agree, you’re suddenly giving $80 a month to some dodgy company from China or India. Impossible to track down and cancel – a lot of elderly people get sucked in. I’m very polite to salesmen and Jehovahs Witnesses but these scam artists receive some very sharp words from me. I once threatened to call the police if they talked to any other households in the complex I live in.

  74. WilliamB says

    I don’t get many door-to-door salespersons and haven’t had much trouble with the ones I do get. The hardest for me is the neighborhood kids (most of whom I know) selling crud. I disagree strongly with this general method of fundraising *and* with buying stuff I don’t need, but I find it very hard to turn down kids/parents I know. This may be a result of politeness or maybe concern with my reputation among my neighbors; haven’t figured that out yet.

    As it happens, the religious salespeople I get are mostly on the most polite end of the spectrum. Some have been wooden but none rude. Everyone gets the same response: “No thank you.” If they persist and don’t end the conversation (which doesn’t happen much to me) I’ll close the door.

  75. says

    Because of my living situation I haven’t had to deal with door-to-door salespeople, but I have had some unfortunate run-ins with the same type of magazine salespeople on my college campus.

    The first time it happened was a couple of years ago, when I was significantly busier, less frugal, and much more of a people pleaser. I tried to point out that I don’t carry cash, so the guy walked me to an ATM to withdraw the money. It was incredibly awkward and uncomfortable, but I bought something just to be done with it – not only did I never receive a magazine, but I was also unable to get a refund or talk to a person at all.

    This last fall as I was walking to catch a bus home a young guy stopped me to ask for help with a project for a class. This is relatively common, and since I had a minute I stopped – I assumed to answer a survey question or something similar. When I saw him whip out a magazine catalog I told him I wasn’t interested and started moving away, at which point he got angry and aggressive because I hadn’t listened to his pitch yet. Trying to be kind, I explained that I’d already been scammed by this sort of deal, and I had a bus to catch. He got even angrier and told me I was being judgmental and rude and continued yelling at me as I hurriedly walked away.

    While it was kind of nice that there was no one else around – so I didn’t feel socially awkward being told loudly that I was a horrible person – it was also unnerving to be essentially alone with someone who had gone that quickly from normal to aggressive and awful. Yeesh, it still kinda creeps me out.

  76. says

    I’m lucky to live in a rural area and I don’t have to deal with a lot of door to door sales. I have had the occasional religious visitor. I turn them away firmly but politely.

    Phone solicitations are a huge problem for me! We have a business phone and a home phone. Between the two, there are days where I feel that I just can’t get any real work done! I have tried the Do Not Call List, and I usually ask the person calling me to be removed from their calling list. This seems to work for calls made by a person, but what about calls made by an automated device? Has anyone figured out how to make that foghorn cruise ship offer disappear? Not answering our phone is not an option for our business, and our calls can’t be screened by called ID, so I think I’m left frustrated. I homeschool and run a business, these interruptions really affect our life. It’s sad that this is an acceptable way for businesses to do business.

  77. Jan Horwood says

    I had to chime in after reading all these posts! I didn’t hear any “attitude” in Kristen’s original post, but some of the comments left a lot to be desired. There are as many ways to say no politely as there are individuals, and if the seller won’t take no for an answer, they deserve to be firmly rebuffed, which is extremely possible to do without compromising your own behavior.
    I have to laugh now as it seems so old fashioned, but my mother always said, “Thank you, but we already gave at the office.” Unfortunately, as she got older and developed Alzheimer’s, she was preyed upon, and I do mean that literally, mostly by phone solicitors. She couldn’t remember giving before and they took full advantage of it. The money she let slip through her fingers could be paying for her nursing care now. (Instead, I am.) I think there needs to be some kind of legislation against that kind of thing, but would have no idea how to go about it.
    Since I’ve inherited her number, I have had to gradually get us off all of these millions of lists, for everything from cancer to baseball games for policemen. I think the worst experience I’ve had was from a woman who asked for my mother, and when I told her she was not “with us” anymore, suggested I give to my mother’s “favorite charity” in her memory. I am still incredibly angry about that. However, that was one insensitive jerk. They are not all like that, and you don’t know which type is there when you open the door or answer the phone.
    Sorry, a bit of a long rant of my own, but heartfelt!

  78. tiffany says

    The same two “missionaries” from my local Hispanic Jehovas Witness church have come to my home at least 5 times in 6 months. the first 3 I told them I was not interested in joining their church but instead invited them to my church. The fourth time, I looked out my door, said “hold on, I’ll be right back” (I was canning chicken) and then forgot about them accidentally. When I finally remembered they had knocked, they were gone. The fifth time, I did the same thing, but on purpose. It has now been a year and I have not had any more visits from them. Horrible. I know. But it worked and cost me a few seconds of time.

  79. Anon says

    I had these two guys come up to my door selling me magazine subscriptions and they sweet talked their way inside i still cant believe i was that guillible and naive to let these people in never ever again will i do that same mistake again and ended up forking 60 bucks and getting them out of the house i was so relieved not even the loss of money but the thought of how stupid i was kept me awake for several days and hopefully i dont get anything in the mail ever or ever hear from them again or get any bills what a night i was so scared after that definitely a wake up call for me NO means NO!

  80. Mel says

    Too funny…my immediate thought when I read the blue sign was “That’s perfect execpt I need to make note that the Girl Scouts are OK to knock” After reading the comments, I see I’m not the only one ;0)

    Your post didn’t come off as rude or even strongly opinionated. My guess is the people who were offeded, are so b/c they have a personal investment in door to door sales or religious recruitment.

    All that aside, it’s your blog…you’re allowed to post what ever you want and you ALWAYS do it in such a gracious manner!

    • Anon says

      I really like your NO SOLICITING sign. I go door to door to sell things so that I can afford to provide a home and food for my child.

      I totally understand how people dislike door to door sales. I, myself, never buy things door to door and agree with your points.

      I think one of the biggest problems I run into is that people tend to think just because I’m working to support my family, and I haven’t found another job yet, that they should treat me rudely. That’s fine if you want to treat someone rudely, but it just reflects on you as a person–not them–and it doesn’t matter who they are, whether they are a struggling parent or a millionaire. That’s how I feel. Some of the people I’ve enjoyed talking to the most in my job are the one’s who act politely and respectfully to strangers. It’s really opened my eyes to the depth of humanity people are capable (or not capable) of.

      Another huge problem is this–I don’t go to houses that have No Soliciting signs. But sometimes, I knock on someone’s door and they show their ugliest side to me because of it. Today, I tried to politely tell someone that if I ever see a No Soliciting sign on a door, I won’t knock on it–but she slammed the door in my face before I could tell her that.

      There are predators who pretend to be solicitors, just like there are predators who are your neighbors, or sometimes, even worse, teachers or elected officials in your community. But there are also solicitors who are just normal people, trying to support themselves or their family off of their own hard work, instead of, IDK, going on unemployment or welfare (and I’m not knocking those services at all–I’m just saying that solicitors are just people with a certain, often unsavory, emotionally painful, and difficult job). Really, we’re all in the same boat–we’re all human. We’re part of the community. And we’re often just trying to take care of our families too.

      So anyway, I really appreciate you pointing out ways to politely decline solicitors. Some people actually do benefit from it, but if you don’t think you will–then a No Soliciting sign is a great idea.

  81. Suzanne says

    I don’t know if it’s too late to leave a comment here. I try not to be rude but look at it from my perspective. I get anywhere from 4 to 10 telemarketing phone calls a day. None of them ever asked me if I have the time and unfortunately I’m left with only the option of being rude to get rid of them and to get them to stop calling. Then consider it’s the end of the day I want to concentrate on making dinner and enjoying my family and then come to door-to-door salesman who also never ask if I have the time and who can clearly see I am overwhelmingly frustrated trying to get stuff done. And when you do try to be polite telling them you’re not interested politely is never enough and they push you to the point where you get annoyed and have to be rude to get rid of them. Just had an experience today where I was right in the middle of writing an important letter on my doorbell rings. Let’s start out by saying she doesn’t bother to ask me if it’s a good time. She just start Smalltalk and says how are you today. Since I was right in the middle of typing something I was finishing as not to lose my train of thought when her next remark came out which I found utterly rude. “Oh I am doing good today too by the way thanks for asking”. Really? I was prepared to hear her out but I was also using one leg to hold my dogs from trying to running out the door when I realized looking at her I don’t have time for this shit and shut the door.

  82. George says

    Depends on my mood. Some days I open the door, the seller really annoys me with their pitch/attitude/etc and I just say “no, no thank you” and shut the door on them. Other times (better mood) I make the mistake of being nice. Either way, I never buy anything, ever, from door-to-door sales people. Best bet is to not answer the door at all. There is no point in doing so when it’s 100% guaranteed that the sale will not be made.

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