Why Does Door Knocking Work?

Recently I wrote about a door knocker that came to my house and signed my girlfriend up to a 15 year water tank rental program (I canceled it as soon as I got home and found out). I wrote a post about the ridiculous nature of these door knocker sales tactics and it’s no secret that most deals offered to you at your door are not good deals (not for YOU anyways).

Why Does Door Knocking Continue?

While it may seem obvious to you and me that when someone knocks on your door to sell you something it’s usually nothing more than a waste of time and a nuisance, it still happens. It still happens because enough people sign up for these silly deals that it makes business sense to continue doing it. The same friend who was telling me about their dalliance with credit card balance protection insurance last week surmised that for our parents’ generation (and older), doing business at your front door was a completely acceptable, and in most cases honorable way of conducting business and earning a living for the salesperson.

Seniors Get Ripped Off The Most?

Perhaps this explains why so many seniors seem to get taken advantage of. To them, door knocking was a normal sales method for most of their lives. I can’t speak for everyone in my generation, but I’m pretty sure when that doorbell rings and you see a stranger with a clipboard outside you know the next few minutes of your life are going to be a waste of time… always.

Ask For A Brochure And Ask For A Second Opinion

I recommend speaking to your elder relatives about door knockers and warning them that these days it’s not worth signing anything at the door. If the deal is good, it will still be good if you call back after having checked it over with some friends first and researching the companies on the internet.

Google the company’s name + “scam”

One simple thing to try – do a google search for the company’s name plus the word “scam”. So if company XYZ came to your door, just google “XYZ scam” and you can quickly save yourself a lot of time. You might find some sites or forums which detail all the sales tactics you just experienced along with a breakdown of how the scam works – or how bad the deal really is if it is not a fully qualified scam. It should be enough for you to figure out if you should do more research or cut your time losses right away. :)

Preet Banerjee
Preet Banerjee
...is an independent consultant to the financial services industry and a personal finance commentator. You can learn more about Preet at his personal website and you can click here to follow him on Twitter.
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Showing 8 comments
  • hylarides

    The tactics are similar for many commission based jobs. Whether it's car dealerships, financial advisors, or extended warranties at electronics stores.

  • Future Money-Bags

    Although I agree with the article, the method which unto to find out about the so-called company does not necessarily give you the best result.
    By typing in 'xyz scam' you will have 99% chance get many results stating that such company is a scam. Same with 'abc scam', 'petrocanada scam' , 'bank scam', 'car salesman scam', I could go on all day.

    But the fact of the matter is, many of these companys that you will hear about from word-of-mouth, or in a sales pitch, can actually be very legit. If you are actually curious about the company or name that you heard, please do more research than just typing scam. :)

    Also asking 1 or 2 other people about what they think about it, is very bias. We have internet these days, and there are many many honest opinions out there about every product on the face of the earth. Thats where I always get my legit answers from.

  • toast

    I'm onboard with Future Money-Bags here on this one. On the Internet, you can really find whatever you search for, and in this world, you can find people who will corroborate your desired conclusion about anything. Drop the word “scam” from the searches, and you will get a less biased view (unless of course you want the bias…).

  • returnsreaper

    I disagree that it's a bad idea to search for 'xyz scam'. I think you have to actually read and be discerning with the information you find in the search results, but it is a good place to start to see if it is a scam or a bad deal for the consumer. Many times in the past I've found it actually leads to good information on what the actual deal is that the door knocker is offering. You certainly won't find those details on the company's website. Those details are hidden in the fine print of the contract.

    Of course the best option is to read the fine print of the contract, but I never get that far with a door knocker. In order to get to that point, you've probably had to go get them one of your gas bills and let him look at your furnace or something.

  • Preet

    A good point – it's not fool-proof – but I will perhaps amend the post to flesh out my thoughts. I don't disagree with you, but still think it is a worthwhile exercise.

  • Preet

    As I responded to FMB, I think it is still worth doing, but when I get home I will elaborate in more detail… you both raise good points.

  • Read the Fine-Print

    I read this a while ago and when this article by Globe and Mail came up…

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-investor/personal-finance/household-finances/does-that-cheque-from-the-energy-company-seem-too-good-to-be-true/article1781977/

    The conclusion at the end reminded me again about this article. So yeah, anything that’s a deal will still be there after the door-to-door salesperson has left. Consumers should make corporations play their game, not the other way around. They want your money — as much of it they can get — but you need to change your habits (as a consumer) to demonstrate disapproval of their tactics.

    So, in general, I just politely say no at the door no matter what they have to say (basically after their first sentence). Life is just too busy to complain about all these companies, so the tool you can use is negative reinforcement. Stop it from working on it’s tracks and at that point economies will take over (until another generation has passed and someone thinks door-to-door is a new tactic again…).

    Cheers!

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