Top methods for door-to-door sales defense | Ryan Ryals

This past weekend was a holiday for most of us, but not for a lot of door-to-door salespeople. I didn’t think I needed more magazines, dubious cleaning supplies, or bug and rat control, but these folks apparently saw my deficiencies in this area and decided to make a personal visit to help me out.

The pest guy’s appearance was ironic, as he was trying to help me get rid of bugs, while standing next to our cricket cage on the front porch. My daughter’s lizard eats half a dozen crickets a day, and we actually need more bugs, not fewer.

The cleaning supplies person wasn’t much better, offering a green liquid claiming it was a miracle cleaning product, while in the next neighborhood homeowners were offered a purple one. Same cleaner, different color, and it’s probably just soap.

Currently, door-to-door peddling is prohibited in Maple Valley, but after a couple of attorneys complained to the city attorney (who also recognized the First Amendment problems with the ordinance), the city’s 11-year ban on this type of selling is about to be lifted.

But don’t worry, the ban will replaced with multiple layers of bureaucracy, which is probably more effective anyway. These layers could include annual application fees, photo ID, criminal background checks, Social Security numbers, physical descriptions, possible fingerprinting or palm scanning and a week long waiting period.

Right now, we’re in that weird period where the peddlers know that the ban won’t be enforced, but the bureaucratic maze hasn’t been built yet. Until then, you’re on your own, but I’m here to help.

Forget the “No Soliciting” sign, the polite brush-offs, getting angry, or just ignoring the door; it’s time to make a sport out of this. Here are my Top Methods for Door to Door Defense:

Have products ready to sell

This one is my personal favorite; selling to the salesperson. Instead of seeing this as a nuisance, look at it as a marketing opportunity. Surely there’s something around your house that you’ve wanted to get rid of, so put together your standard sales pitch and get that thing sold! I also recommend having two items, and asking the peddler if they would prefer item No. 1 or No. 2. Don’t give them a choice of yes or no; make it a choice of this one or that one.

No speaka de English

If you’re pretty good at accents, pick one that the salesperson isn’t likely to know. Work on your jibber jabber a bit, drop in the phrase “no speaka de English”, and try to work in the name of an obscure country like Estonia or Kyrgyzstan. If you can get someone else in your house to play along, get them to shout at the door while you yammer back at them, sounding slightly angry. That helps sell the fake accent, and works surprisingly well.

Suggest alternative products you would buy

Create a list of things you are currently in the market for, and hand it to the salesperson. Your list might include wishful things like a boat, a purple Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet made between 2002-2004, or a three-level swing set. Mix it up with mundane things like a 62-foot garden hose, red running shoes in an EE width, and red leather whips longer than 4 feet. Be creative here; this salesperson is going to talk about you for the rest of their lives.

Let the salesperson go through the first part of their pitch, then respond with, “Yeah, I’m not really in the market for that, but here’s a list of things I am looking for. Do you carry any of those?” Refuse to buy anything that isn’t on your buy list.

Pre-sales application and questionnaire

Act really interested in the product or service, but before you can commit to it, the salesperson just needs to fill out a presales application and the 100-question interview. Have it ready on a clipboard by the front door, and insist that you can only purchase things from companies that have filled out the application. Don’t give in here; no completed application, no sale. You can preview and download my personal questionnaire at


Good luck out there, and may the farce be with you.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the Sep 23
Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates