It is rare that I answer my door anymore at the house. The vast majority of the time it is nothing I want to deal with. One time I had my neighbor come to my door and it ended in a rather nice conversation for a bit. That is probably the last time I can remember where I was really glad someone unexpected came to my door. Most the time they selling something, with magazines being the most prevalent product. Some other popular products people have tried to sell are arts and crafts, monthly meat subscriptions and lawn services. Yet, of all the things folks try to sell, magazines seems to be the most popular. Needless to say, I’ve never bought any.
The whole concept of selling magazines door to door just doesn’t make sense. First off, I have the internet. I can get whatever news and information I need. Magazines quickly become clutter, something I just don’t need. In addition, I get the opportunity to publish my own thoughts and opinions as well as become part of a community. Secondly, why would I give a random person off the street a personal check, cash or credit card number for anything? What is the difference between some kid off the street trying to “succeed” selling me a subscription to Time and some bit of spam telling me to buy some pills? I didn’t ask for either and therefore I don’t really feel confident sharing personal information with these parties. This goes the same for sales calls.
It is nothing personal. Honestly, the kid that just came to my door this afternoon seemed like a nice enough guy. He was working the streets in a shirt and tie in the rain. His hand was freaking freezing when I shook it. Part of me felt sorry for him, but at the same time, I was not about risk giving out my banking information or credit card just because this person felt selling magazines was a worthwhile endeavor. While I doubt he was planning on swindling me or stealing my identity, there is no way I’m going to take that risk with my family just so this guys can get a cheap cruise or get the opportunity to sell selling subscriptions to other kids.
Some might say I’m just being paranoid and I’ll admit that the chances of me getting burned are pretty slim. But, in addition to avoiding an unnecessary risk, I’m not really a fan of selling door to door as a good career for a kid. When I was in high school and looking for work, there were a few times where I found out the job was actually a sales position. One was selling knives and I quickly said no. It required me forking out $300 to get my demo kit and that was not going to happen. Another time, I went door to door selling coupon cards. A company would offer a card for $20-$30 that had discounts and free services. If you actually used it, it wasn’t a terrible deal. They would pick up everyone at a Perkins and drive us out to some neighborhood where we would roam the streets knocking on doors. I’m not a very good sales person, so it was easy to see how as a source of income it just didn’t scale. The people who were relatively successful were not exactly breaking the bank either. A friend of mine, who turned out to be an excellent sales person, got stiffed on some checks.
The point is not so much that selling door to door is bad as much as it just isn’t a good career. As a society, culture or community, there come times when transitions happen. It can be difficult, but usually it means a better deal for the majority. In my mind, selling door to door magazines falls into that category. There will always be people who buy into the prepackaged sales businesses, but at some point I hope they stop being folks knocking on my door in the rain trying to sell me paper magazines. In other words, look at Snuggie’s, ShamWow and even spammers for better models selling relatively useless goods. Then I don’t have to be frustrated when I go to the door knowing I’ll be saying no to buying an outdated medium.