British Gas is going to suspend doorstep sales. Add them to SSE and that’s two companies down… only the rest to go. It looks like good news, but will our intrepid salespeople just pick up the phone instead?
People sell to us all the time – by using ads on the side of buses, radio or TV messages, or even accosting us in shopping centres. We’re so used to being “consumers” that often we don’t even realise that we’re being sold to constantly.
But some types of sales are more intrusive than others. I personally dislike any kind of selling that means I have to talk to a stranger who is giving me unsolicited advice about where to spend my money. That includes doorstep sales, chuggers, telesales and even people coming up to me in a mobile phone shop asking if they can “recommend” a new handset.
Reviewing the situation
So, British Gas has announced a three month suspension of doorstep sales – good news. It might only be a suspension, but I hope it’ll last longer than a few months. If they can find better ways of selling that aren’t intrusive then I’m all for it.
But will they put their efforts into other cold sales instead? Guaranteeing that they won’t knock on my door is great, but not if it means I get even more phone calls from chirpy salespeople who ask me if I know how much I’m paying for my energy.
In a previous Conversation lots of commenters suggested their tricks for avoiding telesales calls – most were registered with the Telephone Preference Service, and some used answer phones to avoid them. But why should we need to have tricks to avoid companies who, let’s face it, are supposed to want our good will?
Who will buy…?
Perhaps I’m just a bit aloof, but I prefer my advertising to be subtle. I can be intrigued, entertained, or bored by a TV or newspaper advert but ultimately it’s my choice whether I engage with that company.
When it comes to cold sales, my ingrained desire to be polite means it’s hard to ignore someone who is talking directly to me, so it feels less like a choice and more like being forced to sit through a compulsory lecture.
But then these types of sales must have an effect, mustn’t they? Companies wouldn’t use them if they didn’t. So instead of asking you to rant about how they annoy you (although you can do that too, of course – I just did!) I’m going to ask if you’ve ever bought anything off the back of a cold sale. Have you switched your energy over the phone? Donated to a street charity collector? What was it that made you buy?