The other day, a caller came to my house. My girlfriend answered the door to a young man making small talk about the weather. Perplexed – she asked who it was. ‘Oh’ he replied, ‘I’m just here from LoveFilm.’
Now, there’s nothing wrong with companies selling their services to consumers in a range of different ways, but door-to-door selling is rarely popular with the public. It’s often intrusive to have a person arrive at your home and attempt to sell you a product or service face-to-face.
But what made the visit to my house all the more strange is that LoveFilm isn’t selling life’s essentials – it’s selling entertainment. More specifically, LoveFilm sells movie rentals and video on-demand.
Video on-demand goes door-to-door
LoveFilm started using field sales techniques in 2011, but quickly had to defend its strategy after BBC Watchdog exposed one of its third-party agents for mis-selling. LoveFilm apologised at the time and said it had suspended the third-party agency involved.
So LoveFilm is now using doorstep sellers to recruit subscribers from their homes. Again, if this is done respectfully, then fair enough. But there are always lingering concerns when it comes to door-to-door selling. My girlfriend was able to say ‘no thanks’ to the man who came to our door and he didn’t push it any further.
But there has been plenty of evidence in the past of the potential darker side of door-to-door selling, including people being cajoled into signing up to deals they don’t really want. In some cases, they may do it just to get rid of the sales agent who has talked their way into the living room.
The gloves have come off
Our visit from LoveFilm does show that competition for digital entertainment subscribers is getting fierce. Following the arrival of well-funded competitors in the market, particularly US media giant Netflix and the Sky-owned NOW TV, LoveFilm has decided it’s time for the gloves to come off.
So, don’t be surprised if someone calls at your door soon hoping to discuss the weather and on-demand movies. Would you be angry to find a film-subscription salesman at your door? Or would you welcome the chance to find out more about the service?