Is Stuff Still Sold Door-to-Door?
One of my favorite ways to unwind is watching episodes of the old TV series Dragnet. Specifically the shows that aired between 1967 and 1970. The ones where Colonel Potter plays Sargent Friday's partner Bill Gannon. I discovered them in the 90's on Nick at Night.
It's so fun and interesting. The anti-drug stuff can be a little heavy handed, but I'm old enough to remember that attitude,so it creates a weird kind of nostalgia. For a crime show it is unique. It's real; focuses on procedure and the law; and not every episode is a grisly sex-murder. In fact, one of the best episodes it's about magazine subscription fraud.
In the episode, A.I.D. – The Weekend, Friday is hanging out with Gannon at Gannon's house on their weekend off. One of Gannon's neighbors tells the pair about a shady door-to-door magazine salesperson in the neighborhood. Friday and Gannon investigate and find out the person is a fraud, ripping people off. Then they celebrate with a garlic nut-butter sandwich on pumpernickel bread. Well, at least Gannon did.
When I watched this episode the other day, it got me thinking that we hardly ever see door-to-door sales anymore. And when we do it seems like it's always a scam. The same with anyone cold-calling me and trying to sell something over the phone.
When I had a paper-route in the late 1980's I remember a contest to get more subscribers. I could win prizes for getting new subscribers. The way to get those subscribers: go door-to-door or just call people from the phone book. Yes, their business model was based on strangers going to a stranger's home, unannounced, unplanned, unexpected, and sell them stuff.
It blows my mind that anything ever worked this way. The idea that someone could show up at my house and try to sell me something I didn't ask for and for me to buy it is crazy antiquated. Like buying a whole album for one song. Or waiting for MTV to play a video instead of just watching it whenever on YouTube.
Even more amazing to me is that anyone still works this way. People must still buy from door-to-door salespeople because they still exist. But, to me they always feel like a scam. They could be selling the great quality lawn service at the best value in history, but too many news stories and TV show plots have involved someone posing as a salesperson to steal from people for me take the idea seriously.
I will admit that I do have a thing about people in my house. Having kids and a partner that aren't introverted hermits like me has forced me to soften my stance a lot. But, having someone I don't know at my door, wanting to talk, or even worse come in, trips all my parodied anxiety alarms. I don't think I'd even show up at my parents house without texting first. People so rarely come to the door anymore that when it does happen I almost don't know what to do.
So, if you're a legit door-to-door salesperson and can make a living from it, good for you! I don't understand how you do it, but keep doing your thing. I will be a polite as possible when I decline whatever you are selling.