How to Handle Unmannerly Solicitors

Not all solicitors are bad. But the ones who call your home at 9pm and then refuse to take "no" for an answer need to be handled firmly. Here are Modern Manners Guy's 3 tips for managing telemarketers, door-to-door salesmen, and outside-a-store solicitors.  

Richie Frieman
6-minute read
Episode #272

Before I lay into how unmannerly some solicitors can be, let me first say, I by no means think all solicitors are bad.  You need to hit the ground running and get in front of people’s faces if you want them to know about your business, and soliciting is common practice. So I applaud all the solicitors out there who can accept rejection time after time (…after time), hoping for the one big score. 

But, I can’t praise them all. If you call me at 9pm on a Wednesday night to try and sell me siding for my house - I’m going to want to reach through the phone and shake some sense into you.  >

Whether it’s the kind of solicitors who walk up to your door while you’re having dinner with your family, or call at all hours of the night, I have a small threshold of tolerance for people who are disrespectful of my time.  As well, if I tell a solicitor I’m not interested, then I’m not! Throwing in a magazine subscription won’t work.  And don’t even try to argue with me about it either. What on earth would make you doubt my reasons for not wanting to buy your limited time only stamp collection? Even worse is the automated messages from solicitors, where you don’t even get a real person - just a computer! Where’s the effort in that?

So before using some colorful words as you slam the door in a solicitor’s face, check out my top 3 quick and dirty tips for how to properly handle unmannerly solicitors:

Tip #1: The Telemarketer

I’m not going to say that all telemarketers are evil, or are hell-bent on doing whatever it takes to sell me garbage I don’t need.  Sometimes, you may get a call from a reputable company with a viable product.  Sure, this happens about as often as you see Stephen Hawking ask Justin Bieber for help with a math problem, but hey, here’s to wishing for miracles.   

Still, some telemarketers have a purpose and it’s not just to wake you up from a deep sleep and sell you kitchenware. For example, last month my friend John was being “Super Uncle,” spending all day with his two nephews. Sudenly, his cell phone rang (yes, they get you there too) and shockingly, he was actually interested in the product, but couldn’t talk. The telemarkete was not having it. They tried to keep John on the phone, while John tried to keep his nephews from body slamming each other. He tried to be calm in front of the kids, but was slowly losing his patience because the telemarketer wouldn’t let him off the phone.  

Properly handling a telemarketer can feel like you’re arm-wrestling a roided-up gym rat. And like steroid users, their tempers can easily flare.  However, despite phone rage, you can’t allow a telemarketer to pressure you into anything. As well, you can’t lose your cool or distract yourself from whatever it is you were doing prior to their call, just to whip out your credit card.  When it comes to telemarketers (and solicitors in general), never forget that you are in charge.

They can in fact call back. They can email you more information. There are other options than making a transaction right now. And they know it.  But to limit the amount of aspirin you’ll need after the call, be blunt, honest, and fast with them. “Look, I'm really interested but honestly can’t talk right now. Can you please call me back tomorrow or give me a number to call back to?” And if they keep jabbing at you to stay on, reason again, “I understand you get credit for my purchase and I want you to as well. Give your name, or your extension and I’ll make sure to tell them when I call back.”  Sometimes reasoning with a madman is possible. And yes, every telemarketer is in fact slightly mad. (Why else would they do this masochistic job?)