Yesterday, Mr. Steward and I almost made a very big mistake. Let’s back up a little:
A few days ago, Mr. Steward casually mentioned, “A guy came to the door for a construction company looking to do work in the neighborhood. He offered a free quote, so I scheduled a time for them to come by.” To which, I say, “Wait, what, why?” His thinking was that getting a quote for work we do intend to do someday couldn’t hurt. He said that he was very straightforward with the gentleman, making it clear we did not intend to actually do the work anytime soon. I still did not feel super comfortable with it, but I relented.
Fast-forward to yesterday night. A different guy arrives on our doorstep, and he seems nice enough. We make small talk, and he asks what he can do for us. What ensues is a two hour high-pressure sales pitch from a man we become increasingly aware is a trained salesperson.
He pulled out all the stops: His employer does better work than anyone. We are getting a special deal because of the visibility of our corner lot and the beauty of our house, because they want advertising in the neighborhood. We can’t subsequently tell anyone the price we paid, though, because it’s too good of a deal that we get for being advertisers. The price rapidly descended 60%, but we could only have the special price if we could agree that night. If we did, we would get a special discount forever that we don’t get if we don’t the deal right now.
This is when, due to the raging alarm bells going off in your mind, you say, “Oh man, obviously sketchy. No way…” But I tell you, friends, we did it. We signed a contract and gave him info for a down payment. I wish I could explain exactly why, but honestly, I’m still not sure. There was miscommunication between Mr. Steward and me, which I will talk a little more about below. Part of it was, as much as it genuinely hurts to admit it, falling for the sales tricks, particularly the fear of missing out on that special snowflake discount. Mostly, I panicked, because I had no information but felt pressured to make a decision.
So Was it Actually a Bad Deal or Super Sketchy?
I don’t know, and that is the problem. We rapidly realized that we had allowed ourselves to be pressured into making a decision with insufficient research. It may have been the deal of a lifetime, but we were asked to pull the trigger on construction that we had only nominally considered prior to a stranger arriving on our doorstep. I have never made any big decision without over-researching it the past. Moreover, we have other goals that we need that money for!
Thankfully, the full depth of our ignorance struck us pretty much the moment we talked to each other. Moreover, we both realized we misread how much the other was interested. We immediately signed the cancellation agreement (which they are federally required to accept without forfeiture of down payment for three days after signing the contract), and overnighted it back to them this morning. I also called today, and the customer service representative assured me that the money should not be charged to us at all. We’ll see.
The postage to make sure it will arrive tomorrow morning cost $27 in stupid tax. As long as that’s all I ever have to pay, I will consider it $27 spent on a life lesson and some blog fodder.
What Did We Learn From Almost Being Taken For A Ride?
- We don’t make major purchases without time to do research first. This has always been a fact about us, but this experience has taught me to elevate this statement to a matter of principle. In the future, if anyone pressures me to decide immediately, I’m done doing business. Prices and quality of work should be something that businesses are able to stand behind while you do your due diligence. If they cannot wait, we are incompatible with one another.
- Don’t think that because you’re a “money person,” you’re immune to a sales pitch. I’ve always considered myself pretty good at resisting marketing efforts. This experience made me realize that my success likely has more to do with not putting myself in a position to see advertising in the first place. We don’t watch commercials, our computers block ads, and I politely, but firmly shut salespeople down before they get started. We have actually so insulated ourselves from sales pitches that I don’t think we knew what to do when we found ourselves in the middle of one.
- We need a salesperson game plan. On the occasions when we have to deal with a salesperson, Mr. Steward has learned that I am not as hard-nosed as he expected. Although I easily shut down conversations initially, I become obliging if forced to participate. (I blame it on being raised in the South.) In the future, Mr. Steward will take the lead with any salespeople, and more aggressively carve out space for us to check in with one another alone.
I hope you can learn a little from our near-miss (we hope!) with a bad decision. Do you have any stories of being talked into something you should not have purchased? Make me feel better, people!