If someone wants to sell me something, I have no objection to them presenting their products to me and allowing me to make an informed decision in my own time. Here are some rules, though:
1. The huge pile of unopened junk mail on the gramophone in our hall is testament to that being an utterly useless way of contacting me. Just save yourself the stamp and the production costs, why don't you?
2. Don't ring me. I have no way of verifying whether you are from my bank, mobile phone company, or some scumbag fraudster looking for my personal details so you can clean out my bank account. I am not going to buy anything from you unless I know for sure who you are.
There are a small number of lucky souls who are almost guaranteed a sale if they ring me. These do not include kitchen or double glazing or solar panel sales people. They do include the Liberal Democrats or that nice young man from a popular home delivery wine company. My conversations with the latter normally go something like:
"Get thee behind me Satan. I'm not buying any more."
"Oh, but we have (insert name of one of my favourite wines here) on offer and free delivery"
"Oh, all right then, if I must."
Because it's the same guy who rings me every time, he knows exactly what buttons to press. And he's a proper human being, too. I ask him all sorts of random stuff. Last time it was how Scottish independence would affect their operation - and it would because the duty would no doubt all be different.
3. Don't ever, ever try to pull the wool over my eyes. And that would be you, Dunfermline Building Society. How dare you send me a letter in the post, looking like a normal personal letter that hides its true purpose.
Last week they sent me a letter, marked "Private and Confidential" with our mortgage acccount information on it saying:
"I write with reference to the above numbered account and I would be grateful if you would contact me on (phone number) regarding your existing home insurance arrangements."
The first time I got one of these a couple of years ago, I wondered if there was some new rule that we had to comply with, whether we had to provide a certificate to them or whatever. No, it was some grubby ploy to sell us poorer cover than we already had. I was wise to the ruse this time, and I rang them up and told them that I would be very annoyed if I were to discover this was a plot to sell me house insurance. They very sheepishly hung up.
We've also had similar letters from the Bank of Scotland, asking us to contact them about our account. Now, having already been a victim of fraud a couple of years ago, I was obviously very worried so I rang them. No, all they wanted to do was sell us stuff too.
If I am contacted in that manner, which I consider sneaky and on false pretences, I will never, ever buy anything. Is that clear?
4. Now, if you aren't the Liberal Democrats or the nice wine man, the single most effective way to make me buy something I don't really need is to e-mail me. You know that new Amazon place they've built near Dunfermline. Well, the first bit you can see as you go up the M90 is not so jokingly referred to in this house as "the Lindsay Wing" for a reason. I would also rather be boiled in oil than go clothes shopping, so when certain companies drop me e-mails with nice offers in them, I am more liable to succumb. Of course, Nigerian businessmen looking for partners or wishing to pay me millions of pounds if I just hand over my bank account details aren't going to find it a successful route, but you get the drift.
What gets up your nose about sales techniques and how do you like to buy things?