Consumerism Home life

Why are they surprised?

Why are hawkers and chugger surprised that I don’t want them to waste my time?

I have a similar view of doorknockers (hawkers) to that of Charity Muggers.

I just want to get on with my day. They are wasting my time.

If I wanted to change my electricity company, or my gas company, or my phone company, or whatever, I’d just go ahead and do it. (Just as I am switching my web hosting right at the moment.)

The number one reason I’d do such a thing was if I was unhappy with the service: if it was unreliable or the billing was continually screwed up or I felt I was being ripped-off price-wise.

Someone knocking on my door and pleading with me to switch is not going to do it. It’s a waste of my time and theirs.

The Salvation Army are about the only ones who will get a warm welcome. They didn’t seem to visit me this year during the Red Shield Appeal, though I saw them in my street. I wonder if they deliberately didn’t knock because they know I donate via direct debit?

If you’re trying to sell me something (other than good karma) and you want to make a pitch, send me junk mail. Oh wait, I have a No Junk Mail sticker. Well then pitch via advertising or something. Don’t get in my face.

(Maybe I need a No Hawkers sticker by the front gate. But it would look a little odd, I think.)

What puzzles me the most is why the doorknockers look surprised when as soon as they say where they’re from, I say politely (it’s a crap job, nothing against them personally) but firmly “Not interested, thank you” and shut the door in their face. I’ve had the same reaction from Chuggers in the street when I say “No thank you” keep on walking, not breaking pace.

Do these people actually believe that we want them to waste our time?

Or am I out of step with everybody else?

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

26 replies on “Why are they surprised?”

Yours is a decent response. You haven’t asked them to visit you to ask for of bit of your compensation for your labour. As you do now, I used to have charitable thoughts and open my wallet for the Salvos, but no longer. No matter how good their works are, it is a strict religious organisation that would not accept me into its fold and I can’t reconcile how they are doing what governments ought to be doing and doing it with government support, within their very strict religion. I will qualify this with that I have known a few Salvos and they are thoroughly decent people and have their own individual views on matters. God save me from religion please.

It’s probably like spam. Enough people do sign up to make it worth their time. Some people feel bad saying no and they know it and exploit it.

Never mind the switchers, what about when the phone company you are with phones you up to make sure you are ‘happy with your service’. And then try to sign you up for other plans.

My wife is about to give birth in a few months. Which means once again we will be pounced on by those damn baby photographers every time we venture into the shopping center. Now those buggers know all the tricks to pull on new parents.

On a personal level I agree. But on a social level I do not.

Door-to-door and telemarketing jobs, like fast food, taxi driving and security, provide the labour market with a ‘bottom end’ – ie a similar function to manfacturing/textiles before it collapsed.

Hence these jobs are disproportionately filled by migrants or students until they get more established and move to better jobs. Or (especially junk mail delivery) pensioners or mums supplementing their income.

One marker of a middle-upper class neighbourhood vs a poor area is the number of no junk mail stickers on letter boxes. The posher the area the more people shun junk mail. Whereas in poor areas it’s not unknown to see ‘junk mail welcome’ signs. It would be interesting to look at the demographics of the do not call register as well.

While junk mail, telemarketing and door to door are annoying, it is sometimes worth reflecting on those for who these activities are a livelihood. If those jobs vanished more may well be on social security (which means less self-reliance for them and higher taxes for us) or even begging in the street.

You’re not out of step with me. I do the exact same things. I’m well informed enough to make my own decisions in my own time, without anyone hassling me to do so.

Not sure I can agree that it’s a good thing, Peter; I’m sure there’s also money in various other jobs that no longer exist because society deems them unacceptable (eg, hangman, elephant poacher, etc) but that’s not a particularly good reason to bring them back.

I wonder how much money these people waste by bothering people who work from home. They used to disrupt me and drive me mad, until I got one of these Do Not Knock signs:

I agree with your sentiments entirely. I’ve learnt to spot Chuggers a mile off – that over-enthusiastic expression, clip-board in hand, apparently abandoned backpack by a light pole, the only person not actually moving yet at the same time looking up and down the street- all of these tell me to cross the street. I’ve read plenty on Chuggers and it turns out that the accounting behind it all is not exactly in the best favor for the charity. If I’m donating, it’s a direct contribution – not collected by some third-party who takes a (large) cut.

Mind you, a couple of months ago I answered the door and a nice young lady actually gave me a dozen of those green light globes. No problems or issues at all, no foot in the door marketing. Sometimes, it pays to listen!

C’mon Daniel, they’re just poor, innocent people trying to do their job! Would you deprive them of their hard earned living? Aren’t we supposed to be tolerant of all cultures and peoples, lest we offend anyone?

Ok, enough of that, I thought you were supposed to be tolerant of those types of people! Looks like your tolerance runs out if they’re pushing you the wrong way! Don’t get me wrong, I feel the same way, especially those twits shilling mercury-filled fluorescent light bulbs- yes Mr Kemp, those same “green” light bulbs that if you break you need to wear a hazard suit for fear of harm! Great “Green” product!!

Actually, I probably don’t have a beef with that per se, rather the way they just prattle on without giving you a chance to tell them to nick off! If they gave you a chance to pull out early, I probably wouldn’t have that much of a problem! The worst is when you tell them you don’t want your product, and they reply with something like, “What, don’t you want cheaper electricity”? No, I don’t trust you!! Even the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons- leave me alone, if I wanna read the Watchtower, I’ll buy it myself!!

And without getting too political, Andrew, the government should be responsible for charity? Really? So you want MORE welfare handouts to dole bludgers and single teenage mums abusing the system? You do realise that is a form of slavery in itself, as those people become permanently dependent/addicted to welfare, and never break the cycle of poverty? In my experience, charitable organisations aren’t interested in permanent welfare- they just want to give people a hand up to help themselves! I donate to St Vincent de Paul, think about what they are able to provide people with food and clothes that people have WILLINGLY donated! And it doesn’t have to be denominational- I’m Catholic, so Vinnies is my choice, isn’t the Smith Family non-denominational? Charity should be a voluntary choice, not a government mandate- that’s known as socialism!!

@Peter, some good points there. But Security and Taxi driving and even Fast Food, as well as other low-level jobs such as cleaning are all opt-in from the customer’s point of view.

@Paul, that’s excellent!

@Andrew V, once again, it seems you’ve taken any view that might be even slightly to the left of yours to the extreme. Why are government benefits getting people addicted to welfare/charity, but St Vincent de Paul handouts not?

I switched energy companies once by phoning the new retailer and signing up on one of their plans (after researching on the internet).
Oddly enough, a few hours later the new company phoned me to ask if I’d signed up on my own free will and wasn’t coerced. I pointed out that I phoned THEM, not the other way around. I guess there are rules that give people a second chance if they were pressured into changing companies.

i never get them at home but at work they stream in on a regular basis – particularly the phone companies and cleaners. I listen politely then when they finish give the “no thank you we’re not interested”, which 90% of the time is replied “What, does the receptionist make all the business decisions in this company??” no, but the receptionist decides who gets to see the business manager :-D

Governments can afford to keep people on welfare- charities cannot! Governments do so to buy votes for elections, whereas charities have no benefit to keep the same people on perpetual welfare, because it’d eventually bankrupt them! It isn’t in their best interest, but for governments it’s a way of ensuring votes!! Besides, shouldn’t charity be voluntary?

I agree with you Daniel, don’t bother me. I recently had run with a gas company that phoned me to ‘save me $$$ by switching to them’. I simply told them I was busy at the moment but could they call me back. I wanted to see how many times they would call before giving up. The lucky number was 6 times. The money they spent on calling me would have exceeded the amount I would have ‘saved’.

I notice the (bigger) charity groups seem to be phasing out donations or ‘buying tickets in a raffle’ in preference of direct debits. I was approached by a group for Surf Life Savers in the local shopping centre and I was willing to make a donation but they told me they couldn’t accept it there and then. They were only getting people to sign up for direct debits. I don’t give out my bank details to charity groups so passed.

“yes Mr Kemp, those same “green” light bulbs that if you break you need to wear a hazard suit for fear of harm! ”

I hardly see how your paranoia is the Government’s fault.

Fourteen years ago I had two dates with a girl called Jenny, on one of those dates we were walking through a mall and she filled in form for some timeshare thing.
Fourteen years later I still get calls regular as clockwork every month from that company to see if I am interested in their timeshare, I know which one it is because they are still asking for Jenny.
Another telemarketer called my phone at 11:15 AM every weekday for about 2 month before they gave up.

I think most offers that come to the door are (at least) partly fraudulent (eg early exit fees not disclosed by the salesman).

But another serious problem is lack of information. Had an Optus person trying to sell internet – but he didn’t even have any brochures and therefore couldn’t answer any questions like …

The excess data charge
How many email addresses you can have
Whether they do port blocking
Whether they do port scanning
a static or dynamic IP?
whether you can upgrade and downgrade according to demand
how long can the email be left on their server (some ISPs only keep it for 24 hours, no kidding!)
early payout penalties
methods of payment (and: is there a credit card fee?)
any free repositories or mirrors (ie no data charge)
How much web-space you get
Methods of upload to the web-space

They might hit it good with Joe who just wanna surf porn and YouTube, but I’d rather research most of the above on the internet, rather than find out a show stopper 2 weeks into a contract.

I asked him to email me a brochure or link, and 3 weeks later I got an email from a Monash University student’s address where he’d manually typed in the same scant information as he gave me verbally.


Andrew V makes a few good points (the temporary v. permanent charity is very insightful), but I think the “depriving someone of their hard earned living” comment is very much off the mark.

To me it’s no different to spam email or telemarketing. They all do it because they get a response rate. But there’s an enormous waste of GDP on sales activity which could be diverted to more useful purposes.

I open the door to clipboard-wielding strangers with “Electricity or gas?” as my greeting, not “Hello”. 90% of the time the answer to that is followed with, “No thanks, we’ve already got some.”

We never had this problem before privatization.

I did for a time try asking them if they have 100% wind power, but given that only one supplier does (they’re our supplier and that’s why they’re our supplier) I’ve just given up and now close the door in the their faces. They’ve nothing to offer me.

I like living in a block of flats with security entry. Very rarely do they ring the intercom and I have no problem saying “No thank you, not interested” and having a power to just hang up on them. Although sometimes I wish it was a video intercom so I could see their reaction…

I’m with Liz, being 7 floors up with a gated elevator cuts door to door to zero. Not that I refuse charities, but I’d prefer to pick them myself, rather than get guilted into it. The video intercom idea sounds interesting…

I see where Peter’s coming from, but the same line of argument could have been made in favour of the thousands of ten-year-old boys hauling coal trucks who were put out of work by James Watt’s invention of the steam engine. It did put them out of work, but that left them free to do other things (like live to be eleven).

I dislike that charities are exempt from the do-not-call list. They are trying to sell something just like any other vendor, and more often than not the calling is out-sourced to a call centre somewhere that is just about profits.

… Andrew V probably also thinks that women will be having post week 20 abortions just to get the maternity leave payments.

With Chuggers I’ve started saying “No thanks Chugger”. What’s more annoying about them is the way they try and ingratiate themselves to me by asking me how my day has been or stuff like that.

I don’t know if this is true because I’ve never successfully been stopped by one, but is it true that they get peoples credit card numbers for monthly donations? Hello, I’m hardly going to give my credit card details to a stranger on the street, am I? Are they nuts?

Raaah. I got bailed up by one of these ‘chuggers’ the other day in Melbourne Central despite no eye contact and walking they actually stepped in front of me. When I found out they were from Peter Mac I thought I was home free and said ‘no thanks, my husband is working on a cure for cancer and has no money because scientists don’t get paid much and we already donate money to causes like yours anyway’. Didn’t work, then he just changed tact and said ‘well you know all about it then – come over to my table and talk some more’. I just walked off.

Cross Peter Mac and the Red Cross off my list as organisations I’ll happily donate to as they are far too pushy.

@Nathan, I love that response. “No thanks Chugger”, said cheerfully would politely reject them, but make it clear you knew what they were doing and wanted nothing to do with it.

Yes, in most cases they try and sign you up for regular donations. I don’t have the link handy, but there was a good article in The Age a year or two ago which looked into how much money the charities get etc.

@Jennifer, I think if one got in my way, I’d be gently pushing them off, or at least saying loudly “Get out of my way”.

Comments are closed.