One fine evening, we went to the grocery store. It was to be a normal trip, just buying some food. We walked in the entrance, got a cart and were greeted by the resident greeter, and then headed to the back of the store to work our way forward.
We did not get very far though. At the first aisle, the main intersection for people both coming and going, there was a roadblock. Not an actual roadblock, but a table set to the side of the intersection with two well-dressed guys at it. As we approached, one of them greeted us and held out a piece of paper. He asked us about family pictures. It was a trap! They were salesmen going for the uninvited, unsolicited, unwelcome sale from people who weren’t expecting it.
One of the major rules about how to avoid scams is not to accept unsolicited offers. So my wife said “No thanks” and kept going, with the kids and the cart. But the guy asked a simple question, something like “When was the last time you had a family picture?” And although I knew I should just say “No thanks” also and keep walking, I made the mistake of trying to be nice and answer the guy’s question.
So I answered the question, which was followed by another one: “How many kids do you have?” and another one: “If you were to get a family picture, would it be the kids or the parents and the kids?” He was a very aggressive salesman. All the questions were phrased “If you were to…” which was his attempt to be sneaky. I answered most of the questions with “we are not going to get our pictures taken” but he would not take no for an answer.
Another question: “We are going to be back here on these three days. Which one would work best for you?” I gave him a day. Then he wanted a time. His sheet of appointments for that day, filled by people I assume were equally annoyed by him and just gave him a time so they could get away, was already filled around that time. “Don’t worry,” he said, “we can fit you in. Your sitting fee is $10 and you can pay that now.”
At that point, when I said “I am not paying now for something I’m not going to do later” that he finally understood that I did not want to get our pictures taken. He handed me the sheet where he had written some information (the date and time of our “appointment”) and told me to bring it back to this store at this time for our pictures. Okay, maybe he didn’t understand.
Answering questions seemed harmless, but when he wanted the money immediately, for an unsolicited service, that was the end. I finally caught back up with my wife and kids and we finished shopping. If you are ever in some store, and you are approached by representatives of another business, avoid them. Okay, you can make exceptions for Girl Scout cookies or the Salvation Army, but those are charities not businesses.
If you ever have the chance to do business with United Studios of America from Massillon, OH, don’t do it. I was offended by their tactics and their name. If your business is going to use a name whose acronym is USA, you had better be a good business. These guys were not worthy of using “USA” for their business.
“A people whom you do not know shall eat up the produce of your ground and all your labors, and you will never be anything but oppressed and crushed continually.”
– Deuteronomy 28:33