Sales pitch annoys woman
Embarrassed, humiliated by purchase
A Ranui resident says she has been left feeling humiliated and bullied after a door-todoor pressure sales pitch saw her part with more than $3000.
Shirley Najbert, 72, has been told there is a no-refund policy after being sold a $3050 vacuum cleaner in a threehour sales talk she feels she was pressured into. The company, however, says ‘‘the customer has responsibilities’’ and Ms Najbert told them she is happy with the agreement.
A salesman from Living Longer New Zealand phoned her in late May, offering a free gift, which she initially declined. The salesman persisted in asking when he could call in to see her with the gift and she relented.
Ms Najbert says she was given a ‘‘$2 Shop’’ set of disposable plastic containers and a sales pitch that lasted from 1pm till 4pm on June 1. She was left feeling ‘‘ as if I had never cleaned my house . . .
‘‘They sort of talk down to you as if you were a little kid who has never used a vacuum cleaner and I thought ‘crikey, I’ve been using a vacuum cleaner since before you were born’.
‘‘ They make you feel inferior and stupid and he didn’t give you a chance to say anything. He just kept on and on and on and if you started to ask a question he’d just talk around it as if he didn’t want to answer it.’’
The salesman performed several demonstrations with the vacuum cleaner and with her own vacuum cleaners – Ms Najbert has five that work, as well as a carpet shampooer – in which substances were effectively sucked from the floor by the new machine but not hers. She was also shown the amount of dust in her carpet.
‘‘I didn’t really need a new vacuum cleaner and you feel quite pressured by the time they’ve finished talking, you feel obliged to say yes. Anything to get rid of him.’’
Mrs Najbert asked if she could drop in to the shop the next day to pay but was told the deal, discounted from the full price of $4349 with her five trade-ins, was only available now. She was accompanied to the bank by the salesperson in her car to get cash. She was asked to sign three documents to seal the deal, discovering later that she had only been left with a copy of one of them.
After talking over the purchase with her daughter, Mrs Najbert was horrified to learn domestic vacuum cleaners usually sell for 10 times less than the price she paid.
‘‘They’re charging exorbitant prices and [targeting] old people. It’s most humiliating when your son or daughter has to tell you [that they feel] you’ve been ripped off.’’
Living Longer representative David Lord says the contract made with Mrs Najbert states the deal is final.
‘‘She has purchased a product and we have come to an agreement. She’s very happy.
‘‘I know as a business person I’m responsible and the customer has responsibilities. We’ve done everything honourably, as I’m a genuinely honourable person.’’
After calling the company’s new Kenepuru office to ask for a refund for the vacuum cleaner, Mrs Najbert was offered a $ 550 discount because she wasn’t satisfied, and says she was asked to keep quiet about it. She received this money last week.
‘‘I should have known better, and there’s plenty of other people that have been suckered in, but I’d like to try to stop them from [pressuring] someone else.
‘‘They are out there now and going around Porirua and trying to suck people in.’’
While the deal may be legal, in her opinion it’s not ethical, and she should be given a refund because ‘‘it’s not fair’’.
‘‘They should have taken the whole thing back and given me back the old vacuum cleaners, and be done with the whole thing.’’
Sucker or sucked in? Shirley Najbert says she is ashamed to have been pressured into paying more than $3000 for a vacuum cleaner, but wants to warn others not to get caught out.