Don’t Sell to Me, Man!

man with keyI hate being pitched to by salespeople!  The quintessential situation came up for us during our trip to Madison, WI earlier this weekend: the rep at the car rental counter.


When we were a bit less informed, we would always waver on whether to buy the rental company’s insurance.  I think we even bought it once or twice!  Then we figured out that we were doubly covered anyway from our car insurance and by a credit card perk, so we now go into a car rental situation prepared to turn down that particular offer.


This time around when the salesperson gave us the rental car insurance pitch we turned it down confidently, then not-so-confidently assured her when she asked if we had our insurance documents with us that we could pull them up on our phones.  But she went on from there to offer us car model upgrades, of course, and finally a service where you can pre-pay to fill the gas tank.


If you bring the gas tank back less than full they charge you an arm and a leg, but if you arrange in advance for them to refill they charge you less.  The price posted on the wall for the per-gallon fill was safely below the going rate for gas – but the tiny text printed below informed us that additional fees applied.


I started saying “no” before she even finished explaining the service.  I was just so primed to say no to everything that the pitch itself didn’t even matter.  The salesperson looked pretty surprised that we didn’t want to sign up and asked us where we planned to fill up since gas in Chicago was so expensive.  We had a few more exchanges and they we were on the way to get our car without making any additional purchases.


A few steps away from the counter Kyle admonished me for not looking at him to check before saying no to the gas refill.  He said that to him it sounded like a good deal and we should have considered it.  I pointed out that the posted price didn’t reflect the entire price of the refill and that had made me suspicious, but he was right that we should have at least found out the total price.


I get so uncomfortable being pitched to that I don’t even want to sit through it and cut it off early.  In this case, my reaction probably cost us a few cents or even dollars because that gas refill likely was a good deal (as well as saving us the time and hassle of refilling).  I should have checked with Kyle since he doesn’t have the visceral reaction that I do and perhaps can think more clearly in those situations.


I’m not sure why I get so uptight about sales pitches!  I guess because I know there is such a high chance that I will say no that I don’t want to waste their time (or mine) by letting them get to the end.  I guess it also seems rude to say no – although cutting someone off is also rude.


How do you behave at the rental car counter?  Do you feel comfortable around salespeople?  Do you carefully consider every sales pitch that comes your way?


photo from Free Digital Photos


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42 Responses to "Don’t Sell to Me, Man!"

  1. CashRebel says:

    I’m with you Emily. They wouldn’t be pitching you if they weren’t trying to make some extra money. I always immediately turn down the gas pitch as well. I’m not exactly sure how it works, I just know that I don’t trust one word coming out of their mouths.
    So do you think it really is a good deal?
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    1. Richard says:

      I think the fine print says that you have to pre-buy an ENTIRE tank of gas at that price. The only way you save money versus filling the tank yourself is if you return the car with an empty tank. To me, returning a car empty is more trouble than returning it full.

      1. Lucas says:

        Richard is right. They make money on you becuase no one is willing to risk returning the car completely empty. If your company is paying for the gas and they are ok with it it is less hasle to return the car without worrying about gas level, but if you are renting yourself it is not a good deal.

        1. Exactly like Lucas and Richard said. It’s very unlikely you will come out ahead on this. In a location you don’t necessarily know in a car you don’t know, who’s going to want to get the gas down to ‘E’ or low enough te had light comes on to save a couple bucks. I know running out of gas near an airport I’m unfamiliar with is not a risk I’m willing to take, especially if you have a flight to catch. A miscalculation or estimate could have significant consequences.

          That said, in the long run, it’ll also be good for you to get over your fear of sales people so you can hear them out, make and informed decision and relay that decision politely but firmly. If you can say no to “would you like to make that a combo” at subway, you can learn to do that. It’s a natural extension and just requires practice. =)
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          1. Emily says:

            That is just a crazy service. I had no idea it would have to be for the full tank.

            I don’t think it’s so much that I’m afraid of them but there is implicit distrust. There are some situations that I’m confident I don’t need what they’re selling (or confident I do), but in the in between situation I suppose I feel vulnerable because there is probably an information differential between us.

            OK I will practice being polite and not interrupting salespeople just for you, Mrs. Pop. 🙂 And actually considering what they say instead of knee-jerking “no!”

        2. Emily says:

          Yeah, I wouldn’t want to play chicken with the gas tank. And Kyle DEFINITELY wouldn’t – he refills when we get below 25%.

      2. Emily says:

        WHAT! That is crazy! It never occurred to me that would be the deal because who would want that??? I thought at least there would be a reasonable case where we could come out ahead…

    2. Emily says:

      I guess in theory I believe that some salespeople really have a good product that would be beneficial to me… but in practice I never think that case is before me. To take that idea to the extreme: If it’s such a good product, why does it need a salesperson?

      1. Lucas says:

        Exactly. If it is a good enough product to sell on its own then it shouldn’t need a high pressure sales pitch, or a overly “restrictive” market (multi level marketing, only trade shows, etc. . ) to try to artificially inflate its value.

  2. Lucas says:

    I agree. In general anytime someone is trying to pitch you on something it is becuase they are going to make more money from you on it – either in the short term of the long term. I try never to sign up for pitches on the spot, but will evaluate things later to see if they make sense for me in the long run.

    1. I usually turn these people down, but when I get home and have time, I go online and research about what they are talking about.
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      1. Lucas says:

        Agree. It is at least worth it so that you have a better answer next time you get asked about the same thing (because you know it is going to happen again). The truth is that a lot of the time the people selling you stuff don’t even understand if it is a good deal or not :-/ Or at least have convinced themselves it is to be able to better pitch the product.

      2. Emily says:

        If it’s really a good product it should be evident from unbiased research. Would you then go and buy the product from the person who alerted you to it or find it cheaper elsewhere?

        1. Lucas says:

          I would probably be inclined to buy it from wherever made the most sense at the time. If I did need it right away i would buy it locally, but most of the time I can afford to wait and would buy it online from a cheaper alternative.

    2. Emily says:

      In this situation I didn’t even let the rep get to the “you’re buying the whole tank” part so I didn’t even get interested/outraged enough to know what to look for later!

  3. Matt Becker says:

    I’m with you. I HATE feeling like I’m being sold something and am probably a little too sensitive to it. I think that overall it’s a good thing to have your guard up, and it will probably help you more than it will hurt you. But I do think it would be beneficial to be a little more objective about things and a little less emotional. Know that they’re trying to sell you something, but evaluate the deal rather than the sale. It’s definitely something I struggle with.
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    1. Emily says:

      I think the situation at the rental car counter is particularly bad because they basically have you captive. You can’t walk away because you need them to give you the contracts and keys!

  4. I’m with you on this one, Emily. I politely wait for a time to insert my, “No, thank you,” and then just get on with the transaction. I often don’t really wait to fully consider each offer because I believe if something is being sold or pushed it is a particularly profitable item for the company. It’s a rule of thumb and probably has a lot of exceptions, but whatever…I just don’t like hearing pitches and would rather get on with it. 🙂

    1. Emily says:

      I wonder how many exceptions there really are, though! Like if you never considered a pitch, how much would you really be missing out on? I think not much.

  5. The most recent sales pitch that I heard recently was at a AT&T store where a friend was upgrading his phone. In a convoluted and confusing way, the sales rep tried to sell him a tablet saying it was a great deal and would get $X off the price if he sold back his old phone. After the whole confusing sales pitch, we realize that you would be required to get a data plan. When he realized that, he said no…as he was actually interested. The sales rep (seeing his kids) tried to argue that it would help the kids with doing their homework. The rep had no shame!
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    1. Emily says:

      Oh man, phone stores are the worst! When we went to buy my husband’s phone the salesperson had his whole spiel even though Kyle already knew exactly which phone and plan he wanted. The plan was one he had to tell the salesperson about because it’s not advertised (i.e. less profit for company). It was very confusing for both of them. I can’t believe that guy didn’t even reveal he was selling a tablet and not a phone! And to use the kids!!!!

  6. The important thing is that you have to be smart and knowledgeable of most things so you don’t get victimized by those kinds of people.
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    1. Emily says:

      We eventually got to that point with the insurance, and now I guess with this gas scam, but I’m sure there are many more we won’t know about until we start being pitched!

  7. I am with you too on sales pitches! I was at Enterprise (whom I rarely use for car rentals) and the guy was going on and on with the folks in front of me and then when I came up, I was kind of short with him and wasn’t up for hearing sales pitches. I prefer renting with companies like Hertz where you just see your name on a board and walk to the car you’re assigned without having to talk to an agent.

    I guess I’m socially awkward somewhat because I generally don’t care for being asked for assistance when I’m in a store either. I prefer to come to a sales clerk instead if I need help. Nothing is more annoying to me when I’m shopping when I get asked 4-5 times if I need help.
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    1. Emily says:

      I don’t think we’ve ever rented with Hertz – that sounds awesome!

      I turn down stores salespeople too but I’ve learned to be nice about it – smile and say no thank you. I really can’t think of an instance when we’ve bought a product that we needed help with.

  8. SarahN says:

    Totally with you – and sometimes I get cold calls and they say ‘we’re not trying to sell anything’ and I’m thinking ‘yeah right’ and pretty soon after I hang up!

    I do find myself being upfront and honest with street salespeople (we have SO many for charities in the city). I say hi, and not today, rather than ignoring them. Just seems more polite.
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    1. Emily says:

      Do you have a “do not call” list available to you?? I hate getting calls from businesses I haven’t initiated with!

      That does seem more polite. I usually ignore/do not make eye contact. 🙁

  9. First time I ever rented a car, it was with Thrifty and NEVER AGAIN. After we were already at their lot, they informed us that their insurance was not optional. Even if you had coverage somehow else, such as through the credit card, you were required to buy their insurance, doubling the price. Their pre-pay gas price was about 15 cents higher than the local average, as well.
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    1. Emily says:

      Thanks for the warning! I wonder if that is state-specific, though?

      1. Possibly, although we’ve rented from Budget in the sale city without any problems.
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        1. Emily says:

          OK not the explanation, then!

  10. Bryce says:

    I try to be polite to both phone and door-to-door salespeople, but I always say NO THANK YOU! Like you, I often try to politely say before they go into their long sales pitch, that my wife and I have a policy to not buy from unsolicited callers and salespeople. we have no money to spend on whatever they are selling. (Truth is, we have socked it all away in retirement and investment accounts.) Same goes for charities. We have 5 charities that we give a lot to. We are not going to add to our list at this time.
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  11. I always check those fine prints before going for that refills. If I am not keen for any sales pitch, I close it by saying No Thank you politely as I do not want to waste my time nor theirs
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  12. […] was the first person to point out the scammy twist of the sales pitch I cut off the last time we rented a car, which was to pre-pay to refill the gas tank: “I […]

  13. […] presents Don’t Sell to Me, Man! posted at Evolving Personal […]

  14. I not only hate being pitched to, but I hate when sales people follow me around a store. I know it’s their job, but I just get uncomfortable and usually end up leaving.
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    1. Emily says:

      They are probably super bored! But it’s a real turn-off.

  15. I can totally relate to your frustration! We just had a nearly identical experience while renting a car recently. No, I don’t want an upgrade and yes, I understand the economy car is “pretty small.” Both my husband and I are under 5’8″ — we’ll manage. No, I don’t want the extra insurance. NO, I don’t want to prepay for gas. What I really want is to get the hell out of here! I say “no” just as quickly as you do in these situations because I resent excessive sales pitching. I did the research and made my preferred choice when I booked the reservation, so stop trying to convince me you know what’s best for me!
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    1. Emily says:

      You were ahead of us on the prepaying for gas issue. We also are firm in our choices before going into that situation. Probably most people are but that doesn’t stop them from trying! They must be successful some of the time or it wouldn’t be worth hassling everyone, right? I love what you said – “stop trying to convince me you know what’s best for me!”

  16. […] @ Evolving Personal Finance writes Don’t Sell to Me, Man! – Don’t you hate that moment at the car rental counter when the rep is pushing the […]

  17. […] Don’t Sell to Me, Man! was featured in the Festival of Frugality and the Carnival of Financial Planning. […]

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