Let’s Talk About It: Be wary of cold-callers who want to pay a visit

My friend received a call from her elderly mother, asking her to be at her house the next evening at 6. Her mother explained that a man had phoned and was coming over.

“Which man, Mom?” asked the daughter. “You know,” answered the mother, “the one who called last year and was a bit rude. He told me I should have my daughter here.”

Again she asked, “Who is this man?”

“He is from a company, something to do with wanting to convert the heating system.”

The daughter attempted to get the name of the man, the name of the company or a contact telephone number. No such luck.

When the daughter explained that she had plans the following evening, the mother, not wanting to be a burden, told her she needn’t come over and she would meet this man on her own. Not knowing who would be arriving at her mother’s house, the daughter cancelled her plans. At her mother’s, she checked the phone’s caller ID, but it showed no company name and no recognizable number.

The man arrived, briefcase in hand. He wanted to see the furnace room and outside of the house, and asked many questions about the heating system. He then began his presentation about converting the heating system.

The daughter tried to speed things up by asking about the cost, knowing full well that once her mother heard the price she would end the discussion. The man was on a mission and focused on his presentation, not appreciating any interruptions. He was not about to give the cost of the conversion until he concluded his sales pitch. The daughter believed that the only way to end the visit was to allow him to finish his presentation.

Her mother kept asking questions: “What about a senior’s discount?” This only distracted the presenter and lengthened the meeting. Was the mother just lonely and happy to have company? After all, a visit was more interesting than sitting home alone and watching TV.

Finally the salesman revealed the prices. The mother was not interested in spending thousands of dollars on a new heating system. The daughter felt sorry for the man, who had spent more than an hour trying hard to make a sale, probably working on commission, and leaving knowing that the meeting was a total waste of time.

Fortunately, for this senior, she’d invited a salesperson, and not some dishonest person or thief, seeking to take advantage of her.

But there are people who would agree to a visit after a brief phone conversation and be caught in a threatening situation.

Beware, be cautious. Take down the name of the person who is soliciting you and asking to come over. Get the name and number of the company, and ask someone to check it out. If you are feeling lonely and need company, invite a friend over, not a stranger.

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