A few years ago, on a Wednesday night, I returned from work and Norma told me in passing that she had got a man coming to clean our carpets for free.
Ten minutes later, I found myself welcoming not one but two Kirby salesmen into my house. What followed was possibly the worst 96 minutes of my life (with the possible exception of yesterday’s fixture at Anfield).
I am normally polite and well mannered so I dutifully sat with my cup of tea and listened to the sales guy’s pitch about the miscellaneous wonders of the Kirby vacuum cleaner.
After a while of professional, polished and non-stop patter, I interjected and tried to ask ‘OK - this sounds great but how much is it ?’ in an effort to curtail proceedings but was ignored.
I waited patiently as he assembled various attachments for dog hair, vacuuming the inside of the car and accessing the hard to reach areas behind radiators.
I got slightly more irritated as Norma excused herself to make tea for the kids and the senior salesman passed over to the junior apprentice for phase 2.
I cursed silently as Norma returned and asked ‘Listen - you’ve been here 25 minutes now. When are you going to hoover my carpets for me ?’. Without pausing for breath, senior sales guy triumphantly plugged in the vacuum cleaner, and proceeded to clean and re-clean a 4 inch square of my lounge carpet. He then instructed his stooge to dump the contents onto a white cloth and invited us both to examine the contents in minute detail.
It was dust. Not that fascinating.
Again, I interjected with ‘Listen - I’m really not interest-’ but was interrupted with ‘OK - now we will hoover your bed for you. Please bring your current hoover upstairs’. To my horror, Norma led them upstairs where they apparently lifted up a duvet and vacuumed the mattress of my 6 year old daughter. Twice.
Two more pristine white cloths was brought out and we poured over the skin debris that a human leaves behind on the sheets when asleep. We compared and contrasted the superlative results of the Kirby which has lifted much more dirt than our Panasonic hoover.
Norma, feeling incredibly guilty and no doubt a little embarrassed, now started to assert herself and politely asked the salesmen to leave as it was now the kids’ bedtime.
Still, the two sales guys persisted as, after what seemed like hours, we entered the home straight and the the closing of the deal. Finally, we got to a price. It was a lot - I think it was over £2,000 which almost made me spill my now cold cup of tea. I countered with ‘Come on, I can get a Panasonic for £200 from Comet’ and the sales guy immediately replied with his ‘Objection-Retort’ from the school of pressure selling about the benefits of the Kirby and its lifetime guarantee.
My wife left the room. I could tell she was now quite upset at the imposition of having these chaps in our house, interrupting our routine. People who upset my wife (with one honourable exception - me) tend to upset me so I now got slightly more forceful.
‘Listen, chaps. I realise my wife invited you here this evening but she thought she was getting her carpets cleaned for free not a gentle, prolonged, high pressure sales pitch. We’ve got a hoover. We’re not looking to buy a hoover and we certainly would never contemplate a Kirby hoover that cost over £2,000.’
Senior salesman piped up with ‘Ah but that’s the good news Mr. Brightside - if you commit tonight, I can offer you a 40% discount.’
I sighed inwardly and stared at the mantelpiece. I was transfixed. I stared again at the clock on the mantelpiece. The time was 7:41pm on a Wednesday night.
I stood up, folded up the white cloth, put the assorted attachments back into the box and handed it to the junior apprentice.
‘Listen lads. I realise you’re only doing your job but my wife has politely asked you to leave. I have also politely asked you to get out of my house but United are playing in Lyon and the game kicks off in 4 minutes so now I telling you to get your fucking stuff together and leave. Now.’
Senior sales guy could now (finally) see the writing on the wall and started moaning about how we’d wasted their time - a little ironic as I viewed it as them wasting our time - and started to protest and call me rude names.
I ignored him, turned the TV on, picked up his box of tricks and his catalogues and ushered them both to the door.