On the radio morning show that I listen to, their entertainment reporter has a rant every Wednesday. Usually it’s something funny that everyone can relate to, like yesterday he was complaining about airline travel. I know that my “rant” is something that others, especially women, can relate to.
My rant is about home parties. My problem is I keep getting invitations to “parties” which are really a not so cleverly disguised high-pressured sales setting. I’m glad that my friends are feeling entrepreneurial, but I don’t want to be invited to your home, fed some cookies, and then guilted or pressured into buying whatever it is you’re selling. I have sat through many a “presentation” about Pampered Chef, Mary Kay, and the like. All the presentations are the same — they try to convince you there is something wrong with the cookware or makeup you’re using now and your life will magically become better if you purchase their product. And if that doesn’t work, they tell you the hostess (usually your friend) will not receive all the gifts they were counting on because you didn’t buy anything.
A famous line from The Princess Bride is “life is pain, Highness, anyone who says differently is selling you something.” Have truer words been spoken in a satire? I have literally attended “parties” for everything from cookware, to candles, clothes, makeup, jewelery, scrapbook supplies, even books. All of these parties are the same. They use the same “isn’t this product wonderful” approach and when that doesn’t work they use their friendship to guilt you into buying something.
I have declared a moratorium for myself on attending anymore sales parties after a very negative experience a few months ago. A few years ago I decided I would attend these parties to support my friends, I just wouldn’t buy anything. Well that hasn’t worked. The negative experience that made me change my minds is a former co-worker called me out of the blue one day and told me she was selling Mary Kay. I saw the red flag in this but decided to be nice. She invited me to a Mary Kay party and I forced my sister-in-law to go with me as back-up. At this party they had us spread a few different creams on our feet and legs for their demonstration on home pedicures. One of the creams I spread on my legs made me break out in red itchy hives. The woman running the show (not my friend) insinuated there was something wrong with ME and not the PRODUCT. Are you kidding me? And then she proceeded to ask me what I would be taking home with me that day. Losing my patience with being held hostage for 2 hours on a Saturday and breaking out in an allergic reaction, I replied, “nothing, because I’m obviously allergic to these products and I don’t want your crap.” She then avoided me for the rest of the time I was there, which was my intention. They served us lunch (I bet they thought was so wonderful of them) but all I wanted to do was leave, go wash my legs off, take Benadryl and pass out (Benadryl makes me do that).
I have to admit some guilt in this home party cycle. Nine years ago my boss at work decided to supplement her income by selling candles. She was such a good friend of mine that I agreed to host a “party” at my house for her. Unfortunately, some of the orders got messed up and a couple of my friends paid money for things they didn’t get. They got mad at me even though I had no idea how to fix it. I had to go to great lengths to fix the problem and it really ended up being more work than it was worth. That was the end of hosting sales parties for me.
Now if I get an invitation to any “party” that is selling something, I just ignore it. Recently my mother-in-law started selling Cookie Lee jewelery. I must say the jewelery is very cute and the quality is very high. I’ve noticed that my mother-in-law is wearing more jewelry now and seems to have more confidence in her appearance. And why shouldn’t she? She’s a beautiful lady. She hasn’t pressured me to buy anything and has only offered to share the jewelry she has with me if I want to. Now that is how you win customers! I’m more inclined to buy something from her now because she hasn’t use our relationship to guilt me into buying whatever she is selling.
So I’m telling everyone that if you invite me to your Pampered Chef party and I don’t come, it’s not because I don’t value our friendship. It’s because I do value it! I don’t want a strained relationship with a friend because I didn’t buy enough spatulas or pizza stones to make the party worth your while. I also don’t want to resent my friend for making me give up 2 hours of my life to hear why this new salad chopper will change my life. If I want to buy something, I will go to a store, not to your home.