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Even Though I Am A Woman, I CAN Make A Decision

July 28, 2012 · 119 comments

in Life, Work

Newsflash: Having 2 ‘X’ chromosomes does not prevent someone from having the authority, or the ability, to make decisions.

Now that I have educated everyone, let me explain why I need to share this information:

Not too long ago, a vinyl siding salesman came to our door. Our house is stucco on the upper level, and we have actually been contemplating siding, so I talked to the guy for a bit.

After about ten minutes of trying to “sell” me on his product, he wanted to set up an appointment for his crew to come do an estimate. I said I was pretty flexible since I am home most days, and he said “but when is your husband home?”. I said that didn’t matter, and that I was allowed to be involved in home renovations. (I had almost single-handedly managed the renovation of most of our first floor. I think that shocked him.)

The salesman kept pushing me to set up appointment for the weekend and I said no, I could manage it alone during the week. Our weekends are so busy that I would rather not worry about having to be home during a range of time when people may or may not show up. He refused to have an estimate done without my husband’s involvement. I was so insulted, so I told him to forget it and told him we were just not interested. (I then promptly got back to preparing dinner and making sure my husband’s newspaper was waiting for him at the table with his gin and tonic. HA!)

Incidents like these are not isolated. I cannot tell you how many phone calls I get for my husband during the day. When I tell the caller he is not available, they always ask if I am his spouse. When I say yes, they always ask me if I am “authorized” to make decisions regarding this or that. I always tell them that my husband does not allow me to think for myself and hang up. There is no way I am going to give any business to anyone that treats me like a second class citizen. I am sure that if my husband answered the phone that they would not ask if he had his wife’s permission to make decisions independently.

Previously, I had written a post that provided some tips for sales people. I am going to reiterate here that possibly the most important thing a sales person should do is make sure they treat each and every customer with the utmost respect, regardless of who they are, how they dress, the car they drive, etc. If I find a sales person offensive, I will not give their product a chance, no matter how great the price or terms of service are. Maybe my ego will prevent me from saving money, but at least I know that I am not financially contributing to a company that hasn’t realized yet that women actually can think for themselves, and are capable of making many decisions in life! (Even Wilma Flintstone had a charge card and went on shopping sprees! Although Fred didn’t handle that very well. But really, who was the smarter one in that relationship? It wasn’t Wilma who was getting caught up in some nonsense in every single episode.)

Have you ever been totally insulted by a sales person?

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{ 114 comments… read them below or add one }

krantcents July 28, 2012 at 12:15 pm

The salesman is just trying to take away objections. Many, if not all consumers will avoid telling the salesman the real objection to signing the contract by telling them excuses. The one they are trying to remove is “I have to check with my husband or spouse”. The salesman’s role is to remove objections so you will buy.
Sales people are always trying to qualify people so they don’t waste their time. Even as a male, some sales people will not present to one individual without the other for the reasons above.

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Kris July 29, 2012 at 9:52 am

Hello KC! Well, in this case, the salesman removed one objection and added another one! Maybe I should have told him I was a single mom or something.

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Georgene Harkness July 28, 2012 at 5:40 pm

Well, I have no doubt the salesman is trying to remove objections, but this is NOT his job. His job is to Sell. The. Product. Once the buyer has stated clearly that SHE is the decision maker, it is disrespectful of the salesman to ignore her and insist on speaking to someone else.

I think most men don’t have a clue (and I love men, but I can’t help but observe this even in my own husband) how routinely women are ignored and insulted in the business arena. Happens to me, too, but I’m a little more forceful (lots of experience) and it’s entirely reasonable that a person wouldn’t make a decision (husband or not) on the day of the measuring and estimate. One thing that salespeople need to learn is that decisions are made at the leisure of the person who has the money to spend – not the other way around.

You were entirely right to dismiss this one. I give salespeople ONE chance to get it right, and after that, they’re gone. Competition is GOOD!

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Kris July 29, 2012 at 9:47 am

I think we are cut from the same cloth! For many years, I was a SAHM, and I think many people saw me only as that. It was so frustrating for sure.

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Georgene Harkness July 29, 2012 at 1:55 pm

I was reading this again, and I can see that what I said makes it look like MY husband routinely ignores me! I only meant that he doesn’t realize how often women, including me, are ignored in business and by salespeople. Just in case anybody wondered….. ๐Ÿ™‚

My husband truly hates dealing with money, and I’m a CPA, so I do it all, but I always make sure he’s aware of what’s going on so there aren’t any surprises ๐Ÿ™‚

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Don July 28, 2012 at 7:26 pm

Welcome to the 1950s… Didn’t you see that wormhole you passed through (or perhaps that the sale person fell through) on your way to meet the sales person?

Apparently, to be a salesman, one doesn’t have to be clever… It takes all kinds…

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Kris July 29, 2012 at 9:46 am

Hey Don! I think management and the whole company believed that way, because this guy seemed to just be trying to do his job. I am sure he had a line he was supposed to use, poor guy. However, that same line ruined any commission he may have gotten.

How is your son?

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Roger @ The Chicago Financial Planner July 29, 2012 at 10:58 am

Thanks for adding me to your Google+ circles. This is my first visit to your blog and I loved this post. To say this salesman is a moron is too kind. This issue is critical in my world as a financial advisor. In dealing with couples unfortunately too often it is the wife who defers to her husband. It is critical to have both spouses engaged in order to achieve an outcome that works for both of them.

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Kris July 29, 2012 at 1:49 pm

Thank you for the kind words! You are very right in terms of the salesman, although I feel sorry for him if this is the company line is is supposed to be using.

I can’t imagine seeing a financial adviser without my husband. However, I think he would like to see me set up getting new siding on the house and he could just swoop in at the last second and give his input on color or whatever. He just trusts me and doesn’t have a strong opinion about things like that.

I too know many woman that are totally uninvolved in finances. I often worry about them, because if something bad happens, they are totally lost.

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Joe @ Retire By 40 July 29, 2012 at 11:32 am

Wow, that’s crazy. The salesman is willing to lose a potential sale just because your husband is not home? I guess the economy must be improving. It’s amazing these situations still exist. I usually get an estimate and then run it by Mrs. RB40.

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Kris July 29, 2012 at 1:51 pm

Hi Joe. I usually get estimates and run it by my husband. However, I am home all day, and that system has worked for us. We just got our driveway re done. I got the quote, called him at work, and started cleaning out the garage so they could start.

Would that be an interesting measure of the economy? “New numbers came out and there has been an 8 percent increase in rude/ignorant salespeople. This is a sign we have pulled out of the recession and the economy is now stable”.

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Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter July 30, 2012 at 12:29 pm

I would agree with Joe. That salesperson needs to reassess their priorities. You would think the phrase of putting the customer first would prevail.

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Kris August 3, 2012 at 7:24 am

You would think! However, maybe their volume of business is so high that they haven’t learned the hard lessons yet (doubtful). Or, maybe they are just clueless.

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101 Centavos July 29, 2012 at 2:45 pm

Mr. ET&T gets the paper and a gin & tonic at the dinner table? Lucky guy….

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Kris August 3, 2012 at 7:29 am

101, if you aren’t getting a great meal, the paper, a drink, and more every day, then you need to have a talk with your wife.

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA

HA!

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Funny about Money July 29, 2012 at 9:57 pm

“Have you ever been totally insulted by a sales person?”

Not infrequently… Some of these guys are stupider than stumps.

Interestingly, we’re lucky to be living in the times we inhabit. My father went to sea, and so my mother had to handle everything at home. In those days, a woman was legally not allowed to make major financial decisions without her husband’s consent. To take me to a doctor or an emergency room, she had to have his power of attorney. To sell their old car and buy a new one — with cash, not with a loan — she had to have a power of attorney. He left her a big pile of powers of attorney, which she needed to make some of the most ordinary transactions.

Attitudes may not have changed, but at least some of the laws have.

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Kris August 3, 2012 at 7:28 am

Oh my gosh, that is amazing that women actually needed power of attorney for such things. You should write a post about that! (Assuming you haven’t already.)

You are right, things have progressed a long way since then. I usually don’t notice ‘sexist’ people anymore, so maybe it just really strikes me when I do.

Great story!

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Charlotte@EverythingFinance July 29, 2012 at 11:01 pm

I know how you feel. I had a salesman ask for my husband when I wanted to upgrade my windows. Needless to say, he didn’t get the job. He should have kept to selling.

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Kris August 3, 2012 at 7:27 am

That is funny Charlotte. Why would you be talking to him if your husband wasn’t in on your plan to upgrade windows? It isn’t like you were out shopping for a thousand-dollar dress. (Can’t imagine Sak’s would ever ask if a woman had her husband’s permission to spend on clothes! ๐Ÿ™‚ )

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Crystal August 6, 2012 at 1:09 pm

What’s super hilarious is that Charlotte’s hubby and his son (Mr. BFS) leave almost all of the decision making to us anyway since they don’t want to deal with it. I can just imagine Charlotte asking my father-in-law to come and deal with the window salesguy…hahaha.

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Furniture Removal July 30, 2012 at 8:01 am

According to me, sales man is just trying to sale his/her product. He don’t have any intention to make your insult.

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Kris August 3, 2012 at 7:25 am

I don’t think any salesperson would set out to intentionally insult a customer. However, when the customer tells the sales person that they are willing and able to make decisions, then the salesperson needs to respect that.

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TB at BlueCollarWorkman August 2, 2012 at 12:49 pm

Being a man, no, I’ve never been insulted by a salesman. They spend most their time stroking my ego. I had no idea that salespeople still acted like that towards women. I’m sorry, dude, that completely sucks! I’m glad you told him to go away, you can find a better sales person and better company for sure.

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Kris August 3, 2012 at 7:24 am

TB, your comment goes to show that there is some work still to be done regarding equality, that is for sure!

Thanks for visiting!

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First Gen American August 9, 2012 at 1:40 pm

I negotiate almost all those household decisions. He is involved, but only at the end. He gets the cliff notes version of my work and approves or vetoes my recommendation. If this was someone who came to my house, there is no way my husband would agree to meet with him.

I had a manager that said that you need to change your style depending on your audience. He blew it by not changing his tactic with you. Yes, the husband may be the ultimate decision maker in many households, but trying to bypass the gatekeeper will not speed up the process. It will only make you lose the sale.

Happily I haven’t encountered too many of these situations in recent years.

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Kris August 17, 2012 at 10:39 am

I negotiate just about everything too, including cars. My husband usually doesn’t care much, and trusts my decisions. If only salespeople trusted me! Many have lost my business because of my ‘female-ness’. Their loss! ๐Ÿ™‚

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