Company's tactics push family too far
Wakefield couple Laurel and Andrew Ketel are so fed up with being besieged by pushy salespeople from a home appliance firm they have started a public campaign in the hope it might stop.
The last straw after being repeatedly phoned by HRV home ventilation telesalespeople over the past few years was an unsolicited visit this week by a company salesman, who finally left after being told by Mr Ketel in no uncertain terms he had to get off the property.
"He told me the company's sales tactic was that reps had to be told ‘no' at least five times, so I just said ‘no, no, no, no, no'. Then he saw one of our kids walk past the door and started down the line that if we cared about our children's health we'd install an HRV, at which point I told him to ‘f... off'," Mr Ketel said. He said the salesman walked down the driveway, still spouting his sales pitch.
"It was like the string quartet on the Titanic - it was sinking but it kept playing."
The couple posted the experience on their Facebook page and got at least 15 comments from people with similar experiences from the same firm, including one who was also told by a sales rep she did not care about her children's health.
Mrs Ketel complained recently to the local office about the conduct of the telesales person, who used the same line about caring for her children.
"We don't have a problem with lack of ventilation or a damp home. I said if we wanted the system, we'd call them."
HRV ventilation systems work by drawing in outside air through a home's roof space, then filter and redistribute it.
They are designed to rid homes of dampness and condensation.
Mrs Ketel said she did not usually mind salespeople phoning who respected her choice if she was not interested in the product, but she objected to insulting remarks.
After the latest exchange she was aghast when the HRV salesman arrived at their door.
She wondered if the company had a policy of targeting certain sectors of the community, such as young families or the elderly.
"We are big enough to handle it ourselves but others might not be," she said.
Fairfax Media reported in July after talking with former HRV staff that "aggression and pressure are part of the HRV home ventilation sales mantra".
It followed a flood of complaints around some parts of the country about the tactics of HRV salespeople.
The former HRV employees, who would not be named because they did not want to jeopardise their current positions, told of intense sales training that included "distraction, diversion, and ignoring what people say".
An HRV direct marketing manual obtained by Fairfax states on its title page, "Marketing is hard. People will say ‘no'. Try Harder".
HRV Nelson-Marlborough franchise owner David Atoa said the company took a proactive approach to any complaint and was the first to admit if a mistake had been made.
"We have not heard directly from the people concerned but it would appear that in this instance there was an unfortunate misunderstanding between the consultant and the homeowner," Mr Atoa said.
He said the consultant in question had helped thousands of families in the Nelson region through direct positive contact for many years but in this case he took responsibility for the way he delivered the message to the homeowner and the subsequent reaction.
Mr Atoa said he would be happy to discuss any concerns personally with the homeowner.
He said the Ketels had been put on a Do Not Call register at his request and no longer received phonecalls from HRV.
The NZ Marketing Association operates "do not mail" and "do not call" registers, available free to consumers. Visit marketing.org.nz and click on the "get removed" black box on the home page.
- © Fairfax NZ News