Death of salesmen

death_of_a_salesmanDEATH OF A SALESMAN

Miller, Arthur (Book Club Edition, Viking, 1949; ISBN (1958 edition) 9786700003299)

Timeworn novels and films have left many of us with the rather outdated image of the door-to-door salesperson as a fast-talking cracker in a suit carrying a vacuum cleaner. “Pardon me, madam. I’ve come from Suction King to demonstrate the unmatched effectiveness of our affordable new Super-Vac, which retails for just 29.99”.

In contrast, the solemn modern energy vendor turns up to your door in shirtsleeves. Sometimes he has a speechless trainee with him who just watches as he runs through his routine. He never looks older than twenty-five. More often than not, he confers the impression of having held the job himself for less than a month. He seems uneasy. You’d swap over to his syndicate out of simple sympathy, but he opens his spiel by telling you that he’s come because they’ve discovered that your energy retailer overcharges you for electricity. As if they’d detected an emergency up at Electricity Headquarters and dispatched him to respond to it. “My God, a household in Clayton overpays for its electricity. Send our best man at once.”

If you interrupt to ask if he wants to sell you an energy plan, he may even deny it. What does he get from so oblique an approach?

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  1. Christopher Johnstone

    You’d think they’d be overjoyed to get such a straightforward response – although perhaps anyone asking such a direct question usually follows it with ‘I’m not interested’ and past experience has taught the purveyor of fine energy supplies to be cautious…

  2. For a while, I carried on a policy of always swapping over to their retailers. It seemed to make them happy and I figured it wouldn’t make any difference. Obviously I didn’t think it all the way through; as you will’ve guessed, my bills pretty quickly turned into a three-ring circus of different retailers and providers who could never agree about who I had really signed up with

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