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A breakdown of how I was talked out of $100 (dskang.com)
282 points by dkthehuman on Nov 16, 2012 | hide | past | favorite | 173 comments

Even better than talking someone out of money is to get them to pay you without even knowing they are paying. A landlord I rented from once did this with the rent, managing to raise rents with most tenants not noticing.

Here's how they did it. Rent was $550/month with a one year lease, which works out to $6600/year.

When the least expired, you had the option of going month to month, or signing another lease. Month to month would be $600/month ($7200/year). However, they said, if you'll sign another one year lease, they'll let you keep the old rate ($6600/year), which will be implemented by giving you one month free. That is, you'll pay $0 for January, then $600/month for the remaining 11 months of the year, bringing the total to $6600/year.

A year later, when it was time to renew again, they told people rent would probably be going up soon, but if they renewed now for another year, they could avoid the increase and just keep paying $600/month.

Since that is what people were already paying, most did not see this as a rent increase. Yet they would be paying $7200 for the year, as opposed to $6600 for the year before--a $600 increase--because this time there was no free month for signing the lease.

That just sounds sleazy. sorry.

It also sounds vaguely similar to the thing you hear factory workers do.

Bob is paid weekly, on Thursday. Bob starts by being frugal. This means that instead of having to use his wages on Thursday he can push it back a day to Friday. He still gets paid on Thursday.

He keeps doing this - keeping 8 days between each time he takes his money out of the bank.

After 7 weeks Bob gets a double pay packet.

I know a few people who tried this, and I know a couple of people who managed to last for the 7 / 8 weeks needed. Most of them got more benefit from frugal spending and a bit of planning than from the double pay at the end, but that's a nice treat too.

So this strategy is really only effective when you'd like to raise rent by 9.1% per year?

Realize that in many areas, rental increases have legislated maximums, or increased notice periods for any raise above a certain percentage. This is a cunning way around that.

No it's not. Discounts are still governed by rent laws.

It's just a standard 1-month free signup discount followed by annual increases.

There are more options than that. For instance, to obscure a planned increase from $550/month to $660/month, the offer could be two months free: 12 x $550 = 10 x $660.

There's no reason the discount has to be for the full rental amount in a month. To obscure an increase from $550/month to $575/month, the offer could be be $300 off for January: 12 x $550 = $275 + 11 x $575.

A 9.1% price increase per year is more than most businesses pull off, and would make a lot of them very happy.

Every two years, it seems.

It's still every year, but with a one-year lag on the first increase.

> I was masterfully manipulated, and I have little choice but to admit that I received an unexpectedly expensive lesson in the art of selling.

How would you be sure it was that masterful? From your description it sounds pretty much like a standard sales pitch. It could just as well be that you're simply rationalizing being talked into spending $100 on something you didn't want to buy. You seem to be thinking "He was so good, he even managed to get me to buy this stuff", but the truth may unfortunately just as well be "Gee, I fall for this kind of stuff much more easily than I would have liked/thought".

Doing a postmortem of such a sales-pitch as a target yourself seems to be loaded with subjectivity problems.

I have to agree here. By the author's own admission, he does most of his shopping online - which tells me he lacks practice in dealing with salesmen.

I worked as a bartender/server at a corporate restaurant when I was in college. You would be surprised how easily people will do something if you just tell them. Me: Order a margarita. Customer: OK.

And not to get too judgmental, but this is especially true with the stereotypical internet dweller. For some reason Ive come to notice that people of this ilk are less likely to say no for fear of offending/not pleasing someone.

>> Me: Order a margarita. Customer: OK.

I'd say "OK" too. One of my problems going into a restaurant is I don't know what the restaurant is good at making; I used to make the mistake of ordering stuff the restaurant hasn't made in weeks and it tastes horrible.

If the waiter/waitress was going to recommend me something, its unlikely something the restaurant was especially bad at making, and it would solve part of my problem, and so I'll accept his/her recommendation.

Or situations where you aren't really to fussed about what you drink, it is often better to get something different suggested to you than selecting one of the first few drinks that come to mind when you go up to the bar.

It'll be whatever is on special/they have been asked to push by the owner.

I think this was discussed in Kitchen Confidential in terms of food.

If it's crap or ridiculously overpriced, they'll pay for it in the tip anyway.

That's because you're implicitly telling them "I recommend margaritas". Try telling them "our margaritas aren't very good and are overpriced, but order one" and see how well your Jedi mind tricks fare.

Well, if he's in the bar talking to the bartender, he probably intended to get a drink anyway. Margarita is a drink, and most people wouldn't hate it, so why not. If you tried to ask him order a glass of snake venom or buy a ticket of state lottery or solve a set of linear equations, you'd might get a different reaction.

Your first mistake was to let an Israeli sell to you.

That's where you lost brother. For that matter, I'll expand that to Middle-Eastern. I have a lot of friends from Israel and some from other ME countries. A lot of them tend to be very good at selling. I never got to the bottom of it. Maybe it's something in the water? I don't know.

I've gone on sales calls with Israeli friends (yes, as an engineer I decided I needed sales training from the best when it came time to sell my own products). We used to play this game that we loosely referred to "Shut-up and sell something". The idea was to see how little you could say and still close a deal. In my early days I tended to talk too much. And, as an engineer, I'd get lost in long explorations of features and even stuff we were planning on doing. I'd loose sales right and left. Then came "shut-up and make a sale". It is amazing how sometimes you can say absolutely nothing. Zero. And make a bigger sale than when you start flapping your jaws. The art is in knowing when to speak and when no to.

Hey you! Yes you. The one reading this thinking that it is a pejorative comment. Stop it! It isn't. It's more of a compliment than anything else.

I think Turkey has the most of this type of sellers. Especially the towns that are on the sea and get a lot of tourists.

It usually goes like this:

1. Hey my friend, where are you from? — So that he can set an initial price for you. None of the items ever have prices on them because of this. If say you're from Russia or Germany and the like you'll get the big initial price, if you're from Serbia like me, you'll probably get a smile.

2. Let's say you are from Germany, and were looking at a shirt, he'll tell you €40. — You simply can't allow yourself to buy it at this price, neither is he expecting you to (although I'm sure that happens). At this point he just wants you to pile up the stuff you like from the store.

3. When you're done, he'll sit you down for "the deal". Now's the time to haggle, and you should have been thinking of ways to cut the price while you were picking up the clothes. He'll probably give you a small discount "for bulk" that you should dismiss at once, and aim for at least 30% off of everything (50% is standard somewhere, some parts is less), and don't be afraid to return some things you don't want to buy.

So yeah, if you want some schooling in direct sales, go to Turkey (Alanya is very nice) and go shopping. Be prepared to come back with many knock–off Armani shirts and sweaters.

It can also be a good idea to go to a shop without buying anything, but just to see how low the price will go before the vendor stops going down. That gives you a rough idea of the typical markup in that neighborhood. I've known street vendors in thailand to give 90% off.

But the thing is that these people need the high margin sales to make a living. They'll sell at the lowest price that they're still making money, but if all of their sales are like that they're not making a living. That's why you shouldn't haggle all the way down if you like the vendor.

I was in the grand bazaar in Istanbul with a bunch of Israelis and Russians. They specifically told me not to open my because the second then knew I was an American the price would get jacked. Truth.

I visited Istanbul earlier this year, and it amazed me how bargaining and selling was so ingrained in the culture. Every store, every restaurant, even the hotel... it's just a different way of dealing with customers.

And here in Canada/USA, some stores have sales people that don't want to disturb you. They sit quietly in their chair in the back of the store, don't dare approach you, and don't speak until spoken to. That's not sales, that's "question answerer".

Real sales has an active component.

Uhm, try that "active component" in Germany. Even Walmart greeters make them nervous.

I dislike going to places where people work on commissions unless I'm really sure about what I'm getting; information asymmetry combined with a party out to get you for all they can is a bad combo. So those guys at the back of the mall store ignoring me is perfectly fine!

I had a colleague that was trying to buy an expensive stereo in a store in Zurich once. He was just about to choose the model when a bell rang.

"I am sorry, it is 5pm. You must leave the store now."

> even the hotel

Hotels are one service that I've found you can always haggle over the price, wherever you are. You're wasting money if you don't try!

Turkish, living in Istanbul here. I absolutely hate the bargaining culture. Not so much in the blood after all :)

In Canada at least, in most retail places I go, I tend to know more about the product than the person selling it. Most recent example, cell phone service store - the guy told me the incorrect SIM card for an iPhone 4S. When I corrected him, he still insisted the incorrect one was the one I needed. I just said thank you and left.

In my experience, most people know very little about their job, and they are not interested in learning more. But they're happy to complain about their economic spot in the world and how they're not getting their fair share of the pie.

I think it comes from living in countries where haggling is just what you do.

You get used to the techniques.

Please elaborate on when to talk and when to remain silent. East med has been a commerce route for centuries, if not millenniums, is not strange that it is embedded on the culture.

I don't think that this can be fully communicated in a few lines on a post in HN. Selling is a contact sport. You really need to be there with the customer and develop a feel for how things are going.

For example, I've had sales calls where it makes complete sense to say very little and force yourself to be respectful of what your customer might be saying during the conversation, even if sometimes what they are saying is wrong. I've also had cases where I've had to put one of the people in the room down hard because they'd come off as "experts" when they really didn't know the subject very well. So, you have to forcefully (verbally, I mean) establish yourself as the alpha dog and then the rest of the pack calms down. I've also had cases where not a bit of business was discussed at all. We'd go grab a cup of coffee or lunch talk about all manner of things personal but no business. And then you go back to the office. The next day a purchase order shows-up along with a thank-you email.

You can't teach these things in a few hundred words. You have to experience them and, depending on who you are, your personality and your upbringing it could take anywhere from six months to two years to pick it up. Because I spent a good part of my young life in Argentina I picked it up very quickly. Argies are pretty fast.

I should also say that I saw this cultural thing play out when it came time for me to hire sales people. I really wanted to focus on engineering so, eventually, I set out to fire myself as a salesman and hire someone in. I must have gone through seven or eight people. Men, women, younger, older, with and without experience. They all sucked. It was frustrating. That all changed when I found this Iranian guy who was hell-bent for selling. He had that middle-eastern drive to make a deal and he delivered. He wasn't super-polished, but he could certainly sell. On more technical sales I'd just tag along to deal with whatever he couldn't handle.

Hiring a good sales person has been one of the most difficult experiences in my entrepreneurial career. Most people who call themselves sales-men are order takers. They can grab fish if they jump into the boat. A real salesman knows how to find and catch fish. Huge difference.

muchas gracias!, it is a very useful pointer.

As somebody who lived in Israel, I recognized it instantly. After you live for some time there, you get immunity to such kind of things, but on un-immunized person, especially of character susceptible to pressure, it may have strong effect.

I was coming here to post something along those lines. After having spent several weeks in Egypt, I came to realize that the guys who run the kiosks in American malls, who I used to consider pushy, are probably the amateurs who couldn't cut it back home.

We came across a Fair Trade shop in Luxor two weeks into our trip, where not only were there were price tags, but the shopkeeper just hung in the back until we approached them. It was such a relief, as I'd gotten sick of bargaining for absolutely. Everything.

Reading this and the subsequent comments, I have to ask: am I the only one immune to the this sort of thing? I get approached by these kiosk workers all the time while shopping, and I simply wave and keep walking (possibly reinforcing with a "No, thank you" if they follow me down the path, as they sometimes do). I know it's a high pressure tactic. I know they're selling something that no one actually needs. I know if I give them an inch of attention they'll try to take a mile. It's a well known sales tactic, so I'm puzzled why people continue to get sucked into it.

I'm actually kind of confused why this warrants a post-mortem given that I would hope that no one ever duplicates this sort of tactic in a legitimate business. Let the product sell itself, don't "become the customer's friend" in order to push it on them.

am I the only one immune to the this sort of thing?

I don't know, I feel that way, too. I've been through long sales pitches, mall workers, even TV commercials . . . and I'm pretty sure the emotions I feel are not the ones they intend me to feel.

When I hear friendly pleasantries or "This is a special deal just for you" or "I just marked down the price 50%" or "Super exclusive supreme top-of-the-line product" or whatever, I'm supposed to feel . . . I don't know, flattered? Excited by the opportunity? That's not what I feel. What I feel is more like, "Don't insult my intelligence, you jerk." And maybe a little, "Don't pressure me to make a decision with insufficient research. Jerk."

I don't know, I generally like to think the best of people, but every time I've interacted with a salesperson, I've spent the entire conversation with the forceful emotional impression that they were insulting me and trying to take advantage of me. And I never buy anything from them.

My reaction is more along the lines that if the company is paying so much commission etc. to force the product down my throat, there has to be an alternative elsewhere with lower overheads and consequently better value (and not even necessarily cheaper, just lower ratio of sales:product).

I suppose there's an exception to the rule: when I'm seeking out a product that I already intended to buy, I'm not above using the salesman as an expert on his own product line. That usually goes pretty well.

But man, when the unwanted upsell starts . . . I politely say no, but I'm sure you'd be able to tell from my demeanor that I feel quite insulted.

When you walk by 5 of these guys every day on your way to work you tend to develop a rather callous attitude towards all unsolicited sales. Like you said, give them an inch and they'll talk your ear off for 5 hours, progressing through their bag of tricks like how great the product is, on to guilt trips about how badly they need the sale, to the final stage of feigning annoyance that you wasted their time or that you are a rude person.

But with my parents who I think are quite "normal" and live in my small home town, the vendors and pan handlers can smell fresh meat a mile away. It's not that they're stupid or gullible. It's just that when someone approaches and starts talking - they give them their full attention. And as per small-town courtesy you wait for a conversation to wind-down - which will never happen with these guys. They will literally never let you walk away until either you buy something or you "rudely" remove yourself from the conversation. It takes them a little while to get into that "city" state of mind where you realize that the best approach is to not get yourself sucked into a conversation in the first place.

As someone that comes from a small town, I think you hit the nail on the head. It always felt so rude to not stop to listen to these people. It took me years to learn how to just keep walking without feeling terribly guilty. It helped when I realized from experience that the longer I listen and/or talk to them, the more likely they'll get pissed off if I don't give them something or buy something from them.

Does it help to realize that not stop talking when the other person is trying to end the conversation is really rude?

Absolutely true. It's difficult though, because their whole strategy is to make you uncomfortable. You're forced to modify your own behavior in a way that goes against your sense of kindness.

You are forced into uncharted behavioral territory. This causes anxiety and a strong wish to return to normal. The apparent kindliness and self-assurance of the salesman makes him look like a benevolent guru, a parent figure who will guide you out of the wilderness.

It is Stockholm syndrome in miniature. I have seen people thank the salesman who has just roped them into buying unwanted, overpriced junk. Hell, I have even seen people thank aggressive panhandlers and wish them well.

Thanks, that's a good way of looking at it. Nowadays, I have so much pent-up anger and rage at these types of people after coming to terms with all the years of being manipulated by them. They must sense it, because they tend to shut up when I glare at them.

One way I've managed to get past it is thinking how politely listening to them is wasting their time - time they need to make a real sale instead of me stringing them along.

And for the ones who push past that, well, annoying/ignoring the intentions of person you're selling to is sort of a jerk thing to do, so that mitigates the guilt a bit.

You probably aren't that immune either but the key is to shrug these people off right off the bat.

When you just wave the off and walk past you never enter the danger zone. Things get increasingly more difficult once you engage in conversation with them as they won't let you go unless you rudely quit and walk away, and most people don't want to do that. The logic goes that since you've already spent a while talking with them, spending your time and their time, why stop so suddenly and throw all that away unless you end up buying something to warrant the effort made. It's basically bullshit but that's how many people go about it: you either decline right from the start or end up "having to" buy something. It takes some strenght to break out of that pattern.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but a lot of these tactics are used in "legitimate" businesses. For example, free lessons (e.g. 20 Ways to Speed Up Your Wordpress Site!) and mailing lists are often used to gain the customer's trust before pitching a service or a product. Becoming the customer's friend is simply a way of gaining the customer's trust.

Mailchimp is a great example of this. They have pages upon pages of free guides and information, and even give out email templates for free.

Those sleazebags.

I know I'm not completely immune, so I have one simple rule - never buy anything on the spot that costs over a certain margin. The margin depends on the kind of things - may be smaller for small things and larger for bigger ones, but usually somewhere around $50-$100. And that is regardless of any offers, discounts, special promotions going on just for the next 50 seconds, etc. I might be losing some deals on that, but I don't think so. If he was genuinely ready to go down 20% today to make a sale, he'd do the same tomorrow.

So if I see something offered that I need to buy and the price is attractive, I leave and wait for some time - again, depending on the sum in question it may be a day, maybe more. If after the wait the offer is still attractive - I take it. If after the pressure is off I discover the deal doesn't look as nice as it looked - I pass. If the salesman says "if you don't buy now, the deal is off" I say "it was nice talking to you, good bye". So far this rule worked quite well for me.

As for using it in business - it is used all the time. I've been subjected to it (to remove any doubt - in US, not Israel, and not by Israelis :) many times, and not only in the malls. It is being used because it works - you think people doing it do it for their own enjoyment? They do it because that's how they make the most money. Not my money, though :)

>I know they're selling something that no one actually needs

Every single smartphone maker in the world is listening

For those of us that don't get sucked into these easily, more than anything it is probably that we just don't engage the sales person in the first place. I never purchase anything being sold these ways, but I can't really say I have given the sales person enough of a chance to employ these methods on me.

I have an aversion to anyone who is pushing sales onto me like this. Even if they were trying to sell something I would be really interested in, the method would cause me to avoid it.

You have said that you know that the best tactic is to avoid these people, which presumably is through experience. So why do you say that you're "Confused" and "Puzzled" at why this article exists? It's a well known sales tactic as you say, but it's obviously not universally known, so instead of acting superior and declaring yourself "puzzled", let other people have the benefit of learning it too.

That'll work fine, until someone comes up with product 70% as food as yours, but with a good salesman pushing it.

> product 70% as food as yours,

Sounds like modern agribusiness.

Because he got suckered and instead of blatantly admitting he acted like a smug idiot, he has to rationalize it as a good thing by saying "look, I learned something, and now so did you".

Hey, experience is what you get when you don't get what you want.

He was doing it for science.

You don't have some unique immune ability. The OP said he approached the vendor first for some sales advice, and in the end the guy got him to buy his wares.

But the OP also admitted he had no particular interest in sales - a cue to the huckster that he was dealing with a clueless innocent who could easily be manipulated by the tricks of the trade.

This leaves open the question of why the OP approaced the salesman in the first place.

>am I the only one immune to the this sort of thing?

Thing is, techniques that work great on one type of person will repulse another, so it's perfectly normal for a nerd to be completely immune to a sales pitch targeted at a neurotypical. But that doesn't mean you can't be manipulated; it just requires different techniques. To believe otherwise is dangerous overconfidence.

>I'm actually kind of confused why this warrants a post-mortem given that I would hope that no one ever duplicates this sort of tactic in a legitimate business. Let the product sell itself, don't "become the customer's friend" in order to push it on them.

All co-location is sold this way. As are commercial real-estate leases... and most residential leases, for that matter. All of us, if we go into business, will have to buy products or services sold by those sorts of salesmen. Knowing a bit about how their manipulation works is the first step towards self-defense.

I mean, it's not usually unsolicited... but if you want to lease some co-lo? almost nobody except maybe some of the tiny nobodies list prices on the web page... and 90% of the time, those prices are not solid; they are significantly higher than the 'special for you' price.

If you want to lease bandwidth? same thing applies, only the difference between the first price you get and the 'special because you are my friend' price is larger. I'm paying 1/5 the 'list price' for my large Cogent pipe.

So... it should be obvious why you need to study this stuff. Well, obvious why I need to study this stuff; I blow through north of a hundred grand on co-lo, bandwidth, and other related fees every year; I'd bet money that I'm not within 20% of the lowest possible price, so yeah, it's worth quite a bit of effort to figure out how this bullshit works.

All that said, it is bullshit. I avoid it whenever possible. I build my own servers from parts, because you don't have to negotiate to get reasonable prices on parts, but you do have to negotiate to get reasonable prices on assembled servers. The negotiation effort is far greater than the assembly effort.

Really, I think this is one of the primary reasons "the cloud" seems so much easier to deal with than co-location. No negotiation, no dealing with the co-lo jacking up your rent every year. (Yeah, just like a commercial or residential real-estate lease, every time your lease is up, the rent goes up in proportion to how difficult the landlord thinks it is for you to move.)

I've tried putting 'real prices' on my website for things like bandwidth and co-lo (the bandwidth prices were really good, for the amounts I was offering. The co-lo prices were reasonable but not unheard of.) Almost no bites. I did get salesmen calling me up all over the place; for a 10% cut, they'd send me all kinds of customers.

So yeah... as far as I can tell? this is just how some goods and services are sold. As far as I can tell, the optimal move is usually to rearrange your life and your business so you buy as few of the products that require negotiation as possible; But eh, depending on your sector, well, this may be impossible. In that case? yeah, learning sales bullshit and negotiation is important, if nothing else, to defend yourself against others.

I mean, I've negotiated a fair number of co-lo deals. Probably more than your average person negotiates residential leases during their lifetime. But the person at the other side of the table? they are a professional. They do this all day, every day.

So yeah. Even now? I do sometimes come away finding that the professional has manipulated me into doing something stupid. For me? key is to not agree to anything in person; take it home, show it to a (more conservative... my problem is that I optimistically buy more for a lower unit cost and end up not using most of it.) friend, sleep on it, and then decide. I mean, I am in business and my conservative friends are not, I can't completely defer to them, but getting a perspective that is different from your own is super important, because sales manipulations that work on one type of person don't work on another.

The one additional (and arguably most powerful) sales tactic you experienced was playing with most human's natural desire for reciprocation - the longer he keeps you at that booth, the more of his time you have consumed, and therefore the higher probability that you will actually buy something.

I know I've found myself buying things I don't need in the past because a sales person spent lots of time with me, and I thought "Well, I should reward them in some way for all this time they have given me!", when in reality, that's the whole point of them spending time with me in the first place :)

The book INFLUENCE does a good job of categorizing and explaining these factors. Though a lot of it comes off as common sense, I never realized how widespread these tactics were until I read this book. I highly recommend it.


This book is great. Enjoyable anecdotes, and I also like his take on the subject: Every chapter, first Cialdini explains a particular phenomenon as a sort of "exploit" or flaw in the human mind, and then discusses how to protect yourself against it. Instead of framing it as ways how to sucker people.

The book also has an interesting statistic (IIRC in the chapter about cutting in line for a photo-copier) of people that were first interviewed whether they thought they'd fall for (an abstract explanation of) the trick, who were then (unknowingly, as a set up psych experiment) exposed to a real-life situation playing that exact trick.

The percentage of people that were confident they wouldn't fall for it, but then in a real-life situation did, was surprisingly high. I don't remember how high exactly (maybe someone who's also read it can fill me in here?), but it was enough to seriously question my own confidence (in not being affected by certain human flaws), and make an effort in being extra conscious about that even when I rationalize myself to be immune (which seemed to be a common theme in defence tactics).

Not so much even to avoid being suckered or allowing people to cut in line, but especially after the chapter on Kitty Genovese type tragedies (aka "the bystander effect"). That chapter btw has a bunch of more specific defence tactics such as singling out people and talking to them directly instead of to a group (even if you feel you're not qualified or whatever to be the hero, you can always say "You, sir, in the blue jacket, you seem strong enough, please jump in the water and save that person!", which may feel cowardly but if it helps breaking the "bystander spell" and someone's life being saved, what the fuck does it matter?)

This is a good book. Yes, a lot of it comes off as common sense, but it's still worth reading.

The book The Science of Fear is also a great resource for learning about why people do the things they do.


This is a really good point. Guilt is definitely a huge driving force for in-person purchases.

As a former resident of Israel I kinda know those people. They are there to do their 'hit' before settling back to 'normal' life. The brief they get is "sell". There are companies that specialise in getting young folk to the US and Europe to sell those product. They promise them the world and a silly salary. The reality is that the salary doesn't translate to the figures promised unless you actually sell like you life depends on it. So they do just that. The dead sea stuff is just one type of product, manufactured by nondescript factories and arguably not so 'dead sea'. There are others who go door to door selling 'made in china' oil paintings that they claim to be the artist of. Others sell gadgets in malls. Others sell whatever they sell. The techniques are similar and they are controlled by a few companies. There are even ads where they recruit based on having a US tourist visa alone (i.e., work illegaly until caught). This got so worst that the US embassy created a short film warning young Israelis of that scam, and the airports in London will hold any young Israeli coming in on suspicion of being a mall-stall fodder. Sorry for the guy on loosing $100 worth of chemicals that cost the seller about $4 to procure (I know this because, alas, my brother from the same mother has dabbled in this in the past). You've been had buyer of cosmetics. The best way to go about it, and a lesson to future cosmetic buyers as this poster, is that you buy if you initiate the purchase, not if it initiated upon you.

I was once in a mall, around noonish, when all of a sudden I saw a group of those Israeli sellers quickly close their two carts and run outside. Turns out that ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents were in the mall looking for them.

A couple of hours later, they came back and resumed working as if nothing happened.

I took his advice and Googled "Dead Sea Cosmetics". Apparently one of the WikiLeaks diplomatic cables had details about a company exploiting young Israelis, to take tourist visas and sell these cosmetics in malls.


Hah - years ago, my aunt was stopped in a mall by a young Israeli guy selling these products. She mentioned that she'd been to the Dead Sea on a trip to Jordan and seen them selling similar products for a fraction of the price.

The salesman, unfazed, asked her if she was perhaps mistaken and thinking of the 'Red Sea, because the Dead Sea is in in Israel[1]'.

Thankfully, my aunt taught history, so she knew her geography well enough to know that he was just trying to pull the wool over her eyes.

[1] Which is technically true, since it sits on the border. But I wouldn't tell a Canadian that they were mistaken, because 'Niagara Falls is in the US'.

A bit more than technically true. The Dead Sea is an Israeli icon...

Abe, I think you missed the point - Niagara Falls is (partly) in the US and is an American landmark, but I wouldn't tell a Canadian that they were 'mistaken' about visiting Niagara Falls on a trip to Ontario 'because Niagara Falls is in the US'.

It goes deeper than that. As soon as I read "skin care products at the mall" I immediately thought, "I wonder if the sales person was from Israel". I honestly didn't think I would see that addressed.

Do you remember those Zoom Copters that used to be in every single mall across America?


Wow, it's not every day that someone can get personal sales lessons from a potential spy! ;-)

I was approached by the same sellers in a mall. I got the exact same samples of "dead cells" cream. It was a lady the one that gave me the samples. Very convincing. If it wasn't because I was with my wife at the time, who happens to be a person that does not bend to that kind of selling techniques (I call it her super-power :P) I would've walked with $100 less, at least.

One bad thing about this selling technique, which might be effective in selling you stuff, is that right after walking out, you feel bad. You know you did not do the right choice and the probabilities of you walking again to buy more stuff from them or telling your friends how awesome these products are is so small, that they seem to aim to one-sell only. Maybe that's why they're so expensive: they know you're not going back for more. It's a cheap technique and it probably is not looking for anything long term... But in any case, you can always move to another mall or create a new crappy-good-looking product to scam more people.

If you want information from a salesperson about a product or service without getting into their "selling" mode. Just come up to them and say, right off the bat, "I'm not considering a purchase of this kind for at least 1/3/6 months, but I have a couple of questions about your product."

If it's a bad product or bad salesperson, they'll probably end the conversation quickly, because their whole premise is to catch you off guard and convince you to buy something that you never would if you had 30 seconds to search the internet for reviews.

If it's a good product and a good salesperson, they'll gladly answer your questions and give you a business card. Then you can verify their claims later, and you have a somewhat-trusted contact that you can go back to.

It's a quick way to filter, even if you know you may end up purchasing the product within a couple of days.

This tactic is also a way to quickly stop a potential email conversation with a recruiter, while still being able to have them as a connection. "I'm sorry but I'm definitely not changing jobs for at least 6 months, but thank you for reaching out to me," is enough to do this.

This is the difference between the two types of salespeople I've encountered when I worked in the auto dealer software industry. The first is the short-term salesman. He's concerned about finding individual sales, and probably moves from dealership to dealership looking for the best commission. The second is the long-term. They're the veterans who've been at the same dealer for 20 years and don't even have to try and sell anymore. They subsist on referrals and existing relationships, treating them well and giving them the actual best product they can sell while also giving the dealer what it needs. Neither is guaranteed to be more or less greedy than the next but the latter is a hell of a lot more likable and doesn't care about the short-term salesguy rat race.

>This tactic is also a way to quickly stop a potential email conversation with a recruiter, while still being able to have them as a connection.

Why do you want random recruiters as connections? This not sarcastic; it's a sincere question.

Genuinely random recruiters, no, but if you might be hiring for something outside of your personal skill set, it's worth having connections with recruiters in those fields, if you may do a startup in the future.

I'd have a hard time hiring great enterprise sales people on my own; it's worth it for me to talk to enterprise sales recruiters infrequently and to seek out great enterprise sales managers as contacts.

Same for finance people, etc.

I'm not a master networker, but I don't think you get to be one by asking why you would want a certain connection. You never know what the future holds.

People in the US don't know how to haggle, it's just not part of our culture, so you were done from the second you started talking to him. The first step is learning to walk away from something like this - something that may be nice to have, but that you don't really want. You should have given up when he talked you down to $100 for the lot. Seriously, you didn't need or even want the product, why buy it? There is a decent chance he would have come after you and dropped the price though -- that's the first sign you can start talking seriously about price, everything before that is pure profit for him. And if he didn't chase you down, you're not out anything, and can come by later and see if he'll take a lower offer. I've walked away from vendors like this not once but twice and gotten a price at a quarter of what was originally offered as the lowest possible price.

The opportunity to do this kind of bargaining just comes up so rarely, it's hard to get good at it unless you spend time in developing countries. The much harder skill is to be able to do this for something you really want, something you've already made up your mind to purchase. Which is a shame, since this particular skill does come into play all the time in the US, particularly when it comes to big purchases like cars or houses where bargaining is expected. We have a weird culture.

I'd definitely agree that America is not a real haggling culture for day-to-day shopping. But most of us are pretty used to pitchmen wanting our money.

This seems like to OP just wanted to be sold on something to observe sales techniques. Had he really never talked to a vendor before? Did he actually forget what he was doing and get caught up in the moment, or was this the outcome he was planning all along? Hard to say.

I had this happen at the mall that's a few blocks from Union Square in SF.

For me it was a guy who tried to sell me $800 of tooth whitening services and ultimately sold me two tubes of toothpaste for $20. Once he got me to sit in his chair and talk about myself he hung on tenaciously. It was clear he had authority to mark prices down to 25% of the first price he gave and he'd give you half of that off in cash and give you the other half by doubling the product on you.

I was shocked when I walked away then the next guy asked me if I knew about the dead sea salts and I told him "Yeah, some guy put them on my hand in the mall years ago and it felt great but then 15 minutes later my hands felt dried out and awful."

You might say the guy from White Science is a brilliant salesperson, but if you look at Yelp you'll see people are generally not happy with the products and services that they get there.

That's the Westfield. Same mall as in OP's story.

In my observation, people who believe they are not susceptible to advertising or sales pitches are actually more susceptible than they otherwise would be. If you don't acknowledge you can be influenced, you're less likely to notice when you ARE being influenced. And you don't have to be hit on the head by a sales tactic to be influenced either. It often comes in subtle ways.

I can certainly point to instances where I've been seriously influenced by sales tactics, though they're usually situations where I was already looking for a certain type of product or service.

But in-person, like this? I'd think most people who live in major cities have become immune to approaches from random people - scammers, beggars, whatever. (Except for people selling the homeless newspaper, they're cool.)

If someone requests my attention and they're not asking a normal person question (like directions), I don't engage with them. Sorry. End of interaction, I have no interest in your crap, I have other things to do.

Sales guy tried to embarrass my boyfriend into buying a huge watch once by questioning his manhood. "A real man can carry off a watch like this"

I burst out laughing and asked the salesman, in no uncertain terms, if he would like to borrow my tape measure.

I was searching for a new car about seven years ago. I talked to a few dealerships but was uncertain exactly what I wanted. I just wanted to shop around a bit and see what was on the market since I hadn't really paid attention to new cars in a while. I left my phone number with a couple places and had instructed them to call me if a specific car that I was looking for came in.

About a week later, I was out of town at a funeral. My phone buzzed (vibrate mode) and I glanced at the number and realized it was one of the car dealerships. I clicked the button to send the call to voice mail and then shut my phone off since the buzzing was distracting.

After I left, I checked my voice mail only to find that the sales guy seemed offended by my sending him to the voice mail box. He yelled at me and questioned my manhood - "Oh, so you're not a real man, I see! A real man talks to somebody. A real man doesn't just avoid calls."

I couldn't believe he did that. I went back to the dealership after I got back into town and got ahold of a manager. I had him bring the sales guy over too. I played the voice mail for both of them and then told the sales guy that "a real man deals with the consequences of his actions."

He lost his job that day.

I apologize, as was off topic. Your comment brought bake that memory and made me rage a bit so I figured I'd post it up as another example of a poorly attempted manhood-questioning sales technique.

You probably could have used that piece of evidence to get a real killer deal on that car ;)

> He lost his job that day.

How do you know that? I think it's silly to go back there just because of a voice mail...

Today, it's a customer who is so pissed off that he brought in his cell phone and went out of his way to call you over and play it for you.

Tomorrow, it's the local ABC/NBC/CBS affiliate hungry to fill their "Tonight, We Fight For You!" consumer protection segment asking you for response (five minutes before air so they can say you didn't respond when asked), because the next customer just went straight to them.

I bet he really was fired.

> I bet he really was fired.

If he did make lots of sells I bet he is still there, and the boss is laughing all the way to the bank.

That must've taken some courage to play the message in front of both the manager and the salesman. Obviously the salesman should be called out, but that's no easy task.

heh, I'd rather this particular sales technique died a very quick death.

But back onto topic.

For the dead sea sales folks. People should probably ask if the sales person has ever been to the dead sea, and have they ever seen the effects of stripping the sea of it's mud.

cool they responded appropriately tho

I'm trying to think why you would ask someone if they wanted to borrow your tape measure in uncertain terms, and how you would do it.

You bring up a good point and that's that alluding to penis length comparison by mentioning a tape measure is not "no uncertain terms". "No uncertain terms" would mean saying, "I resent that implication. Let's compare the length of our penises."

I actually said something like "do you really want to have a penis measuring contest?"

Being somewhat coarser language than I would normally use online, I decided to initially use a euphemism here while suggesting that other language was used.

Exactly, but I was afraid it was too pedantic to just point it out :)

I used slightly coarser language because I was getting quite angry at the sales pitch.

Ah, I was just amused by the thought of someone saying "perhaps you would like to borrow a measuring device maybe, if and when I felt like lending it to you. Maybe".

Presumably to measure the exact dimensions of the afore-questioned manhood. I haven't heard that expression before either. :)

I just walk off. If anyone follows me through the mall screaming at me (which has happened, at the very same mall listed here!) I immediately go complain to mall management..... who do nothing, because apparently a gimmick kiosk selling $2 bottles of goo for $100 pays them a lot of rent.

One mall I went to in semi-rural Ohio had it right -- the kiosks had little boxes taped on the floor around each kiosk, and the hucksters weren't allowed to leave their box. It was easy to go to a mall to shop, not to be yelled at like some kind of third-world bazaar.

You come off a teensy bit ignorant and offensive at the end, there.

What's wrong with that if it's true? My experience in poor countries is exactly the same. The shopping experience is horrible, because people are relentlessly trying to sell you things.

It's not saying anything about the culture in general, or the people, just the truth about third-world bazaars...

With out getting too specific, there is a vulnerability the buyer can exploit. The sales man has spent ages with the buyer rolling out his well learned techniques. This is helped if the buyer uses up as much time as he can bare. Which means unless he makes a sale, he has totally wasted his time. Time is money.

So, just at the point where he has totalled up his oh so great deal for you, and just as you are about to pay for the items, stop. Turn to the sales man and offer a deal of your own.

Two things happen. You have just taken control back of the whole sales routine, which suddenly changes your position completely not least because it refreshes your own sense of control. And second, the sales man is totally set off balance and facing the loss of the sale and his time. You can give a whole load of his patter straight back. "Because you are such a great sales guy, I would hate for you to lose this sale", "This offer of mine is a one time offer, could go home and order this lot much cheaper on line", etc.

At that point I start by offering 25%, yes 25%, and seeing where he wants to go. My reasoning for the low percentage is that is sends out a message about how much I value the product, and that despite everything the sales man has said, it hasn't worked. But, I might buy at a value I feel is right for me.

Having done all that, the pressure is off you, and you are freed up to make a rational decision, and being back in control makes it much easier to say, "No, thanks, but I'll pass today."

Sadly in this case he'd probably immediately say yes. Congratulations, you just bought $4 of terrible skin "care" products for $25!

At that point I start by offering 25%, yes 25%, and seeing where he wants to go

How is this any different than requesting a blowjob in the parking lot to every woman you encounter in the gym or grocery store? Occasionally your insulting offer will work. It will work a very small percentage of the time, and meanwhile, you gain a reputation as an annoying douchebag that will follow you around 100% of the time.

I'd rather just take or leave the deal at the asking price, or something reasonably close to it, and get on with my day.

Appart from the fact that the analogy isn't nice, you seem to misunderstand the process of haggeling. I personnaly don't like to haggle or people who try to haggle with me just for the sake of efficiency. But in some places or with some people haggeling it is a must do if you don't want to end the day as a chikken without feathers. In north Africa and Middle Est it is common practice. So in south of France where many north Africans are living, haggling is an expected practice when making deals from person to person. If you are not doing this, then you are considered to be an idiot.

Appart from the fact that the analogy isn't nice

And trying to chisel a 75% discount out of everyone you buy from is?

Whatever society it is that you're talking about isn't for me, I guess. Sounds like a lot of work.

I am From south of France where there aren't many north Africans. In every shop I know I've never seen someone haggle. I don't haggle. My friends don't haggle. Ny neighbors don't haggle.

While this may not be the case for all of the dead sea related skin care booths (though I know it accounts for a large chunk of them in my area) - these people often have major quotas to reach in exchange for the room & board and small pocket money they get in exchange. A lot of them are brought to the U.S. with the promise of a job lined up and when they get here they are in a small apartment with 5 or 6 others. Just a slight insight as to why they are often so aggressive in their sales pitches.

On a bit of a tangent, if anybody's ever wondered why innocent people would incriminate themselves under questioning by the police, bear in mind that the police have much, much more leverage at their disposal than a skin care product salesman.

That's an interesting story. There's a great book called spin selling that mentions some study where they tried to look at the effectiveness of closing tactics like the ones you saw.

They found that for reasonably inexpensive purchases (a $300 camera for example), the hard close can work quite well. But for more expensive, complex purchases, like million dollar software contracts, the hard sell is pretty much the worst thing you can do.

For more complex sells, it pays to uncover and explore the true expense associated with a problem and paint a picture of the user continuing with current product (their competitors put them out of business) vs your product (they put their competitors out of business).

Just don't break out the calculator, offer the one time only special deal, or do anything else from the school of 24 hour fitness gym membership sales training unless you want to get kicked out of your prospect's office.

Usually I'm immune to mall salespeople, but literally the exact same thing happened to me a couple years ago. Same products, same mall (SF Westfield), same tactics, Israeli salesperson. They've got the formula down to a science, apparently.

The only difference was the salesperson was a cute girl and I was single at the time...

I had an intern that worked as a "Chugger" [1] once and I asked her (an attractive female) how many people she managed to sign up for direct debits in day and she said "It depends how many silly boys there were around."

[1] https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=define:chugger

Those people (and their employers) are the worst. They stand on the street begging like your average panhandler, but they are FAR more aggressive, making psychological warfare on passersby, and they are basically stealing from the charity recipients they claim to be fundraising to help.

I'd say the OP was a rather gullible customer. The salesman didn't even have to resort to the next level, which is when they try to make you feel guilty for taking up their time. Or try to make you feel like a cheapskate because you won't buy their product for your child, date, etc.

This is pretty funny. I was just in SF in June and was waiting around that booth for about 20 minutes while my wife shopped. Overhearing the guy (must have been the same guy Adir) was certainly interesting.

It would start off with the free sample push, often targeting older ladies. "Young lady, free sample for you." Then when there was eye contact, "Where are you from?". Then the sales pitch began in full force.

When I worked in a mall, I'd get accosted by these guys on a daily basis (on my way to lunch). I developed the perfect response to their inevitable "Hello, sir! How are you?"

"I'm doing great! So well, in fact, that even Dead Sea products couldn't improve my day!"

Good article. $100 is definitely a fair price for a private tutorial session in sales techniques taught by an experienced professional.

The author should stay FAR away from car dealers.

And stay away from Istanbul too!

(Not Constantinople)

This happened to me last Christmas! Those guys (it was a woman in my case) are super effective in their techniques. I had absolutely no intention of buying anything as I was walking by. My first mistake was responding to their question as I walked by. My second mistake was not continuing on my way through the rest of the mall.

Luckily, I DID manage to get a refund for the products later. I claimed that my wife was allergic to the things I had bought. The sales ladies were skeptical when they say the packages were unopened, but nevertheless I got a full refund - somehow.

A man named Joe Ades used to do something somewhat similar in Union Square. Apparently he was well known.


Yeah, I used to watch him do his thing. Seemed like an odd sort of echo of a New York City from a century or two ago...

"With the new number 69 seducing me, my strong “no” quickly changed to a “maybe”, and then to a “yes”. "

This is not the first time I was seduced by the number 69. There's something about that number that's seductive. Like how all the cable TV packages are $69. I wonder what it is about that number that is so attractive to everyone in the US -- it doesn't seem to be that way in other countries.

I honestly can't tell whether this comment is straight or not.

It's not.

That was the idea :)

It's actually exactly the same in other countries. Strange, but true.

$100 worth of education, that will remain seared into the brain ?

you should get a paper out of it and sell the technique it to retailers ... i see a lot of kahneman/ariely patterns here... how about if you string them up in a nice if-else style decision tree ...

I've talked to this exact same kiosk in the SF Westfield before as well. The saleswoman was very very persuasive. I eventually walked away, and she made me feel like I was a mean person haha.

I ran across one of these kiosks recently while walking through a mall in Waikiki with my wife.

Same basic pitch (and the dude had a very similar name), including lots of "touching" of your hands, which helps make that connection.

From the minute we made eye contact I pretty much knew it was going to be a high-pressure sales tactic. I let him do his spiel and offer us all the tremendous discounts, then thanked him for his time and left.

I find the ease with which people can be manipulated to be fascinating. This individual was far too trusting and lacked adequate discernment or awareness.

I buy things based on one tenant: don't trust anyone who attempts to take your money, ever. All commerce is done based on an imbalance of value, and the ability for one party to unilaterally leverage that gulf to make money. Moreover, the customer is diametrically opposed to the salesman. Their goals are antithetical to one another and their objectives are mutually exclusive. The seller wants to take the buyer's money and give them as little value as possible, yielding more lucrative margins; the buyer wants to acquire as much of a commodity as they can for as little money as possible, heightening returned value.

A capitalistic society is just a myriad of people trying to take whatever they can from everyone else. Sometimes we forget that.

If you feel the need to down-vote, please explain for the sake of edification.

All commerce is done based on an imbalance of value, and the ability for one party to unilaterally leverage that gulf to make money.

Many people on HN will tell you that the imbalance of value means that if I'm paying $100 for skin products, they must be worth more than $100 to me.

There's both a certain element of truth and a certain element of circular reasoning in that. Your comment, though not exactly incorrect, reads tendentiously incomplete to me.

Yelp reviews are fascinating for showing how effective these tactics are. I guess Israelis are as scientific about their sales as their martial arts.


I spent many years working in shopping malls, and while I was there I learned a few fun things about the kiosk folks. It's apparently really common for them to only come to the US for the last few months of the year, set up the kiosks in malls, make a bunch of money, and then go back home. I'm not sure why, but Israel seemed to be a really common country of origin. The mall management in the malls I worked in were okay with the aggressive sales tactics (including following after people) from the kiosk people because they made so much money for the mall itself.

The best way I learned to deal with the kiosk people was to just not make eye contact and keep walking if they said anything to me. Rude, but effective.

I went used car shopping two weeks ago. I was genuinely looking for a car, but the social scientist inside of me was equally curious to observe the sales tactics. I understood many of their tactics to try to get me to sell myself the car. But I didn't get one thing: handing me off to several different people when it was obvious I wasn't totally sold on the car I liked best. I'd find myself talking to a new person about the price I'd be willing to pay. Or I'd have the floor manager show me around. And before leaving, the sales manager wanted to introduce me to some random guy I'd never talked to before. Why I would want to meet that guy, I have no idea.

Your first mistake is going to the car dealer without an offer in writing. The trick is to email several dealerships and pit them against each other, so you're only walking in the door when you have the best price available in writing.

He was looking at used cars, not new. It's a different game. For new cars, I agree with you.

Even that is no guarantee, dealers regularly reneg on the online price, the classic bait and switch.

If they do that, the only thing to say is "good bye, and the 'good' ia there for politeness' sake only". Never ever talk to them again and if you have time, write most nasty review on them on any site that takes reviews (of course, tell the truth, but don't be shy about it). This would be good both for you and for the environment - sleazeballs should not be rewarded.

Fortunately, my experience shows there are honest dealers that do not renege on their promises and respect both themselves and their customer. Even in this business, notorious for some bad apples, there are also decent ones.

That's one from the Art of War - win the war before going in to battle?

Something to do with social proof? All these people who suddenly want to be your "friend" affecting your subconscious willingness to do a deal with them?

Evangelical churches often do the love-bombing thing too.

If somebody who I don't know would suddenly eagerly want be my friend, first thing I'd do is to check if my wallet is still where it should be. Next thing I'd consider how rude I'd have to be to get rid of this wacko. I think "I want to sell you a car for the best price that you can pay while also making a little profit" would work much better on me.

I kind of do that in reverse.

"£10k is a really good deal but I need to OK it with my wife."

comes back 2 minutes later

"She says we can't afford any more than £9k."

Had a similar experience at Walt Whitman Mall in Huntington, NY (Long Island) when I visited my mom for Thanksgiving a couple of years ago. The lady at the kiosk selling something similar gave me a sample and pestered me to buy a package. Don't remember the excuse I gave for not buying, maybe pointing out I was from out-of-town or just wasn't interested.

Haven't had any problems with other mall kiosks with such sales pitches, so it appears those selling "Dead Sea skin care" products may be in some network where vendors are given a consistent method of selling.

These Dead Sea Costmetic stalls must be everywhere. The same kind of cosmetic stalls are very prevalent in shopping centres here in Australia. They employ people with French accents usually and well, I think someone trying to sell you something in an accent also helps brainwash you into a purchase.

The calculator part of this story gave me a chuckle. For those who have been to Bali before (well any part of Indonesia, Thailand and those kinds of countries) bartering is in their blood and they too employ the same techniques using a calculator to sell you stuff.

Here's a very easy way to get out of a Dead Sea cosmetics selling pitch: Say: "shalom, ani merusut haHagira, efshar lirot et Ashrat HaAvoda Shelca?" Translates as: Hello, I'm from Immigration, can I see your work visa?

Also in the USA there's no such thing as No Refunds No Exchanges - if you pay for something by credit card you have extensive consumer rights regardless of the merchant's policies.

Finally, the real reason these sales pitches work so well is they MAKE SKIN CONTACT - and there's something about the actual physical touching that makes the sale a lot easier.

We had a skin-care salesgirl parked outside one of the Apple stores here in Austin. They really will try almost every trick in the book short of actual physical assault to keep you from leaving.

This story particularly illustrates why I avoid going into places with a selling mentality (most places in malls) and prefer to shop in places with a completely customer-centric perspective (what I call the REI model).

One easy way to find such places is to look for lack of pay by commission. REI and Apple are too relevant examples. However a lot of the time even stores that pay based on commission will have a larger customer focus than a sales-pitch focus. Nordstrom is one example that comes readily to mind.

In short, be careful where you shop.

As someone hailing from an emerging foreign country, I usually find these kind of encounters very uncomfortable and feel almost allergic to any sales process.

The pricepoints ($100) make things much worse. Not sure about you but once I get to 3 $digits, there's an approval step required by my internal auditor even if it's just a "sticker price" that will be talked down.

I tend to avoid these situations by all means possible, even if it means taking a less efficient route to my destination.

I used to find it hard to walk past 'chuggers' in the UK (people collecting for charity in the street). I managed it but it was unpleasant. Why? Because I'd have to steel myself into a kind of Beast in order to break free from their psychological tractor beams.

I eventually worked out that if they were exploiting basic decency and human contact, that's fine. I'll smile and wave, even reciprocate compliments creatively, and then walk past.

The Yelp reviews on these kiosks are interesting (dead sea premier kiosk). Lots of one-star ratings and rants about smooth-talking sales people taking money from the, ahem, innocent who are now filing complaints with FTC etc. I had to laugh out loud.

It reminds me of this olde English phrase, "If they pay a penie or two pence more for the reddinesse of them..let them looke to that, a foole and his money is soone parted."

One of the biggest upsells I ever had launched on me was when purchasing a new car. After signing the purchase agreement they immediately put me into a different office with a stunning looking blonde woman who upsells additional protection products such as 5yr warranty extension, window tint, fabric protection etc. Trying to say no to all of it is extremely difficult at that point.

Oh, I thought this was going to be about Kickstarter.

One piece of good advice: "A good deal today will be a good deal tomorrow."

Live by that advice and you will always be free to walk away and think about it.

How to these sellers learn this stuff? Do they get some instruction or do they just learn by trial and error? Any info on that?

A lot of people have said on this thread that it's an Israeli/Middle East thing. I imagine that these salesman been on the other side of it too in their home countries, as customers/prey. Some of them probably get interested in how it's done and just watch the guys who are making money. Or a boss teaches them. I think it is interesting that the Middle East was a historical trade hub and I don't doubt that this culture stems in a large part from that.

Never make eye contact with mall kiosk workers.

Dark glasses and stonewall face.

The kiosk phenomenon also makes the entire mall experience extremely unpleasant for me.

This mirrors my experience with a Deep Sea salesman. Same setup: pop-up stand in a busy mall and I made the mistake of locking eyes with the salesperson. I 'lost' $75 and after a brief period of kicking myself, I couldn't help but marvel at how I was manipulated to buying the creams.

I guess the ultimate challenge would be to go to a free timeshare vacation and endure the sales pitches there. I've heard people with their mind set on not buying ended up buying the timeshares at the end.

I went to one of those time share vacation stays and pitches a long time ago, and the pitch just bounced off. Returning to my home town just after college, one of my high school friends, now selling insurance, suggested we "have lunch." I didn't realize what was happening, but that one bounced off me, and I got a free lunch, too. When I got home, my mother was shocked and told me I should apologize to him. Live and learn... To this day, I still cringe when I see that guy at high school reunions!

Consumers are so stupid. Do you really have such little sense of self worth that you'll let yourself be scammed like that?

Bought the same exact stuff from the same guy at the same mall.

Actually works really well. But damn do they have the tactics down.

Funny. A few months ago I was subject to the exact same pitch. Everything exactly the same. As I read I thought "wow, these cosmetics companies got this down to a science." Turns out it was the same company, so who knows.

The only difference was that my salesman was in fact a woman, a very good looking and flirty woman. At the end of the day I didn't buy anything and I could feel her hatred towards me. Left a bitter taste in my mouth.

"I was duped" didn't cover it? Had to make it a homework for one of your MBA classes?

I wonder if you could make a game out of trying to regame these guys. Maybe as training? Try to be as obstinate as possible for as long as possible while not getting outright rejected.

That's what I occasionally do (only when they deserve it, of course). Marco Arment did it too a while back, in a Microsoft store: http://www.marco.org/2012/10/26/an-alternate-universe - HN discussion: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4705299

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