26 September 2013

Refusing the Folks at the Door

It's common in the Netherlands for different businesses or charities to go door to door to try and sell their product or do some fundraising. After living in the back of an apartment building in Chicago where no one could get into the front part without a key or wanted to venture to the back, this still confuses me. In general, in the States, the door-to-door stuff just isn't done anymore either because it's not very efficient, or some neighborhoods aren't safe enough, or because some neighborhoods prohibit "solicitation." So having someone at the door asking for money is something that really throws me.

Image courtesy of papaija2008 - FreeDigitalPhotos.net


If I'm not expecting someone, the door bell always surprises me; and we probably have someone at our door at least once a week. Like sales calls in the US, they often come around dinner time when I must look like a crazy person emerging from whatever kitchen-disaster is in progress. I try to listen, but I'm usually worried about burning something on the stove or whatever Evel Knievel-type trick Little Man is performing in the background. They never seem to call "at a good time."

I've done a good job sending away the folks selling products pretty quickly - usually telling them that we don't own the home is enough because they're trying to sell new trashcans or want to run new cable lines into the house. But saying no charities is harder. If it's a kid, I'll usually give them 50 cents or so, but the adults are more difficult to politely turn away. Many want some sort of monthly pledge on the spot, which I won't do without researching the charity with Mark first - we like to know where the money is going and what it's supposed to be doing - and while the information from the person at the door can be helpful, it's only one source. I'd like to think I'm making a fully informed decision before donating.

Several charities also want your bank account number in order to start the transfers for the donations. Giving out your bank account number in the Netherlands is how you get any subscription paid for (no one uses personal checks here), and it's safe process (your bank will back you up on any claims of false charges and money trails are easily traced), but I don't like doing it. The fundraisers often look confused or offended when I say I don't like giving it out, and I don't really blame them, because it's normal here. But I'm used to protecting my bank account number like I protect my Social Security Number - you only give it out when you have to, and then only to a trusted source. It's an American habit that I just can't get over.

So, nice people at my door, I'm sorry. It's not that I don't trust you, it's just that I don't trust the process. I'm frazzled by your presence and the frequency of which I find you at the door. Donating at my door is one point of assimilation that I'm not sure is going to happen for me.

Do you get the door to door requests? How do you handle them? Or are there other "normal" activities that you have a hard time trusting in your new home?

12 comments:

  1. People give out their bank account number like crazy here! We even got an invitation to my husbands cousins wedding with their bank account number on it so you could just give them money that way instead of in a card at the wedding, I was appalled but everyone else thought it was totally normal!

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  2. From Casinos To Castles26 September, 2013 10:45

    It is hard for me as well to give out a bank account number. And everything here comes out automatically. I hate that but it's because of my bad experiences with it in the states. We don't have people come to our door here soliciting. I know they will come around holidays asking for money for the church and the tradition of gathering eggs (I can't remember what it's called now!). But I'm with you. I'd be frazzled and annoyed!

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  3. I was talking with an German expat living here yesterday, and she said nothing like this happens where she's from. She's had issues with the frequency of it too.

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  4. Wow, I have never heard of people doing that - I'd be surprised, too. But I guess that's what normal will look like when North America eventually does away with checks?

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  5. We had someone from an energy company (I think) come one evening around 6 p.m. when I was in the middle of something. The way the two men were looking at me as if they were expected threw me. I thought they had the wrong address. It went downhill from there as I had to first ask them to switch to English and still couldn't get a straight answer out of them as to what they wanted. Then one of them started mocking me (in Dutch) asking if I didn't speak any Dutch at all. Of course I did, but when I'm interrupted and have no idea why two men are at my door at that time of the evening, I'm going to want to switch to the language I'm comfortable in. If I hadn't been so frazzled and trying to figure out what they wanted, I might have tried to say something (in Dutch) to put the one idiot in his place.


    This is why I usually let my boyfriend answer the door. He's better at dealing with people than I am. ;) It's funny that this practice is so common, though, considering the fact that it's just not done for friends to drop by unannounced.

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  6. I've heard about those stickers - it's too bad there's not an option for "no to everything." I've considered starting to hide, too, but Little Man usually jumps into the window and starts waving. I guess it keeps me honest ;)

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  7. I've had that thought too! It seems so counter intuitive to "drop by" with a sale or donation to people you don't know when you don't "drop by" to people you do know.

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  8. Gah! I would not give it out either. No way. No how. No chance.But it's better than like it is here in Croatia where you have to take payment slips to the bank to pay bills - its uber annoying. So tough call which is better / worse for me,

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  9. Isn't the bank account number thing SO STRANGE!? I am kinda George Kostanza-ish when it comes to that (my pin! my pin!) so it really weirds me out to think about giving someone that info. And please, if you ever figure out when the 'good time' to call is, please share :)

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  10. I'm a bit surprised you still need to take payment slips to the bank. As much as I don't like how transfers are used for everything, I do like the "set it and forget it" option of online banking. You never miss a payment that way.

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  11. Haha! George Kostanza syndrome! I think that best sums up my feeling. And the "good time" may really just a pipe dream. I imagine even if I invited them, something crazy would happen about 3 minutes prior to arrival. You know, just because it could.

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  12. It's good that you work on your French with them, that's smart. I've never had any religious group come, that would be an interesting change of pace!

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