If you lie to me, why would I trust you?

The envelope at the right arrived in my mailbox today. At first glance, it looked like a 1099 of a w-2 form. Since some of the companies I do freelance work for send me 1099s, I normally keep an eye out for them and stash them away for tax time. The big ‘2009’ in the upper right makes it look like a tax document dealing with the year 2009. I also lost my job this year and had to claim unemployment, so all sorts of ‘official’ documents requiring my response end up in my mail.

I ripped open the envelope and discovered that I had been selected for special financing on a new car by a local Ford dealership. I felt that the sender had intentionally tried to make the envelope look like ‘official government correspondence’ and left off the return address in order to increase my chances of opening it (as opposed to printing “We want to sell you a car!” or something similar on the envelope, which , admittedly, would have resulted in the envelope and contents going right into the recycle bin).

As far as sales pitches go, though, this one seems really flawed. The sender attempted to deceive me about the envelope’s contents in order to get me to open it, and, once I had opened it, wanted me to come in and buy a car. I understand that the real goal of the car dealership is to make money by selling cars, but isn’t gaining the trust of the customer important in the process? The thought that immediately occurred to me, once I opened the envelope, was, “Geez, this person lied to me to get me to open this envelope (true, in the scheme of things, a pretty unimportant lie)… and now they want me to trust them to give me a good deal on a car?”

As I tossed the letter into the bin, though, I began to wonder if such a pitch did work… after all, this isn’t the first time I have received a letter that looked like something important and turned out to be a sales pitch (my favorite was one that was printed up to look like a refund check from the IRS… and when you opened the envelope you saw that they were offering you a loan or something). Part of me thinks that deceiving people into listening to you long enough to hear your sales pitch is an asshole thing to do, yet, amazingly, it must work because I keep getting these letters.

Maybe the true ‘seller’ is a breed apart — he or she is someone who can lie to your face to get you to open the envelope, and, once you have opened the envelope, then unashamedly switch tactics and try to get you to buy whatever they are selling, even though I think my reaction should be, “Hey, you just lied to me! Shut the fuck up and leave me alone, you slimeball!” The ‘effective salesperson’ is perhaps someone who is not encumbered by the same degree of shame that the rest of us are handicapped with.



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