Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Mid morning Ladies meets: A new phenomenon

I get a call from a friend asking me if I am available on a certain morning. Oh yeah, that's what I am: available.
If there is one single thing that I have gained after quitting my rat-race corporate job, it is time. I love it. Knowing that I have the time to sit still, go for a walk, listen to endless ghazals fished from the ocean of YouTube, watch plays, and participate in mad cap capers with whosoever decides to include me in them.
On the appointed day and time I reach the designated spot. A beautifully kept house and a pleasant lady host. Introductions over, the facilitator is impatient to cut the general chit chat that ensues or to at least turn it toward her predetermined line.
A new age mid morning ladies meet is soon in full flow.
There is audio visual training material, lot of earnest talk with passionate gestures, demonstration, and question answer session. There is gentle persuasion to buy and/or sign up, and suppressed disdain, almost hostility if you happen to be the kind who just refuses to comply and buy the wares being peddled.
The product could be from Tupperware, Amway, Oriflame, Nestle, or random artifacts from across the country. That is not important. The important fact is that ladies are persuaded to meet in small groups and used as captive audience for whatever is to be sold, marketed, or explained.
The host organizes high tea/lunch etc. depending on the level/price of the product being sold. The more expensive the product, the better the eats.
The attendees are in a moral dilemma. They did come and enjoyed the hospitality. So they  feel an obligation to buy something, anything even if they don't need it or feel that it is a useless product.
There is the psychological trigger. You are in someone's house. They have opened their home and heart to you. How dare you not buy something. Shame on you! Come on be a sport. Do the right thing. Buy, buy buy. You may regret it later but right now you have to buy to keep up.
The unspoken threat is,"Don't you want to be invited to such a do ever again? Do you want to be considered ungrateful? Well then, go ahead and be a spoil sport and don't buy."
I refuse to be swayed by all the methods deployed. I am asked point blank," So, which of these products would you like to buy?" "None," I answer. Shock! disbelief. Oh Man, what a toughie!
I worry a little. How about the hospitality that I had enjoyed. Shouldn't I buy at least a token item? Or at least sign the form and give my contact details so that they can try to persuade me again when I am feeling better. Better? No way man. I am just not going to buy anything. Period.
 I am an "ugly customer" as someone had once commented during a training session because in a role play I just refused to let go and come around to buying a product being pitched to me.

Big organizations depend on these network markets to sell their products thus saving on costs incurred in advertising, people, and space. Everything and everybody is fair game. They point out that you can start by selling to your family, go on to your neighbor hood and friends and find an ever increasing group to sell to.

Is this fair?Am I wrong to refuse to be a party to this blatant selling activity in the name of ladies meets? What happened to good old fun sessions where you could go meet someone without worrying if they were going to try and sell something to you?

I would love to hear about your experiences and comments on this article.


  1. Finally, someone actually wrote about this! It is extremely unfair to ask for return favors after exuding friendliness and hospitality. If such is the case, then it is not hospitality, it is hostility! It is heart-wrenching to see every other person around you getting into this chakravyuh in the name of multi-level marketing. Well written Madhu!

  2. I completely dislike this attitude. I had a similar experience, where I did land up buying something, which was also looked down upon, as many had picked up more than 2 items of the beauty brand and here I was, with a foot cream tube, I was being pushed to try out the other products and finally I had to say, that I do not smother my face with all brands of creams and lotions,. Then I just decided to stay away from all these extravagant hi-teas!

  3. Thanks for sharing your experience 'Random Nothings'.
    I suspect a lot of us have experienced this in one way or another and all the smart ones now just refuse to participate rather than face the unpleasantness later.
    I am learning.....


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