Today I got a rather angry rejection letter from someone I didn’t immediately recognize as a previous party guest who considered hosting a show but didn’t book at the party. If you’ve done party plan sales for long enough, you don’t go chasing these people down. Sure, you might follow up by email, but if they don’t book there, they aren’t going to book 9 times out of 10.
It was a condescending note railing on my new company’s refundable deposit policy and implying I’m unprofessional for wanting my time compensated. The tone was disrespectful, the language used was aggressive, and the signing of her name after she already provided her name in the process of the contact was a further attempt at a mic drop.
Most of you know I’ve been rather depressed lately, as my brain is wont to do every few months. My mental health struggles are no secret, and in fact, a primary driver for my self-employment, since traditional employers don’t like making accommodations for disabilities they can’t see. So, in the middle of a depressive episode, you can imagine someone speaking with blame and disdain is particularly triggering. The anxiety attack was minimal, thankfully.
I tried to remember who she was. She was the guest who didn’t bring money, didn’t have a credit or debit card, and didn’t even have a bank account because it “causes problems” for her. She came to eat and drink, heckled me, and was not there to shop. She’s the kind of guest we don’t want. She hurt the sales of the party by saying things like “People actually spend that much?!” when I showed a Lelo Ina 2, which is priced less than some porous rabbits at my old company, especially when you figure in that we don’t charge 10% shipping. This is after spending the first 1/3 of the presentation explaining they would not see $10 bullets or $15 jelly vibes and why, the difference between quality and porous products, and that I’m happy to help them find products within any budget. The prices at the new company are not only better than the local shops, but better than every other home party company for the same items, and there’s a ton of affordable stuff under $65 – just not rabbit vibrators. I remember her explaining where she’s from, shopping parties aren’t a thing and neither is talking about sex or sex toys.
Red flags were going up all over the place. If I’d been with my old company, I would have booked her for free, driven more than an hour from my house, only to not get paid for working. This is the hostess whose party sucks. And here she was telling me what a horrible human being I am for asking her to plunk down a deposit that’s refundable when her party reaches the industry average in sales, for a company whose average sales are twice the industry average because deposits discourage people like this. This policy is no different than a lot of brick & mortar shops’ policies. This is the customer we don’t want.
If you’ve ever read any of Brene Brown’s work, you know this shame response, and you know the person on the other end lacks empathy, and is not a whole-hearted person. Therefore, it’s necessary to disarm them in a way that doesn’t engage in arguing.
I thanked her for her feedback, explained why deposits are a thing and that I have little to do with it, and said I agree with her – I’m not the rep for her. I started to offer a referral to a rep with another company, but realized I’d be setting them up for failure. I’d be sending them into the lion’s den to a party the host didn’t think would have any sales, thought she was doing the rep a favor, and didn’t want to purchase products herself.
It would have been mean to do that; too mean for even my old rival. No, I couldn’t pawn her off on someone else with good conscience, just like I can’t sell porous crap or Pipedream products to anyone.
When I say I’m not the rep for you, it means I’m not an entertainer. It means I’m not going to be sexist or homophobic. It means I’m not going to sell you junk. It means I’m not going to work for free. It means you are in no position to belittle me. It means you don’t value yourself or your pleasure, much less my time or my job. It means you don’t deserve my presence. I’d say it means to go fuck yourself, but it’s clear you’re not even into doing that!
Although I’m still a little shaken by the rudeness, I know I dodged a bullet.