Is there anything that is sold (literally) door to door that is a good deal?

I was reading this thread and I got to wondering if there’s ever been anything actually *good *that was sold door to door?

My experience has been:
[ul]
[li]A series of utility supply switchers using dishonest tactics[/li][li]Some dodgy bloke selling ‘fresh’ fish that looked very not-fresh[/li][li]Double glazing sales people whose product is neither good quality or good value[/li][li]Kitchen refitting sales people whose product is mediocre and vastly overpriced[/li][li]Vacuum cleaner (Kirby) sales people who practically physically forced entry[/li][/ul]

Seems obvious to me that if a product is as good as the door to door guys always say it is, the public would be knocking on their door to buy it off them.

So… Is door to door selling exclusively the domain of overpricing, scams, switcheroos and bad consumer decisions made under pressure? are there any notable exceptions?

Around here, about the only way you can get a cord of firewood delivered is from a guy who shows up in your neighborhood in the fall, driving an old truck filled with wood. You’d best take care your definition of a “cord” agrees with his, though.

I’ve seen contractors whose names I actually recognize canvass a neighborhood, although the fact that a contractor may have a recognizable name is no guarantee of their quality or value.

Girl Scout cookies are pretty good. Additionally, every spring, the local Cub Scout troop sells mulch door-to-door for a fair price and provides free delivery. :slight_smile:

ETA: Some people think that “meat truck” meat is a good deal, but personally, I would never trust one, even if they had a regular route.

Cutco makes very good quality, well regarded kitchen knives with a solid warranty but the price is quite high.

I am told that Schwans frozen foodsold via door to door trucks is quite good but again quite expensive.

I expect some newspaper deliverers try to enroll new customers by knocking on the doors that don’t already subscribe. That’d no more be a bad deal than any other newspaper subscription.

My family used to order from them when I was growing up.

I don’t think they went door to door through neighborhoods, though. We signed up for a visit, and the truck would come by once a month, or so, but he didn’t stop at the neighbors’.

Yeah, Girl Scout cookies aren’t exactly the cheapest option in cookie out there, but they are pretty good and you get to support a good cause too. And anyway, taste in cookies is a beholder thing anyway and you can’t quantitatively measure value (e.g. tastiness units per dollar) anyway.

One thing to think about in general - when a product is sold door-to-door, why is it being sold that way, as opposed to in stores, etc.? In many cases (but certainly not all), it’s because the manufacturer couldn’t find a store willing to stock the product. Take from that what you will.

Fuller Brush, Avon.

I’ve bought stuff from Schwans in the past. Not cheap, but I wouldn’t call it quite expensive either. They’ll come to your door on a regular basis if you ask them to, but I don’t think they just go door to door. When I’ve bought from them I usually just waved the driver down when I saw the truck coming.

Just out of interest; did the dodgy bloke trying to sell you fish have a Geordie (or possibly a Mackem) accent, and was he trying to tell you they were flogging stuff from Billingsgate that they didn’t want to take back up north?

If so I think we’ve met the same scammer.

My neighbor has had a Kirby for over 30 years. She swears by it. I borrowed it once and was pretty impressed.

Because this is the Straight Dope and this is what we do, I have to say that I’ve never seen Cutco knives get a positive review when compared to other knives and they are usually dead last. I don’t remember all the sites I’ve read but here’s one example.

The door-to-door sales reps for my local phone company can actually make better deals than what the sales reps at the call center can make. I wanted to switch providers so I had to search high and low to find a door to door rep. I saved 40 bucks a month versus what the sticker rate.

I worked for the Combined Insurance Company for about a year and a half in the 1990s. They primarily sold door-to-door at that time, I’m not sure if they still do.
The insurance I sold was low cost ($20 or $40 every 6 months) and was actually a decent policy as a supplement to regular health insurance. The insurance would never make you rich, but could provide a bit of extra cash for being out of work due to an accident or injury.
If a Combined agent showed up at my door tomorrow, I’d buy a policy from them.

I’d say “yes” to Fuller Brush 50 years ago. More recently not so much.

I saw a dedicated Fuller Brush store a couple years ago and went in for curiosity. I found overpriced & indifferent products from floor to ceiling. If the price was greatly less door-to-door that’d be one thing, but AFIAK the DtD, catalog, online & own-brand store prices are identical.

I have zero experience or comment pro or con on Avon.

The only thing I know about Avon these days, is that sometimes I come home to find a catalog in the middle of my walkway. They never come to the door or try to sell me anything. Just every few months a catalog. About half the time it’s soggy. I just throw them away.

Exactly. If the product was worth a shit, you could get it at Walmart, probably a lot cheaper, too.

Eons ago, a friend of mine worked for CutCo during her summer back home from college. She came by one evening and had me observe her schpiel, and I gave her a few pointers of emphasis for her performance and tuned up a couple of her prestidigitary tricks. Then I told her straight up: “Once you’ve polished this presentation, you might get one or two sales per week from your ‘average housewife’ types. But anyone who knows knives at all probably won’t let you in the door and, even if they do, they won’t be fooled by your tricks.”

Two years ago, I saw CutCo displays at the L.A. County Fair. Both of them claimed to be better than Henkels; neither had heard of Kiya; one didn’t know the standard rod isn’t for sharpening (nor did his booth-mates); both insisted a 14" diamond rod does not exist.

The front line guys (at least; I guess I didn’t meet anyone above that level) don’t seem to know their industry. Some didn’t even seem to know their product {Can I use this 18-inch fillet knife for peeling sweet potatoes? Sure!}

A Kirby dealer came to the door when I was 6 years old. My mother had that vacuum cleaner until I was 31; it was a great product then, but I don’t know how good they are now.


My mother signed up for Schwann’s and they delivered every other week. It was good stuff, though slightly higher priced than I’d expect at the grocery stores. But back then the grocery stores weren’t delivering and I figured the extra cost was for gasoline and truck maintenance and paying the driver. The product and service were such good quality that I felt safe moving out and knowing my mother would still get food to cook and eat.


A guy knocked on my door and said, “We’re doing a wedding reception at the park down the street and we’ve got too much steak. Wanna buy some extras off us?”

I thought, *The park down the street is a pit of wanna-be gangsters and dope-heads. Anyone getting married down there can’t afford a decent reception venue, much less decent food for the guests.
*
I said, “No thanks. Good luck.”

–G!

My dad used to love to invite the Kirby salesmen in, listen to their spiel, then bring out his Bison and challenge them to a “suck of war” by putting the hose attachments on both machines and fastening them end to end with duct tape. With both machines running and the Bison turned on full blast (notice in the video the Bison had a variable speed motor with a knob that worked like a volume knob) his 5 year old Bison could suck a new Kirby’s bag down flat.

If I remember right (it was at least 35 years ago) it wasn’t cheap, but it cost less than a Kirby did at the time.

This is my stock answer when someone asks me about whatever MLM malarkey is currently making the circuit.