There is a new door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesperson on the block.

But they come knocking through your computer and phone.

Overseas companies are increasingly using computer-generated "prizes" to hook in prospective customers, and following up with hard-sell techniques over the telephone.

In one case a Northlander clicked on a computer-generated prize box telling her she was a "winner", but she had to click now or lose the opportunity.


She then spoke with a salesman that made the old school vacuum cleaner salesman look like a saint. These conversations are often conducted with a congratulatory tone, "wow, you've won an amazing prize", "unbelievable" etc, to reinforce the amazing deal that the person is being offered. And then there is the small print - your accommodation is only discounted, you have to pay another $1200 to top up the cost, and you have to pay for your own travel expenses as well. And while you are here we will try to sell you a time-share option as well.

At any given time, you can hang up. But it can be hard.

I turned down a domestic hotel discount offer this past week. It would have cost me $350, in return for a night in a five-star hotel, future hotel stay discounts and reduced prices on meals in the hotel's restaurant. The salesman was incredulous when I said "no thanks". He offered to improve it. I had to say "No thank you" and hang up.

Some people aren't comfortable doing this. I can only urge people to forgive themselves a moment of "rudeness" and hang up on a salesperson who refuses to take no for an answer. Sales is a time-honoured profession and a professional will back off when they sense that a person is not interested. And beware that indecision and confusion is blood in the water to an unethical sales shark.

If the water that your salesperson is swimming in isn't crystal clear, no one will begrudge you hanging up. It is a big ocean - the shark will keep swimming.