What to Do If You’re Invited to a Sales Party and You Don’t Want to Buy

Several ladies in my neighborhood have recently gotten involved with direct selling organizations like Pampered Chef, Tupperware, and Usborne Books. As a result, my mailbox overflows with invitations to all of their “parties.” While I’m happy that they’ve found something to bring in some extra money, these invitations are tricky because I’m just not interested in the products they are selling. I feel like I can get better prices and quality through other retailers, plus I’m usually not in the market for any of the stuff they are selling. The question that I’m faced with about once per week these days is: Do I go to the party to be supportive and social even if I don’t intend to buy anything, or do I decline politely?

I’ve decided that the answer is a wishy-washy, “It depends.” It amuses me that many of these invitations come from women I barely know. We may exchange a smile if we pass while out walking, or wave if we pass in our cars, but I’ve never been in their homes or invited to any other parties they have thrown. Suddenly, though, they think of me when putting together an invitation list for a sales party? In these cases I don’t feel at all bad about declining the invitation because I know that my invitation was just a tactic to get a sale, not a gesture of genuine friendship or desire for social interaction. I am a wallet and that’s all.

I’m not mean about it when I decline. I don’t say, “I’m not interested in your stuff,” or, “I know you only want my money, not me.” I just simply say that I cannot attend due to other obligations. It’s usually not even a lie. Some of these women will try to overcome any objection, but I refuse to be drawn into an argument. They may say, “Oh, it’ll be fun,” or “You don’t have to buy anything,” or, “Everyone else from the street will be there,” but I just stick to my, “I have other plans,” story. Of course, you can always offer a simple, “No,” with no other explanation but the determined salesperson will want to know why and will try to break you down.

It gets tricky when I’m already friendly with the party host. In this case, if I’m very good friends with the person, I might go to be supportive or even offer to help with set up and clean up. I’m friendly enough with these people, though, to be honest with them about my intent to support but not to buy. Genuine friends are usually very happy if I attend, even if I don’t buy anything. For some of my best friends, I may buy something small and give it as a gift to someone else, even if the items don’t interest me personally.

If I’m friendly with the host but not overly so, I might go or I might not. If I feel like the person will be okay with just my attendance, I might make a quick appearance and then slip out. I’ve given some support to the host but I haven’t taken up a lot of the hosts’ time unnecessarily. If I’m not sure how they’ll react if I don’t buy anything, I’ll just decline.

The bottom line is that unless I am very friendly with the host already, I usually offer a polite, “No thanks.” I don’t want to be pressured into buying stuff I don’t need and I don’t want to resent the fact that I’m only there because the person wanted to sell me something. I also think it’s impolite to go and “mooch” off the refreshments and party favors if I already know I don’t want to buy anything.

I’ve decided that, no matter how much these parties are billed as social events, they are really nothing more than a sales pitch. If I’m not interested in what’s being sold, I generally decline, just as I would a salesman in a store who’s trying to sell me something I don’t need. The only exception is in the case of a true friend who values my support more than my wallet.

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9 Responses to What to Do If You’re Invited to a Sales Party and You Don’t Want to Buy

  1. kitty says:

    I remember going to a few sale parties over the years, if I was returning something to be replaced then I would buy just one item.

    Few party givers would have all these parties but never buy anything themselves so they could get all the free gifts from everyone else sales. I would hear this a few days later after when you went to pick up something you may have bought.

    Another thing that can happen at these sale parties some people ordering and not paying for their order before it arrived then the hostess would have to pay it.

    The last party I went to was a handbag party up to $225 a bag each. But you paid the demonstrator on the day plus postage for the sales to deliver to your address. It’s like buying online but you get to see and feel the item before you buy. Much better way of doing things.

  2. Maggs says:

    You’re on the defense before you even get an invitation. Truthfully, with that attitude the Host/Hostess probably would not want you at their party anyway.

  3. getforfree says:

    I would just politely explain that I can’t afford any extras at this time, but if there will be a free dinner or some refreshments of free gift, i will attend. If you still want people like me who will just attend and not buy, then it’s ok with me. Of course if their house is within 5 miles from mine, otherwise, I can’t afford gas.

  4. Caron says:

    You may want to consider what you are missing. Up to 75% of the cost of an item is spent on marketing and the cost to store or display. You will find more and more Direct Sell companies are offering products you do use and you do like. If half of what you are going to pay is to pad a large advertising pocket, why not put some of that money in the pocket of a person who is actually willing to work for it?

    I hear one comment more frequently than any other when I follow up on orders, “It was so much nicer and more beautiful than I imagined.”

    If you cannot afford the time and gas…go to the party website. Then you can peruse the catalog at your convenience with your own bunny slippers on-

    There are some great Party Plan companies…know their product, know their history and – as you do in the store – purchase wisely.

  5. Jessica says:

    I totally agree with you. I don’t like the feeling that I am obligated to buy something… and it’s usually a party for things I never knew I needed, and will never use. I approach my invitations much the same way as you do, although it would have to be a really good friend for me to accept the invitation.

  6. Tara says:

    I just politely decline, saying that I am on a limited budget and do not have any funds budgeted for X.

  7. Marsha says:

    It’s not only the money, it’s the time. I’d rather spend time with my family or with friends who are not trying to sell me something.

    I was talked into hosting one of these parties several years ago. I invited a woman I had just met, and I ended up feeling bad because she obviously expected me to become her new best friend. It really wasn’t worth getting a few free items, when I ended up hurting someone’s feelings.

  8. amy says:

    That’s sad. I am a host of these kinds of parties because it’s an excuse to invite that person over that I really haven’t been able to spend time with … or my friends. I’m actually seeking out one of those direct selling companies because I think it’s a fun night with my girlfriends!

  9. Linda says:

    What gets to me the most is why the same friends that invite you to the buy me parties, never have a party where you don’t have to buy something. I’m not mean but whats wrong with inviting a friend over for dinner or just for coffee. Give me a break if you are a true friend, don’t just call me when you want me to buy something.

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