“Not another catalogue” I hear you say when you walk in after a days work with the cooking and cleaning facing you. Goodness I’ve said it myself. On top of all the leaflets, flyers and catalogues you also have the normal post to go through. The last thing you need to think of, I know. Now what I want to ask you is to look at these catalogues in a different light. To look at them through the distributors point of view. Through new eyes, through my eyes. So here’s how it looks on the flip side of all those catalogues. No work, hundreds of applications declined and still in need of cash to pay the bills. Suddenly the ads offering an extra few pound a week sound good. Its only a pittance but all you have to do is distribute catalogues. So the area manager calls in with the whole sales pitch. Already my senses are prickling – why do a sales pitch just to chuck a few books in peoples post boxes? Well the salesman must have been good because he “got” me. So with the thoughts of earning up to a hundred pound for just posting and collecting catalogues for a few hours a week, I am captured. Then when your money earning juices are flowing they hit you with the punch line. You have to buy the catalogues up front. Quickly calculating in your mind if you pay ten pound less on the gas and electric and phone for two weeks you can buy the catalogues. The money you make in the two weeks will enable you to cut your losses and still come out with a few pound extra. Okay, deal is done. Then you discover that you will have to check the order forms, place the order, deliver it and collect and pay in the money for the products. Within a couple of minutes this has turned into a full time job. When you don’t have money and a job is not on the horizon you do funny things. So that was me bought. I had to pay fifty pound for fifty catalogues, bags and order forms – they gave a free page of name and address labels and a photocopied page of notices. When the catalogue boxes arrived I had to label them and pack them into bags then decide which streets I would go to first. I started in my own street. Now fifty catalogues doesn’t sound a lot, it isn’t really, but its very heavy. So I packed them in my shopping trolley and away I went. Off for a nice walk in the warm winter sun. I was off to experience my first mail drop. Some of the things I experienced on my rounds include: A turn of the weather, the skies open up and I was drenched to the bone. Lucky my catalogues were all bagged, sealed and safe and dry in my trolley. Homeowners who have bothered to write notes and stick them on their letterboxes saying “no canvassers” “no junk mail” – some are even bordering on being nasty “I will throw your catalogue in the bin”. Well, not really nasty, but when you have a trolley full to post it feels nasty. Some catalogues mustnt even reach the floor inside the house when the homeowner/tenant runs out waving the catalogue telling you they don’t want it. Oh no, now to cross that off in your book. Then there are houses which look occupied – you push the catalogue through the box and just as you hear it hit the floor a neighbour shouts out “no one is living there right now” – okay, there’s a pound I just pushed through a postbox, never to be seen again. Some trips have even ended up with me coming home in tears, when people come out and take their bad moods out on you and make you take the verbal abuse harboured for years against people like me who post catalogues in their boxes. Give us a break, we are just doing a job, just trying to make a living. After dropping the last brochure a passer by advises that this area already have a “rep” who delivers to this street. Oh no, time to go back home, get some dry clothes on and console myself over a cup of tea.
That’s it, the first fifty catalogues are out now to wait for two days then off to collect all my wonderful orders that are going to earn me the commission that will make it all bearable.
Wow, time to go back to all the houses I was just at a couple of days ago. I grab my empty trolley (positive thinking). I have all my little notes ready for people who have forgotten to leave the catalogues outside. And away I go – the scenario: House number one – the house where I jammed my now very bruised thumb in their stiff letter box. Catalogue bag is there, on the doorstep as requested. I check the order form – empty. House 2 – Bag is there but I can see that it hasn’t even been opened. No order. House 3 – Nothing, I look around but no, they must have forgotten so I pop a note in saying I would be back tomorrow if they would would please put the bag out for me. House 4 – that’s the ” no canvassor” house House 5 – “no junk mail” notice – funny how there are always two houses together with this situation. House 6 to 10 – no bags, leave a wee note. House 11 – oh yeah, the one with my one pound catalogue lying waiting for someone to move in or go collect the piles of mail lying unattended. House 12 – the woman who sent her son running after me with the catalogue. House 13 – House 17 – things are looking good – all left their catalogues out, checking the order just dashed the high spirit – no orders. House 18 – catalogue is there but bag isn’t sealed and rain has warped the pages and blurred the ink. (Wonder how long it has lain out here) House 19 – House 30 – no catalogues, spirits dropping fast – I can’t even be bothered to put a note in to say I will be back. House 31 – Catalogue there but no order. House 32 – Catalogue, but its not mine, someone elses stickers and order form. At least there’s no order, I think to myself. Petty, but we get like that. House 33 – 35 – two sets of catalogues, my rivals and mine. I check his packs too, consoled by the fact that neither of us got any orders. House 36 – 40 – no catalogues, now I am getting worried that my rival may pick up my catalogues, and worse, my orders. Talk about paranoia. House 41 – catalogue in bag but as I pick it up I smell that distinct odour of male cat spray on it. I shove it in the trolley anyway. House 42 – House 45 – now I feel myself getting agitated, my rivals catalogues are there but not mine. I notice a big yellow sticker on his catalogues saying “free pair of scissors with orders over £20″. – talk about unfair advantages. Now I’m feeling like just going home and canning this whole lark. Only nine more houses to check – so I carry on, very downhearted. House 46 – a breakthrough, just what I needed. An order for £3.95. Wow, now I’m feeling a bit more motivated. House 47-51 – no catalogues, I post my little notes now because I am feeling a glimmer of hope with my fist order. House 52 and 53 – mine and my rivals catalogues, I wonder to myself if I would take his if they had orders – what am I turning into here? (He had no orders either so the possible fall of my ethics was saved). So off I toddle home again, pulling my trolley with 13 catalogues, one unuseable, one smelling like cat pee and one fatastic order. I go home to place the order just to find that orders under £75 carry a £12 delivery charge payable by ME. Now what do I do, I invested £50 in this, I have some catalogues back that I can repost and try to get to £75 orders. Two days later I go back down the street, just to check if anyone else has left my precious sources of income on their doorsteps. I find two catalogues but no orders. So I go home, wipe all my bags, clean and throw powder in the trolley – just to get rid of that cat smell. I pack the 15 catalogues and off I go again.
So the next time you see a catalogue, know there’s a lot of blood sweat and tears involved in getting it to your door. Realise just a wee order is worthwhile to the bringer of this catalogue. Remember to place it outside, even if you don’t want it, don’t want to look at it or place any order – putting it straight out will be less effort than taking it all the way to your recycle bin. I assure you, I will be along to pick it up in a couple of days. This may be just another catalogue to you. To me, its precious, its a means to an end. Even if I don’t get my commission I can at least try to get enough orders to cover that delivery charge and the £7,50 internet charge for the month. If I’m lucky enough, I may have enough to buy some more catalogues – and begin the vicious circle again.
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