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My country is full of pushy salespeople who are asking for a phone number, name or email in scenarios where they are not warranted.

Scenario 1: Cashier at a pizza shop asks for my phone number before billing my purchase.

Scenario 2: I went to view 3 gyms, and after the viewing I told them I will get back to them if I am interested. All three gyms asked for my name and phone number at this point.

Scenario 3: Called a hospital to get the price for their health screening packages. After telling me the prices, they proceeded to ask for my first and last name, presumably to put me in their marketing database.

Scenario 4: While browsing clothes at a store, the store manager asks for my Whatsapp number so I could view status updates about any new products.

These businesses often spam or sell the name and phone number combinations to other spammers who can get around the do not call registry by using a new number each time.

I want to keep my privacy and avoid spam without having to maintain a second number.

Most of these times I have caved in and given them my number as I cannot think of a reasonable excuse. I thought about saying "I don't have a phone" but that seems suspect as I carry my phone with me. How can I tactfully decline giving my number without being rude or awkward?

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    So, to avoid answers repeating stuff you've already done or thought of doing and discarded, how have you declined giving this information out so far? What about that was awkward or rude?
    – Tinkeringbell
    Oct 28 '21 at 19:36
  • Just ask them what they need the information for. If their reason is not to your liking, politely decline.
    – sf02
    Nov 16 '21 at 18:58
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I've had the same problem for years. I've tried many ways, all of them successful, but they ranked from "very nice" to "no way I'll tell you anything about me". It depends on the person and the communication channel. Face to face, I'd just, most of the time, politely decline by ignoring the request and switch topics or end the topic. For instance:

  • employee : "What's your name / phone number / email?"
  • me: "I'll think about your proposal and call/come back if I decide to register here" or "I haven't decided yet, I still have to compare before I decide what to do".

All this without giving any personal information or answering their question. If they insist, just give them the same type of answer about another idea/need. Usually, they stop after the second try as they understand they won't get anything from you. If they still try once more, and I'm still patient and in a good mood, I tell them that I have their phone and email and will get in touch if needed. They get the clue.

Sometimes, it happened that the salesperson would be more and more pushy. Time to be a little less nice : "sorry, I'm not sharing any personal information at the moment. Once I've decided, I'll let you know...".

The important thing is to NOT answer their direct request and agree to disclose any personal data. Dodge the bullet. They ask A, talk about B. They'll get it really fast, as they can't waste too much time digging for data. And when you talk and talk and talk without giving them what they want, they quit.

What's important is to stand your ground by 1. not answering and 2. not giving excuses in any way. Don't open the door to arguments.

I can hear people saying that "NO" is a complete sentence. Not in some cultures. And certainly not for these pushy salespeople. It just means they won't stop right away. If you just say no, they try again. I know that because I faced them many times. If you don't obfuscate behind a smoke curtain, or drown the fish so to speak, they'll argue and argue and push again: "but we won't share your personal data, it's for internal use only" or "it's just to show my boss I did my job" and so on. You have to play their game with their own rules and weapons. No direct NO was ever efficient to make them understand that they should stop bothering you...

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    I fundamentally disagree with this answer. It is a bad habit to get into and ultimately teaches people to not say what they really mean by promoting communication in a roundabout and indirect way. The best answer is to be direct and say what you mean. Communicating that you're not comfortable giving out your personal information from the get go is not rude and shouldn't be implied that it is, by teaching people to give answers like this.
    – DDSK78
    Nov 2 '21 at 16:48
  • @DDSK78 : "pushy salespeople"... means they won't stop right away. If you just say no, they try again. I know, I faced them many times. If you don't obfuscate behind a smoke curtain, or drown the fish so to speak, they'll argue and argue and push again: "but we won't use it outside" or "it's just to show my boss I did my job" and so on. You have to play they game with their own rules and weapons. No direct NO was ever efficient...
    – OldPadawan
    Nov 2 '21 at 18:24
  • @OldPadawan: If they keep pressuring you after you say "no", then walk out. If you don't want to walk out because you want to buy their product/service, then tell them directly "Listen, I like your business, but I don't like being pressured. Do you want me to stop shopping here?"
    – James
    Nov 3 '21 at 15:21
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    @OldPadawan: No it's NOT rude. Rude is asking a stranger for their phone number so you can sell it to cold callers. And it's not awkward if you remember that THEY are the person being rude.
    – James
    Nov 3 '21 at 18:54
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    @OldPadawan when they try again, the less you say is better. You simply stonewall someone who is pushy with "no thank you" and walk away. It's as simple as that and actually better for both of you because the sooner you stone wall a pushy sales person, the sooner they can move on to someone else who is more open to being sold.
    – DDSK78
    Nov 3 '21 at 19:26

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