DEAR MISS MANNERS: I was wondering if you wouldn't mind reminding your readers that a sample is a sample -- a small part of anything or one of a number.
I work at an upscale gourmet market, where we will offer samples of new or different products to taste, and I have witnessed many people gorging themselves on samples. More often than not, people make a meal off of samples!
As a business, it cuts into the profit. I don't want to be rude, and cannot simply tell them that they need just to take one, and, if they like it, BUY the product! If we have to sample something, we gladly do it because it allows people to try something before the purchase. So please take one, and then move on!
GENTLE READER: You are asking Miss Manners to risk her life -- stepping between a freebie and people who are armed with metal shopping carts.
So while she is happy to comply with your request from a safe distance, her voice may be lost in the sound of carts crashing against your station. She is afraid that you will then have to remind them.
The gentle way to do this is to greet repeaters by asking them how they liked the product. Since they pretty much have to say yes, tell them how glad you are and then hand them the item packaged for sale.
You will have fewer people who simply grab if your store refrains from setting out samples as if it were a buffet table for guests. To retain control, while still seeming gracious, you should keep the supply out of reach, while saying "May I offer you a sample?" and proffering a tiny tray with just one.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is a good reply for someone who is inviting you to join their multilevel marketing company? I have no interest in such things; I find them abhorrent in every way.
I received an invitation to a "friendly get-together" to "receive information" about this person's MLM company of choice. My children and her child had a couple of playdates together, and our husbands are friends, but I have only been with her a couple times, and I have not heard from her in months. I have little interest in pursuing a friendship with her and since this "invitation," none whatsoever!
I am deeply offended by this invitation; however, I only e-mailed her back with the reply, "I will be otherwise engaged that day." I thought you would have a much more fitting answer.
GENTLE READER: What is wrong with "Thank you, but I'm not interested"? It is the obvious choice, but Miss Manners can't tell whether you believe it is not polite enough or not insulting enough.
The reply you did use was polite but did not do the job of discouraging that lady from trying another time, which Miss Manners gathers would send you over the brink. She congratulates you for refraining from sending a rude reply.
That you have a lack of interest in pursuing a social relationship with someone who is after you for business is understandable. But this proposition is not a social invitation, for which you have to pretend regret when you decline. Treat it as you would any business offer, by stating your lack of interest.