I will readily admit it. I am the bane of those timeshare salespeople. I am the bane of telephone solicitors. I absolutely LOVE people coming to my door to sell me something. For you see, while I once upon a time spent time in the media, I also spent a lifetime teaching salespeople how to sell. And it was wonderful. And now, I can’t get enough of watching a bad salesperson (which is what most of the above salespeople are). So, with that in mind, let me tell you the tale of what happened to me this past Wednesday evening.
My wife and I got a postcard in the mail telling us that if we went to this 90 minute presentation on “vacations” that were “fun and exciting”, we’d get two round trip airfare tickets and if we acted quickly, we’d get a 3 day, 2 night stay at a luxury hotel (well, the SAID it was luxury…it was like a Hampton Inn). Anyway, with not much to do on a Wednesday night, and the chance to sit through a crappy sales pitch, I signed us up. And we went to hear about the wonderful things “Southwest Travel” (which turned out not to be their real name) could do for us making our vacations wonderful for only a one-time payment of $8,995! There was a $400 filing fee of some sort, and every year, the renewal fee was $200. But for that we would save millions on travel…and not just at home, but anywhere we wanted to go in the world. How could it not be the best thing in our lives?
When I told the guy we weren’t interested, he wrote a nasty note on a sales pad, something about, “How many times are you going to go through this where you don’t buy anything”, and he called me a “moocher”. I took offense. I’m a “timeshare bandit”, but I’m NOT a moocher! And HE was the one that invited me to his schlocky presentation. I was happy to sit at home Wednesday night and watch Survivor!
Well, I called him “extremely rude and unprofessional” in front of everybody in the room (I don’t think he sold anyone), and then he went to get our special gifts. Want to know how special it was? There was a $50 “activation fee”. We had 24 months to use the airline tickets…AND the hotel stay in whatever city we were flying into (meaning it was going to be a three day vacation!), AND we had to cough up $199 per person for taxes, fees, and “agency fees” which is the same thing as “profits”. In other words, this wonderful FREE airline ticket and hotel stay was going to cost me $450! Oh, and we had to travel on a Sunday, Monday or Tuesday…no weekend travel for us!
The lesson here is simple. When you go to watch a scammer scam, don’t expect the gifts to be all that great. They’re usually not. Now, that’s not ALWAYS the truth. We’ve been on free cruises (ok…we paid $89 per person in port charges), and had free nights in hotels where we just had to pay $15 in resort fees. But that’s pretty much it. These guys? Not playing straight right off the bat. As I took my certificate from “Jay”, I told him, “I’ve trained sales people and I gotta tell you, you’re one of the most unprofessional and rude people I’ve ever seen. I would have fired you!” He replied that he was a “director” in his company, and I said, “You need one piece of advice. You need to learn to take the word ‘no’ as no! And you don’t have to be a total ass about it”.
My wife wasn’t happy that I confronted him, but I couldn’t help it. Unprofessional and unethical sales people give me a headache. They give the sales profession a bad name, and they need to be called out. But the warning to all of you who aren’t just going to a sales pitch for an evening’s entertainment: When you get the post card in the mail or the telephone call saying you have been selected for free tickets somewhere neat, don’t buy it. Just remember the first rule in sales…there’s no such thing as a free lunch!
Carry on world…you’re dismissed!