Math and not for the faint of heart.
It is at this point that these presentation turn a bit dark in my view. Once the basic product the company sells was reviewed a series of options to “get even more value” and options that were cheaper for those more modest budgets were presented. First, the core product amounts to over twelve thousand dollars and requires a four figure up-front fee, monthly costs and annual fee. Limitations to the “travel club” ensure members are locked into the deal for at least ten years. Gallingly the company offered to “finance” the up-front fee, which is amusing since they were not actually lending any money. Yet they then charge interest on the amount of the up-front fee not paid initially.
Once the salesperson finally reached the end of his presentation he surveyed the room sizing up people and informed us that due to a limited number of staff working that we could only leave one couple at a time to receive our travel prize. Anybody who actually wanted to buy the product was taken first and quickly ushered out. Only one couple elected to do so. The salesperson slowly selected each couple to leave seemingly based on the level of resistance shown during the presentation. We were taken last.
We were taken to a second salesperson who sought to convince us to buy one of the memberships in a big open room with the other couples seeing to their business near us. This will lasted no less than ten minutes and the presentation given was geared to determine how much we could afford to pay for the up-front fee and to agree to their so-called financing. I told the young salesperson directly we were simply not going to buy and didn’t wish to waste his time. He quietly said he had to go through the entire process of drawing charts and numbers for us or he would get in trouble with his boss. We allowed the young man to finish he said he would get his boss to see to our prize.
Next we were given the third attempt to close a sale by another salesperson in a suit who took us to another office and privately tried to get us to give him a up-front fee we would agree too. I made an attempt to see how low I could push the salesperson without giving him a number, or if he’d eventually cave-in and waive the fee. But once it was clear we won’t buying the sales pitch he left to get a check written for the appointment fee. We were given a pre-printed card with a website and code to redeem the cruise we “won.” Since this company wasn’t really a travel agency they had nothing to do with the prize except to promise it to us. We were given certificates for gift cards as well. But like every aspect of the process, the cruise and certificates were calculated to be virtually worthless.
To actually get the cruise we had won, we would have needed to pay hundreds up-front to a fourth party which has an entirely negative reputation based on research I did afterward. The same was true of the gift card certificates. It is so difficult or expensive to obtain the cruise or gift cards it isn’t worth pursuing. With the cruise specifically the best one can do while paying the bare minimum is more costly than deals you can obtain from actual travel agents and agencies.
Tomorrow, we wrap-up the journey down the rabbit hole reviewing the actual "prizes" and what happens after the presentations. We also share my feelings on these companies and alternatives to them.
Have you survived one of these epic adventures? Share with us in our message boards!