Thursday, May 08, 2008

A High Pressure Sales Story

I asked in my last post what problem is being solved, and what need is being met by time shares. I thought back to some high pressured sales pitches I've found myself under. I have succumbed to many, including a couple of multi-level marketing organizations. I learned two things:

  1. I am not cut out for sales, whether multi-level marketing or otherwise
  2. Often, you think life is going just fine until you sit through one of those presentations and learn that somehow your life is all screwed up. It can take years to overcome what they put in your head in one of those organizations.

I figured I would share one. In early 1994, I was a 19 year old FC3 (Fire Controlman 3rd class, or E-4). I was finishing up my class "C" school in San Diego, and had orders to report to the U.S.S. White Plains in Apra Harbor, Guam. I went to the Fleet Exchange for something, probably uniform items. As I walked in the door and showed my ID, a woman sitting at some display booth just inside the door called me over to show me something. To this day, I'm not entirely sure what it was. She was selling some set of books, but they weren't encyclopedias. She was selling the entire set all at once, and as it cost more than $2000, it could be financed and she could arrange the financing. She seemed more interested in giving me the financing as they probably made a lot of their money on interest from young sailors. A lot of people make a lot of money on interest off of young servicemen, which is why they hang around the bases.

From what I can remember, this set of non-encyclopedia books could somehow be used for college credit. You can get a long way with a young sailor by using the words "college credit." To this point, I had come up with a few questions. Note, I did not have the 3-point test I mentioned in my last post at this time. I had just been sucked into that multi-level marketing organization the year before, and I would succumb to many more apparent rip-offs in the years to come.

I asked if I could buy them one at a time. The answer was no, the entire package had to be bought. Hmm, that sounded silly. I said that I was on my way to a ship, and I had no idea what personal space I would have to keep a set like this. She said that sailors told her they can always find places to put things (this is true; sailors can be incredibly resourceful) but she could keep them and mail them back and forth to me while I'm overseas. I had never been to Guam, but I grew up in the Air Force and I know how well the postal system can work overseas.

To this point, she was being very nice. Then I asked if I could think about it overnight and come back the next day. Then her composure started to fail. She said that she wasn't feeling well and might have to be out sick the next couple of days, and I believe this was my last week before going on leave then flying to Guam. She really got insistent that I buy the books before I walked away. At this point, somehow I had enough gumption to tell her that I wasn't going to commit to anything today, and if she's back before I leave, then we can talk. I walked away, bought whatever I came for, then went to lodge a complaint with NEX Customer Service that this woman was trying to strong arm sailors into parting with their hard earned money. I have no idea if Customer Service listened or not, but I never saw her there again.

Maybe I'll have to do a series on sea stories. Do you know what the difference is between a fairy tale and a sea story? A fairy tale begins "Once upon a time..." A sea story begins "You're not going to believe this, but it REALLY happened..." (NOTE: that is the clean version of the joke.)

Technorati Tags: Rip offs,high-pressure sales

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