Our Free Deal
Several months ago, my husband and I attended a presentation involving a sales pitch. You know the type … you’re required to sit and listen to someone trying to sell you a Fabulous Deal and in exchange, you’re given a bottle of wine/free photo album/3 days on Cape Cod in March/dinner for two. For this one, we were told that after our required hour and a half, we would each be given one voucher for a round-trip airfare in the United States and one voucher for a 7-day cruise.
Our salesman, Don, was polished, affable and convincing. After listening to him for about 5 minutes and knowing that my husband and I had made a pact that we were simply there for the vouchers, my mind wandered to more important things: what I was making for dinner that evening, how I was going to return a sweater I bought without a receipt, where I would find a missing sock. Don asked me a question or two and I mumbled a short response or shook my head, as the answer warranted. I was listening, as promised, albeit not actively. So what? We were there for our “prize” at the end.
After Don did his best and put the price on the table ($7000) we told him kindly but firmly, we weren’t buying. After 10 minutes passed in which he did his best to persuade us otherwise, he brought in his superior who, after a moment or two, whispered conspiratorially that he was lowering the price to $4000. We still weren’t buying. Now the “head of the company” approached us. When the price (for a slightly diminished deal) went to $1700 and we steadfastly refused again, we were done.
The vouchers arrived in the mail after we sent in a fee of $99 each. So where are we headed with them? Someplace warm and inviting? Perhaps to enticing cities in Mexico? Here’s the short answer: nowhere.
Here’s why: The cruise is for the period known as “low season” (Sept. to Dec.) Otherwise there’s a surcharge. We were interested in travel in October or November. If your travel includes 7 days before or after a holiday, there’s a surcharge. So for us, if we travel during any of the following dates, we would have to pay between $75 to $150 a person: Nov. 4 – Nov. 18 (Veteran’s Day), Nov. 20 – Dec. 4 (Thanksgiving) or Dec. 18 – 32 (Christmas). In addition, if we leave from New York, Baltimore, Boston, or several other ports convenient to us, yup, you guessed it: an additional surcharge. Oh, and “certain ships such as but not limited to Magic, Dream, Breakaway …” etc. will incur an ADDITIONAL surcharge. Did I mention that you have to provide them with TWO choices and they must be 45 days apart?
After spending hours on the web looking through cruise itineraries, dates, etc., we came to the conclusion that (1) considering the surcharges that would be incurred because of our choices, we could get a better deal with Travel Zoo; (2) it was logistically impossible to comply with all the terms of the voucher and (3) we spent $198 to be entertained by Don and his Power Point presentation.
Maybe we’ll use the airplane voucher. We’ll start working on that soon….