Cruisin’ for a Sales Pitch

I feel slimy and kind of dirty.
A few days ago, a telemarketer called Lee and he did a travel survey. They said we would be entered to win a cruise – and guess what? We won.
All we had to do was go to the travel agency and meet with someone to get our cruise. The company says they’re giving away a few cruises because they’re moving into the area and want to get the word out.
We were told we wouldn’t be expected to buy anything, and would meet one on one with someone – and not about a timeshare.
We were both skeptical, but decided it wouldn’t hurt to attend – and if they asked for a credit card we would run. Literally.

So we show up, and the nice lady at the door hands us a clipboard with some forms to fill out – and tells us to go upstairs and wait where they will be talking to us AS A GROUP. Hmmmm.
There are four couples up there, including ourselves, all looking uncomfortable. Two guys from the company try to schmooze for a while, and succeed in freaking me out. I sit with my arms crossed, frowning, to show my displeasure.
Of course, it’s a sales pitch. Spend somewhere between 6 and 10 thousand dollars tonight – and you’ll get 20 weeks of travel! And join the company! For a fee!
The presenter was a mid-thirties portly guy who constantly referred to his obesity as a way to break the ice. He found out I was a reporter, and kept trying to make jokes. I told him I had a hidden camera.
He also, conveniently, used to be thin and manly and ski the slopes of Colorado. But now he’s married and he and his wife send so much money to the poor children in South America, that if it weren’t for the vacation “vouchers” he bought from the company a long time ago they wouldn’t ever be able to travel. Everyone in his church loves to travel. Did I mention he was a church-going philanthropist? He sure did. Over and over.
When one of the couples asked a specific question about the dollar amounts, one of the other employees invited them into a private room. “We don’t discuss money in front of the group.” I felt suddenly like I was part of some support group. We don’t talk about money in front of the “I’m a sucker for a free cruise” group. The couple even called them on it – saying “Oh, so this is the part where you break us all up.”
But my favorite line belonged to my husband. I was trying to figure out how to say it, and he just spit it out. “The telemarketer said we get free stuff.”
The guy did agree we got a free cruise just for saying no. We were ushered out, and given a certificate to mail into the parent company. Then we will get a packet of info. Then we have to mail it back and so on. It never ends. I’ll believe it when I’m on the boat.
In retrospect, the only lie was that we wouldn’t be meeting as a group. But they certainly don’t tell you everything on the phone.
They especially don’t tell you about how religious and giving their sales people are. Can I get a witness? Amen.
Ugh. I need to bathe. I feel dirty.