Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Some good writing news & a review of a membership deal

The German publisher I previously mentioned contacted me again. They are going to use one of my stories in a CD too.

Also got a quick email from a publisher of romance novels based in Africa, asking if I have a manuscript for her to look at. What I have does not quite fit her editorial requirements, but I am happy to cut and edit and rewrite until the story flows and still meets her requirements.


And we're ready for another blog party on the OneLove web site. So please check out the site to get the details of how you can participate.

Deadline for submissions of your links is Saturday 8th August. Links go online on Monday 9 August, in celebration of Women's Day in South Africa.

And on the life/biz front

The promise of a free holiday in Hawaii or Jamaica plus a chance to win a R75 000 kitchen make-over or R50 000 cash prompted me to drag Baby to a presentation by a company I shall not name.

So what was it about?

Essentially, the company sells you a 10-year membership for a little over R14 000, which guarantees you a 75% discount on your hotel accommodation (both locally and internationally). You also get huge discounts on airfare and car rentals.

The company also has the option for a lifetime membership, which costs almost R50 000.
The presenters, who were very charming, gave real life examples, including the fact that a 7-day holiday for two in Disneyland which could cost you R20 000 would work out to a bit more than R4000.

The deal sounded very good, especially because you don’t have to pay the membership fee all at once, and can pay R4888 for a 30% deposit ( for the 10-year deal), with 24-month instalments of R477 per month.

I liked the deal.

A lot!

And no, I did not sign on the dotted line.

Lately I’ve been thinking that I would like to travel more. I have been to a number of countries, including Egypt, Spain and Mauritius. But it recently occurred to me that as a work-at-home writer, home can actually be anywhere.

I could travel during Baby’s school holidays and make sure that I’m in town for client meetings. The 75% discount would also ensure that I can fly in from Cape Town or Durban or wherever. And if I wrote about my destinations for travel pubs, that would help offset the cost of my travels.

Anyway, this was a vague thought; nothing concrete, but something that made me decide to attend the company’s presentation.

So why didn’t I sign on the dotted line?

I have this rule – never to sign a contract until I’ve had time to consider all the angles. I needed to know:

a) About the company - Sure they told me about themselves in their presentation, but due diligence requires that I also investigate what is being said about them. Are their customers raving about their holiday services? How do they resolve customer conflict?
b) My own needs – would I be able to use the discounts effectively? Or is this one of those discounts that would actually cost me in the end?
c) My financial situation – Even if I took the deal on a 24-month plan, did I have the financial cushion to pay the 30% deposit + the monthly payments without stress?
d) The fine print – Exactly what did the contract include/exclude?
e) Dispute resolution – In case I wanted to terminate the deal in a year or so, what would it all mean?

To be able to answer these questions, I needed a promo package that included the actual contract.

This is where things came unglued, because the presenters insisted on showing me the benefits of signing immediately. They also told me that the offer was only valid to me that day, and expired if I did not sign immediately.

It was completely against my nature to do so. And the more they pushed, the more I wondered why they had to.

If it’s a good deal ( and it sure seemed like it), what was the harm in letting me think things through? I would eventually decide to buy or not, depending on my needs and situation in life.

Forcing me to buy if I was not equipped to do would only result in buyer’s remorse, which would lead to my either trying to terminate the contract, or being so inherently unhappy that I would bad mouth them to customers. Or God forbid I was a vengeful blogger, on this blog.

I feel sorry for the salespeople

If their product is on the up and up ( and I'm not saying that it isn't, because I was not given the opportunity to investigate it,) their sales method is actually a hindrance.

Instead of listening to my concerns, and allaying them, they focussed on the script which tried to get me to sign on the dotted line.

Centuries ago, back when I was an account executive, I learnt the hard way that the easiest sale you can make is with someone who is already convinced they need it, have the money to buy it and have the authority to make the purchase.

All I needed to do was show them why my products met their needs, and if it didn’t, I was usually happy to let them walk away, even direct them to someone else who can help them. The end result is that you have a happy customer who’ll rave about you to anyone who’ll listen, and will send more business your way.

And the free holiday voucher?

Yes, I did indeed get the free holiday voucher. According to the terms and conditions, I have to pay $35 to claim my holiday, and booking requires a $169 fee per person, and a $29 per person surcharge if I book for peak season. I don't know whether I will use it.

Moral of this very long story?

Some people's idea of free actually involves you shelling out some cash. So you must always read the fine print of a contract, and sleep on the decision, before you sign, even if you really, really, like the deal.

Take the time even if they have a blinking sign shouting BUY NOW! Because if it's a good deal today, there is no reason why you shouldn't be able to get it AFTER YOU'VE THOUGHT THINGS THROUGH.

1 comment:

Laura said...

MMM I am very wary of things like this!

But it does sound like you have done your homework on it!!

I would love to travel more but my budget right now just doesnt allow for it :(

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