We had a thought-provoking experience on Friday evening. Early in the week, Joe had received an invitation to attend a "presentation" and in return he'd receive two round-trip airline tickets to any international airport in the United States. He was invited to bring a guest. Guess who he chose.
The thing is, see, we both would like to visit San Francisco. I have a quilty buddy there who's been after me to come out. Her no-blog friend has also mentioned it. Some of our kids tell us it is a wunnerful place to visit. We envisioned a little getaway to look for Tony Bennett's heart and perhaps visit a winery or two (or three). After all, the gift also included a rental car, $150 in gas, a couple of nights at a Marriott and -- oh, thrill of thrills -- a $30 gift certificate for the Olive Garden! How could we resist?
We've received these kinds of "deals" in the mail before and always immediately consigned them to their proper place. Yup, the circular file. But this time, on the off chance that it could be legit, we figured an hour and a half of our time wouldn't kill us. And we just might get to go west.
Five Points Travel is a spiffy, newly painted, sparsely decorated, large office in an industrial park close to the Pennsylvania Turnpike exit. When we went in, there was a large popcorn cart with an enticing fragrance, a waiting room with a plasma television, coffee maker, and sodas. We were sent into the waiting room with a form to fill out and then invited in for the presentation. We expected we were going to get a pitch to purchase a time share.
It was far worse. A membership in this "travel club" costs $8,999. They told us that right up front. They profess to be a large volume purchaser of all kinds of vacation types. And because they purchase in such quantity, they receive up to 65% discounts and pass those savings right along to their club members.
A couple of times they offered us popcorn. And soda, too. We were fresh from dinner at the local pub, and accepted cold water and nothing else. Darn.
'Cause it turns out, while there's no free lunch, there is free popcorn. And free soda.
By the end of the evening the price -- for us -- was down to $999 for a one-year trial membership. Even this great bargain was something we had to pass up. After the third person made us this final offer, we were able to escape with our free gifts.
I had the chance subsequently to check out the Five Points Travel website. Except I couldn't find it! What I did find was this and also this. We went over the vouchers for our "free gifts." The fine print about the restrictions took up almost as much space as the details of the offer. And they wanted a $100 deposit (for what?) within three weeks or the entire thing was null and void. Checking out Millenium Travel, the provider of the "package" yielded this and this.
So, if you get an invitation similar to the one we received, decide for yourself if you have an hour and a half to kill. If you do go, be sure to have some popcorn. And then have some more, for us.