Can you hear that sizzle? Imagine you are one of those unsuspecting retirees at a sales pitch steakhouse dinner. After a COVID-induced respite, they’re back. It’s an all-too-common event that aims to take advantage of mass affluent individuals who simply seeking help and education. The pitchmen always have a slick presentation before the meal.
The first aggressive sales tactic I can recall wasn’t at a fancy steak dinner. It happened while on vacation abroad with my parents decades ago at a beautiful and warm destination (compared to Minneapolis in the dead of winter!). I remember the sand was so soft that I wanted to bring some home as a memento; I was about 7 years old.
While not as sophisticated as a Ruth’s Chris dinner, this instance involved men yelling and handing out flyers to passersby. (More like making you take them). We could get in on a special timeshare deal if we simply sat through a meeting—how lucky we were!
Of course, my parents were polite but also insistent. They weren’t interested. The men weren’t so pleasant: One individual made a rude gesture and threatened to call the police to have us arrested! “This wasn’t about us after all, and we’d better come to the meeting!” he yelled.
“Well, THAT escalated quickly!” we thought before that was even a meme!
Decades later, I’m proud to say that the Gartner family has yet to buy any timeshares.
Fast-forward to 2021. As the pandemic’s impact wanes, free steak dinners are back (along with the sales pitch). Like high-pressure timeshare presentations of yesteryear, these dinners aren’t always designed in your best interest. It’s often a thinly veiled “straight line sales pitch” made infamous by the true events in the movie Boiler Room to get tens of thousands, if not millions, of dollars from you.
Be cocky if you want to—go ahead get the free meal. But the salespeople’s timeshare and other free dinner events use decades of psychological tricks to do whatever it takes to make you say “yes.” The so-called advisors know that many couples have no intention of buying anything or even booking a meeting, but they know a few attendees will. They are masters of their deceptive craft and will convince some of the smartest folks in the room.
Let me give you the inside scoop (not that I would ever host one of these events). In the business, the gatherings are often referred to as “plate licking dinners” because of how salespeople view the attendees. Dateline NBC has even profiled these scams. The takeaway: Be careful out there!
My recommendation is to simply avoid them.
Avoid all timeshare presentations, free dinner seminars, real estate get-rich-quick sessions, and so on.
If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
Thanks for taking a look. Most importantly, if you want to learn more about the complex financial world, seek guidance from a qualified professional working in your best interest.