Friday, December 3, 2010

The Free Honeymoon Deal

A few years ago, when Chris, my now wonderful husband, and I were engaged, we went to a Wedding Fair to choose some vendors for the big day. I am somehow “lucky” with drawings and got awarded a free cruise vacation for two as long as I attended a presentation of some "amazing products", no purchase necessary. I thought it was fishy, so I called the place and inquired about the “prize”. They were very real and upfront and said there was no catch, just show up. I looked for some red flags but they seemed genuine, had an office location near me with a real address and were very polite on the phone. All good signs, I decided they would not dope me and steal one of my kidneys. Chris was on board, since we barely had money for the weeding, a free honeymoon seemed just dreamy.

So we went in the hopes of scoring a free cruise, drove south for 1h30 and got lost then found. During the drive, we made a deal with each other that we wanted the trip and nothing else. We would not buy ANYTHING.

Parenthesis one:
The long, long, long presentation took about 4h. Have you ever gotten sucked into a time share proposition? I never have, but imagine it’s the same deal.

At the presentation place there were several other couples, just married or about to (read: naive). We joined the group in a meeting salon where an extremely stereotyped salesman started to talk. He was selling pots and pans and fine china and silverware and crystals. All nice things: pretty, durable, shiny and, obviously, very expensive.

That night I learned how the pots I currently had could cause cancer and make my food loose its nutrients and flavors (I didn’t know that!) That was when I elbowed Chris and said: “Your mom insisted on buying those horrible pots and I just let her.” I owe her an apology…

Anyway, these new pots would last forever – they’re so durable! They also come with a lifetime warranty – my kids would inherit them! They preserve the nutrients and natural flavors - you cook with minimal oil! And they distribute the heat – you use less gas! In the end, you save money, you reward yourself, you are unbeatable! Not only that, the china is FREE. You want the crystals? FREE too! What about the silverware? FREE!

Two-hard-earned-thousand-dollars split in teeny-weeny installments (I can do that!) and a dozen signatures later, I had new pots, fine china, crystals and silverware. Oh, wait. “I actually can only receive them when I’m done paying? Oh, ok. And there’s an annual fee because you hold on to the pots I can’t have because I still owe you? Ok… Well, that’s fine. I, one day, will have the pots my kids will cherish.” Did I mention Chris and I weren’t even married yet? It’s been 4 years and we still don’t have kids…

And so every month I would mail one check and Chris would mail another one. We bought it together. This was our free honeymoon plan, our pots, our china and silverware and crystals.

The wedding happened, simple but fun, and we finally started our lives together, cooking our rare-at-home-meals with the could-give-me-cancer pots.

One year and several months later, frustrated, broke and tired, I called the place: “Can I get out of this? You can keep the pots and what I paid, just set me free.” Answer (polite and VERY real): “I’m sorry, this is like a car purchase, you can’t return, you can’t just stop paying. ‘Cause if you do, we’ll report you to the credit bureau.”

Parenthesis two:
Picture me, after the phone conversation, wearing big cartoon donkey ears. Yup.

Another year and several months later, I called again and made sure we were on the same page – I mailed the very last check. I was DONE.

Parenthesis three:
I have no idea how many check books Chris and I mailed to this place…

One week later, I got these boxes, menus, DVD’s and the shiny pots in all their glory. They’re beautiful. The china, no one would have ever bought for me, along with the crystals and silverware. My kitchen is renewed. Worth it? Very much not, sorry. I actually really don’t cook. What was I thinking? Chris? He’s a sandwich kind of guy. The pots barely fit in my humble townhome. I name this “a long-term commitment regret.” Lesson learned.

Parenthesis four and last:
The “free” honeymoon cost us over two thousand dollars, a lot more in checkbooks and stamps and envelopes. The voucher for the cruise expired last month. Ironically, we never left Minnesota.