Zone 2

Money Drain: $1500 Wasted on a Buyers Club I Never Used

While in college, I was a member of a fraternity. One night, an event was scheduled where an salesman was going to show up to discuss something, and there would be prizes for attending. (I should note that the person who allowed them to come in had as much idea as I did what was coming.)
Basically, the salesman was offering a sort of buyer’s club. (I am not mentioning the name only because their employees disparage sites complaining about their practices.) Unlike those large warehouse clubs, it was by mail. The salesman talked for a long time about the buying power available, and how many rich and famous people were members, and the discounts we could get on electronics and furniture, among other things. Best of all, if we found a lower price, they would give us the difference even if we didn’t buy from them!

Of course, normally all this would cost hundreds a year, but right now we could get lifetime memberships for $1500!

I signed up. I had three days to cancel, but why would I cancel? Soon, in the mail, I received my membership packet… and my promised prizes, like a voucher for a cruise (that I had to pay all sorts of extra costs if I wanted to take).

Of course, the entire service had the feel of something low-tech about it — you had to call and pricematch on the phone, and there were no catalogs to let you refine what you wanted. The instructions came on a set of cassette and VHS tapes.

On top of it all, a year later, it turned out the “lifetime membership” required a $65/year service fee after the first year that was somehow unmentioned by the salesman. I never paid it.

While the experience has done well to make me extremely resistant to salespeople — and might even be worth $1500 on that basis, since it has let me walk away from far worse “deals” — it’s still $1500 down the Money Drain for me.

-Submitted by: Art

Lesson Learned:
I do not have much experience with price clubs and price-match deals. The age-old saying of “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.” Salesmen in general make me feel sketchy. I like to rely on my own intuition if I am interested in purchasing something, and I feel that Salesmen are trained and intending on convincing me that their way is best. That’s the point, right?

I remember my mom buying two very expensive vacuum cleaners from a salesperson in highschool. They were great vacuum cleaners, but did we need two of them? One of them sat in the closet for years, and I wish I had paid attention to how much they cost.

My advice would be, if you have to or plan to sit through a Salesman’s pitch, fortify your position that you will not make a decision that day. You will take some time to do your own research and really decide whether this is something you want to do. It takes diligence, but it could save you a lot of money in the end.

Amount Flushed Down the Money Drain: $1,500

About Crystal Groves, Google+

Crystal Groves is a farmer, web developer, musician, blogger, and personal finance enthusiast from the back hills of Maryland and Pennsylvania. She started Money Drain as a project to encourage people interested in fixing their financial situation to share their stories and learn from the stories of others. We all make mistakes, but in order to change we have to make changes.

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