Jan 5, 2012

How to Get $100 Worth of Free Vouchers

This might have happened to you before. It happened to me several days ago (and it wasn't the first time either).

A person calls up on my handphone. I have no idea how she got my number. She says, "Congratulations! You are very lucky to have won $100 of NTUC Income vouchers!".

Of course, there is a catch to it. The catch is that in order to collect the vouchers, I have to go to a certain place and listen to a 75-minute presentation. I get to collect the vouchers only if I stay to the end of the presentation. Also, I need to bring my wife. If she doesn't come along, I get only $50.

So at the appointed date and time, Mrs Wang and I go to this place. We fill up some form which asks some questions about where we live, how much we earn and so on. We are asked to show a credit card - no details are taken, they just want to see that we actually have credit cards.

Then we are whisked away to a small meeting room. There a salesperson goes through a detailed questionaire with us. There are questions about how often we travel; what kind of hotels we like to stay in; which countries we have visited in the past few years; how much we spend on our airfare, and so on.

Then the salesperson starts talking about his product. Some kind of holiday club. Pay an upfront fee (which is quite hefty), get a 15-year membership, and for the next 15 years, you will be able to enjoy big discounts on hotel accommodation, airfares and land tours all over the world. At the end of 15 years, get your entire membership fee back.

I won't bore you with the details, because the specific details are not that important. Many different kinds of companies use such a marketing strategy nowadays. They sell different things - land banking; timeshares in holiday houses; spa services; golf club holidays; travel services, and so on.

The point is - they REALLY give you the $100 vouchers at the end of the presentation. Some even give you a choice of vouchers (Carrefour or Takashimaya?). Or they give you a free massage for two, if they are pitching a spa membership. You have no obligation to actually sign up as a member or to buy the product. What they want is a fair chance to thoroughly pitch their product to you, for 75 minutes.

I think that these are very good deals. All you have to do is listen. If the product/service meets your needs, then you could sign up. If it doesn't, then just firmly say "No" at the end of the 75 minutes, and ask for your vouchers. The main thing is that you must keep a clear mind and not allow yourself to be persuaded into  buying something that you later regret.

Mrs Wang and I firmly said "No", at the end of the presentation. For us, it was a rather interesting presentation and we asked many questions (Mrs Wang and I often like to study how different types of business models and figure out how they try to make money).

But in the end, we simply said, "No". We collected our vouchers. We left. The salesman was courteous and friendly throughout the time. And now I have $100 of NTUC vouchers to buy groceries, yay.


Anonymous said...

Well, it really boils down to, whether $100 is worth 1hr of your time.

The said...

This has been around for ages - the typical timeshare scam that had many people complaining to CASE.

Anonymous said...

Do you have to be a qualified investor to attend :-)

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

Well, the point is, the product or service MIGHT genuinely turn out to be something that you are interested to purchase. So you spend the 1 hour to find out. At the end of it, even if you are not interested, you get the $100.

(I think I got $200, for the land-banking talk).

I have heard about the so-called "hard-selling", "unethical" tactics, but I have not encountered it myself. On the contrary, I was told:

(1) on the phone;

(2) upon arrival at the place;

(3) at the start of the sales presentations

... that there is no obligation to sign up, and we shouldn't sign up unless we were sure that the product met our needs. So it seems quite fair to me.

And obviously they try to target the richer folks, but I doubt that they know how rich you are. They are probably just calling handphone numbers and rough details, and calling people up like that.

Tech Dropper said...

Hi Mr Wang,

I went to some talk exactly like this before too, and my wife and I firmly said no.
The man that gave the sales pitch, when realising that there was no way to hard sell anymore, immediately changed his attitude and was super rude to us after that.
What's worse is, after collecting the vouchers from an admin lady, we bumped into the sales man outside while he was taking a smoke, and he sarcasticly told us to enjoy our free vouchers and wasting his time.
My wife and I have avoided such dealings since. =(

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

Awww, that's not fun.

The salespeople I have talked to were generally alright, they were friendly even after we said, "No".

I actually got a free holiday to a certain 5-star beach resort on Bintan once (3 days 2 nights). The requirement was that I spend 75 minutes with a salesperson selling a holiday club programme.

Free lunch was also provided (for me, my wife and 2 kids) and it was quite good. 5-star standard.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mr Wang, I'm interested in joining ur profession and am wondering whats ur pay like. Thanks!

SG Girl said...

Gilbert, you're lucky to meet such professional sales people. I've a friend who went through similar talk. When she refused to buy their products, they continued to pester her, stressed her and even disallowed her to leave (having 2 other people surrounding her).

I usually avoid such things no matter what the free gifts are.

jellyfish07 said...
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jellyfish07 said...

Mr Wang, would you go to such event if there isnt any free gift or voucher?

Mr Wang said...

Nope, I would not go. Because over the phone, they tell you very little about the product/service that they are actually selling.

But throw in the free $100 vouchers, mmmm, if I am free, I don't mind. :)

Anonymous said...

Gilbert, sooner or later your luck will run out. Oh....just curious, but is there by any chance that when you go through the questionnaire, they ask what your occupation is? And you reply "lawyer"? Don't mess with lawyers! So that's the trick? Just tell them you are a lawyer and they will be polite and nice even if you say NO!

Anonymous said...

I dont quite get it as a in house counsel lawyer (no taking into account the fact that ur in an investment bank) i would suppose that ur pay is at least slightly above 100 sing per hour. If one takes into account this opportunity cost one might say such a venture scarcely benefits mr wang.

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

You mean, if I sit around for 75 minutes outside office hours doing nothing, I will get paid $100? Hahaa.

Anonymous said...

Hahaa. conjuring up a strawman. My point is if u go to work to earn 100 plus dollars an hour why would you waste ur free time (which u willing scacrifice to go to work) to go for some talk which would reap a reward of 100 dollars for one hour? It baffles me.

Anyway, If I really wanted to be pedantic, ur opportunity cost is in fact much higher. Since you could have worked in ( "for" is probably not a appropriate term here) a law firm that would pay u twice as much but would take less than double the time you work for as an in house counsel.

Mr Wang said...

Heheh .... You mean it's better for me to spend one hour of my free time blogging here even though I earn $0 from that?

Anonymous said...

I'm assuming blogging gives you more pleasure than spending ur free time doing other things. besides even if it doesn't, this isn't a reason to show that you should go for these talks. Its a reason to be more discerning with one's free time. On that note, im popping off.

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang, I think some of us are starting to misunderstand you.

It sounds as if making money is your idea of a good time. So just the thrill of getting that $100 NTUC voucher which you don't need is going to be so fun for you?

I feel for you. Really.

And from the lack of reply on that question about whether they ask what your occupation is, I'll take it that they do. Little wonder why you have not had 'bad experiences' at these events.

Anonymous said...

I can understand why mr Wang does it cos me and my husband do it too. And nope I'm not a lawyer, and so fare have not met anyone who is rude.

I think it's not a bad way to spend about one hour of your time cos maybe you do want that service and you get vouchers too. Also it's always good to see/ learn how people are selling their products

Mr Wang said...

Actually I do not like to tell people, especially salespeople (whatever they are selling), that I am a lawyer. It can be rather disadvantageous.

To understand why, just imagine that you are an average Singaporean tourist traveling in a much poorer developing country. Notice who the touts target? The rich tourist or the poor locals? And have you ever suspected that the very same thing will be sold to the rich tourist and the poor local at rather different prices?

Lucky Tan said...

Goodness, for a person who file a $300K income tax return, you're really "one kind" to go after this $100 when you're not even sure they will give it to you.

Mr Wang said...

But Lucky, they always give it to you. That's the deal.

I have been to several of these events (and in fact I did sign up for two packages/programmes). But whether you sign up or not, you always get the free $100 or $200 just for attending.

By the way, not that it's any of your business, but my income tax return is quite a bit more than 300K. Nevertheless I always faithfully redeem all my credit card points; I take public transport to work; and I buy my shoes at Bata.

Have you read the book "The Millionaire Mind" yet?

Flyingbobo said...

Well, I did say "at least"; its an estimate based on the fact that u are senior and includes bonus. Of course, having a good pay is not a reason to spend indiscriminately. But truth be told, if i were earning ur kind of money, not that its any of my business, I wouldn't be attending those talks. Which is why I am puzzled.

Lucky Tan said...
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Lucky Tan said...
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Lucky Tan said...


You give new meaning to the word "thrift". I take the public transport too but more for environmental reasons. You shouldn't be reading "Millionaire Mind" since you're clearly already there.

The engineer I hired 8 years ago from Cornell with a masters degree from Stanford with a mind as brillian as any one I've met and hardworking too. He left 3 years ago to join another company. He's about your age but doesn't make half the amount good lawyers his age make....when I signed up to be an engineer, I didn't know lawyers will have it so good.

I'm all for the pro bono thing for graduating lawyers recently announced. Lawyers and doctors are protected by quotas while the govt believed there will never be enough engineers....today something like 70% of enginnering graduates are from foreign countries and our universities produce 2-4 times more engineering grads than we do 15 years ago. It is quite strange that our govt believe we need cheap engineering services but not cheap legal and medical services.

Recent report of a engineering honours grad turned karang guni man did garner a lot of sympathy on the Internet. Not too sure if people will feel sorry for a lawyer if he falls on hard times.

We all make different choices that lead to different outcomes....and you, Mr. Wang, is one guy who made all the right outstanding choices choices.... right down to $100 free vouchers. That's why many people visit this blog to learn something...

flyingbobo said...

Yes Lucky Tan, u are right Lawyers do make allot of money. But they sacrifice allot of their own time too. I know a number of lawyers from the big firms. There are times where they stay over in their office 2-3 days in a row. An engineer is not expected to do that. The stress is also far greater. There is a reason why the attrition rate is 50%. It is not a easy path. Brilliant people with allot of choices hesitate to become lawyers because of this. Many ppl dont know how much lawyers make but even fewer know the sacrifices required. If u want to know the average pay of different lawyers, see: http://www.singaporelawwatch.sg/remweb/legal/ln2/rss/legalnews/74639.html?utm_source=web%20subscription&utm_medium=web&title=Pay%20rises%20expected%20as%20legal%20market%20expands

Further, it is only fair that lawyers earn that much. Many students work hard, very hard to get there. And now that they did, it would be unfair that the promised fruits of their labour are being taken away. Besides if u want to complain about unfairness u should bay for the blood of investment bankers, hedge fund managers, and remisiers. the last of which is the top paying job in singapore.

U might be unaware that lawyers are well paid. But trust me it was made known by a well known local politician way back in the past ( and he has continued to make it known in very recent times) that lawyers earn pretty darn well. In fact, shortly after he made it known, the next year, law faculty admissions were only less competitive than the medicine faculty. In the previous year, law fac was less competitive than the arts and social science faculty.

Anonymous said...

While you guys talk about lawyers vs top investment bankers you inadvertently compared them to doctors.

Are you out of your mind? Doctors are no where near the top earners in Singapore.

Flyingbobo Puzzled said...

Wait, hold on. Are you out of your mind? Did I even talk about doctors? How much they are earning? Did I compare between the pay of doctors and lawyers? no. I didnt even mention the word doctors. Are you out of your mind? There is no doubt an average doctor earns less than an average lawyer. Bizarre.

Anonymous said...

HI Gilbert

An ever better way was there to get $ before the new year. Spending 20 mins sitting at your computer.

Go to Standard Chartered website. Sign up for 2 platinum cards. Everything is completely online. No need to fax any docs to them. 160$ credit once approved

Unfortunately the offer expired Dec 31. But still advertised prominently on their site. Call up their priority banking hotline and check if they still honor it.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Wang, I read your blog and has this to say. A BIG THANK YOU. With this sort of scam which is known to the public why was there no action taken. Lucky you get a $100 voucher. I agreed with TechDropper totally. These salesperson suddenly turn very rude. In my case I was told to pay a certain amount of S$ in order to get a gift. After paying the S$, they send a sms that the gift will arrive BUT no gift come. Why can't the authority take action and bar this sort of scam before more people times are wasted and tricked into parting with their hard-earned S$.
furthermore, it is never any good in such a timeshare = the minute you paid up, the S$ is gone! There is no saving as they claim! if you want to save you have to spend alot more which is a scam. So with this note, do not fall for such scam if ever you receive any call to attend with your spouse. There is no such thing as FREE in this world.