• Report: #383041

Complaint Review: Simplicity Gourmet, Selected Brides, New Era, Pro-Health Ultra

  • Submitted: Mon, October 20, 2008
  • Updated: Fri, November 07, 2008

  • Reported By:San Diego California
Simplicity Gourmet, Selected Brides, New Era, Pro-Health Ultra
2100 East Hallandale Beach Blvd. Ste. 404 Hallandale Beach, Florida U.S.A.

Simplicity Gourmet, Selected Brides, New Era, Pro-Health Ultra tried to take advantage of a young,couple-trying to get them to spend thousands of dollars on cookware by telling them that they had won an "All-Inclusive, 3-Day, 2-Night Resort Vacation! Hallandale Beach Florida

*UPDATE Employee: Just to clear up a few points in this post...

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So you won an All-Inclusive 3-Day, 2-Night Resort Vacation too, huh?

My husband I were contacted about a year ago by a company called "Simplicity Gourmet". An overly-excited telephone representative told me that my husband and I had just won an All-Inclusive 3-day, 2-night Resort Vacation!

Initially we were pretty excited- we didn't even realize we had entered a drawing. I asked how they had gotten a hold of my phone number. He told me that I must've filled out some forms at a Bridal Expo with my contact information. I knew this wasn't true because I had never been to a Bridal Expo. The only company I had given my information to at that point was David's Bridal when I went to try on wedding dresses. I have a sneaky suspicion David's Bridal might've sold my information... but that's just my intuition.

So anyway, the overly-excited telephone representative goes on to say that all we have to do to get more information on our free trip is either let someone come our house and cook us a gourmet meal, or attend a "cooking show" at a nearby hotel. My first thought was.... since when do you have to do something in order to redeem a prize you've already won??? Seemed fishy. Problem #1.

So, that night my husband and I went to this hotel in Old Town San Diego. I didn't really want someone I didn't know coming into my home and cooking in my kitchen- so we chose to go to the hotel to watch the "gourmet cooking show". There were about 8 other couples in the room- and that's where we found out that every single couple there had also won the "All-Inclusive Resort Vacation". Wow... do they do this in every city?

At the front of the room was a drop-dead gorgeous display of stainless steel cookware. They also had china plate settings on display, glistening crystal wine glasses, vacuum-sealed food containers. I mean, the merchandise was beautiful. Not too long after we arrived, this guy came to the front of the room and gave us about a 2 hour presentation on this cookware. He accused all of us of having "less than adequate" cookware- and that essentially, we were killing ourselves with the chemicals in the pots and pans that we were cooking with. Great scare tactic.

So he rambles on about this cookware for 2 hours! By the time he had drilled us about how great it cooks, how great it steams, how you can cook with like 3 pots stacked on top of each other... blah blah blah- it was almost 10pm! The whole time- I think he cooked one chicken breast and a bunch of broccoli and carrots. Since when did a chicken breast and a handful of vegetables become a "gourmet meal" for 16 people? Ya... problem #2.

So after the presentation was over, he started joking that he was glad we had all showed up. The whole All-Inclusive trip mumbo-jumbo was to get us in to see the cookware. He laughed and said that he had trained all of those representatives himself- and that they were "supposed to act excited" - to get US excited. Ya... he actually told us all of this.

He said that once we were all jazzed about the "All-Inclusive" trip that we had just won- the only way we could get more information about the trip was to come in and see the cookware presentation (or let them come to your house and cook in your kitchen). He said that once we saw the cookware, he knew we wouldn't be able to resist it. People around us kind of chuckled in a creeped-out sort of way... I was offended. Do you really think I'm that stupid?

So, after all of this- people were interested in the price tags of all of this cookware. I mean, it looks beautiful- sounds great- how much? They've just spent 2 hours cutting you down about how your cookware has chemicals in it... you're killing yourselves... you'll be killing your babies with the chemicals... so you're feeling pretty awful, right? I am a firm believer that the 3 biggest rip-off industries are 1. Bridal, 2. Baby, and 3. Funeral. Companies who prey on emotional people. And when you're planning your wedding, you're emotional, right? You want it to be perfect.

So here I am thinking, wow- maybe we really should invest in some good cookware. They present you with a few packages. You can either get all of the cookware (which is like 8 pots and pans) and the china plate settings, or you can get the cookware and the crystal wine glasses... kind of like you can mix-and-match. The price tags on each equal out to about $3,500.00 after taxes! I don't care if your pots and pans are gold plated- there's no way anyone should pay almost 4 grand for cookware and a few table settings or wine glasses... (unless it's Williams' Sonoma Al-Clad!!!). Just my opinion :o).

So after they give you the price tags, there are like 3 or 4 individuals waiting for us to rush over and make a purchase at the end of the presentation! They told us we could finance it, pay for it over several years...(with interest rates higher than the Empire State Building). So after you're done paying it off, with interest you've spent a small fortune. They told us another option was to set up a "Bridal Registry" with them- so the people coming to our wedding could go online and contribute money to pay off the cookware- instead of buying you a gift... (tacky?). They also supposedly "checked our credit" via a 2 second phone call... to make sure that we were "financially trustworthy"... but that inquiry never showed up on my credit report, so that was a lie.

My intention here is not to bad-mouth the company or their merchandise- but the whole experience really gave me the creeps. When I began hammering them with questions about the cookware, the "free trip"- all of it, they got nasty with me and told me I was wasting their time... and actually got up from the table to help another couple!

Okay- so we told them NO, we didn't want the cookware, right?... And that's fine. According to Simplicity Gourmet, we were still entitled to the 3-day, 2-night All-Inclusive Resort Vacation- whether we bought the cookware or not. Here is what they didn't tell us about the trip....


Okay, basically what I found is that the company, "Selected Brides", aka "Simplicity Gourmet" appears to have some deal worked out with specific resorts. They told us that we could choose to go to the Bahamas, Costa Rica, or Cancun. I've also heard that other people have been offered Lake Tahoe and European destinations. What they didn't tell us about the trip was...

1. We could only go on certain dates, and it says right on the brochure in verrry small print that black-out dates and peak-season surcharges apply. I wonder if they only let you travel during peak season? And we could only arrive on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday... which means that our 3-day, 2-night All-Inclusive trip would fall strictly on weekdays (Monday-Friday). Kind of weird.

2. You have to buy your own airfare- which will probably be in the ballpark of a few thousand, no matter where you go overseas.

3. You have to pay taxes on the trip. Before you even book the trip- you have to pay the hotel taxes! $49.50 U.S.D. per person, PER NIGHT! So, if you and your significant other stay the 2 nights- you have to fork over $200 bucks in hotel taxes before they'll even book your trip. Cashier's Check or Money Order only :o). So- you might get a few nights "free" at a hotel- but is it really free? Think not.

4. You have to book your entire trip through their travel agency (Coral Beach Travel & Tours in Florida). You also have to give their travel agency 60-days notice on your trip- or they charge you a $75.00 penalty, PER PERSON.

Oh... and by the way- all pricing is ALWAYS subject to change!

So, draw your own conclusions here. MY OPINION: In the end, you might be getting a few nights at a hotel room without paying standard rates... but you're still paying almost $50 bucks a night in taxes on that room, PER PERSON. When all is said and done, you might have spent thousands in airfare, taxes, food, recreational activities... and any other hidden fees. So I wonder what "All-Inclusive" really means?

Oh, and by the way- I tried to call their travel agency to see if it was legit... and I couldn't find a phone number. I guess all of their corresponding is by mail only... until you've committed to the trip and paid the taxes. After that, I don't know what happens, because I didn't book the trip!

So as with anything, just be careful- and go into it knowing that there is a lot of fine print. Don't be afraid to tell them no... even if they do get nasty with you! We sat through the presentation, listened to them talk for hours, and did a ton of research on the company and the cookware they sell when we got home. Just Google the names "Simplicity Gourmet", "Selected Brides", "New Era" or "Pro-Health Ultra". If you're reading this... you probably already have!

On a final note- Simplicity Gourmet IS a real company. The cookware they advertise (Pro-Health Ultra, New Era) IS real cookware. It physically exists. I was unable to find testimonials anywhere of individuals who had actually taken the trip- but I'm sure some people have. My personal opinion is that this whole thing is just a rip-off; over-priced and under-explained.

Good luck- and remember... if it sounds too good to be true... it probably is!

San Diego, California

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 10/20/2008 03:40 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Simplicity-Gourmet-Selected-Brides-New-Era-Pro-Health-Ultra/Hallandale-Beach-Florida-33009/Simplicity-Gourmet-Selected-Brides-New-Era-Pro-Health-Ultra-tried-to-take-advantage-of-383041. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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Updates & Rebuttals

#1 UPDATE Employee

Just to clear up a few points in this post...

AUTHOR: Katie - (U.S.A.)

I have been the customer service director for Simplicity Gourmet for five years, and I just wanted to clear up a few misunderstandings that this particular consumer has. One, is that sales tactics do not equal scam. Every single company that sells a product has a way that they market their products: magazine ads, newspaper ads, word of mouth, television ads, radio ads, etc. We choose to market our products directly to the customers and put our money into meeting consumers face to face at bridal events, in home dinners, and trade shows and to giving them a free gift for their time and consideration. While, I understand that this consumer is making claims that they clearly state are their own opinion, what is not understood is that this is your own opinion, the fact is that it's not rooted in fact, is now circulating the internet, and can be very devestating to a company.

I would like to clear up few claims made in the points of this complaint:

"Okay, basically what I found is that the company, 'Selected Brides', aka 'Simplicity Gourmet' " ~ Simplicity Gourmet and Selected Brides are in no way affilicted with one another. Selected Brides is it's own, free standing, individually owned company that sells a brand of products seperate from Simplicity Gourmet. Selected Brides is a bridal company based out of Ft. Lauderdale, FL and Simplicity Gourmet is in Nashville, TN. Simplicity Gourmet has an exemplorary BBB report and is an accredited BBB company. You may check out our file online: http://nashville.app.bbb.org/report/37004265

"You have to buy your own airfare- which will probably be in the ballpark of a few thousand, no matter where you go overseas." ~ We offer a 3 day, 2 night accomodations package for attending the showcase. We clearly define what this includes as, "all your meals and snacks, beverages, alcoholic or non, and non-motorized sports, such as windsurfing and kayaking and of course the hotel accomodations" when the appointment is scheduled on the phone. I don't see that buying your own airfare makes us a scam? We assume that the majority of consumers that are planning a honeymoon, would be buying their own airfare any way. We do give these pacakges to all consumers who attend our showcases, no matter if they purchase anything or not, just as our thank you for your time and consideration. The complaint was made at the price of our cookware (which is far less than the All Clad cookware this is mentioned and much more highly warrantied), think of how much we would have to charge if our complimentary sales incentive packages included airfare to every single consumer attending our shows, nationwide, even the ones who never purchased a single product from us.

"You have to pay taxes on the trip. Before you even book the trip- you have to pay the hotel taxes! $49.50 U.S.D. per person, PER NIGHT!" - First of all, I'd like to apologize, I think you may have received an outdated extension form. There is a one time, $50 refundable deposit (NOT per person) due at the time of registration and paid to the vacation booking company. Then you have to pay your sales tax on the trip. This is a federal law - as when you win a car on a gameshow or win the lottery, the consmer is repsonsible for paying the gift sales tax per federal law. The taxes on our trip usually run around $50 as well; again, they are paid directly to the travel company and are not due until booking.

"You have to book your entire trip through their travel agency (Coral Beach Travel & Tours in Florida). You also have to give their travel agency 60-days notice on your trip- or they charge you a $75.00 penalty, PER PERSON." - You CAN book your entire stay through the travel agency, which is NOT Coral Beach Travel and Tours (it's ODENZA MARKETING GROUP - another reason I think you have an outdated voucher) but you are NOT required to do so. Yes, the travel agency does require at least a 60 day notice. These rooms are rooms they set aside for promotional purposes and the spaces are limited. Once the promotional rooms are booked, they do not other availability and are charged a surcharge to use the certificates. That's why they ask that you begin your booking process no less than two months before your travel date so that they an ensure that you get the best rates available for the trip you want. You can extend your stay at a discounted rate (which is the cheaper way to go) but you do not have to use them at all. Feel free to book your extended stay on your own or even at a different hotel once you have received confirmation on your complimentary nights.

Finally, and this is the most important issue that I would like to address, the claim that we "pre approve" your credit is a gross misunderstanding and completely false. We do NOT, in ANY WAY, pre-approve your credit. What is explained at the showcase is that if you do choose to finance your order, we have a rigourous fail-safe credit approval system. If you are approved for credit (ONLY AFTER you filled out and signed a credit application giving us permission to do so), then your credit is reveiwed and you are contacted via phone by a credit agent to verify your identity and once again that you agree with the sale amount, the monthly payment amount, the interest amount, etc. We will not approve an order for shipment unless your identity and order information is verbally verified with the finance company. We consider this an "above and beyond" practice to protect the consumer from any identity theft issues.

At any point in time, if a consumer needs help booking a trip, we always help in any way that we can. The problem comes when we are never contacted that there is an issue. We are happy to resolve any issues regarding trips that we give away but we cannot help in a situation that we are not made aware of nor given the opportunity to correct.

For this consumer, you can feel free to contact me anytime via phone or email if you decide you would like to use your trip: ksnyder@simplicitygourmet.com or 866-897-7676. I would also be happy to provide the contact phone number if needed for the Vacation company, Odenza Marketing Group.

Many Blessings,
Katie Snyder
Client Services Director
Simplicity Gourmet, Intl.
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