THE FOLLOWING IS SOLELY MY OPINION BASED ON MY OWN PERSONAL EXPERIENCE WITH SIMPLICITY GOURMET.
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....
THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION IS MY PERSONAL OPINION BASED ON THE FINDINGS OF MY OWN RESEARCH. I DO NOT CLAIM THAT ANY OF THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION IS 100% UNFAILING OR RELIABLE! I ENCOURAGE YOU NOT TO JUST TAKE MY WORD- BUT TO CONDUCT YOUR OWN RESEARCH BEFORE AGREEING TO ANYTHING!!!
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