Tuesday, May 18, 2010

My Own Taste of a Scam

Scam (as defined)
  • victimize: deprive of by deceit; "He swindled me out of my inheritance"; "She defrauded the customers who trusted her"; "the cashier gypped me when he gave me too little change"
  • a fraudulent business scheme

Why the sudden fantasy?

Going to several Bridal Fairs got me an idea on how I could sketch out my soon to be church wedding. I love attending such events in my quest for inspiration and clever ideas. Amidst freebies, flyers, and photo booths were raffles and sign up sheets. With gusto and excitement, I just kept filling out forms and even raffle stubs without even checking what I've been signing -- only luring myself in THE "trap".

I've been meaning to post this from quite sometime now, but I had to restrain myself as I don't want my emotions TOO involved in my posts (not that I was in anyway THAT emotional, at least, unlike maybe for some).

A few months back, I received a call from some random number, they said that they were from Club Astoria, and that I won a free dinner buffet. Good thing nothing drastic happened to me here. All the pestering just simmered down.

I was in again for another trap!

Since my sister was having a debut celebration and again in search for my bridal inspiration, I went to the The Ultimate Wedding & Debut Fair last January 23. I actually refused to accept raffles for Astoria having to have learned from the experience.

However, this gay person (let’s name him Joey, as I have totally forgot the name!) approached me and asked if I had a credit card. Thinking that it was a credit card agent offering me one, I said "yes, I already have, thank you." However, Joey continued to say that it was my "lucky day" since I already have one. Baffled, I began listening to him and said that I could choose from 2 gifts just as long as I advertise their products, which is Life Insurance, and that they'd give me a "raffle stub" for another chance to win PHP888,000 and a BMW. He introduced PPLIC as Philippine Prudential Life Insurance Company. From the name itself, it sounded like PRU, but it really was NOT, most especially they had a different logo.

Joey told me that all I need to do was just listen to a 45-minute presentation, and that I have "no obligation" to purchase anything (yeah right). He also said that I could only help them advertise their products by using their "freebies" (well that made sense though). Some of the free stuff were umbrellas, eco-bags, towel, clock, coffee tumbler and others. I thought to myself, "sure, I could use an umbrella or the eco-bag", but I was really curious about the 45-minute presentation and to see if I could last until the very time they‘d actually give the free stuff. You see, my friend also encountered the same thing for Family First, and it was an ugly experience. But I really was just in for the curiosity on how these people do it.

Joey made sure I was comfortably seated and waited for my turn to be handed over to an agent (which we will name Myrna. Yes, I also forgot the name of the gal). Joey offered iced tea and tried to keep me company through his personal stories. He even gave me a free pass to Laffline maybe, just to make me stay, adding a personal touch to his approach.

I was able to ask him a few questions about his job. He said that his only job was to bring people to their office, and that they'd get "points" for it. He also told me to give him a cut in case I win the raffle, totally BS-ing me.

Okay, so 30 minutes have passed, and I've yet a presenter to face. I was actually going to have called it quits when a young girl went up to me and introduced herself as the “presenter”. Myrna was on her early twenties, and I can tell that she looked like a fresh grad.

Dying to hear what she had to offer, she first introduced herself, and gave me an overview about the company, its achievements, recognitions and all the hullabaloo about the company that I NEVER have heard about. 

Myrna goes by showing me that PPLIC is considered to be one of the “Superbrands”, and was established in the 60s. While that could be true, how come I never heard of their company? All I knew was that  the other company, Prudential Life was indeed a company for pre-need plans, but not PPLIC. She said that it was once deemed as a Superbrand, but again, how come their name never emerged anywhere? Did I miss out on one of the Reader's Digest's specials on this distinction?

While she was taking me to the seat, Myrna goes by trying to establish rapport by asking questions about anything in life. Since I was not in a “story-telling” mood, I simply asked her to explain more about the company. She said that their company’s strategy to make their company known was through direct selling and marketing, unlike the big names in the industry. I thought it made sense since they never advertised anywhere. 

As we were seated, I asked for some water instead of iced tea. Even if the room was already flowing iced tea, it would only gonna give me streptococcus, if not making me wet my pants. Myrna had this folio containing the company’s information, so while glancing at the pages of the clear book, she was asking me questions like “what would be your goals in life?” or “do you think your income for now is enough for your needs?”

I knew she was gonna make a sales pitch real soon. I should have backed out while waiting at the lobby. That's what a stubborn mule gets for hopelessly obliging.

But then, I tried to listen to what she was going to offer. The raffle promo that Joey had promised  soon felt like a faded memory, I realized, as she never mentioned anything about raffles and freebies in her presentation.

When she asked about my status, being a newlywed with having kids soon (I know I may have said too much), Myrna introduced me to an regular endowment payment scheme good only for 5 years, amounting to 27k as an initial payment, and then I would have to pay around 1,800+/month for 5 years, and then for the remaining 10 years, I would just have to wait for its maturity, and I could get it for a face value of around PHP300K or so.

The offer was pretty good because I would only have to pay 1.8k for just 5 years. only that it has to be auto-deducted from my credit card. Of course! The sales agent asking if you have a card --- Joey asked for it at the very start in the bridal fair! They weren't credit card sales agents. So by actually telling them that you HAVE a credit card is like telling a vulture that YOU'RE the prey!

Okay, on with the sales pitch. It was really a good plan, as I have understood it.  I know so because I currently also have an endowment from a competitor where I still have 10 years more to complete, originally 20 years to pay. 5 years shouldn’t be a big deal though.

Then again, since I may be leaving the PI indefinitely and was just waiting for my visa interview, I may not be able to take care of the monthly payments anymore. It wasn’t because I was skeptic (well,  to admit, the strategy could really be leading to deceit), but I really don’t think I had much time to take care of such things while away from the country.

So I politely declined the offer. My work was done, and I came what I needed to find out.

What really bothered me was the fact that Myrna was sort of pushing me to make an immediate decision. It was already 8pm, and we were getting nowhere. I really wished I didn’t have to go through it because an investment is not the same as buying impulsively on food or other things to satisfy our vanity. You can take risks, but not in a manner that has to be rushed, like your life really depended on it. 

Annoyed, yet still cool, I just tried to think of ways to get out of this mess I made  for myself. Since I don’t want a scandalous approach, I started talking to Myrna about my thoughts. 

I told Myrna that I need my “husband’s approval” before I make any purchases. She then asked me if I usually ask permission whenever I save for myself or when I open my own account, and then I knew she was trying to somehow control the situation. It's like asking me if I had to ask permission to my husband for opening a bank account. Of course, some would probably say, a savings account should not hurt our relationship.

But it wasn't a damn saving's account, for Christ. And besides, I never keep ANYTHING from my spouse since we got married. Promise!

I then turned the tables around by telling Myrna that any major purchase, in this case, investment, needs the approval of my husband. So there.

I even convinced the kid that my husband would really be interested in case he was there with us that moment, but since he wasn’t, I really had to get his permission. I even emphasized the importance of having an open communication, which is essential for long distance couples. 

I asked Myrna if she had a boyfriend, and whether she tried convincing her boyfriend to have such investments. To my surprise, she NEVER wanted her boyfriend invest anything there. Haha! So much for marketing. I didn’t ask her anymore for the reason, and was happy giving her my dose of “the kill”.

Since she knew I would never get convinced to purchase anything that big, she tried to offer me other “cheaper” alternatives, just to get a sale. Give me a break! It was almost closing time (like almost 10pm). So, I had to settle for this one-peso insurance! Poor thing…just to have a sale…

And the frugal princess wins!

**Some notes**
  • As a tip, if you are curious on how they work their way to you, better make sure you have time (a lot of it, if I may add), because it’s not gonna be as simple as refusing the products and services being offered to you.
  • Another tip, if they could try engaging in a small talk, so would you! Try to get to know the person you are talking to as well. In my case, Myrna was trying to get to know a little bit of my background, so I tried to get hers! They would NEVER refuse to answer any personal questions. Use your own interrogation to your advantage when they start making sales, to make them fall for their own trap!
  • Make your own research. Instead of experiencing it first-hand (which I totally do NOT recommend), use resources like the internet and read for consumer feedback.
  • By all means, ignore the people handing out flyers, or the ones that look like people offering you credit cards, unless you really need one.
  • ANY investment should be well-thought of. It is not an IMMEDIATE decision that could change your life. REFUSE if really unsure. No gentle push backs! The offer will STILL be available should you decide to push through with it.
  • Most importantly, DO NOT GIVE THEM YOUR CREDIT CARD and DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING! You may not know that you may be signing an authorization to use your card for a transaction that you may be unaware of. I have read lots that have been charged even if they did not fully understand what's going on...
It could get annoying (and dirty) if you let your emotions run you over, which is why I’d rather have a sort of a reverse psychological approach in getting out! Lol

Oh, as for my freebies, I was only given one. They also said that the “raffle machine” was not working at the moment, and that I had to come back for my chance at the raffle. Unbelievable! How convenient could that be! For sure, I am NEVER in any way coming back!

Oh well, my rating? For me, I was scammed because of the false “promises“ and all that sugar-coating BS! But in offering the services, they may be for real. But then again, you cannot guarantee the outcome of ANY investment especially for a company that doesn't even ring a bell. 

After the entire experience, I tried to do my own research and by gosh! I found a bunch of really unhappy campers out there who also fell in the trap. Much worse, almost all were really pissed because of the charges made in the card. And the comments kept pouring in. You may also read the link for more information and for solutions done by its "victims".

wedding planning guide


  1. what a scam!!! annoying as hell!!!

    being in private practice we get a lot of roving salespeople in the clinic. i've become accustomed to them... i also hate those people who hand out flyers in the mall and i refuse to accept the flyers when they wave it to my face... hahaha!

    call me rude but i really have no time!

  2. me, i never take flyers..but i didn't really know that they're THAT rampant in bridal fairs and events! At least a lesson learned this time..haha!

  3. all i hav to sa is it is really a SCAM!!!!

    I almost got into their trap yesterday..luckily i really dont have money to give..hahahahha..poor thing..so let this be a lesson to everyone..ho I wnnder they are using the big names here in our country..like Mr. Henry SY of SM..al i can say is that..they are MANLOLOKO!

  4. @Makoi: that's so very true. kahit ako wala akong money eh. ang strategy is just to show them na wala ka talagang pera. wag na dapat magmayabang kung may credit card or wala. lol :D



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