The selling formula appears to be:
- Use attractive Israeli or (I have been told) Argentinian, young men and women as sales staff.
- Have no pricing on any products. The price varies during negotiations, which suggests compound commission selling.
- Offer free samples to get you ‘in the door’ so to speak (because there aren’t any) and then ask questions to establish a personal and friendly relationship.
- Offer endless detail on the therapeutic value of the products on offer.
The external packaging is reasonably attractive, but this is only skin deep. Open up and you will find largely plastic containers and pretend metal caps etc.
Once you are ‘in’ the pressure is really put on. Cream is applied, ‘do you see the difference?’ ‘Rub this genuine aromatic Dead Sea salt. The effect is magical’. ‘One of these gets you today’s discount on this one, and if you take the two, this one is free!’
As mentioned, there are no prices and before long it is totally confusing which costs what and what the discounts and free offers actually result in. All part of a sales course they have learnt from? One has to think so.
Is this company operating only in New Zealand? Hell no! ‘Google’ the company name. They are everywhere – Europe, the USA, Asia, Africa, Australia and the stories have a familiar ring. Start with Wikileaks and you will find turnover reputedly in the billions of dollars.
I spoke to some of the staff in the pharmacy opposite and they were scathing in their criticism and why not? Every day they could witness the old men and women being flattered by this attention. ‘They have field days when the big cruise boats are in, with all the oldies’, one of them told me.
Now, in my memory, this has gone on for over 5 years. Yes, I’ll admit years ago I bought a couple of products and declined others. In my opinion the stuff was. and is, crap. The complaints flooded in to ‘Campbell Live’ over the next two days so much so that by Friday the company was on the run and promising refunds. Cases had emerged of individual sales topping $10,000 and to people in their 80s. Just how much money had these rogues been making out of their flattery and cheap products?
This raises a couple of questions. Does Westfield, which manages some of these shopping centres, vet the traders it allows to operate, for ethical behaviour and product quality, or does it just take the money? Well, by Friday, shopping centre managers were also on the run and looking to close down some operations.
Secondly we have government agencies for consumer protection operating. Are they asleep at the wheel? Well that’s a little interesting. Dial up the Ministry of Consumer Affairs on your computer and you’ll end up with a bit of information about The Fair Trading Act and The Consumer Guarantees Act. They are fairly clear and certainly apply to Manufacturers, Importers, Retailers and sales staff.
But it’s when you want to make a complaint that things get fuzzy. You are led to a series of video cartoons including ‘Merv and Lewis in the SeaMonster’ and a six and a half minute video on Australian consumer laws. How that is relevant here, I don’t know. Anyhow in essence you are advised to seek arbitration at The Disputes Tribunal at a ‘nominal’ cost. Now hang on. Is 75 yr old Myrtle booking in for a ‘sometime in the future’ hearing for being conned out of $350? Not on your nelly!
If my interpretation is correct then what the hell is going on at Consumer Affairs? Are the laws too feeble? Are staff playing Sudoku, instead of checking around the traps to see who is ripping off who? If inspectors popped up on a regular basis, it may well dampen down some of the scamming fervour.
Well Dead Sea Premier, I hope you are ‘dead in the water’ as most things are where you supposedly came from. However, I know you’ll be back with another high pitch in a different form. As long as regulations are weak and slow in application and customers are vulnerable, you’ll be doing an Arnie.
Spud (article updated 10.45am 28 June 14)