I was recently invited to this scam that I thought was somewhat interesting. I knew the moment I stepped into this place that it was a scam, by the way they handled everything. I’ll document everything that I had experienced with this scam.
The Phone Call
I received a phone call from an advertising/marketing company, which the lady (Sally) didn’t want to tell me which company it was. Anyway, she told me I’ve been “specially selected” from a survey I took a few weeks back regarding the number of credit cards I have. I do recall somewhat that I received a phone call regarding something along these lines back around the 5th April. But I do not recall giving my complete details, like my full name and identification number. However, Sally had all these information on hand. Someone probably had sold these information to them, because I’ve never given my full name to anyone. Just ask any of my friends what my full name is, majority of them wouldn’t know.
So Sally told me I’ve “won” 3 prizes. A $50 voucher of either NTUC (grocery store) or Isetan (departmental + grocery store); 1 for 1 cruise to nowhere, the Caribbean, etc; 8D7N hotel stay in Thailand. I thought nothing of this and just said okay, I’ll meet them to hear what they have to say and arranged to meet them the next day. I asked about what the company name was, and Sally told me it was called “Touch Planet”.
Location and Phone Details of This Scam
Since my information was readily available to them, I don’t see why I should keep their information private too.
Sally’s Cell Number: +65 9270 2557
Sally’s Office Number: +65 64382119
i-Discover (or Touch Planet) Address: Regency Tower #03-15
The Initial Walk In
So I went with my friend, of course. When I found the place (I was about 1/2 hr late trying to locate the place), I only saw the word “iDiscover” and a piece of printed paper on the door with a few words indicating “Touch Planet” was here. We went in and was told to fill up a particulars form with my name, occupation, age, marital status, etc. After that, we waited to be called into this room with lots of individual tables and chairs, each table with a “sales” representative to “sell” you their product. I thought, “Of course nothing comes for free. I’ll just have to listen to what they have to sell. Why not?” So I sat down and met this pretty lady who spoke very typically bad Singaporean English.
I can’t remember everything she was trying to tell me, but it boils down to these few selling points.
- Pay $350 for a “voucher-like” 10N hotel stay anywhere per year
- Depending on where you stay, there’s a USD$10 to $40 “processing fee” per night
- Purchase blocks of 3N hotel stay after you’ve finished your 10N “voucher” for about USD$30 per night on top of the “processing fee”
- These hotel stay are transferable to anyone
- If the 10N hotel stay ($350) is not used, a rebate of $600 will be issued to you
- Convert the 10N hotel stay ($350) to a 2 return ticket on top of variable “processing fee” depending on peak period and location (ranging from USD$10 to USD$1000 per person)
She helped me do a cost comparison between an actual ticket to Japan for 14 nights stay with their plan, and it gave me a savings of 45% (at about SGD$2,100). Everything sounds very good, doesn’t it?
The Hidden Cost
Then she popped the question, “How much are you willing to pay for this?” That essentially shocked me. I thought that was all the cost, you mean I have to pay MORE? She called her manager to talk to me regarding this. From my friend’s research during that 2 hours she was explaining what she was trying to sell me, we found out that the “membership fee” is about SGD$19,000 for 10 years. That will equate to about SGD$1,900 per year, comparing with what I “save” (SGD$2,100), I actually ONLY save SGD$200, which I could save with the NATAS Travel Fair provided I actually spend that amount per year on travelling.
Is that a SCAM or what?
My friend Justin, who is an insurance agent, was accompanying me. So now the manager is talking to me with his fake smile and his even-more-horrible-Singaporean-English-than-the-pretty-sales-lady asking me how much I am willing to pay for this. I explained he has to tell me how much it is first, before I can consider. But he kept insisting to give a number, so I quickly did my calculation in my head and I figured out that if I had to pay anything more than SGD$1,000 per year, I wouldn’t see any returns at all. I just told him (already knowing fully how much it is going to cost me) that if he offered less than SGD$1,000 per year, I might consider.
Knowing that my friend is an insurance agent, he took this opportunity to compare buying insurance with buying his package. He explained that you wouldn’t see any visible returns from buying insurance until possibly many years down the road, or even never. However, with his package, you can see visible returns instantly every year. This pissed me off to the point that I was enraged at him comparing a “death and sickness” (do note that my dad is still in the hospital) with a HOLIDAY TRIP.
How can you compare a necessity of getting medical insurance to cover a potential illness, injury or death with something “optional” that you can do without like going for a holiday? That was the last straw and he told me “I think this package is not suited for you.” I told him back “I think so too, since I don’t see any benefits at all.”
Remember they were supposed to give me 3 “gifts” for going through their whole marketing scam? Well, I only received the $50 Isetan voucher. Furthermore, they wanted to see my identification card, AND my credit card, which I insisted on covering the credit card numbers.
Before I left, the pretty lady was nice enough to say “Thanks for coming, and sorry for wasting your time.” The manager just told her off saying loudly “We’re not wasting their time, they’re wasting our time.” and pushed her back into the room.
If they didn’t have the shocking “membership fees” at the end of the whole presentation, I would have actually gotten this really great deal. However, they were just out to cheat and con innocently stupid people who can’t calculate properly for themselves. So I hope this blog post will educate more people of how these scams aren’t really helping you save money at all.
- Don’t ever compare insurance with anything else
- Don’t try to cheat a Math/Statistics/Accounting Major with Computer Science Degree
- Be upfront with all the cost, including the hidden ones, for your client to make an informed decision
- Good Service is always important even if your client doesn’t make a purchase