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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Holidays Group Tours - The Gullible Tourists 1

Holidays Group Tours - The Gullible Tourist 1

Not knowing much about the country and the wish to have everything arranged, we have been joining group tours to countries nearby and far. One bugbear about these group tours was the visits to gift shops, outlet factories, etc being part of the itinerary, some obviously stated and some subtlely added. It seemed that the cheaper the tour price, the more of such visits in the itinerary. The tour leader or guide would state that it was the local government's good intention to publicise these special factories or outlet for the good of the people. Such practices are very prevalent China and Taiwan tours, very much lesser in Japanese tours.

The Outlets
The usual outlets deal with products like TEA, SILK, MEDICINE, STONES, CROCKERY, PEARLS and JEWELLERIES.

The supersalesman at the Jewellery shop
During the stopover at such shops, the tour guide will ensure that everyone alight from the bus and ushered into the outlet/factory. The smarter traveller will make excuses of going to the toilet or for a smoke and then detour from the main group, out of the outlet/factory. Like sheeps to the slaughter, the whole bus load will be ushered into a room which is located deep in the outlet/factory, passing through showcases of jewelleries manned by salespersons.
Once in the room, a sales person will make a short intro before 'checking'  to see whether the manager/owner is in. Usually it is our luck/good omen that he is IN at this moment for a short period of time. Shortly, the manager/owner will make his entrance. The whole room claps and that is where and when the whole supersale job begins.

FIRST :  After a short intro and welcome, he/she will cook up a somewhat sad sad story which goes along these lines
...... he/she had wanted to lead a sin-free and peaceful life;
.....he/she was a former monk/nun in repentance but is now settled down;
....... he had served in a monastery (usually Thai);
.......he or his parent wanted to thank Singaporeans for giving him a second chance to do good;
........ all proceeds for the day will go to charity
.........praises for young men or women or those who wanted to stand out in the group eg those who talk a lot or those who identified their nationality other than the majority.

During the deliberately slow monotone, he will pepper it with requests for applause. By the middle of his story, he would have sized up the audience who, by now, be hooked psychologically and emotionally. His 'inspirational speaker' talk will have all of them hooked up, bait, line, sinker and all unless one is tough enough or mentally prepared  to resist such strong pull. One way to resist is to play with your handphone. Another is to nod vigorously without listening (takes practice to do it) or daydream away from the noise.

NOW, the sales began.
A series of 'non expensive' items will be brought out, The low prices eg S$4 for a string of white-stone necklace, S$10 for a goldplated pendant, etc will enticed the group to reach for their loose pockets. The real show will come after!
Then the super salesman will bring out his 'family treasures' which are 'reluctantly' placed for sale. During our recent tour to Zhangjiajie in June, this supersalesman showed a set of 'ruby' family treasure (necklace pendant, earrings and finger ring). He showed the 'authencity ' of the stones by shining a laser light on it to create a spectrum of light. Impressive!! Three families in our group of 50 each bought a set for S$1000, down from the first price of S$1200. A bargain indeed!! However, on closer examination and certification by our local goldsmith in Singapore, the whole set was valued at the most S$100. The stones are not real ruby at all. By then it is too late, a con job well done and
it will not make sense for the purchaser to go all the way back to the outlet to demand anything, not worth the trouble. There is no guarantee that one can get anything back even when presenting the supplied 'authenticity certificate'.
Another 'family treasure' the supersalesman brought out was a religious medal/amulet, made from very dark green (almost black) jade with an image in gold flakes encased. The religious elements were mentioned eg prayers, peace, harmony in family, health blessings, etc. Inevitably there will be interested parties. Those who expressed their wish to examine it were then ushered individually or in pair to other special rooms. Three families purchased them as they were wearing them immediately after the visit. Two families refused to disclose the amount they paid for it. One family revealed that it cost them S$3000. Worth it? It is all in the mind and heart.

We would not brand these super salesmen as con-men because we did not buy the expensive items. The buyers opened their pockets and signed with their eyes open. Those who bought and felt 'cheated' would definitely console themselves and justified the purchase that they have bought it for a better purpose regardless of the price. There is no recourse in the wide wide world especially China.

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