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 Post subject: FREE STUFF ON ARUBA
PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2007 3:51 pm 
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It Isn’t Free

When we first moved to the US, I went to a school in Miami called Miami Shores Elementary School. My first impression of that school was the green grass all around it and how it smelled right after being cut. Secondly, I remember the massive flag poles flying the American flag. I remember a clanging sound on the side of the flag pole. It came from a metal buckle on the lines that raised the flag. Green grass that smelled wonderful and the American flag flying high. AHH - America, land of the brave and the free. I could have never known that nothing is free, especially being free. It all comes at a price. I know that because Mrs. Castor (may she rest in peace) was my fourth grade teacher and, Mrs. Castor said “Children – nothing is free”. I trusted her because she was the only person alive that could play Christmas Carols on a wood cutting saw with a violin bow.

So why write this? Since you asked (or thought it) I’ll tell ya.

More and more I read the word FREE on flyers at the airport, those being distributed around town, on the beaches and in hotel lobbies. It normally has an exclamation behind it. Something like this (FREE !) It is as if the exclamation makes if either ‘freer or really honestly free or sends the message of “Pay attention fool – this is FREE. None the less, there it is and – folks – do not believe it for one second – why? – because a rotund lady that played a saw with a violin bow said so.

Nothing is free, yet pretending it is will eventually cause damage to both the consumer and the one giving free stuff away. When that happens, something bigger will suffer – mainly the entire structure that appeals to the tourist. To be a bit more specific: Free stuff is bad for your vacation experience - if not this year then assuredly the next or the one that follows. You see – when something is free, that means it is given to you at no evident cost to you and when that happens the non-evident will show up elsewhere. Trust me on that.

For whatever reason, I get tons of mail directed to me personally. So much of it reads something like this:
“Charles, where can I get the cheapest XXXX and is there anywhere that gives it for free?” My answers are mostly that “XXXX has the lowest rates (that I know of) and that they say it is free.” But I have to stop telling this massive fib. Folks, it just aint right.

When I first returned to Aruba, +/-35 years ago, very little besides a glass of wine, was advertised as ‘Free’. It was a more honest and transparent time I guess. In fact, the hotels even screened the persons going to the ‘Managers cocktail party” to make sure that only the guests took advantage of it. Today, there are lists of FREE booze and snacks printed out for anyone that wants to do the “Managers cocktail party circuit”. Believe it or not, some folks come down with an agenda of how to beat the system by going to managers cocktails and then to restaurants that offer something else for free and even pay for the cab ride. Interesting behavior – right? Yet, the beers we drink and pay for are getting more expensive as is the food in the groceries stores and the taxis and the car rentals and so many other things that just seem to be spiraling out of control – even if some of the other goodies are free. In there somewhere is a message.

Last night a gentleman called me from Toronto at about 8PM and started to ask me some questions. I could not attend to him properly because of a meeting I was in so, I returned his call this morning at about 8AM. He wanted to know about the free incoming calls and lowest rates for rental if I accepted cash. We discussed this for about 20 minutes and I finally had to cut off and suggest he see me in person when down here. He promised me he would. The two of us, combined, probably spent about $25 trying to save .05¢ per minute. He will have to talk for 500 minutes at a rate that does not exist to recoup the telephone time used in his “Deal-seeking”. Something else to think about.

We try to save $5 per day on car rentals and spend untold amounts in questionable rental company claims for damage. Think about it. Somebody is paying for the lower price.

I read a hotel rate for a specific resort on Aruba. It was very low. BUT …. The rate application was only if you checked in on Wednesdays and out on Sunday and was applicable for a maximum of 5 days. So.. the deal was this. Fly in on Wednesday and fly out 11 days later and get a special rate on the first 5 days while the following are at rack rate. Very expensive indeed but AHHH what a deal.

Timeshare presentations are the same thing. It is a gamble or bet at the highest level and the pay-off is trivial. On your side is this…..You give up one hour of your life (normally this turns out to be half a day) and for this you will get $100 value for something somewhere on the island.
On their side is this …. Sell the client for as long as you can and get $35,000 out of him. Want to know what the odds are that you will loose? +/- 20% depending on the resort. That is right! Of all presentations, about 20% become members and end up paying about $35,000. If timeshare was not your original intention, I suggest going to a casino.

So that there is no mistaking, we (our company) also do the same ‘FREE” shuffle. Hate to admit it but it is true. Rent with us and get 84 minutes complimentary. AHEM.. I use complimentary but it is the same thing. Who wins? The customer. How do we recoup? We can’t and will eventually have to consider our position in this business. NO sour grapes but “It is what it is.” And now we are looking at opening an INTERNET location at Paseo Herencia. Let’s see what happens there. I wonder what I will have to give away?

I went to St. Barts some time ago. Nothing is free. Not one single thing. It was a lovely vacation because I was not running around trying to figure out what the best deal was or how to save 5¢ while spending $150 on a shirt that says - “St. Barts”. I understand that Tahiti is the same way. France will laugh you off the streets if you ask for FREE anything. I am not sure the word exists in the French vocabulary.

What happened to the days of asking “How is your service?” Hell, service is free! Takes effort and creates happiness but it is free!

Time to stop this ranting and prepare for the managers cocktail party at DIVI. Before you ask, I do not intend on paying for my rum laden fruit punch.

None of us are angels – I guess.

be well
charles


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2007 4:58 pm 
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Nodding my head in agreement, while I sit and chuckle in my chair...you often have that effect on me. :) :)

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2007 9:20 am 
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Well said Charles!!!!!

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2007 2:24 pm 
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that was great Charles and oh so true. If it sounds too good to be true it usually is........

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2007 4:52 pm 
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This can also apply to discounts.
While 50% off that gold chain sounds like a great buy, it's not the discount you get, but the price you pay in the end that matters.
Mark it up, mark it down. The retailer's folly in my opinion.
But you have to play the game, or the consumer will go for the discount giving absolutely no thought to the price they are paying.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2007 6:05 pm 
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Great, Charles! Have said much the same for years.

And I love the 50% off sales. Off what? Your normal price that is twice what the item is worth down the street? Oh, and don't forget "duty free". I've seen many, many prices in duty free stores that are a good 20% more than at home. Okay, so you pay 8-11% tax at home for the item. You are still saving 9-12%. Have to know your prices.....

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