This archaic, unenlightened approach to life was blown away with this one short phone call. With this divine telephonic outreach, I realized that there truly is good in the world and when someone says you've been selected to win a $500 shopping spree and a 3-day/2-night vacation at one of many destinations around the globe, just for inviting someone in your house for an easy product demo and survey, you'd be a chump to not take advantage of this naive person.
Apparently I'd answered a few "survey" questions a few weeks prior and had been entered into a completely legit "drawing" and won these fantastic prizes. What were the survey questions about you ask? They were hard-hitting and extremely valuable ones relating to my age, sex, and marital status. And something about my preference regarding "Boxers vs. Briefs."
Because of my esteemed cooperation, I'd won. I was a winner. I hadn't won something this major since dominating a game of musical chairs and winning a lemon meringue pie back in '85 (Beth, if you're out there somewhere, I'd just like to apologize one more time for totally accidentally clothes-lining you in the neck with my boney arm, stepping on your femur (twice), and using your crumpling body as a prop to keep me from falling as I blew past you to the last remaining chair. I sincerely hope everything has healed properly).
Still, being a skeptic, I had to do my diligence to make sure this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity was completely legitimate. So, I turned the tables and played the role of market researcher. Behold me unveil the facts like a seasoned CIA interrogator.
Me: "I don't have to buy anything?"
Very Pleasant But Suspiciously Vague Woman: "No. All you need to do to claim your prize is participate in a product demo and answer some survey questions at the end."
Me: "Well, that sounds good. What's the product?"
VPBSVW: "It's a new high-end vacuum."
Me: "Interesting. Are you guys going to try to sell me a vacuum?"
VPBSVW: "Getting you to answer the survey questions about the product is my guy's primary concern."
Me: "Are you sure you're not going to try to sell me a vacuum?"
VPBSVW: "The product will be available for purchase, if you like it."
Me: "This is market research though right?"VPBSVW: "Mm hmm."
Me: "And this is not a sales call?"
Me: "Wait, yes it's not a sales call or yes it is a sales call?"
Me: "Can you be more specific."
VPBSVW: "No. My legal team will not let me."
Me: "But I still win a $500 shopping spree without buying anything right?
Me: "$500 U.S., right?"
VPBSVW: "Yes! And don't forget the 3 day/2 night trip also!"
It's clear to me at this point that I better act fast before this idiot company goes bankrupt. I confirm a 45 minute in-home product demo for later that afternoon and hang up the phone.
Me: "Heh, suckers!"
A gentleman named Mike showed up that afternoon and, after buttering us up with small talk that would embarrass a politician, launched right into his demo. He pulled out what can best be described as a fat, blue robot. "This," said Mike "is the Blue Thunder!" That's obviously not the real name of the product. No one would name their product something that silly. I changed the name for this article to protect myself and the Blue Max vacuum company from any liability.
Mike, if that's his real name, went on to dazzle us on all 734 uses of the Blue Thunder (air freshener, leaf blower, day laborer, infant babysitter, etc.) - none of which entailed actual dirt removal. If that wasn't enough to elicit fresh drool, he started vacuuming our rug. This is where Mike blew his cover.
Apparently the purpose of Mike's visit wasn't to do a product demonstration. The real reason it seems was on behalf of the National Clean As A Hospital Home Public Safety Administration (NCAAHHPSA) to deliver the message that my house was filthier than a public handrail and that it was a miracle that my wife and I had not yet died from some dirt-borne illness. He demonstrated this through the use of vacuum filters, which he courteously laid out on our coffee table for us to look at in horror. It took the Blue Thunder a dozen filters to make our rug look brand new again. It took my wife a dozen martinis to keep from going into shock.
To our defense, the Blue Thunder is a modern marvel and cleaned well beyond surface dirt. It found particles of dirt which I'm pretty sure weren't left by us. It appeared that the last few filters held old ancient Anasazi toe jam left at the site of my house some time shortly before Hugh Hefner was born. This is the raw power of this little blue drum of steel.
Believe it or not though, the supernatural cleaning power of the Blue Thunder was not the real shocker. Mike spent the next 15 minutes preparing us for the retail value of his product. You know the drill, he began quoting prices of comparable products such as Gulf Stream IV's and mega-yachts (Blue Thunder is both capable of flying and cruising the high seas). Mike finally revealed the price silently via paper. This vacuum was roughly the cost of a new home. Okay, I'm exaggerating a bit. It was roughly the cost of a used home. In the distance I could hear my bank account shriek before closing shop faster than a sphincter at the proctologist.
Although this was technically still a product demonstration for the purpose of market research, Mike spent the next 45 minutes trying to get us to buy one. He even went as far as to cut the price in half after we employed the hardball negotiation tactic of, "we don't have that kind of money." Even after the "discount" my wife and I would have rather taken on ownership of the national debt than commit financial suicide by making this purchase.
As for the prizes, Mike was seemingly legally obligated to hand us the certificates on his way out. Upon scrutiny, the $500 shopping spree was for esteemed products (such as an inflatable patio table) worth no more than $0.47 and a buyer-covered shipping cost per item of on average $10. So essentially, in order to claim $500 worth of products, I'd have to spend $750 in shipping for items that were worth in aggregate $20. The trip prize was okay. It boiled down to two free nights at a hotel - we're still unsure whether that requires our presence at a timeshare meeting.
With the price of the Blue Thunder, one sold vacuum alone could cover roughly (let's see, move the decimal over, carry the one, forget the remainder) . . . 347 trips and a number too large to actually fit within this post of shopping sprees of "quality" products. So continuing the mathematical problem solving above, with four sales at retail price, the Blue Thunder vacuum company would make the gross earnings of the entire Fortune 100 combined look like those of an 8 year-old's lemonade stand in the middle of winter.
The moral of the story, besides me having the marketing savvy of a macaroon? Don't do market research, it will just end up crushing your false sense of cleanliness and dig up ghosts of your past - literally. Besides, my wife is pressuring me to buy this amazing product and once we do, I won't have enough money to cover the shipping on the amazing ultra-utility Flashlight/Compass/Water Pick/HD Sunglasses product. At least I'll have someone to throw the Frisbee for my dog while I'm at work. Let's see if I can get a Blue Max for less than the GDP of the Dominican Republic.