You know how they say there’s no such thing as a free lunch, well a recent experience proved that the same rule applies for dinner, too.
So I recently enjoyed / endured a dinner prepared by healthy eating experts from a company called Salad Master. The opportunity came about as a friend offered my husband a chance have a healthy eating demonstration where they prepare a meal for you in the comfort of your own home.
Being a boy, he took up the opportunity no questions asked, and even roped in a couple of friends as requested.
He wasn’t told anything about Salad Master, and as the person who came to perform the demo is a distant acquaintance, he assumed it would be a favour for them, and perhaps they’d want a recommendation, positive review, etc.
I actually didn’t mind the idea initially, as hubby and I are about to embark on a bit of a healthy eating adventure in the New Year (more on this to come). So any tips on this topic would be most welcome, plus a free meal didn’t sound that bad. If I was impressed, I would have happily shared the love and blogged about it.
So now I am indeed blogging about the experience, for rather different reasons.
Upon arrival, the real reason for the demo transpired. What could have been a pleasant experience turned into quite an awkward sales pitch that lasted for four hours!
Essentially, Salad Master is a brand of very expensive cookware, which can cook without water, oil, or any type of fat. The cookware is made from surgical grade titanium (or something like that) so essentially, the claim is that there is nothing else like that on the market, and these products really will transform your health and that of future generations.
Salad Master – the catch
And here’s the other thing, the product isn’t available online, unless it’s second hand without guarantees. So the only way of purchasing is through this very full-on dinner party, direct marketing method.
So the sales pitch opened with a rather informative presentation, detailing how many nutrients we wash away from our food, how dangerous a microwave is, etc. There were quite a few scare tactics employed, and a few big health claims thrown in for good measure.
We were then asked to fill out a questionnaire about our food habits, shopping bill, health history etc. And you guessed it, this would of course lead to the epiphany that we NEED Salad Master in our life.
To be honest, as soon as I knew that this was culminating in a deal to sell the cookware, which retails at around £3000 for a beginners’ set, I was put off. This wasn’t quite the fun, informative dinner party I was expecting.
Anyway, out of innate politeness and the awkwardness of having the Salad Master maestros in my home, I listened intently to the presentation.
After about an hour of education, we were then summoned to the kitchen. My naïve hopes of learning a new recipe dwindled, and was replaced by a QVC-style presentation in the comfort of our own home. We were told about the specific benefits of each pan, and shown how washed grated carrot tastes different to unwashed. We were also treated to a demo of how their rather impressive slicer-dicer machine works.
Now a note about the presenter, he was very good, polite, informative and funny at times. But there
was just no escaping the fact that he’s a salesperson with a quite difficult task in hand. After all, we were a tough crowd.
So anyway, after the cooking demo we were served up what was quite a lovely meal and after eating were asked if we’d like a slicer-dicer thingy for free. Of course nobody would say no, but of course, it wasn’t free. To qualify, we’d have to recommend two couples to put through the same ordeal in the next TWO WEEKS. Now even if I’d loved the Salad Master cookware and couldn’t wait to recommend it, it’s nearly Christmas, and the chances of getting hold of people to free up one evening were slim.
But truthfully, I couldn’t think of a single couple who would appreciate what we just went through, and I couldn’t bring myself to put anyone in the same position, not even for a slicer-dicer.
What made things worse was the Salad Master reps (sorry, I have to call them that) were adamant to get us to commit to a date to bring two more couples to our house, even though we insisted we’d need to speak to people first to ascertain their availability. It was clear that getting people signed up in a chain-gang kinda way was a big part of their role.
The big guilt trip
We were given some kind of test to compare my pans, which were well-used, to the brand new shiny pan from Salad Master. Clearly my pans would come out less than favourable. And then of course, came the money shot, quite literally.
We were told how, over time (circa 20 years) the Salad Master cookware would pay for itself. Then we were given the guilt for good measure, about how we cannot put a price on our health and that of our unborn children. Random.
The polite answer was to say we’d think about it. However when this was met with more sales spiel,
I said that I wouldn’t buy anything with such big claims before doing my own research.
This seemed to put paid to the sales spiel and I politely made a cup of tea for the Salad Master reps, who had to go home without a sale.
After the ordeal, a Google search revealed that other people had also gone through the exact routine, washing grated carrot, the pan test, the cancer claims… our evening was like a carbon copy of all Salad Master evenings.
Now it’s not that I’m challenging any of the claims made by Salad Master, it’s more that I was super uncomfortable about having a sales-pitch in my own home, and also felt slightly awkward/guilty about people coming round, cooking, cleaning and then leaving empty handed. I wonder how many of these they need to do before they close a sale.