No such thing as a 90% discount deal

ANYBODY who has been involved in investment should be aware of the adage "there's no such thing as a free lunch" and "if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is".

A friend I'll call Carol received an offer which entitled her to 90% discount on accommodation in the one of Australia's prime beachfront resorts. The offer purported to be "a marketing promotion": the bargain price was to enable prospective customers to sample the delights the resort had to offer.

The fine print did include a requirement that the couple attend a 90-minute presentation on the benefits of the resort, but Carol figured that wouldn't be too much of a burden.

When they turned up, they found a large room containing a number of tables with a salesman sitting at each table. They were also handed a two-page form to complete and sign. The second page included a statement that the participants confirmed they had received a financial services guide and, at the end of the presentation, would receive a statement of advice and a product disclosure statement

There was also a clause where the participant agreed that they would pay full price for the accommodation if they didn't buy whatever was being sold.

Carol tells me she got to her feet and launched a tirade of abuse at the organisers for wasting everybody's time, and engaging in misleading and deceptive conduct. She and her husband then stormed out.

Apart from the obvious lesson here, it is also important to keep in mind that the best investments are those that you seek out yourself after detailed research, and not ones that are pushed on you at a presentation.

Noel Whittaker is the author of Making Money Made Simple and numerous other books on personal finance. His advice is general in nature and readers should seek their own professional advice before making any financial decisions.