Wasn’t going to be a mug with salesman bearing gifts

THIS story has nothing to do with money.

Well maybe it does, in a round­about way. It’s probably more about keeping your money in your pocket and watching out for two-legged sharks.

Some time ago, I did a survey about wine. I don’t remember where — it could have been in a shopping centre or it could have come via email.

I was told that after completing the survey I would receive a set of coffee mugs as a thank-you gift.

Not expecting to ever receive them, I paid no attention to the details about when they would arrive.

How sad is it that we all just seem to assume that sales people make promises that will never be kept?

If I’d stopped to think about it, I’m sure I would have wondered why a wine company would be

giving away coffee cups.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I received a phone call from a chap in Wagga who told me that he had my coffee cups and would like to deliver them personally.

I was surprised, but then he went on to say that he would also like to give our household a “personal wine tasting on behalf of the company”.

“Aha” I thought – “there’s the catch!” But I agreed and set up an evening appointment for the following week. When I got off the phone I realised that he’d spoken so fast that I didn’t know what the name of the company was.

The appointment arrived and so did the salesman. He presented the coffee cups and then set up an array of bottles from around the world for us to sample the wines.

I didn’t like the wine from Chile but he explained that was because it was a cheap wine and that I “obviously had a more expensive palate”. Uh huh!

After a few “samples” I asked what the name of the company was. He said that it was Wine International something or other.

The last word starting with V had as many letters as the alphabet and nobody in the company could pronounce it. Uh huh!

I wondered (aloud) if there was a brochure that I could look at.

With a loud guffaw, he explained the company didn’t have any and that “he was the brochure”. Uh huh!

His ramblings were beginning to confuse me, or maybe it was the wine muddling my senses. I asked for a price list. He produced an A4 sheet with the words “red wine program” at the top, the prices and some flags printed across the bottom. Uh huh!

So, here’s the deal — we order the wine from him and he makes sure it’s delivered within a week.

He’d be back in a month or so, when he had some new wine, then order again.

I was intrigued. He’d shown us nothing to prove he was from a reputable company (or any company for that matter) and he wanted me to hand over my money for an order of at least six bottles of wine. And, the cheapest bottle of red wine was $21.99.

My last attempt for a show of credibility was to suggest we swap business cards.

Red-faced, he said he’d run out and was “getting some more printed” but in the meantime I could “have this one”.

It was a plain card, with his name, phone number, and the words “wine tasting and advice” on it.

He’d made it himself. Uh huh!

In his haste to leave I noticed that he had some cheques from other people he’d visited that day.

I’m wondering if they ever received the wine they ordered.