Preface: I am not a member of the Minneapolis branch of Events and Adventures, have never attended an event and cannot comment on the actual value of the club or its members. Under normal circumstances I would not post things like this, but after being left with such an insulting and sour taste in my mouth, I felt I had to write about the sales tactics used to recruit new members. Although I have not found bad reviews about the Minneapolis branch, I have read several bad reviews about other Events and Adventures franchises, so I encourage members of the Minneapolis branch of Events and Adventures to comment about their experience with the club below.
If you live in Minneapolis and listen to the radio, odds are you’ve heard about Events and Adventures. They claim to be the Twin Cities premier network for singles. Being single and not having much luck with the internet scene, I decide to give them a call. One of the first things I ask about is membership fees. I am told Events and Adventures can’t discuss membership fees over the phone (red flag number one). I make an appointment for an in-person interview for the next day.
When I arrived at my appointment, Events and Adventures explained that they are a very selective club for people looking to meet “high quality” singles. We talked about goals, a bit about past relationships, and what hasn’t been working with my current dating strategies. I learned that standard membership is about $2000 for one year, plus an additional $30 per month. So in total, the cost is approximately $2360. But wait! That’s not all, Bob. If I order today and pay in full, they’ll reduce my membership fees by $300 AND give me 2 months of membership dues free! So, my total cost is now only $2000…. wait… only $2000. That’s a lot of money.
Despite the high cost, I actually did sign up. I was told I was getting special privileges by having three days to cancel. What wasn’t made readily apparent was the fact that EVERYONE gets this. Written into the contract is a three-day cancellation period, which also happens to be a MN state law. This isn’t necessarily shady, but it should have been brought up more accurately in the meeting.
After I got home, I started to crunch the numbers. In the meeting, it was explained to me that membership dues cover the cost of ensuring quality members and a portion of the event costs. Additional cost is determined per event. There are 1,500 members paying about $166 a month each, for a grand total of $250,000 a month — that is $3 MILLION per year. What kind of events are they hosting with that budget?
Looking at the calendar for July, the majority of the events are outdoor games such as softball, kickball, hiking, BBQ, canoeing, tubing, etc… All very fun activities, but virtually free. There are a few exceptions on the calendar, like a cruise on St. Croix and Tandam Skydiving for an additional cost (see below), but the vast majority of the events are very inexpensive. To their credit, winter events may be more expensive to host, especially if an indoor venue needs to be rented. But again, if they are making $250,000 a month, this shouldn’t be an issue. I expect more from my dues than softball games.
As for the events with an additional charge? A “gourmet” dinner would cost me about $25. Sky diving around $150. Having been sky diving before, I can tell you that they’re only covering about $50 of the cost. What are the membership dues actually going towards? Certainly not the events.
However, my biggest complaint is the 12-month required membership. There are many problems with having such a long membership period. If I meet someone through Events and Adventures and we get married, great, money well spent. But if I meet someone, stop attending events, and then we break up after my year membership is over, I would feel like I wasted a lot of money.
When I had brought this up during my meeting, it was explained to me that you can still come to the events as long as you are not married (another red flag). So wait a minute… I’m in a singles club, and there will be members who are in COMMITTED RELATIONSHIPS? I’m paying $2000 and yet still have to question the availability of the women in the club.
I decided to go back in to see if Events and Adventures could accommodate a shorter contract. They offered to make some phone calls while I was there to see if that was a possibility. I told the rep that even if she could accommodate that, I would still need to think about it. This didn’t sit well and she made some comment about doing “all that work,” trying to get me “special privileges” and I still wouldn’t sign up? Her demeanor had quickly turned from sweet to passive-aggressive.
After I decided to cancel, she made a comment such as “So it really comes down to the money, right?” I told her that I don’t want to spend $2000 for a year subscription on something I haven’t heard anything real great about, never experienced, and could possible be just a waste. I also mentioned that I was starting a small business and this probably isn’t the best place for me to put $2000 at the moment. She replied snidely, “So, really, you just can’t afford it?”
Its not about what I can afford, it’s whether or not I see value in what I’m buying. She would have been much better off just letting me turn in my notice, telling me she was sorry to see me go and that it’s really a great club. But instead, she turned it into another high pressure sale (buy today! buy now!), and topped it off with an insult. I know lots of “quality” singles who couldn’t afford a $2000 membership, and I know lots of wealthy jerks. Being able to afford their pricey membership in no way indicates if someone has a character of “high quality.”
If I spent that amount of money buying drinks for women at the bar — that’d be a drink for 5 different women every Saturday night for one year — odds are I’d find a “high quality” woman and have as “high quality” of a relationship.
As I said at the beginning, I could be completely wrong on my impression of the value of the club. It could be the greatest thing since sliced bread. What could Events and Adventures do to change my mind?
- Offer shorter memberships. If the club really is so great, people would continue to go month after month because it is a great value and experience. If people ended memberships because they found the man or woman of their dreams, success! Success breeds success. A major component of eHarmony’s success is showing REAL PEOPLE finding REAL LOVE. Last I checked they have 90 members married a day. You can’t argue with that type of success.
- Reduce membership dues. As I noted above, with the exception of a few, the events themselves don’t seem that spectacular, and it’s disappointing that the really exciting ones still cost a significant amount of money. Reducing membership dues would also attract more people (1,500 singles spread between men and women really is not that many), since I know a lot of quality men and women who simply could not afford this.
**Update 3/11/2010: Not that it wasn’t incredibly obvious by the tone of her post, but the director of sales for Events and Adventures was kind of enough to grace us with her thoughts on the folks who didn’t enjoy the club and found their sales practices misleading and abusive. Better luck next time E&A. If you would like references to quality online marketing and social media consultants to help handle E&A’s tarnished online presence, feel free to contact me.