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When an American company came to Canada to teach real estate investing – Doris’ rant

Dear American company,American flag

I’ve never actually gone public with a rant before. They’re usually reserved for close friends with whom I feel very comfortable, but for you I’m going to make a one-time exception and put this out there beyond my inner circle because you have caused quite a stir with me and my friend Sandra. As a result, we have a message for our fellow Canadians.

We’re not sure how you got our names, but somehow your advertisement for your real estate workshop landed in our inboxes. It was a good looking ad full of enticing promises, one of those being a free lunch. You were offering a girl’s night out (except that ours was a lunch time slot – but no biggie) complete with education from experienced people about how to make money in real estate.

This would offer fun, substantive information. Good learning, good times – who can resist that?

Yes, we already invest in real estate and we’ve been doing it for years, but you can always learn more right?

I swear to God that not even two minutes passed after we hit the Register Button before one of “your people” called us. When the phone rang, Sandra joked, “I bet that’s them. Wouldn’t that be funny?”

Well by heavens it was you. You wanted to confirm that we would be attending the event. I’m no genius but hadn’t we just hit the Register Button? Maybe you thought we had done so by accident, except that we had to fill out a bunch of information about ourselves as part of the registration process, so that would have been some accident. But anyway, you’re probably a super cautious bunch.

Yes, we will attend. Yes, we are aware of the location. And the time that it all starts. Yes, uh huh, the information we provided was accurate.

You kept going on and on. Sandra finally had to politely but firmly say, “Look we’re going to be there and we look forward to it. Thank you, good bye.”

We laughed. Wow, this must be the American way.

Then you emailed and called and emailed. Just exactly what did you need to check up on now? Yes, we were still coming though we started to have doubts since you were calling us so often. What is the deal with that? In your initial ad you didn’t mention that you would pester us endlessly until the day of, at which point guess what? You got it, you called again. Oh. My. God. Are you kidding?

You know, our spidey sense was going off like crazy at that point but we’re committed types. When we say we’re going to do something we go through with it. And Lord knows we had told you a million times that we were coming, so off we went.

When we got to the conference room we were greeted by a woman at a registration table where four things of note happened.

Puff piece

First, we were given a snazzy folder with what must clearly be a lot of important information for us. I glanced through eagerly. Beyond the usual blah-blah-blah about how many people love you and how great you are, there was a sheet that said, “Today’s Agenda”. Imagine my excitement when I thought we were finally getting down to brass tacks.

Now if someone tells you they’re giving you an agenda for a workshop, what might you expect to find on that sheet? An itemized list perhaps? Some of the topics to be covered? Something along those lines? Well, I guess that’s not your style because what we found was a pink, puff piece that started with “Dear Guest” and reached incredible heights of clarity with “Your event today will cover a lot of ground relating to helping women create a (sic) more abundance in their personal and financial lives. Please just sit back and relax as your speaker shares unique real-life insights…. We think you’ll be amazed….”

Oh we were amazed all right. How much more vacuous and pointless could your so-called agenda be? It was pink and pretty and utterly devoid of any real information. I’m just saying that right out of the gate your message was a touch problematic.

Is it that women are such intellectually delicate creatures that you can’t possibly itemize the important information you’re going to share for fear of short-circuiting our brains? Or is it that you do not wish to disclose specifically what you’re going to cover because you think we might bail?

Not an impressive start.

No soup for you

Second, we were told that lunch would be served at 1:45. Seriously? Even restaurants with really crappy service manage to do it faster than that. Maybe we’re anal northerners but do you really think it’s cool to have women show up at noon after working for a full morning and then not even give them a crumb to eat for one hour and forty five minutes while you try to teach them something?

Have you ever heard of breakfast programs? They exist because kids can’t learn on an empty stomach. Well guess what? Neither can adults. I don’t care if you’re giving me the frigging keys to the universe; if my stomach is screaming for attention I will retain squat of what you tell me.

Plus wasn’t this billed as a girl’s night out? Do you seriously keep your girlfriends waiting for a drink and a few appies for one hour and forty five minutes after they show up to your place? “Hey, I’ve poured you a glass of wine but you’re only getting it later. And don’t touch the brie until you get your drink.” Yeah, super popular. Several ladies in line were so impressed that they walked away.

Objects in the mirror appear shorter than they really are

Which brings me to the third thing of note that happened at the registration desk: we were told that it would be a three hour presentation. What?! Where in your ads did it say that? Most of us were under the impression this would be an hour and a half jobbie. If you’re going to ask people to park their backsides in your chairs for three hours in the middle of a business day, don’t you think you should disclose that?

Out of curiosity, did you notice how many more women turned on their heels and headed off?

Sandra and I figured that we’d sit through the first bit to see if there really was anything of value and if so, we’d hang in for the whole thing. Troopers, no?

Jimmy-the-Bouncer

But what really sealed the deal was the fourth thing of note: The poor lady at the registration desk, who by this point was looking more than a little sheepish if truth be told, handed us – wait for it – another form to fill out.

Jeez Louise you’re fond of repetitive forms. I guess you must not have received the first full information form that we filled out online as part of the registration telling you who we are, where we live and so on. Really? You know, the only people in Canada who have us repeat our personal information more often than you do is the Canada Revenue Agency. And we’re not super fond of them either.

At this point Sandra and I needed a cup of coffee. We figured we’d fill out your damn form once we had a chance to sit down, grab a drink and unload our jackets. But here’s the funny thing: When we got to the door of the conference room, Jimmy-the-Bouncer stepped in our way. “Sorry ladies, you can’t come in until you fill in the form.” But we just want to sit down, we protested. We would fill it out as soon as we sat down. No can-do said Jimmy. He actually blocked our path in.

What the hell was so important about the form that couldn’t wait until we had our butts in a chair? Were we signing away the rights to our children?

I glanced. Oho, you wanted to know how much money we have to invest and you very kindly broke down the amounts into pre-set ranges so that we could just check it off. I noticed that you didn’t have a range for “I’m broke and just want to learn how to invest so that I can improve my financial future”. Would Jimmy have let us in if that question remained unanswered I wonder?

No time to dwell on that though because the very next bit was the pièce de résistance (that’s French, by the way; our country requires the use of both official languages in everything we write): What was the source of our investment funds – 401k, etc?

Stop, hold the press, I have a revelation for you: we do not have 401k’s in Canada. The 401 is a major highway, not an investment vehicle. Here we have RRSPs and true to our practical Canadian selves, the letters are an acronym for something that is pretty transparent.

Which all makes me wonder which of the following scenarios is true for you:

  1. You did not have a clue that we do not have 401k’s in this country because you did not do your (pretty basic) homework; or
  2. You couldn’t be bothered to prepare Canadian-relevant content for your presentations north of the border. Not worth the effort was it?

Forgive me for repeating myself but Oh. My. God. Are you kidding me? You know we have Staples here right? Same thing as your version only cheaper because once again your dollar is kicking the Canadian loonie’s butt.

What would you have paid to create a new form that had accurate information for the Canadian market? Five cents a copy? Shouldn’t break the bank for someone who is uber-successful in real estate investing as your promotional materials suggest.

You know, before you start to wonder what happened to those supposedly polite Canadians, I want to point out that we are mostly a very polite bunch (inasmuch as I or anyone can speak for an entire country) but we DO get awfully pissed off when people waste our time, take a patronizing approach and can’t be bothered to prepare materials that are made for our market.

Here are a few things we do like: full disclosure, honesty, food and chairs. Not really such a daunting list. If your service is so blow-me-down impressive, then tell us exactly what it is you’re doing and exactly what you expect from us. Don’t try to lure us in with empty promises, pink crap and mindless rubbish.

It’s too bad I didn’t get my hands on a feedback form before we high-tailed it out of there when Jimmy refused us entry. If I had, I would have borrowed from my ten-year-old and given you an Epic Fail. You just gave a master class on how not to run an event.

Canadian FlagHere’s my message to my fellow Canadians: Learn about investing in real estate in Canada from Canadian experts. There are heaps of them. I can think of several really good Canadian educational companies, experts and groups without straining too many brain cells. These people actually own property in Canada, they know the market, they understand our processes and they have proper documentation to pull it off. I’m sure there are some really great American companies who do it well too, but you know what Canadians? There’s gold in the form of experience in your own back yard.

And my message to you, dear American company, is this: Go home and don’t come back until you have more respect for your potential Canadian clientele and material that is designed for the Canadian market. Better yet, when you do come back please do so as a tourist. We will all have much more fun that way.

Yours most sincerely,

Doris

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8 Responses

  1. Oh indeed. How many of my clients ask me about investing in the U.S. I have to hit them over the head with reality. Just really hate the ones where they charge for something on top of it all! I agree Doris, speak to a CANADIAN investor with loads of REAL experience!

    1. Sadly Gail, they have continued to bug Sandra with further emails about “upcoming events” after saying “sorry you couldn’t join us”. I hope Sandra forwards my post to them.

  2. Doris, you can rant anytime! That was great. There is nothing that irk’s me more than someone wasting my time! That company has “shady” written all over it. If I go to a conference in the US I expect it to have US content, but Canada, yeah, step up to the plate and recognize your audience. Thanks for sharing, as awful as your experience was, you write a great rant!!

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