[B][SIZE=3]The stick behind the dangling carrot[/SIZE][/B]

January 28, 2015

More than 52,000 turned up for the four-day Singapore Motorshow last week. It was not surprising given Singapore’s car-worshipping culture.

Be the first to see the latest car models[/B]

Two weeks ago I received an email invitation from my car manufacturer. The marketing message read like this:

[I](Car company) invites you to the Singapore Motorshow from 16 to 18 January. Be the first to discover the most exciting cars of 2015 … This event is for you and one guest.[/I]

I told hubby about this and he immediately asked me to get two free tickets. However, when I logged into the system, I got a pop-up screen that said:
“We regret to inform you that your event access privileges are restricted.

If you wish to attend our exclusive events, please click here to learn more about event access.”[/I]

So I clicked to find out more.

[I]“Simply fulfil any one of the conditions below to have 2 more years added to your remaining events-access term.

1. Purchase a 4-year Servicing Package from (car brand) Aftersales Centre during your Membership term.
2. Refer a friend through the (car brand) Refer-a-Friend Program during your membership term.
3. Purchase a new or used (car brand) car from Premium Automobiles.”[/I]

My two-year-old car is still under the 3-year warranty. I don’t need a $2,400 4-year servicing package. So the first option is out.

Next, isn’t it odd to ask a friend to buy a new car when the COE price is still sky-high just to get two free motorshow tickets?

The third option is also out of the question because it requires me to trade-in my two-year-old car when their entry-level model costs $150,000 even after discount at the motorshow.

We found later that a motorshow ticket costs only $6.

I was amused. Why would anyone spend $2,400 or $150,000 just to get a $12 freebie? And frankly, I would be more convinced listening to a car sales pitch from a six-pack male model rather than a skimpily-clad girl slurring some motor jargons she just learned.

[B]Discounted 5-star hotel stays on every vacation[/B]

It reminds me an incident that happened a few years ago.

We were shopping at Orchard when a lady approached us for a lucky draw. We won a 2-night stay in a 5-star hotel. We only had to go up to their office in the opposite building to listen to a 30-minute briefing before we claimed our prize. With shopping bags and tired legs, her suggestion was really tempting.

While I was hesitating, hubby hurriedly dragged me away.

“If you want to stay in any 5-star hotel, just tell me and I will book it. Why waste time going to a stranger’s office to listen to a sales talk?”

Later someone told me that this was actually the marketing gimmick of time sharing companies or holiday clubs. You have to pay at least $10,000 for a package to enjoy discounted hotel stays. On top of that, every year you need to pay an administrative fee. However, you have limited choices of hotels at a few destinations. In a way you are simply helping to lower the vacancy rate of the hotel chain. And hefty cancellation fees and transfer fees apply if you decide to get rid of it one day.

Yes, we do have to go on holidays. But we want to have the right to choose when, where and how we pay for it.

[B]Free weekend getaway at luxury beach resort[/B]

Last year, I received an email invitation from a PR company representing an overseas property developer, with the tagline as follows:

[I]“I am pleased to offer you a VIP invitation for an all-expenses paid blogger trip to explain the property financial investment product and to enjoy the benefits of the club with your own eyes.”[/I]

Flight, hotel transfer, accommodation and meals were all paid for. On top of that, there was an attractive party at the beach. The 2-day trip included a presentation on their buy-to-let investment and a visit to the beach hotel construction site.

There is no free lunch in this world, let alone free weekend getaway.

How to keep my neutrality when I come back from the trip and am obliged to write a long blog post about the ‘wonderful investment opportunity’ in a beach resort? What will my blog readers and club members think of me?

Yes, I need a tropical island weekend getaway badly. But I would rather go with hubby and the kids. It is also all-expenses paid for by hubby. Except that I am not obliged to come back and write a blog post about it. I don’t even have to mention my ‘by default sponsor’.

[B]Completed but unsold units at a discount[/B]

Similarly, many buyers who bought a brand new condo unit at a new launch in recent years were attracted by the dangling carrots from developers. It could be the renovation, furnishing or travel vouchers. Recently, there are more ‘practical’ carrots like cash rebate, rental guarantee, ABSD absorption, or even $30K bare unit discount.

With the carrot comes the stick. These buyers are now facing the pitfalls of buying during the peak of the property market. They are being targeted by the government’s cooling measures, namely borrowing restrictions and buyer/seller stamp duties. They are also left to tackle market oversupply, falling prices, softening rental market, high vacancy, interest rate hike, etc.

The newly-released URA 4th Quarter 2014 real estate figures show that there are 24,062 vacant completed private residential units and 68,960 units in the supply pipeline.

My car manufacturer just sent me an invitation to their exclusive events in February. If I fulfil one of the three conditions, I can be invited to a movie night before Valentine’s Day. Wow, Fifty Shades of Grey, anyone?