Yesterday, I was contacted by my gym with an enticing offer on my renewal: “Same as last year, with 2 months free!!!, or, "Choose a fab FREE trip offer for a weekend -- yours, for only 185 euro more!!!”
What a deal. Almost too good to be true. It was.
Anyone who has lived in Italy long enough knows they need to park their American-style FREE offer mentality right at the front door. America, with its gross “all-you-can-eat buffets”, if tried in Europe, would have been bankrupt right after that very first Thanksgiving dinner. In Italy, don’t even THINK about going up to the buffet table twice, and, try piling it on, you’re charged more in the end. Even McDonalds charges extra for the ketchup.
In Italy, your Frequent Flyer mileage card is yours, for only 150 euro per year! Every month you receive an update of services on your CartaViaggio by Italy’s illustrious TrenItalia, the company that has singlehandedly taken price gauging to new heights; except the listing includes all the new services you no longer will be receiving, along with a price increases of the most basic ones. They even tried getting us to clean up the cars for them; that didn’t fly, so pretty soon we’ll soon be charged for cleaning service alà RyanAir…
Collect points at your Grocery store or Gas Station? You can get your free toaster or CD player by submitting 10,489 of them (the equivalent of 2800 euro in expenses), and then claim your gift for another 129 euro – free! Every Christmas, I present myself at the GS store to get a truly free gift, only to find they’re ‘sold out’, try back tomorrow. Too bad the points expire at year end. I’ve yet to get as much as a mere frying pan out of GS.
After all, this is the country that has duped 40 million workers into believing they actually get an extra paycheck each August holiday and Christmas. In a purely 3-card monty card game, they have merely taken your annual pay and divided it by 14 months. For a country based on mistrust of every institution, there isn’t an Italian in Italy who believes this last statement to be true. Don’t ask me why.
As for my Wellness Town offer? The two months are NOT free – you just don’t pay for 2 months straight away, and then pay an added amount each month for the remaining 10 months. Saying, 'no thanks' to the “free” trip, I received another call later:
“We have a new offer to make you. If you renew now, you’ll receive a free trip along with your membership.” Is it a case of severe Cognitive Dissonance, or, simply hoping you have early onset Alzheimers???