KNOXVILLE (WATE) - You may have attended a demonstration seminar in the past. They're popular at this time of the year.
A bride to be, her fiance, and parents visited one last month in Knoxville, but something didn't seem right about the free vacation offer or the presenter.
You have to be alert at these seminars.
If all you had to do was sit through a demonstration for 90 minutes, would you turn down a free mini-vacation? Probably not.
There are a lot of demonstration seminars in our area; there is nothing wrong with them.
However, you have to be alert to high pressure sales tactics and to the freebies that are handed out just for attending.
Lincoln Memorial University student Kelsey Fisher is getting married in June. Like many young people, the bride-to-be and her fiance don't have a lot of discretionary money to spend on a honeymoon.
When they received a free vacation offer to attend a seminar, they were intrigued at first.
"Inside in the envelope, 'Congratulations, you won a three day, two night vacation,'" Fisher said with a hint of sarcasm.
Fisher had invited her mother and father to accompany her and her fiance to a demonstration seminar at a hotel in Knoxville to potentially buy some high end culinary products.
Fisher liked the products, but says she and her fiance couldn't afford the first package shown to them.
"Then Brandon, he could see we weren't going to buy the cookware. He was like, 'Hold on, we'll work with you, you know.'"
"Brandon" is Brandon Millichamp, an authorized dealer for Townecraft. Fisher says he showed her a less expensive group of cookware and sweetened the deal with a better vacation offer
"They said that if we bought their package tonight, then we would receive an extended vacation, all exclusive, anywhere out of the United States, wherever we wanted to go," Fisher said.
However, documentation about the vacation presented to the couple didn't match what the salesman was promising. Fisher's parents alertly caught the problem.
"So he sets us down at a table and he presents the travel vouchers to us. So he presents them like this and he covers over the expiration date. But the five day, four night all inclusive, the one that really sinks you in to buying the pots and pans, was expired," explained Cheryl Fisher.
Marvin Fisher says it was when they pressed the salesman about the expired vacation date that he confessed.
"'This is not a correct voucher, but go ahead, if you make your purchase tonight, I will mail you the correct voucher.' He wanted us to take him at his word," said Marvin Fisher.
Suspicious of the potential deal, Kelsey Fisher, her fiance and parents walked out.
On several blog sites, there is lots of information about the salesman, Brandon Millichamp.
"There are multiple claims of scams on him, mentioning his name in particular. Everywhere from here to Florida of young couples who purchase cookware but did not receive their vacation," said Cheryl Fisher.
6 On Your Side contacted Odenza Vacations, a Canadian company that provides vacation packages. We were told by the company's manager that Millichamp bought a large number of certificates from them last spring, but paid for only half of them. They also said many have expired by now.
We also contacted Townecraft. Millichamp told Townecraft he didn't realize the vacation certificates had expired, but Townecraft said he plans to reorder new ones.
We tried to reach Millichamp for several days. Late Wednesday he called saying he had not paid attention to the expiration dates on the vacation certificates, but he's going to get them renewed.
Odenza told 6 On Your Side he won't be getting the certificates from them.
Meanwhile, Kelsey Fisher had some advice for other young couples who may consider going to one of these presentations: "Keep your eyes open and look for any little detail that could hint otherwise, if he is not good on his word."
If you go to one of these seminars, before you sign anything, make sure you read and understand the fine print.