There’s no such thing as a free lunch

Many of you have seen the fishbowls placed near the cash registers of local businesses urging you to drop in your business card for a monthly or weekly drawing for a free lunch.  Many businesses do this to get you to come back to their restaurant and maybe even spread the word to others. 

EatWisconsin has noticed a proliferation of these free lunch offers that are not set up by the restaurant, but by Ameriprise Financial Services.  I first discovered this when I was invited to lunch at Q Doba from a friend who had dropped his card in and recieved a call from an Ameriprise representative who offered to purchase lunch for my friend and 4 of his friends.  In exchange for the lunch, you had to sit through a 5 minute presentation on Ameriprise’s services and offerings.  You are then asked to fill out a form.  

I was foolish enough to complete the form because I suppose I felt guilty this person just footed the bill for my Chicken Mole Burrito.  For the next couple of months (not days or weeks) I have recieved no fewer than 25 phone calls from the young lady who bought us lunch.  I suppose I could call her and tell her I am not interested or better yet, give her some career advice and tell her that only a sucker would get financial advice from someone who drums up business by purchasing obnoxiously large burritos for clients. However, ignoring her gives me more pleasure.  I am trying to see how long she will harass me before she simply gives up.  So far she has been quite persistent.  I’d hate to be a guy who is trying to blow her off after a bad date.

So my advice would be to avoid dropping your card in any of Ameriprise’s boxes…and check out ths website

However if you want to have some fun and enjoy some free meals, try this:

1. Drop your card in every Ameriprise box you see (so far I have spotted them at no fewer than 7 restaurants in the southeast suburbs of Milwaukee) and encourage your friends to do the same.  It seems that different people set up boxes as different restaurants.  Then make sure you bring as many friends as the offer allows for. 

2. Order the most expensive stuff you can find.  I saw one at a local Sushi place.  Order up a huge platter of Toro or one of those expensive sushi party boats.  If the person sets a limit, make sure you reach that limit.

3. Lie on the forms.  Give a fake address or phone number.  Better yet, give the name and address of the Ameriprise representative that bought you lunch last week.

4. Hire a financial advisor who doesn’t have to drum up business through free lunches…and one who doesn’t charge 300 bucks for their advice on top of their commissions.  It is my understanding that most advisors don’t charge a flat fee for their advice, but take a small commission based on earnings, Ameriprise appears to do both.


9 thoughts on “There’s no such thing as a free lunch

  1. I too have seen these offers, and atteded a lunch, and I must say after reading your column, that what you’re recommending is despicable. They disclose that they will be speaking to the group for a few minutes, and ask for you to fill out the comment card. If you fill it out and express interest in their services you should expect them to call and follow up, like any good professional would. If you politely decline then they should leave you alone. What would you think if you expressed interest and they didn’t follow up? This is obviously an effective way for them to market, or they wouldn’t spend the money, time, effort, and energy doing it, and to suggest people take advantage and then lie on the evaluation forms and run up the bill…well, I guess that tells us all we need to know about the quality of your character.

  2. Hmmmmm…I am not sure if I have pegged the right person, but surprisingly there is a Jason Heinzelmann listed as an Ameriprise Financial Advisor out of a Tampa office. Could this be you? I am guessing yes.

    I have a friend who had some dealings with Ameriprise which could be called nothing short of unscrupulous so I don’t feel so bad about my post. Plus it was meant to be taken with a grain of salt.

  3. I was fooled once at Q BBQ. When the guy called me to tell me I had “won” a free lunch I realized what was going on and told him to buzz off.

  4. Those bastards at Ameriprise think they are hot shit because they are called financial advisors. Why would i want advice from people who live paycheck to paycheck. Some of them don’t even own homes. Any moron with a High School diploma and a pretty face can be a financial advisor (as long as they pass their series 7, 66, life and health).

  5. I can not believe how many rude people their are in the world! I think the free lunch is an awsome way to get out and meet new people, who ever thought of that idea is brillant. Their are many ways to do marketing and if the the free lunch was not working, why do they continue to do it?

  6. I can not believe how many rude people there are in the world! I think the free lunch is an awesome way to get out and meet new people, who ever thought of that idea is brilliant. Their are many ways to do marketing and if the the free lunch was not working, why do they continue to do it?

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