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Media still not quite getting the whole story of Trump University

Posted by John Reed on

Initially, the media and Trump’s opponents were getting the Trump University story wrong. They were falling for his 98% evaluations story and other spin efforts. Now, they have dug deeper and are getting it right. They still have not figured out the main point: I am not certain but I believe that whole industry is a couple of sleazy Utah companies who are like the anonymous corporations who make house brands for supermarkets.

Turnkey operations wearing house brand fig leafs

For example, in my area near San Francisco, the main supermarket chain is Safeway. They sell Campbell’s soup, but also their own brand—Select I think—of soup and many other products. It is a little cheaper than Campbell’s and a little more profitable than Campbell’s for the supermarket.
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Similarly, the Utah companies provide the various celebrity gurus with a turnkey series of beginner real estate investor seminars: An initial free evening seminar, a three-day paid seminar costing almost always $1,495 or $1,492 or thereabouts, followed by four-day bus tours where they urge you to buy properties which the guru has an ownership interest in or gets a commission for selling you, followed by ever-more expensive “diamond” or “platinum” packages that include seminars and “mentoring.” I think the top ones can cost you $90,000 or so.

Only the celebrity branding varies, not the content or refund policies

The content of the seminars are the same no matter who the celebrity guru is the brand used. The “instructors” are mostly, or fully, commissioned high-pressure salesmen. The purpose of the whole exercise is to part you from as much of the credit limits of your credit cards as possible then discard you.
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They make you sign a contract. Why? Because that prevents you from reversing the credit-card charges when you figure out you’ve been had. They also pressure you to fill out a favorable evaluation on the instructor or program and/or record a verbal evaluation with the person you are evaluating listening in and making sure you know he’s listening in. After getting that A+ evaluation from you when you are still under their spell, they taunt you with it when you later demand your money back and threaten to sue.
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The gurus have nothing to do with the content, instructor selection, refund policies, etc. They just provide branding: their name, picture, video for commercials.
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If you go to a lot of these, you may well see over time the same instructors as Brand A teachers, Brand B teachers, and Brand C teachers, teaching the exact same stuff each time. They move around from one guru to another frequently like Major League Baseball free agents. And the differences in how they teach are about the same as the difference between how a Major League shortstop plays shortstop when he is at the Dodgers, the Bluejays, and the Giants.

In other words, when you attend the games of those three teams over the years, you will see guy X playing shortstop the exact same way he always did at each team. Only his uniform changes. Similarly, if you go to the seminars of three different celebrity real estate investment gurus, you may see the exact same instructor at each one teaching the exact same material the exact same way even though each of the brands claims to be unique and superior to the competitors.
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There is no Trump way or Kiyosaki way or whomever way to teach these beginner get-rich-quick seminars, just the shadowy Utah scam way. The media need to attend some of them under cover, then track the behind-the-scenes operation upstream back to Utah. Then and only then will they have the full story.


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