.An excerpt from my novel 'Cruise Quarters'

An excerpt from my novel 'Cruise Quarters'

When people sat down at Sarah Seldon’s blackjack game, they always wanted to talk about The Book. “Should I double down? Should I hit? Dealer, I know you’re a gambler; you could let me win if you wanted to. What does the book say?” She had never read this book, this mythical Bible for gamblers. The truth is there are 2256 books, each teaching its own foolproof winning system. But Sarah had been in the casino business long enough to think with a gambler’s mind. Gamblers knew they could follow all the rules of basic strategy, utilize money management and still lose if they weren’t dealt the right cards. The allure and curse of gambling was that there were no sure things. In the end it all came down to luck; gamblers prayed that Lady Luck would show up and that she would stick around for awhile.

Friday, November 6, 2015


            I consider myself a pretty smart cookie. My mortgage is fixed rate, I pay off my credit cards every month, I even employ the 24 hour rule, I was certainly not one of those people, not the kind of person who gets ripped off by a scam - especially an internet scam. But I do love a bargain and maybe a free sample or two. I am also an avid reader and one day while I after I had ordered a book from Amazon a message popped up on my screen. Take this short customer satisfaction survey and win the prize of your choice. I had my doubts but hey this was Amazon. So I filled out the survey and at the end a list of free prizes appeared.The survey was also filled with many false reviews praising their free gifts.
            I am not sure what else was on offer except there was skin serum, and I am a sucker for serums and moisturizing lotions. I won’t give you the name of the company, because there are so many of them but I will give you a hint. They have no skin in the game and everything they say is false, not true. I am always looking for the magic cure the skin smoother that will restore me to my twenty year old self. It wasn’t just serum it was a full sized bottle and it was valued at $98. I was a bit leery but I get free samples all the time, Kiehls, Clinique and all the reputable companies give out samples.
            “Look honey” I said to my husband. That’s a pretty good deal, $98.”
            “Don’t do it I don’t know how but they are going to get you.”
            “Nonsense this survey was on Amazon. They don’t even want shipping and handling fees, just $1.99 for expedited shipping.” And that was how they got me. Once they had that credit card number they took it and ran all the way to my bank.
            I received my serum, and went on vacation traveling the North West. Well, one Sunday morning my husband is checking our credit card charges for the trip and up popped not one but two charges for $98. That is because once you are in their system they send you new bottles of serum every month and charge you; yes you guessed it $98.
            “Give me the phone.” I screamed And then it began. I got on the line with an operator from the company.
            “I’m sorry he said but you did go to our website and sign up for a free trial offer.”
            “I did not.” I replied still at an indoor voice level. “I took a survey and they promised to give me a free sample and I will not pay for a free sample.”
            “But you already have the product.” He tired to entice me, “Just pay the reduced rate of $60 and we will call it a day.”
            Then  my outdoor voice took over, “Maybe you didn’t hear me the first time. I will pay nothing for a free sample.”
            He kept insisting that I pay a small amount and I kept insisting that I wouldn’t. Until finally I just said go ahead and charge me, and I will make it my life’s mission to spread your company name up and down the internet, as nothing but the scam that you are. Well at that point he agreed to reverse all the charges on my credit card. What they didn’t tell me was that it would take two months and five phone calls between their company and my credit card company to make that happen.
            Later as I was researching their scam I came upon a site called highya.com that will evaluate products and let you know if they are a rip-off. I could have saved myself so much anger and energy. I don’t like to get angry but it seems that anger is the only thing companies respond to these days, especially a company that got your money by lying and cheating you in the first place. Life has taught me that if you want to play with the dogs you have to get down in the dirt, so I learned how to hoot and holler. So before you try out that product with the glowing probably fake reviews on the Internet give highya.com a look before you place that order and save yourself tons of aggravation.
            Let me leave you with two lessons I learned. First, if there is a survey promising free gifts, big warning light should go on in you head. But my biggest lesson is this; sometimes my husband really does know what he is talking about. Let’s just hope I don’t get fooled again.

                                                             About the author:
Cara Bertoia is the author of Cruise Quarters - A Novel About Casinos and Cruise Ships. Her novel is really a travelogue, a narrative, a romance, a self-help manual for gambling and cruising, and a real-life story all rolled into one funny, obsessive, and entertaining story of two people whose separate life journeys meet at a crossroads. Kindle Fire Dept. says, "This novel is a gem that is nothing short of a vacation in a book!"She would be happy to Skype with any book club reading Cruise Quarters. Contact her at ray92262@yahoo.com.or read more blog posts at carabertoia.blogspot.com

Below is the links to Cruise Quarters - A Novel About Casinos and Cruise Ships