Documents show aggressive sales tactics at Trump University
SAN DIEGO -- Trump University instructed employees on how to play on peoples' emotions to get them to buy more expensive seminars for succeeding in real estate, according to nearly 400 pages of court documents unsealed Tuesday.
The "playbooks" for the now-defunct business owned by Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, offer detailed sales scripts and tell employees how to overcome obstacles such as potential customers who have reached their credit card limits or want to check with a spouse before buying.
The documents unsealed in San Diego were part of a lawsuit by customers who say they were defrauded. Last Friday, a judge who has earned Trump's scorn agreed with attorneys for The Washington Post that the public had a right to know what was previously confidential.
The documents outline how employees should guide customers through "the roller coaster of emotions" once they have expressed interest.
"The motivation that they experienced can die quickly as the realities of their daily lives take over. It is our job to rekindle that motivation ... to make them once again see the potential of achieving their dream," according to a Trump University "sales playbook."
Trump University's core customers are identified in the documents as male heads of households between 40 and 54 years old with annual household incomes of at least $90,000, a college education and a net worth of more than $200,000.
If potential students expressed concern about the cost, or about needing to go into debt in order to afford the classes, staffers were prompted to reassure them by telling them not to "make excuses."
"[D]o you like living paycheck to paycheck? ... Do you enjoy seeing everyone else but yourself in their dream houses and driving their dreams cars with huge checking accounts?" the scripted response reads. "Those people saw an opportunity, and didn't make excuses, like what you're doing now. "
Another section urged staffers not to appear "impressed" by a potential student. "When attendees see that we (the experts) are impressed by their accomplishments, they may easily leave thinking that they don't need our help," the guide says.
The documents show meticulous attention to details such as seating at seminars. Room temperature should be set no higher than 68 degrees and music should be the O'Jays "For the Love of Money."
Trump has maintained that customers were overwhelmingly satisfied with the offerings. His attorneys didn't immediately respond a request for comment Tuesday.
The 6-year-old case in San Diego is scheduled to go to trial shortly after the November presidential election.
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