Landmark Forum – I Wanted A Refund, I Got A Mindfuck
“Hello. Landmark Education. This is Alexia, how may I help you?”
“Hi Alexia, how are you?”
“Good. How are you?”
“Good. My name is Jones Brixton. I’m registered to do the Landmark Forum advanced course next weekend, and I want a refund.”
“Ochay, sure,” there was some sounds of clambering with the phone. “So what makes you think you want a refund?”
“I signed up to do it after I did the Landmark Forum. I felt like most everything I learnt in the Landmark Forum was stuff I already knew. I thought that the advanced course might be stuff that I hadn’t learnt yet, but as soon as I read the curriculum, I felt disappointed. It held no appeal for me. Then hearing people talk about what they learnt in the advanced course, I just didn’t see the point of it. And also I have $3000 credit card debt, so I feel my $800 could be put to better use elsewhere.”
“Ochay.” They all pronounce “Okay” as if it were a German word. “I got it! A large part of the advanced course is about your act. Your act is like your personality type that you’ve had since you were very young, that keeps you from feeling fulfilled. All your negative associations, and your masks to cover up your true self.
“Now, some people – not saying this is you -” That’s precisely what she was saying. “- some people have an ‘I know better’ act. So when they come in to do the Landmark Forum, they don’t get much out of it, but as soon as they start the advanced course, it all hits them at once.”
“Okay. I did the Landmark Forum. One of the main reasons I did it was because I wanted to know what was holding me back from finish my novel. It didn’t shed any light on that. In the end, I don’t think it matters how many courses I do – I think I just have to take responsibility for myself, and just do it.”
“Ochay, yes. The Landmark Forum teaches you responsibility. But just knowing that you have to be responsible doesn’t help you. You have to know how to put it into action. That’s where your act comes in. Your act is at the root of everything you do. You can’t see your act now – trying to see your act would be like trying to see the backs of your own eyeballs. So in the advanced course, we get to the bottom of your act and we create a new one.”
“I’ve done that already!”
She laughed “Maybe I was wrong about you being an ‘I know better’.” I laughed too.
I said “The reason I think that I’ve heard the stuff from the Landmark Forum before – while it was very good – the reason I’ve heard it is because I’ve studied, and actively pursued new paths to get knowledge, and -” I was going to continue, but suddenly I felt acutely aware that what I was saying could be construed as justifying myself. “- yeah.” She was judging me. I stopped talking.
“I got it!” Do you really. “By taking the advanced course, you can get to the core of who you are, so you can be free of your past and create a new act. That way, you can get on and be successful in your life.” And you won’t be doomed to failure, as you will without the Landmark Forum.
“Well, that’s a very clever sales pitch.”
“You can say that, but calling it a sales pitch is a very effective way of rationalising it so that you won’t have to face the truth.” The truth being that you should give the Landmark Forum your money. “You called me expecting to get a sales pitch. You’re seeing everything I’m saying through a filter.”
“No, I didn’t really have expectations. But here you are trying to convince me to not get the refund.”
“I’m not trying to convince you of anything, I’m simply -”
“Yes you are. Yes you are. Yes, you are!”
She stopped for half a second, and continued, without refuting what I’d said. “Jones, don’t think that calls like this aren’t routine. We expect calls like this to come through. People start getting nervous about what they might have to face in the advanced course, and they start looking for an easy way out. I can give you a refund – that’s fine. But is that really what you want? You seem very uncertain.”
All of a sudden, I felt very uncertain. I said “Let me think.”
I paused for a minute. One whole minute. I sat there in silence trying to find the essence of me, that still small voice that never leads me into folly. Out of all the high pressure situations I’ve been in, in my life, this would probably rank top three. I just can’t explain how weird it was. The leader of my Landmark seminar series would later try to explain to me that it was some kind of mistake, that maybe Alexia had been in a bad mood. But no, you don’t get mindfuck skills like this by mistake. This was well-trained ingrained, precise mindfuck shit. It was a work of art, really. You don’t do it like this just because you’re in a bad mood. This was much worse than a bad mood. It was a torrent of emotionless pressure, consistently applied until your mind broke. I felt pressure to be the ball of reactions that she expected me to be. It was fucked. It was brilliant.
There’s a rule in sales for the silent close. “Jones? Are you still there?” First one to speak, loses.
“Yes, I’m still here. I’m just thinking.”
“Okay… So what do you want to do?”
“I want my money back.”
“Okay… All but $110 is refundable. The charge will be reversed onto your credit card. Is there anything else?”
“Yes. You keep saying that I’m interpreting everything you’re saying. I think it’s the other way around. Good bye.”