|Preferred Guest Resorts|
|it's a semi-scam |
|3rd of Mar, 2012 by schrameijer |
|Last night I opened a popup on de NYT-page, telling me I had won a $ 3000 vacation to Florida. Since it only asked me to call a (local) number, it seemed harmless. At local costs I was connected to friendly “Richard” who congratulated me and told me he was with the Disney organization, or at least that’s what I got out of his words. I said I saw no harm in hearing what this was all about since no one asked me about my credit card details… Little did I know. He guided me through a number of webpages along with friendly small talk. He asked if I would like to go with 4 people and gained some impression of my living situation. It appeared the holiday was in fact a string of holidays which could be consumed separately (not practical when you have to pay each time to fly round-trip Europe - States). Richard gave me a choice between a guided tour in Orlando and two weeks car rental wit unlimited mileage. Further my prize included 4 days / 3 nights hotel in the Bahamas’, a couple nights in another beach resort in Costa Rica and more. One had 18 months in which to consume all this, a period which could be extended to three years. Also the package was transferable, I could sell it to anyone. He asked my name and address. |
After about half an hour I was handed to a somewhat more business-like “Melanie” who went over the offer (terminology shifted from ‘prize’ to ‘offer’ and/or ‘discount’) again and explained the whole package was almost $ 4000 and since my discount was 3000, I would have to pay the difference to the amount of $ 898. I asked what was in it for them and Melanie explained it was promotion: I would spread the word about my wonderful holidays. They only did this once every two years (or was it 4?) as a promotional thing. I was still a little apprehensive; it didn’t sit well with me Richard had said nothing about me paying for my prize. I told her I would have to consult my wife through my cell-phone which was no problem at all: as Richard had already said: they had all the time in the world. My battery was empty however. So I asked if I could think about it and call them back the next day. No I couldn’t, since this was a one day offer. How do I know this was not a scam, I asked her. She asked me to click on a page which at the bottom listed all the credit card company’s with which they’d worked tightly for years. Moreover they were a big, reputed company of which the name was supposed to mean something to me, I guess, but didn’t.
Melanie told me our whole agreement would be briefed and taped by some other functionary (the planner?). Then I gave my credit card number, expiration date and code.
Next came an even more businesslike woman who would go over the whole thing, the conversation would be taped as a legal obligation for my consumer protection. First I had to write down several numbers such as customer number, customer service number, reservations number. I had to wait a bit (filled with small talk again) for my credit company’s okay, which came.
The tape started: did I understand this was ‘not a contest’ or a lottery, but the purchase of a holiday package, or words to that effect. Yes. Did I agree to pay $ 898 for this package? I said: “Can you postpone this question to the end, so I can answer it after and if I agree to everything else? She put me on hold, came back after a minute or two and said the order of the questions was fixed and could not be altered. “Then the deal is off”, I said. “Wait a minute,” she said and on came Melanie again: hasn’t e just agreed? What had happened? Had I talked to my wife? What was I afraid of, did I realize I had 18 months (“do you want three years? I’ll give you three years”) in which I could take these holidays, Did I remember I could sell the $ 4000 package for which I paid eight hundred and some to anyone? Most clinching argument: I already had agreed when I gave my credit card information. “In my mind,” I said “this thing is final after I gave my taped consent.” No she insisted, the deal was already done. I told her I’d let my credit card company get my money back, “but your credit card company just authorized the transaction,” she said. Here some sarcasm crept into her tone, as if I was really really stupid to think the deal wasn’t final. We went over this a couple times more. I told her: “You are not the kind of person who will force this on me when I don’t want this”, I said. She: “This is not about the kind of person I am, but about how this works.” (reminiscent of “It’s not personal” before the mob kills you.) And then she went on to say she was really amazed at me refusing this opportunity for a wonderful 80% discounted holiday in these wonderful resorts. I said: if this is such a good deal why then put so much energy into me? Their must be many others who’d gladly do it. But why did you agree? Because you talked me into it? She vehemently denied this: never. No, I had really wanted it and now suddenly I didn’t anymore, cold feet. I told her I would never go on this type of holiday, unless it was totally free and really a joke.
Finally she said: “OK, I’ll cancel your order, have a good day.” I’d been on the phone with them anywhere between 1,5 and 2,5 hours.
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