Tuesday, April 15, 2008

20/20 reveals...Royal rip-off vacations

This is Part 3 of 3 scams that 20/20 investigated...

You know what I think is completely criminal? Businesses that tout the wonders of a product or service, all the while blatantly lying about said product or service's true agenda, or the benefits, or the research done. 20/20 aired a show that revealed some of the scams that people are getting sucked into. They investigated a Royal holiday club that promises luxurious vacations and the best of accommodations.

Holiday Investment Plans - Heaven or Hell?

I saved this one for last. Mainly because my husband and I almost became a member of the Holiday to Hell club...or at least, that's what I'm calling it. When 20/20 investigated the Royal Holiday Vacation Club, I couldn't help but cringe. Good grief, they were talking about exactly what happened and then almost happened to us when we traveled to Mexico at the end of February.

If going to Mexico, there is something vital you need to know. There are salespeople lined up in the Mexico airports and they're just waiting to scam you out of thousands of dollars.

If you stop, this is what will happen...

A very nice young man or woman, dressed professionally and wearing a name tag, will ask you if you need help or want information on your detination. They'll proceed to show you maps, tell you the best places to go to, offer you some discounts if you book with them, and then offer you a free ride to your hotel--in a luxury car, not the hotel bus that stops everywhere else. Eventually, he'll tell you that you're staying at a great hotel and that he'd like to show you the hotel he's promoting, just so you have something to compare to and something to consider. If you ask if these are time shares, he'll say no. Well, technically, I guess you could say he thinks he's not lying. He wants to sell you a vacation club plan. He won't tell you that in the airport.

This is what will happen if you agree to receive all the discounted tours and promos he'll offer. He'll tell you that he'll arrange to pick you up at your hotel, take you to the one he's working for and while having the best buffet breakfast or lunch, you'll be shown around the hotel for about 90 minutes.

This is what 20/20 discovered and what my husband and I heard after we got to our hotel on day one. If you're suckered in, you'll spend the better part of a DAY at this "90 minute presentation". You will be handed from one consultant to the next as they try to convince you that the club is worth it. They'll promise you all sorts of things, like they'll even invest your $30,000 payment into some offshore account in a foreign country and you'll get it all back in 30 years. They will hound you, make you feel guilty, do anything they can to break you. On most occasions, travelers leave feeling exhausted and $11,000 or more poorer. 20/20 also uncovered that what you see is not what you necessarily get. One couple was shown a luxurious suite and were promised that their accomodations would be just as good or better. They went on a trip and were given a standard room.

Marc and I got caught at the airport, but after hearing about this scam at the hotel, we never showed up at the end of the driveway the next morning for our wonderful free breakfast and lovely tour of a new hotel. We hung our heads in embarrassment and learned a valuable lesson.

Bottom line? When in Mexico, get off the plane and run like hell through the airport, do NOT stop for anyone, do NOT get suckered in by someone appearing to want to "help" you, do NOT talk to anyone, do NOT pass go, do NOT...by now you should get the picture. You have no idea how hard this is for me to do the same. I love talking to people. But I also love keeping my money and having a relaxing vacation in a heavenly place, not a free ticket to Holiday Hell.

20/20 link:

~Cheryl Kaye Tardif,
Canadian suspense author


As Iggy sees it said...

My wife and I got taken by another scam company here in Atlantic City for $3800...Vacations to (get your Money)...I don't think I'll get even or my money back...My lawyer won't even talk to me any longer because I was so stupid.

FrankTrades said...

My wife and I were tapped by Royal Holiday off Cable Beach at the Sheraton in Nassau, Bahamas Jan 16 by RHC. Offered a free lunch (it was pretty poor) and a gift certificate (snorkel dive, which was great) we were sucked in to what was described as a 90 minute (really 2 1/2 hour) presentation of a pressured sales pitch.

The clues were clear, although they took a while to develop -- the tour was magnificent: but when they began to talk details, to try to personalize the pitch, it sounded "too good to be true". This takes a while to play out because the important numbers are not presented until the end.

The other clues have to do with the price and the product, both of which are moving targets. As we indicated our need to "do our own independent research" on RHC the price of our product was lowered and ite scope improved several times. We were subject to speaking with 5 different sales people in the course of the last half hour.

When we finally were allowed to graciously extricate ourselves by dealing with a very sad man who let us go, the scam became clear.

A little Internet research revealed both 60-Minutes and 20-20 programs and a Better Business Bureau rating of "F" for RHC, as well as a wide range of scamming stories.