Holiday scheme or scam?

Has anyone signed up for a holiday scheme which may have been a scam, i.e. a holiday which was seemingly a genuine offer but may have turned out to be a disaster?
In hindsight, was it a well thought out operation put together by a team of ‘hustlers’ - a very pleasant rep, a very shrewd accountant and a desirable hotel facade which you do not, in fact, receive?

I may be a victim of this. I’ll explain more about it later.

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The way to defeat the scam business is always always always pay by credit card. That way you will always have redress, so avoid any offer that demands payment by any other method. Job done. :wink:

Mastercard (or debit card) wouldn’t work the same then, Barry?

Debit card has no protection, it has to be a credit card such as Mastercard, Amex etc.

Hmmm oh dear.:confused:

That doesn’t sound good Floyd…:shock:

Floydy, where did you find this holiday and how did you book it? Have you paid a deposit or the whole amount?

I have seen many progs on TV about these scams and you need to get the right advice to have any chance of getting any money back.

This site may give some guidance!

Scams have become so sophisticated these days, it’s easy to fall for them. Hope your holiday turns out to be ok though Floydy.

We always book with one of the well known travel companies but nothing to say things can’t go wrong with them too.

If booking a villa, do a Google search of the property, make sure it truly is the one booked, and not an image taken off the internet.

Weren’t going to Sandals were you?

Most scams can be detected easily when they ask for payment up front. If in any doubt you can always do a lookup in companies house which gives basic company information which may give a clue as to being a scam company.

Sorry I’m late with this response (I work nights - then went to see Dunkirk at the cinema). I’d better explain what happened earlier this summer. Please excuse the long-winded nature of this post, but it needs to be in detail.

Due to the nature of this post I would ask if you could be serious with your replies, it’s took me a while to pluck up the courage in deliberating whether or not to talk to you folks about this. I’m going to leave out where it happened (although some of you may guess), no names or locations will be mentioned either to protect any future events.

My wife and I were on holiday earlier this summer and we decided to visit an area of the resort we’d been to before for a day on the beach for our penultimate day. As soon as we got out of our taxi we saw a lady sat on a wall who asked if we wanted a scratch card. She said they were free so we took one each. My card said I had won a bottle of wine but my wife’s said she had won “a major prize”. The lady on the wall told us that this would be either £1000 in cash, a laptop, or a free holiday. Wow! We guardedly thought (‘hmmm…wonder what the catch is’). The beach girl was over the moon and said that because of this she had got a 60Euro bonus…then said that if we could spare 90 minutes of our time (we hadn’t even set foot on the beach yet) and go with her in a taxi, we would find out which prize we had won and receive our bottle of wine (wasn’t too fussed about that).

After some deliberation, we said “we might as well, we have nothing to lose do we?” and the girl made a phone call and then hailed a cab where we were whisked off to this very posh hotel a few blocks away. Outside meeting us was a pretty young lady who ushered us inside to meet another young lady who was full of charm and compliments and we followed her up to an outside lounge area where we were asked what we wanted to drink, ‘thanks for coming’ etc etc. The hotel was beautiful.

The ‘representative’ then scratched out the secret panel on the scratch card and, lo and behold, we had won a holiday!! “How fantastic!!”, she said. And then the patter began in earnest. But we could only receive our holiday if we agreed to something else first…
If we said “Yes” after listening to her spiel, and agreed to the terms, we would get the holiday. We were then joined by the general manager, again very charming who listened in.

We were told that for £6000 we would receive the holiday in question (to be spent at this hotel), plus receive another eight weeks’ holidays to be taken over the next five years. All inclusive at hundreds of different locations anywhere in the world and at the most exclusive hotels such as Hilton, Sheraton, Ramada and so on. We could pay either in full there and then or in monthly instalments at £110 per month over five years. This did sound too good to be true but for some reason my wife and I were both up for this (or gullible and deluded to the point of being impulsive), such was the sales girl’s enthusiastic banter and after her prompt at the end of this we duly said “Yes”.

We went to an accountant (a Swedish girl, again very nice and pleasant) and signed up. We went through lots of paperwork which all seemed very above board (which is hopefully is), and I paid £1000 deposit on my Mastercard debit card, which for some reason I had with me, unusually. She said she would ring us the following week at home to finalise the payments. We all had a coffee and by this time it was getting overcast and we went straight back to our own hotel instead of going on the beach.

Later at night, over a restaurant meal, it suddenly struck us what we might have done - “Oh My God!” - but we decided to look into things when we got home.

Returning home and the following Monday I received an email followed by a phone call from the ‘agency’ and they wanted to know how we would like to proceed with the payments. I told her that after some thought we were not too happy about spending £6000 over the period of time and was there another option, including the possibility of cancelling - even if I were to sacrifice the deposit I had paid. She said that was not an option and would not be possible. I then said I could not afford the full lot as she was now saying £2000 had to be paid by next year in one go. I told her that she hadn’t mentioned this at the time and she said it was in the small print. I told her I’d call her back in a few minutes.
On reading through the contract, we noticed that it was in the small print and I was now getting rather flustered and feeling rather nauseous about the whole thing. I said I simply do not have ready cash when she wanted it by next year as I have other commitments, not to mention now having to save up spending money and the cost of flights. She then spoke to somebody else (probably the manager who we saw on the day) and he/she advised her that we could now go with a third option instead where we could have half the amount of holidays for half the amount. We were told we would get another four weeks holiday added to the one we would be spending at their place next year for £3000 - that would mean instalments over a 2-year period. I decided to settle the whole amount in full, pending their authorisation. I then had to arrange with my bank a transfer for the amount to their office in euros, which was sorted out the next day. I duly received confirmation of receipt.

On reflection, I am in two minds about this whole affair. On the positive side, if it all works out, this looks like a very good deal: 5 weeks holidays anywhere for three grand over three years. I have looked on Trip Advisor and have noticed quite a few posts from people who have been offered similar deals, some have turned out well and others have had to complain, mostly about the noise around the area. Most have been happy with their stay at the hotel. What puzzles me is the lack of information about the further ‘holidays’ we are meant to receive after the one next year – nobody has mentioned these online anywhere and that is strange.

I am also in a quandary about if I’ve done the right thing. A lot of this seems completely above board and fine, but I’m going to armed with plenty of questions for this team of people when we visit the resort next year – and I certainly won’t be duped into signing up for anything else. I think I have mentioned everything here but please ask me any questions – and I’m definitely up for any advice given or even any of your own personal experiences if you have been as utterly stupid as myself.

Thanks all.:cool:

Bloody hell Floydy! As soon as I would have seen someone handing out such scratch cards I’d have scooted in the opposite direction. A classic ensnaring of a (I apologise for saying this, but it applies to all who take up the offer) a gullible set of holiday makers.

That is an awful amount of money to pay out upfront. And what board do you get with these holidays? Full? HB? What about flights? (On top, of course.)

And, heaven forbid, what if the company folds before you’ve had a chance to make the most of your money?

I’m sorry you’ve been caught like this, but they ply you with drinks and food, hoping (and knowing) that you’ll cave in and agree. And naturally you have to pay while you’re there.

I wouldn’t touch such a scheme with a barge pole.

My opinion. Not right or wrong, just my opinion.

Floydy I know that the scratchcard trick is one that is used by scammers, because it happened to myself and my husband in Spain. We had already booked a trip on a boat, for the same time that they wanted us to go to the hotel, so explained and asked if we could attend another meeting, as they must do many.

They said that would be impossible, so alarm bells started to ring and I told them that , if they wanted to sell holidays, then they needed to consider what the person who was buying needed or their business would go bust. They replied " Well piss off then" which confirmed to me that it was a scam… no respectable business would behave like that.

We were already there on a free holiday, run by a British company who were hoping we would consider buying time share on one if their apartments, so I mentioned it to their rep. She replied " you were very wise because there are scams like this on a daily basis… but never any holidays". When I asked about the cost to entertain people in a room, she said everyone wants to make money… even the smart hotels, and the people who rent these rooms make a lot more from the people who are silly enough to buy what they are offering.

I hope I am wrong Floydy but I think this may have been a well organized scam! If you have paperwork from them then I suggest that you do a company search to find out if they are a genuine company. If they are I would then get their phone number from an independent supplier ( just to confirm they are not using another companies name… but with their phone number) and phone to confirm the arrangement with them.

I wish you luck!:shock:

It is a" time share " scam to get you to get you to invest in a property.

This is a common one around Disneyland In Florida. There it is free passes for a week into the attraction. The catch is having to go and listen to hard selling time share operatives and try and get you to sign up before you leave. Beautiful women, nice surroundings, food and drinks all there to soften you up first

Yours might have been a variation on this scam without what has been promised ,I don’t know

you will possibly get a holiday villa or whatever for a set number of weeks a year but the catch is you can book the same yourself direct a lot cheaper.
In Florida there are even booths set up in the street offering free tickets, luckily the hotel staff warned us about them first.

Remember no one is giving away anything for nothing however they present the package. So don’t sign up for anything there and then,is the rule. They say if you don’t sign up now the offer will not be around again, this is more to get you to part with your money

In the UK we are not used to this “Time Share” scam so more fall for it than you would think

In Egypt they try a different scam by pretending to give you a free object, may be a string of beads or a head covering.
Once you accept it then they charge you saying they can’t take it back as it is now second hand.

Our culture is to trust everyone an that is the problem

I remember these scratch cards from years ago, probably in the same place as you Floydy. The rep gets all excited and tells you that you have won a holiday, me, being a very cautious sort, smelt a rat, whereas hubby wanted to go along with it. Anyway we didn’t and pleased he took notice of me this time. Things may have changed, but as well as purchasing so many weeks holiday a year for life, you also had to pay annual maintenance on top. However, having said that, we have friends who paid into the scheme and had many years 5 star holidays, although they still had to buy flights, food etc.

It sounds like you have been drawn into a Time Share arrangement Floydy. :frowning:

Many years ago we went to Lanzarote and on our second day there we were given two free scratch cards by a lady with a chance of winning a big prize. We accepted the cards and, like you, scratched them there and then after the lady said said she would get a bonus if there was a winning card. Yes, one card was a bottle of champagne and the other was a major prize. We were told she would take us to a hotel where we could collect our prize. I didn’t want to go but Mr Mags said we could go for a laugh.

The hotel was grand, many people stood around talking which made me suspicious. Brochures were handed out and discount holidays every year were mentioned. I immediately thought Time Share and said I wanted to leave … we did but not before Mr Mags claimed his bottle of cheap champagne! :smiley:

These people are rife in many resorts abroad and you have to be on your guard as it is so easy to talk you into what you think is a good deal.

All very true, Jazzi. Unfortunately:-(

If it had been a timeshare villa or such like I would definitely not have taken anything on.

I’m looking into various things at the moment regarding how authentic this company is. It certainly looks quite legit with letterheads etc, but I’ll be trying to find out more about them very soon.

Good advice Realspped, thanks. But again, it’s not property, “just” holidays and even if after the first one we don’t get anywhere, we may just cut our losses and ditch the rest. Providing they are not legally bound that is.:confused:

As long as we book our own flights, at least we’ll get home!