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.