Wednesday, 3 June 2009

If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is…….

I recently got a telephone call from a company called Club La Costa telling me I had won a seven night luxury European holiday for four, flights and accommodation paid.

“WOW” I thought, then “Yeah right”.

“Thank you, very nice” I said “what’s the catch?” being the distrusting soul that I am.

“There’s no catch the lady told me, you just have to turn up to one of our exhibitions to claim your prize and we will even give you £50 worth of high street cash vouchers for turning up! Which of these places and dates is suitable for you?” she asked rhyming off a list.

The nearest was in Manchester and one of the dates was last Friday 29th May, when it so happened we had decided to go on a little shopping expedition to Manchester as it was half term, we usually do this when I have a week off work.

“Great I’ll confirm everything in writing for you” she told me.

A few days later the letter arrived outlining everything she had told me on the phone and asking me to telephone to confirm we would be attending and which store I would like the vouchers for, which I did, requesting Marks and Spencer’s vouchers. It also said we could be assured we wouldn't have to sign up or buy anything to claim the vouchers and the holiday.

Fair enough I thought though MWM was very sceptical “It’s a time share exhibition, they’re selling timeshare” he said.

“Of course it is, but we’re not going to buy, all we have to do is sit through two hours of sales chat, say thanks but no thanks and collect the vouchers and the holiday voucher, and as we’re going to Manchester anyway why not?” He agreed.

We hopped on the bus at 9.45 a.m. and did some shopping from my list, I’m a great one for lists. We then went into Marks & Spencer where I had a look round deciding what to spend the vouchers on, MWM had kindly relinquished any right to a share of the vouchers. I found a swimsuit, a skirt and a jacket in readiness for when I returned with the vouchers, obviously they came to more than £50 but I was prepared to spend a bit more. We then went to Tiger, Tiger at the Printworks (which I can recommend), sat outside in the sunshine (they do get sun in Manchester occasionally) and had a lovely lunch with a glass of wine. I had Penne in Rich Tomato Sauce with Chargrilled Chicken and MWM had Pesto Chicken Salad which we both really enjoyed, we then strolled up Shudehill to the Crowne Plaza hotel where the exhibition was being held.

In reception we had to fill in a form confirming the details we had already given and produce our passports to prove who we were, then a very nice young man called David introduced himself and took us through to the exhibition room, after inviting us to help ourselves to coffee.  He asked if we'd ever been to one of these exhibitions before , we told him we hadn't.  "Not even when you've been on holiday?" he ventured.

"No" we said.

"How come?" he asked.

"We've always resisted, we don't want a timeshare" we told him.

"Why did you come to this?" he asked.

"Because you offered me £50 worth of M&S vouchers and a free holiday" I said, I'm always honest.

He asked what we were expecting and I told him “I expect you are going to try to sell us a timeshare apartment.”

“Wrong” he said “I’m going to give you the opportunity of a lifetime to make your holidays for the next three years cheaper!” Oooer how exciting we thought, raising our eyes to heaven.

Right, what it boiled down to was we pay them £4000 up front and they promise to act as travel agents for us. We would get the opportunity to take six holidays in the next three years, anywhere in the world where Club La Costa have luxury accommodation, and it would only cost us £150 for the accommodation for one week (not each). We then have to pay for the flights, and transfers, which they will also arrange. “All sounds very interesting” I tell him “but we don’t have £4000 lying around to invest”.

“No problem” says David “you can pay £129+ a month for the next three years!”

I laughed, MWM laughed, David didn’t. We declined.

“Why did you come if you’re not interested?” he asked “It must have cost you in time, petrol and parking” he said.

“We were coming to Manchester anyway and it cost us £4 to get here because we came on the bus, MWM has a free bus pass and I got a day saver” I explained.

He wasn't amused and knew then there was no point in going for the hard sell. He handed over two £25 Marks and Spencer vouchers and the form to book the ‘free’ holiday explaining the rules for booking the holiday which were:

Within the next two weeks we have to
(a) state which destination we want - Portugal, Costa Del Sol or Tenerife
(b) state which airport – Northwest (which could mean Manchester or Liverpool)
(c) give four dates when we can travel in the next 18 months the first one being at least 3 months hence and subsequent dates to be 8 weeks apart.
(d) Send the form and £29.50 each person administration fee.

They will then let us know if any of the dates are available and which airport we can travel from (this may or may not be the airport of our choice – i.e. we could be expected to travel from London or Glasgow or anywhere else and this would incur another charge. We then have to pay airport charges of £64+ each plus transfer charges. You get the picture – the free holiday isn’t free and I read (before we went to the exhibition) that the ruse seems to be that they get your £29.50 each, which more than covers the vouchers you’ve been given, then the charges just keep piling on so you abandon all thoughts of the holiday and can’t get your £29.50 each back!

Anyway we’ve decided to give the ‘free’ holiday a miss, preferring to spend our money on a self arranged holiday, but I spent the vouchers within half an hour of receiving them to make sure they were real – the jacket, skirt and swimsuit are lovely!

So I think that the saying “If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.”,  in this case isn’t completely true, after all I did get £50 for quite an entertaining two hours of my time, with a cup of coffee and some fizzy water thrown in.

What say you? Have you received a free holiday from Club La Costa?


Anonymous said...

You are absolutely the first that I ever heard that got anything out of a promotion like that. At least ya got something. I am so leary of that kind of thing I won't even make it through the telephone call let alone the first one or two sentences. Good for you my friend. Now I can say I know someone that at least got something outta the deal
and didn't have to pay.

Dumdad said...

The girl did well! You had an interesting day, £50 in M&S vouchers and a blogpost to boot. Win-win situation for you. But a lot of people do get seduced by this sales talk and emerge from these meetings having committed to holidays they didn't really want. It's the same with timeshare. I'm amazed anyone falls for all this.

Elaine said...

We got pounced on in Tenerife once and decided to walk with the nice lady back to the hotel for the sales pitch, where we spent 2 hours drinking wine, sitting in the sun and having quite a nice time! We left with 4 free tickets to the water park, a bottle of champagne and a few other goodies. Well worth it!

CrystalChick said...

Atleast you got a day out with your honey and a little money to spend!
When we were in Cancun a couple people decided to go to a presentation at a sister hotel of the Spa where were staying. They were offering free Spa credits to anyone who would go. Being it was our 25th anniversary we wanted all the time to ourselves and didn't want to deal with any salespeople but we asked a couple who did go how it was. They said the 2 or 3 hours turned into most of the day and the company was very aggressive about the sale.
If we were just on vacation it might have been worth it but glad we didn't give any of our celebration time to the heavy hitters. We gave each other extra attention and didn't really need the additional spa money this time anyway. ;)

Sandi McBride said...

I've been offered these before and have always declined...maybe next time I won't be so quick to say no...if it's free its for me...that's my motto! Ah to shop in Marks and Sparks again...
lovely thought

Lu' said...

I'm gald to hear you received your vouchers and got some nice things. I usually toss out any mailing for a great deal and I dismiss any caller quickly.

Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

no, i always hang up on those callers... if i ever DID actually go i would buy because i am not good at saying no in person so i never give them the chance! ha ha

smiles, bee

Daryl said...

No, not from them but there are a lot of similar come on offers like that here cool you got some new clothes for FREE .. lunch out and entertainment PLUS blog fodder! I say you definitely did well!

Nessa said...

Lucky you. We've never done these either.

Akelamalu said...

I'm very wary of this sort of stuff Thom, I made sure I got the offer in writing and did some research before we actually went. MWM and I are quite 'bloody minded' about our rights and we would have caused a lot of trouble if they'd welched on the deal. We kept our side of the bargain we turned up and listened. :)

That's it exactly Dumdad - people do get sucked in and end up out of pocket, if you are resolute and do not sign anything or hand over any money or cc details you're OK. :)

Oh you did great out of one too Elain - fabulous! I was hoping for wine too but I don't think they're allowed to get you drunk over here - shame - we still wouldn't have bought even if we'd been drunk! :)

You did right not to waste your anniversary time with salespeople Crystalchick. I've never fallen for the sales patter whilst abroad - my holiday is too precious to waste too. :)

As long as you suss it out carefully and are resolute in not buying you could come out of it quite well Sandi. Do let me know if you ever succumb. :)

I usually dismiss these things Lu but this time I thought I'd take them up on their offer and I'm glad I did! :)

If you can't say NO Bee you do right to hang up. ;)

Yes I thought we did quite well out of it Daryl, especially the blogfodder! LOL

I think I was lucky with this one Nessa :)

Salute said...

Never experience this, but I agree anything that sounds too good to be true usually is.

TimeshareRelief said...

Touts are everywhere. They are getting really rough in certain areas. Glad you got some entertainment value from the whole process!

Anonymous said...

Sometimes we get free offers to a dinner or breakfast if we attend a seminar. But we always throw them in the trash. Our time is more important.

Flowerpot said...

some friends of mine recently were targetted too - they sat through the whole spiel (why?!) and had to drive miles - why?!!

CG said...

I have lost count of the "free" holidays I've won. I have never actually gone to the presentations for a few reasons - firstly because all of the holidays are to beach/hot resorts (hubby doesn't "do" beaches or heat!) and secondly because I've always been suspicious that free would end up costing us a lot in hidden extras LOL. My sister in law did go on a free holiday but she had to agree to attend several timeshare presentations while she was there which sort of ruined the break.

You did well to get the vouchers :)

Dr.John said...

When we were young and vacationed in Florida we were bored one day so we went to three different time shares. As soon as they found out I was a Pastor they gave me the gift and told me to go because they were sure I wouldn't be interested.

Maggie May said...

Glad you got the vouchers without too much hassle.
I have heard of people who have signed up for these holidays & it is really difficult to get anything like the ones you want and what a cheek those administration fees. That could really add to the cost And the airport fees.
You were wise to decline.

Ron said...

OMG..I can't tell you how MANY times I get these in the mail and throw them away. It was so funny reading about your experience with this though, because it taught me a lot about what happens once you get there!! So glad to hear that you got some spending money for your efforts.

Spiky Zora Jones said...

I'm glad you took it to them. :0)

I usually just tell them...i don't have the time to go there...I should say yes and bring a pillow huh?

A pillow joke...I dreamt I was eating a huge marshmello and when I woke, my pillow was gone.


Cloudia said...

"“It’s a time share exhibition, they’re selling timeshare” he said."
OOO, he's a keeper. YOU are shameless ;-) if honest...
Such a deal!
Now I'm hungrey for penne and chagrinned chicken, LOL!
You know, my post tomorrow owes LOTs to the Akelamalu school of writing. Cheers my pal! Aloha

Deb said...

Hi Dear Friend ~ My husband and I did participate in a timeshare sales pitch - different company but same idea. It was a few years ago - took the four kids with us - the sales people decided it would be in their best interest to give us our free goodies so they could get us out of there since the kids were a bit bored and having a hard time sitting still and quiet. I thought it was a good plan! Hope all has been well with you. I need to catch up on all that you have been doing. Take care.

Patty said...

I've mever attemded anything like that because I knew up front it was a sales pitch, it does sound like you had a nice afternoon though. Enjoy your new things.

G-Man said...

I've owned my timeshare in Kissimme Fla. for about 14 years. I've been to dozens of "Freebies" like this. If you are strong enough to resist, then you can indeed clean-up. Good Job!!

Akelamalu said...

Usually it is Salute but I did get what they promised me :)

I have to say we did enjoy the banter knowing there was no way they would get us to sign up for anything Timesharerelief :)

That's what we do usually Gigi but this time w thought we'd give it a whirl.

Did they not get their vouchers even Flowerpot?

The hidden extras are why we're not taking up the 'free' holiday CG. I am chuffed we got the vouchers.

Why on earth would they think you weren't interested Dr.John? ;)

My FIL stupidly signed up to a holiday club a few years ago in Tenerife - they've never had a holiday with them and can't get their money back. We went to even up the score a little Maggie :)

I enjoyed winding them up Ron - I'm a naughty girl! ;)

Yes go to the next one and take a pillow Spiky! Love the pillow joke. LOL

MWM is definitely a keeper for going with me and letting me have all the vouchers Cloudia! I am very naughty but they deserved it!

Great idea to take the kids Deb, unfortunately the letter stipulated no children or I'd have taken the five grandchildren! LOL Nice to see you back honey. xx

I think if you go determined not to be taken in and are willing to give up a couple of hours it can be quite lucrative Patty - I may even do it again! ;)

tony said...

All In All A 'Score Draw' ?
Next Time Walk your in Shute Hill....Go straight past the Hotel.100yards further up the road, on the left ,is The Marble Arch.Which Brews its own 6per cent Ginger Ale.A Few Pints of That + you will Fly no problem!

A Lady's Life said...

I always say no. Nothing in life is free especially today with the recession although I must admit volkswagon gave us a free metal cup, a plastic seat cover, a foam peace finger for games,and a tshirt.
That was rather generous for an email and I did like their new van. It had lots of hidden space for toys and such as well as two dvd players for the front and back of the car. Great to keep kids quiet when driving. AND the back seat flipped so you could sit in the trunk on comfortable seats to watch a game away from sun and rain or sit by the beach or to change put your shoes on.Besides being a great car with a great engine the features were impressive.
Nice. I liked it.:)

Akelamalu said...

Don't know the Marble Arch Tony but The Burton Arms is a great pub - we were in there a few weeks ago. I'll look out for the MA next time we're down that way.

They almost sold you that car didn't they Lady's Life? ;)

Anndi said...

Good for you :)

Mama Zen said...

Yay for you for scoring the vouchers!

Connie said...

I once got something like that. This timeshare in the middle of nowhere offered us a room for 2 nights in a luxury hotel. It was at Lake Havasu, AZ. The place where they built the London Bridge. We went and they didn't let us stay in the nice hotel, they let us stay in this dump hotel. We went to their sale pitch. We didn't buy anything. We left and did not stay a second night. The hotel should have been closed, it was so bad.

jadey said...

LOL no I have not been offered a vacation by club la costa and hope to never be offered a vacation by them lol.

Akelamalu said...

Thanks Anndi x

Great isn't it Mama Zen :)

What a bummer Connie!

I don't think they will offer me another one Jadey! LOL

Travis said...

Very well played my dear!

Akelamalu said...

I thought so Trav ;)

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