I recently got an invitation to attend one of those “travel club” presentations. In return for hearing the salesperson’s pitch, I would be awarded “4 wonderful” gifts that included 2 round trip airline tickets, a 4 days cruise, a 3 nights hotel stay and finally a $1,000 gift certificate to buy thing from an website where I would have to pay only “shipping and handling fees” The travel club was owned by West Gate Resorts, the time share resort.
Since we had some time off to spare, my wife and I decided to go to the presentation last Saturday.
What a rip-off!!!
According to the salesperson, West Gate Resorts was doing this “pilot program” that allows them to sell unused weeks at their resorts to people who enroll on their travel club. In return for $6,900.00 you would have the right to purchase 2 weeks at one of their resort every year. Each week costing $500.00, plus you have to pay $199 every year in club membership fees.
Of course, after we refused the offer, the “manager” came over to lower the price. According to him, West Gate Travel Club was doing yet another “pilot program” that gives timeshare owners the opportunity to buy the same club at a discounted price of $3,900.00
I hate dealing with people that lie to me. To begin with, I did my homework before I even got in the car to go to the presentation. This WGTC is not a pilot program. It has been operating since 2006, It was the creation of David Siegel, the same timeshare mogul that recently got sue by his employees when he refused to pay them overtime.
But the biggest rip-off was the so called “gifts” that lore people into the sales presentations. Those gifts were nothing else but a certificate that you must activate on a website called http://www.tripleplaytrips.com/ where there is a long list of terms and conditions that you must meet before you can even book a trip.
To begin with, the “free airline tickets” are not free at all. In order to get the tickets, you are forced to stay at an overpriced hotel or resort a minimum of 7 nights. Most resorts cost around $299 per night, so you ended up paying $2093 for a week, much more that if you would book the hotel and the airline on your own.
The “free cruise” is only limited to departure in September, October and December (excluding holidays) Any other time of the year, you must pay up to $199 surcharge fees per person.
And the “shopping certificate” is a joke. There is no “shipping and handling only fees” What the website does is to show you an item with a Manufacture Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) (that is the price a manufacture suggested an item could sell for, but has no real meaning in the retail world), then the site gives you “their price”, which of course is way more expensive that the same item sold everywhere else. The coupon gives you the “discount” between the MSRP and the site price. For example, the site was selling some binoculars, where the MSRP was $120.00, but if you use the coupon, you could buy the binoculars for $41.00 (this is the price you must pay) A quick search online, showed me that the same binoculars were selling for $27.00 everywhere else. The same thing happen with all the items I compared priced with.
I have been to plenty of timeshare presentations. I know how the game is played and I know how to get very quickly out of any high pressure sales techniques they use. But in all those presentations I have never being lied about the gifts I would receive at the end, which is what really bothered me with West Gate Travel Club.
I believed they lied from the beginning, and especially they use false advertisement to lore me into their presentation. I do plan to write a complain letter to West Gate Resort (not that I plan to hear back from them as there seems to be plenty of complains already ) but just to let them know that I would file a formal complain from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs, which is the State Agency in charge of regulating travel agencies.
So, if you ever get a call from West Gate Travel Club, promising wonderful gifts, be aware and don’t waste your time.
Update: Please read this entry for a follow up on what happened after I sent a letter to West Gate executive offices