This is my story, victim of a tourist trap. I’m not telling it’s a scam, but the selling techniques (to sign a contract for 20 years) are very annoying and similar to brainwashing. Read on to get more details.
Yesterday I was approached by a travel agent when walking near Danau Tamblingan Street No. 80, Sanur, Denpasar (Bali). He checked me and my girlfriend and told us we could fit for a special promotion for a new hotel. He said we would just have to attend a 90 minutes presentation about the new hotel and that if we liked it we could eventually be guest at that hotel next time in Bali. So we would not be required to buy anything and, after the presentation, we would get a free voucher for an activity such as jet ski, river rafting, tour in Bali etc. (see picture).
I though “ok, what do we have to loose? Let’s go, 90 minutes of my time is not that much!”. The guy was very polite, he put emphasis on the fact that we would get an activity for free and even a free massage when they would show us around the hotel, and even stay there for dinner if we wanted, and a driver would bring us back when we want, also in the evening.
So, we agreed to be picked up at 09:00 at our home stay, the same travel agent picked us up and he was even so polite to bring our bags to a new home stay in the nearby, as our was fully booked and had to check out.
We arrived at Club Bali around 09:40, were brought upstairs in the presentation room, and were welcomed with a coffee and some pastisery.
A nice lady just begun the presentation first with some classic small talk at 09:50, she asked were we stay, were we went etc. so far everything ok. We could tell our story, just to relax, you know.
The small talk went on and on, so I begun to wonder “what’s up here”? Finally we were introduced to the concept of timeshare, something I’ve never heard of before (and it was not even presented as “timeshare”, I just found it by googling around).
As I understood it, the system works like that: I -obviously- pay a yearly fee (wait, she would explain how much only later…) and get some points (2640/year) I could exchange for a nice room in a 3-5 star hotel part of the club. A room for 1 week would cost 1320 points/week. So far, quite cool, isn’t it? Wait, besides the point I would still need to pay an administrative fee of 315 USD/week for hotels in the RCI system, besides the points. So, if I would go to vacation for 2 weeks, I would need to pay 630 USD. But, as I would be member from Bali, I would pay only 45 USD/week for a hotel part of BCWW (Bali Club World Wide). This, just for the accomodation. No food, no breakfast included.
If I would not use the points one year, I could accumulate them for maximum 3 years. Then I would lose them or be able to spend them only at the “mother” hotel, which in this case it would be Jayakarta Bali. A room would cost always the same price (in points), “that’s one of the advantages, you know, for the inflation…” I was shown a nice graph, that a hotel room that now costs 130 USD would cost 1’300 USD in 10 years, because of the inflation… really? Bullshit. I’m pretty sure that the prices go up, but not that much!
I was told I could even sell my stay, for example for an apartment with 2 rooms I could subrent one room to a friend, or even send a friend to vacation with my points. There are thousands of “happy members” of the system, worldwide.
At this point, if I remember well (maybe before) my girlfriend and I were brought to Jayakarta hotel, to see a nice apartment with kitchen and 2 rooms, jacuzzi and nice view. She told us we could expect such a standard from the club. Then she brought us downstairs to see the facilities: fantastic swimming pool with luxury restaurants, and this just a few meters from the beach. Wow, so cool, never seen something like this! (Just kidding of course…). We were both exhausted and the heat during the walk near the beach almost killed us. Thank God we didn’t drink any alcoholic beverages (we were even offered to drink a beer if we wanted).
Anyway, while listening to the presentation I had some quality toilet time, where I could check some reviews about the system and more precisely about RCI, as BCWW is relatively “new”. Check some reviews about RCI:
- Complaints about RCI on consumeraffairs.com - 95% negative reviews
- Is RCI worth it? (on tripadvisor.com forums) - many negative comments
So, after scrolling these 2 pages for a couple of seconds I understood that I would for sure need to check more about this, before signing for anything (also many reviewers suggest NOT to sign anything).
At around 12:30 I was almost convinced that the system is actually quite cool, till I was “promised” that the yearly “fee” (wait, the senior guy -yes, the lady needed some support for my “interesting questions”- corrected me and said it’s “maintenance costs”) of 630 USD would not be increased too much… say -with the inflation- the maintenance costs would not increase more than 5%. Really? You tell me that the advantage is that the cost is always the same now and also in 10 years (to fight the inflation) but you increase the yearly fee during the years? Are you kidding me?
Additionally, I asked if it’s written somewhere in the contract that the maintenance costs would NOT increase more than 5% (per year). He said me “no, but I promise you it would not happen”.
Sorry, but a serious company writes every single details in the contract, no verbal promise, everything must be written.
In the end I said I would not sign anything, but read the contract carefully, in my room, and sleep over it before deciding for anything.
I was told I could not get the contract with me (rules by club bali) but I could stay there and read it more if I needed (and ask all the questions I wanted).
I was already pissed off enough, and quite tired of the time and brain consuming -brainwashing- presentation and didn’t want to start any argument or start accusing them of anything, as I already knew they would try to change my mind or giving me the answers to every accusation (they are trained for this).
So, I clearly said I would not sign for anything and I would eventually come back another day, if interested.
I was told that if we would go back we would not have the same benefits as during this presentation (to make more drama, the senior even went in the backstage to ask his boss…). I said “ok, I take the risk”. Lol, really you want to play that card with me? No, no and again no!
At around 13:10 I could get my freedom back. Nice shake of hands, no hard feelings and I could get my voucher for a free activity validated. Wait, I asked about the free massage. They told “which free massage?”. The one the travel agent mentioned me… apparently, if I wanted that I had to ask it during the visit of Jayakarta hotel… really cool, isn’s it?
Conclusion: 90 minutes my ass, the presentation (brainwashing) lasted 3 hours, almost 3 hours and a half, which is more than the double. This, without including the driving time from the hotel to Club Bali. A private driver costs around 600’000 RP, which is about 50 USD. My time is not an issue as I’m taking it really easy, but if 5 hours of your time have more value than 50 USD, do not attend this presentation. Pay for an activity and save yourself from this kind of brainwashing.
Tomorrow: pick up time for “Bali tour” at 10:00. Hopefully they won’t try to brainwash me again during the tour… keep the fingers crossed
If you don’t read anything anymore, in 2 days, begin to worry…