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Is this a scam?

LBLB Registered User regular
edited March 2009 in Help / Advice Forum
I know, I know, the answer is that if you have to ask that, it's a scam. But sometimes it's not, right?

A few months ago, I was in the Bahamas, going through customs to get back on a cruise ship, when I saw a free internet area. The only catch was that to use the computers, you had to fill out a card offering to put you in the drawing for a "free Caribbean vacation." Whatever, I figured. Internet is prohibitively expensive on the ship, and they weren't asking for anything other than my name, email address, and phone number. I filled out the card and promptly forgot about it (and never received any spam mail, either).

Today, I get a call from a company claiming to be called Back to the Caribbean, telling me I won! I never win! The deal is this: I pay $500 now, and I get two week-long vacations for two: one to Florida, Las Vegas, Sedona, etc, within the next 18 months, and then another to either Aruba or Cancun within 18 months of that one. I have to pay my own transportation, but the hotels are super nice. I looked them up and the hotels, at least, are legitimate.

I am interested in this trip, because $500 is a sweet price to pay for two weeks of vacation for two people, but I don't want to be scammed out of my money. I looked up their website, but it's pretty sparse, and while it has some codes for travel sellers, I can't actually check them because you need to sign into these websites to do that. I tried to call the Florida 1-800 number to see if they had any complaints from the company, but I can't connect to it. I tried to call the two hotels in Aruba and Cancun, but I only have a cell phone and I can't call internationally. I called the hotels for Florida, but no one knew the answer.

Does anyone have any idea how I can verify that this deal is for real?

LB on

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    saint2esaint2e Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    It's probably not a scam per se, but there's probably a lot more you'll have to do once you get there, ie- listen to timeshare speeches.

    I've seen these before.

    Is it this one: http://www.backtothecaribbean.com/ ?

    saint2e on
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    useless4useless4 Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    sounds like a time share actually.

    we had a time share deal like that where my wife (before I met her) paid some amount to stay at what is now planet hollywood in vegas. it was an "ok" deal but not super good. you get a decent price on hotel and in exchange you get pitched hard - really hard - to buy this time share. you will know real quick if it's a deal like this - they will ask you if you're married and if you make x amount of money a year some time soon.

    useless4 on
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    Raiden333Raiden333 Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    LB wrote: »
    I tried to call the Florida 1-800 number to see if they had any complaints from the company, but I can't connect to it.

    This wasn't a red flag at all?

    Raiden333 on
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    saint2esaint2e Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Raiden333 wrote: »
    LB wrote: »
    I tried to call the Florida 1-800 number to see if they had any complaints from the company, but I can't connect to it.

    This wasn't a red flag at all?

    He probably means the 1-800 number for tourism Florida. At least, that's how I read it.

    Looks like the only reviews I can find with a cursory Google search are negative. They're not responsive, and it's hard to book the trips.

    saint2e on
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    JaysonFourJaysonFour Classy Monster Kitteh Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Translation of phone call:

    "Hey, potential sucker who handed me enough personal information on a little card to enable me to get your address: You 'won' two vacations that you have to send me $500 to never see. Please send me something for nothing, Mr. Sucker! Pleeeeeeeeease?"

    This is a scam. You pay $500, they vanish, and you get more of this stuff in the mail as a confirmed sucker. Forget they called.

    JaysonFour on
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    LBLB Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    They already asked me if I'm single, and how old I am. Since I am single, they asked me if I could easily find a companion. They also told me that they will ask me to attend one 90-minute pitch for their timeshare, but that it's not mandatory.

    And yes, the 1-800 number was a phone number I got off the Florida tourist website, not something that they provided.

    LB on
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    JaysonFourJaysonFour Classy Monster Kitteh Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Which means more, longer pitches on other shit. This wasn't a contest, it was information farming pretending to be a contest.

    JaysonFour on
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    saint2esaint2e Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    LB wrote: »
    They already asked me if I'm single, and how old I am. Since I am single, they asked me if I could easily find a companion. They also told me that they will ask me to attend one 90-minute pitch for their timeshare, but that it's not mandatory.

    And yes, the 1-800 number was a phone number I got off the Florida tourist website, not something that they provided.

    Expect to be hounded big time to attend that 90-minute pitch. ;)

    saint2e on
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    JHunzJHunz Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    LB wrote: »
    They already asked me if I'm single, and how old I am. Since I am single, they asked me if I could easily find a companion. They also told me that they will ask me to attend one 90-minute pitch for their timeshare, but that it's not mandatory.
    I went on my honeymoon on a deal similar to this, so I can translate for you. The way they tell the hotel that you do not need to be billed for the full price of the stay is a voucher you claim once you are there. They will not give you the voucher until you've attended their sales pitch. If you attempt to complain and say you were told it was optional, they will tell you that they cannot violate company policy, you'll have to talk to the manager, the manager will tell you the same thing, etc.
    So it's "optional" in the sense that you are given the option of paying full price for the trip.

    JHunz on
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    Aoi TsukiAoi Tsuki Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    LB wrote: »
    They already asked me if I'm single, and how old I am. Since I am single, they asked me if I could easily find a companion. They also told me that they will ask me to attend one 90-minute pitch for their timeshare, but that it's not mandatory.

    And yes, the 1-800 number was a phone number I got off the Florida tourist website, not something that they provided.

    Ahhh, timeshare scams. I recently had to work to convince my sister that the gradual bait-and-switch of "You've won a trip to Las Vegas through a raffle entered at a booth in the grocery store!" to "Here's where to call to get your reservation!" to "Bring your spouse and just sit through this teeeensy presentation to get your Free Gift!" was in fact not worth it.

    No, the free shit they give you isn't actually free: think $100-off hotel "coupons."

    Aoi Tsuki on
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    CasualCasual Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle Flap Flap Flap Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    So the "free" trip you won now costs $500? I'd avoid it if I were you, like people have been saying at best its an aggressive time-share pitch that they will find some way of bullying you into or at least making life miserable for you if you don't. At worst its an outright scam to lift you of $500. I know it sounds like a sweet deal on the surface, but this comes under the very useful maxim "if it looks to good to be true it probably is".

    Casual on
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    EverywhereasignEverywhereasign Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    From everything I've heard Timeshare pitches generally ruin the day, if not a couple days. A co-worker went to one that included a free hotel stay. It took essentially the whole day and then they were hounded for the rest of the week by roving timeshare pushers. By the end of it, he admitted he would rather have paid for the trip himself just to get them off his back. They were that annoying.

    Everywhereasign on
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    Jam WarriorJam Warrior Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    They aren't all that bad. Some friends and I went on a holiday for four to Portugal recently on a timeshare pitch jobby.

    Two of us had to give up an afternoon back at home and half a day when out there, but for that we got flights and seven days in a nice plush apartment all for the cost of the airport tax. Had to sort our own transport and dodge the over friendly sales person a few times whilst out there but I definately feel we came out much better on the deal. The easiest way to avoid the salesmen is just to always be out somewhere enjoying yourself.

    Note that they give these huge open dates for when you might go to disguise the fact that it will always be deep in the off season.

    Jam Warrior on
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    Werewolf GamerWerewolf Gamer Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    LB wrote: »
    They already asked me if I'm single, and how old I am. Since I am single, they asked me if I could easily find a companion. They also told me that they will ask me to attend one 90-minute pitch for their timeshare, but that it's not mandatory.

    And yes, the 1-800 number was a phone number I got off the Florida tourist website, not something that they provided.

    The problem with these are they also only usually let you go during the 'off-season'. We tried one of these and after a year of never being able to get our cruise i got our money back. They aren't worth it. They suck you in a sell you hard on these timeshares. I'd rather put hot pokers in my eyes that sit through one ever again. (they also lied saying ours would be 90 minutes but kept us there almost 3 hours).
    Your better off searching deals through travelocity or whatever. With as bad as the economy is i'd bet you can get a killer deal on a vacation without the scam/timeshare crap.

    Werewolf Gamer on
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    VisionOfClarityVisionOfClarity Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    It's a scam, I got a similar one, in fact if the thing you got in the mail is a small booklet that looks like a ticket it is the same one. The fact that they demand nonrefundable money up front is the tip-off. Most legitimate time share vacays have you come in and give you the paperwork you need for your trip and you don't make your deposit until you're ready to go.

    VisionOfClarity on
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    LBLB Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Okay, thanks for the help. It does look like they're legit, but it seems like the trouble of hearing the whole timeshare sales pitch, getting in on dates that would work for me, etc, are too much of a bother. I'm just going to forget the whole thing (except for the fact that for once in my life, my name got pulled out of the hat!).

    I appreciate the help!

    LB on
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    SixSix Caches Tweets in the mainframe cyberhex Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    LB wrote: »
    Okay, thanks for the help. It does look like they're legit, but it seems like the trouble of hearing the whole timeshare sales pitch, getting in on dates that would work for me, etc, are too much of a bother. I'm just going to forget the whole thing (except for the fact that for once in my life, my name got pulled out of the hat!).

    I appreciate the help!

    Your name got pulled out of the hat in the sense that every name in the hat got pulled out of the hat.

    Six on
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    CasualCasual Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle Flap Flap Flap Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Six wrote: »
    LB wrote: »
    Okay, thanks for the help. It does look like they're legit, but it seems like the trouble of hearing the whole timeshare sales pitch, getting in on dates that would work for me, etc, are too much of a bother. I'm just going to forget the whole thing (except for the fact that for once in my life, my name got pulled out of the hat!).

    I appreciate the help!

    Your name got pulled out of the hat in the sense that every name in the hat got pulled out of the hat.

    No need to rain on the guys parade lol.

    Casual on
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