So, one morning I rose up early to head to the beach for some fun in the not so hot early morning sun. On the way I was stopped by an English man who asked if I too spoke English. Thinking he might be lost and I might be able to help I replied that I did. Pleased, he whips out a scratch card and says that I’ve been given the opportunity to win a big prize.
My skepticism meter went from 0 to 75 in a second. I told him I wasn’t interested in buying anything. He reassured me that all I had to do was scratch off the cards and I could win a free prize. Scratching off a couple of cards seemed harmless enough. The first one revealed a free T-shirt. Whoopee I get to be the advertising billboard for some company.
The second card however revealed three stars and that I had amazingly won one of five great prizes, all for free! Okay, how do I claim this prize I asked. The guy explained all I had to do was go to their hotel and listen to a 90 minute presentation. Now the prizes included a digital camera, a camcorder, a dream holiday vacation, or 1,000 US dollars.
For 90 minutes, I thought why not? They whisked me off in a taxi and in moments I arrived at the Club Absolute hotel. A young woman took my scratch cards after asking if I first was over thirty and second had a valid Visa card I could show her. Odd I thought if all this is for free. She only needed to see the Visa logo she assured me and nothing else. Fine. After that she told me my guide would show me around and then I could collect my prize.
Gavin, my English guide from the UK, was a genial old fellow with stories to tell. He proceeded to show me around the hotel, telling me about when it was established and how there are dozens of others across Thailand and the world. We jumped into a taxi and sped off to see one of there new properties being built. Yes, it did seem nice.
We sped off again to another older property the first one purchased by the owner apparently, Yes, it too was nice if a bit empty. Now by this time it’s well past 90 minutes, but I was in to see it finished by then. Back at the main property Gavin began his spiel about asking how often I vacationed, how much I spent, and if I thought Club Absolute seemed like a great idea.
He wanted me to talk his manager before we parted. Here is when the hard sell went into full force. I believe that manager could sell a bee honey. He was so on it. Didn’t I like their property? Couldn’t I easily spend 16,000 US for a forty year investment? I could let my relatives use it. I would get ten free weeks to give away to friends or family. I could even give it away in my will.
I tried to explain that just spending that much money without any research wasn’t a good idea for me. Two years ago I had next to nothing and to simply spend a third of what I have on some impulsive vacation time share no matter how good it sounds, just wasn’t going to happen. He then slashed the price, telling me that if put five grand down now I could be on a wait and see plan for three years where in at the end I could pay the rest or simply walk away. I again said no. I have to admit it was tempting, but I didn’t know who the heck these people were. I only just heard of them that morning.
He slashed the price again to two and a half thousand dollars. Now I am thinking to myself why are you so intent on getting my money. Didn’t you just say you didn’t need my money? That four out of ten people accept the offer? After another no he abruptly storms off saying that he’ll give me to four o’clock today to change my mind.
Gavin, who had been sitting through all of this silently, meekly told me that I could claim my prize at four o’clock. No way. After all that time and that drama intense session with his manager I wanted the prize immediately. Well, back in the office the lady revealed that I had won: a dream holiday vacation with their hotel.
I wonder how many people win the cash? None, I’m betting. She gave me the paperwork and I left feeling slimy and slightly used. After glancing over the paperwork I’ve come to the conclusion this “free” dream holiday is just another opportunity to put your through another high pressure sales pitch. Not to mention the disclaimer that some “processing” fees would have to be paid to claim the “free dream holiday”.
I went back to my hotel and immediately googled Absolute Club scam and came up with hundreds of hits. I’m so glad those people didn’t get anything but my time, though even that was too much.
I think now I’m going to take my Absolute Club Tee take a marker and write SCAM on it and wear it for the rest of my trip here.