El Cid Vacations Club — El Cid Vacations Club - Fradulent Sales Techniques
We traveled to Cozumel in April of this year to stay at the Park Royal Resort. Right after our arrival in Cozumel on April 12, we were immediately approached by the agents from El Cid La Ceiba Hotel, which is situated right across the street from where we were supposed to stay. The agent took $80 deposit in exchange for two days of car rental and free admissions to the parks and museums within Cozumel for the whole family. He told us that the only thing we needed to do was to sit for an hour and a half at the presentation which included the free breakfast for the whole family.
Next day, after the breakfast, a very sweet lady, nicknamed Pinky, gave us a very impressive presentation of El Cid Vacation Club with beautifully-designed computer multimedia show. She started asking us many questions and told us that El Cid vacation club is just what we need for our family to save money. She asked us how much we were spending, and after a few minutes of calculations told us that we could be saving at least 50% of what we are paying now. I told her that we were not interested because we don’t like the time-share arrangement, and we don’t want to come to the same place(s) all the time. She said that El Cid Vacations is not a time-share, it is a vacations club, and we will not have any limitations. In fact we could be travelling anywhere in the world and save at least 50%.
We were not impressed. So, after we said NO, she called another salesman, Bill Fletcher, who started persuading us to join the club, and that we don’t understand how much we could benefit from it. He started telling us that El Cid Vacations has a lot of associations with various families of resorts including RCI and Wyndham, and that we have a complete freedom of paying for all of those vacations in full with our El Cid points. He also said that because we can book the cruises through the El Cid resorts, we have a freedom to select all kinds of cruises. We were very interested in the cruises. In fact, our children were dreaming about a Disney cruise. Bill showed us how easy it would be to book a Disney cruise using only 308, 000 points. He also mentioned that we can also use our remaining points for the airfare, and that it was fixed at 33, 000 ElCid points per person within the USA, 38, 000 points within Mexico and Caribbean, and somewhat more to Europe, South America, etc. He made everything seem so easy and affordable that my wife started to like it. I still was somewhat unsecured, so I have asked Bill, as a condition of our membership to book a Disney cruise on our behalf to prove that the membership actually works. Meanwhile, a man named Arturo Soto created the contract for us. He made us sign the contract within a few minutes. I didn’t even have enough time to read it. My wife didn’t even see it.
Senior Soto went through the contract very fast. He has never mentioned to us that we had 5 days to rescind the contract, although it was written in the contract itself. But because we were rushed through the contract I didn’t even see that. On top of everything, the contract was burned onto the DVD. We did not get the paper copy of the document. We only got the DVD and a few outdated brochures. At the resort we did not have a PC to read the contract. We really did not worry about the contract itself, because we believed the salespeople. We believed that everything we were told was true.
We met Bill Fletcher one last time before we left home. He told us that he had booked the Disney cruise for all of us, and that we completely covered the cruise with the points that we had. He said that everything was reserved on our behalf. When I asked for the proof, he said that, unfortunately he could not give me anything in writing, because our membership was new, and we were not yet in the computer. However, he said that we should not worry about anything. The cruise was booked and we were all set. Bon voyage! He even gave me a name of the person who was in charge of reservation, Claudia Juarez. She was holding our reservation and she would help us with any possible issues.
We trusted Bill Fletcher. He seemed to be a very nice person. We decided to take his word for it, and we left Cozumel with high hopes of our dream cruise vacation.
After we arrived home, we started waiting for the official welcome packet that was promised to be mailed to us, but it never came. In this packet, we expected to find our membership information and the updated guides, because the ones we had were outdated. However, instead of this membership kit, we got a bill for maintenance. The bill stated that we should not be late with the payment, otherwise we would be liable for late penalties. While I understand, this is all in the contract, it came as part of a shock to us. We got a feeling that we are being treated as cash cows, not as members of a respectable vacation club.
Realizing that we were finally legitimate members (because we got the bill), I started making phone calls to claim our cruise reservation. I was kicked around from number to number. I was finally transferred to OVC, a separate company, which as a surprise to me, was not part of El Cid network. Although the people at OVC were very nice to me, and offered a lot of help booking the cruise, not only they could not find our reservations, but they didn't even have our membership information available. They also downplayed the amount of our El Cid points, as if they were very insignificant and they completely ignored our VIP status (Sean even said that he had no idea what it was). I remember Bill Fletcher spent a sizable amount of time telling us how VIP status can help us upgrade to better room at the resort or a better cabin on the cruise. I was very disappointed and upset, and then I realized that everything that Bill Fletcher had told me were lies. Nobody, not even Claudia Juarez was aware that we had any pending cruise reservations. And, contrary to what Bill had said, Claudia Juarez did not offer much help either.
Before making a final decision not to deal with El Cid anymore, I had made a few other phone calls. Here, in the nutshell, are the results:
1. I wanted to find out how much extra we have to pay if we had to book Disney Cruise for the sailing we were discussing with Bill Fletcher back in Cozumel.
Sean English from OVC has quoted the cruise at 308, 000 points + $3, 850.50 to be paid out of our pocket. That was shocking to us, and totally unacceptable. Of course, Disney is a luxury line, and of course it is very expensive (although, according to El Cid policies, all cruises are rated at a fixed point allocation, with the difference being the cabin type and time of year of the cruise: prime, high, value, etc.). Sean English had recommended that perhaps we should consider cheaper cruises, such as Carnival, for example. I wasn't really interested, but out of my curiosity, I asked for a quote anyway. Even a Carnival's cheapest option would have been 308, 000 points + $1, 645 out of our pocket. These are the cheapest cabins on the cheapest cruise !
2. I called El Cid reservation to find out how much it it would be to get airfare from New York to Orlando, Florida. The reservation person very politely checked my membership status, and promised to send information via e-mail. Here came another shock. I already prepared to expect it to be higher than 30, 000, however 179, 000 point per person with a total of 895, 000 for all 5 of us !!! Give me a break. This is totally outrageous ! This would equal to 3 of our yearly VIP allocations. Tough price to pay.
I immediately contacted El Cid member services to express my concerns and to rescind the contract due to the fraudulent sales practice and misrepresentation. In return, Arturo Soto, of El Cid de la Ceiba in Cozumel, completely ignored my pleas, and started preaching the line of a 5-day contract. He said that there is nothing he could do because it has been more than 5 days since the contract was signed. He says this is a corporate policy and he won’t move any further. I wanted to prove that it’s not the 5-day contract which is a problem; it’s their fraudulent sales-practice techniques which is the problem. They had lied to us, not even once, but many times. They did not keep their promise. I would have never agreed to sign the contract if I knew that this was going to happen. 5 day money-back policy wouldn’t have helped me in that case at all.
We are asking El Cid Vacations Club to rescind the contract and return our deposit of $7, 243.63 back to us. We also want El Cid Vacations Club to stop any further collection activity through any of its offices and/or affiliates whether in Mexico or in the USA. We have not used the club yet and we do not intend to use it at all. We want to return everything that was given to us by El Cid Vacations club, including all vouchers and brochures back to them. We consider their practices to be fraudulent and we do not want to deal with this organization.
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