Lifestyle Holidays Vacation Club / fraudulent charges
This summer my wife and I took a trip to Lifestyles Hacienda in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. We had traded our timeshare in Myrtle Beach for a small studio in their hotel - like section of their resort. We paid a healthy fee for all-inclusive privileges to eat and drink in their bars and restaurants. Only two hours after arriving in the Dominican Republic we were whisked out of a restaurant and escorted into a meeting with liquor drinks being put in our hands while we were given a sales pitch concerning buying our existing timeshare and enrolling us in their vacation club. We were upgraded to a villa and received some comp gifts such as a helicopter ride, a day trip to Paradise Island, a BBQ and the use of Serenity Beach. Needless to say we took the bait.
I was unsure so I continuously inquired about cancellation possibilities. We were assured NUMEROUS TIMES by the salesman (Miguel) that if we thought we had made a mistake then we could get out of the contract with no strings attached. When we got back home and sobbered up and reality and buyer's remorse set in, we informed Lifestyles that we would like to cancel our membership. Our information and request was forwarded to a Ms. Yvette Aldomovar, who is the Arbitration Manager. At this point we were informed we could cancel but Lifestyles was going to charge us in excess of $18, 000 (for a villa that rents for $1300.00 a week) for a weeks stay and the gifts. At this point without any communication or warning, the company posted charges to our credit cards in the amount of $16, 000.
We were then emailed a statement claiming we owed an additional $2000.00 for the balance. We were shocked. That money (16, 000.00) was earmarked for a down payment on a vacation membership - not for a week’s stay. This is a fraudulent charge. Let me restate this. This $16, 000.00 was intended as down payment for a vacation club membership; not a week’s stay. Even though this point should be mute the grounds of these inflated charges are incongruent and grossly and falsely misrepresented. No where in any paper or agreement does it state that if we were to cancel our membership would we be responsible for any upgrades or gifts at an escalated price. NOT ONCE were we told by any member of the staff that if we accepted any gifts or upgrades that we would be responsible if the contract was canceled.
Also, nowhere in the contract or agreement does it state anything to the like, nor does it state that if we were held responsible, that it would be at a much inflated price. Also there is no date or time period that states the cancellation period has expired. Lastly, we were told by Miguel that only members or guests of VIP members were allowed to rent or even use the villas. We are now being asked to pay an exorbitant amount of money that is almost 9 times more than the advertised price (on a villa we were told could only be rented to members; that people “ off the street” could not just call up and rent these). The other much inflated charges are nothing more than a “fleecing” of a trapped customer. We were charged four-hundred dollars ($400) for a fifteen-minute helicopter ride. We can take the same trip in Myrtle Beach for $50 for both of us. The only restaurant that we were not allowed access to as a non-VIP member was Azul.
We ate there one night, but had we not; we would have eaten at another restaurant. We paid over $1000 for all inclusive rights to eat and drink as much as we would like. Comparing “apples to apples”, food is food. Regardless of what restaurant we would have eaten in, Lifestyles still would have had to provide food. Alcohol was delivered to our romm as a complimentary service. We were also charged for this. If it was not there when we left, maybe they should check with their staff. This brings me to the other things on your list of “upgrades” the BBQ at the villa, Paradise Island, and the use of Serenity Beach. We can throw out Serenity Beach because it is not a tangible product. We walked on the sand and swam in the water. At the most, we told them we were responsible are responsible for the helicopter ride, an excursion to Paradise Island and the use of the chef at a BBQ. We offered them $1000.00 dollars and to return our money that was charged on our credit cards (16, 000.00). So far we have heard nothing. Has anyone out there had any solutions? You can contact me at [protected]@richland2.org.
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