Royal Holiday Club / they will lie about anything to sell useless memberships
On March 18, 2007, my boyfriend and I arrived in Cancun International Airport (CUN) where we were approached by a travel information representative to attend a 60-90 minute Royal Holiday Club presentation. In return, we would receive free tickets to two Cancun excursions, regardless of whether we sign up for a membership or not. We agreed to attend a presentation the following day at Hyatt Cancun Caribe. During the presentation, Royal Holiday Club explained that they are not a timeshare but a vacation club. Members are able to purchase points and exchange these points for vacation time, hotel stay, airfare, and other services. They began by showing us around the Hyatt hotel and their vacation suites. They explained that once members, we can stay in these suites as they are part of Royal Holiday’s vacation destinations.
We were offered a 15-year bronze membership for ~$15,000. We quickly declined this offer as it simply was too costly, and we are not prepared for such a significantly large commitment. The presenters were very persistent and continued to present other offers, lowering the membership length and price. We denied each successive offer and were about to leave when a Mr. Art Martinez, who claimed to be Director of marketing of Royal Holiday arrived. He presented us with a 5-year membership for $3095. We told him it seemed like a good offer, but we would like to sleep on it and first do some research on their company. He said the offer is only good for that day, and continued to give more explanation as to why this is the best offer there is. He assured us that once we were members, if we had any questions he would only be a phone call or e-mail away. He gave us his “personal cell phone number” [protected]) and his “personal e-mail address” (TURICOZUMEL@yahoo.com), and he would be able to personally help us with any issues that might arise. He assured us during the presentation that he’s available anytime for any questions. He encouraged us to call and e-mail him anytime and even told us that he wants to be the first person we contact for any issues with our membership. To this day, Mr. Martinez has never returned one phone call or email.
Mr. Martinez explained that we have 90 days to decide if we want to upgrade to the Bronze 15-year membership. He showed us “examples” in the membership that showed samples of what monthly payments would look like if we decided to upgrade our membership. If they don’t hear from us within 90 days, then we can simply just keep our 5-year membership with no further obligation. We signed up for the 5-year membership, paid in full. To ensure we were on the same page, we reviewed with Mr. Martinez that our membership was for 5 years for $3095 which included the items listed in List A. We were all in agreement. We again triple checked with Mr. Martinez that the charge to my American Express card was for $3095 with no further charges. He said, “Absolutely, no other charges will be made because you are not authorizing future charges.” I also asked him to tell us of any fine prints or hidden fees within the membership. He assured us that there were none. Seven hours later, we were members. After we agreed to a 5-year membership, it was only then when he gave us a large bag that contained a 2-inch tri-fold portfolio which included a book of travel destinations and directories and a box that contained the travel certificates. When we went back to our hotel after the presentation, we went over the membership and the certificates. To our dismay, we realized the “examples” shown to us of sample payments for the Bronze 15-year membership plan was actually a promissory note to make those payments! We also discovered the value of the points was not what it was described to be. Many of the destinations were well over 20,000 points per week – with many restrictions – making the one week per year virtually impossible. You could do one week per year if you went to certain locations during non-peak times (but, this wasn’t how the plan was described). In the back of each travel certificate we found multiple fine prints. These fine prints were purposely not divulged to us even when presenter Mr. Martinez was specifically asked to disclose if there were any. We also found an alarming amount of discrepancies with the membership we agreed upon vs. the membership that they actually sold to us. The value of the plan was definitely not as described or as promised. We called Mr. Martinez’s personal cell phone the very next day to cancel our membership. There was no answer from Mr. Martinez. After multiple attempts, we were finally able to get a hold of someone at the Hyatt Cancun Caribe. We were swiftly and rudely told that there are absolutely no refunds or cancellations and that no one was currently there that would be authorized to help us with the matter.
We later discovered that this statement alone along with a clause written in the membership agreement is illegal according to Mexican law. (See http://www.mexicolaw.com/LawInfo24.htm) There is a clause in the contract that states that I am not allowed to cancel the contract. This clause is illegal. Mexican law does not allow me to waive my right of cancellation. Mexican law also requires that I receive sufficient and truthful information about the products acquired
(Articles 32, 33 & 34 of the Federal Consumer Protection Law). Clearly this was not the case. Mexican law also gives me the right to rescind the contract when the products acquired are defective in manufacture or hidden defects (Article 82 of the Federal Consumer Protection Law).
After finding this out, we started online research on Royal Holiday Club and found yahoo and msn online groups that have been formed by people who were also scammed by Royal Holiday Club along with multiple sites with dozens of complaints against this company.
A week after returning from our Cancun trip and many unsuccessful call attempts to Royal Holiday Club, we finally received 2 voice messages from “John,” a representative from the Royal Holiday Guest Relations Department. He welcomed us to the club. He stated he is our contact person should we have any questions. We called him several times but no answer. A week later, we received two letters from Concord Servicing Corporation (CSC) stating that my American Express card will be charged monthly for our Royal Holiday membership. We immediately called CSC to explain that we have fully paid for our membership and that I did not authorize any further charges to my account. CSC suggested contacting Royal Holiday.
We again attempted to contact Mr. Art Martinez. This time, the cell phone number seems to be out of service and we never get a single response to our emails. After failed attempts to contact Mr. Martinez and “John”, we tried the toll-free number for Royal Holiday. Several more attempts were made to contact Royal Holiday, at least once a day since we received those CSC letters. Of these attempts, there were only 3 occasions when a live person answered the phone. We first spoke with “Alvin”, a customer service representative. We explained to him that our 5-year membership was paid in full and we don’t owe Royal Holiday anything. He said it is showing up in their database that we are members for 15 years and have a balance in our account. He said they may have made a mistake at the presentation. It’s possible that the presenter and the secretary who wrote up the membership may have miscommunicated. He then said he will inform our ‘personal advisor’, “Mike Mora”, of our situation and to make sure Mike Mora calls us back the next business day. Our phone calls were unreturned.
The second successful phone call, we finally spoke with John. John listened to our issues. However, said he could do nothing about it because he was unauthorized to make any changes. We asked to speak to our ‘personal advisor” Mike Mora, but John said Mike Mora was unavailable but will call us back the following business day. Again, there was no call back. When we finally were able to speak to Mr. Mora on May 11, 2007, we explained the same issues to him. He said he will call the Royal Holiday Cancun office to clear things up and will call us back the following business day. Once again, unreturned phone calls. Again, we continue to make calls to cancel our membership, but time and time again have no success getting a hold of a live person that can help or at the very least give us any definite answers.
Royal Holiday Club gave a presentation of deceitful lies. They purposely withheld important details and provided falsified information to lure us into signing up for a fraudulent membership to take our money.
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