If It Quacks, Sure It’s A Duck!
I’ve been aware of some sort of scams going on in Thailand. One the most infamous is the Timeshare Hotel Scam. This is just a scam equal as many as we have in the western, so I believe most westerners should be aware of it.
I really don’t know how many people have fallen into this scam, but I’m pretty sure from what I’ve read it would be a good number of people. How can it be possible? I was in Thailand 2 years ago and I never ever heard about Timeshare Hotel before.
When some South African chick on a motorbike approaches to me in the streets at Patong Beach on a Friday morning and gave me a card that entitles me to win $1000 USD, an IPad or a week in a hotel located in Phuket, Pattaya or Samui I thought, “Wow! How lucky I am!”
That time I was so naïve about Thailand. Many scams going on but I never fall into them. So, why not try my chance there? I thought to myself like this “Around 1 PM I usually go to Jungceylon Mall to eat and rest a bit because there is good AC and some good looking girls there and I might get a massage too. I will take part of my time and go to the Timeshare Hotel instead and check what is about”.
Around 12:30 I walked down to Jungceylon Mall to eat and rest a bit. Around 13:30 I had finished everything so I went down to Timeshare Hotel to check what was going on there. As soon I arrived I talked with some lady waiting for “customers”. For my surprise she was Portuguese like me, that was a big surprise to me because it is not usual to see many Portuguese people in Thailand. We talked a bit and she explained to me the “service” and helped me to fill in a form. Notice that she was working there for only 2 or 3 weeks, so I think she was kind of naïve about Timeshare Hotel too.
1) The perception
I waited a bit so Marcel (the salesman) came to me and explained the details about Timeshare Hotel World. They served me a cold juice and we started talking. Marcel looks like a nice guy. Later I noticed that he was married with a Thai national, like most of the salesman and executive partners there. He always asked me if the motorbike girl was too harsh with me or she gave me hard selling prop. “No. Everybody nice with me. No hard selling at all”. And that is true and the wonderful part of this scam. They don’t give you a hard sell in any circumstances. Marcel started making questions about me, my life, my job (income included, of course) and my hobbies like a good salesman and stated that 4 in 10 people would buy the Timeshare Hotel card package.
2) The catch
After I told him about me, my life, my job and my hobbies he found that I was eligible to be an Timeshare Hotel card holder. I showed him I was so happy (fake, of course) and took me to another level and started showing me the hotel. Was an old hotel! It was been flooded in the 2003 Tsunami but looked nice and spacious. Then he took me to a luxurious hotel in Bangla Road, called Bangla Suites. I have to say that was a very nice hotel with a good level of insonorization and a good quality level of service (5*) and for that reason, very expensive too. Then after, he took me to see the new hotel they just starting building a bit far for the south of Phuket. Another luxury hotel. Everything looked like a dream come true. If I ever believed in fairy tales I would be the owner of the Timeshare Hotel card for sure. Fortunately I don’t believe fairy tales.
3) The everything so perfect time
As soon we came back to the hotel we went to their office located in the basement. Now Marcel showed me in a professional manner the way I can use TimeshareHotel's services. He asked me many times if he was pushing me with hard selling. Notice that my main reason was to rest a bit because at that time it was so hot in Patong. At this point Marcel knows about my combat sports background, so he knows he needs to be on easy with me.
We went to his office and he started to show me the website where I can book a week for a fantastic fee. I have to say if it was true it would be really fantastic, but when something is too good to be true, it usually is. He showed me fantastic prices for one week in a 5* hotel located in the Caribbean (I think Jamaica) and how many more offers they have to show me because they have many agreements with international hotels such as Marriot and others around the world. Then he started to show me flight prices as well. I told him, I can get better prices online. Then he told me how I can sell it to my friends and colleagues and get some money too. I must say absolutely incredible. At that time I was curious about the price of the TimeshareHotel card, so I asked him and he replied to me that soon I will know. I keep telling him, this is so great but I need to know the price.
4) Flags up everywhere
My first flag really raised up when I asked him to try the website for my own and look for my kind of vacations so I find out what will suit me. Of course that was impossible. He made an excuse and called his manager to talk with me. Notice that he keeps asking me about if at that point I had noticed any hard selling on me. At that point, no hard selling at all. Just information and good behaviour. Finally his manager (I don’t remember his name but I think was Bevin) comes up to talk with me. They found out I like football so they keep saying one of their investors was a former football player from the Liverpool team of the late 90’s. He starts talking about football teams like Arsenal, Tottenham and so on. Salesman talk as you know and I keep asking them the price. After much time insisting they took me to the manager's office.
5) Settling the deal
I think at this point they think it would be a piece of cake to settle the deal with me, so they took me to the manager's office. At this point they stated that Expedia is a rip off and they are the right solution to the best vacations ever.
I just want to hear about terms and prices. After I insisted a bit they started telling me. €20,000 was the full package price with a €179 year fee. It includes each week for a €139 fee in every time of the year in a luxurious 5* hotel for me and my family and. I can sell as many weeks as I want to my friends and colleagues, as many times I want for, I think, 20 years or so. “TimeshareHotelly incredible” I must say. Too good to be true, don’t you think so? And so it was.
I told them I need time to do my research online about TimeshareHotel and I can’t decide anything on that day. They declined and replied that this offer was only for today and I need to make a decision today. My second flag was raised. Now I’m aware this is a scam and I need to be really cautious and do not sign any papers.
I started to brag and they lowered the price to €16,000 but they needed my credit card details to proceed. I told them politely that was too expensive. They gave me the choice to have another kind of card for €8,000 and €179 year fee. This card just allows me to have a 4-week package every year for the same fee, €139. I can sell weeks to my friends and colleagues as well if I don’t use it.
Again, politely, I refused to pay such an amount of money and I told them we don’t have a deal. They felt frustrated but they realized they can’t proceed. Marcel took me to the front office desk and they give me an TimeshareHotel T-shirt and my prize for the time spent, one week in a hotel in Pattaya, Phuket or Samui (sure, they wouldn’t give me $1000 USD or the IPad). Marcel in the end lost his good behaviour and started telling me Expedia will rip me off like they do with everybody, and so on. He asked me why I backed off from the deal. What was wrong so I backed off? I told him what was obvious…when something is too good to be true, it sure is.
6) Scam for all
Well, after that I went to Patong beach once again and had the rest of the day happy with my new prize: a week in Pattaya for €69 and a new T-shirt. Sounds like a good deal to me.
Another day I was always approached by other motorbike girls asking me where I was from. As soon as I said I was from Portugal they went away really quick and don’t give me any prize anymore. Now they get smarter, they only want British, Aussies and northern Europeans citizens. No more south European crap!
One time in Bangla Road an Indian guy approached me with a hot deal like TimeshareHotel, but he needed my credit card right away. I told him to fuck off and die. The guy sounded desperate and didn’t hide that fact. What a creep!
7) TimeshareHotel resting
When I come back to my home town I made plans to go back Thailand once more, next April. But now I have a free week in Pattaya. That sounds good. I have booked that week for only €69 and there I went. Everything was good and no complaints about it. Not a luxury hotel, look more like an old 3* rated hotel, 15 years old or more and low maintenance, but with a very good suite. That suite I stayed in was around 80 – 90 square-metres with 2 big bedrooms, one big living room, 2 big bathrooms and one kitchenette. What more would I want? At that time me and my girlfriend were very happy there. Not a top hotel, but a good hotel for a very reasonable price in a good location between Jomtien beach and Pattaya beach, a 5-minute bus drive to Walking Street. The name? Nirvana Place. There's a nice restaurant there, Mata Hari. For me and my girlfriend this was TimeshareHotelly incredible.
8) Sure it’s a duck!
A few months later after I come back to my home town again, I started to look for the TimeshareHotel scam on internet. Only then I realized how many people had been scammed this last years. How can it be possible? If something looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks, damn sure it’s a duck!
People were talking in the forums about how they want a refund and complaining how they get scammed. The best insurance they have is keeping their credit card in the hotel safe deposit and leave their hotel with their entire brain.
So, my opinion on this matter is you don’t lose anything going there and getting informed, they don’t do hard selling on you and are nice people but please don’t fall for this scam. It’s so obvious and has so many red flags.
But I give my credits to the person who thought about this scam. It’s obviously an intelligent guy, with lots of creativity and many resources.
A few years back I was regularly approached by girls on bikes on my visits to Pattaya, just like you were in Phuket. I simply pointed my camera at them and off they screamed away at high speed – one was almost mowed down by a car!