Vacation dilemma
August 1, 2010 7:28 PM   Subscribe

Apparently, I just won a vacation. Should I consider this?

Just got a call that I won a vacation package. I have 3 choices: Mexican cruise, Mexican vacation, or domestic vacation (San Francisco, Reno, Las Vegas). Apparently I filled out something at a home show (though I don't remember this... I did go to a home show last summer I think, and I do remember filling out at least one form to win something, so I guess it's possible). All we have to do is go to their office in Vancouver WA and listen to a 90-minute spiel and then we can "claim our prize" which we have up to a year to use. Could this be a scam? I don't see how, but it's weird enough for me to wonder.

Also: husband is not really into resort-style vacationing, AND we're expecting a baby in 4 months. Am I crazy for even considering this?

I told her I'd talk to my husband and she's supposed to call back in an hour to schedule our 90-minute spiel.

TL; DR: won a vacation I don't remember entering to win. husband doesn't like package vacations, baby on the way. Is this a scam? Is it worth pursuing? I have one hour to decide.
posted by rabbitrabbit to Grab Bag (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This is definitely a scam.
posted by Ouisch at 7:30 PM on August 1, 2010 [5 favorites]

Not really a scam but you will be sitting through a high pressure sales meeting for 90 minutes to "claim" your prize. It'll take a strong constitution of saying no even when they berate you to make it through without signing up for something.
posted by msbutah at 7:30 PM on August 1, 2010

You didn't actually win anything, this is a common tactic to get people to listen to hard sell pitches for condos and time shares. If you sit through the spiel, though, my understanding is that they have to give you what they offered with no purchase obligation.
posted by zjacreman at 7:32 PM on August 1, 2010 [2 favorites]

FWIW the 90 minutes usually turns out to be a two hour brainwashing session trying to convince you to purchase a timeshare.

The 'vacation' is probably only your lodgings at one of their properties and doesn't include airfare, rental car, or food.

If you were already thinking about taking a vacation to one of these places and are willing to deal with the brainwashing for a free mediocre hotel then it might be worth it for you. Otherwise it's a giant waste of time.

And everybody who enters 'wins' one of these 'vacations'.
posted by TooFewShoes at 7:36 PM on August 1, 2010 [2 favorites]

Why give only one hour to decide? The only reason they would limit the time for your decision is because they want you to act without thinking - artificial urgency is the tool of scammers, not prizegivers.
posted by Paragon at 7:37 PM on August 1, 2010 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Apparently this is a travel company, and everything is included: airfare, lodging, drinks, food.

Ouisch, they didn't ask for any credit card numbers and apparently I don't need to give them any money... it sounds like what others are talking about, high-pressure sales pitch of some kind, though she said it's to "keep us in mind when making future travel arrangements" so I don't think it's a timeshare type deal?
posted by rabbitrabbit at 7:39 PM on August 1, 2010

Of course it's a scam!
posted by Rhomboid at 7:41 PM on August 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

It's a good idea to ask for the offer in writing, by mail.
posted by Ouisch at 7:44 PM on August 1, 2010

Response by poster: Rhomboid, that link is a little more convincing that this is a scam. I'm leaning towards no...

parallax7d: sorry, I'm not a habitual question-asker but I do read a lot of questions and most of them follow the format of TL;DR at the end, so I guess I must not be the only one making that mistake. I will put it at the beginning next time.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 7:46 PM on August 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Nthing scam-ish, or at least not worth your time. Also, you're doing TL;DR the way most people here do it. At the beginning, I feel like it would be LL;WR (looks long; won't read).
posted by donnagirl at 7:52 PM on August 1, 2010

Response by poster: I'm gonna say no when she calls back. Thanks everyone. :)
posted by rabbitrabbit at 7:58 PM on August 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Don't be surprised if they start offering specials to keep you on the line -- upgrades, stay extensions, free gifts, etc. At the core of this business is a set of very persuasive salespeople that know how to pull all your emotional strings to make you buy whatever it is that they're selling. If their pitch did not work on enough people to net them a profit they wouldn't be doing this, so be very cautious; remember that all of those people started out just like you, by thinking that surely they can listen to a 90 minute presentation without buying anything.
posted by Rhomboid at 8:06 PM on August 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh I even missed this bit on the first read: I have one hour to decide.

That is right out of High Pressure Sales 101. No legitimate lottery has such a ridiculously small window to 'claim' a prize, which means you did not actually win anything because this is not a lottery.
posted by Rhomboid at 8:12 PM on August 1, 2010 [2 favorites]

Gratz!!! you are on a mailing list.

Yeah, some of these are sorta worth it -- if you can sit still for 4 to 6 hours of getting verbally pounded for what is a pretty mediocre two days in a hotel, then it is worth it. Some people can't. And sometimes, in spite of what you've been led to believe, you don't get the vacation until after the schpeel. (there are some Los Vagas things that are a bit better because they know how stupid you're going to be at the tables.)
posted by Some1 at 8:14 PM on August 1, 2010

Response by poster: Just told her we weren't interested, expecting her to talk me into it, but she just said, "OK, have a good evening." Huh.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 8:16 PM on August 1, 2010

She probably said that because she knew the jig was up so they just move on to the next victim. I know so many people who have been either totally scammed (paid them money/gave CC card to cover "taxes" for the trip) or at the very least found out it was a stupid time share scam and you had to attend one or several long, high-pressure meetings in order to get the "free" vacation, otherwise they bill you for it.

Here's a hint: if you won a contest/"free" vacation and you never signed up for the contest--it's a scam. And half the time even if you DID fill out a ballot, it's often a scam and everybody "wins" (very common practice at bridal shows and other tradeshows).
posted by 1000monkeys at 10:11 PM on August 1, 2010

My parents fell for one of these "free vacations" when I was a kid- I just remember staying in a crappy condo, a really long seminar/sales pitch, and the overall feeling that it definitely wasn't worth it- we would have had more fun at home. You made the right decision.
posted by emd3737 at 5:04 AM on August 2, 2010

I'm curious if you ever got the name of the company? It would be useful to check them out (BBB, online reviews, whatever) to see what their reputation is.
posted by Ouisch at 8:27 AM on August 2, 2010

My wife and I did this.
We parlayed the 'scam' vacation into an additional vacation we were planning. We went to Florida to listen to the high pressure sales pitch.
Against my better judgment, we signed on for the time-share condo with the intention of canceling.
My wife got a hold of the sales guy and told him that since we signed, we deserved to be put up in one of the 'luxury' condos instead of the cheap motel they 'reserved' for us.
We stayed in a beautiful condo on Myrtle Beach, went home and sent a certified letter of the cancellation.
They tried to goad us into rethinking the cancellation, but we stuck to our guns.

TL;DR: We signed, we stayed, we canceled. It is possible to win; but I wouldn't go through it again.
posted by Drasher at 9:17 AM on August 2, 2010

KEEP in mind anything you win has to be claimed on taxes. so this free vacation is not free.
posted by majortom1981 at 9:32 AM on August 2, 2010

My dad and his college buddies did this once at an RV camp in California and again in Las Vegas when I was a kid. I remember both vacations as being awesome, and my parents ended up signing up for the time share in LV. Best. Decision. Ever.

I ended up spending my 30th birthday in my parents' timeshare with five of my then-closest friends in a large one bedroom suite in a location next to the Bellagio. The entire property has gone a bit downhill, but it's still pretty awesome to me because it typically costs only $60 a night for all that room and a kitchen.
posted by TrishaLynn at 5:50 AM on August 3, 2010

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