Calypso Cain: Calypso Cay and the great Florida timeshare 'vacation' scam.
One day in 2003, when I was a single mother on a very low income, I was at my computer when a pop up announced that I had won a holiday to Florida. Quite excited as I had never won anything like this before I rang the number on my screen. An American voice congratulated me and told me I had won a trip to Florida courtesy of 'First Choice Vacations' (a vacation Dear English reader is a holiday they really do speak another language over there in Florida as I was to discover). I was pretty thrilled about this.
I was told the holiday I had won was worth 1699 00 in retail value and all I needed to do was cough up a deposit of 299 00 and pay the rest when booking. I hummed and haahd, I did not know when I would be able to find the money for the tickets, whilst they persuaded me with the most astonishing sales pitch. After a while, I thought shucks I might as well go for it I had been assured I could sell it on if I wished, it was worth so much money. I had never really fancied Florida, but I did like the idea of going on a ship to the Bahamas. In my imagination I saw Bette Davis on the deck in or my grandparents travelling to Cape Town, playing cards on the deck or dancing to the band in full evening attire I told you I was a sucker.
Anyway, I can hear you all gasp with dismay I gave these thieves my money and then went off to Thailand to work for a charity in IDP areas along the border. Oh the irony! Do you know what irony is Mr Cain? No perhaps it only works in English.
Anyway, the darn 'vacation,' expired before I could find the money to take my son there and 'First Choice Vacations,' scored my money because I didn't have the money to pay the 'extension fee,' to keep it open. heck you win some, and then you lose some, right Mr Cain?
And then you lose some more. Fast forward a few years and I am now married to a lovely man. One evening I take a call from, you guessed it 'Calypso Cain.' Calypso Cain inform us that they have discovered us on some mysterious data base (it is our theory that there is a central 'database,' accessed by several different 'companies,' more of which later. CC tell us that for the sum of $399 00 dollars, they, kind souls will reopen our file and give us another stunning deal (picture a blow to the head dealt by their brainwashing) 4 days and 3 nights in Awelando, 3 days and 2 nights in Ft Launderdale and our 'choice,' (it's always our choice folks!!) of a 4 day, 3 night stay in the Bahamas or a 3 day, 2 night Bahamas cruise.
Oh yeah (I hear your cries of alarm) it was the cruise that got me. But also my son is now eleven and I thought it would be fun (tacky admittedly, but fun, we reasoned to take our son to Disneyland and go on all the rides whoopy -doo!). Little did we know Dear reader, that we were already being taken for a ride! After some time listening to the woman give me the hard sell, I hand the phone over to my husband who gets the same treatment not just from her but from another hard nosed salesman. My husband was holding the phone a little way away from his ear as the 'lady,' would not stop talking. he is English, and quite polite so he did not really know how to make her stop.
At first I said no shaking my head. every now and again he would put his hand over the receiver and tell me what she was saying. And then I began to think of the cruise...and what fun our son would have...and next thing I know we're giving our credit card details out on the phone to complete strangers (stranglers financial anyway). I know it's bonkers, but they subject you to this kind of brainwashing, that's the only way I can explain it, after a while it's like hypnosis. Really it is awful come to think of it. Do not fall for it!
Hilariously, two days later we get another call from another company (if indeed it was another company, we have a theory that 'they' are all one company) offering us an even better deal for an extra 50 00! Yes, they too had access to my 'expired,' details from the previous company. Frankly I feel such a fool for falling for this scam twice I could expire myself!
Anyway fast forward to July 2008 and I ring up to book the trip. I discover that if we want to take the cruise we will have to pay a further $600 00!! This we are assured are for port taxes in the Bahamas! When I protested saying that this was nearly twice what we paid for our whole trip, the woman suggested that we scrap the cruise and just stay in the hotels for the discounted rate ($399 00 not counting the $600 00 I paid previously). Is this a discount? For a few days in a couple of hotels that they have probably block booked at a discounted rate? I think not.
Finally I woke up honestly it is as if I was in Disneyland all this time under the influence of some hideous spell only to wake up to Prince Alarming yelling in my ears: For pity's sake woman do you want to be taken on that ride a third time!! Wake up!!). I checked 'the fine print,' a finely spun web of deceit that assured us we had thirty days to cancel (missed that bit) and that if we had pitched up At Calypso Cain we would have been charged hotel taxes ( at their discounted rate or their full rate how badly can they rip us off?) and for things such as roll up beds etc. Shucks we thought! They might skin us alive!
I rang up to cancel and request a refund. No ma'am I was told (no this isn't Southern charm, it's insincere chat designed to lure you into a false sense of security) I had entered into a binding contract. What is this? The Wild West? I didn't remember signing a contract. They then played me recordings of my husband seem-comatose apparently agreeing to the terms and conditions I think this tape was spliced at the end of their conversation the t and c's were rattled off he swears he was not told about the terms and conditions. I put it to the lady (sorry con artist) that if she paid for a car from me and I did not deliver it would she expect her money back? She could not answer this question, she just kept warbling sorry ma'am, sorry ma'am and wittering on about a binding contract till I wanted to bind her with her own words and chuck her into the nearest novelty pond.
When I put the phone down, my husband expressed alarm that the woman had read out our credit card details over the phone, without checking who we were. this would never happen in the U.K. Frankly, companies like Calypso Cain would not get away with this behaviour here, the reason they do get away with it is because we cannot just hop on a plane and sort it out. If we could afford to we would not be dealing with companies like Calypso Cain offering us discounted 'vacations.'
And therein lies the evil at the heart of all of this. Calypso Cain are ripping off people who can ill afford it. Single mums like I was and those that could not afford to go to Florida full price. Calypso Cain know that when we eventually receive our 'information pack,' and find the hidden fine print or phone to book our 'vacations' and discover the truth, we cannot drive round there and sort it out. I am quite sure they are not taking American citizens for the same ride or they would probably get shot. I called this article Calypso Cain, because 'Cain,' means acquisition in Hebrew. Companies like this see people like us as 'acquisitions,' they see our money as theirs. They have no problem subjecting us to their slickly painted lies in order to trick us out of our money. The modern Hebrew verb form of 'Cain,' means shopping mall in America. Most shopping malls are full of tat (don't know if there's an American translation of that? Crappy stuff that you don't need. For a while I fell hostage to the American notion that I should want to take my child to Disneyland. Frankly I'm ashamed of myself for this.
Companies like Calypso Cain are the real Disneyland, the macabre face of the painted clown behind the cash machine. I shudder to think I may have fallen into line with this. I have tried to teach my son values. I took him to the camps with me along the Thai/Burma border where he played football with children who had escaped the Burmese regime incidentally most of the tourist trade in 'Myanmar,' (that illegal word) is done by American companies who are getting rich off the back of human suffering. In a smaller way admittedly, but by feeding on the same rotting carcass nonetheless, companies like Calypso Cain are also getting rich by stealing other peoples money. America does not have a very good reputation in the world these days. In some areas of the world America is seen as a liar and a thief. As in the macrocosm, so in the microcosm.
If the state of Florida wants to attract tourists to the so called 'sunshine state,' they would do well to shed some light on these unscrupulous companies and take out the cockroaches that lurk under the floorboards behind the tacky billboards of Disneyland, and take out the CEO's of companies who lie and steal and using deception to fund their monuments to their own folly. for goodness sake do not fall for it! If an American calls you to tell you that you have 'won' a vacation slam the phone down. The only vacation they are offering you is one from your senses.