On January 18, 2013, I received a letter, addressed to me, offering me a "Free Bahamas Cruise for Two" and a $1300 travel credit voucher. I read the 4-page ticket/booklet and phoned their number (1-800-370-0510) with questions. I spoke to a young woman who gave me her name, Nidi Hooks. As part of her spiel, she asked if I agreed that word-of-mouth was the best way to advertise a good thing, to which I said that I didnt know (it was an assumption I couldnt verify). She also told me that our conversation might be recorded for quality control purposes.
Nidi followed her script and answered my basic questions until I said that I couldn't pay the $59 x 2 (port tax for 2 people) until I had more information. And I hadn't discussed it with the friend I wanted to travel with. She passed me on to Sean Phillips, who told me more about their Extended Stay Package (ESP), with a 75% discount on accommodation for 2 nights before and 2 nights after the 2-night cruise, a rent-a-car for 7 days, and one morning or afternoon to visit a vacation ownership resort.
Sean changed a few of the details Nidi had given me, saying that I had 2 years to use the ESP, but only 18 months for the cruise alone. When I asked if the $1300 travel credit voucher would be enough to cover the basic costs, he said No. The ESP would normally cost $2996, but I could have it for $996, if I committed to it within this phone call ($2996 minus my $1300 voucher, minus $600 free cruise, minus $100 for something else = $996)). I asked him to break down the $2996 figure he was quoting.
By my rough calculations (thinking off-peak), 4 nights would cost about $600, the cruise was $600 and the car rental could be about $200, for a total of $1400 (then I would get at a 75% discount on accommodations). Were there other things in that package price? He avoided answering and said that I needed to look at the bottom line of $996 that my calculations wouldnt work. Would I be using Visa, Master Card or another credit card? I told him that I needed the information to be able to make a decision about the offer.
Sean clearly became frustrated with my questions and passed me off to Daaniyl, who listened to my quick recap and told me that I needed to calm down and listen. I calmly replied that I simply needed answers to my questions before I could make a decision about committing to $996. Daaniyl told me that I would get a free flight to Ft. Lauderdale, which surprised me, and I told him so. Why hadnt Sean told me that?
Daaniyl continued restating the perks and I restated my questions about approximate costs. When I had been on the phone for close to an hour, and wasn't satisfied with the answers, nor had I received an email with the information (as suggested by Sean) before ending the phone call, I told Daaniyl that I couldn't accept the offer as presented. His approach was that I was spending too much time analyzing things and trying to break things down. I reiterated that all I wanted was information.
If word of mouth is the best way to advertise a good thing, then this experience will do the opposite.