LIAR LIAR! PANTS ON FIRE!!!
"How would you like to waste an entire day of your vacation, get lied to at least 100 times in the span of 7 hours, and get tricked into making an extremely bad investment based on lies and deceit.all in one day?
That's what we should have heard instead of hearing.
"Would you like $100 and a free ride to your hotel?"
That was the first question of our vacation misfortune. A gentleman named Alex at the airport offered us a free ride to our hotel plus $100 free spending money if we let him give us a ride to our hotel.and to a painstakingly long timeshare presentation through VIDA VACATIONS. Having some free time during our trip, we accepted.
Two days later we were picked up by Alex and brought to the luxurious Grand Bliss Resort. "Wow!" we thought, "this place is sweet." Ready for our promised short 90 minute presentation, we patiently waited for our "tour guide" to greet us. [continued below]....
Mike Akoury, who seemed to be a sincere guy, came and shook our hands and we were on our way. He took us up to the presentation floor where we chatted a bit (which we now know is used to size us up and determine which of the vacation properties they were going to trick us into buying) before taking us to our free breakfast. The food was decent and we sat on a nice patio overlooking the water. During the table talk, we got to know Mike a bit better, and started to instill our trust in him. He raved about the company he worked for and its property and how their program was not a "timeshare" program and how they were better.
After our stomachs were full, he gave us a tour of the grounds and all the incredible things that the resort had to offer. We saw the golf course, the manmade lake they were making, the new construction of luxury buildings, the watersides, the endless pools, the fresh fish carts and of course the actual units that were completely decked out in the nicest of furniture and appliances. We were impressed, but knew we still had a presentation to sit through. Although the promised 90 minutes had already passed, we sat down with Mike to go over some options of how we might be able to enjoy the resort he had just walked us through.
.AND THIS IS WHERE THE LYING AND DECEIT BEGINS.
He started by showing us a laminated sheet with some numbers that the units and memberships go for. Although they seemed legitimate, those numbers have no bearing on anything related to buying the actual timeshare. We laughed at the initial figures of how much a one bedroom unit would cost and out came another laminated sheet with lower figures. I started to wonder how many of these laminated sheets he had with different numbers.
He went into his whole presentation about buying weeks and what they included. How we could vacation for pennies on the dollar at any of the VIDA resorts. Booklets were put on the table from third party vacation companies (RCI, HSI, SFX to name a few) and inside were hundred of resorts around the world we could stay at. Incredible travel deals were mentioned. 50% off airfare, one week stays for $600, 50% off hotel stays, and much, much more.
Mike showed us a breakdown for three weeks per year and the cost of those three weeks. Three weeks that could be used at any resort of our choice for only $600 each week. He even calculated how much we'd spend each year on vacations if we didn't buy property through them and showed us how we would ultimately benefit and save money through VIDA. He did however, forget to mention all the additional costs that accompany buying one of their properties.
We declined his first few offers as we knew we had a limited budget. My partner and I were there with our newborn son and knew we couldn't get into anything that jeopardize our ability to support our growing family.
He left and came back with another fellow named James. James, as it seems, is more of the "closer" type of presenter. And although we didn't know it at the time, the lies came flying out of his mouth at an alarming rate.
We were now being offered even more weeks at a cheaper price than before, more memberships to third party companies, all because "it was their low season and they need some sales." He went on and on about how the investment would pay for itself through the money we would receive by renting out the weeks we would have if we bought.
Upon our "gentleman's agreement," VIDA would buy back our weeks at a rate of $1600 per week to offset the cost of our monthly payments and we would still have a bit of profit leftover. They convinced us, that they didn't even want us to use our weeks, and that they would rather have them back so they could use them as part of their Golf Package and make more money that way. It seemed like a total win-win situation. We would have one week to spend anywhere in the world, we'd give them back two weeks and we'd make a profit for doing nothing. Oh, and don't forget all the additional memberships and travel deals we'd be receiving from the other companies. We should have known it was too good to be true.
So me, my partner, Mike and James finally came to a deal. They were going to sell us 8 weeks total, buy 5 of them back automatically for a higher price than they sold to us for (in order to lower the price of the remaining 3 weeks). We would have three weeks to use, but per our "gentleman's agreement" (this term was used A LOT during the presentation), they would want us to give back at least two of our weeks in exchange for $1600 each. James said that we could call and give our weeks back, and that they issued quarterly payments for the weeks they bought back. That was a total lie he pulled out of his a**. In addition to the three weeks, we would receive a paid membership to RCI, membership and two VIDA Vacation weeks through SFX, and 25 breakaway weeks for 25 years through HSI. It seemed like such a sweet deal.
The cocktail ordering began, and before you knew it, I had a tequila on the rocks in front of me as the paperwork came flying out. The Usage fees, renewal fees and other fees that they declined to mention started to appear in writing on the contracts, which we asked about and were then explained. But even at this point, 6 hours and 5 go-arounds later, it still seemed like a good deal. I almost wanted to sign everything just to get the hell out of there and on with the rest of my vacation.
We asked about the terms of our "gentleman's agreement" as they were not stated in the contract, and were told not to worry. They couldn't' put that in the contract and assured us that we had "nothing to worry about." That we would have no trouble trying to get our weeks sold or bought back because they use as many weeks as they can get for their Golf and Marketing divisions.
We meet with the lawyer Deborah to sign the rest of our papers. She suggested we have our copy of the contract delivered to our residence in the US so we don't lose them on our vacation. "Great idea," I thought, only to finally realize that they do this so we can't review the contract after leaving the premises and see that we would only have 5 days to do our research and find out that they just bamboozled us into making the worst investment ever. S o we stood up, shook hands, and enjoyed our $100 and the rest of our vacation.
To this day, I've e-mailed Mike Akoury numerous times about how to move forward with our "gentleman's agreement" and I've received no response. I've called Member Services to hear them tell me that they don't actually buy back weeks, they've never heard of giving back any figure of $1600 to members for their weeks, and the only way to sell weeks is to use a third party company that happens to charge a listing fee. Oh, and there's no guarantee of the rate you might get for your weeks.
So here we are, with three third party memberships that will expire next year (which of course, are nothing like the booklets they showed us during our presentation), three weeks to a technically non existent condo, and monthly bill that does us absolutely no good.
There you sat, across the table from a young family with a newborn son, knowing that you were going to rip us off of thousands of dollars. You told lie after lie, you made us believe in you and your resort, and offered us dreams of luxury vacation benefits and lifestyle, all to put a little bit of cash in your pocket.
WellBravo! Congratulations to you VIDA, Grand Mayan, Mike, James, and Deborah. You have successfully ripped off me and my family. But don't worry, I have the notes you wrote while sitting with us at the table. We have a lot of friends and family who we'll share our story with. And we sure as hell know how spread our story though social media and the internet. I will do everything in my power to make sure nobody in their right mind would even consider about investing a single penny with your company.
But in the meantime, I hope you one day realize that you make your living by stealing money from the hard working. By lying your way to a paycheck. And by taking advantage of people who are in your country to enjoy themselves, only to return home never wanting to go back.
Where is your conscience? Your heart? And your dignity? Maybe you'll find it at the bottom of the stack of complaint letters your company receives. Or even underneath that "gentleman's agreement" we made, just in case you happen to find it.