recently vacationed in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. In order to get to the resort I was staying at I had to take a plane to Cancun and then a taxi into town. As soon as I stepped off the plane and into the airport, I was approached by a gentleman offering me private shuttle service and 3 tickets to Chichen Itza for less that the cost of a taxi ride into Playa del Carmen. All I had to do was visit the new Tres Rios Hacienda, a self-proclaimed 6 start resort. There would, of course, be someone serving me a sales pitch, but a gourmet breakfast buffet would be included and it would only take an hour of my time.
Against my better judgment, I took them up on their offer figuring the 3 free tickets to Chichen Itza alone would save me over $300, not including the travel arrangements to and from that they would also be providing.
The Tres Rios Riviera Maya resort was spectacular. It was still in the final phases of completion, so when the salesman tried to sell us "property" there, he was offering it at a "discounted rate." One hour, eventually became three and since the group that ran the resort was also providing the transportation back to my hotel, I was, in a sense, stuck listening to a persistent salesman offering various different kinds of packages, throwing in additional vacation weeks to anywhere in the world, while pumping me and my traveling companions full of alcohol.
In the end, the deal sounded so good, I signed on the dotted line.
Unfortunately, the way the contract was explained to us and how it was actually written were quite different and difficult to interpret.
The contract even has a disclaimer at the end that basically states that due to the language barrier, some information may not be expressed clearly and interpretation is at the discretion of the organization.
Having a bad feeling about the deal once I had a couple of days to go over the contract, I tried to have it terminated under the guidelines provided. But, I was given the runaround until the number of days to do so had expired. Then they refused to release me from the contract, claiming that I did not notify them in the allotted amount of time.
After fighting back and forth through my credit card company, I finally conceded and decided to try recouping some of the money by selling my two weeks at the resort. However, I could never reach a representative, only an answering service. The toll-free telephone numbers listed on their official website led to dead-ends: one to a non-functioning line and the other to a U.S. based faucet manufacturer.
None of my phone calls, e-mails, faxes or letters were ever responded to and now I am left fighting to get the charges reversed by my credit card company once again.
I have since written a formal letter to Federal Office of Consumer Affairs in Mexico, but have yet to hear anything.
The ironic thing is that according to the Sunset Group, which manages Tres Rios, the fault is all mine. As they expressed to my credit card company, the miscommunication that ensued was on my end as I was conducting business in a foreign land and because of the language-barrier, I should have been more cautious. However, one of the company's main office is based out of Miami, Florida and the gentleman who sold me the property was from Canada and spoke perfect English.
This is a warning to anyone who is planning to travel to or around the Cancun area. If you are approached by someone offering a cheap taxi ride and free tickets to various different excursions in exchange for visiting the Tres Rios Hacienda, pay the extra money for the cab ride... you'll end up saving more money (and headaches) in the long run.
North Augusta, South Carolina