TIME SHARE – A RECURRING NIGHTMARE
CAUTION: DO NOT EXPECT THAI POLICE TO ACT WHEN FOREIGNERS CHEAT FOREIGNERS.
Phuket’s ‘multi-agency task’ force which was set up three years ago to deal with Time Share Touts along Patong and Karon Beaches appears to have melted away soon after its formation.
Fighting talk to abolish the cheats, as per jet skis, taxis, tuk tuks and other scams appears to have been just that.
The multi-agency task force comprised officers of the Tourist Police, Royal Thai Police, Provincial Police, Public Prosecutor’s Office, Provincial Office and Patong Municipality, reported the Phuket Gazette.
And the newspaper quoted Vice Governor Somiet as saying:
“It’s a big problem. Tourists book holidays with timeshare companies, but when they arrive in Patong, the companies don’t have any hotel rooms for them to stay in. That is destroying our tourism reputation.”
Meanwhile this was the view of Deputy Mayor Chairat Sukkaban:
“There are genuine timeshare companies that are registered and have their own offices.
“But there are also people who rent hotels and properties for only a couple of years, but then offer clients use of the properties over 10 to 30 years. That’s cheating,” Mr Chairat said.
“Third are companies that don’t have anything at all, but they tell their clients that they have got everything for them,” he added.
“Many of these operators set up companies and ‘sell’ anything they can, making anywhere from 100 to 500 million baht. They then close their companies and run away.
“Later they open a new timeshare company, because it is easy to open such companies in Thailand, and cheat people all over again. It is damaging our tourism,” he added.
Unfortunately the multi-task force seems to have only found people in the first category.
Now I have no intention of running a business advice or agony aunt column , but I have been getting letters recently about Time Share Scammers in Thailand, particularly Phuket. Recently they have been about the Karon Beach Club and Resort. I’m not sure this place has bricks and mortar,
These Time Share scams are as old as the hills. They have been running in Spain, Tenerife and many other places too for decades. I do not know why people want to ruin a perfectly good holiday going to meetings offering the opportunity of a life time – or this below.
Britain’s most notorious Time Share boss was John ‘Goldfinger’ Palmer who was acquitted for his alleged role (smelting the gold) in the infamous Brinks Matt bullion robbery in the UK.
It is estimated he earned a £300 million from Timeshare operation in Tenerife and Spain and was moving in on Thailand when he was nabbed and jailed for eight years.
Take this from the Daily Telegraph:
“His army of touts, mostly Britons seeking employment, promised free champagne and children’s gifts to entice holidaymakers to buy time in the villas. They even persuaded holidaymakers to invest in timeshare apartments yet to be built. Palmer sold time in apartments that could only be built with holidaymakers’ money.
“The empire was run by intimidation and violence. Intelligence from the National Police and the paramilitary Civil Guard, disclosed in the Spanish media, is said to link him and his associates to swindles, protection rackets and extortion, death threats, violent attacks, as well as money laundering and dealing with the Russian mafia.”
However to those who have written in, below are a couple of links. But there is stuff all over the net if you look.
Don’t let these people ruin your holiday.
My partner and I have had a lot of problems with Karon Beach Club Resort (KBCR) in Phuket. They have sold a membership for a lot of money to us under our visit in Phuket last year. After homecoming we began to realize that it was a SCAM. We have made a lot of research on the web and have found that we are not alone. Many people have been mislead and duped by them. We have tried since february to cancel the membership and get our money back but they will not cooperate so we have now contacted a lawyer in Thailand . Would like to know if You have heard something like this before?”
“For anyone having timeshare issues in Phuket. Here is a basic rundown of the scam, how they do it, how they make money from it and how you lose from it. I am already a member of a legitimate timeshare scheme in Australia as well as a member of Dial an exchange and have recently just been bitten by this scam myself. I gambled $100aud as a deposit and it was more out of curiosity that we sat through the presentation as this gave us the opportunity to research it a bit more and find out if what they offered was legitimate.
“If you signed up for timeshare in Phuket you will not get what you paid for. What they are selling is not what you will get. They offer UNLIMITED BONUS WEEKS at $249AUD for whatever period of time your contract runs. Basically they offer ANYWHERE-ANYTIME. They also tell you that you will have an account at Dial an exchange and this is where you will purchase your weeks. This is true to some extent but what they don’t tell you is that the UNLIMITED BONUS WEEKS can only be bought a maximum of six weeks in advance and the availability is almost nil and is not the 5 star standard which they offer.
“When they take you through the computer presentation and demonstration of the Dial an exchange website, they do not search for bonus weeks but instead search for EXCHANGE WEEKS which is an entirely different concept with much more availability (will explain this below as this is how they make their money). All this information is available on the Dial an exchange website and I have also had it confirmed by Dial an exchange today.
“BASIC TIMESHARE EXPLANATION—— When you purchase a legitimate timeshare from a resort, you have a physical investment. It will be a floating week or a fixed date week. A floating week can be used anytime of year subject to availability and a fixed week is a fixed date that you can only use. You actually get a legal document of a property settlement as you are now an OWNER. This purchase does not expire and you are entitled to use your week once per year for free. There are annual costs incurred called maintenance fees and these vary depending on which resort you have bought into. Average $500-$700aud per year. If you do not use your free week each year you lose it. This is where an exchange company comes in.
“EXCHANGE COMPANIES——-Exchange companies are a very good concept if you are unable to use your week or if you want to holiday at a different location. Companies such as Dial an exchange are FREE to join. The way they work is you join the exchange company and if you cannot use your annual week, you can bank it with the exchange company for up to 3 years. They then only charge about $80 to write you up a certificate when you decide you want to go on holiday. You can also combine banked weeks for an extended stay. When you bank your week, it is placed into a pool which also has weeks banked from other owners all over the world. This is where the exchange factor comes into play and if you decide to take your holiday at a different location, you can choose from any in the pool at a cost of about $80aud. You can also gift your week to family and friends. If you do not use your banked weeks within the 3 year time frame, then these unused weeks go into a new pool called BONUS WEEKS. They are left over stock and are offered at a reduced rate and can only be purchased 6 weeks in advance. Availability is very limited and you will rarely see a 5 star property there. These weeks are the ones which you are being sold access to. You only need to own one legitimate week to purchase UNLIMITED BONUS WEEKS
“HOW THE SCAMMERS WIN——— When you purchase from companies such as Patong Bay Vacation Club, you are not purchasing a physical investment that entitles you to one FREE week per year, you are only purchasing ACCESS to buy BONUS WEEKS. The way this works is Patong Bay Vacation Club only needs to bank one of its rooms at each resort to be entitled to UNLIMITED BONUS WEEKS. In other words, they can actually sell the same room over and over again because you will never have access to it. They also still charge you a maintenance fee for a room you do not actually own. They will also assign you to one of their resorts as your HOME RESORT. This is only paper work that enables them to legitimately sign you up with an exchange company.
“HOW YOU LOSE——-The scammers will charge you full tote odds and only provide you with access to left over or unused stock. Patong Bay Vacation Club are charging $28,000 for a 30 year membership. For this amount you could purchase an actual physical week at any resort in the world, but you do not need to buy an expensive timeshare property in order to have access to BONUS WEEKS. The deal they offered me was $5500 for a 3 year deal. My other week which I own in Australia was purchased for $2000aud and has a maintenance fee of $450 per year. You do not even need to bank your week to have access to BONUS WEEKS, you just need to own a week and be a member of an exchange company. There are weeks available at even lower prices and I have even seen them advertised for free because people cant afford or justify the maintenance fees.
“SUMMARY——Don’t buy anything from these guys. BONUS WEEKS are a good concept if you can just pack up and go on holiday at short notice and don’t particularly care where or what standard the rooms are but you can get all of that plus more for a fraction of the price in Australia. Anyone who comments that they are happy with their purchase are either lying or are happy having paid a premium price for a dodgy product.
“And by the way, our presentation took 6 hours out of our holiday time. I scratched the FREE HOLIDAY on my scratchie card and surprise surprise, you need to attend a seminar as part of the T&C
“Hi My husband and I were on our honeymoon when we signed up for this. We were one of the lucky ones as we gave a deposit of almost $3000 and got every cent back as well as getting our contract cancelled.
“We did this by realising that night that something wasn’t right and started researching, and as it has already been pointed out, that its the bonus weeks that they are luring everyone in with, but they are not correct in that you are not able to access them as they have advertised.
“My husband and I contracted the bank the next day and asked to dispute the transaction, as we had not been told about the 6-8 week release dates of the bonus weeks, and were told anywhere any time unlimited and this is not true.
“What they fail to tell you is that you have very limited availability. you can find out the 6-8 week part on the DAE site, but as indicated you can not see.
“So my husband and I returned the next day during business hours to talk with them about our concerns and we asked to see the bonus weeks availability and the fact that they only get released 6-8 weeks before hand.
“With so many other potential buyers in the room there is no way they want to loose that much business, so they are willing to concede that this product is not for us, and agreed to cancel our contract and refund our money.
“We asked for this in writing and for it to be given to us before we leave. we were asked to put it in writing that we wanted to cancel our contract and why, which we did and explained how misleading the sales person was. they did try and make us pay bank fees and taxes on the deposit, which we told them our bank would deal with, as we knew we would not have to pay this.
” The best thing you can do is contact you bank and tell them you were mislead with incorrect and misleading information. They have heard it all before. If you are still in Patong, go back during business hours and ask to talk to the sales person with some questions.
“Do not let them fob you off to the dinner they have organised. Do it in plain view of everyone. We were lucky and got our money back. every last cent. but it was a very stressful situation to be in. I wish you all luck if you are silly enough to fall for this.
“My gut told me at the time that it was a scam, but as I have a love of travel, the lure of cheap accommodation, and how that could benefit my children and family, was greater than my instincts of “if it sounds too good to be true, then it usually it is”.
” Anyone that won’t let you leave to think about it, does not have much confidence in their product. i hope this helps someone.”
Time share – Phuket
“Okay guys, be warned if you are approached by a pair of guys on a motorbike, asking if you speak English, then they will ask you to scratch a card for a prize. ITS ALL A BLOODY GREAT SCAM for timeshare whereby you are asked to attend a 90 minute presentation.
“3-4 hours later if you’re lucky you will get out of there, not before being asked to sign up to a 25 or 50 year plan to join a holiday club. Don’t do it, you are wasting potentially $20,000 plus not to mention if you die your kids will have to keep on paying. They will charge you at least $6,000 on your credit card up front. THERE IS NO COOLING OFF PERIOD AT ALL. You will have to get your bank to fight for you and your money.
“Some tips to avoid them, ignore them initally say “don’t speak Englize”, tell them you earn less than $50,000, have not been together for 2 years, you have an appointment in half an hour but on NO ACCOUNT go with them otherwise you are in for the hard sell treatment. Stuff th supposed prize, which normally is a free holiday to one of their properties that they will charge an arm and a leg for the privilege.
“Be warned watch out for New Zealand, English or South African’s that pull up their motorbike next to you and engage you in conversation, just tell them to move on and that you are not falling for their bulls–t product.”