This is a post I didn’t want to write.
I mean who wants to write about the bad (or shameful) aspects of travel.
Just when you think you are a travel pro, things like this happen.
I was scammed in Playa del Carmen.
Ok, it was hard to admit that.
If you visit the Riviera Maya’s biggest cities (Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum), you are going to notice a lot of guys trying to get you into “hotel tours”. In reality, you are getting into a timeshare/sales presentation. You may think this is not a big deal but believe me, it is.
These people are experts in using deceptive techniques to get tourists to certain hotel facilities. Even though they are not endangering or robbing you, they are still scamming you because they use fraud and lies to gain your confidence. And this is not the worst part. The tense situation starts once you find yourself in a sales room.
My take on all this: Do not sign in for one of these tours or presentations. Never, never, never. I am going to tell you why below.
How Everything Starts
How do you think these scammers get business? They set up a tourist information or daily tours kiosk. When they notice you are taking a look at the activities advertised, they come up to you, gather some information and start to deviate the conversation to the “hotel tour” topic. They will offer you money, tickets and/or transportation for just “taking a tour of a property and recommending it to friends back home”.
In my case, I thought this was legitimate because:
- I have been on property tours before. So, these do exist.
- I directly asked the guy if this was a sales presentation and he said no.
- The guy was really friendly.
- He was going to send us to a hotel related to the Xcaret park. I believed I was dealing with a reputable company.
- The compensation package was good (or that is what I thought initially).
So, I signed up for the “tour” and ended up having one of the worst experiences of my life.
The Hard Reality
Next day, we were taken to the tour meeting place. Once I arrived, I knew I was lied to. It was obvious that the place was a sales room. I should have stopped everything at that moment (I was really mad).
A lady took us to the Xcaret Grand Oriental Hotel. Once she showed us around, we went back to the initial area. This is when everything started to get black. We said we weren’t interested in buying at that time. The lady got really aggressive and even insulted us. She told us we were acting in a very offensive way. I still don’t get what she meant. She kept bringing people to try to convince us to sign a paper. We stood up decided to leave but they were blocking us!!!! At that point, I started to worry (I felt like crying). After more screaming and accusing us of liars, we managed to get to the front door. They gave us our compensation half an hour later.
I experienced a pretty sour moment but I learned my lesson. I will never again sign up for this type of presentation. It was not only the treatment but consider the following:
- They get you to the presentation with lies. Somebody who lies to you does not deserve your business.
- They tell you it is a 90 minute tour. Do you know how much time I wasted? Four hours. We can add another hour because of the time it took to sign us up. Do you really want to spend your precious travel time in this thrash? I don’t think so.
- The compensation offered is not fair if you consider the time and trouble you have to invest.
- They use the information you provide them against you.
- There is no law protecting you against harsh or high pressure sales tactics. To them, everything is fair game.
- Even if you are thinking about buying, what they offer is way overpriced (I know this by experience) and it is valid for a fixed amount of years. You don’t really own it.
- Do you really want to make business in a foreign country without consulting an attorney or accountant? In the spur of the moment, you can get in big trouble.
- These people are totally unprofessional. Why they have to scream and even push clients?
There is not even one good reason to sign for something like this.
I did a “Playa del Carmen scams” Google search and found out Trip Advisor contains tons of forums discussing similar issues. So, this is a real problem.
This is my story. It may not sound so harsh but believe me I felt very vulnerable at one point. I don’t want this to happen to any of you.
Pay attention, these scammers can be found in the following areas:
- Cancun’s malls
- Playa del Carmes’s Quinta Avenida
- Tulum’s main drag
Be aware of people speaking perfect English, offering free maps or asking you personal question (where are you staying, where do you live).
Be vigilant and don’t let these guys interfere with your travel plans.
Have you been in a similar situation before? What are your recommendations? Let me know in the comments section below.
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