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|Subject: My Experience with Grand Seasons International|
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Date Posted: Thu, Dec 14 2006, 23:48:28
This started off when i was invited to Delfi Orchard through a phone call saying that if i could attend a session at their office, i would receive a watch, a spa voucher and a 4D3N stay at Lijiang Sina Hotel in China. When i questioned further, she told me that it was to allow them to promote a new cruise company to me. As i was not free on friday, she said that she would come down specially on her 'off' day on saturday evening to attend to me. Her name was Eunice. She later pass the phone to her supervisor who confirmed my attendance so that they could prepare my gift. They called again on 28/10/06 saturday to confirm that i was going.
When I reach there on 28/10, I was received by the receptionist in the company named Emperor Holdings International. I was asked to fill up a form stating my particulars and my holiday preference and recent travels. Then I was met by a malay lady S. By that time, the telemarketer who had arranged to meet me there was nowhere to be found. When I asked them about her, they were slightly evasive. Then S started to introduce their travel plans to me.
She told me that the current company name is Grand Seasons International (GSI), a subsidiary of Emperor Holdings. She told me that they own 2 resorts, Bali Emerald Villas in Bali and Lijiang Sina Hotel in China. If I join their membership, I could stay at their resorts up to one week each for $500 each, price inclusive of up to six persons.
By doing so in addition, I could become a member of RCI (resort condominium international which is affliated to over 3000 resorts/hotels) and ICE (a private resort and cruise club) for up to $100/year for each. If I join RCI, I could get hotel/resort stays in any of the RCI hotels/resorts any time of the year for up to $499 (for hotels/resorts outside of southeast asia). This $499 includes one week stay for 4-6 persons. That works out to be about $12 per day per person. If I choose a SEA country, it is even cheaper at $399 or $299. They promised the hotels to be at least 3 star and mostly at least 4 star.
For ICE membership, I could also get great discounts for all the various overseas cruises (eg, Alaska, Australia).
In addition, there would be a discount if I book air tickets with GSI as they could book in bulk along with the rest of members of RCI. All this while, she would not reveal the price of the membership to me. Only if I was interested, she would ask her superior to attend to me and to discuss the price of membership. At the end of the presentation, I was interested in the membership in view of the attractive benefits of membership.
Then she asked her superior A to come and explain the prices to me. He introduced the triennial membership at $9800 to me (original price $14000) plus free membership to RCI and ICE for 3 years. The triennial membership is cheaper than the yearly one (>$20000) but I could only stay at the company’s resort (Bali Emerald and Lijiang Sina) only once every 3 years but I could still enjoy the benefits of RCI/ICE every year.
He confirmed with me that all the resort prices above that were quoted to me are accurate for at least a few years with at most minimal increments after that for inflation. The accommodation are also guaranteed at any of the over 3000 RCI resort/hotels of any time of the year for unlimited number travels every year.
He then told me that I could pay in interest free installments through special arrangement made between their company and DBS/POSB banks if I pay by credit card. As I don’t have a DBS/POSB credit card, they applied the POSB Everyday card for me on the spot. I would need to pay a deposit of at least $2000 and after my credit card has been approved, they would refund me the deposit and I can start paying through installments. Then A also told me about the FTA (fair trading agreement) that they would follow. I was given a 3 day cooling off period that so that I can cancel the contract if I decided to and they would refund me. When I to ld him that I want to go home and think about it, he told me that the discounted would no longer be available to me after I leave.
I was initially suspicious and asked them for proof of their registration. They showed me their Business registry which looked alright. I also asked that they allow me to reconsider and come back but they were insistent that I should buy today as they would only give me the discount of 30% today (from 14000 to 9800). I paid $2000 through DBS NETS. I signed the contract with another lady C and left. (When I went to the washroom earlier, S escorted me and waited for me outside the toilet which seemed rather like she was making sure I didn’t go any where else or made phone calls. When I first arrived she also asked me to turn off my handphone.)
When I reached home, I looked up the internet and found some complains with regards to Grand Seasons International. I was worried. I looked up RCI website and realized that they mainly cater to members exchanges of their week stay of timeshare resorts/hotels. There are some “extra getaways” but the prices quoted are higher than the ones I was quoted by GSI. It also seems that I could not get these special prices at anytime of the year or at any resorts/hotels. The GSI website at http://www.ehi-group.com/ showed they claim to have two resorts mentioned above to their names.
I was quite shocked and went down to their office 2 days later. I did not want to reveal that I know of their company’s acts as I wanted to get back my money with as little trouble as possible. Before I started negotiating with them, they asked me if I had revealed and discussed my membership to families or friends or if I had looked up the company on the internet. I told them I had not. So I told them that I had financial difficulties and would want the full deposit back. Initially A offered me alternative ways of paying but I was quite quite persistent and finally they said that I could sign the FTA and get my money back. But $1000 was forfeited for a non-refundable administrative fee, It was written in the initial agreements that I signed. Despite my protest and negotiation, I could not get back the $1000 admin fees. I then signed on the FTA form and also on an incident report.
On further checking, I called up Bali Emerald Villa and found that the developer is not Emperor . It was PT Bali. Lijiang hotel info was not readily available. On their website mentioned earlier, they have offices in Taiwan, Hong Kong, China and Singapore. Their offices in Taiwan and China could not be contacted. Only the hong kong one could get through.
Hence I decided to seek help from CASE. After registration at their website and lodging the complaint online, CASE contacted me. They required all the documents that I signed with GSI to help with the complaint (It was lucky that I scanned all the documents before signing the FTA with GSI, as GSI took back all the documents after I signed the FTA). The staff was very helpful and efficient. Through their help, I finally managed to get my full refund back after 1 month+ .
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