Monday, November 24, 2008

Holiday voucher scam

We received a telephone call today from a potential guest that was inquiring about our "2nd night free" deal. Naturally we were somewhat bemused as we do not offer such a deal!

On further inquiry, the caller was looking at a website where our motel was supposedly advertised. We apologised to the caller for being unable to assist him with his enquiry at that time and offered to call back after investigation.

Who are Well, according to their website their customer service office is a post office box in St Ives, NSW and their Head Office is at a street address in Central Hong Kong. There are no contact phone numbers listed. appear to be in the holiday voucher selling business (are the alarm bells ringing yet?). Various packages of vouchers are on offer and are priced according to the number of vouchers purchased. The holder of the vouchers can opt to dine at the hotel for both breakfast and dinner for free or stay the second night at the hotel free. Sounds too good to be true!?! may have some motel and hotel properties that accept these vouchers. It is difficuilt to accertain who are these properties?? What is confusing to the public is that have a reservation engine on their site that uses the database of popular on-line reseller, It would be fair for the public to assume that properties that list on this database will redeem these vouchers. This assumption is not correct!

I rang and they have confirmed that are not authorised to use their reservation engine and they have no formal arrangements with this company. HotelClub have been aware of this situation for some time and have received numerous complaints about are in the process of trying to have their reservation engine removed from the site, however with the vagueness of the web, this is proving to be a difficult process.

In recent months the media and consumer groups have warned the public to check out carefully any discount-voucher schemes for accommodation. Often these vouchers are sold by cold calling telemarketers using persuasive and pressure selling techniques. Websites are used to support these schemes and add legitimacy.

Complaints appear to be common from consumers once they find it difficult to redeem the vouchers.

It is embarrassing for the hotels and motels that are unfairly seen to be part of these dubious schemes.

If you receive a call from a potential guest that wishes to inquire about or redeem such a voucher I would suggest that you take down as much detail as possible, make a complaint to the Commerce Commission and suggest the caller does the same.

Unfortunately it is difficult to satisfy the duped potential guest after they contact you expecting to enjoy your hospitality for a couple of nights for half price!

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