Hard-sell prompts warning

By Kristin Edge -
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Welcome to Summer Bay Orlando - a United States-based hard-sell is targeting Northlanders who "win" a holiday to the luxury family destination.
Welcome to Summer Bay Orlando - a United States-based hard-sell is targeting Northlanders who "win" a holiday to the luxury family destination.

An internet "pop-up" ad saying she had won US$3000 worth of travel saw a Whangarei woman fork out $1264 for a trip she didn't want after she felt "pressured" by a hard-selling American when she rang the number given.

The pop-up was not a scam, but the hard-sell has prompted a warning from those who work with the elderly for people who get such calls to hang up before they feel pressured into paying for something they do not want.

The Whangarei woman who paid by credit card after "winning" a travel package deal after clicking on to the pop-up window said she was given the hard-sell and felt pressured.

The 68-year-old, who wanted to remain anonymous, said she finally gave in against her better judgment and paid $1264 for the "extras" after a 90-minute phone call with a tough-talking American woman.

The incident has prompted a warning from Age Concern for people to stop hard-sell phone calls before feeling pressured to part with money for a product or service that was not wanted.

The woman said she had been on the internet when she clicked on a pop-up window claiming she had won US$3000 worth of travel and was required to call within five minutes. "I suppose I did it out of curiosity, normally I wouldn't even bother."

She rang the number and was talking to a sales representative for 90 minutes in what she said was a very hard-sell conversation. Despite asking numerous times if she could go and consult her partner, she was told she could not talk with anyone or else the deal would be lost.

The package provided by Exploria Vacations included seven days and six nights at Summer Bay Resort in Orlando, three days and two nights on a cruise in the Bahamas, four days and three nights in Daytona Central Florida Beach, one week car hire and a bonus of five days and four nights in Costa Rica. The deal did not include airfares.

"I really did feel pressured. Once I'd handed over the credit card details they confirmed the details. I got off the phone and my stomach plummeted. I cancelled my credit card the same day just in case."

The Northern Advocate contacted the Summer Bay Orlando resort and spoke with billing manager Gene Persson, who said the offer was a summer promotion. He said people from all around the world took advantage of the packages and there was only a limited number available. "We are 100 per cent legitimate. And I apologise if this lady felt pressured. We can't force people to stay on the line," Mr Persson said.

"I'm not going to lie - we have had some negative reviews. But the positive outweighs the negative."

He said the only catch was everyone who booked a travel package had to attend a 60 to 90-minute tour of the Summer Bay Orlando complex as part of marketing for the time share.

Whangarei's Age Concern president Beryl Wilkinson said people had to be alert to hard-sell callers and nip them in the bud before they felt pressured.

"Just end it quickly and politely, be strong and put the phone down," she urged.

The Whangarei woman spoke out to warn others who might find themselves in similar situations. "In hindsight I should have just put the phone down. Kiwis are quite trusting and we find it hard to be rude or say no, let alone standing up to a very persuasive American," she said.

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