How it works:
- This has been going on for years, even as far as back as in 2005!
- Version 1: at the airport, touts offer you a free ride to your hotel and a free tour. To redeem it however, you have to go with them to see a resort/hotel which they would like to promote.
- Version 2: while walking along the streets or beach, a pair of touts approach (e.g. usually on a scooter) and give you a sure-win scratch card. To redeem the prize however, you would have to attend a 90 minutes timeshare presentation.
- Version 3: a stranger asks to do a survey with you regarding your holiday experience (this is to check if you have the money), then calls later in the day to tell you that you have won a free holiday (but will have to attend a presentation first)!
- At the timeshare presentation, you will be subject to high pressure sales tactics over 90 minutes.
- Sometimes, the timeshare resorts don’t exist and are outright frauds. For those that exist, the scam is the misrepresentation and half-truths that are fed to you. It will be framed as the deal of the century, with all the risks and onerous terms and conditions conveniently thrown out of the window.
- As for the free prize, it could be a free stay at one of their resorts. However, it will probably come with onerous terms and conditions (e.g. having to eat at the resort’s expensive restaurant; difficult to book, etc).
- If the free prize is a tour, it is likely to be a cheap, low quality one, where time is not spent on the main attraction (i.e. “touch and go”), it could be overcrowded, or perhaps even unsafe (e.g. a boat lacking safety equipment).
Places to beware:
- Ko Samui: Chaweng Noi Beach
- Phuket: Karon Beach, Patong Beach, Big Buddha, Kata Beach, Bangla Road, Phuket International Airport
What to do:
- It is best to avoid if you don’t to waste 4 hours of your time, but if you choose to go, research and know clearly what you are getting into.