I came back from a lovely week in Madeira yesterday and have since done some 'homework' on an experience i had during the latter part of the week there.
Walking along the marina in Funchal, a guy in his 40s from Camberwell no less, said he was 'doing a survey' and asked us a few questions. These questions turned into banter and eventually my partner was invited to try a 'lucky dip'. Amazingly, she 'won' a seemingly genuine prize of free flights for two to europe courtesy of Royal Savoy hotel in Funchal.
All we had to do was take the cab with Mr Nice Guy to the hotel in the Lido area to accept the prize.
We got there to find that the old Savoy is a building site and the new Savoy is where we had to go.
We were led in to the desk where we were told we had to fill in some forms to claim the prize, but that it might take an hour or so.
It took 4 hours.
And it was a very pleasant plausible employee of Savoy Hotels attempting to sell us a flat in the new Savoy hotel being built in Funchal (due to open 2013). these flats are retailing at £7000 no less, required to be paid by mid 2011.
They asked me for 10 percent on the spot with another ten percent to follow next month...even though the hotel is only ready in 2013.
A company called Interval International is involved-their website says they 'exchange timeshares' and it seems all the big boys, Savoy, Sheraton, Radisson etc are involved with them.
The scheme seemed plausible but according the the internet, there are thousands of unsatisfied 'customers/victims'.
Clearly they were trying to sell off rooms from the unbuilt hotel, and i witnessed many older people in there and of many nationalities seemingly willing to cough up such sums.
It may not be illegal, but it seems my decision to say No may have been a good one? This is a 'heads-up' really, to anyone with friends out there to basically avoid this hard-sell and cheap tricks to get your cash...its timeshare the 21st century way. Incidentally, the 'free' flights we 'won' are return via a certain operator to restricted cities on restricted dates for minimum nights stays and it does not include airport taxes, fees, local charges, accommodation or anything else for that matter...just a shame such schemes are still flourishing.it was a wasted afternoon off from my holiday.