As this is a blog that is read by people who travel, I thought I’d add a travel story in to the mix. I went to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, on vacation last week. As soon as we landed at the airport, before ever stepping foot outside, we were bamboozled.
A man was standing at one of many desks right outside the baggage claim area. We approached him and asked him where we could get a shuttle or taxi to our hotel. He informed us that the shuttle was $16 per person and took an hour and forty minutes, but we could get a private taxi that only takes half an hour for $80.
Now, there was only two of us at the time, but I felt like an extra $50 was worth saving over an hour of my vacation. I told him we’d go for the taxi. That’s when he told me about the magical third option. This guy’s pitch was simple. We would pay $160, $80 of which would be refunded to us the following day IF we attended a presentation at some brand new hotel they just built in Cabo.
He told us that in addition to the $80 refund, he’d give us buffet-style breakfast, a voucher for a private taxi back to the aiport, a voucher for free glass bottom boat rides, and 50% off all activities (think jetskiing, ATVing, parasailing, etc.). I’m not one to be hustled, so I checked this man’s credentials. Sure enough, he had an airport badge and it sounded like every other person in that area was pitching the same deal. Now… $80 back, free breakfast, free boat rides, free ride back to the airport and 50% off activities? Yes, please.
I happily paid the $160. We got in the taxi and the first thing I asked is how much do rides from the airport to the hotel usually cost. He said $80. So far, so good. I wasn't feeling like a sucker quite yet. We got to the hotel and checked in. Since this was a nice hotel, we got a personal concierge. The first question out of her mouth was “Did anyone try to offer you anything at the airport?" I started laughing and replied with the affirmative. Her response was “I see. Did you buy it?” I laughed again and said yes. She said “Okay, well… we call those people sharks and we try to avoid them. Show me what they sold you and I’ll see what I can do.” I let out a sigh of relief.
According to her, she could fix everything and we could instead watch a presentation at the hotel we were staying at. She re-issued vouchers for the taxi back to the hotel, gave us a receipt for $80 back after the presentation, gave us a voucher for boats, and gave us the same special 50% off pricing on all activities. She told us breakfast would be at 11 a.m. the next morning and that it was complimentary as part of the presentation. I was so happy.
Until the next morning, that is. We went to the breakfast. We were not impressed. We also had a woman from the hotel sitting with us telling us all about the hotel and how they were building a new area. Bells, whistles, light bulbs, and fireworks started going off… they were trying to sell us timeshares. After a grueling 90 minute guided tour of the grounds and tour of the timeshares (which were actually really nice… as they always are), she asked us if we were interested. We politely declined and thanked her for offering.
We went to go pick up our vouchers for everything, as the woman the day before had said they’d be ready after the presentation — the only reason we stayed until the end. We got back the $80. We got all the vouchers. We even booked a few activities at 50% off the asking price (which was actually a great deal). Then I asked for directions for how to get to the boats. She said the woman outside could help me. We went and talked to her and she explained where the boats were and what shuttle would take us.
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She then asked us if we wanted to have free breakfast the next morning at a brand new hotel they had just built. I looked at her name tag and realized that she was from the same hotel that the guy was trying to send us to the day before. I went back inside and talked to the woman in the office. Sure enough, they were working together. Her logic was that it was a good deal for the tourists since they get free food, a free ride back to the airport, free boat trips, and discounted activities all for sitting in on something they could potentially be interested in.
I was at a loss for words. I mean… I guess she was actually right. I just thought I’d write this up in case anyone was planning to travel to Cabo soon. I pride myself on not getting suckered… and I ended up getting suckered. All in all, it worked out because the ride back to the airport was free and we had a blast in Cabo. The lesson is to pay attention to what you're getting and seek all available information before making a decision, especially when the other party is offering you something that sounds too good to be true.
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