Restrictive trade practice & falsification of information to consumer.
COMPLAINT AGAINST ROYAL RESORTS – GOA (KARMA RESORTS INTL)
Sir, I along with my wife and son happen to be visiting Goa in Dec 08 where during a ferry in the Mandovi river one night we came across a person asking us to scratch cards. He was from the marketing team of the Royal resorts, Goa. Innocuously me and my wife scratched our cards and my wife happen to win 7 night stay at Royal resorts Goa and I won a restaurant voucher .Yes we were excited and we didn’t see the next thing coming. We had to visit the resort at Baga(Monte Rio) and had to go through their marketing presentation / session with their customer executives before we could claim our gift. Theirs was a timed sharing resort and they were looking for prospective customers.
We visited them the next day. They started their session and I told them that I didn’t find their product convincing. The session continued and went through many hours. They were trying to sell their product very hard and I was not seeing enough reasons to buy it. After the presentation and a visit round the resort, the customers’ executive now had the company of another manager(accounts manager) who started with quoting the membership cost, which I found exorbitant. He then started offering discounts for us (special case as he insisted) and came up with a figure which he said that we should not refuse. I still wasn’t sure and said that I needed time but they have a company policy of signing “TODAY”. I found this policy very unethical as a customer we needed time to check various aspects but they said that was the company policy. Finally the accounts manager came up with a rate and a policy of alternate year membership for Rs 1, 81, 000/- and said that I could avail it for a down payment of Rs 15, 000/-, howver the scheme was valid only if I were to sign that day sitting there. I wanted more time as I wanted to do a little research but that opportunity was not extended to me or for that matter any other customer. They were to take me to see their other resorts in Goa the next day but I had to sign the agreement that day. In the meantime they had taken us around the resort, the health club, apartments, to a sitting area and I had a couple of apprehensions. Firstly the health club was just ok, nothing close to standard of a resort(RCI member) and I was told that the health clubs at the other resorts were good as health club was very high on my list of priorities. Seeing an apartment I enquired that the bathroom in the one bedroom apartment ( which was our consideration ) did not have a bath tub. To me a bathtub was an important aspect. I was again told that the rooms in Monte-Rio did not have the tubs but similar rooms in the other resorts had the tubs. They took us to a sitting area which was probably on the top floor and we were told that this area is actually meant for foreigners; but they did make us sit there; probably trying to project that they were giving us importance. I found this aspect demeaning as it showed discrimination; however since they did make us sit there and looked after us I didn’t pursue the matter.
I had not seen the rest of the resorts and so there were a great number of apprehensions. I was also not very clear of their accommodation status, i.e. whether the accommodation promised was available and they told me that they were not like Mahindra holidays who were selling their holidays to non members at the cost of the members. Well that was what they said and I had no other source of information. Also, I could only see the rest of the resorts on the next day after signing their agreement.
They wanted me to sign their agreement for a down payment of Rs 15, 000/-that very day.I asked them what if I was not happy with the rest of the resorts or for any reasons I didn’t wish to continue then what? After a little thinking the accounts manager told me that the money paid by me cant be returned but I could get my moneys worth from the company in such an eventuality. To be sure I asked again to confirm and he told me the same thing that I would be given my moneys worth in form of stay. Now that was the triggering mechanism which made me sign the agreement for I was at least confident that my money would not be lost. I then signed the agreement.
After signing our agreement we collected our gift vouchers which we had won and which brought us to the resort. To my surprise the Free stay voucher also entailed a cost of 4000/- rupees which was termed as processing fees for a non member. After collecting the vouchers (Restaurant and the free stay) we went to the Resorts Restaurant. There I was shocked to see the condition of the Menu card which was tattered and not just one Menu card the whole lot of them. This started to ring a bell in my ears and my apprehensions started about their quality started to come true.
The next day we were taken by them to the other three resorts in south Goa then things started to unfold. Firstly I wad told by the executive the previous day that all their resorts are Gold class but that was not what I saw on reaching, may be just one or two were classified as gold.
Secondly the condition of their health centers/ gym was pathetic except that of Haathi Mahal which was decent and I was made to believe that their Health clubs were great.
I then started looking for one room apartments with bath tubs which I was told existed however to my surprise I didn’t find an apartment with a bath tub. All of them just had showers.
I then thought of meeting some present members to get their feedback. At one of the resorts by the swimming pool I found two Indian gentlemen . To get first hand information I enquired with them about the accommodation availability in the resorts. The first person just smiled and did not say a word which made me a little curious, so I asked the other person. He said that every year when he was to call for booking the accommodation, he was always denied at the very outset. In his words the people at the reservation desk/call center behaved with the immaturity of say class 10 students just disapproving their requests even before checking up; and later after much fighting he always managed to find accommodation .This incident shows how hollow is the resorts’ claim about great accommodation availability and great service.
After our visit to three resorts that day I felt unhappy on many accounts and I mentioned it to the executive who was accompanying us and even filled their debrief proforma mentioning my apprehensions. At the interaction during the presentation and in their company brochure they told us that there resorts had the best beaches, pools and restaurants and none of the resort has its own beach, and they don’t even have a pick up and drop service to the beach . and the restaurant I visited had a tattered menu card.
It was days later flipping through the pages of the brochure that I came across the re-credit policy on cancellation of holiday:
90 days: 100% Re-credited
89-60 days 75 % recredited
59-30 days: 50% re-credited
Less than 30 days: 0% recredited
This was a complete revelation. This is a company policy and would be in effect but not a soul mentioned it from the company in our interaction and during the signing of our agreement I’m an Armed Force Officer and we generally don’t have the luxury of planning holidays 6 months in advance . We travel on holidays at short notices and many a time due service exigency our leave is cancelled and at times of crises we don’t get leave .If I ever had any inkling of such a policy I would never enter the agreement and the company for the reasons of their own never mentioned about it for which I feel cheated. A customer/consumer who is new to this sector will not be aware of policies of this sort and it is imperative fort the company to educate the prospective customer completely.
By the time I got back from Goa, I was sure that I didn’t want to be associated with them so I started the process of writing to them. All our correspondence is attached .
I first wrote to them on 27 Dec 08 and after two reminders and phone calls, I received their first letter on 24 Feb 09 –about two months after my letter. Their reply failed to satisfy me because the bottom line was that the money paid was non-refundable. I wrote back to them and got in touch with the person who had said that in such an eventuality we would get our monies worth. On calling this manager, he failed to recognize me and after reminding him of what he had quoted he informed me that he was very sorry that he mentioned to me that I would get our monies worth. I was really shocked and again felt completely cheated.
I wrote back to them and mentioned that me and my wife had won a 7 night stay (studio apart) as a non member (voucher G 812602 dated 6 Dec 08)which I was not really interested in availing so instead of this free stay just give me a stay in 1 bhk against it, which according to me was very reasonable as my 15, 000/- would be adjusted against a free stay. Before this arrangement in my first letter I had mentioned to deduct an amount of say Rs 2000/- and return me the rest but they did not agree on either of these arrangements. I wrote to them on 7 mar and after a reminder on 19 Apr 09 I got a reply on 21 Apr 09 in which they were offering me a three year short membership for an amount of Rs 33, 708/- and additional maintenance fee for every year.
I don’t want to pay a rupee more as the complete experience has been very harassing and I have felt cheated as a customer where what I was promised has not been delivered. I again wrote to them on 28 Apr 09 that I was not interested in this three years membership and I again requested them that instead of the one week holiday that I have won as a non member, just let me avail that in a 1bhk at no extra cost and my money would be adjusted there. This according to me is the easiest solution as these people charge Rs 4, 000/- as processing/admn/resv fee(for what they claim is a free stay-compare this with Mahindra which is actually free)and an amount of Rs 4000/- for upgrading to a 1bhk apartment.The two together amount to a total of Rs 8000/- and I have already paid them an amount of Rs 15, 000/- .I even mentioned to them that instead of 1 week if I were to get even 4 nights at Baga (Monte Rio) with probably breakfast I would be happy, but none of this made any sense to them. I had written this mail on the 28 Apr 09 and sent reminders to them on the 30 May09 and 11 Jun09 and made a phone call in the month of Jul but to no avail. I even mentioned to them that in case I was not to hear from their company I would be compelled to go to consumer forums, still to no avail. Just on 21 Jul they re-send me an old mail which they had sent me on the 21 Apr09 without even changing the dates which talked about 3 months membership so now I have no option but to address my grievance to these forums. I just wish to recapitulate the problem areas where I feel the company is at wrong, the company’s services are poor and the issues on which I feel cheated:
(a) Bath Tubs: I was told that 1 bhk aparts have a bath tub but they don’t. The company’s executives should not make such false promises.
(b) Condition of Health Clubs; In a two of the three resorts which I visited in Dec 08 it was very very poor.
(c) Class of theResorts : Gold: I was told that they were Gold but probably only two out of the three were.
(d) Discrimination between guests: I was taken to a sitting area which I was told was meant only for foreigners which I found very discriminating. We, however was made to sit there.
(e) Tattered menu car : At the restaurant we were taken in Monte-Rio. Reflects poorly on the Maintenance of the resorts.
(f) Poor Reservation Services: As told to me by one of the members.He said he is always denied reservation and told of non-availability when actually there exists accommodation.
(g) Non briefing of their cancellation /recrediting policy: Knowing very well that I was an armed force officer whose leave/holidays are generally not very well planned and may be cancelled on the last moment, no one in the company mentioned about their re-credit policy where one needs to cancel booking 90 days in advance to avail 100% holidays and 0% re-credit on cancellation less than 30 days.
(h) Signing Today: The policy of signing today does not give the customer a fair chance to know that he’s getting into and after a few hours of hectic marketing by the company’s executives, signing becomes almost a civil thing to do.
(i) Promising of getting my moneys worth on cancellation: Verbally promised but company is not agreeing to that, on the other hand asking to pay an additional amount of Rs 18708/- plus Maintenance fee every year which is more than 10, 000/- per year for three years membership. I’m not interested in any membership.
(j) No Beaches: None of the resorts have their private Beach and they don’t even have a pick up/drop to the beaches. Compare this to Mahindra which has its own beach and even on the house water sports. Since one has to sign that very day at that time there is no scope of doing any research and comparing services. Which is the biggest disadvantage to the customer. This policy is a completely unethical and should be done away with.
(k) Asking for a holiday in lieu of the free holiday of 7 nights won as a nonmember (voucher G 812602 06 Dec08).For the holiday that the company claims it provides free it charges Rs 4000/-as the processing fee and another Rs 4000/- for upgrading a studio apart to 1 bhk. I asked if the company can give me 7 nights in 1 bhk and I will not claim any free holiday and call quits.my Rs 15, 000/- can be adjusted in this way but the company is silent. I had also told the company that they can give me this holiday in Jaipur and not necessarily in Goa as I had recd a call from them about availing holidays for nonmembers in Jaipur before I got into this cancellation business with them.
(l) Poor communication service: They don’t write back or call back . Require a number of reminders.
All this suggests that the services of the company are rather poor. With so many grievances, I still maintained a very cordial and gentlemanly behaviour when communicating with them. Firstly asking them first to deduct an amount of Rs 2000/-from my Rs 15, 000/- and returning me the rest and later telling then that I wanted to forgo their free stay of 7 nights .I asked the company to extend me a stay in 1 bhk instead of a studio apartment at no extra cost and I will consider my Rs 15, 000/- has been utilized in that stay.
Now with no compromise in sight I wish to start proceedings against them as they have cheated me on various accounts. It also reflects on our consumers’ misfortune where I feel these people cheat a lot of people like me and get away with it. In anticipation of suitable action being initiated against the said company so that they do not continue to swindle people of their hard earned money, and the public in general at large are made aware of such restrictive and malpractice being followed by the company.
The details of the company are given below.
The Royal Holiday Club
Royal Goan Beach Club at Haathi Mahal
Cavelossim, Mobor, Salcette
Goa – 403731
Tele No. +91-832-2871661, 2875261 – 64