Recently, I received a mysterious call from one of the agents of a company named Club Ultima.
FREE 3D2N Hotel Accommodation courtesy of Crown Regency
The agent stated that I have been chosen (with other 14 winners) from all other entries to receive a gift certificate worth 3D2N stay FREE hotel accommodation from Crown Regency. Upon hearing this, I was like struck with delight. We all love gift certificates and free items, who would not want to get those?
He said that the gift certificate has no financial obligation and that I have nothing to worry about. By then, he started asking my credentials, name, status, number, etc, to be eligible for the gift certificate. Being an excited one, of course, I gave out my details. We’re travelers after all. As much as possible, we would like to kick in on cheap and or free hotels. And by the name Crown Regency, which is a 5-star hotel, my senses came to life. I was so interested and excited.
[READ: What benefits do you get as a member of Club Ultima?]
I was still wondering how they got my information so I asked him. He told me that there was someone who checked in at the hotel and added my name and number to the referrals. Every year, Crown Regency / Club Ultima gathers all these referred names from guests and draws 15 names for the raffle. He also mentioned that this was done by Crown Regency every year as part of the anniversary celebration. For the guest who checked in at one of the hotels, he said that the information was confidential.
What did they say I had won? A Family Package (4pax, 2 adults + 2 kids) worth of 3D2N stay in ANY Crown Regency hotel. Any numbers exceeding the required pax will be shouldered by the guest. I was like, wow! Thank you, Crown Regency!
To claim the gift certificate, I would need to go to their office Club Ultima / Crown Regency in Makati, in line with RCBC tower. He told me to wait for the next call and someone like an account manager will be in contact with me. He sent me information regarding the office location and number to contact as well.
Extra Delay in the Offer
Two weeks passed. I have never received any phone calls. Being too curious if this is legit or not, I decided to contact them via the phone number they sent me via SMS. They asked for my information and the agent I was able to spoke with before. She (the one who picked up the phone) told me that I will be called by one of the account managers.
After around 10-20 mins, I received a phone call from the agent who I spoke with. He again verified my identity and asked for my credentials, status, number, etc, and stated that before I could get the gift certificate, I would need to attend their short presentation regarding the hotel promotion. There would also be a dinner served while watching the presentation and after all that, I would be able to claim the gift certificate entitled to me. He said that the offer is only available one time and at that particular day only and failure to commit attendance will also forfeit the eligibility for the gift certificate.
I re-verified him the details he told me before, 3D2N FREE hotel accommodation in Crown Regency Cebu or Davao, no financial obligation, that I just have to attend the event so I could claim the gift certificate.
I was then transferred to an account manager after our conversation.
The account manager stated the same thing. She said though that there is a reservation table for me and my girlfriend and I would need to attend, rain or shine. She also told me that all the information I gave them will be purely confidential.
I think I got too excited and said yes, that I will attend the presentation by 5 pm, rain or shine.
After all the thinking and analysis that ran through my mind that day after the call, I have decided to take a look if there are all other blogs or articles out there with the same concern. And to my surprise, I found many!
I immediately browsed two to three articles, and they all both confirmed my suspicion. Here’s what I have found.
What is Club Ultima?
This is a legit company with annoying marketing tactics.
Club Ultima is a marketing club arm of crown regency hotels. Seems legit, actually. They would offer major products of Crown Regency at a discounted rate, according to sources. However, the products are non-exclusive, so even a non-member can avail these offers. See that? Just for the money. They would offer you a product and it could be paid in cash or installment.
I would still be able to receive the gift certificate even if I reject the offers to be a member of the club.
However, if you’re going to use the gift certificate, there would be a booking fee. The booking fee I found was of different numbers ranging from 3000 pesos and above. Not actually bad if you’re going to stay for 3 days and 2 nights. The thing was, they stated that I would not have any financial obligations when availing the certificate. See how contrary it was from their first statement.
Next issue based on research, if I am not a member and tried to avail the gift certificate, I would have problems with booking the rooms. They will confirm that the GC is legit, however, the room/dates I will be staying at the hotel will always be fully booked. Hence, they have now the option and authority to give me another option to stay at another hotel managed by Crown Regency. The Five Star hotel dream will then be over. You will be asked, if you pursue the booking dates, to reside on one of their hotel arms and that’ll leave you no other choice. Bye bye, Crown Regency dream. You got the certificate for Crown Regency, yet you’re not going to stay at one.
Reasons I Didn’t Take the Bait
I and my girlfriend are budget travelers, we would even enjoy our vacation in a tent. Hotels are just a plus, and a better sleep at night. I wouldn’t want myself to spend more than what I would need.
Free dinner is good but if after the presentation I would be offered too many stuff, I would be vulnerable and may give in. It’s gonna hurt my pocket and nobody would want that.
They said there will be no financial obligation but there’s going to be a booking fee of 3000 Pesos and or $100, so it’s definitely a no-no. It’s already a flight for two to another destination.
I don’t want to spend time on something that wouldn’t benefit me much in the future. Offers after the presentation? Club membership with monthly fees? No way!
They said it was a “one-day-only” event but they texted me that there will be another one the next day and another one again after that day. Sneaky! And they keep on calling my phone, I had their numbers blocked already, but they’re persistent.
So, for the people out there who received the text message or got a call from Club Ultima, I would suggest declining their offer even if it looks so real and legitimate. Yes, we love free items because they are free, but not if we’re told it’s free even when it’s not. Better be wise. Don’t be fooled. Read the comments below for other’s experience.
What’s your take on this? Do you have a similar experience with Club Ultima or another similar scheme?