Have you won a ‘free’ CLC World holiday?
Have you received a phone call from CLC (Club La Costa) to tell you that you’ve ‘won’ a free holiday? I’m sure most compers have – but be warned, this holiday is NOT a prize! It’s their way of convincing people to sign up to their expensive ‘timeshare’ scheme, trapping them in a 3 year (or 19 year) contract. But even though it’s not a real prize, is it worth accepting the offer?
Last year while in the queue to board my Tui flight to Tenerife I was approached by a woman with a tablet and asked if I would like to win a holiday. Being a comper, I’d usually say Yes, but this time I spotted the CLC logo and turned it down. You might have been offered the same opportunity at a travel show, shopping centre, or in an online competition.
Every entrant will be called by CLC (usually from the number 020 3393 2981) , and informed that they’re entitled to a free week’s holiday. They’ll check that you fit into their age bracket (usually between 30 and 70 years old) and have a combined household income over a certain amount – plus, you must be a couple living together.
It is possible to claim your free holiday without making the expensive mistake of signing up to lifetime of CLC. You just have to stand firm, say no and suffer several hours of intimidating discussion!
Attending the UK presentation
To claim your free holiday, you and your partner must agree to attend a ’90 minute’ presentation (this is more likely to be 2 hours or longer) at a CLC World Travel Centre – these are in Milton Keynes, London, Manchester, and the Cotswolds. CLC will insist you don’t bring your children along (it makes it more difficult for them to do the hard sell with kids there!)
You will need to pay a £90 deposit up front to guarantee your attendance (which will be refunded after you have attended the full session). If you’re not nearby, CLC will cover the cost of a night’s hotel stay. After attending, you’re entitled to a FREE week of accommodation for up to 6 people, plus you will receive either £50 or £75 of vouchers (Marks & Spencer, John Lewis, Selfridges, Tesco, Amazon, Argos or Sainsburys).
Who are CLC World?
Club La Costa have resorts in locations all around the world – from Spain to Florida. Their aim is to get people to make a long term commitment (up to 19 years) to taking holidays in their resorts, paying thousands of pounds in ‘membership’ and ‘maintenance’ fees in regular instalments. You will only get the accommodation and will still have to pay for flights, food, airport transfers and insurance on top.
At the presentation they may talk you into signing up to a three year ‘trial’ but the destinations you can travel to will be limited. If you do commit to a long term membership, you’re likely to find that school holiday dates will have to be booked years in advance and the holidays you want simply aren’t available to be booked. Many people admit they felt bullied into signing up and then immediately cancel when they get home.
Costs of the ‘free’ holiday
If you claim the free week’s holiday you will need to pay an accommodation guarantee deposit of £100 up front (which will be refunded when full travel details are confirmed). Supplements for travelling in school holidays are £29 per person. You’ll have to pay for your own flights and insurance. You will have to be very flexible – you may not get to travel on the dates, to the location or from the airport that is convenient for you.
The holiday presentation
During your free week’s holiday you must attend a resort tour & presentation (if you don’t, the accommodation will be charged at standard rates). During the presentation CLC will again try to sell you the three year trial vacation membership scheme – stand firm and continue to decline the offer, no matter how tempting it may sound!
Real life CLC experiences
Below is feedback from members of my Lucky Learners Facebook group who have been to the presentations and free holidays. I would also recommend reading this thread on the MoneySavingExpert forum and the Trip Advisor reviews, so you know exactly what to expect.
“I ‘won’ a holiday about 10 years ago to Tenerife, back then you didn’t have to go to a presentation in the UK, just in the resort, which we did and it was probably the worst experience we have ever had on a holiday. They weren’t happy that I wanted to keep our young children with us during the “chat” (a very aggressive and intrusive series of questions). The sales guy who had been buttering us up all week changed to this aggressive very hard sell approach. My advice is to run for the hills if Club La Costa offer a free holiday… it is definitely not worth it and we would never do anything like that again!”
“I attended a CLC centre in London. It was more like two hours, and my husband had to go. We got M&S vouchers at the end. We didn’t go on the holiday because we couldn’t get the USA availability dates and they were trying to push us to go to Spain which we didn’t fancy. It’s totally timeshare. But if you go into it with that in mind, and if you’re pretty firmly not interested at the end it isn’t too painful.”
“We went to a presentation, received our £50 Sainsbury’s voucher and got a free week’s accommodation in Tenerife. We had to attend another presentation whilst we were in Tenerife, however the resort was very nice and we used it as a base for walking.”
“We went for a week to Malaga with CLC. We did the first meeting at Manchester which lasted nearly 2 hours but for the £75 Tesco card, was easier than doing a days work! We just had to keep saying no. Then when we went to Spain all we had to do was buy flights for us all and have a half day meeting there – breakfast was included.
“Go on the free holiday, then say at the presentation that you’ve been made redundant, you’ll be back at the pool within the hour!”
“I went on a CLC trip to Tenerife. Had to pay own flights and transfers. We had to go to the presentation for about 6 hours and it was very boring and wasted a day of the holiday. Other than that we got a nice apartment and weren’t given any hassle. If you can get cheap flights and don’t mind one very boring day then it’s ok for a cheap holiday.”
Personally, I wouldn’t get involved with CLC. I had one phone call from them a few years ago and since then I have avoided entering any of their competitions. If you’re the type of person who is easily swayed, then you may not be able to resist their sales pitch at the presentation or on the free holiday – and that could end up a very expensive mistake.
I’ve been entering competitions for over 20 years and I can assure you it IS possible to win a holiday that’s genuinely free! Holiday prizes – with no hidden costs – are given away regularly on radio stations and on brand websites. In fact I’m heading off on two prize holidays this year! See my blog post How to win a summer holiday for tips on winning a family holiday – and don’t let experiences with CLC put you off entering holiday comps. Just be sure to read the T&Cs first!
Have you experienced a CLC presentation or free holiday? Let me know how you got on in the comments!