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.”

My advice

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!

22 Responses

  1. Renna Creighton says:

    MGM Muthu Hotels are doing the same type of Holiday Wins at present on Facebook October 2019…. 30 wins in 30 weeks, and its not until you give all your details then they inform you that you need to attend a meeting whilst on the holiday to discuss the other resorts in the brand. It’s not in the terms either.

  2. Myself says:

    Just got a call too :)) from Manchester. They booked me in for Milton Keynes.
    The thing is I used to win stuff so at a first thought I believed is genuine. But then I started wondering so I found this page which confirmed my worries. I’m not going aywhere then :))

  3. Donna O says:

    We just had a call from them now, about an hour ago.
    Same speil, won a free holiday, go to Cheltenham and pay £90 refundable deposit. My husband was about to pay over the phone but I got very suspicious as I could hear a lot of background noise. I told my hub to ask for their phone number and say we would call them back with our card details, I entered the number into google and found lots of negative information about them.
    Needless to say, we will not be handing over any money.
    We are not interested in time share and I would hate to go on what is supposed to be a holiday and have to sit and listen to some person trying to sell us something.
    Thank god we checked out the phone number

  4. David Wright says:

    Received a call this week. Complete scam, just hang up. I am aware of these timeshare selling techniques. Even when you ask directly if it is timeshare , they say no, but that is exactly what it is. I gave the lady a hard time on the phone as I had a 2 hour drive in front of me on my lonesome, but I have to hand it to her she was persistent until I politely said I am hanging up now.

  5. Jason says:

    I thought I’d blogged about my experience of CLC in Costa Del Sol. Went along to a presentation for the “fun” of it (we already knew what to expect, but wanted to play along). They gave us the full spiel, tried to set us against each other, swapped sales people in and out, and all designed to keep you in their office as long as possible. We stumped them when it came to “how much do you spend on holidays” by answering with “we win them”. They started to get less amiable with a few questions about their sales techniques, scamming people etc. and after a while we were actually asked to leave – they assumed we were undercover reporters! Anyway we demanded our free bottle of champagne, which was disgusting.. made our excuses and left. Whilst it was fun for us, the sad thing is that they had several other couples in the offices and just trying to wear them down.

    • Di says:

      Thanks for sharing your experience Jason. I think a lot of us that are already aware of CLC and understand when a prize is really a prize would attend with the same attitude, but I do feel for the couples who aren’t a bit more comp-savvy and are more likely to get sucked in by their sales techniques.

  6. Claire Hill says:

    They have just called me – I googled CLC Holidays and found you whilst on the phone to them. I politely declined my ‘free’ holiday and put the phone down!

  7. Hebe smith says:

    THanks for this post. I got a call today, Friday telling me I’d won a weeks holiday. When I said I didn’t have time to discuss it, he said that the offer closed in one hour….put the phone down at this point.

  8. Laura says:

    Thank you do much for your informative post. I googled ‘won clc holiday’ and your post caught my eye. Luckily I read enough to end the call there and then. I’m so glad that you’ve written this to help inform people like me.

  9. Tracy says:

    We have just returned from a clc holiday and the accommodation was amazing. We found the restaurant expensive but found cheaper places off site. They gave us free transfer to hotel n we sourced a cheap return via bartering with taxi driver. Well worth the afternoon wasted wi staff at the presentation. We said no n they brought the price down. Still said no but breakfast was free n lush. Kids came too. It truly was a 5 star apartment n we found lidl straight away to keep costs low. Cheap flights too but you have to stand your ground with them. They tempt you loads but we still declined. We didn’t want a holiday home at the end of it so they happily left us to enjoy our time there.

  10. adrian says:

    Its all a big scam to get you to invest in timeshare holidays. Nothings for free!
    They tried to have me commit to attend a presentation in Milton Keynes next week and that the offer is only available until tonight, yeh of course it is?

  11. David Walker says:

    Complete Scam – I thought I had genuinely won a holiday and I don’t win many things, so I thought this was the perfect end to my Tuesday afternoon.
    Complete scam, talked to one lady then spoke to a second lady repeated the same information twice and told the call was recorded. It’s a free holiday offer up until July 2020, not a covert MI5 operation. The second lady then tried to get me to book an appointment to see a travel consultant. I said I could not give her a date and she refused to send me the paperwork for my so-called free holiday for six persons. I thought this sort of calling and misrepresentation was banned. Was a very professional scam, Machester number, a great call, I put the phone down and got a call back from a number withheld, they took me in, and I honestly thought we had won a holiday. Most disappointing…

  12. Gemma says:

    I just got called by them this afternoon. I too agreed to the meeting and now reading the comments and having told hubby who’s said “we are not going” I am regretting it. How exactly do you cancel?

  13. Lesley Andrews says:

    Got a call from them this morning. Made an appointment for next week; but just read your comments to my husband whose told me there’s no way he’s going now. Thanks for the post Di.

  14. ChicCa says:

    I’m due to go on their 1 week holiday which I’ve “won”

    Feeling a tad bit anxious mainly at the idea of going to be pressured by the Rep whilst in Spain!!
    I booked my flights last year & tjis I was told made it that I don’t have to pay the £100 deposit

    Won £75 worth of vouchers at the time too which was brilliant.

    I’m excited &,grateful but just a little anxious of the CLC Team as I’ve heard they can be bullies somewhat. Lord help me!!

    • Di says:

      Well I think you know what you’re in for – but interaction with CLC will only be a small part of what should be a great holiday for you! Just be brave and say NO!!

  15. Jodie says:

    There is another company that do this too. They’re called Karma. Specsavers used them for their recent Tuscany comp, but there have been a few others I’ve seen too. The big clue it’s nonsense is that they will call and say you have won a runners up prize of a holiday……….even though it’s still weeks/months before the end date, so the comp hasn’t even closed yet!

  16. HEATHER CAIN says:

    I had a call from them years and years ago – probably about 20 years ago actually. They said I had won a “free” holiday but that it was just accomodation, I would have to get flights etc myself. When I worked it all out, it was probably more expensive than getting a package holiday so I declined.

  17. Vanessa F says:

    There are times I’m glad to be single and poor!

  18. Emma Gough says:

    Great informative post Di. I too had a call from them. When they call you , it all sounds amazing. I agreed to the meeting, told hubby about it when he got home, he said call and cancel, we don’t want to go through the hard sell. I’m glad I did cancel now after reading this.

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