Hilton Las Vegas Getaway Offer
A Spectactular Las Vegas Vacation Getaway Has Been Reserved for You
We recently received a certificate from Hilton with the above banner.
It was very clear that we had not won a contest, since the price,
equivalent to $49 a night for a mid-week stay, was displayed in
We have received offers from Nevada casinos before offering mid-week
stays at lower prices, but with the free show tickets, it seemed worth considering.
In addition to the price, the notice from the Hilton Grand Vacations Club
indicated that the "reservation" was for accomodations at
"one of the Hilton Resorts in Las Vegas," how long
we had to respond to this offer, and the range of dates for which it
could be used.
Noticeably absent from the front of the certificate was any
"fine print" or a statement to see reverse side for details.
Details of Participation
Although the enclosed cover letter indicated
that attendance at a "90-minute tour and timeshare sales presentation"
it doesn't take an Einstein to realize that this mailing was
designed to draw attention to the certificate that omits any
such language on its face.
Even though the back of the certificate has approximately 600 words of
solid text describing the sordid "Details of Participation",
including a 5-day cancellation requirement and the risk
that your nightly room rate will jump to $139 if you don't
attend the full presentation, there's no indication on
the front of the certificate that you need to look elsewhere for further details.
Cagey Consumer's Opinion
Officials of the Hilton Grand Vacations Development Company say
that they are complying with the "timeshare acts" in all
states where this mailing is sent, that the contents of the mailing
approval of the State of Nevada, and that participants are
informed of the sales presentation requirement prior to making
However, these "timeshare acts" do not encompass all the laws
which apply to such solicitations, nor do they address other
issues of ethical business conduct.
We think that this mailing unfairly lures people into
calling to make a reservation for the following reasons:
The effect of emphasizing the positive aspects of the offer, while
minimizing the negative aspects, is to get people to respond who
might not otherwise respond.
Every business wants people to respond.
That's why businesses advertise, hold sales, and sometimes even give
Generally, businesses making such offers are expected to
meet the terms of the offer.
For instance, a business that advertises a TV on sale, and
subsequently discourages customers who come into the store from
buying the sale product, may be guilty of bait and switch.
Because the offer requires a payment that is in line with
offers from other casinos,
recipients are likely to think that the offer is a reduced
price reflecting off-season rates or an introductory
offer for a new property.
Because the offer is made in the name of a reputable business,
recipients are unlikely to be especially cautious about the offer.
The essence of the offer, as stated on the face of the certificate,
is that the recipient is entitled to these accomodations for the price stated,
but Hilton has no intention of honoring those prices without
attending the sales presentation.
In the words of the BBB
The Better Business Bureau publishes an advertising code.
This code does not have the force of law, but businesses
that abide by it are meeting at least a minimal standard of
According to the BBB
code of advertising:
A "bait" offer is an alluring but insincere offer to sell a product or
service which the advertiser does not intend to sell.
Its purpose is to switch consumers from buying the advertised merchandise or service,
in order to sell something else, usually at a higher price or on a basis more
advantageous to the advertiser.
To be in compliance with the BBB's advertising code, Hilton cannot rely on the
subsequent disclosure which occurs when the customer responds to the
Rather, Hilton must make substantial disclosure of the terms and conditions
before the customer contacts Hilton.
Because the mailing piece is designed to encourage the customer to contact
Hilton before they read the 600-word disclosure, we believe that Hilton
should be held responsible for failing to make sufficient concurrent disclosure
of the conditions associated with this offer.
No advertisement should be published unless it is a bona fide offer to sell
the advertised merchandise or service.
The advertising should not create a false impression about the product or
service being offered in order to lay the foundation for a later "switch"
to other, more expensive products or services, or products of a lesser quality
at the same price.
Subsequent full disclosure by the advertiser of all other facts about the
advertised article does not preclude the existence of a bait scheme.
There are plenty of different hotels you can patronize --
you don't need to select one that has questionable business practices.
We suggest that consumers should vote with their feet.
Comments to firstname.lastname@example.org