It was a fine day in Boracay that day when a woman approached my parents for a free buffet dinner at Astoria Hotel. My mom quickly reacted and asked, "Really? That buffet is free?" The lady that approached them confirmed that the buffet was free. As a matter of fact, they gave my parent's this small coupon.
I wasn't with them when the lady, named Marian, approached them. I was left in the other side of station 2 because I was buying some frappe. When I got to the hotel, my dad excitedly told me that we were having a free dinner buffet at a hotel named Astoria, which, told by the Marian, was what Boy Abunda has been endorsing on TV. I reacted just like my mom and asked my dad, "How sure are you that it's free? What's their deal?"
My dad told me their conversation with Marian. She said that the dinner buffet is free because they would just like to introduce their hotel to potential customers like my mom and my dad. They said that after the dinner, they will give us a tour in the hotel and that they are hoping after the tour, we could recommend their hotel to our other friends.
Simple and quite convincing but my mom and I didn't fall for it. Neither did my dad. He just wanted to see the hotel and the "catch" of the free dinner buffet. Again, let me clear it to you, we weren't after the free buffet. We were after knowing what Astoria looks like or what's their deal with the free dinner. We gave them a chance because as my dad said, "Let's just see. Baka mamaya, maganda nga yung hotel, we could recommend it to our friends in Papua New Guinea."
Before the scheduled time, my dad and I were just walking around the beach front when we reached Astoria. Someone else approached us and offered the same. We told the person that approached us that we already received an invitation.
Looking at the hotel, it does look good and you couldn't think of anything bad about them. So somehow, we disregarded the thinking that there's a deal with the free dinner. Maybe, we thought, they are just really introducing the hotel.
We came back to our hotel and prepared for the dinner. And just as we were steps away Astoria, my mom was really having doubts. She didn't wanna attend anymore but somehow, my dad convinced us to go. Btw, before we even went there, we received messages from Marian, confirming our attendance. On her messages, she reiterated the words, free dinner buffet.
When we got there, Marian approached us and lead us to our table. She told us that she will introduce us with their manager named Santi. He approached us and gave my dad a form to fill up. This was just for registration, he said. He made my dad sign at the bottom and my mom and I stopped him and told to read it first. My dad said he had read it before he signed and it was just about attending this 90 minute presentation with a hotel tour with someone who will approach us after our dinner. Santi (manager) confirmed it with us and asked if we had other plans that night. My mom questioned him, "What's the presentation about?" The manager said it's just to introduce Astoria. We gave them a chance.
After our buffet which I must mention did not taste good at all! We could have gone to a better buffet dinner like the ones in The Mesa or something. Pfft. Anyway, after we finished, a woman named Shane approached us and took us to a little tour. Really, we just stood at this stairs way where we could see the hotel cafe, the pool and some of the rooms from where we stand. Then we were lead to this room where it was filled with different invited guests and agents. That point, we sensed they were gonna sell us something.
Shane started her presentation by doing some survey and asking so many questions. Bit by bit, she started to introduce the so-called membership plan. Story goes on. My parents and I were seated there for almost an hour with all the segue instead of just going straight to the point. My dad got tired of the talk and asked directly, "How much is the membership plan?" Shane answered, "We will get to that Sir. Just pls do let me finish my presentation."
The presentation seemed endless because she keeps interrupting it with personal questions etc. My mom being a CPA, a financial analyst and a part of the business development team in their company, she already had an idea of how much the membership was. We, my mom and I, explained to her that in our kind of lifestyle, it is more likely a "no" answer. My dad was already outside the room, smoking. He really didn't want to finish the presentation anymore because they were just wasting our time.
Shane confirmed if we want to end the presentation even if she's not done yet. We said yes and she suddenly told us we have to pay for the buffet we ate. My mom quickly raised her voice and started questioning the "free buffet" we were offered before; why they didn't mention to us that if we didn't finish the presentation, we will be paying for what we ate? It was funny how Shane blurted out, "Ganun po talaga Ma'am eh. Pag hindi nyo po tinapos, babayaran nyo po. I know po, deceiving sya pero yun po yung marketing strategy namin." (That's just how it is Ma'am. If you don't finish the presentation, you'd pay for it. I know it's deceiving but that's our marketing strategy).
My mom was really mad at that moment and told Shane to call the manager that approached us. By the time Santi seated with us, my dad came back confused of what happened and asked me why my mom was red angry. When Santi told us himself that it was true; that we had to pay, it was my dad's turn to raise his voice. Santi justified to my dad that he signed a "contract" saying we had to finish the presentation. It was bulls***. My dad asked for the paper again and quickly took a photo. Below is the "contract" they are trying to fool us with.
Because my mom and dad's voice were loud, it caught the attention of the other guests having their own presentations. Santi realizing this, he suddenly instructed Shane to lead us outside and disregard the payment. He knew how we would affect the other guests that they can fool. Lol.
My mom, quite worried that Astoria management might twist the story and say we caused trouble, we headed to the Police Station and made a formal complaint. The officers there said that they did receive stories but none made a formal complaint. It was weird, why no one complained? It's either they finished the presentation which some said could last up to four hours or they didn't understand the deceivableness of the strategies Astoria Hotel was doing.
This might be a late post because this happened last May but for everyone who will be going to Boracay soon or next summer, please just be aware of this deceiving invite. We don't know what kind of bulls*** they have for the others but just to avoid wasting your time, don't bother going. Or you could go for the dinner buffet but say "NO" to the presentation. Lol.
Sayang. The hotel itself looked nice and we would surely recommend it to our family friends. But with what they showed us, this is what we will be telling our friends instead: A WARNING.