With Backpack

One World in One Lifetime

2017 A Hotel Oddity: Karma Group

Posted by Heliocentrism on September 15, 2017

Thursday, June 20th, 2017

Mark and I had been using the Kura Kura for about 5 days straight. It caused no end of frustration with all the waiting involved, not to mention the few times when the stupid bus didn’t stop for us. So we decided to take a day off and just go to places we could walk to. We spent the morning at Bemo’s Cafe ordering coffees and teas. I wrote for this blog and Mark played games online.

For lunch we walked along Kuta beach to find a nice place near Discovery Mall. We were walking behind the mall and discussing which of the nearby places we would choose, when a guy came up to us to tell us about some deal.

We had seen many guys like him before. They approach by first saying, “I’m not selling anything.” Usually I would walk away as they yelled behind me, “I only want to tell you about this deal!” I’d assumed it was some sort of scam and wanted nothing to do with it. But for some reason, this time I thought I would humor this guy. He gave both Mark and me a postcard each. There were stickers to pull off and he pulled some of them off for us. Mark won a t-shirt and I won a prize.

“Oh, so lucky,” the guy told us. He flipped over my card and showed me that the prizes could be either $100USD, a GoPro, or free accommodations at a 5-star hotel. There were more stickers to pull off to find out which prize I had won, but I couldn’t pull it off yet. “Just follow me,” he told us as he took out his car keys. Mark happily followed.

“What are you doing Mark?” I was surprised at how willingly Mark was following this stranger. “Prizes, Josie. Prizes!”

Even Ganesh thinks we should not get into the car.

We got into this man’s car and all I could think about was how, if you are kidnapped, you should do your best to never be taken to a second location. Even after all those talks I sat through in elementary school where firefighters and police officers lectured us about how not to be kidnapped, here I was just getting into a strangers car… for prizes.

We drove along and the man asked us about ourselves. “How long you in Bali?” We told him that we were on our third week. “No. Don’t say that. Say you come yesterday,” he coached us.

The driver told us that when we win a prize he gets a bonus. But, to get this bonus, we have to fit into certain categories. So, there were several lies we had to tell. One, we weren’t in Bali for 2.5 weeks. We just got here, yesterday. Two, we weren’t married for 6 years. We got married 3 years ago, after 2 years of dating. Three, we weren’t traveling the world. We were on a one week vacation. There were so many lies, I doubted we could hold them all straight.

“But why?” I asked him. He then explain that we were going to listen to a 30 minute presentation, then we would get our prized. I groan inwardly, “This is a timeshare scam, I just know it.”

Right before he dropped us off, he asked us if we needed a driver sometime. We took his card, but never called him.

We got out of the car and walked into an office. We verified our names and ages. Then we were introduced to our presenter. He seemed nice. We told him that we lived and worked in Japan. We couldn’t remember how long we were supposed to have lived in Japan and we contradicted ourselves many times.

We spent about 20 minutes answering the presenter’s questions about life in Japan. Apparently, living in Japan was his plan A that didn’t work out; Bali was his back-up. We told him all about our jobs and how we got them. We even told him about other companies and ways to work and live in Japan. We gave him lots of pointers and tips on how to get a nice job and I hope that’s were he is now.

Then the actual presentation began. The company was called Karma Group and it was a hotel time share. I don’t think it was a scam in the legal sense. It is more like a gym membership, in that it’s great for some people, but not most. But, once you sign up, it’s very hard to get out of your contract. And, you don’t really know all that is involved until after you sign up.

We listened to all the numbers thrown at us. We were given all the information about how much money we would save with their service. He went into the history of the company and why it was founded. The only thing we weren’t told was how much it would cost to sign up.

Before the presentation started, we were told that if we could not afford the membership fee, everything would stop right there and we could leave. I was planning to claim poverty to get out of signing. But when we were finally told the cost, it wasn’t too high. I still wasn’t going to take their word on how much savings we would get from the deal.

After the presentation, we were asked by the presenter’s boss whether we would sign up or not. I told him maybe. I had to do some math and research to see if we would really save any money.

The boss made a little speech about the Karma Group winning vacation awards, about the founder winning awards for tour packages, being on the cover of magazines neither Mark nor I have ever heard of, and how this particular membership deal was voted most somethingest something of the year by some other magazine. “Even ‘George Georgerson’ thinks this is great!” he huffed.

“Honestly, I have never heard of any of those awards, magazines, or people. As far as I know, you could be making it all up. All I ask is for some time to think about it and to do some online research. I never make any major purchases without doing my online research first.” I tried to sound like I didn’t think he was a fink weasel who I wanted to get away from as quickly as possible.

He got mad and threaten me by telling me that if I signed up tomorrow or later, the sweet sweet deal I could get today would be gone. I would have to pay double this and later double that, all because I wanted to do online research. Besides he told me, “You can’t believe everything you see online.”

Well, that was a red flag. Why could I have the deal now and not tomorrow? Mark and I shut this thing down and asked to go.

We were ushered out and taken to an office where the prizes would be handed out. There was a guy in the office already, getting his prize. While we waited a cab was called for us. As the lady filled out the voucher for our free taxi ride back to the mall we were taken from, she asked us about our plans. “Well, we’re just going to have lunch and watch the sunset today,” I said. I hoped this would stop her from asking us to hire someone as a driver for the evening.

“Oh, what kind of food you like?” She asked this casually as she filled out the form.

“Seafood.”

“My uncle runs a seafood restaurant. You want…”

Before she could finish, I cut her off. “No.”

When it was our turn to collect our prizes we went into the office. The lady there had a little chat with us. She too asked about our plans for the rest of the day and tomorrow. “If you need a driver, I have a cousin who…”

Mark cut her off, “We’re just going to relax and have dinner now, thanks.”

“Oh, My nephew runs a nice restaurant…”

“What are the prizes,” I asked before she could go on.

She pulled off the remaining tabs on the cards. Mark got 2 t-shirts, which he left in Bali. And, I got free accommodations at a 5-star hotel.

Some random (non-Karma group) hotel in Bali

We booked the free accommodations at a Karma hotel in Germany. But, the Karma Group cancelled on us about 5 times already. Our 6th attempt is still being held. We are set to go to Germany in October, so we have yet to see how this thing will work out.


Indonesia
(Republic of Indonesia)

How to get there:

You can enter Indonesia by plane, boat, or bus.

Most people can enter Indonesia visa-free for 30 (technically 29) days. If you want to stay longer, you will need to get a visa before entering. The visa-free stay cannot be extended. Check the DGI website for more information.

Phone:

  • Emergency Numbers:
    • Police 110 & 112
    • Ambulance 118
    • Medical Emergencies 119
    • Fire 113
    • Search and rescue 115

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Notes:

  • Do not bring illegal drugs into Indonesia. The penalty is death.
  • Do not confuse Bali with the rest of Indonesia. Bali is like the Las Vegas of Indonesia.
    • (Outside Bali) Indonesia is a conservative country. Dress modestly. Act respectfully.

Bali

How to get there:

  • by way of the Ngurah Rai International Airport
    • Also know as the Denpasar International Airport
  • by bus via a ferry
  • by boat

Phone:

  • Tourism information centre 166
  • Bali Taksi/Blue Bird +62 361 701111
  • free ambulance service +62 361 480282
  • Tourist Police +62 361 754599 or +62 361 763753

Websites:

Downloads:

Notes:

  • Known as Island of Gods, Island of Peace, Morning of The World, Island of Hinduism, and Island of Love.
  • You will need to wear a sarong to enter any and all temples.
    • This applies to both men and women.
    • Some temples will lend or rent a sarong to you.
    • You could also buy a sarong (for about 45,000IDR (less than 4USD)) and use that instead of renting.
    • Never buy a sarong from vendors near a temple. They will charge far more than the cost of renting a sarong, which is sometimes free.
  • Women on their period are not permitted entry to any temples. (However, there is no “period police” and no one checks. It’s just the honor system.)
  • There are tons of people trying to sell you drugs. Just walking down the street in Kuta men will ask in the most unsubtle way, “Marijuana?”
    • DO NOT buy any thing from them. Indonesia has a death penalty for drug possession.
    • Sometimes these “sellers” and scouting for the police who are looking for brides at best and promotions at worst.
  • Do not swim near red flags. They warn of rip currents.
  • Don’t drink the tap water! You’ll get Bali Belly.
    • Ask at your hotel’s reception if you can brush your teeth with the tap water.
    • If you hotel places bottles of water in the bathroom, that means that you shouldn’t brush your teeth with the tap water. Use the bottled water instead.
    • The ice in the drinks at restaurants are okay.
      • Most restaurants do not make their own ice. The ice is delivered daily and is safe.
  • There is a complimentary airport shuttle from Lippo Mall. (From the mall to the airport, not from the airport to Lippo Mall.)
    • First ask the concierge.
    • Spend 150,000IDR, total among your party.
    • You will have access to a free Luggage deposit, free charging outlet, and free wi-fi. (The wi-fi at Lippo Mall is always free.)
    • If you chose not to use this serve and you don’t have too much baggage, remember that Lippo Mall is less than a 30 minute walk from the airport.
  • Blue Bird taxis (+62 361 701111) are the most honest cab company you’ll find on Bali.
    • The trick is there are many fake blue bird taxis and no way to know which is which.
    • Either way, if the cab driver refuses to use the meter, don’t ride.
  • Any taxi from the airport will overcharge you.
    • There are signs in the airport that warn you not to use any unauthorized taxis, but what they don’t mention is that the authorized taxis have paid for a license to charge you 4 times what the normal fee should cost.
    • Blue Bird taxis are not allowed to pick up passengers from the airport. They can only drop off.
    • Walk away from the airport and catch/ or call a cab from the road.
      • Look for a witch on a rope.
      • She is near a path that leads to a parking lot.
      • Walk through that parking lot and keep going straight until you get to a brick side walk.
      • Turn left and keep going until you find a path to turn right.
      • Once on a main road, hail a metered taxi.
    • You could also find the airport hotel and perhaps you can call a taxi from there.
    • The airport has free and open wi-fi. (It’s in Indonesian. You have to click on a yellow button, I think.)
      • You can use it to get walking directions to Lippo Mall or call an Uber.
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One Response to “2017 A Hotel Oddity: Karma Group”

  1. […] June when Mark and I were in Bali, I spent an afternoon with the Karma Group. Karma is a hotel time-share company, but they do not like the term “time share”. I […]

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