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The sheep factor and cloned reviews: the tricks of a travel agency that accumulates complaints on the Internet

2021-01-31T00:28:33.442Z

After the revelation in EL PAÍS of the Leisure Hotels strategy, former employees and clients who feel cheated uncover more details of the operation of this Malaga company



“A very nice woman called me on behalf of my cousin and his girlfriend, she seemed to know them,” explains a 28-year-old biochemist from Seville, who describes a call in January from the Ocio Hoteles company.

“He told me everything very quickly and nothing was clear.

It seemed that my cousins ​​knew her and I believed.

I entered your page and I did not see anything strange.

Later she told me to get in there to explain myself.

Very nice, she talked to me about everything, about her husband, who is also from La Mancha like me, and suddenly she tells me if my card starts with 4 or 5 ”.

Within minutes, the 250 euro charge was done.

The same experience that hundreds of Spaniards have suffered.

Ocio Hoteles offers vouchers for an astonishing discount of 40 free hotel nights for 250 euros, but does not warn of the fine print: half board must also be contracted, so savings disappear.

And above all, there is no way to get your money back.

EL PAÍS reported in December the strategy of this Andalusian travel agency.

Since then, a stream of users and former Ocio Hoteles workers have written to this newspaper with new details and the desire to prevent this from happening to more people.

EL PAÍS has had access to more than 2,000 reviews on Google, where cloned patterns are seen in the creation of the texts, and to internal company documentation, such as the script that telemarketers read with their instructions.

The so-called "sheep factor" and speed ("do not think") are the two great resources of your telephone marketing.

The sheep factor is making the customer envious of how their friends are already enjoying Ocio Hoteles.

Miguel Ángel Vázquez, a lawyer for Ocio Hoteles, participated, after the publication of the first article, in a confrontation on TVE with Borja Adsuara, a lawyer who has advised a group of those affected.

"We apply the law," Vázquez said.

"For the sale of digital products that possibility is contemplated and what Ocio Hoteles is selling is a digital product," he said.

As Adsuara explained, the option of not returning the money is given for products such as video games or

streaming

movies

,

which begin to be enjoyed at the time of purchase, not for hotel vouchers that have not been reserved.

“The company as a wholesaler is ranked 10th in Spain and 30th in Europe.

It is a strong company, with ten offices open ”, explained Vázquez.

"We do not have to give any kind of report on our history or our way of selling, but we have no problem giving it because we are calm because we are doing well," said a company operator when she spoke with EL PAÍS in December.

Tell the telemarketer with the number ending in 585 that I really enjoyed the call where she tried to get the 16 digits from my card but that it was very rude to yell at me and hang up for asking her about what they accused you of in the OCU!

@LeisureHotels

- Alexis Moreira (@alexis_moreira) January 28, 2021

Not all Ocio Hoteles calls are successful.

Juanma Serrano, 22, an engineering student at the University of Seville, also received a call in January.

"It was the second time they called me, with an interval of more than a year between them, and I knew the cake," he says.

They started as usual, in this case mentioning a friend of Serrano: "Teresa gave me your number, a friend of yours who wants you to take advantage of this great offer, just like other friends of hers have done."

The sheep factor was kicking in.

Serrano wanted to have fun that morning and to answer him he was inspired by jokes about bald men made by Auronplay, one of the

most famous

youtubers

in Spain.

"I told him that in order not to feel alone I had gotten into an association called '

bald

gamers

friends

', that we supported each other, we played together and we also traveled a lot," explains Serrano.

The telemarketer seemed afraid she would not get anything out, but she returned to the attack when she mentioned the trips.

"I told her about the trips, but she started to get impatient and she asked me for the card details, I was astonished: 'Miss, how am I going to give you my card number and the CCV code over the phone?'"

@OcioHotels when are they going to refund the amount of the withdrawal of the contract?

You cannot dalir with yours, deceiving people and charging 250 euros

- mercedes lopez (@ mer212) January 25, 2021

After a long time on the phone, the operator hung up apparently upset.

But their insistence and their turns show the determination they put into each call.

Not all cases are like Serrano's.

"My cousin, who was the person who gave my contact, is unemployed and for him those 250 euros are a great effort," explains the young biochemist.

"I do not stay calm knowing that they continue to do these things," he adds.

These are the details about Ocio Hoteles' Internet and telephone strategy.

1. The cloned reviews in Google

Ocio Hoteles has 2,402 reviews on Google and a rating of 4.2 out of 5 stars. Almost 11% (260 reviews) are 1-star.

The comments are from angry people.

This is the last one, from January 26: “After having called me for YEARS, once again I request that they delete my data that I do not want anything from them to which they respond 'Let you know that we will continue to call you champion' and they hang up on me.

ALUCINO with the informality of this company ”.

But the company has far more 5-star reviews: 1,343, up 55%.

The importance of these stars in the business of a company is substantial.

At a glance, a 4-star company is reliable, a 1-star is not.

And while they are fast talking to the phone, little else can see the potential customer.

Two different former employees have confirmed to EL PAÍS that the company asks its workers to make reviews "from time to time."

One has confirmed that there are names of former colleagues among the authors of the same.

Thanks to an affected person, who has extracted all of them from Google, conclusions can be drawn from the 5-star reviews of Ocio Hoteles.

For example, there are 39 texts that include the tag #ociolovers that the company uses in networks and one with “CampañasAds” as the author.

There are also many patterns that are repeated in the wording of the comments:

Google does not allow two reviews of the same place with the same account.

To increase the reviews a user needs different accounts or to buy them.

Patterns in reviews may indicate bulk purchase of texts.

Google allows you to see where on the planet an account writes reviews.

It is common for a user to write about a business that is not in their city: in this case, a person from San Sebastián has left a critical review with Ocio Hotels in Malaga.

It is less common - at least if those who write the reviews are real users - another pattern among the comments about Ocio Hoteles: users who buy batteries in Coslada, go to the dentist in Pontevedra, to the lawyer in Barcelona, ​​study at the University of Cairo and they go to a pizzeria in New York or a restaurant in Caracas.

They are also different users who praise the same companies in remote places: clients of Ocio Hoteles share the same lawyer in Barcelona, ​​the same agency in Malaga or go to the same restaurant in Alicante.

The most repeated two-word name among Ocio Hoteles reviews is Francisco Cordero, brother of the head of Ocio Hoteles, Javier Cordero.

Has made four reviews.

On LinkedIn, Francisco is a "project manager at Presenzia Digital Marketing".

Presenzia has 19 reviews on Google: 14 of its authors have also reviewed Ocio Hoteles, as well as other companies from different cities around the world.

EL PAÍS has written to Francisco Cordero to clarify this relationship, but at the end of this article he had not replied.

2. The telemarketers script

“Do not leave silences” or “we link, not silences”, warns the script read by the Ocio Hoteles teleoperators to which EL PAÍS has had access.

The majority of affected people with whom this newspaper has spoken describe that feeling: they are not silent, it is like a torrent of words.

It is a resource to stop the customer thinking.

The sheep factor or envy of your neighbors is the other great resource.

Do not stay out of the herd: "We are practically missing you", "they have been left with a great tourist promotion and only you are missing", "he asked me please to call you so that you can also take advantage of it", there are just some examples.

Another trick is to induce the fear that the opportunity will pass (“today is the last day, I have no more promotions”), the feeling of urgency (“we have more than 60 people on the waiting list”) or empathize with the client and make friends: "tell him 'me too' with everything positive."

Also the desire or the "avidity" is a point in favor for the caller: "Always go ahead, talk about what you already know they can ask you".

The script foresees possible responses from the client.

If they tell you "I have to think about it," propose to convey a sense of urgency.

Perhaps the greatest harshness is reserved for those who respond that they do not have a card or do not have money.

“The same thing happened to me with a previous client and what he did is ask a family member or friend for the money.

When you get paid, you give it back, you give it two nights out and you look like a king ”would be a standard answer.

The documentation also includes how to get new phone numbers, with the so-called friend plan.

The excuse, for example, is to "become a VIP client" and ask for a handful of contacts: "We are going to make a list, just name and phone number, that are people who like to travel and have fun just like you."

Or another option: "This is very fast, put on your hands-free, enter your phone's agenda and you tell me."

3. The 'clean' searches

When someone types "leisure hotels" in Google, an aseptic list of websites linked to the company appears.

Although since December the article published by this newspaper has also been published.

Another affected person has been in charge of compiling the name of the pages: bonosociohoteles, clubociohoteles, packociohoteles, leisurehotelesopiniones, sociohoteles experience, leisurehoteleschollos, among others.

All are optimized for the search engine to show them before the Travelers' Forum, an old enemy of the company, where negative reviews accumulated and was not as easy to control as the reviews on Google.

"These pages have been created to give the impression that the company is highly appreciated for its services, but in the end it is a marketing strategy to encourage those who do not have internet knowledge," says the person concerned who has made an effort to review these pages.

"They are not dynamic pages that can interact with the user."

Thanks to an ad at the bottom of the first page of results, the company itself generates new searches.

Whoever clicks goes to a website called "tehanllamadodeociohoteles", which redirects to searches that favor the content created by the company and hides what harms it: "-ocu" or "-forum", where there are negative opinions.

That "-" tells Google not to show results that contain that word.

4. Return and threats

In January at least two affected people wrote to this newspaper to say that they had recovered the money.

His strategy had been to report to the police or the Civil Guard and go to the bank to file a complaint: “In addition to writing, reporting and canceling the card, I went to the bank to fill out the fraudulent operations form and spoke with the department that manages these operations.

Maybe they pushed more ”.

After a few days he received an email from the same company that had charged him: "In response to your email, we specified the acceptance of your refund request."

In the matter it said: “Corpal Malaga purchase regularization”.

Just as there is a case of success, the company continues to threaten, at least in the case of two users who had written in anger: "Your 'legal advisor' has called me with a super threatening tone," says one, "telling me if he had to dictate articles of the law to learn that accusing of fraud is slander and is punishable by jail.

I have answered them by telling them that they already have the complaint filed.

His answer has been 'wait yours' ”.

If you have more information on this subject, you can write to:

jordipc@elpais.es

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Source: elparis

All tech articles on 2021-01-31

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