Would You Demolish Your Timeshare Because a Caller Told You To?
Saturday, July 18, 2009
In the category of “Really, Really Strange” are the reports of vacationers destroying their hotel rooms. No, not Spring Breakers getting too wild at a party; we’re talking about Mom and Dad on vacation with the kids, demolishing a hotel room because a caller from the ‘front desk’ instructs them to break windows and knock holes in the wall.
Believe it or not, it is happening. Some very obliging people are falling victim to pranks that have gone beyond funny and evolved into criminal acts. Vacationers from Nebraska to Arkansas to Orlando have already become the victim of some outrageous pranksters. And while the cost is adding up, the bigger concern is that it is only a matter of time before someone gets hurt or killed as a result of the pranks.
Here’s an example, based on an article that originally appeared last week in The Orlando Sentinel:
Lisa Kantorski and her family were on vacation in Orlando, staying at the Hilton Gardens Inn. Around 7 AM, they received a phone call identifying that it was from the hotel’s front desk, and telling Mrs. Kantorski that there was a gas leak at the property. Frantically Lisa relayed the instructions the caller was giving her to her husband, a sheriff’s deputy.
Break the window, she was told. Break the mirror. Use the lamp and bash a hole in the wall to get to the trapped man on the other side. Now throw the mattress out your window and jump for safety. The family had yet to jump when management from the hotel arrived in response to a noise complaint.
Not the First Time Vacationers Have been the Victim of this Type of Prank
According to the Sentinel article: “In Arkansas, a caller posing as a sprinkler company employee convinced a motel employee to do more than $50,000 in damage to a motel as part of a “test” of the motel’s emergency alarms. At a Comfort Suites in Daphne, Ala., a caller ordered a guest to turn on the sprinklers for a fire that wasn’t. The result: more than $10,000 in damage. In Nebraska, a Hampton Inn employee was convinced by a caller to pull the fire alarm, later telling him the only way to silence the alarm was by breaking the lobby windows. The employee enlisted the help of a nearby trucker, who drove his rig through the front door.”
When you begin researching this topic, you find that there are thousands of these types of calls made regularly, not just to hotel guests, but to restaurant workers, office staffs, and unsuspecting people in a variety of situations. Several websites memorialize the events. We won’t list any of these sites, because they don’t deserve the attention.
This is far beyond “Do you have Prince Albert in a can?” This type of prank is malicious, destructive of property, dangerous to lives, and disrespectful to everyone involved. It is also criminal. And perhaps worst of all, it leads to a ‘Cry Wolf’ environment in which people will become conditioned to ignore pleas for assistance because they believe them to be fallacious.
If you are ever a hotel or timeshare guest and you receive a request to do something that just doesn’t sound right, take a moment before you act and double-check the source. You could save yourself a lot of embarrassment and save your timeshare resort a lot of expensive repairs.