Merge's Blog

Honesty and integrity necessary for success? Recent experience with Grupo Mayan suggests otherwise

Last week I told you about our recent short holiday at the Grand Mayan, one of the mega-resorts run by Grupo Mayan in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico.  Specifically, I talked about rules – silly rules and sensible rules, and how having the former makes it difficult to build credibility for the latter.  In passing, I also mentioned my “timeshare experience from hell.”  I wasn’t ready to talk about it last week (the experience was still too recent and “raw” :)) but I’ve recovered sufficiently now that I’m ready to share.

Without going into the whole sorry story, let me just admit first that against our better judgment, we were talked into attending a 90-minute timeshare presentation.  I have no good excuse, other than (at the time) the offer of a free massage and a Puerto Vallarta city tour was very appealing.  In hindsight, it was a big mistake!  The outcome?  In a nutshell, high-pressure sales, more high-pressure sales, and yet more high-pressure sales.  As someone who is familiar with sales techniques, I must say I was bemused with how well-orchestrated the Grupo Mayan sales process is. Their sales staff use all the classic hard-sell techniques – I’ll probably get into trouble for giving you this great deal, you’d be stupid not to take this incredible offer, we’re just trying to make your life easier, and of course, the classic good cop versus bad cop.   It started with a wake-up call that morning to our room at 7:30 AM reminding us of our “breakfast reservation” at 8:15 AM.  We then went through ten different people and four hours before we finally escaped from timeshare hell (no, we didn’t buy!).  If you really want to read the whole wretched story, then you can find a link to the experience in this review I did on another site:

Very negative experience at the Grand Mayan Nuevo Vallarta

But the topic of today’s blog post is honesty and integrity.  During our time with the Grupo Mayan sales staff, I observed, with growing dismay, recurring lies, disrespect and poor listening.  Later that day, I googled “Grupo Mayan sales practices” and was completely overwhelmed by the hundreds of posts on the Internet that have only negative things to say about this outfit.  Words such as “con-men”, “cheaters”, “swindlers”, “scam artists”, “liars”, “crooks”, “dishonest”, “corrupt”, and “fraudulent” were only just a few of the epithets used repeatedly describe this organization.  The Better Business Bureau in the U.S. gives this company a rating of F, the lowest possible given by the BBB.  And I must say, even in our almost four hours with their salespeople, we observed repeated blatant instances of lying and evasiveness, the most obvious of which was 90 minutes versus almost four hours.  So clearly, this company DOES NOT have a positive track record when it comes to integrity and honesty.  Yet, despite how much they seem to be hated, this is still, at least on the surface, a successful organization.  After all, they continue to build even more mega-resorts, so obviously someone must be buying these timeshares!   Evidently then, their underhanded selling techniques MUST be working; why else would they continue to use them?

Why indeed? That in fact is a VERY good question.  For many years, I have continually advocated that one of the key characteristics of a successful leader (individual or organization) is honesty and integrity.  Is that no longer true? How can one reconcile this apparent inconsistency?  Your thoughts and comments greatly appreciated.


  • I suspect the reason for their success has very little to do with their high pressure sales techniques and questionable ethics. There is likely such a market appetite for this type of time share property that the vast majority buying in were going to do so regardless of the sales pitch. It is only those who spend time seriously evaluating the proposition who would pick up on the negative approach to the sales pitch and hear the alarm bells go off.

    Ultimately I don’t think such practices work in business nor in life. The people who use such an approach may benefit in the short term but in the long term their lack of integrity and honesty will fail them. That is my belief (or perhaps my hope).

    What is more concerning to me is that so many people will accept things so blindly and often with a view to instant gratification (I want this, I have to have this, sold). It is no wonder our consumer debt it at all time record highs. Prudence and accountability has pretty much gone out the window. If people would evaluate situations with a critical eye and base their decisions on prudence and accountability then honesty and integrity in our business and personal dealings will come to the for front again.

    Till then I am afraid that many people will be easy prey for such unscrupulous individuals.

  • When your selling the “dream” it’s easier to make the sale. The key role of the salesperson once they’ve established the “dream” is to confirm the tolerance level. In other words, how much can they afford to get away with. It not just timeshare people and it’s certain not just Mexico. What is the car salesman doing? Your so called financial advisor (salesman) doing? The door to door vacuum salesman! It’s always about the dream and people will alway succumb to it. One of your newsletters talks about reacting emotionally and making bad business decisions. Is this any different? I’ve learned to not react, to allow my emotions to calm down before making a decision. (At least most of the time) In doing so I don’t make rash decisions, they tend to be more calculated and in the end tend to be better decisions.

  • Kevin, I truly hope you’re right when you say that lack of integrity and honesty may work in the short-term, but will fail in the long-term. I too operate from that basis, but I must admit, my observation of Grupo Mayan’s sales practices has caused me to question that belief.

    I too am concerned that so many people accept things blindly. The joke goes – “How do you know a timeshare salesman is lying? His lips are moving.” Yet, somebody’s buying those timeshares!!

  • You make a good point Marinus when you draw a parallel between timeshare sales and the sales of other products or services. I must say though that I have not observed this kind of blatant dishonesty in car, financial advice and vacuum cleaner sales. Shouldn’t the product sell itself? Or is it necessary to resort to blatant lying and misrepresentation to make a sale? I truly hope that honesty and integrity hold out in the end. You are also correct that every person needs to take personal ownership for evaluating a purchase unemotionally and making a good decision; yet ultimately, buying is an emotional process. I guess this is what Grupo Mayan is counting on!


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