I have yet to find a single travel club that’s worth joining. Some, if not all, are outright scams. The latest, according to Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, are Only Way 2 Go Travel, of Plymouth, Mass., Fantasia Travel Group of Methuen, Mass., and Outrigger Vacation Club of Tulsa, Okla.
The state has filed a complaint and obtained a temporary restraining order against the companies for allegedly selling sham vacation club memberships that cost consumers hundreds of thousands of dollars without providing the promised benefits.
Here’s a video clip of the AG explaining why the action was necessary.
In a statement, the state claimed these companies offered a “classic bait and switch scheme” that preyed on travelers who were simply hoping to reduce the costs of their summer vacations.
According to the complaint,
The defendants lured consumers through mail and telephone solicitations to their Plymouth and Methuen presentation centers by promising them prizes and gifts of airline travel, weekend getaways, and rebate cards.
Once consumers arrived at the presentation centers to claim their prizes, defendants subjected these consumers to high pressure sales tactics designed to induce those consumers to purchase memberships in the Outrigger Vacation Club.
The complaint also alleges that consumers entered into the membership contracts based upon false promises that they would receive better-than-Internet wholesale prices on vacation packages, cruises, accommodations and other travel services.
None of the consumers who complained to the Attorney General’s office ever received the prizes or gifts initially promised to them, according to the state. Instead, they left the Plymouth and Methuen sales presentation venues having spent as much as $8,500 for vacation club memberships that were essentially worthless when compared with travel arrangements they could make themselves using one of the major Internet travel search engines or by calling airlines, hotels and resorts directly.
The vacation club scam is an epidemic, often targeting retirees on fixed incomes. Many victims spend a significant amount of their life savings on the product and are too embarrassed to talk about it after they’ve been taken, thus unwittingly helping to perpetuate the fraud.
Do you know of any travel clubs that are worth belonging to? If so, do tell.
(Photo: Today is a good day/Flickr Creative Commons)