The long weekend he spent at the Lady Luck Hotel and Casino was a distant memory to David Burford, who checked into the Las Vegas resort with his family back in 2004. But not to a Boca Raton, Fla., company called First Class Travel Wise, which contacted him out of the blue recently and ordered him to pay an extra $433 for his vacation.
Talk about late billing.
How could a company that Burford had never heard of make that kind of demand? A representative explained that Burford hadn’t fulfilled the terms of a travel package he had allegedly purchased four years ago, at about the same time he booked the Lady Luck room.
When Burford balked, he was connected to someone who identified himself as Christopher Greene, who claimed that Burford had stayed at the Imperial Palace in Las Vegas and had taken a property tour, which obligated him to book future travel through First Class Travel Wise. Greene is listed on First Class Travel Wise’s Web site as its president.
Burford had never stayed at the Imperial Palace.
I informed Greene that I thought his call was part of some fraud attempt at getting me to pay him $433 for a bogus deal. He then related that he could email or fax to me the contract that I had entered into. I asked him to mail it to me, but he declined. He then related that he would contact a collections agency regarding the $433 that I supposedly owed.
Burford checked his records and found that he had paid for show tickets at the Imperial Palace. He also investigated his hotel booking, which was made through a company called Leisure Time Las Vegas. He remembers that the booking enrolled him in “some travel program that I did not want to join,” so he canceled it.
However, efforts to reach the Imperial Palace and Leisure Time Las Vegas were unsuccessful. Leisure Time’s phones have been disconnected, and the Imperial Palace is undergoing a renovation, according to Burford.
I contacted First Class Travel Wise on Burford’s behalf. It hasn’t responded.
Burford is not leaving anything to chance. He has filed complaints with state and local law enforcement agencies, as well as the Southeast Florida Better Business Bureau. The BBB has given First Class Travel Wise a grade of “F” for not responding to customer complaints.
The company’s efforts to collect money from other travelers is also detailed in 800Notes, which catalogs calls from “unknown” companies.
Burford, for his part, is standing his ground.
It was shocking for me to receive the above phone call from Greene claiming I had to pay for something that occurred over four years ago. I totally dispute their claim that I lodged at the Imperial Palace in Las Vegas and took some tour of another facility, which obligated me to a travel package.
Greene appears to be equally insistent. Last Thursday, he called Burford because of his Better Business Bureau grievance. Then he allegedly made yet another ultimatum.
Greene stated that he not only operated First Class Travel Wise, but also owned a collections agency.
Greene said, “You’re still denying staying at the Imperial Palace and taking the Time Share Tour.” Greene stated that he was going to forward this matter to an attorney.
Without seeing the actual contract, it is difficult to determine whether First Class Travel Wise’s claims are legitimate. But you don’t have to be an ombudsman to conclude that the company’s methods — and timing — raise some serious questions.
Maybe those are best answered by a judge.
Update (12/11): I received a blog comment that purports to be from First Class Travel Wise. I can’t vouch for its authenticity (neither the IP address nor the given email address can be connected to the company). In it, someone claiming to represent the company insists First Class Travel Wise is pursuing valid claims against Burford, and that the comments here amount to an anonymous smear campaign against it.
THERE ARE “NO” COMPLAINTS ABOUT US “NOT” FULFILLING THE HOTELS WE ARE SUPPOSED TO. NO COMPLAINTS ABOUT US “NOT” REFUNDING ANY TIMESHARE TOUR PAYOUTS THAT ARE DUE TO ANY CUSTOMER/TOURER. AS A MATTER OF FACT, WE HAVE MADE IT A CORPORATE POLICY TO WORK OUT A REFUND (AT LEAST WITHIN THE INITIAL RESOLUTION PROCESS) WITH ANY ONE WHO HAS A PACKAGE THROUGH US.
ALL OF THESE COMPLAINTS, A COUPLE OR FEW (OUT OF TENS OF THOUSANDS), ARE DOING AND SAYING WHATEVER THEY CAN “HIDE” AND GET AWAY WITH. WHY WOULD THEY NOT TAKE US ON IF THEY HAVE SUCH CASES? WHY NOT IDENTIFY THEMSELVES? AND WITH THIS, PROVIDE EVIDENCE OF THEIR TERMS & CONDITIONS, AND “SUBSTANTIATE THEIR CLAIMS”!!! THEY, LIKE THE UNWARRANTED “DAVID BUFFORD” CASE, SPEAK IN THE THIRD PERSON AND/OR ARE UNWILLING TO ADMIT TO YOU WHO THEY REALLY ARE. AND WHAT “THEY REALLY HAVE” TO SUBSTANTIATE THEIR CLAIMS.
REALIZING PEOPLE WANT TO GET OUT OF PAYING SEVERAL HUNDRED DOLLARS, FOR THEIR “FAILURE TO TOUR” BREECH OF THE TERMS & CONDITIONS IN EVERY CASE– ESPECIALLY DURING THESE TIMES, AND ESPECIALLY FOR TOURING SOME TIMESHARE PROPERTY—EVEN SUCH MODERATE SIZE CORPORATIONS, AS WE ARE, HAVE DONE WELL TO WORK OUT A REFUND OPTION (IN OUR INITIAL RESOLUTION PROCESS), WHICH WE ARE “NOT” OBLIGATED TO DO. (ACCORDING TO THE TERMS & CONDITIONS OF “NONE” OF OUR PACKAGES)
*THE REASON THAT WE ARE STILL IN BUSINESS IS THAT ALL OF OUR PROMOTIONS “ARE” REGISTERED, LICENSED, BONDED. AND, FURTHERMORE, WE FULFILL OUR PACKAGES! NO COMPLAINTS OR ISSUES WITH ANY REAL, LEGAL ISSUES! IF YOU HAVE A BALANCE AND/OR COLLECTION SITUATION WITH OUR COMPANY—AND ARE IN DENIAL, ARE UNWILLING TO RESOLVE, OR ARE TRYING TO DEFRAUD OUR COMPANY– THAT IS JUST A BIT OF A DIFFERENT STORY!
Having read all of the new comments associated with this post, my conclusion stands. I think the validity of these claims need to be considered by a judge.