I paid $6,995 for a travel club membership — did I just get scammed?

Cathy Evans doesn’t fit the profile of a typical scam victim. She’s an account manager for a technology company in Boston, and she likes to think of herself as a discerning customer.

So when she got a voice mail on her cell phone offering her a “free” cruise, she did what most savvy consumers do: she deleted it.

But Evans’ boyfriend, who also got the same call, thought the “exclusive, members-only” discounts offered through a travel club called Pacific Palm Destinations in Woburn, Mass, looked appealing.

“He really wanted to go on the trip,” she says.

They attended one of its seminars and they both liked the pitch. “They claimed that they are the largest wholesale travel club and that you can buy any kind of vacation for a fraction of what you’d pay on Orbitz,” she says. Also, the renewal rate was just $169 a month, or $2,028 a year — a fraction of her initial $6,995 membership. She signed up with her credit card on the spot.

“It didn’t occur to me that none of what was promised actually even exists,” she says.

Evans asked about Pacific Palms’ cancellation policy, and a representative said although it “didn’t have one” he could give her 72 hours. After she researched Pacific Palms online, she asked for her money back.

Others aren’t so lucky. Most travel clubs offer a shorter cancellation window or none at all, even when state law requires it. They make big promises during high-pressure sales presentations held at malls or in rented office spaces. They usually target retirees with disposable income, although they’ll take your money if you’re on a fixed income, too.

But most importantly, the “exclusive” discounts don’t really exist. Any halfway competent bargain-hunter can find travel deals that are just as good or better online, no membership required.

Stories like Evans have been a staple of my consumer advocacy practice from the beginning. Here’s a virtually identical case from 2010 with a slightly different outcome. And here’s a similar club in Massachusetts in which the state Attorney General took action.

What did Evans’ research reveal? Other complaints that suggested to her that the offer was bogus. Several other reviews seemed to concur with that assessment.

The company insists its product is on the up-and-up.

“We have done nothing as a company that is unethical or against what we represent,” it wrote in a rebuttal to one online complaint. “The unfortunate thing is that people such as yourselves join our program go home and try to find a reason as to why they shouldn’t have and believe anything they read online instead of contacting us and even attempting to book travel and seeing the type of savings we can provide.”

Evans dug deeper, and says her research unearthed lawsuits and a shady network of travel clubs across the country. According to an investigator for the New Jersey state Attorney General, there’s even a course you can take in Las Vegas on how to pull off a vacation club scam. It covers everything the aspiring travel club startup needs to know, from crafting persuasive sales pitches to renting an office with a short-term lease, to dealing with pesky customer credit-card disputes.

“It really bugs me that no one is taking action and innocent people are getting ripped off,” she says.

Evans is brave to come forward with her complaint, for two reasons. Most people who participate in travel clubs and who have buyer’s remorse don’t talk about it publicly.

“Most people are too embarrassed to admit they fell for such a scam and they don’t report it,” she told me. “Probably even more people have not attempted to book their free trip or use the travel services yet — so they don’t even know they’ve been taken.”

And second, like other travel clubs, the one she’s dealing turns aggressive when its legitimacy is questioned.

“I’m concerned about this group seeking revenge against me,” she says.

Evans probably isn’t travel club material, which is yet another reason she’s so outspoken. Most of the victims I’ve met are barely computer literate. Anyone who can fire up a smart phone and type the words “Pacific Palms” and “scam” into Google is unlikely to shell out $6,995 for a club membership, regardless of how good the offer sounds.

Scam artists usually look for retired Baby Boomers who are uncomfortable using the Internet and — above all, trusting. People like my parents.

I sent Pacific Palms several emails asking about its operation and Evans’ case. A company representative responded in writing just after my deadline, saying Evans had entered into a contract with the company “of her own free will” on March 21. She asked for a refund within 24 hours and was immediately given one.

“She never attempted to use our services our got the opportunity to see what we could offer for her,” the representative said.

“Although we were sorry that we didn’t have the opportunity to work with her, Mrs. Evans had every right to cancel her contract. She exercised that right and we obliged accordingly,” it said, adding, “For her to say we scammed her in any way or that we did not do as we were supposed to is totally false.”

“On that note, please understand that you if choose to pursue any kind of slander against our company, based on these false allegations, we will seek legal counsel to stop you,” the representative cautioned.

So noted.

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: In two decades of consumer advocacy, I’ve never come across a legitimate travel club. Ever.

Is it possible that Pacific Palms is a legitimate company, and that Evans is just a disgruntled former customer? Sure, anything is possible.

By the way, if you’ve lost thousands of dollars to a travel club that you believe is fraudulent, don’t wait. Contact local law enforcement, your state’s Attorney General, and the Federal Trade Commission, as soon as possible. The more complaints these agencies receive about travel club scams, the faster they can shut ’em down.

And don’t skip the feds; these operators like to jump across state lines and start over. An FTC consent order will make that really difficult.

In the end, travel club scams exist because we let them. We want to believe we can pay a few thousand dollars and get a “free” trip and deeply discounted travel. We’re trusting and we take people at their word. And as long as we do, these scams will continue.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at chris@elliott.org. Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • http://flyicarusfly.com/ Fly, Icarus, Fly

    I’m really glad the OP got her money back. But still, if she was that savvy, would she really have plunked down almost $7,000 without researching the company first? Or at least comparing what they were offering with what she or a TA could get? It’s weird – the people who fall for travel clubs are precisely the people who hardly ever travel. Maybe it’s the enticement of travel that gets them. While I don’t think travel clubs are a good value (just like I don’t think time shares are a good value), they have the right to exist, I guess. If only for people who want to pay way too much for travel.

  • Raven_Altosk

    Glad the OP got her money back, but…why even attend the “seminar” to begin with? Anyone with half a brain knows that if you have to go to a “sales pitch” you’ll be scammed. Even better…if she is a techie, why not whip out her cell phone on the spot and Google the “company” and “scam?” Show it to the presenter and demand s/he defend it?

    Bottom line: Travel Clubs are scams. Course, I shouldn’t say that too loud! This company might send their shysters after me to shut me up. I loved that little threat in their correspondence. That’s another marker of a shady company. Kinda like VRBO and their “clients” that make people lie about their experiences…

  • emanon256

    I too am glad Evan’s got her money back. Sadly that seems like the exception and not the rule.

    I think anything that required upfront payment and no time to think is a scam whether travel related or not. I have had sales people come to my house (I did invite them) and suddenly demand an upfront payment, the second they use the line, “This offer is only good right now” I kick them out. If they were legitimate, they would give me a price, I can do my homework, and I can come back and buy their product or service.

    I will admit, I have gone to my share of “club” presentations. They always sound too good to be true, and they always pull the same thing. I must pay now, and this is my only opportunity, and if I leave I will not be allowed to buy It in the future. That just reads scam to me. Also the fact that I am paying the man getting nothing in return, except the ability to give them more money in the future for my exclusive business? Shouldn’t they be payment me for my exclusive business? Sounds like a “Walled Garden” from the book Scammed.

    I even went to a house product club presentation once recently because we were going to do some remodeling. I ended up walking out because they also demanded cash up front with nothing in return other than the knowledge that I can buy from them at great prices. They showed examples of $12,000 cabinets for $6,000. And a $1,000 soaker tub for $450. Well our contractor got the same cabinets for $2,500 wholesale and I got the same soaker tub at sears for $300. Now that’s a scam!

  • Kathleen Proud Keyte

    How many trips would you need to take per year – whilst saving 50% to get your $6995 + $2000 pe rannum outlay back? Yeah, that’s right too many. Cannot believe people fall for thesse scams.

  • john4868

    I didn’t vote since I don’t like the question… It’s too absolute for me. I think that these programs are horrible deals. As @twitter-460585267:disqus  said, how many trips a year do you have to take to make it work out financially? Quite a number in my book.

    To me this is like a timeshare… I’ve never attended a pitch where I could make the numbers work financially but that doesn’t make it a scam in my book only a horrible deal.

    If these club deliver on what they promise (reduced rates) even if they are deals that you could find on the internet, this falls into the “You made a horrible deal” category instead of a scam. If the company closes up shop or doesn’t return phone calls after you sign up, that’s a scam.

  • BillCCC

    I could not answer yes or no since I am not that up to speed on travel clubs. The case written about here does not seem 1005 on the up and up. If you are cold called with an offer for anything that is free(!) hang up and do not let anyone else tell you if sounds good. 

  • TonyA_says

    For $7k [charged to a credit card] I can fly to a real Pacific Island [i.e. the Philippines] and enjoy a couple of weeks of sipping iced tea, coconut juice, mango shakes, dining on fresh seafood and tropical fruits, and viewing spectacular sunsets. Who needs a “club” that charges travel money upfront? That’s not a “club”, that’s like an Advance Payment scheme or scam. My idea of a club is like Costco or AAA where you pay a small membership fee and get SERVICES. They also sell travel. Better still create your own family and friends club and make a deal with a travel supplier. Happy travel.

  • http://flyicarusfly.com/ Fly, Icarus, Fly

    I actually don’t mind going to the odd sales pitch every now and then, especially if they up the ante to make it well worth it. I just let my eyes glaze over, show them that I didn’t bring any credit cards so couldn’t possibly buy anything on the spot, even if I wanted to. It’s almost sad to see the fire die out in their eyes. Almost.

  • LisaSux

    “It didn’t occur to me that none of what was promised actually even exists,” she says.


    Chris, tell us how that libel suit works out.  You’ve pretty much called them scammers in print.

  • IGoEverywhere

    Travel groups can make a difference because of buying power. They know each other and only work with a legitimate travel agent. You have no upfront investment, you should get group rates and you should get some free trips if your numbers of people are high enough. Travel Clubs lovel the term “Fools and their money”.

  • Harry Baxter

    My heart goes out to people who get scammed like this. Experienced travelers wouldn’t normally get fooled, but everyone isn’t an experienced traveler. There probably isn’t a product or service (Furniture, Cars, Travel, Travel Insurance, etc.) that doesn’t have it’s own group of “Specialists” who will be ready and willing to sell us a product at half price, collect our money, and give us nothing in return. As with everything, if something seems to be too good to be true, investigate it EXTENSIVELY before you send them money or give them your credit card number.

  • Chris Johnson

    Check out the company’s website (you’ll have to search on Google, I’m not going to type it here for fear they may slap a libel suit on me).  There’s almost no information on there, just pictures of hotels, resorts and cruise ships, and when you click on a particular selection, i.e. hotels, cruises or vacation package, a short film of a woman telling you that you can save money by using them and not much else.  There’s not even any price comparisons, nothing. While I always found these types of companies on the scammy side, I  thought that the internet would have made them completely antiquated and killed them off (much like a regular travel agency).  Also, like another poster said, even if they could offer you such great discounts, you’d have to go on vacation a lot to recoup the cost of your membership fee.  Reminds me of a membership-only furniture store (won’t mention their name here) – even if their discounts are so great, how can the membership fee make it worth it? You’d have to be furnishing a whole apartment building or something.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    I went to their website to try and figure out what you get for $7K upfront and $2K a year.  No luck finding any details, but they’ve got the most annoying website ever. One of those personal helper videos that restarts on every single page you visit.  For kicks, the link is below. See if you get as annoyed with “Shantel” as I did!


  • http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott

    You’ll read about it here first. ;-)

  • emanon256

    I have gone a few times out of curiosity and for the freebies, but lately the freebies don’t seem worth my time. I went to one selling some type of system to make money on the internet. They promised a “gourmet 4 course dinner” and a, “Free iTouch or similar device” for my time. We got a boxed lunch and a $2 calculator with their logo on it. The whole concept they discussed was simply a get rich quick pyramid style scam, and when they were trying to do the hard sale someone mentioned they don’t have a credit card and the sales guy asked them if they knew anyone who did and then convinced them to call a friend who had a credit card so he could process their payment by phone. They were desperately calling people asking if they could sue their credit card and pay them back, I felt horrible for them. I could not believe how many people were lining up to pay $500 for this scam.

  • emanon256

    If they have to tell you it’s not a scam and threaten you with a law suit, it’s probably a scam.

  • TonyA_says

    To bypass Shantel, you can go here    http://www.pacificpalmdestinations.net/
    I went there and could not find anything to buy. I wonder what this outfit is really doing?
    Since Travel is one of the most oversold services, who needs a club?

  • http://flyicarusfly.com/ Fly, Icarus, Fly

    I think it’s all about self-awareness. If you know you’re a person easily led, then you need to avoid these like the plague. These guys are very good at what they do. LOL about the “perks” you got, though. They need to give me a lot more than that to make me sit through their spiel. I’m weird because I almost find it fun to see them try so hard… Simple pleasures in life…

  • LeeAnneClark

    Can’t wait to read all about your next lawsuit! :)

  • SooZeeQ

    I do understand that you were presenting Evans education and job position as statements that she is so bright that nothing can get by her. 

    But the truth is, that sometimes those with enough degrees and credentials to paper a wall, are lacking the key to life ~ common sense.

  • VicrajT

    My apologies to everyone for this completely off-topic message for Tony.  I looked many places for his contact info but could not find it.  And I can’t seem to find a way of sending a message privately to a poster.

    Tony: I would like to use your services for booking travel for a family trip later this year.  I’m contacting you because you appear to be very knowledgeable about travel in general and, in particular, you appear to have some expertise with travel to Asia and with Delta Airlines.  Will you pl. email me at vicraj_thomas@yahoo.com?  Thank you.

  • emanon256

    I sadly think the people who are easily led, probably aren’t aware of it. 
    Sadly, I had to wait to the end to get my “iTouch or similar device.”  If I saw the $2 calculator at the beginning I would have left.  And I don’t think you’re weird; I also think it’s entertaining to see how hard they try. And how sleazy they can be.

  • TonyA_says

    I think I’ll consider blaming the boy friend first. He was the one that softened her position [guard].

  • TonyA_says
  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_LKHWSI5H6XYINENJT6DJ2UX7E4 Wrona

    Among my friends, we joke that you are required to turn over your common sense in exchange for admission to law school. Friends in other professions tell me the same is true for other graduate programs as well.

  • http://gspirits.com/ Zod

    Deeded timeshares are good…especially if you go with an established organization…vacation clubs are mostly scams.

  • TonyA_says

    I agree with John Baker. Chris is using too broad a brush to paint Travel Clubs. I believe that there are (can be) legitimate Travel Clubs that break no law and can provide some value and are therefore not scams. This is like saying that all German males in WW2 were Nazis.

  • Steve_in_WI

    I have no doubt that this club isn’t a good deal. Simple math will tell you that even *if* their claims about discounts are true, after shelling out $7k upfront and $2k a year, you’d have to do a ton of travel to benefit from the program. If you’re someone who spends several thousand dollars a year or less on vacations, no way is this going to help you – even if it’s exactly what the company promises you.

    It’s interesting to consider what the tipping point is for something to be a scam, though. Clearly, if a company is taking people’s money and not providing what was promised in return, that’s a scam. But what if they offer membership in a discount program and don’t promise anything specific that they can’t deliver? Advertising and salespeople will often distort the truth or tell outright lies in order to sell a product – and I’m including large, legitimate companies in that assessment. At what point does it become a scam and not just sleazy behavior?

  • SoBeSparky

    Exactly what is the business proposition of a travel club?  How can a travel club save you $1,000 or $10,000 a year?  No one asked this, thinking we must accept at face value their claims and whatever methods they use to achieve their claims.

    Balderdash!  No club is going to get you a better deal than what you can get on your own.  If you have the time and energy, you can search, get on lists, gets fare change notices, and join every hotel and airline frequent customer program to keep alert as to the best deals.

    Are these travel clubs going to get better deals than Apple Vacations and similar mass-market low-end retailers?

    Seems to me these clubs practice alchemy to achieve their claims.  And if you want to believe in alchemy, then you can think some travel clubs might be legal.  

    This is all a hoax, a variation on something for nothing.  In this case, pay us big time up front, and you will get even bigger dividends sometime in the future.  Sounds like a theme based on the original melody of Bernie Madoff.  

  • Lindabator

    Found the comment about travel agencies highly offensive – and thanks to the internet, folks are coming back to us in droves – we offer more consumer protections, and services to boot.

  • jim6555

    TonyA, do you know of a travel club that asks for a large upfront fee and has monthly service charges that is legitimate? I don’t and I would be surprised if anyone reading this blog does.

  • TonyA_says

     No, but the question is if ANY travel club is legit? Are Travel Clubs a Scam?
    Well I have news for you –  MY Travel Club is legit and not a scam. I do not even charge a penny to be a member. I provide INFORMATION to members of my travel club for FREE. Now that’s a real travel club.:-)

  • Joe_D_Messina

    To each his own, but I beg to differ.  I’ve got friends who have purchased resale timeshares just by agreeing to take over the recurring fees–they’re happy with that arrangement but the original owners certainly weren’t.  And even if you never need to resell, it’s extremely hard for the original owner to come out ahead or even break even by the time all the upfront costs and recurring fees are factored in. 

  • emanon256

    I have yet to see a travel website give me a better deal than the hotels own website. I have had travel agents get me a better deal than the hotels own website, and often with less restrictions.  Also real agents are far better to deal with, and far more knowledge than a travel websites.

  • AAmerican1

    I agree with TonyA and John Baker. And, in fact, there are legitimate travel clubs. Marriott, Hilton, Disney, and Wyndham are just a few of the major players in the travel club industry. What they offer may not appeal to everyone but what value they offer should not be painted as a “scam”. The OP was given 72 hours to rescind her contract and did so and was given a full refund. How was she the victim of a scam?

  • http://gspirits.com/ Zod

     Well, my reply to that is why are they selling timeshare? If you bought a timeshare in order to someday sell it, then, to borrow a phrase from apple, you’re doing it wrong. Timehshares are things you keep and use. I don’t understand why you need to “come out ahead” or “break even”. If you love going to Aruba and you want to go every other year, then buy a timeshare in Aruba…If you love Maui and you want to travel there every other year, buy a Maui timeshare.

  • TonyA_says

    Again, not all travel clubs are like THIS ONE.
    There are many reasons for OTHER kinds of travel clubs.
    I doubt if the raison d’être for THIS KIND of travel club is to save big money on travel.

  • John Moyer

    My wife and I have been through a couple of presentations.  Both were a direct result of having no plan when visiting a cruise port.  One was, actually, a time share;the other was a vacation club.  We were in St. Maarten on a Sunday morning and we had two goals.  We went to church and then to a pharmacy to replace a forgotten prescription.  With both goals met we found ourselves in downtown Philllipsburg where we were approached by two European looking gents.  They were probably, in their late thirties or early forties.  They gave us some scratch-off tickets.  My wife was a minor winner but, according to the guys, I won the big one.  All we had to do to claim our prize, which was to be either $500 in merchandise or a valuable vacation.  Against our better judgement we allowed one of them to lead us to a side street where there was a small office building.  To make a long story short, a 60-ish American guy failed to  get us to take an offer “we shouldn’t refuse”.  The benefits were so obviously, too good to be true.  When we received our “valuable” gift we found that we had to pay a couple of hundred $’s to secure it, we passed.  The upside was we ambushed the two Dutch (as we found out) guys and made them buy us a beer.  We had a good time bantering with them and they said they were actually, dive instructors and they did the vacation club gig for extra money.  At least, for going to the time-share presentation in St. Thomas, we got two bottles of rum and a trip up the incline to Paradise Point!

  • SoBeSparky

    She says in her complaint, “They claimed that they are the largest wholesale travel club and that you can buy any kind of vacation for a fraction of what you’d pay on Orbitz.”  A free cruise was the come-on.
    I had not thought of a travel club for free to exchange info and hot tips.  True, such a club would not be a scam as money does not change hands.  If the “club” is merely a marketing technique to put deals in front of the travelling  public, then why not?

  • Joe_D_Messina

    I don’t understand why you need to “come out ahead” or “break even”

    It’s called maximizing your buying power. Some just call it getting a good deal. Others call it avoiding being ripped off.

    Without owning a timeshare I can visit Aruba, Maui and anyplace else on Earth on my schedule with zero recurring fees and without paying anything upfront.  And if I skip vacation this year I owe nothing.  Even if I fall in love with a single destination, if the money is identical, why wouldn’t I want to leave my options open to try out some new place to stay?

  • TonyA_says

    With $6995, you can buy a lot of cheap cruises. Free Cruise means nothing then.

  • bodega3

    Oh timeshare people must love you. 

  • bodega3

    They really aren’t.  It is just smoke and mirrors for those who pay into these.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OEPJGQPIEB75YYDE5CJY6R3VFE Carver Clark Farrow II

     I think we have to differentiate between for profit travel clubs for which a membership fee is paid, and a not for profit social club.  While they may both use the name travel club, they are very different beasts.  Chris refers to the former only.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OEPJGQPIEB75YYDE5CJY6R3VFE Carver Clark Farrow II

     I dunno.  Marriott and Hilton etc are time share companies.  While I am very dubious about timeshares they are what they are.  They aren’t the same as what the OP bought which was nothing.  That’s why the OP is calling it a scam.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OEPJGQPIEB75YYDE5CJY6R3VFE Carver Clark Farrow II


    Like any large purchase you want to make sure you get a good deal on it.  Also, to say that timeshares are things you keep and use makes no sense.  As circumstances change people may wish to terminate the relationship and sell the timeshare to recoup the investment.  Unfortunately,  unlike most other real estate investments, original owners almost never end up with a good return

    Most owners would be better off purchasing on the resale market.  Timeshares have the dubious distinction in that a new timeshare purchased from the builder has no intrinsically higher value than a “used” timeshare purchased on the resale value.

  • Nikki

    I tend to think most of those “travel clubs” are scams.  For one thing, they promise lots but give little, if they do give at all.  I’ve actually come under fire from my former bosses for refusing business from travel clubs – as CE has said – I’ve yet to see a legitimate one.  All those “clubs” I’ve seen have had questionable sales tactics and worse yet, no information that can be found at the user’s reach (via Google, etc) on these things.

    Too many people close to me have been scammed over and over again by such “travel clubs”.  I’ve been known to tell everyone and their grandmother that time-worn piece of advice:  if it sounds too good to be true, it IS. 

  • AAmerican1

    Actually, Marriot & Hilton also have travel clubs. The OP was not scammed based on what she wrote. She never used the services so she does not know if it really was a scam or not. Furthermore, she rescinded the contract & they gave the money back. If this was a true scam IMHO she would be asking Chris for help in getting her money back.

  • Lindabator

    Thanks!  We work hard to keep up with all the changes, vendors out there, etc.  Its nice to be appreciated!

  • Lindabator

    Great point!  I have fallen in love with a lot of places, but why wouldn’t I want to try something else, without having to inconvenience MY schedule?

  • shinythings

    I was scammed by these guys (gerald jackson, josh dunham, tiffany ?, and a few others. I will not get my money back, but I hope the word gets out.
    Spend a few minutes on the interwebs and you’ll get the scoop. For Jackson, use Gerald Franklin Jackson and Jerald Franklin Jackson.
    The office in boston is closed. 

  • TonyA_says
  • msa20

    If it sounds too good to be true……

  • Extramail

    I’ve used vrbo at least a dozen times in the last 10 years and have never had a bad experience. As a matter of fact, I have had an excellent experience every single time. I do admit, however, that I will be extra cautious given recent reviews the next time I do. Maybe it’s just gotten too big too fast and is dealing with the requisite growing pains.

  • Earlthepearl

    earlharden.worldventures.biz I loved the product so much that I also started selling it too! Rovia and american arilines just made a merger I save about $800 dollars a trip

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001367140983 Gopal Das

    Unfortunately, there are still tons of  scams out there…There is a new iPhone app recently released, called Scam Detector, which exposes like 500 scams. It is worth checking it out, if you have an iPhone. The app is also online – they have a free web version, if interested. Google it, it’s kinda cool, actually.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001367140983 Gopal Das

    Unfortunately, there are still tons of  scams out there…There is a new iPhone app recently released, called Scam Detector, which exposes like 500 scams. It is worth checking it out, if you have an iPhone. The app is also online – they have a free web version, if interested. Google it, it’s kinda cool, actually.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/AAUMKBV7G732FYUATG7BS3QIZU Javis

    I am a part of a travel club with the guarenteed cheapest prices on the planet!! and i just got involved for $365. Some travel clubs are in the thousands too tho 

  • Carl Pion

    I find it odd that any one individual would pay such an exhorbitant amount of money to be in a travel club? There are a few clubs in the USA of which some are small and someare large and have global reach.

    With many of those clubs memberships have one time fees in the $200 range and monthly fees ranging from $25 to $60 per month as long as you are an active member.

    There is no doubt that most of these clubs work on a Direct Marketing basis and many members will not reap the benefits simply because they just end up not travelling for various reasons. Those that sign up as reps will also fail to earn incomes because they do not have the drive, motivation and determination to win at the game. Sales is sales and it is not for everyone that signs up. You cannot blame the rep or MLM company for each individuals failures.

    Will there be problems for those that travel? Of course there will. Will that be the norm for the majority? No it will not. Just as in any business whether it be Wal-Mart, Target, Costco or any other company, they all have client care departments to deal with unsatisfied customers. It is the way of the world. The key is how the client is handled and are their issues resolved in a timely and appropriate manner?

    I have seen many MLM structures and some are good, some are bad and some are just plain disastrous. But we still have to look at the big picture for some of them? And that is that they are doing millions of dollars of revenues, which for many are in the $500M+ range. Are you going to tell me that company with those types of revenues are scams?

    Please!! No company that big could be a scam? Customer retention is the key to a growing business. So if ever customer got scammed how could they continue to grow?

    That is my piece.

  • Carl Pion

    What Club were you part of?

  • Carl Pion

    To use the terminology that Money Upfront for a membership is a sign of a scam is in my language ” Just Ridiculous “. Try and go shopping at Costco without paying your membership dues first. Or at most Fitness Centers and so on and so on. Are you saying Costco is a scam?

  • Carl Pion

    As long as humans are around there will never ever be 100% satisfaction. It is impossible. There are people who learn from their mistakes and move on. There are people who make mistakes and let the world know about it. And in the majority of cases as in any written article, the truth is never told? Or the issue is never told in accurate detail. Those people seek out re-assurance from people like I that what they did did not only happen to them? It is about feeleing better.

    Then there are those that simply bash evrything regardless of what it is and they have never even experienced what they are bashing.

    Then in final there are those that actually benefit and reap the rewards and proudly promote.

    That is life my friends. But to see here that the travel clubs have a VOTE rate at 96% in favor of them as being SCAMS is pure signification that the majotiry of voters have never even been members of these clubs.

  • emanon256

    Perhaps if you had actually read my post, you would see that I said, “anything that required upfront payment and no time to think…” Keep reading. You can join Costco at any time, you can join a fitness club at any time. Neither of your examples have you go to a presentations and then they tell you you have to join now or you will never get that opportunity again. That is what I was referring to as a scam.

  • emanon256

    What club to you work for?

  • Jay

    Travel clubs do cost a lot of money but never that much. I joined a travel club about a year and a half ago for $365.98 one time and $65 a month. Told 4 friends about it and the company waived my monthly fee so I basically have a free membership now. The Prices of the trips are amazing!! $69 cruises and all inclusive trips starting at $199. Met some life long friends through it and it was the best decision I have ever made in my life. Just thought I would share that with you guys! I could share it with you if you are interested email me j.bridge@yahoo.com

  • jay

    World Ventures email me j.bridge@yahoo.com

  • http://KaduceusVacationTravelClub.com KaduceusVacationTravelClub

    Totally! I read that and couldn’t believe how crazy that was. Both the company for having the balls and OP for thinking that’s acceptable. I had a hard enough time accepting $200, but when I was told I coverts to dollar-for-dollar I couldn’t argue. Like Jay, I joined WV and loving the product. So much that I decided to start joinWVtoday.com to share my experience with everyone.

  • jdjd

    The article’s author, Christopher Elliott, said “In two decades of consumer
    advocacy, I’ve never come across a legitimate travel club. Ever.” Well, Mr. Elliot, I take exception.

    The main problem with the author’s statement: what falls under the definition of “travel club”?

    AAA is for all intents and purposes a travel club, as is a small group that I’m a member of (definitely not a scam–just a union of like-minded travelers who meet and share info with each other).

    What the author describes in this article is indeed a scam, but I take exception to the forcing of his definition of “travel club” on the rest of us.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Really, you’re nitpicking because of a definition? What can I say?

  • http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott

    I’m a member of AAA. Since publishing this, I have qualified this statement to say that AAA is the exception to this rule. Thanks for pointing this out. I should have written the story more carefully.

  • jdjd

    Sorry, but definitions are everything. What can I say…

  • jdjd

    I’m very impressed that you took the time to post and acknowledge. And, in retrospect, I was far harsher than necessary, and I want to acknowledge that and apologize on that point.

  • Jeremy BigChips Neal

    travel clubs are not scams…People robbing people are. There are Clubs that are legit that do save you all the money…and it’s a ONE TIME fee not monthly or yearly! Just sayin…