Texas targets “unethical” Royal Palms Travel club

They promised Hans Slatosch the world. Literally.

In a sales presentation he attended a year ago, Dallas-based Royal Palms Travel offered him deep discounts on cruises and other travel products. All he had to do was pony up a $5,593 membership. He did.

But something about the transaction made Slatosch uncomfortable. The sales staff had pressured him to make a decision before he left, and they wouldn’t let him keep the material they’d distributed, he says.

Once we got home I researched Royal Palm Travel on the Internet and found very unfavorable information about it. The company was described as a fraud, a scam and accused of unethical business practices.

Now we feel uncomfortable doing business with the company, and are afraid we are victims of deceit.

Slatosch tried to fix his mistake.

The following day, I spoke to Arnulfo, the membership representative, and asked him to cancel our application. He informed me that since we signed the contract, it is binding. I did send a registered letter to Royal Palm Travel within three days to request the cancellation of our membership, but to no avail.

I’ve handled countless claims like this one, so when Slatosch came to me for help, I knew Royal Palms Travel would not give me the time of day. Only the long arm of the law — either by authorities or in court — could help him find justice. So that’s what I recommended.

Slatosch filed a complaint with the Texas Attorney General. Yesterday, he got some good news: Texas had cracked down on Royal Palms Travel.

According to court documents filed by the state, Royal Palms Travel Inc. and All Inclusive Excursions falsely promised steep discounts as part of travel club memberships they offered through a “shell” company, Sealand Travel Club. The memberships actually had little or no value.

In response to the state’s enforcement action, a Dallas County District Court today issued a temporary restraining order against the defendants that prevents them from continuing to violate the law.

That’s good news for Slatosch and any future victims of this travel club.

I find it amazing that people still fall for this nonsense. A travel club that offers “discounts” in exchange for a huge membership fee? Take-it-or-leave-it sales tactics? Come on. I thought the scam artists perpetrating these predatory businesses had all moved on to Internet gambling or bogus job placement services.

Needless to say, if you ever find yourself in a presentation in which someone offers you discounts for belonging to a travel club, run, don’t walk. I’m sure Slatosch wishes he had.

(Photo: caruba/Flickr Creative Commons)

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 . Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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