Is Global Vacation Network trying to scam us?

Shutterstock
By | September 10th, 2014

The postcard in our mail looked authentic — a “parcel” notification from an overnight delivery service. It was addressed to my better half, and without giving it a second thought, she called the phone number to find out when she could pick up the package.he

But surprise! There was no parcel.

Instead, a very polished representative on the other end of the line promised she’d receive a portable USB device charger and a “brand new” Android tablet if she and I attended a presentation.

At this point, your scam-o-meter is probably off the scale. There’s a vast, hidden network of shady companies out there that dangles “free” cruises and vacations in front of clueless Americans in order to entice them into a high-pressure sales presentation for a worthless vacation club. And in the “prizes” are never, ever free.

I hadn’t seen the parcel pitch, so part of me hoped this would be different.

During the phone call, the still unnamed representative asked a few questions. What was our income? Our marital status? How old were we? Then, we were told that in order to collect our parcel, we just had to attend an “open house” by a company called Global Vacation Network.

A quick search revealed that Global Vacation Network has something of a checkered reputation. For your reading pleasure, here’s one unhappy customer. Here are a few more.

Anyway, at this point, anyone who comes close to Global Vacations Network should do so with a healthy dose of skepticism, if not disbelief.

Before I could say “this isn’t for us” Kari had a confirmed reservation for an appointment in her “in” box.

Congratulations! It is our pleasure to confirm your scheduled reservations!

This is your invitation to the Open House Presentation. While visiting the showroom, you will learn inside information from leaders in the travel industry on how to save when traveling. During the entertaining and informative 90 minute presentation you will be amazed at the savings you can receive on all your future travel needs. This is not a timeshare or real estate offer.

At the end of our open house presentation you will receive your portable USB device charger and your brand new Android tablet, as our way of saying thank you. When you call our offices to confirm your reservation, you will also receive a great bonus gift of $100.00 Restaurant Dining Card to be used on the website Restaurant.com.

This is a promotional offer. You are under no obligation to purchase anything to receive the incentives. All we ask it that you keep your scheduled reservation and enjoy the show.


This valuable promotional offer and the opportunity to attend the presentation, while not required, are by invitation only. Seating is limited to invited adult guests only, so we ask that you do not bring children. Please let us know if you cannot keep your scheduled reservations so we can allow others to attend.

In order to receive your incentives, you must arrive at the showroom at your scheduled reservation time, where you have the ability to attend the group theater-style presentation. Additionally, after the initial 90 minute presentation, we will have consultants available to answer any additional questions you may have about our program. The presentation will start promptly on time for everyone so we ask that you arrive a few minutes early. We simply ask that you meet the following guidelines in order to attend our open house and qualify for this promotion. If you cannot meet these guidelines at this time, we ask that you reschedule your reservations and your incentive will be issued upon your next arrival when you do qualify.

This promotion is designed for persons aged 25-70, both individuals in the relationship (married/cohabitating/engaged) or singles with a combined gross annual income of $40k or more. For married, engaged or romantically involved couples, both parties in the couple must arrive together at the showroom in order to receive the incentive.

You must be a U.S citizen and speak, read and write English. Both persons in a couple will need a government issued photo id (ex. driver’s license or passport).

If you are in the process of divorce or separated, currently a travel club member, or have received a promotional giveaway like this one within the past 12 months, we will contact you for our next promotion. Customers must arrive early (10 minutes before scheduled reservations).

Please go to website referred to on your letter to see all details of this offer.

Please print and bring this letter with you to the presentation.

I’m not going to keep you in suspense: I told Kari there was no way I’d attend this presentation. Disturbingly, the company called her only a few moments later to “confirm” the appointment, which is when she canceled.

How did they get her number? Who knows.

The letter does reveal a few interesting things about Global Vacations Network. Yes, it’s a travel club. They’re targeting couples between the ages of 25 and 70 with a combined gross annual income of $40,000 or more. They don’t want any kids because seating is “limited.” (Probably disruptive, too.)

In retrospect, I think the only reason we received this is that Kari has a different last name than mine. No vacation “club” in its right mind would pitch me and expect it not to result in a little media coverage.

As a sidenote, I was asked to be an expert witness in a lawsuit against a network of vacation clubs, and when I read the complaint, I was shocked by how large, well-organized and lucrative these shady businesses are. They are truly everywhere.

It would not surprise me at all to receive a lawyer letter from Global Vacations Network after this story posts. Of course, I will publish the letter in its entirety when I get it.

Is Global Vacations Network a scam?

Loading ... Loading ...


  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Vacation clubs, travel clubs, developer sold timeshares, etc.,etc. etc. are dubious if not an outright scam. They prey on people who are financially illiterate, mathematically naive, or can’t say no. If a company requires sketchy tactics, e.g. high pressure, to sell its product, it’s invariably at best a bad deal, at worse a scam.

    And for the pedantic amongst us, allow me to be my own lexicographer: AAA and Costco are not vacation or travel clubs.

  • SnowWheet

    Sigh…I was sort of hoping you’d go and we could all watch the craziness ensue…
    As a scammy side note, the IRS called me and they are starting FIVE LAWSUITS AGAINST ME TODAY unless I call RIGHT NOW!

  • Uh-oh, time to lawyer up! ;-)

    I’ve attended a few of these in the past, and the presentations are all very similar. But maybe next time I’ll go.

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    Legally, these operations operate just above the law…they do deliver savings but the ROI is terrible.

    For example, if you paid $ 10,000 for the membership and you were able to save $ 30 per night on a hotel room over the rates from Priceline, hotelscom, AAA rate, Expedia, etc., it will take you 334 nights ($ 10,000 divided by $ 30 per night) to break even. If you book 14 nights of hotel rooms per year, it will take you nearly 24 years (334 divided by 14 nights per year) assuming that the vacation club is still in business for 24 years.

    Personally, I call these companies scams. The government should regulate these vacation clubs (or any club that requires an investment of $ 200 or higher) and these clubs will go away.

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    Legally, these operations operate just above the law…they do deliver savings but the ROI is terrible.

    For example, if you paid $ 10,000 for the membership and you were able to save $ 30 per night on a hotel room over the rates from Priceline, hotelscom, AAA rate, Expedia, etc., it will take you 334 nights ($ 10,000 divided by $ 30 per night) to break even. If you book 14 nights of hotel rooms per year, it will take you nearly 24 years (334 divided by 14 nights per year) assuming that the vacation club is still in business for 24 years.

    Personally, I call these companies scams. The government should regulate these vacation clubs (or any club that requires an investment of $ 200 or higher) and these clubs will go away.

  • sirwired

    Is water wet? Does the sun rise in the East? Does Christopher Elliott loathe the TSA?

    And to our list of obvious questions, we can add:

    Is a “travel club” enticing you with a cheesy free gift and a silly mail advertisement a scam?

  • backprop

    LOL @ a $100 restaurant.com gift certificate. Those things are worth maybe five bucks. I’m sure the android tablet was top notch too.

  • sirwired

    You can’t regulate stupid. As long as there are the gullible and/or naive willing to sign up for things this silly, scams like this will exist. Just like MLM’s, they’ll continue to operate at the fringes of the law. With all the legal effort required to shut one down (and it takes a lot, since they operate on the edge) law enforcement will continue to pursue other priorities.

  • John Baker

    ARW Don’t forget about the lost interest on the upfront money you paid. It will drive the ROI even further back….

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Wait – Kari got the postcard, then she called them. You wonder how they got her number – umm, she called them, so of course they had the number. I want to know how it is that they got her email to send her a confirmation. Those folks know just a little too much personal information about her.

  • SoBeSparky

    Those who say “no” in the poll must be salespersons of those double indemnity travel accident insurance policies.

    As Consumers Report said years ago, if you need insurance for losing your eyesight or legs, then you need it for every occurrence, not just during travel. Rated the policies a waste of money, just like this scam.

  • Diane Sweeney

    I see that 2 of their employees have already voted No. And even IF you were to be taking you to court for taxes, let them. The worst that could happen, at least in Canada, is that they would win a lien on property…which they could collect on WHEN/IF you sell it….and they can’t foreclose on a principal residence except for default in property taxes, not income or consumption/sales taxes…so, let them…I’m the last person living in my family, let them get their dollars 40 years from now when I’m dead.

  • Rebecca

    They do NOT provide any actual savings. The “exclusive” rates they get are only at timeshare properties, where they just do more hard sells. Let alone the artificially low rates, which do not include the all-inclusive fees. For example, you may pay $300/400 for a week at a condo in off peak season (peak season would never be available), but they then add all-inclusive fees of over $100/person. So you end up paying literally $2000-$3000 in fees on that cheap room rate, plus get a million hard sells while you’re there.

    There are NO deals on or partnerships with any hotels. All they do is book through the same sites you could search yourself: expedia, travelocity,bookingdotcom, etc. And they add a commission on top of it for good measure. ALL they do is search about 10 websites available to the general public when you book with the travel club, whether you book on their website or call in.

    As obvious as it sounds, hotels (especially chains), are not going to get involved with these shady businesses, which have layers and layers of companies that have a track record of not paying their bills and changing names and scamming customers. Does anyone really think any decent hotel brand, from Days Inn to Hilton, would associate themselves with these people? Of course not.

    I could go on forever, as I speak from personal experience. I was not scammed, but briefly worked for a “fulfillment” company in the call center. I was fired/resigned for telling people that joined the clubs that they had been scammed and to cancel immediately. I even helped a few folks file chargebacks, as credit card processing is my background.

  • PsyGuy

    Well they have your phone number from caller ID when Kari called them. Of course it was a scam, they used a parcel notification to get you to contact them, when there was no parcel. Legitimate scammers send you an email or actual letter from their scamming network. You should have gone, and done the hidden camera thing, you could have then used that for one of your USA Today videos, it would have been loads of fun too see how scamming has developed this year, and then you could post notes and pictures of the “prizes” on the site. The travel charger was likely some $3.00 Walmart retail charger, and the dinner card is maybe worth $10, the tablet is probably little more than a cheap ereader.

  • PsyGuy

    AAA, Costco, Sam’s Club, credit card travel concierge are travel clubs.

  • LadySiren

    Aw, hey now…don’t lump all developer-sold timeshares in there. You can do well IF you’re a tough negotiator. My ex-husband is kind of a jerk so we scored a pretty good deal.

    In the end, we got them to bring the price down by a couple of thousand dollars, lowered the down payment, and no closing costs. That’s on top of the two free round-trip tickets for use to any destination worldwide (I think they were on United; we gave them to friends who were getting married), a free seven-night stay in any Hilton worldwide (went with the airline tickets), tickets to the Rockettes (yes, they’re as good as when you see them in the Macy’s parade), a hundred bucks in casino chips, free taxi rides all over town, a whole book of free buffet tickets (the homeless guys seemed to really appreciate those), some t-shirts and other junk, and I forget what else. By the time we were done, the sales guy and his manager were walking kinda funny.

    We (and our family and friends) have since used our Hilton timeshare repeatedly. I’m trying to convince the spousal unit that we need to go back to WDW but so far, no luck. He keeps muttering about it being the most hellish place on earth, go figure.

    Disclaimer: this was many years ago, so they may not offer as many incentives these days. But if you’ve got brass cojones, it might be worth it. :P

  • Rebecca

    They DO NOT save on hotels. All they do, whether you book online through their site or call in, is book a hotel through the same websites you would search yourself, expedia, travelocity, hotelsdotcom, bookingdotcom, etc. Honestly, there is no discount on hotel stays. They book the same way you would but add a couple dollars commission per night for themselves.

  • Bubbles

    The easiest thing to do is define what a “travel club” is right? If you are required to pay a yearly fee to gain access to the discounts, that can be called a travel club. If the fee is $75.. and you can shop and get groceries with it not just being travel.. that might be different vs. $10,000 yearly and they only do travel.

    If you define what you’re referring to, everyone wins.

  • Bubbles

    Good sleuthing and use of the bold lettering to put EMPHASIS on your words. I wonder if they use caller ID blocking which wouldn’t work in this scenario.

    LOUD NOISES!

  • PsyGuy

    My definition is pretty lax, a travel club is a membership program (requires a membership) that provides travel discounts (air, car, hotel, resort, cruise, etc) not available to the general public.
    Costco qualifies as a travel club, as you need a Costco membership ($55/year) to be eligible for the discount codes, use their travel site, or enter their stores and purchase the “cardboard” vacation packages, which are not regularly or legitimately available to non Costco members (the general public).
    Likewise GVN is a travel club in that it requires a membership (a $9000 initiation fee, plus monthly dues of $165) which provides you access to their network of discounted properties, that you would not be able to obtain through their organization if you were not a member and only the general public.
    In both cases you may be able to obtain similar or equivalent discounts on your own, but you would not legitimately be able to do so through the individual programs providers and services, and those access points to the service are not available to you without membership, irrespective of the cost of that membership.

  • Rebecca

    I worked very briefly in this industry in a call center, where I was fired/resigned for telling people they were scammed and to cancel immediately and helping people file chargebacks.

    Basically, one group of folks owns a whole mess of companies that change names when enough people complain that the bad reviews can’t be hidden and/or they don’t pay their bills. The marketing arm is several layers, those that call to get you to sign up for the presentation, an intermediary that pays the “free gift” company, and the actual voucher redeemers. It costs more to redeem the airfare vouchers than buying the tickets themselves would cost, takes months, and that’s if you ever even receive them.

    Then, you have the travel club folks. They sell two products, mainly (sometimes 3 when they sell actual timeshares, but that’s a whole other discussion). They sell a travel club membership and a service they promise will purchase and liquidate your timeshare. These are the hard sell, won’t let you leave, sleazy promises folks. I am personally aware of them photoshopping screenshots of travel on their site to show prices literally over 90% less than the actual cost. They make it very difficult to google information about the companies and change names so often, you can’t really do research.

    Last is the fullfillment company for the travel clubs and timeshare liquidators. They are the ones that actually book travel/host the website where you book travel and say they can sell your timeshare. In the case of selling your timeshare, they string you along for years (seriously, years), asking for thousands and thousands of dollars and never actually do anything. Their contract just says they’ll market it and don’t guarantee a sale (although the sales people tell you it’s guaranteed in the presentation). So they milk you for as much as they can and basically do nothing. The travel club fullfillment is nothing more than a search engine that searches using the same websites you would use yourself, like expedia or travelocity, and books hotels. The cruises are simply booked directly through the cruise line. And of course there is a commission added to the rates. They have NO partnerships or exclusive access at hotels. That’s an outright lie.

    They do offer inexpensive rates at timeshare properties. However, these are off peak and normally don’t include all-inclusive fees. So the rate of $400 for a week goes up by $2000-$4000 when you add in over $100/day per person in fees. Let alone the hard sell at a timeshare property. I often heard that salesmen say you receive free weeks stays included in the club membership. Again, this is an outright lie.

    I could go on forever, especially about how its a scam. And working there convinced me the bbb was a scam, as some of these companies pay to be “accredited” and have an “A” rating despite similar businesses with less complaints having an “F.”

  • Rebecca

    I would venture to say they’re not even worth that. No decent restaurant uses them. A brief Google search will tell you that the ones that say they do often won’t accept them, add extra terms not listed on the site and give subpar service.

  • emanon256

    I like to go, if only to tell the naive people calling friends and asking for their credit card numbers because theirs is maxed out that it is a scam until I get thrown out.

  • emanon256

    Don’t forget: Is “Free” really free?

  • emanon256

    Here is a photo of the “Tablet” they gave you.

  • Chris Johnson

    Is the Pope Catholic? That might be a question where the answer is less certain than the one on Chris’s poll. All of these travel “clubs” are a scam, and seem rather antiquated anyway, given the ease of comparison shopping on the internet. AAA is not a scam, but I don’t think of them as a travel club per se, just a towing service that gives you free maps and guidebooks, and the occasional 10% discount at hotels.

  • Chris Johnson

    Unless you bought your timeshare on the secondary market (and it sounds like you didn’t), it wasn’t a great deal. Timeshare companies sell these units with the expectation that the price will be bargained down (much like a car dealership) and if someone is dumb enough to pay sticker price, it’s just gravy for them. But hey, if you use it regularly and the maintenance fees aren’t so bad, good for you.

  • PsyGuy

    Have you ever been to a AAA travel office? They pretty much provide the services of a full size, regular travel agency. I’ve also never gotten a “free” guidebook, discounted guidebooks but not free ones (guidebooks such as “Rough” and “Lonely Planet”). I’m pretty sure they even charge for maps now as well, at least the international ones aren’t free.

  • The Original Joe S

    A lawyer letter? For what? Writing the facts?

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    You neglected to include the interest that you didn’t earn on the 10th, the roi declines quickly, and if you financed it almost certainly a loss

  • Chris Johnson

    Hahaha

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Ha ha ha

  • PsyGuy

    They always send cease and desist orders, threatening all kinds of legal action, from defamation to copyright/trademark infringement, etc. Either that or they send a draft copy of a civil complaint alleging all types of damages, and offering to settle if you remove or stop whatever it is your doing.

  • Chris Johnson

    I’ve been to AAA offices many times, and they have free guidebooks with information on hotels, restaurants and attractions in every state. They just swipe my card and give me what I want. They might charge for guidebooks on foreign countries though, as well as the more extensive guidebooks. Yes, AAA offices also provide services of a travel agency. Of course, I just book all my vacation travel on the internet anyway, haven’t used a real travel agency since the 1980s. AAA is more for when I need a tow. Using that just once a year makes the membership fee well worth it.

  • Joe Farrell

    Since UPS/Fedex don’t send postcards, yes, it is a scam.

    Since a legit company does not resort to gimmicks designed to get you to call believing it is one thing instead of another, and bait and switch you in to a ‘can’t miss deal’ . . .yes, it is a scam.

    Since this company routinely violates the do not call list, spoofs caller iD misrepresenting itself as a local number, why would a legit company do that? So yes, it is a scam.

    You need a clue – not a contact with a consumer advocate.

  • The Original Joe S

    Yeah? What I would send ’em in reply I cannot post here…..

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Sounds like a classic con. Inflate a price so that the buyer thinks he negotiated a good deal. Any time you negotiate down instead of up you are in the weak position. I notice I don’t see any analysis of how much you saved through the deal, just how good the freebies were.

  • LeeAnneClark

    This has got to be the easiest poll that Christopher has ever posted.

    Not just yes, but HELL-to-the-yes! DOH! ;-)

  • PsyGuy

    Actually Fed-Ex’s “Air Expedite”, specifically the On Board Courier service will deliver a postcard. It would be one very expensive postcard though.

  • Pegtoo

    Wow, but that’s a really nice model – with top binding, yellow sheets and no hole punches. Deluxe!

  • The Original Joe S

    “won’t let you leave”? Gee, a good way to get to meet the FBI concerning kidnapping charges…..

  • PsyGuy

    I prefer my local guidebooks and resources to be the digital type, probably why I have virtually no experience with any of their domestic materials. I do know that most everything that is international has a fee.
    I only use AAA to get my IDP each year, though I did book a cruise with them one time, hated the cruise, not AAA fault though.
    I rent my vehicles so Enterprise has their own road side assistance, and they usually bring a new car with them anyway.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    There are subtler ways, eg guilt, standing in front of the exit, etc.

  • MarkKelling

    As long as you feel it was a good deal, that is all that matters.

    A timeshare never has made sense to me no matter what the price. I have gone to many presentations, some better and more pleasant than others, but could never make the math work in my favor. When I vacation, I want a completely available world to choose from and no matter how large of a network a timeshare has none ever has the places I want to spend time.

    And I agree with your spouse about WDW – the worst place an adult male can spend time. Maybe I would feel different if I had children at the age where a park like that would be fun for them.

  • PsyGuy

    I wouldn’t it’s a criminal offense to send threatening or harassing mail through the postal service. When one of these scam companies do get busted it’s typically for wire or mail fraud.

  • MarkKelling

    Yes, you can pay to have any delivery service deliver anything you want. But that is not what Joe was referring to. He meant that the real delivery services do not mail you a postcard telling you they have a package for you. They stick the “Sorry we missed you” labels on your front door.

    There was a delivery company that ran into trouble because they didn’t actually have the packages ready to deliver as promised, so they sent one of their employees around to stick labels on doors saying you didn’t answer the door and they needed a signature so they would come back the next day. Got caught and had to refund millions. I don’t think they are in business any more. :-)

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    My sister and her husband are planning a romantic trip to WDW. *shudder* Both of them are old enough for AARP. Personally, I look upon it as a sign of early dementia.

  • PsyGuy

    My mistake, in Japan we get postcard or paper slips put in our mail boxes.

  • PsyGuy

    I actually like WDW, and I’m an adult male. My fiance’ loves the place. but we go to Tokyo Disney. Its a great and easy weekend date experience.

  • It depends on what you call a scam. It’s a travel club that charges a hefty membership fee and then there are no guarantees of availability. Some, if not most of their inventory comes from timeshare resorts…so what happens when the timeshare inventory is sold?

  • The Original Joe S

    Oh, Gee! Did I just step on your foot? I’m sooooooo sorry! Þ

  • emanon256

    My wife is going to a conference at WDW soon, and while she is at the conference, I will have a 2 month old and 2 year old in tow. I’m a little nervous.

  • The Original Joe S

    I don’t think it’s a problem to exhort them to attempt to perform a physical impossibility, using polite terms….

  • emanon256

    I know, its so hard to find the hole punch free version.

  • polexia_rogue

    if you accidentally walked in to their trap, like in the above article-

    once they say “income” say something really low like 15,000. end of conversation. (and that is 100% proof that it’s a scam.)

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    If you start singing “It’s a Small World” now, you may lapse into a coma and you won’t notice a thing.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Oookay, now I know where “Psy” in PsyGuy comes from . . .

    :-D

  • MarkKelling

    Part of my issue is that I don’t particularly enjoy crowds.

  • MarkKelling

    Ah, OK. I learned something today. Different parts of the world do different things :-)

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Lol. As a tall big guy, I guess I’m not really intimidated by someone wearing a suit, unless he had a gavel and wears a black robe.

  • PsyGuy

    If I have an oversized parcel or something that’s security restricted the postal carrier drops a pre printed postcard in my box to pick it up. If i’m not home when they are delivering something whether it’s a letter or package requiring my signature, an ID or payment, they have a little receipt printer that prints out a notice and they just drop it into my post box to pick it up.

  • EvilEmpryss

    When I was about nine years old my parents got sucked into one of those “free gift for attending” promotions. I remember going with them and sitting quietly while some young guy in a sharp suit and a big smile invited them into his office and pitched some timeshare deal at them (I remember asking them what anime share was after that and even then it didn’t make any sense).

    But to this day I still own the pretty string of genuine cultured pearls that my mom chose as her gift. It’s been worn to more family events and special occasions than I can count.

    Sometimes it can be worth sitting thru the presentations. :-p

  • Carchar

    It has been a couple of decades since I joined AARP and I like going to Disneyland. I try to go with my grandkids every couple of years. They live in LA and they drive me, as they are adults.

  • IGoEverywhere

    2nd one of these in the last couple weeks. They are scams, they live to take your money, and they are very well trained in doing so. Let’s figure that they get 2% of the people to not hang up the phone, what a score!

  • Hanope

    Oh you should have gone so you could report on what it was like. It would have been hilarious to capture their expressions when they found out who you were.

  • Rebecca

    They won’t give you your “free gift” and have some sort of way of making the suckers feel guilty for saying no and walking out. Because they’ll never see the price that low again, someone else just upgraded and you can take over their slot at a huge discount.

    On a side note, my mom and I were once screamed at for leaving a car dealership that wouldn’t give us a price without having all of our personal information, including our social security numbers. The salesman said he couldn’t look the price up in the system without entering customer information first. And proceeded to ask us our name, what major credit cards we held, phone, address, SSN. We said we just wanted the price and refused. He got pushy, we walked out. And the “sales manager” literally screamed at us as we walked out the door, telling us how rude we were. So they use tactics like this, try to guilt you. Unfortunately, there are people out there that didn’t keep walking and laugh it off like we did.

  • Raven_Altosk

    Total Scam.

    I would’ve told them I have 10 wives. Should I bring them all?

    Just to hear the answer. LOL.

  • Vec14

    My uncle and his wife used to go to pitches like this regularly after he retired – he was a union negotiator and both were pretty thrifty. Let’s just say they enjoyed quite a few nice meals, a few getaways, and picked up a nice gifts like TVs for a couple hours of their time. I am sure after a attending more than a few of these they wound up on a do not contact list.

  • pauletteb

    One of the major differences between AAA, Costco, and “travel clubs” is that travel is only one of AAA’s and Costco’s products and not their primary source of income. Also, the discounts they provide are usually real.

  • pauletteb

    Especially crowds of people under the age of 21!

  • Vec14

    Had that happen once – sales guy thought he could intimidate me, a petite female. I pulled out my cell phone and loudly said I was calling the police. Let’s just say heads turned and I wasn’t the only person who left.

  • pauletteb

    That’s what spike heels are for.

  • MarkKelling

    Actually, I would rather be in a crowd of 5 year olds than many of the crowds of 20 – 30 year olds I seem to run into.

  • AgentSteve

    Chris, you passed up a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity. What a kick that would have been.

    As for them having your phone number, note to all: even if you have a restricted phone number, calling a toll-free (8XX) will display your phone number on their side. The reason for this is because they are paying for the call; therefore, they have the “right” to know who’s calling. When you think about it, it’s a great investment to pay for an 8XX number and get a gazoodle of “contact” in return.

    Caveat Emptor!

  • Rebecca

    I enjoy WDW, but my experience has been the groups of teenagers from South America are the worst. They yell, run around like idiots knocking people and things over and breaking things, try to cut in line, are generally just plain disrespectful and make everyone around them irritated. Bad enough that I complained about a group of them (they usually have matching tshirts or something) the last 2 times I was there.

  • Rebecca

    They don’t expect you to be assertive, which makes all the more fun when you are!!!!!

  • Joe Farrell

    In that case the response should be, if you live in NY, CA, FL, CT, IL, SC, WA or OR . . . .

    “Thank you for letter of XXX. I understand that expressing my opinion has upset you, but, as you know, opinion, especially truthful, fact and example based opinion, is not actionable. Therefore, if you believe that my comments are actionable, I invite you to commence litigation in a court of competent jurisidiction. I remind you that the attorneys fee provision you are relying up becomes a mutual attorneys fee provision in a consumer contract of adhesion such as we have here in my state. Thus, you had best win, otherwise, you will be paying my attorneys fees as well. Have at it, or leave me alone. I shall respond to no further communications outside a court of law on this issue.”

  • Joe Farrell

    Somehow I am going to assume that these types of scams are heavily regulated in Japan, and that Psy guy KNOWS that this did not involve Japan, but was trying to show us how much he knows. . .

  • Joe Farrell

    So its the same exactly process as happens here with the NON POSTAL delivery courier leaving a post – it note about your parcel. If you have to pick that nit you have way too much time on your hands. . .

  • Joe Farrell

    I have to tell this tale: about a month ago I get a call from an obviously spoofed number – the phone number started with a 1 – not the area code – the number . . . it was a time share sales thing for the ‘Bahamas Three Day Cruise of a Lifetime”

    I decided to pretend I was elderly and more than a little addled. I spent 63 min on the line -I was giving my name and address = and got sidetracked in the middle of name, I’d forget what we were doing, I’d tell a story about my wife’s cats, I’d talk about the money we made last year in the stock market, then I’d mention my ungrateful grandchildren, I’d pretend I had another call – and not know how to operate the flash button – it was classic. I was looking for credit card to pay him and intentionally used an old canceled number that had been reported stolen for fraud, he kept telling the card was no good. . . .

    I ended the call by calling myself using my cell phone – and screwed up the ‘flash’ and just hung up on him and when he called back immediately I sent him to voicemail jail. . . . that was a blast.

  • LadySiren

    You’ll have to forgive me – this was SO long ago, I couldn’t even begin to tell you what we paid. I do remember the sales guys wanting to get us the hell out of their office, LOL. My ex is far more than just a jerk but I didn’t want to turn Chris’ message boards blue.

    On the upside? It was mostly my ex’s money (I married up, heh) and I got the TS in the divorce deal. I do recall that we took more than a couple of thousand off the price.

    If you want an ROI analysis, it’d be pretty hard for me to do given my lack of details. Over the long run, I think it’s been fairly worth it. I’ve used it repeatedly for business and personal use alike. Still hoping to get the spouse to agree to another trip to the House of Mouse. :D

  • Mark Carrara

    If purchased for an investment or purely for financial reason then yes time shares are not worth the price. Much of life and almost all travel is emotional and not rational. We like are time share and yes the fees and costs are high, so what? We are not under any illusion about the cost-benefit trade offs. What are the cost/benefits of a new jet ski or bass boat? Recreation is about fun and there are always costs associated with fun. I know people who spent thousands for the ability and privilege to kill some animal in Alaska. It would have been a lot cheaper and easier to just buy the meat.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I should have been clearer. What I failed to state (I was using a phone) was that one should compare the cost of a timeshare with the cost of purchasing the desired travel outright, e.g Airbnb, VRBO, Craigslist, regular hotel bookings, etc.

    My parents timeshare permits them one week of lodging. Turns out that the same week of lodging can be obtained through other means without having

    1. Additional upfront costs
    2. Annual costs regardless of use
    3. Limitations on alternative weeks

    Thus, a developer sold timeshare tends to be a particularly poor transaction as evidenced by the sketchy tactics employed to sell them, plus the fact that if you buy it on the resale market you have purchased the identical item for less.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    100% correct. Plus, any number of apps will display an unlocked number by looping it through their own 800#

  • Raven_Altosk

    Well done, sir.
    Well done.

    :D

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Have you considered a side career in improv theater? Loved it!

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    As long as you feel it was a good deal, that is all that matters.

    So, if someone scams you and you feel good about it, it’s ok?

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I don’t get that. You tell them that you are not interested in disclosing such information to obtain a price. Thank you very much for your time, have a great day.

    I suspect that these sketchy places are more inclined to display such behavior towards women. One more reason to avoid such places.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    I’ve never seen a timeshare deal where the cost was even in the same ballpark as a standard rental transaction. In most cases, even if you totally forget about the sale price (which, of course, you can’t), the recurring fees are as much if not more than what comparable rental lodging costs.

    We sat through a presentation years ago at a large timeshare. At some point after that they started renting out part of the units on a by-night basis like a normal hotel would do. Last I checked, you could stay there for a week for less than half what the recurring owner fees were that they quoted me during the presentation.

  • Judy Serie Nagy

    These scams are so prevalent because people are so dumb. And the dumber they are, the more they sign up for without ever discussing it with anyone. It’s a shame.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    To each his own. I’m an adult male and have always enjoyed WDW. Epcot has lots of good food and drink and plenty of interesting things if you’re not a ride sort of person–you absolutely don’t need kids in tow to enjoy it. Animal Kingdom will rival or surpass any zoo you’ll ever see, plus it has some pretty spectacular rides these days. Really, Magic Kingdom is the only park that’s ultra kid-centric. I’ve never ridden It’s a Small World because that never appealed to me but if you don’t think Splash Mountain is an entertaining ride I don’t know what to say.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    And that’s a legitimate complaint about Disney. Honestly, they do a heck of job managing the crowds but you can’t have that many people in one place without there being issues. Crazily, it’s actually worse at Universal in Orlando with the new Harry Potter world. That can give claustrophobia even to people who normally don’t mind crowds.

  • emanon256

    I just got back from staying at a time share, only I booked it like a hotel. I went to the presentation 4 years years ago and it was $50,000 for 1 week in a 2 bedroom, plus $2,500 a year in maintenance fees. I really liked the place. And was told the only way to stay there was to be an owner. Too rich for my blood.

    Well, 2 years ago they started renting units for 3 to 7 night stays just like a hotel. I just stayed for 3 nights and paid $380 total ($440sih after tax) for a 1 bedroom unit. I really do love the place, and will probably go back every year until my tastes change.

  • PsyGuy

    Actually it is actionable, the issue is whether they can win, and using truth as an affirmative defense actually requires you to demonstrate your statements as actually true, and not just your opinion. If a claim is a “fact” than it is not an “opinion”, how do you prove that they are a scam (interpreting that as fraud), and not just that you feel you were defrauded (scammed).

  • PsyGuy

    I didn’t know that FedEx left post-it note type notices of a delivery attempt.

  • PsyGuy

    Regulated isn’t the term I’d use, prohibited would be more accurate.

  • PsyGuy

    I can understand that, but if your going as a couple to have a nice dinner and see the fireworks or just spend some time in one of the “spaces” there really aren’t any crowds. It’s the shows, the attractions and the rides that have the huge lines and crowds.

  • The Original Joe S

    I don’t usually wear ’em. They’re killers on the back and the hamstrings.

  • The Original Joe S

    They screamed at you? Wow! They REALLY wanted you as customers, hah?

    Rude, hah? Okay…..

  • Rebecca

    That is exactly the way to do it. And to think, you saved $50k upfront and paid over $2k LESS than the maintenance fees. This is the only time it pays to stay there, when they have unused units to fill. Just think, some suckers paid the $50k plus fees for the exact same thing, with their travel date being inflexible.

  • Rebecca

    I think it was more of a show for the other customers. He was literally screaming across the showroom floor. We wouldn’t give anything except our first names, and he got upset when we got right back in his face telling him we wouldn’t give our information. We were loud, but not yelling, so the other customers could hear us and hopefully be alerted to his bs. I will say, my mom taught me to always stand up for yourself and not to ever let anyone intimidate you!

  • The Original Joe S

    I saw a great example of “assertive” in Bangkok one day. Some rather large fellow gave a stream of guff to a woman of about 5 feet tall and maybe 100 – 110 pounds stature who had rebuffed his overtures. She finally moved on him like lightening, twisted his arm behind his back, seemingly almost breaking it, and told him in a calm, even voice that if he didn’t behave himself, she’d have to arrest him. Moral: Do not cause trouble in a karaoke place full of cops and army officers. (Pol) Sgt-Maj Noi of Special Branch* was really nice to him all-in-all. She didn’t arrest him, beat him senseless, or kill him.

    *Kinda like our Secret Service AND Swat Team. Ha ha.

  • The Original Joe S

    2 month and 2 years? Looks like you’ll have a real skitty time! Þ

  • The Original Joe S

    You shouldda yelled back, “Hey, whatdja say? I couldn’t hear ya! Speak louder!”

  • The Original Joe S

    Clever.

  • The Original Joe S

    Call ’em on SKYPE when you have no SKYPE incoming. It generally shows up as “SKYPE CALL”.

  • The Original Joe S

    Here’s the best sales call rebuff. I heard it years ago, and it was the very first hit on youtube when I looked for it just now. It’s a classic!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b6t9Ab5SHA8

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Wow

    Just doing simple math. The room rate would have to be 357/night (inclusive of taxes) just to break even.

    But wait, that’s if you use it every year. If you don’t use it, you can exchange it for less than $2500 making it even more expensive

    But wait, there’s more, there’s the lost interest on $50,000. At 2% that’s 25k in lost interest over 20 years or $1250 annually.

    So basically for the time share to be a good deal, the nightly cost would have to be over $500 per night ($2500 + $1250)/7 and you use it every year.

    You were right to decline to buy.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Cool. Thanks for the info.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I would frame it differently than Joe. I’m assuming that the underlying claim would be defamation. There are others, but that’s the low hanging fruit. Calling something a scam is an opinion. As such, it is easily defeated on at the pleading state as opinion is not actionable as a defamation claim.

    Getting into the basis of your opinion would be a distraction to the defense.

  • MarkKelling

    If you feel good about a business transaction, then you will not see it as a scam.

    When you convince yourself that the price you paid, the restrictions you are faced with and the overall crappiness of the situation you are in is all OK, then no matter what anyone else thinks or what the facts will allow anyone else to see about it, you are not going to change your mind.

    This is probably how the travel club scams continue to work. Enough people convince themselves that it was not a scam and they really are saving huge amounts of money even though the facts would show otherwise.

  • Freehiker

    “The prizes are never, ever, free.”

    I’ve been to two different presentations, both time to get a pair of 3 Day park hopper passes for Disney World. Both times I never spent a penny and walked out with my passes after 2 hours.

    There are plenty of free prizes. Grow some balls or have some self control.

  • You’ve just given up two hours of your time for a high-pressure presentation and you think the theme park tickets are free? Come on.

    I checked. They’re made of pure titanium.

  • LadySiren

    Oh, I’ve totally drunk the Disney kool-aid. I love Disney, my kids love Disney. My spouse? He’d rather let me do the Watusi on his chest in my stilettos than head back to the House of Mouse. It’s under discussion.

  • y_p_w

    Two hours? I was told 90 minutes for a timeshare presentation, and it ballooned into more time because the location was way out there and they required participants to take a bus as a condition for the “prizes”. That on top of the closer coming in with an additional “deal”, plus the time it took to actually get our tickets. And beyond that, we were the first on the bus and they actually changed buses and waited for more people.

    And during all that time my own BS meter is going critical, while my wife is somewhat buying into the proposition that it would be nice to own a timeshare.

  • y_p_w

    There was a Family Guy episode where Peter decides that he doesn’t want to go to a presentation because he thinks it’s an obvious scam. His friends come back from the presentation hauling new pleasure boats.

    Something tells me that was pure satire.

  • y_p_w

    The one timeshare presentation that I got sucked into (my wife’s idea) we sat on the bus on the way back with someone who said he already owned one. His explanation was that he already knew the drill and that sometimes he’d just go through these things to get free or discounted stuff and he simply wouldn’t budge and they’d let him out early with the stuff.

  • Freehiker

    That must be incredibly uncomfortable….but I digress.

    In today’s dollars, the pair of Disney tickets is $583. I’d sit through two hours of any sales pitch for that.

    As far as high pressure sales, I don’t know what that is. I make up my own mind and have never had a salesperson convince me of anything. I was in sales and know that they always have their own motives.

    Of course, I’ve been compared to a stubborn old goat many times in my life.

We want your feedback.Your opinion is important to us. Here's how you can share your thoughts:
  • Send us a letter to the editor. We'll publish your most thoughtful missives in our daily newsletter or in an upcoming post.
  • Leave a message on one of our social networks. We have an active Facebook page, a LinkedIn presence and a Twitter account. Every story on this site is posted on those channels. The conversation ranges from completely unmoderated (Twitter) to moderated (Facebook and LinkedIn).
  • Post a question to our help forums or ask our advocates for a hand through our assistance intake form. Please note that our help forum is not a place for debate. It's there primarily to assist readers with a consumer problem.
  • If you have a news tip or want to report an error or omission, you can email the site publisher directly. You may also contact the post's author directly. Contact information is in the author tagline.