Last week, the Fredericton Police Department issued a travel scam alert about discount travel clubs. Is it a scam? I’m not so sure.
Last month, my wife did a quick two-minute travel survey over the phone. A few weeks later we got a call from the same company offering us a great prize if we attended a one-hour info session about their company. We were told we were guaranteed to receive either a trip to Las Vegas, a $500.00 gift card from Walmart or a $500.00 travel voucher for our next vacation. Knowing it was probably a time-share scheme, I agreed to go anyway. Hey, for an hour of my time, I might win a prize. Besides, there is nothing on TV this time of the year anyway.
We went to a meeting room at the Crowne Plaza, were greeted warmly, offered a beverage and sat down with seven other couples. Much to our surprise, it was not a time-share deal but an offer to join a discount travel club. The presenter spelled out exactly what it was at the start of the presentation, suggested that anyone who was there just for the prize to go draw for it and leave. We were intrigued, so we stayed.
The deal? For a membership fee, he compared it to Costco, you would have access to really cheap trips, hotels and condos around the world. Two examples that were displayed were the Bahai Principe in Dominican Republic for $373.00 per person and two weeks in Hawaii, at a five star all-inclusive resort for $1,990.00 per person, taxes in.
The presenter was a bit of a moron but his pitch was interesting. At the end of the session, the couples were met individually by company reps and given the pitch. When we walked in we had no intention of buying, but I have to admit, we were getting interested – until they hit us with the price.
They were looking for $5,995.00 for a 10-year membership, plus a monthly fee of $25.00. Sure, they threw in some discounts, but the math just didn’t work for me. After some back and forth with them, we declined. We did draw for our prize as promised. We got the $500.00 travel voucher, which was only good if we booked with their travel agency.
I don’t think this was a scam as much as it was over priced. However, the marketing methods used to get us there really worked. They found out, through the survey, that we fit their demographics, offered us an incentive to come to the presentation, and made a believable sales pitch. But alas, common sense prevailed.
It was interesting to see at least two or three couples signing up for a membership. I really hope they get their money’s worth and I wish them many happy travels.