How do you define a scam? Does your definition include anything where you have to put down money upfront in order to get discounts later? Maybe it should. Meet Stephen and Jean Liang of Kansas City, Missouri. They went to a presentation for a travel club, and ended up joining for $7,500– with the condition that they could cancel after 3 days. Before they left, they were offered a discount for Red Lobster. They thought it was a bonus for joining the club. It wasn’t.
During the presentation, Stephen and Jean were told they could get discounted condo rates and other travel benefits around the world. They decided to join — for $7,500. Jean said they were assured they could cancel within three days.
Before Stephen and Jean even left, they were offered a discount coupon for Red Lobster.
“We really enjoy Red Lobster,” Jean said. “We thought it was a bonus for joining.”
They were asked to sign a piece of paper after they received the card. The Liangs didn’t think much about it.
“We thought we needed to sign it to show we’d gotten the card,” Jean said.
But, unfortunately, Stephen and Jean didn’t realize that by accepting the Red Lobster card, they had used the services of the travel club. And by signing that piece of paper, they were waiving their right to cancel their membership.
But the couple soon found out the next day when they tried to cancel.
Jean said they felt deceived. “This is really, really wrong. A person’s word is what they are.” The couple found out the hard way that it doesn’t always work that way.
The BBB warns consumers that they receive lots of complaints about these travel clubs. Here’s what they have to say about them:
“Vacation clubs, special travel agent training and bargain-finder software, often aren’t good deals because initial costs are rarely recouped by any future savings on travel costs since the bargains and special deals don’t really exist as portrayed in the sales pitches,” said the BBB’s spokesperson. “Consumers need to be very wary of travel club offers and research the companies extensively before committing any money or giving out credit card or bank account information.”
It’s better to save your pennies than bet them on a deal that may never come.