• Fly-away escape or fly-by-night offer? This weekend I got a postcard at home from Vacation Choices. Congratulations! I’d receive “2 Round Trip Airfares to Hawaii or anywhere that US Airways flies in the continental US.” If I called quickly, I could receive a “3 day and 2 night hotel stay” too. It sounded exciting. But I’m a suspicious person.
• I read the tiny print: “Certain restrictions apply, call for details. Taxes and reservation fees are the responsibility of the recipient.” One person on www.800notes.com says this is a “vacation club” with a lot of fees. Another person posts that if your choice is “full,” the club reserves the right to change your itinerary city.
• Now I was ready to search www.bbb.org for the company’s track record. It earned an A rating for answering and resolving BBB complaints and for the relative complaint volume (53) for its business size. However, the BBB has received a pattern of complaints alleging that Vacation Choices offers a gift to attend a seminar without disclosing complete conditions. What you get, they say, is a certificate to claim your gift, and it requires payment of applicable taxes and fees. The company says its promo materials inform recipients that charges for deposits, shipping and handling, processing, reservations, taxes, etc. are your responsibility.
• What does this mean? Is this a scam? No. The BBB is aware of this group and is handling the complaints. But you still need to do your homework. If you receive this or any vacation promotion:
• Obtain the names, addresses and telephone numbers for the lodgings, airlines and cruise ships advertised.
• Get details in writing, including refund and cancellation policies, before paying.
• Know that some vacation clubs charge thousands of dollars for memberships.
• Be aware that if you’re asked to provide a credit card or bank account number “for verification,” it’s a scam flag.
Holly Doering, BBB editor