Travel Club Fraud
My husband and I were duped by Grand Getaways, a Coast to Coast Travel Company (also known as Grand Getaways Vacation Club, Grand Incentives) for $4, 900! Their principal place of business is at 64 Inverness East, Englewood, CO 80112 and they have a Member Care Center at 756o Commerce Ct, Sarasota, Florida 34243. The club is supposedly licensed and bonded by the State of Florida as a Seller of Travel under Registration No.: ST36512. We were solicited while we were on a Royal Carribean cruise with one of the stops going to St. Maarten. When we got off the ship to tour St. Martin, and within 10 minutes of so off the ship, we were stopped in the street by this young man who asked us to play a game with these scratch off tickets. This kid wouldn't leave us alone despite our attempts to ignore him. He kept following us down the road until we finally spoke to him. BOY WAS THAT A HUGE $4, 900 MISTAKE! So, he gave both my husband and I a scratch off ticket. My husband's ticket was determined a loser, and of course I won. This kid was and this kid was SO excited for me because he said that I had just won a 5 day trip to Cancun!! He said that to claim the prize, I would have to follow him to a building down the street. At first I said no, but he begged us because to come with him because he was going to receive a commission and told us that these type of scratch off come out a random and I would really be doing him a favor. I didn't want to go because I was off the ship to enjoy St. Martin which NEVER HAPPENED. The nice people we were, we followed him down the street to the building. However, before we got there he was on a cell phone telling his counterparts that he was on his way with a winner! He apparently had to buy some time (I think another couple was reviewing the presentation) so he asked us if we wanted a drink from this stand on the corner just by the building. I think his intent was for us to have a drink and let our guard down. I declined, but my husband had a beer. I was very uneasy about the entire situation, but this kid assured me this was legitimate and reiterated I would be doing him a favor.
When we got to the building, we were greated by the receiptionist who happened to be from Florida from the same area where my husband I were from and offered us ANOTHER drink. Again I refused, but my husband agreed to have one. Eventually, a representative came out and convinced us to sit down and watch a presentation before we "claimed" our free prize. Skeptical we were, but sat and watched a video presentation at their request. I want to say the video was approx. 30 to 40 minutes long. We were both getting very restless. When it was over, they used high pressure sales tatics to convince us why we should buy into this club. They were explaining the different levels of membership such as Diamond, Platinum, Gold, etc. All I could think at the time they were quoting these prices is that I cannot affort $20, 000, $15, 000, etc... The prices were apparently determined by the number of resort weeks you were entitled to use. We certainly were not interested and threatened to leave. So, in comes someone else to start the conversation again...so what do you guys like doing for vacation. So angrly we told them we like to cruise. Well at that point, the pitched changed to be structured on how much they could save us on cruises. Different people kept coming into the room to keep us "company" and to try to find ways to "close" the deal. If you recall, we were there simply trying to claim our "FREE" vacation from the kid on the street!! At one point a man came in and said you can save 50% off your cruises and it will essentially pay for your memebership. He said the company buys the cruises at a deep discount because of all their memberships. At that point we became interested. We tested them by asking them to give us quote on the same Royal Carribean cruise, same itinarary, same Jr. Suite and room number, that we booked for the following weeks ahead. I figured the pricing would be very similiar (and likely more expensive because of late booking) since it was close in time to our cruise. The manager came back with a paper showing the price which appeared to be approx. 50% off of what we paid for our cruise---Wow how about that! They also keep reitering how they were affiliated with Chicago Title and Bank of America so it appeared as if they were legitimate and in my mind I thought they must be because they are transacting business with these company and surely they vetted the company before accepting them as a client RIGHT? These two companeis should be ashamed of themselves supporting this type of scam. Well, as noted above the memeberships started at $20k, and when they knew we could not afford those prices, they eventually came down to $4, 900 and said we can apply for a credit card through Bank of America. We thought if we booked the next two cruises with them, it would pay for the membership and we would have those condo weeks in addition to saving on our cruises. We attempted to walk out again, but they threw in additional condo weeks and they "closed" the deal.
Well fast forward into almost year 3 of the program...WE HAVE NEVER BEEN ABLE TO USE THE PROGRAM, NOT EVEN OUR "FREE" CANCUN VACATION. Their prices ARE NOT LOWER THEN WHAT YOU CAN GET BY YOURSELF ON THE INTERNET OR THROUGH YOUR REGULAR NORMAL TRAVEL AGENCY. THIS COMPANY IS EXTREMLY HARD TO DEAL WITH AND IT IS DIFFICULT TO TRY AND BOOK ANYTHING!!! Since signing up, we went on two nice vacations...one was another cruise with Royal Carribean and also went to a really nice All Inclusive in the Dominican Republic. Before we booked, we contacted them for their rates and surely thought they would much lower right??? Not only was it very difficult dealing with their travel specialist (I mean what an experience) their prices were much higher. Talk about disappointment with this company I cannot even explain. Folks you would be MUCH BETTER GO WITH ANY LOCAL TRAVEL AGENT or USING THE INTERNET. Remember the promise of 50% off...well that was a crock! Then they told me they could price match guarantee??? What are they saying I thought? So, I did ALL the work to go out and find the cheapest rate around, and then you tell me you want to price match it. I spent hours of my time researching a cruise. Even if they price matched guaranteed, why wasn't the price lower to begin with since they tout millions of members allows them to buy at bulk rates. Ok...we tried again with the Dominican Trip. Again, their prices were higher than what we obtained from three different agents around the country. I said to myself REALLY? What the hell type of travel club is this! I am so flustered that I don't even know what to do at this point other than to contact all governmental agencies that regulate this industry and this company. I have navigated their website many times just trying to give this company a chance and it is difficult as hell to figure out what the resort looks like or any comments on it. You have be an investigator and go to google to do that! Hopefully. when you are searching google you get the correct resort so you know you are comparing apples to apples. You think the company would make research a bit easier, but its not the case. Also when you search through their condos that you supposedly save on...they all look like some run down Motel 6. I mean you ask people to spend $20k or even my $4, 900 on your membership and you are going to put me up at a Motel 6 REALLY????
So to recap, for $4, 900 we got nothing NADA..no trips, No Motel 6 condo stays, nothing to show for it other than a payment every month on our lovely Bank of America Credit Card. Oh yeah...the rate went up and so we had to switch it to another card at zero percent. Many people were promised that the interest rate would stay low, but that was not the case either...just another selling tatic. Oh...and there is the renewal fee each anniversay year which is supposed to be $199, however, they try to upsell you to getting two years for $349 and they tell you they will through in a $500 Gift Certificate towards airfare. Well, when you get the package and read the fine print, you have to book it through them and they guarantee the lowest rates, however, its only a $25.00 discount for fares between $200 and $299, $50.00 discount for fares between $300 and $399; $75.00 for fares between $400 and $499 and $100 for fares between $500 and $599. Tickets are not valid one week before or after holidays too...and you must give them 14 day advance notice and it must include a Saturday. What a JOKE! On the phone it sounded like you were going to get a $500 Gift Certificate, but they failed to mention the fine print, but they got you to renew for two years didn't they!!!
I'm ready to file suit against this company for fraud, mispresentation, and breach of contract to name a few. If you are contenplating signing up with this company PLEASE DO YOURSELF A FAVOR AND WALK AWAY LIKE MY HUSBAND AND I SHOULD HAVE DONE in St. Martin for the poor little kid on the street who needed a commission...REALLY. I plan on reaching out to others who have been scamed by this company as well as various government agencies. THIS HAS GOT TO STOP. P.S. I looked at my contract and the folks that sold it to us were Jose Velez, Quality Assurance Manager and Hakim Merabet, Sales Direction in St. Maarten, Osprey Drive #4, Unit A &B, Juancho Yrausquin Blvd., Philipsburg, St. Maarten (599)542-0776 or (866) 978-4604, email@example.com, as well as Philip Provenzale at firstname.lastname@example.org. Their websites show on the contract as: www.affinitygroup.com; coastresorts.com and gograndgetaways.com