April 20, 2007

The Pen Is Mighter Than The Vacation Club

My wife talked me into going to a "vacation club seminar" tonight for a company called Beachcomber Vacations (aka Castaways Vacation Club) so she could get a free prize. I figured I'd go along and see how keen my "rip-off sensor" was. Turns out it was dead on. Everyone else in the room got a really high pressure sales pitch, but my wife and I didn't for one reason: I did the math while they spoke.

When we arrived at their office in the NexBank building at the Dallas Galleria, the first thing I noticed was that there was absolutely no corporate branding anywhere. The decor shown to the public was as generic as it could be. While we were in the waiting room, I noticed that the only documentation lying around was fliers for how you could lease space in this building for short periods of time for meetings, etc. Not at permanent office space: Strike #1.

Our salesman admitted that this was his "third day," but tried to become our friends with constant handshakes, discussion about his school, his stock trades, etc. My brother used to do high-pressure sales as well, and I could recognize every trick in the book. Strike #2.

My wife was instructed to turn her cellphone off, and then they wrote "Anytime (Restricted)" and "Today (Unrestricted)" on the board. Ooh, fun, they were going to really try to pressure us. "Tell us yes or no tonight, don't tell us 'we need to think about it.'" Strike #3. They were out before the presentation started.

They started with a brief description of the program. Basically, you enroll in the program, and get discounts on travel. Even though they were claiming a 70% discount on average, the only examples I could point to seemed to show at most a 30% discount for everything except flights, where it was a savings of about $20-$30 a ticket at most. Not impressed. The price for this "wonderful discount?" $8,999 plus a $299 activation fee and $199 per year for maintenance.

Now, paying for discounts is rarely a good idea. Club stores like Costco and Sam's Club are worth it provided you buy in bulk at least once a quarter, but paying for a discount for something that you do rarely is only worth it if the benefits are clear and there is a low break-even in case situations change. Assuming an annual travel budget of $3,500 and savings of 30% through the club, you would break even around your twelfth year of membership, assuming all costs remain the same.

I sketched this out on the provided pad, showed it to the salesman, and said "no." He left us, then offered the same program to the people at the table behind us for under half the cost ($3,999).

So if any Texas residents want to go scam-sighting, check the 10th floor of Two Galleria Tower in Dallas...if they're still there on Monday.


Zman said...

What was the free gift. Assuming $100 an hour per person was it worth the trip?

I once got a free holiday for 2 in Reno, flight and hotels by doing one of these. I just kept saying 'No thanks, I just came for the free trip'. I did feel a little dirty but hey it was their rules.

Mohammed said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Beachcombers said...

I am sorry that this person feels like this, and we at Beachcombers work very hard to keep people who come in with a preconceived expectation from leaving unhappy. Unfortunately, when you deal with as many people as we do you can not please everyone. As we all know.
We pride ourselves in making people who come to a meeting feel at home. This man, Mohammed, points outs some things that he does not agree with. Like, showing the price up front and being forth coming with the good and the bad parts of the membership. Although, we respect everyones opinion we find that most people like the fact that we are up front and honest about everything.
We cannot promise that Beachcombers will be the answer to all your travel needs, but we can promise that if you do choose to attend a meeting you will be treated like a friend of the family and will receive everything that you were offered.


Adrian Miller

P.S. If you travel, come check us out. We may be able to help you.

sharpjnj said...

I cannot get rid of these idiots!
After the FOURTH round of "let me confirm your information" - and _ "are you sure you have a credit card?" - I have now turned control of the phone over to my six year old. I believe this is a level playing field now.

What a waste of time.

NETexan said...

I just got a call from these yahoo's... I gotta know, did you get your "free" trip as promised just for attending the "presentation"?

txgal said...

CASTWAYS IS A SCAM. We are two college educated people who got suckered in. We got the 8995 pkg for 3995. We have tried to book over 15 trips through "the discount service" have yet to get a price from Castways that is less than Travelocity. Adrian Miller was a saleperson, now he is President. Which one are you then? How come Adrian, you pawned us off to an incompetent named Dobber. We just want our money back, as you have NOT FUFILLED YOUR CONTRACT. He flat out lied to us. His cell phone if anyone is interested is 817-965-0109. We have retained a lawyer and if anyone is interested in a class action lawsuit, please contact us. Not only are their prices a joke and not "discount" the service is awful. It takes 5-7 days for them to even call you back with the prices for booking

PL said...

I was also contacted by Beachcombers, and after reading the posted blog, promptly cancelled my scheduled appointment. When I cancelled the appointment, I left explicit instructions telling them not to contact me in the future regarding the cancelled appointment or for any future appointments. Two weeks later they called me at work asking why I cancelled the appointment and inquiring when I was going to reschedule. This is completely unexcusable. If this company was truly "all that and a bag of chips" their vacation club idea would sell itself and they would not need to resort to such high pressure sales tactics. IMHO this organization should be avoided at all costs!!!

Amy said...

How can I contact txgal? I would be interested in a class action.

Casey said...

I too would be very interested in getting in touch with txgal and persuing legal action against Beachcombers (and Castawawys, Funseekers, et al. - they are apparently all related), if I am unable to get a refund via my credit card company (or even if I'm able - I'll join too!), which is what I'm pursuing right now.

I too am someone who should have know better, spotted all the hard-sell techniques and still signed up when offerred the $7999 membership for $1999, thinking it was worth the cost for a 30% savings on a potentially $10,000 trip. Not one of my better moves.

this travel club is a joke, and worse, I believe it is definitely a scam, and quite possibly may be engaging in actual fraud.

I can back-up txgals' claims...I've had the same experience and can do you one better - after giving up on booking a cruise through them (was told I "might get a call back in 48 to 72 hr" when I told them I was ready to book ?!?) I did the research myself and booked independently directly with the cruise line and using another another (no-fee!) travel agent, through whom I was entitled to a $450 "refund" (which I received in about 3 days after booking)...only to find out that an agent from Beachcomber (the one who "might call me back within 72 hrs") had in the meantime attempted to have the reservation the other agent made for me with the cruise line cancelled and re-booked through her -- all without my permission. Incredible.

txgal, please contact me - irlandessa19 at myway dot com. If Amy or anyone else knows how to reach her, please email me. thanks!

Ang1644 said...

This is crazy, I had a reservation for two tonight in Dallas on the 10th floor as well!! I have cancelled and sent them an email with all the rip off reports possible. What I would love to do is attend and make copies of all these reports I have researched and pass them out to the people in attendance there. There has to be a way to stop these kind of scams on innocent people getting their hard earned money ripped right out of their hands. Thank God I researched!!!

deke said...

I am wondering if anyone tried to cancel their membership within the (3) business day period which is stated in the contract? If so, how did the process go for you? Was there any problem getting your money back? I would say if anyone found them breaching their contract that would be a great addition to any lawsuit as well as crucial info. for Attorney General and BBB offices to prsecute.

trickey_d said...

I tried to cancel my contract in less than 48 hours! They said they were exempt from the 72 hour deal for some obscure reason. Someone named "Dobber" called me a couple of times. They made a refund to my VISA card, but they kept about $1,200. I have protested the charge to VISA. I also have a lawyer standing by. You can reach me at trickey_d@yahoo.com

gabbyhat01 said...

Just read your post 11/25/2007. We signed up last nigh thru Phoenix Travel in Spring Tx. Got hit up for 1400.00 down on credit card. Already want to get out, how difficult is that? Any guidance would be appreciated. Thanks, gabbyhat01@yahoo.com

Guy in Texas said...

All I can say is wow. How can anyone ever respond to anyone who calls them for crappola like this.

I get aggravated that they call me at home, but I never answer the phone for unknown #'s.

Usually if you go to someone's place and enter into a contract, it is not required to give a 3 day right to cancel. If they were to come into your home, then you would.

Just DONT EVER EVER get suckered into EVER going to anything like this - no matter what they promise to give you for free - and for SURE NEVER ever think you are going to get some bargain.

We live in the age of the internet. There are very few things that can't be checked out first, and very few things you can't get cheaper if you are willing to take some time on the net trying to.

Google Jeff Paul sometime. They guy runs an infomercial about getting rich doing nothing. This guy even LOOKS like a con-man. If you google his name he comes up all over AS a con man. Yet people all over routinely give him thousands of their hard earned dollars and then want to file a "class action suit" since they got conned.

Hang up your phone on there kinds of calls - better yet - DONT ANSWER YOUR PHONE UNLESS YOU KNOW WHO IS CALLING YOU.

Just some advice for whatever it may be worth.

joe said...

how can you research them. at first contact they say they are phoenix travel and then when you get there they are castaway travel. My wife and I did not purchase and the free stuff is just as much a scam as they are. Good luck....dont bother with the one in spring texas. The free 300 dollars worth of gas works like this - you send them info with 5.00 money order. then they send you an application. You send that back with your choice of 1 gas station. you get 25 dollars free after you spend 100 bucks with the gas station. you send them the proof of the 100 purchased and receipts by the 1st of the next month and they send you the 25 dollar voucher. most you get is 25.00 per month so for the 300 bucks it will take 6 months. but you jump through a bunch of hoops and spend money on postage maybe you come away with 20 bucks a month free gas - add your labor for all the bs and your loosing out. you can check out the rules yourself b4 you go waste your time go to www.freebeegas.com and scroll down and click on policy.
the free tickets are worthless also you have to pay 65.00 per person up front. you pick one destination and three avaiable dates. they dont tell you what dates you get until 14 days b4 the trip. how is anyone supposed to plan their vacation that way.

please stay away, thanks, joe

Karen said...

I have received 1-2 calls a week for the past two months from a Beachcombers rep trying to give me a "free" vacation. Before they even get into the speech, I tell them I'm not interested and take me off their list (which technically they are legally required to do).

After the third call, I became more than annoyed and insisted they take me off the list and that I was reporting them to the Do Not Call list (of which I've been registered for three years now) as well as the FTC. I've reported the last four calls and now, four days later, I received ANOTHER call. Unbelievable.

They claim ignorance to my past requests and say they'll remove me from their files. Fat chance. I'm sure I'll get another call next week.

I suppose I can ignore all calls that come through as unknown, but have a home office so I tend to answer virtually all calls that come in. I have no idea how to get through their thick skulls that they have no advantage to calling me EVER. I can only hope that repeated reports to Do Not Call and the FTC will eventually get them investigated.

billydick said...

I have been getting two to three call PER DAY from these scammers. Asking them not to call doesn't work. Telling them please don't keep calling me doesn't work. This is a percentages scam of harrasmnet. They bug enough people to find the few fools to rip-off. I agreed to a meeting for the sole purpose of finding out enough to identify the head a$$hole. So much for "do not call lists".

keko655 said...

Complete criminal scam, those "people" should be arrested and thrown to jail. I attended on 11/2007 and it is the most hidious group of con artists that I have ever seen in my life. A guy "interviewing" us had dirty nails and he looked stoned. Of course we didn't give them any money. Never received the "gas certificates". Of course didn't send them $50 "fee" to book a free 3 day trip that would cost me more than if I booked it myself.

dee07 said...

I would be interested in being part of a class action suit. We signed up last August and stupid me, they finances us. How can I get out of this mess. They lowered the pirce to 6995 and we put 1000 down and made 4 payments of 107. I want out. Have not made any payments since January. Please email me at dee070773@aol.com with any information that might help. Oh and the free trip for attending is a joke. I have received it back 5 times now wanting other information that was never asked for before. Now they say they can't read my cradit card number which is a photo copy. I am asking for my money back on that too.

keko655 said...

Update: the fellons from Beachcombers Vacation Club are now called Phoenix Travel. They now call pretending to be DTI Advertisement to get you to the presentation. They are so dumb that they forgot that I have been already to one of their "presentations", so they called me again to attend for a "free cruize and $300 worth of gas certificates" LOL! I was going to book time to attend a "presentation", so that I can record the whole thing undercover, but my wife wouldn't go again. Too bad.


july 19th 2008 they are called royal palm vacations and on the 18th floor of the galleria one building. the slimy,greasy, presenter with his half a... attempt to look like he came from california. sorry i digress, the associate who was doing his best to look through my wifes top, well now you p.o the wife! we were up and out of there and they wanted to gift us and any way and told us we should not ever attend any presentations. why i wonder..... i guess they only want folks come in that don't mind have ing their wifes oggled over and steal their moneys at the same time.

David said...

Well I need to learn to do my research ahead of time ... fell for this crap. Going to see if I can cancel the charges. Royal Palm associated with Sealand Travel. Both non entities.

As noted in the previous blog in Tower One in the Gallaria in Dallas,Texas

Note the similarity to the current action by the attornye General in Texas


stacey720 said...

thankyou to everyone who has posted a comment. you really saved ME on this one!! People from phoenix travel contacted me today to attend a "presentation" so i could recieve a free vacation. told me to make sure i bring my credit card. I would just like to know how these people live their lives knowing they rip people off. People who are honest and hard working who deserve every dollar they make. These people should all be thrown in jail. Thanks again for the heads up on these creeps.

Jennifer said...

All I can say is I'm both sorry and elated to find individuals like myself that were scammed for travel services, I was suckered by Global Discovery Vacations. This company is a total consumer ripoff. How dare anyone of this company, at whatever satellite office they have moved into this month, even try to defend the lies this company is selling. All of your stories on-line sound so familiar to what has happened to my husband and I. This company couldn't be more of a joke.

They start by calling you on the phone stating you have a free trip (usually 2 nights, 3days) with a choice of 5 or 6 places to go for attending a 90 min presentation for travel services. After you agree to the 90 min presentation you drive to whatever office they have set up for that time period. I have noticed that all of them have short life spans. After you hear what great discounts they have (and I'm the first to admit how embarrassed I am for buying in) they negotiate a lifetime able to be passed on for generations "vacation club." The membership fees all started out in the $15K range in my presentation.

Here's the scam. They have a couple of people working out of a real office somewhere. Then for as long as it takes to sign up all the suckers like me they have several "temp" sales offices. These are where they give sales presentations. Once the consumer buys in they have 3 days to break the contract. The travel services department (if you want to call it that) is only open Mon-Fri. The presentations are given on a Friday or Saturday by the time you call on Monday and by the time you get a response you can no longer void the contract. Once your stuck they rely on your frustration to take over. Most people only get two-three weeks of vacation a year with a couple of long weekends. This equates to only being able to go on 4-5 trips or so a year, if your lucky.

You can't see where you "might" be able to travel, you have to submit more money to this joke of a company for the chance at a vacation resort. GDV needs an attorney with some time to put them out of business once and for all. I was lied to about all inclusive vacations being a part of my membership, which is not so (regardless of the 4 stars I won't use this year). I can get "discounted" trips thru an affiliated travel agent, which it didn't take me long to figure out that the discounts they give aren't really discounts at all. It's just a few people looking up what you can do yourself in about 5 minutes on the web (minus the commision rate for providing this "exceptional" service to you, you will find the web prices about 20% cheaper). This goes against everything they told me in the presentation of buying airline tickets in bulk and buying blocks of rooms each year for members. YADA YADA LIES LIES AND MORE LIES.

These employees have to know what GDV is doing. Anytime I have called trying to get information about the company I am either forwarded to voice mail or given to 'Tamara' if that's her real name the supervisor on duty and the highest power of lack of caring the company can offer.

I would be more than happy to be a part of a class action lawsuit against GDV (GLOBAL DISCOVERY VACATIONS) if anybody is interested. I will be keeping a close eye out on new reports. This is not an isolated incident. There are many other travel companies scamming people out of their hard earned cash.


Parent addrese provide (may have moved by now):
5360 College Boulevard
Suite 200
Overland Park, Kansas 66211

kctola said...

When these people call and call, you can get rid of them by telling them you would love to come, then ask them if it is ok if you are going bankrupt (economy and all). You don't have a credit card, and no job, but hey, you could use a free vacation

kctola said...

If you don't want them to call again, just be enthusiastic and when they book you and ask whether you have a card, say, No, does it matter. We're CCC and they won't let us have one. See if they call again

Joycamp said...

For those of you who have been cheated by Castaways or Beachcombers, please email me at joycamp@sbcglobal.net

We have found a very agressive and great attny to fight for us to get back the $6993 we charged to get our "vacation pkg".

Carolyn said...

Has anyone ever received a rebate..I have called Castaways 5-6 times and have yet to receive any rebates for reservations they booked on my behalf


Joycamp said...

Please contact me if you were taken by Beachcombers or Castaways. Need to get info for our attorney to continue with our lawsuit. joycamp@sbcglobal.net