BBB Warns Consumers To Be Wary Of US Airlines Travel Offer

  
     
March 06, 2014
 US Airlines travel offer
Mailers like this were sent to addresses in the St. Louis area.
Access Travel Deals website
The vouchers are believed to be linked to Access Travel Deals, the website shown above.
St. Louis, Mo., Feb. 28, 2014
- Better Business Bureau (BBB) is advising St. Louis area consumers to be on the alert for recent mailings marked "US Airlines Award Notification," which include vouches for round-trip airline tickets to anywhere in the continental United States.

BBB believes these mailings are connected to a new discount travel company called Access Travel Deals. Access Travel Deals (www.accesstraveldeals.com) appears to have ties to a Scottsdale, Ariz., business called American Travel Deals, which has an “F” rating with BBB, the lowest rating possible.

Access Travel Deals’ website is virtually identical to the websites of several other travel companies, including www.globalvacationdeals.net, www.selectedvacations.com, www.lifetimetraveldeals.com and www.reliabletraveldeals.com. All sites have nearly identical home pages, testimonials and other information.

Michelle Corey, BBB president and CEO, said the mailings have the capacity to mislead the public, using a company name similar to US Airways. “People have every reason to be wary of these mailings. There is no company called US Airlines,” she said.

“It appears that the sole purpose of these letters is to get people to attend meetings to listen to sales pitches for a travel club,” Corey said. “There simply are too many questions to believe at this point that this is a good deal.”

Several St. Louis area residents have contacted BBB in recent days, asking about the tri-fold mailer. The mailings have no return address and typically are marked “Final Notice” and “Personal and Confidential” on the outside.  The mailings include vouchers valued at $1,450, which closely resemble checks. They note that each voucher “must be redeemed for travel certificate and has no cash value.” The only other identifying information on the mailers is Travel Union, Scottsdale, Ariz.  

Customer service representatives who answered a toll-free phone number included with the mailing said the company had been hired by a St. Charles, Mo.-based wholesale travel sales firm. They identified the company as Access Travel Deals and referred a caller to the website www.accesstraveldeals.com.

A check of the company’s website registration shows that accesstraveldeals.com was registered in January.

One of the representatives asked the caller a series of qualifying questions, then said that the travel voucher could be redeemed during a meeting with company sales representatives at a St. Charles hotel. He said the sales presentations would not include “bullying” or “high-pressure” sales tactics.

Appointments were available the weekend of Feb. 28 or during another period beginning on March 13. The customer service representative said proof of identification and a credit card would be required to attend.

The website for Access Travel Deals calls the company “the nation’s leader in discount travel agency promotional appointments.” The site says that it has more than 28 locations. That same information is on the websites for Global Vacation Deals, Selected Vacations, Lifetime Travel Deals and Reliable Travel Deals.

BBB in Phoenix, Ariz., noted that Selected Vacations, US Airlines and Travel Union are alternate names for American Travel Deals.

BBB has recorded 65 complaints against the business. That number excludes dozens of reports to BBB that are considered informational. Most consumers complained that the mailings are deceptive or misleading.

In its report on American Travel Deals, BBB says that “US Airlines” and “American Airways” (another name used by the company) “are companies that do not exist.” BBB says it has been unable to confirm a physical address for this company after numerous attempts to locate it. Phoenix BBB made several attempts to reach principals of the company, but did not receive a reply.

BBB offers the following tips when receiving unsolicited mail offers:

  • Make sure you know exactly who sent the mailing. If you can’t identify the business or individual, you probably should not give them your business.
  • If the mailing includes an offer for a gift, make sure you understand exactly what will be expected of you to get the gift.
  • Do not be pressured into doing business with a company.
  • Do not enter into any agreement without understanding it completely.
  • Ask a company for references and contact them before doing business.
  • If you make any payment, pay by credit card whenever possible in case you need to challenge the charge.
  • Research any company thoroughly before doing business. Check a BBB Business Review at www.bbb.org or by calling 314-645-3300.
Contacts (News Media Only): Michelle Corey, President & CEO, 314-645-0606, mcorey@stlouisbbb.org, or Chris Thetford, Vice President-Communications, 314-584-6743, communications@stlouisbbb.org, or Bill Smith, Trade Practice Investigator, 314-584-6727, tpc1@stlouisbbb.org