BBB Consumer Alert: Travel Offers Aren’t Always What They’re Cracked Up to Be

  
     
March 22, 2017


As a leader in advancing marketplace trust, BBB is offering advice to consumers who may respond to a solicitation offering them airline tickets and other awards for attending a travel expo.

Randy Hutchinson, president of the BBB, received a postcard inviting him to attend a 90-minute “VIP Travel Expo” in celebration of Southwest Travel’s anniversary. For doing so, he would receive two round trip, coach class airline vouchers to most major airports in the continental United States. The earliest callers in response to the postcard would also receive a stay at a Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, or other 3 or 4 star hotel. People arriving early to the expo would also receive a $25 prepaid Visa gift card. Finally, attendees would receive $100 in dining dollars to over 200,000 restaurants.

The postcard includes a PROMO CODE of TIGERS1.

Hutchinson called the number on the postcard and was told by the representative that “they” want to present their travel services, which would be cheaper than booking travel online, and that appointments were being set for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at a Memphis hotel. When he asked who “they” are, the representative said Adventure Getaways.

Fine print on the postcard says the promotion is not sponsored by any specific airline, resort or hotel. When Hutchinson asked who “Southwest Travel” is, the representative said Southwest Airlines is a sponsor of the program. He verified that with her several times. Southwest and other airlines have warned about travel scams misusing their names.

We couldn’t find any information on Adventure Getaways and Southwest Travel is such a generic name that we couldn’t reliably check it out. There’s no address on the postcard.

The BBB offers the following advice regarding travel clubs and offers:

  • Check them out at bbb.orgThere are often multiple companies involved in such deals; get information on all of them. Research them online to see if other consumers have reported experience with them.
  • Be wary of high pressure sales pitches. A salesperson’s refusal to answer questions or give you time to consider the offer should be a red flag.
  • Read the fine print. Before signing any contract, read all the terms, conditions, policies and financial obligations. Don’t rely on oral representations.
  • Understand any fees and limitations involved in using the airline tickets and other premiums given for attending the presentation. The postcard says the recipient is responsible for all applicable taxes and/or fees. In the BBB’s experience, those costs and limitations on usage often make the premiums far less attractive.