I purchased tickets for me and my girlfriend to take a glider ride for $198.15 through a company called 1800SKYRIDE.COM on 1/31/09 over the phone with my bank check-card. I received the tickets in the mail a week later, and gave them to her for her Birthday/Valentines day (They are very close to each other.)
So mid-February (my girlfriend) called them to Schedule our flight, and they claimed they could only redeem it in Los Angeles. So my Girlfriend questioned why is it that their website says they have flights in Sacramento, and even the person I bought the tickets from said the rides were available in Sacramento. They claimed the website I ordered the tickets from was an old website with out dated information. Then they said we could get our flight in San Jose, My Girlfriend said that wouldn't work, the tickets we bought were for the Sacramento facility that they claimed to have access to. Then they claimed we could do it in Truckee, California. Thinking this was as close as we were going to get to Sacramento, we agreed that Truckee was fine for the flight. The operator then said there was a catch: The Flight facility was closed until May, so we would have to wait until May and a pilot would contact us.
In the first week of May we received no phone calls. My girlfriend called 1800SKYRIDE and was transferred to voice mail/hung-up on 3 times. We eventually got through once and were told the person who could help us wasn't available, so we were put on hold/hung-up on again.
On 5/15/09 we research all of the flight facilities in Truckee, and find the only one, Soar Truckee and call them, they state they are in fact the only glider facility in Truckee. We asked if they had a contract with 1800SKYRIDE or THRILLPLANET (The company has many names) and they enthusiastically exclaim they do not, nor have they ever had any contract or agreement or any involvement with the company. They in fact only have a contract with a company in Reno, NV. They have heard of them though because people go to their flight facility all of the time expecting to use their certificates for a flight, but when they get to Soar Truckee they are hit with the reality that they do not have any knowledge of their reservation and do not accept these bogus certificates.
The nice people at Soar Truckee even said that frequently people will have driven 6 hours to cash in on their flight, and the company feels so bad that they will sometimes give them a ride for free out of their own pocket. He told us their scam is to delay and prolong the reservation process as long as possible because most banks have a 60 day charge-dispute limit, and then just not provide the services at all. This is exactly what had happened to us. I called my bank and was informed because it was past 60 days I was out my $198.15.
So pretending to be a new customer we called 1800SKYRIDE that same day in order to not get disconnected again. We get through to a reservation agent (first try, eager to take money) and my girlfriend tells this person the story, and asks them why the company in Truckee claims they don't deal with them. We also asked why Soar Truckee would say they are a scam. The female agent replied that it is because that very day (convenient) the glider company stopped their contract with them, and We are not a scam, scam artists don't stay in business for 15 years and then claims we can schedule at another facility, asks us to hold, and hangs up on us again. We call back, and get hung up on multiple times throughout the day.
my girlfriend pretends we are new customers again and she gets greeted with the operator saying oh it's you again, you hung-up on that nice young lady. So we ask to speak to a manager a bunch of times and the operator says We cant help you over and over, and she kept asking to speak to a manager, and he kept saying no, We asked his name, we asked the managers name, he refused to give us any information. My girlfriend says Well then you need to refund our money you are not providing the services we paid for and the operator laughed and said You don't get your money back, that's how it works. Eventually he said the manager was Joe and agreed to connect us to him. He transferred us to the same female reservation agent as before and my girlfriend asked I thought you were going to help me? and the lady laughed and said I am not going to help you, I said I would find someone to help you and then we got hung up on again.
After that we realized we had been scammed, and did a bunch of research and found this website 1800SKYRIDERIPOFF.COM which serves as a hub for information regarding the HUGE network of websites the company runs (Claiming to have facilities in EVERY STATE in the US) and organizes complaints and information regarding the lawsuits they are facing.
This company HAS WEBSITES THAT CLAIM SERVICES IN EVERY STATE, and even some over seas. If you do call them, ask them where they are located if you call them. They won't say Georgia, they'll say "We're everywhere" and try to find out where you are calling from, and they'll claim to have whatever service you're calling about in your city.
They have hundreds of websites, all leading back to their office in Kennesaw Georgia, some of those companies are:
Adventure Skydiving Center
Hot Air Balloon Team
If you find a website that offers Services with no address on the website (illegal) you can check it out using a WHOIS Lookup by going here:
Northern California, California