I live in Melbourne, Australia. On the 20th February 2009 I had the same phone call from Astar stating that I had won a holiday to Florida at a cost of US$998.
Like the thousands of others out there, I had the pressure put on me and was sucked into the cancel within 30 days for a full refund policy'
Once I had transferred the credit card details, I was then informed of new conditions such as your cruise is an extra US$290 and you must attend time share seminars whilst in the state of Florida and so on.
I rang them two weeks later to cancel the holiday and I was then informed that I was unable to because they had already sent the package to me.
I insisted to them that I had changed my mind but they didn't want to know about it. They went ahead and played back to me a recording of my conversation with a Mr. Fernandez' that was recorded at the time when my credit card details were given out.
The recording had been edited.
Eg. At the time I questioned Mr Fernandez' on the 30 days refund policy and mentioned that 30 days wouldn't leave much time to return the package if I decided to cancel. His response was that I had 50 days from when I received the package
However, when the recording was played back to me on the phone the 50 days had been edited and it was now saying 30 days.
When I mentioned to them that the recording had been edited they became very defensive!! After insisting that I knew they changed the playback recording they then replied Alright if your not interested send the package back and you will get a refund'
I sent the package back two days after I received it on the 17th of March. After emailing them countless times to find out when my refund was coming, my emails were never returned.
I persisted for the next 2 and a half months, ringing the company at least twice per week. There was constant trouble getting through to the right person at customer service. Excuses such as the person your after is away today but they will call you back' which obviously never happened.
Finally I managed to speak to someone and was told the refund will take at least 30 working days. I was then informed with an excuse that they tried to put a refund back into my account and it wasn't going through'
It was only when I told them i would contact City Bank Credit to check why the transfer wasn't going through that they finally gave up!!
On the 24th of June 2009, the full refund was put back into my account.
My advice to people in the same situation is to keep on persisting. Call them, try speaking to the same person every time!! Even though they will try and avoid you like the plague. DON'T GIVE UP!!
J M melbourne