• Report: #331021

Complaint Review: Great Escapes Vacation Club

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  • Submitted: Tue, May 06, 2008
  • Updated: Mon, January 18, 2010

  • Reported By:Colorado Springs Colorado
Great Escapes Vacation Club
Inverness, Colorado Lakeland, Florida U.S.A.

Great Escapes Vacation Club Deceptive Trade Practices and 109 Complaints with BBB - See BBB Report Below Lakeland Florida

*Consumer Comment: Right on I am with you!

*Author of original report: Great Escapes Vacation Club Deceptive Trade Practices and 109 Complaints with BBB

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This company should be put out of business. Help put this company out of business in Colorado. One year later, we are still being harassed to pay for something we never received! Do not do business with Great Escapes!

14 May 07 We received a postcard which stated that we would receive 2 free round-trip airline tickets within the continental US if we came to hear the presentation. On the phone, we were told, they were a vacation club and travel agencies and we would receive two separate getaways 3 days/2 nights at a Westin or other respected hotel chain. They also said we would receive $200 in gas.

25 May 07 We attended the presentation, I asked to see what exactly we would be receiving in the mail, and Jeff Deardorff said he did not have a sample copy. He said he would look for one, but conveniently forgot after we signed the paperwork.

After receiving photo copies (no originals) of all the contract paperwork. After I looked at the details of the incentive promotions offered, we found in reality, the 2 free airline tickets cost $100 ($50) each, the 2 free hotel stays cost $70, ($29.95 each). The gas voucher requires you to send an activation form to obtain and receive a redemption offer. Then you must send in receipts for the exact amount of $20 increments, with them sending us another $20 voucher each until you reach $200, then they mail you a refund. This must be accomplished within 12 months, depending if they send you the vouchers in a timely manner. The receipts must be mailed within 7 days. I filled out a complaint form when we got there regarding what the marketing company told us, versus the reality of what we would get for free. They said that was out of their control, and the marketing company sends them lots of people, so they don't complain. If we are entitled to receive complimentary gift, we should not be required to pay.

We only received $20 of the $200 promised. We tried to get the free airline tickets, but they required that you tell them a date and destination ahead of time. Since we did not have a hotel reservation anywhere it was difficult to select a flight time and destination. Who makes airlines reservations before securing a hotel resevation. Also the 68 destinations they advertised during the presentation for the free trips turned out to be about 16 locations, to exciting places where no one would want to travel. The desirable locations, conveniently disappeared off the list when we received the actual forms to pick out a place to go. The hotel they were actually going to have us stay was not equivalent to a Westin as promised.


They only allowed you 24 hours to cancel the contract. They did not provide us with a web access password until long after the 24 hours had elasped. Once you access their web site, it was just as bad as their sales presentation.

The company at that time had 87 complaints with the Better Business Bureau and growing daily. We never got the "Free" items they promised.

We requested a total charge-back to our credit card in the amount of $1095.00 and no future solicitations. This company should be investigated banned from doing business in the state of Colorado.

ARTICLE 1
COLORADO CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT
PART 1 CONSUMER PROTECTION- GENERAL Under Deception Trades Practices, Para 6-1-105.
(I) Refusal to show the goods or property advertised or to offer the services advertised;
(II) (3) The deceptive trade practices listed in this section are in addition to and do not limit the types of unfair trade practices actionable at common law or under other statutes of this state.

4 Jun 07, I called the program sales director 5 times, leaving messages for him to call me back to try to cancel the contract. They conveniently never called back until after our 24 hours had passed. They said the were so busy.

7 Jun 07, I spoke with sales director, he passed me to the salesperson, Jeff. I explained that I wanted a charge back, because what they provided was not as advertised. I told him they had violated 2 laws under the COLORADO CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT which nulls the sales contract.
He said he would send an email to the main office and get back with me on 7 Jun 07. I asked for the number to the main office, which he provided. Then he called back within 5 minutes and said he could not give me a chargeback.
7 Jun 07, I contacted the main sales office, Jennifer in Customer Care. I told her I wanted a chargeback on my credit card. She said that the 24 hours had passed and she would not give me a chargeback. I explained to her the fact they did not show me what we would receive in the mail as well has deceptive trade practices and mis representation and lies made during the initial contact with the marketing company. I told her I would dispute the charge. I would also file a complaint with the Colorado State Attorney General Office and the BBB.

25 April 08 Received a billing notice for Membership Renewal Notice for $199. We had cancelled membership nearlya year ago. I contacted Great Escapes Vacation Club 1-800-204-4788. Spoke with Stephen. He said notes in the system do not reflect account was cancelled. He would check and call me back. I told him we cancelled the account, received a charge back and do not intend on paying another penny to Great Escapes.

29 April 08 Contacted Great Escapes again, Stephen told me the credit card arbitrator had judged in favor of Great Escapes, but Great Escapes never submitted the paperwork nor did they ever rebill us. It has been almost a year, now too much time has passed. Capital One sent us a letter that indicated we had been successful in winning the case.

30 April 08 Sent FAX to Great Escapes Attn: Stephen, advising them to cancel billing for contract that does not exist.

02 May 08 Contacted Great Escapes, Stephen confirmed he received the FAX to cancel billing. He said it was too late to cancel this year.

02 May 08 I contacted Capital One, spoke with Gloria, she referred me to Charles. I asked them how long the merchant has to come back and charge us. He said Great Escapes had 45 days to rebill the initial charge. They never rebilled. Capital One will dispute charge for us once again.

Better Business Bureau Report

I checked the BBB report they now have 109 complaints against then since the last time I checked, an increase of 24 additional complaints.

In addition, On December 18, 2007 this company's membership in the BBB was revoked by the BBB's Board of Directors due to recent government action involving the business's customer relations which indicates a significant failure of the business to meet standards of conduct expected of a BBB member. The marketing company is now out of business for misleading advertising, improper selling practices, and non-delivery of goods or services.

In Minnisota, GreatEscapes, while admitting no wrongdoing, agreed to cease all travel club solicitations in Minnesota for a period of ten years. Under the settlement the company would pay certain restitution to qualifying consumers - those who have either endured a GreatEscapes sales presentation and had not received complimentary items as promised, or are dissatisfied with their GreatEscapes travel club membership and hade not yet used the service to travel.

Customer Experience
The company has been responsive to any complaints brought to its attention by the BBB.
Generally complaints concern misrepresentation in selling practices and requests for refunds. Customers report that when they attempted to book travel, the same discounts were available to the general public, that resort properties chosen were not available and/or additional costs (ie taxes, fees and gratuities) were not disclosed.

Customer Complaint Data
The company's size, volume of business and number of transactions may have a bearing on the number of complaints received by the BBB. The complaints filed against a company may not be as important as the type of complaints, and how the company has handled them. The BBB generally does not pass judgement on the validity of complaints filed.
Number of complaints processed by the BBB over the last 36 months: 109
Number of complaints processed by the BBB in the last 12 months: 43
Complaints Concerned:
Selling Practices (50 complaints)
24 Resolved
26 Company made every reasonable effort to resolve

Advertising Issues (13 complaints)
8 Resolved
5 Company made every reasonable effort to resolve

Service Issues (9 complaints)
4 Resolved
5 Company made every reasonable effort to resolve

Credit or Billing Disputes (5 complaints)
5 Resolved

Delivery Issues (8 complaints)
2 Resolved
6 Company made every reasonable effort to resolve

Refund Practices (10 complaints)
4 Resolved
6 Company made every reasonable effort to resolve

Product Quality (5 complaints)
1 Resolved
4 Company made every reasonable effort to resolve

Contract Disputes (6 complaints)
4 Resolved
2 Company made every reasonable effort to resolve

Guarantee or Warranty Issues (2 complaints)
2 Resolved


Company Management
Dustin Rainey, Executive Compliance Administrator is the complaint contact. Harold F. Haaser, Senior Vice President of Operations is also the president of Promotional Travel Specialist a company that provides travel promotions on behalf of Advantage Travel / GreatESCAPES Vacation Club.
Government Actions
MINNESOTA - On April 29, 2004 Select Travel, L.C. d/b/a GreatEscapes Vacation Club, L.L.C., and Advantage Travel, L.C. entered into a Consent Judgment with the State for settlement purposes only and without admitting any wrongdoing or violation of law. The company is permanently enjoined from advertising or promoting any membership travel contract without complying with the Membership Travel Contracts Act, including the following: 1. Providing clear and conspicuous notice of a buyer's ten-day right to cancel; 2. Providing oral notice to the buyer of the buyer's right to cancel the contract within ten business days; 3. Distribution to potential purchasers , before the membership travel contract is executed by the prospective purchaser, a complete and accurate public offering statement when the cost of the membership is $500 or more; and 4. Providing complete and accurate oral disclosures to a prospective purchaser when the cost of the membership is $500 or more, before the membership travel contract is executed. The company is also permanently enjoined from refusing to cancel and provide a refund of the entire consideration paid for a membership travel contract if a consumer has given a proper notice of cancellation, from accepting payments for travel club memberships sold to Minnesota consumers on or after August 1, 2003 not in compliance with the Minnesota Membership Travel Contracts Act, from conducting any "personal solicitation," to sell any membership travel contract to a Minnesota consumer without disclosing that GreatEscapes is the seller, from representing to any Minnesota consumer that s/he has won a "prize" without complying with the requirements and from representing to Minnesota consumers that they have won or been awarded a free or complimentary prize or gift if the consumer is required to fulfill certain conditions, such as, but not limited to, attending a sales presentation, paying taxes or paying any deposit.
Minnesota: December 11, 2006. Stipulation And Consent Judgment.
The Attorney Generals action was brought when the state alleged GreatEscapes violated provisions of the May 2004 Consent Judgment and is intended to supplement the Consent Judgment entered into in May 2004.

In 2006, GreatEscapes sent postcards to consumers offering them complimentary awards if they would attend a travel club presentation. Consumers later discovered they had to pay taxes, deposits, and complete onerous paperwork in order to receive the items they were promised. In some cases, consumers didnt receive the items at all. A free or complimentary gift may not be conditional under Minnesota law. For example, if a consumer is required to attend a sales presentation, pay taxes or pay a deposit in order to receive a gift, it cannot be described as free or complimentary. Believing that this conduct violated State law as well as the settlement terms from a prior lawsuit between the State and GreatEscapes, in August, 2006 the Attorney General sought sanctions from Hennepin County District Court.

GreatEscapes, while admitting no wrongdoing, agreed to cease all travel club solicitations in Minnesota for a period of ten years. Under the settlement the company would pay certain restitution to qualifying consumers - those who have either endured a GreatEscapes sales presentation and had not received complimentary items as promised, or are dissatisfied with their GreatEscapes travel club membership and hade not yet used the service to travel.



Additional Information

This Business Operates under the Names Advantage Resort Marketing LLC
Advantage Travel LC
Adventure Advantage Vacation Travel CLub
Great Escape Travel Club
Great Escapes Vacation Club
GreatESCAPES Vacation Club
Select Travel LC


Addresses 4259 South Florida Avenue, Lakeland, FL 33813, Polk County MAP


Phones (303) 858-1404
(352) 840-0066
(402) 445-9678
(800) 204-4788, x203
(800) 429-5077
(801) 265-3773
(863) 686-1400
(888) 771-7286, x0
(863) 686-1501 (FAX)
(863) 686-1510 (FAX)




Reported on Wednesday, May 07, 2008
As a matter of policy, the Better Business Bureau does not endorse any product, service or company. BBB reports generally cover a three-year reporting period, and are provided solely to assist you in exercising your own best judgment. Information contained herein is believed reliable but not guaranteed as to accuracy. Reports are subject to change at any time.
The Better Business Bureau reports on members and non-members. Membership in the BBB is voluntary, and members must meet and maintain BBB standards. If a company is a member of this BBB, it is stated in this report.
2008 BBB of Central Florida, Inc.







BBB of Central Florida, Inc.
1600 S. Grant Street
Longwood, FL 32750

BBB Reliability Report
May Not Be Reproduced for Commercial or Sales Purposes

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Advantage Travel LC
4259 South Florida Avenue
Lakeland, FL 33813
Polk County
MAP
General Information
Original Business
Start Date March 1995

BBB File Opened September 05, 1995

Principal Contact Mr Joseph P St. John (President & CEO)

Complaint Contact Mr, Dustin Rainey (Executive Compliance Administrator)

Other Contacts Ron Horn (Vice president Member Services)
Linda Mayhugh (Chief Operating Officer)

BBB Member This company is not a member
Type of Business Travel Clubs
Travel Agencies & Bureaus



The information in this report has either been provided by the company, or has been compiled by the Bureau from other sources.


Nature of Business
According to information supplied by the company, Advantage Travel is the parent company and servicing agency for the following Membership Clubs; Select Travel (sales) d.b.a. GreatESCAPES Vacation Club. These companies offer travel and discount condominium rentals for a membership fee ranging from $4,000 to $7,000.
Customer Experience
The company has been responsive to any complaints brought to its attention by the Bureau.

Customer Complaint Data
The company's size, volume of business and number of transactions may have a bearing on the number of complaints received by the BBB. The complaints filed against a company may not be as important as the type of complaints, and how the company has handled them. The BBB generally does not pass judgement on the validity of complaints filed.
Number of complaints processed by the BBB over the last 36 months: 94
Number of complaints processed by the BBB in the last 12 months: 36
Complaints Concerned:
Selling Practices (40 complaints)
15 Resolved
25 Company made every reasonable effort to resolve

Advertising Issues (10 complaints)
6 Resolved
4 Company made every reasonable effort to resolve

Service Issues (7 complaints)
2 Resolved
5 Company made every reasonable effort to resolve

Credit or Billing Disputes (4 complaints)
4 Resolved

Delivery Issues (7 complaints)
2 Resolved
5 Company made every reasonable effort to resolve

Refund Practices (12 complaints)
6 Resolved
6 Company made every reasonable effort to resolve

Product Quality (4 complaints)
1 Resolved
3 Company made every reasonable effort to resolve

Contract Disputes (7 complaints)
3 Resolved
4 Company made every reasonable effort to resolve

Guarantee or Warranty Issues (1 complaints)
1 Resolved


Company Management
Dustin Rainey, Executive Compliance Administrator is the complaint contact. Harold F. Haaser, Senior Vice President of Operations is also the president of Promotional Travel Specialist a company that provides travel promotions on behalf of Advantage Travel / GreatESCAPES Vacation Club.
Government Actions
MINNESOTA - On April 29, 2004 Select Travel, L.C. d/b/a GreatEscapes Vacation Club, L.L.C., and Advantage Travel, L.C. entered into a Consent Judgment with the State for settlement purposes only and without admitting any wrongdoing or violation of law. The company is permanently enjoined from advertising or promoting any membership travel contract without complying with the Membership Travel Contracts Act, including the following: 1. Providing clear and conspicuous notice of a buyer's ten-day right to cancel; 2. Providing oral notice to the buyer of the buyer's right to cancel the contract within ten business days; 3. Distribution to potential purchasers , before the membership travel contract is executed by the prospective purchaser, a complete and accurate public offering statement when the cost of the membership is $500 or more; and 4. Providing complete and accurate oral disclosures to a prospective purchaser when the cost of the membership is $500 or more, before the membership travel contract is executed. The company is also permanently enjoined from refusing to cancel and provide a refund of the entire consideration paid for a membership travel contract if a consumer has given a proper notice of cancellation, from accepting payments for travel club memberships sold to Minnesota consumers on or after August 1, 2003 not in compliance with the Minnesota Membership Travel Contracts Act, from conducting any "personal solicitation," to sell any membership travel contract to a Minnesota consumer without disclosing that GreatEscapes is the seller, from representing to any Minnesota consumer that s/he has won a "prize" without complying with the requirements and from representing to Minnesota consumers that they have won or been awarded a free or complimentary prize or gift if the consumer is required to fulfill certain conditions, such as, but not limited to, attending a sales presentation, paying taxes or paying any deposit.
Minnesota: December 11, 2006. The Minnesota Attorney Generals Office settled a dispute with GreatEscapes Travel Club after the company agreed to cease its unlawful conduct and pay certain restitution to affected consumers.

In 2006, GreatEscapes sent postcards to consumers offering them complimentary awards if they would attend a travel club presentation. Consumers later discovered they had to pay taxes, deposits, and complete onerous paperwork in order to receive the items they were promised. In some cases, consumers didnt receive the items at all. A free or complimentary gift may not be conditional under Minnesota law. For example, if a consumer is required to attend a sales presentation, pay taxes or pay a deposit in order to receive a gift, it cannot be described as free or complimentary. Believing that this conduct violated State law as well as the settlement terms from a prior lawsuit between the State and GreatEscapes, in August, 2006 the Attorney General sought sanctions from Hennepin County District Court.

GreatEscapes, while admitting no wrongdoing, agreed to cease all travel club solicitations in Minnesota for a period of ten years and pay certain restitution to qualifying consumers - those who have either endured a GreatEscapes sales presentation and have not received complimentary items as promised, or are dissatisfied with their GreatEscapes travel club membership and have not yet used the service to travel.

Consumers who wish to apply for the restitution available under this agreement must file a complaint with the Attorney Generals Office by January 29, 2007. Complaints should be directed to:

Office of Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson
c/o Donna Ackerman
445 Minnesota Street, Suite 1400
St. Paul, MN 55101

Any customers that have questions may call the Minnesota Attorney Generals Office at (651) 296-3353 or (800) 657-3787.

Additional Information
This Business Operates under the Names Advantage Resort Marketing LLC
Advantage Travel LC
Adventure Advantage Vacation Travel CLub
Great Escape Travel Club
Great Escapes Vacation Club
GreatESCAPES Vacation Club
Select Travel LC

Addresses 4259 South Florida Avenue, Lakeland, FL 33813, Polk County MAP


Phones (303) 858-1404
(352) 840-0066
(402) 445-9678
(800) 204-4788, x203
(800) 429-5077
(801) 265-3773
(863) 686-1400
(888) 771-7286
(888) 771-7286, x0
(863) 686-1501 (FAX)
(863) 686-1510 (FAX)



Reported on Wednesday, June 06, 2007
As a matter of policy, the Better Business Bureau does not endorse any product, service or company. BBB reports generally cover a three-year reporting period, and are provided solely to assist you in exercising your own best judgment. Information contained herein is believed reliable but not guaranteed as to accuracy. Reports are subject to change at any time.
The Better Business Bureau reports on members and non-members. Membership in the BBB is voluntary, and members must meet and maintain BBB standards. If a company is a member of this BBB, it is stated in this report.
2007 BBB of Central Florida, Inc.





03/00 - In an FTC settlement, Frederick F. Zeigler III, Robert E. Kane, Commonwealth Marketing Group, Inc. and Great Escape Vacations & Tours, Inc.; will be required to pay $145,000 in consumer redress, $18,500 in receiver's fees and expenses, will be enjoined from any future violations and post performance bonds of up to $150,000 before either selling travel-related services or conducting telemarketing activities.
Through the use of direct mail vacation "certificates" and outbound telemarketing calls to people who, believing they were entering a drawing for a free vacation, had previously submitted "registration forms" handed out at events such as county fairs, they represented that consumers had won a "fantasy cruise holiday" to Florida and the Bahamas, when, in fact, they had won nothing.
They actually had to pay a "promotional fee" of $598 per couple, and up to $300 or more in additional charges when they were ready to travel. In addition, the vacation packages received did not provide the "luxury" accommodations promised unless consumers paid yet more money in "upgrade" fees.
Upon calling the consumers, CMG's telemarketer described an exciting vacation to Florida and "luxury cruise" to the Bahamas, concluding the pitch by offering the complete package for a small "promotional fee" of $598.
Consumers were instructed to secure their vacation using a major credit card. Only after consumers gave their credit card numbers were they told that the package was nonrefundable and that in some, but not all, cases they would have to pay additional fees - often mischaracterized as "port fees" - when making their reservations.
When consumers received their packages, according to the Commission's complaint, they found that they had to pay more money for a vacation they believed was already paid for in full, and that they had, in fact, won nothing at all.
Many consumers were told their purchase was nonrefundable. In fact, while CMG did have a written return policy for the vacation packages, the company allegedly did not honor it, and consumers who returned their packages often had them mailed back several times.


Kathy - Colorado Springs
Colorado Springs, Colorado
U.S.A.

STOP! ..before you think about using the Better Business Bureau (BBB)... CLICK HERE to see how other consumers were victimized by the BBB's false or misleading information. Don't be fooled! It has been reported, when there are thousands of complaints and other investigations underway by authorities, the BBB has no choice but to finally give an UNsatisfactory rating to a BBB member business that is paying the BBB big membership fees every year. When a business is reported that is NOT a BBB member, BBB files WILL more likely show an UNsatisfactory rating, then reportedly shake down that company to become a member of the BBB. One positive thing about the BBB is, either way, if a business has an unsatisfactory rating with the BBB, you can be sure, the business is bad. But what about all those BBB member businesses that had complaints filed against them? Consumers never get to hear about them. What about the BBB advertising to the public? Is this a false and misleading perception they are giving about consumer confidence when dealing with a business? Click here to understand more of what consumers and business alike are saying about the BBB. You decide. ..Remember. The BBB membership is not earned, it's paid for!

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 05/06/2008 11:03 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Great-Escapes-Vacation-Club/Lakeland-Florida/Great-Escapes-Vacation-Club-Deceptive-Trade-Practices-and-109-Complaints-with-BBB-See-BB-331021. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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#1 Consumer Comment

Right on I am with you!

AUTHOR: Deshaneo - (United States of America)

I'd love to get in touch with you and tell you about my wife and I and our experience. We got in for 2500, then 160 every year after that. After a year of trying to use the service and freakin "Hot Weeks" that never worked we only paid the 160 for a year. 
No refund, no nothing back, no vacations for us...

So to help with our anger over it, Great Escapes keeps calling us every year to attend one of their seminars. So my wife and I go. We print out articles about how Great Escp. has ripped people off and I drop those all over the bath rooms and stalls in their own sells offices! Then when we go into the "boiler room" sales area and the person at our our table starts the first level of selling. I lay it on them so everyone else in the room can hear. In a pretty loud voice I say. "Well we were one of your customers and you ripped us off for $2500, you guys have been sued in Florida and been reported multiple times to the BBB." They are usually besides themselves at that point and don't know what to do. I continue, "Hey if anyone in the room wants to see this I have it all printed out here" I usually then hand it to the tables next to us. "These people are scam artists and will take your money." I remember one sales person said, "Well I have never had that experience" . I said, "Obviously they don't rip off their own sales people". Basically our quest is to get some anger out right at them and save some other poor souls from throwing away money. After the second time, it got pretty easy. We've done this 4 times now. We call our selves the Vacation Club poachers. 
Now we have also gone to some that are like G.E., other type of vacation club. We go to all of them. I look em up on the internet, print out all the bad stuff and distribute our wrath. Hey they invited us and were asking for it! Oh yeah, we take the free gas card too, and a few have actually worked!... 

After my loud speech in the room filled with reg. people and sales folks they get us out of there in a hurry.    
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#2 Author of original report

Great Escapes Vacation Club Deceptive Trade Practices and 109 Complaints with BBB

AUTHOR: Kathy - colorado springs - (U.S.A.)

We are still getting bills for the renewal of the membership we cancelled two years ago. They keep charging our credit card and then we have to dispute the charges. I noticed they have many different business names similar to each other that have few complaints. Stay clear of this company, they are slimballs.
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