I am filing this report on behalf of a close family member. She received a call out of the blue one night at home whereupon she was told she had won and all inclusive vacation to Florida as well as a side trip to Mexico. Since she had been in the habit of entering online contests in the hopes of indeed winning a trip, she was shocked and thrilled to think she had actually won.
The rep from Impress Vacations spoke quickly and excitedly about the fantastic prize she had just won. He then asked for her VISA number just to "hold" her place and "confirm" her trip details. At this point she became very skeptical, but the party then transferred her to his 'supervisor' who also worked at convincing her this was a legitimate prize in connection with Disney World. When she remained unsure she was transferred to yet another agent. She finally relented and provided her number, afraid that if she hesitated she would forfeit the prize and it would go to the next person on the list.
After hanging up she felt even stronger misgivings after the flush of excitement wore off. She Googled the company name and was horrified to see it had a long list of complaints and scam/fraud alerts registered against it, most notably with the Better Business Bureau of Kansas. She immediately called the Fraud department number on her VISA account and asked for the transaction to be stopped. She was told there was nothing she could do at that point-- just "wait and see" what Impress would do. But she knew that they wouldn't do anything because so many people had been taken in by them as well and had not received satisfaction or justice.
She then called Impress back and asked for a refund, citing the many fraud alerts against them. At that point they became abusive and accused her of being a 'fraudulent customer'. She told them she would be taking action against them. They then proceeded to harass her with phone calls to her cell phone which she ended up paying for and in one instance, they replayed a previous phone conversation they had taped, but with any incriminating bits edited out-- namely the yelling and abuse they instigated against her. At that point I got involved and in the middle of this, the girl's father was seriously hurt and in the hospital. Impress continued to harass her even when she told them they had reached her in the hospital at her father's bedside. She was very upset and angry.
I contacted the president of VISA for the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) himself outlining the case and asking for a more satisfactory response than "wait and see" which is totally unacceptable. After some telephone and email tag, the president's allocated client relations officer decreed that they only thing they would do was allow her a $100.00 credit as a gesture of goodwill. Meanwhile, she was out nearly $600.00 to Impress. As a struggling young person just out of school, she cannot afford to lose this money. She has always worked 2 and 3 jobs to pay back student loans and felt a desperate need of a rest. Winning a trip seemed like an answered prayer. Now it has become a nightmare and apparently with the mighty power of our governments, financial institutions, and fraud agencies, nothing can be done.
As a professional writer, I am compiling a piece on this situation with a slant as to how credit card companies protect, or fail to protect, their clients from fraud. I have now been researching this for several weeks. I am also considering a class action lawsuit. These bottom feeders need to be sent a strong message that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated or profitable. Stand up for us-- we pay enough bank fees and interest to justify a little consumer protection when banks WELL know about these frauds.