I got a pop-up while on the internet on Tuesday 30th January,2007 that I was the 50,000,000th visitor to a website and to contact the office immediately on phone to claim my prize.They gave me a code for the claim (something like 5211,but not sure now).
I immediately called the number +18003220508 (at 18:42hrs,CET) and spoke to lady called Carol Powell who congratulated me for winning a cruise worth 2,100 dollars to Florida,Daytona and Bahamas.She said I could come along with up to 3 people and I would pay only the port charges(about 800+ dollars).
She requested for my contact details which I gave,but I was taken aback at the request for my credit card number;she said they only needed it then to confirm that I had an account with Visa.I refused and she said I was going to lose the offer if I insisted on not giving my card number.
I asked for time to reconsider but she got cross and hung up saying it would be given to someone else.
I called the same number again a few minutes later (at 19:21hrs,CET) but spoke with someone else.I told them I was still interested and was assured that I had up to 18 months within which to make the trip,I only had to inform them of the proposed date 60 days ahead.She also agreed to give me an alternative prize that would cost me less (about 450 dollars).
They confirmed that nothing would be charged until I booked the date for the trip.
I was then transfered to some other employees among who was a Jenny Lopez. A recording was done where I was told to reserve all my questions till the end.There,I reluctantly (and foolishly) gave my Visa credit card number although I refused to provide the 3 digit security code at the back,thinking it would be impossible to have access to my funds without my authorisation. I answered some other questions he put to me.
The following day while browsing,I got exactly the same pop-up and I became worried.I decided to do an internet search on the company name and I was shocked about the several complaints about this company at various websites which dated as far back as 1999 up to 2005.There was not a single positive comment!
I immediately called my bank to enquire if any withdrawals had been made from my credit card account and was told that one Special T Travel of Honolulu had made a booking for about 450 dollars and that there was nothing I could do to stop the payment myself apart from calling the company to cancel whatever I had with them.
However,what alarmed me again was one of the complaints which said Special T travel went ahead to withdraw money days after the complainant had cancelled the transaction.
I called the customer service department of Special T Travel immediately(at 21:52hrs CET on 31st January) and spoke to one Kat Kinkly(not sure of the surname) complaining about the application they made to my credit card account.I was amazed when she confirmed that they indeed had taken such a step.
She claimed I had given approval for it and that it had been recorded.She played back the recording and I realised I had answered yes to a concealed question at the tail end of the conversation that money would be taken from my account that very day.
I protested that how could I have agreed to such since I had been reluctant with disclosure of my card number earlier,and in the same recording I refused to give the 3-digit code? Moreover,I said the such a question should have been asked slowly and clearly and even repeated considering my clear unwillingness and doubts.
I told her to immediately cancel whatever transaction or contracts I entered to and to reverse the cash withdrawal application they made immediately.She was angry and truncated the call. I have been checking my account daily since then and to my chagrin,the card was charged.
I am surprised such a thing is still going on in the United States in spite of all the complaints I read about on the internet regarding this particular company,which has spanned at least 6 years. I have sworn to inflict as much damage on them as possible until my money is fully refunded.