My partner and I made the mistake of attending a "Suncoast Vacations presentation during September 2007 in Oregon and signed a contract that turned out too good to be true. Suncoast Vacations is a (licensed) fictious name for Suncoast Incentives, which also operates under the same name as Travel Services USA, as well as United Vacation Network. We also have evidence linking World Vacations (Mc Donough GA), the company Suncoast uses to provide free vacation offers to seminar attendees, with Travel Services USA.
Suncoast claims to be able to send members to resort destinations anywhere they want to go for $499 per week for life. The only catch was that the membership was destination based, not resort specific. Upon review of their website , I discovered that they instruct members to refer to the "destination guide" (which was provided several weeks later) when selecting their resort locations.
Suncoast represented that they had been in business for 18 years claiming approximately 18,000 members. They did not provide their business license number, or other information that could assist a buyer in confirming their identity and validity. After much effort, we identified "Suncoast Vacations" as fictitious name registered on 7/10/07 for "Suncoast Incentives LLC" (filed 09/26/05). Suncoast Vacations therefore was NOT the company they represented themselves to be, and does not have the years of experience they claim.
Suncoast represented verbally and through a series of powerpoint presentation slides that they hold an exemplary rating by various organizations such as the Better Business Bureau and the Chamber of Commerce. The BBB first recognized "Suncoast Incentives, LLC" in September 2007, too recent to have any record on the company. The date also suggests that Suncoast Incentives, LLC, which was founded in 2005, may not have become active until September 2007.
Before we suspected fraud, we decided to try out the great benefits boasted by our Suncoast membership by submitting (via mail) a request for our first resort week 5 months in advance of our desired travel date. More than a week later, we still had not received a call acknowledging receipt of our request (which is supposed to occur within 72 hours of receipt). A phone call to Suncoast revealed that they had received the request, but had not opened or processed it yet. Under pressure to perform, our request of benefits from SUNCOAST was responded to with an email from UNITED VACATION NETWORK, with an offer two hours away from our requested resort destination.
While we realized this was a "destination based" vacation package when we purchased it, we did not expect that the destination we would be provide may be several hours away from the area we sought accommodations in. We declined the accommodation.
We found it especially disturbing that the request we made of Suncoast was responded to by United Vacation Network, a company that not only has many complaints filed against it and a poor business rating, but also had an inactive license at the time the offer was made. Our suspicions raised, we started looking a little more closely at this company we had purchased a membership with.
The contract stated that the agreement is legally binding under Oregon State Law, but also indicates that any disputes shall be resolved through binding arbitration in FLORIDA. This appears to be a conflict of interest that makes attaining legal representation unfeasible. There was no statement about our right to cancel the contract on the document.
We started reading reports suggesting that Suncoast Vacations was formerly known as United Vacation Network, which has a verifiable poor business rating. When we called Suncoast, Ms. Christy Daniel acknowledged that there are some misleading reports on Ripoff.com suggesting the companies are the same, but insisted that while they share the same building, they are NOT the same company.
Further investigation suggests otherwise. Not only do both companies share the same building, but they share the same phone number, have nearly identical websites with identical testimonials from satisfied clients.
The Florida Department of State Division of Corporations suggests that United Vacation Network's status is "inactive", and the company voluntarily filed for dissolution July 13th, 2007 to be effective October 13th, 2007. Suncoast Vacations filed their fictitious name on July 10th, 2007. Ms. Christy Daniel is not only the customer contact for Suncoast, but was also listed as the Better Business Bureau's customer contact for United Vacation Network. While these two companies may have different names and operating licenses, as far as we can tell they are one and the same.
ABC Action News in Florida ran a series of stories on Suncoast Incentives during November (including ex-employee interviews) that can be found on Utube and are very alarming.
We requested cancelation of our membership with Suncoast, which was declined. We also filed a fraud complaint with Visa, which resulted in a full refund of our membership fees.
Save yourself the headache and money don't bite at the free vacation postcard; it really wasn't worth it.