• Report: #210387

Complaint Review: Travel Agent Direct, Member Service, FloridaWay

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  • Submitted: Mon, September 11, 2006
  • Updated: Wed, September 27, 2006

  • Reported By:Richmond Virginia
Travel Agent Direct, Member Service, FloridaWay
26555 Ulmerton Rd Ste 407 Clearwater, Florida U.S.A.

Travel Agent Direct, Member Service, FloridaWay Ripoff Travel Agent Direct Clearwater Florida

*Consumer Comment: UPDATE How the Information Got Out

*Consumer Suggestion: COSTCO SAYS TO BEWARE!

*Consumer Comment: Steps & Direct Number to Call to Make a Legal Impact & Gain Back Your Money Loss

*Author of original report: Remarks...

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: IT'S ALL THE SAME COMPANY!

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HI, on August 21, 2006 I received a call from a nice woman, Joy Hall,saying that I had made a big purchase with a vendor and was told because I did that I won air flight tickets, hotels and a bonus 6 days and 6 nights. I was very worried about this and kept telling the lady that I was uncomfortable. I asked who the vendor was and she said she couldn't tell me because that information isn't passed on. She had me verify my checking account information and how she received this was beyond me. She kept telling me that it only ("ONLY") cost $1.95 for shipping the package out to me and that once I received it if I wasn't interested I just cancel it. Honestly I had forgotten about it because I never received the package and today is September 11, 2006. I kept asking the lady if anything would be taken out of my account and she assured me no it would not. I asked if only the $1.95 would be and she assured me. I was still very nervous about this and a manager by the name of Heidi got on the phone and said that this was a company, and everything was fine. So, I felt comfortable. So, I verified the information by only saying what she said was correct, never once saying it to her and told her I didn't have my checkbook in front of me. They gave me a number for them of 1-866-545-5417 for Travel Agent Direct and email address of www.travelagentdirect.com and when I tried to call them today, the name they say is Member Services. Well, today I was looking on my account and found a charge for $149.00 taken out of my account from FloridaWay. I didn't even know who they were, and tried to call the number on the canceled check of 866-698-4831. I couldn't get anyone. There was another number on the check of 800-853-0354 and nothing there. I immediately called my bank and disputed the charges of $149.00, and I should have disputed the $1.95. They tried to call that number again, 1-866-698-4831. She said they answered and the woman that answered said she had gotten about 10-15 calls for Floridaway and they are not Floridaway, they are Got Trade?? Anyways, my bank has disputed the charge and it will be back in my account in 24 - 48 hours. I called Travel Agent Direct at 1-866-545-5417 and spoke to a Stacy, she said she has canceled my account, but that I would need to call 1-888-488-8770 to tell that not to take anything out of my account again. I tried calling that number and it says I need to enter my phone number or my bank account. I am not entering my bank account ever again and my phone number I tried and it said it couldn't find it. Interesting!! I told the lady, Stacy, I have reported them and that I wanted my money back.

I am very nervous about this because what if they try to take out more money from my account and use a different name other than Travel Agent Direct or Florida Way or whatever.

I don't like this feeling at all! And it made me feel taken advantage of. How can someone get this information and take it from me. This is FRAUD.

Watch out for this!!

Shannon
Richmond, Virginia
U.S.A.

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 09/11/2006 09:30 AM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Travel-Agent-Direct-Member-Service-FloridaWay/Clearwater-Florida-33762/Travel-Agent-Direct-Member-Service-FloridaWay-Ripoff-Travel-Agent-Direct-Clearwater-Flor-210387. 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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Updates & Rebuttals

#1 Consumer Comment

UPDATE How the Information Got Out

AUTHOR: Shannon - (U.S.A.)

I ENTER THE BELOW, BECAUSE IT IS INTERESTING THAT AS SOON AS I PAID MY ACCOUNT IN FULL, THAT I GET A CALL A COUPLE DAYS LATER SAYING YOU PAID OFF A BIG BILL AND WE HAVE YOUR ACCOUNT INFORMATION. HOW INTERESTING IS THAT?

DOES CIRCUIT CITY SELL MY INFORMATION OR HAVE THEY LOST MY INFORMATION AND THAT IS HOW MY INFORMATION GOT OUT THERE.

PLEASE BE CAREFUL!


News Release: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


Chase Notifying Individuals About Improperly Discarded Tapes


No misuse of personal information connected to incident

WILMINGTON, Del. - Sept. 7, 2006 - Chase Card Services today announced that it is notifying 2.6 million current and former Circuit City credit card account holders that computer tapes containing their personal information were mistakenly identified as trash and thrown out. Working closely with federal and local law enforcement, Chase conducted a thorough investigation and believes that the tapes, contained within a locked box, were compacted, destroyed and are buried in a landfill where the trash was taken.

Chase has been monitoring all of the affected accounts and has not identified any misuse of personal information connected to this occurrence. No other Chase accounts are involved in this incident.

"We deeply regret that this has occurred and apologize to those impacted," said Rich Srednicki, chief executive officer of Chase Card Services, which issues co-branded and private-label credit cards for Circuit City. "We have found no evidence that the tapes or their contents have been accessed or misused. The privacy of our customers' personal information is of utmost importance to us, and we take the responsibility to safeguard this information very seriously."
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#2 Consumer Suggestion

COSTCO SAYS TO BEWARE!

AUTHOR: Joe - (U.S.A.)

*Telemarketers Using Costco's Name to Entice You To Buy*

When a telemarketer calls you up and mentions Costco, that gets your attention. But in this case, Costco says watch out.

This tip comes from Rachel Rxxxx of Shelton who says she got a call from a Suntasia Marketing. The caller told her she's get $100 in free gas and $400 in airfare if she would try out some products from Costco.

Rachel says what really freaked her out is the caller already had her bank account information - both her account number and the routing number of her bank.

Coscto Vice President of Membership Paul Latham wants you to know that Costco is not not involved in any telemarketing promotion.

"We aren't doing any kind of promotion with a telemarketer," Latham said. "We do not allow our membership base to go to anyone."

Suntasia Marketing's web site says it's a full service marketing company. But telemarketing seems to be the primary focus. Suntasia Marketing is actually part of another company called FTN Promotions, based in Saint Petersburg Florida.

FTN stands for Florida Travel Network and according the Better Business Bureau, Florida Travel Network operates under more than half a dozen names, including, Suntasia Marketing, Florida Travel Network, Confirmation Center, Sea Escape, Platinum Plus Travel, Classic Enterprise and Majestic Promotions.

It's travel promoter, but that's about all I could get when I called Suntasia to find out how they got Rachel's account information.

The customer service rep told me Rachel must have done business with one of Suntasia's affiliates.

A young woman who identified herself as "Miss Reed" told me the company offers different promotions and calls customers who've done business with their affiliates. She declined to say who those affiliates area.

Rachel says she was told the company buys or shares lists with other companies but no one would tell her the names of the companies that might have shared her information.

I tried to get a supervisor or owner, but was told there was no one else I could talk to.

From talking with the Florida State Attorney General however, it would appear Rachel is not alone in her concerns.

FTN Promotions, Inc. is the subject of an active investigation by Florida State, based on dozens of complaints about unfair and deceptive practices and unauthorized debiting of consumer bank and credit accounts.

Further background investigation turned up government action in multiple states dating back to 1997, including settlements in 2000 with the states of Florida, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Washington,DC, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

The settlements involved misleading and deceptive practices in the sale of vacation packages. At that time, Florida Travel Network agreed to modify its marketing but did not admit any wrongdoing.

I made several attempts to call both Suntasia and FTN Promotions, but either got no answer or the lines were disconnected.

If you get an unsolicited call from Suntasia or any company you've never dealt with who already has your account numbers or other private information, get as much information from the caller as you can and report it to the Washington State Attorney General's office.

Then, notify your bank and let them know your account has been compromised.

Reported by Connie Thompson - KOMO 4 News - July 6, 2006
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#3 Consumer Comment

Steps & Direct Number to Call to Make a Legal Impact & Gain Back Your Money Loss

AUTHOR: Kevin - (U.S.A.)

[ Victim of Fraud? Don't just Fret! Act! ]

Company
Travel Agents Direct
Target Company
Financial Institutions including Florida Telco
Address:
11125 Park Blvd Ste 104-364
Seminole Florida 33772
U.S.A.
Phone Number:
727-471-1411

Haven't you ever had your credit card or wallet stolen? Couple of fraudulant transactions on your monthly statements? Credit reports with unaccounted cards under your name? Dubious tax agencies wanting to return dubious back-taxes or even government scholarships that may be used to pay college loans, credit loans or even transferred into cash.

Well here's one of the newest thing people will try to do in order to steal that 10 or $1000 from you. $540+ through my checking account in the past & over $1000 [on my AMEX] spent in a men's high-end store in Miami, Florida. I have never even been to that state.

It's called telemarketing fraud. Like any other business, they have office space in a legitimate office building. They have staff, supervisors, & even a CEO like any other private entity. It's very organized, sophisticated & far-reaching, not to mention how blatantly illegal. They mostly target innocent senior citizens, but even i have had similar calls & emails alerting me of the $1000000.00 i had won in a lottery held somewhere in Europe.


Got a call from this company few days back & experienced much of what some of the people on RipoffReport.com went through. They proposed the same offers of winning a $500 airline & hotel voucher, & needed to verify identiry & account numbers in order to prove that an active bank account is under your name. They tried to verify my routing number couple of times. They got first couple tries wrong.

Then passed it to a manager who was more assertive in giving me the correct routing number which is actually the serial number of the name & branch of your bank. When they ask for checking account numbers, that's when you should be skeptical & ask why, what for, & why should i.

She then got more assertive saying they are listed in the Florida Better Business Bureau (BBB). They're not. But they are licensed by the Florida State Attorney General's Agriculture & Consumer Department that handles travel agency licenses. They have had their's since 2005.

When why or how they were able to get my home number, which is not listed, & offer me promotional winnings, became a frustrating explanation for the manager. She rudely hung up.

Basically they try get your information, tell you to pay a small $1.50 processing fee, & then weeks or months later, you don't get your winnings but a $100+ deduction from your checking account. Smooth scam don't you think? Not just unethical, but illegal in both state and federal laws. They are conducting business across state borders & so it also falls under federal jusrisdiction.

Having worked at a background investigations firm doing reports for accounting companies, i was dealing with somewhat of a wider & deeper form of investigation into companies & their executive board members for any illegal or false claims that might jeopardize the accounting firm's practices. I felt this would probably take only a few steps to make an official complaint that might have an impact.

I first called the Florida BBB. They are a consumer protection organization but a non-profit & only obtain complaints. I got the contact of the Florida Attorney General's Office who referred me to the Agriculture Consumer department (850) 488-2221 hotline.

They said they only have 14 official complaints & cannot innitiative the revocation of its license. I asked how many legitimate complaints will it take. She wouldn't say. I asked what it would take to shut down a company that defrauds gullible old ladies? She replies "why shut it down, no financial litigation can be launched & no repayment made if it is shut down." This is a state public officer/staff saying this.

Seems like no financial litigation or repayment is being gained with it being licensed, in fact more people are getting ripped off. Especially when they give their checking account numbers. Routing numbers are available to them easily through public information sold by third parties.

I asked if this complaint will go anywhere? Yes it will be a complaint she says. I asked if this isn't a federal issue? Crossing state borders? Or calling at least. I'm in California, their company is in Florida. She referred me to the Federal Trade Commission

(CALL THIS 877-382-4357). Make a Complaint To an Authority that Matters! An attorney will judge to see if any facts can be proved, initiative a law suit, & regain your funds.

Is it just me who finds it appalling that Florida State still allows this company to be licensed since 2005. Why have there been no active investigations by the local or state attorney. I wonder who governs the state of Florida?

If going through federal channels still does not satisfy for money lost for vindictive but socially active minds, hire a private attorney, show him some documented public proof of similar complaints, & if he sees a class-action lawsuit there, he might even take the case for free.

This has basically been my two hour route...

1. Florida Better Business Bureau.
2. Florida Attorney General Office.
3. Florida State Agriculture & Consumer Hotline
4. Federal Trade Commission. Do your research type in name of company and give as much info to them as possible on your experience or losses.

PEOPLE IF YOU WANT TO TAKE ACTION, YOU NEED TO DO THE ACTION. Getting reimbured by your bank or writing a complaint on a website is not a legal impact. Your bank would probably find that sueing a company with their own sleazy lawyers is not worth the cost of lossing your amount loss. Writing a complaint here is a good idea, but it merely serves to inform more people.

COLLECTIVELY WE CAN TAKE BACK THEIR LICENSE. AND PREVENT MORE SENIOR CITIZENS FROM BEING VICTIMS!!!! CALL THE RIGHT AGENCY & INSIST THAT YOUR COMPLAINT BE PURSUED LEGALLY!

~Neo
Active Investigator
Los Angeles, CA
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#4 Author of original report

Remarks...

AUTHOR: Shannon - (U.S.A.)

I found that another $59.95 came out of my account and I have also called to cancel that as well as the $1.95. I have done exactly what you said.

I can't believe that this is happening to me and why it happened to me. I don't understand this. My bank is well aware of the situation because I have totally made them aware of this. I am thankful that I have a bank that trusts in their clients and that I don't have to go through the rigamarow of trying to go through the company that is taking money out of my account without my authorization. I have not given any authorization for them to take out any money and this is absolutely crazy.

And to say that people are so stupid. You try to find people at the weakest times and get them! WHAT?

The best business bureau will be report of this.

Please watch out!
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#5 UPDATE EX-employee responds

IT'S ALL THE SAME COMPANY!

AUTHOR: Joe - (U.S.A.)

Isn't the internet a great thing when used properly!? These guys (Suntasia Marketing) have been running this scam since the late 90's when they started out in Treasure Island then in St. Petersburg and now in Largo, Florida.

If you want to know who runs this company, just copy and paste the link below on your address bar and you'll see the pics of the corporate suits.

http://suntasia.com/officers.htm

Suntasia Marketing is located on 8751 Ulmerton Road, Largo, FL 33771. Telephone: (727) 471-0276

Travel Agents Go Direct, Floridaway, Prism Communications, Distinct Advantage, Freedom Gold and NOW Credit Life, Monster Mastercard, Variety, Leisure City as well as other prior travel product names are ALL or were promoted by SUNTASIA MARKETING in Largo.

Nothing surprises me any more about this company. They are certainly getting lots of attention from people around the country, state attorney generals offices and the media. Copy and paste below the link on your address bar to see the first news story that was done by KOMO Channel 4 in Seattle exposing these crooks. Same routine, free gas and airline vouchers.

http://www.komotv.com/buyerbeware/story.asp?ID=44298

Distinct Advantage was also exposed on August 23, 2006 by KETV Channel 7 I-Team in Omaha Nebraska. Copy and paste the link below to see the news investigation done by reporter Carol Kloss basically saying that Distinct Advantage (which is under the Suntasia umbrella) is a scam.

http://www.ketv.com/iteam/9727067/detail.html

The agents prey on gaining your trust and making you think their free vacation or gas vouchers is a once in a lifetime deal. Forget it! In times of high gas prices and over worked families it is easy to fall for their pitch. Their main goal is to obtain your checking account. Once you give that up, chances are you will be charged before you even get the package.

When I first started working there I remember managers bragging and joking about how dumb people were that they didn't check their bank accounts for months sometimes even years not aware that the $19.95 was being taken out of their checking account. This is why they tell their unsuspecting customer over the phone that they have over 30,000 active clients. The truth is the word should be 30,000 unaware clients.

Funny thing is they also tell the customer they've been in business for 10, 20 or even 35 years (pick a number) which should be a big red flag when you consider they only have 30,000 clients.

As long as you don't tell them anything, for example: what is the name of your bank and where did you open it at, then you're safe. If you did, call your bank and inform them to close your account then open up a new one. This way they can't take anything out. Banks are becoming increasingly aware of these crooks. Suntasia Marketing which promotes Distinct and other programs is part of FTN Promotions (Florida Travel Network) which is currently being investigated by the Florida State Attorney Generals office for illegally debiting of checking accounts.

If you've been ripped off by this company, I suggest you contact your State Attorney Generals Office.

IN FLORIDA THE ATTORNEY GENERAL NEW FRAUD HOTLINE is 1-866-9-NOSCAM (1-866-966-7226).

They have been caught by the government before with deception.

If you log onto the Better Business Bureau website you'll see Distinct Advantage has over 150 complaints against them in the last 36 months alone. Scroll down a bit on the site and you will also see a familiar number (727) 471-1416. That's right it's Suntasia Marketing ALL over again.

I hope this clears up some of the mystery.
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