• Report: #206361

Complaint Review: Travel Agents Direct

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  • Submitted: Wed, August 16, 2006
  • Updated: Wed, September 06, 2006

  • Reported By:Aventura Florida
Travel Agents Direct
8751 Ulmerton Road Ulmerton, Florida U.S.A.

Travel Agents Direct ripoff, phishing Ulmerton Florida

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: BREAKING NEWS! SUNTASIA MARKETING EXPOSED BY THE MEDIA AGAIN! THIS TIME IT'S DISTINCT ADVANTAGE PROGRAM!

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: HERE IS THE ACTUAL SCRIPT THAT THEY USE AND HOW THEY GET AWAY WITH CHARGING YOU.

*Consumer Suggestion: one way you can try and get your money back but it's a long shot

*Consumer Comment: How do I get my money back?

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: SECOND CALL IS FROM SUNTASIA MARKETING

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: SECOND CALL IS FROM SUNTASIA MARKETING

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: SECOND CALL IS FROM SUNTASIA MARKETING

*Consumer Comment: Even if you last question IS ever answered,

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Company AKA Membership Services

Second call in about a month for someone offering free stuff w/ no obligation.

Last call was for a gas card and coupons but I had to pay for $3 for shipping. In this scam they actually had my credit card number already as well as address. After saying no they would continue to call from different numbers for several days.

The second call starting off offering $400 airline voucher and hotel stays, no charge this time. What was scary is they new my bank info, my routing number etc. When I stated my information the info was being repeated IN THE BACKGROUND BY SOMEONE ELSE - it was as if the info had to be given to someone to verify/or acted on in a hurry.

When I called the cust service number I was given Membership Services which "answers the phone" for the following companies: Travel Agents Go Direct, Floridaway, Dreamaway, Prism, Distinct Advantage, Teleflex, Freedom Gold.

At this point I would tell everyone to stay away from anyone with these companies.

All I would really like to try to figure out which company is working with this marketing company to give out my financial information or if this is straight identity theft.

R
Aventura, Florida
U.S.A.

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 08/16/2006 07:30 AM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Travel-Agents-Direct/Ulmerton-Florida-33771/Travel-Agents-Direct-ripoff-phishing-Ulmerton-Florida-206361. 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 UPDATE EX-employee responds

BREAKING NEWS! SUNTASIA MARKETING EXPOSED BY THE MEDIA AGAIN! THIS TIME IT'S DISTINCT ADVANTAGE PROGRAM!

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

BREAKING NEWS! BREAKING NEWS! BREAKING NEWS!

SUNTASIA MARKETING/DISTINCT ADVANTAGE EXPOSED BY KETV NewsWatch Channel 7 I-TEAM!

Yes that's right, you read it correctly!

Suntasia Marketing was exposed once AGAIN but this time by the ABC affiliate KETV Channel 7 in Omaha, Nebraska for their shameless promotion of Distinct Advantage.

HHmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm?? Seems that a pattern is emerging here with Suntasia and the media. This is the second tv news station that is an ABC affiliate which has exposed these crooks. KOMO TV Channel 4 in Seattle was the first to do it.

Here are the details:

August 23, 2006

KETV NewsWatch 7 I-Team

Man Warns About Suspected Phone Solicitation Scam

An offer for free gas and travel vouchers sounded too good to be true when Ron Gaspard received one recently. Gaspard said the call sounded suspicious. He knew better than to bite.

To see the rest of his story, copy and paste the link below on your address bar. The news investigation was done by reporter Carol Kloss saying basically that Distinct Advantage (which is under the Suntasia umbrella) is a scam.

ketv.com/iteam/9727067/detail.html

If you want to see the other story that was done July 6th, 2006 by ABC affiliate KOMO TV Channel 4 in Seattle on Travel Agents Go Direct another Suntasia sub company then copy and paste the link below on your address bar.

komotv.com/buyerbeware/story.asp?ID=44298

Oh how many times have I said if everyone called their local tv news station like Rachel Randall in Seattle and Ron Gaspard in Omaha have done, we would ALL be better off.
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#2 UPDATE EX-employee responds

HERE IS THE ACTUAL SCRIPT THAT THEY USE AND HOW THEY GET AWAY WITH CHARGING YOU.

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

Many people have complained about being debited even before receiving anything. How can they get away with this? Well, I am posting ONE of the scripts the agents use while on the phones. I say ONE b/c many agents there reword their script just to make a sale. I have a copy of a NON APPROVED script. Here is the regular script they normally use. Read below.

HERE IS AN ACTUAL SCRIPT THEY USED OR STILL USE.

When they call people they use this Script.

*Agents Travel Network Script & Verification!!!!

Hi, (Customers name)

My name is __________ I'm a registered agent calling on behalf of *Agents Travel Network (or Travel Agents Direct which is what it's called now) in regards to your bank account. As a valued customer we are going to send you $400.00 in American Airline Saving Vouchers and two free nights of hotel accomodations, just for accepting a 14 day free trial into our *Agents Travel Network program.

* Note: IT IS NOW CALLED TRAVEL AGENTS DIRECT

This program will give you the same hospitality benefits usually only available to travel professionals, such as discounts of up to 50% on cruises, rental cars and airline tickets. You'll also receive major discounts at thousands of resorts and hotels nationwide, including Hilton, Marriot and Radisson and you'll save a ton of money on selected theme park tickets. Your membership will arrive with your own personalized Agents Travel Network (now TAD) identity card.

After your 14 days, if you decide to keep it, it's only $19.95 a month billed to your checking account, with a one time activation fee of only $40.00. If you decide to cancel, just call the 800 number in your package during your free trial period, you'll never be billed, and there's no further obligation, Either way you still keep the airline vouchers and your free hotel accomodations, as our way of saying thanks for looking over the program. So you can't lose!

Now we will be shipping your package to (Verify Address) is that correct?

How does your name appear on your checking Account?

If different from customers name: are they authorized signer on this account?

What is the name of your bank?

And you opened your account in (Customers City and State)

Now we are going to pull up your information to confirm that everything is correct. Please Hold.

(Obtain the nine digit ABA routing # from your manager)

OK, (Customers Name) I'm going to verify your ABA routing number that's on the bottom left hand corner of your check book. If you can follow along with me to make sure the numbers are correct. (Confirm ABA Routing Number with customer) Is that Correct?

** Now there will be a symbol after those numbers I just verified with you, please go ahead and verify the next set of numbers, which is your account number.

Thank You!

** Note: ASSUMING YOU GAVE THEM ALL OF YOUR INFORMATION THEY THEN PREPARE TO RECORD THE CONVERSATION FOR BILLING PURPOSES. NOTICE ON THE RECORDING SCRIPT BELOW THAT THERE'S NO DATE SO YOU DON'T KNOW WHEN YOUR TRIAL PERIOD ENDS. THE ONLY DATE THEY RECORD IS THE DATE THEY CALLED YOU ON. ALL THE AGENT TELLS YOU IS THAT AFTER TWO WEEKS WHEN YOU RECIEVE THE PACKAGE IS WHEN YOU WILL BE BILLED IF YOU DON'T CALL TO CANCEL. PROBLEM HERE IS THAT YOU NOR SUNTASIA KNOW THE DATE YOU'LL GET THE PACKAGE EXACTLY B/C IT IS SHIPPED REGULAR MAIL. THIS IS SO THEY CAN CHARGE YOU AT ANYTIME IF THE PACKAGE EITHER NEVER ARRIVES OR GETS TO YOU LATER.

Verification Must Be Read VERBATIM.

Thanks for holding, the remaining portion of this call will be recorded OK??
(Must get affirmative, YES, OK, OR CORRECT) I'm speaking with (customers Name) and todays date is __________.

Now we will be shipping your package to (Customers Address) Is that correct? OK. Great ! And I'm showing your telephone number as (read customers telephone number back) For security purposes we need to attach a password to your file. What city were you born in ?

And what is your email address? These will act as passwords whenever You contact us.

How does your name appear on your checking account.

If different from customer name: (Are you an authorized signer on this account?)

What is the name, city & state of your bank?

Now, please read your routing number back to me that starts with a 0,1,2 or 3. Now please read back to me the account nunmber that YOU PROVIDED. Ok great.

After your 2 week trial period, the program is just $19.95 a month with a one time activaction fee of $40.00 billed to the checking account YOU JUST PROVIDED to us. If you decide to cancel your membership, just call the 800-number in your package. Theirs no further obligation and the airline vouchers and hotel vouchers are yours to keep just for accepting the membership for the first 2 weeks. With your permission we'll rush your Agents Travel Network card (Now TAD) and materials to you and your benefits will start immediately. OK?

If funds are unavailable upon deposit after the free trial your bank may charge you a processing fee.

Now, (Customers name), you qualify for 2 additional packages

FLORIDA PASSPORT UPSELL!!! (Changed to Floridaway)

As a new VIP member The Florida Passport (FloridaWay) would like to sponsor your first travel agent fam trip. Its called the Fun in the Sun Dream Escape, you'll receive 6 days 5 nights of hotel accomodations in Orlando and Fort Lauderdale, Florida. You will receive this on a 7 day free review basis. This fam trip is subject to blackout dates of Christmas, New Years & Special Events. These vacations are fully transferable and will be sent to you with a travel date of 1 year from today, which can be changed at no additional charge. This vacation package comes to you risk free for 7 days. If, during your free review period, you do not call to cancel,the promotional fee of only
One Hundred Forty-Nine Dollars will be applied to the checking account we have just verified with You. OK? Great. (Must Get an Affirmative, Yes, Ok, or Correct)

TELEFLEX COMMUNICATIONS UPSELL!! (Changed to Prism Communications)

As a Special Bonus you will also receive a free 21 day trial of unlimited long distance with voice mail from Teliflex communications (Now Prism). This has nothing to do with your home phone its in the form of a calling card and comes with a pin number. You can use this service from any touch tone phone at your home or office and call anyone, anytime, anywhere, coast-to-coast and talk as long as you want, free for 21 days. If after your free trial you decide to continue its only $49.95 a month billed to the checking account used today and thereafter, but keep in mind you are under no obligation to continue. If You feel its not for you simply call the customer service number within the free trial period and you will never be billed its that simple So with your permission under the terms described your billing information will be transferred to TELILEX Communications (Prism) and they'll send out your free trail in the mail. OKAY?? (must get an affirmative)

*** Thank you for your time and have a good day/night.

*** Note: You are told to hang up immediately and not engage in any other conversations with the customer b/c he or she might end up asking too many questions.

END OF SCRIPT..

Notice a few things on this script. I capitalized some words purposely b/c it lets you know how they get away with charging you. The words are Now read back to me the account YOU PROVIDED or . . .billed to the checking account YOU JUST PROVIDED. This places YOU responsible NOT them for giving out your information in order for them to have the right to bill you.

Also, with Suntasia there is no SPECIFIC date when the trial period begins or ends. They don't know when you will be receiving the packages and that is where the confusion starts.

On the recording it says:

"After your two week trial period the program is just $19.95 a month billed to the checking account you just supplied to us. If you decide to cancel your membership, just call the 800 number in your package. There's no further obligation and ..."

HHmmmmmmmmmm. Let's see what's wrong with this picture?

Well for starters the word "free" is not found after the word "your" and before "two" even though the agents stress it's a "free" trial before the recording began.

Also , there is no SPECIFIC date when your "trial" (NOT "free" trial) period starts or ends. All the agents tell the customer is that when you recieve the package in the next 7 to 10 business days, your "trial" period will begin two weeks from then. Unfortunately, Suntasia REALLY doesn't know when the package will arrive to them (if they sometimes ship it out at all) and thus the billing can start at any time. It has happened over and over again where customers have complained about being charged, not receiving their packages or they got it very late.

Many have been charged even before the package was sent out to them or on the day of recieving it. What is Suntasia's response to these complaints? It's the U.S. Postal Services fault. Yeah, pass the buck will you! Some have been able to get refunds but that's after struggling to get through customer service and it's 3 different phone numbers that ALL lead back to the same place, Suntasia Marketing.

Another thing that sticks out is they tell you to call an 800 number that's on your package to cancel the travel program but on the second package (Florida Passport or Way) they just say to call and cancel. On the last package (Teleflex or Prism) they say to call customer service # to cancel.

Why? Because the truth is that they have 3 different numbers for you to call if you want to cancel everything. The agents are told NOT to give this information out to the customer in fear that they may cancel on the recording. They are also not allowed to give out the customer service number b/c many of them cancel everything on the same day.

When the customer starts asking questions like, Do I have to call 3 different numbers to cancel everything? The agents are told to say, if you have any questions or problems just call the customer service number on your package and they will handle everything. The customer might ask what is that number and the agent will say, it will be on your package the day you get it.

The truth is that any numbers that the customer sees on the packages or gets from the agent themselves ALL lead to the same place Suntasia Marketing customer service department. When you call they tell you in order to cancel the other two packages you must call these numbers. Again it ALL leads back to the same place. They do this to frustrate you enough so you get tired of trying to cancel thus buying enough time to be billed later.

As for the travel discount card and the 21 day trial calling card, if you don't send back the travel card you'll get billed. The calling card has to be de-activated, by you writing a letter to them to do so, otherwise you'll get billed. Another thing is even if you liked using the calling card (most of us have cell phones so there's no need for this unless you are that dumb to pay $49.95 a month for long distance), the pin number often doesn't work at all and you constantly have to call in to customer service to either get it fixed or get another pin number.

Some have posted in other forums that they were told by the agent they needed to confirm your bank account number b/c the shipping & handling fee is $1.95 and we need your number so we can debit your account.

THIS IS A BIG FAT LIE!! IT'S ALL A TRICK!! There is no $1.95 b/c Suntasia ships out the packages (if they ever REALLY do) through regular mail and they pay for that. Of course once they bill you then they make that money back and much more. This is why the agents are told to add the other two packages (FloridaWay which is a timeshare and the calling card) b/c that is where their profit is made. The $19.95 travel card just covers cost of the regular expenses (lights, security etc) in the company.

Hopefully this will bring you more insight on how these crooks work. I also know what rebuttals they use in case the customer has any objections to the products they sell. I will post those in the near future.
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#3 Consumer Suggestion

one way you can try and get your money back but it's a long shot

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

Try this John..

I am sorry to hear your bank would not refund the money like most have when they've reported this scam to them. It hurts me to see innocent people like yourself being taken for a ride.

There is one way you can try and get your money back but it's a long shot. You can start by writing a letter and send it certified to Suntasia's corporate lawyer, Donald Booth. Let him know that you want a FULL refund b/c you were totally mis-lead by the agent. Make it clear to him that you will seek legal action if a resolution to this matter can't be reached.

Their corporate address is:

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

John I also wouldn't stop there. You can also contact your local tv station and have an investigative reporter do the story on your case. It is important to warn people of what is going on. Once the media gets a hold of things you can pretty much bet something will happen in your favor.

Rachel Randall of Seattle, Washington did just that b/c she was conned into thinking they (Suntasia) had ALL of her bank information on file. This of course wasn't true but it freaked her out enough to get the word out in the state of Washington through the media. If you didn't see the story, copy and paste the link below on your address bar.

komotv.com/buyerbeware/story.asp?ID=44298

One last thing, contacting your state attorney generals office doesn't hurt either. I hope this helps somewhat in your efforts to get justice.
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#4 Consumer Comment

How do I get my money back?

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

First off Joe, I've noticed that you seem to have put a lot of time and effort into getting the word out and informing everyone about these crooks and how to deal with them and I wanted to thank you sincerely. I'm sure those you've informed and helped are very appreciative as am I.

That being said, I was wondering if you had any tips on how to get my money back. I'm not going to get into the whole story of how they scammed me, you've probably already heard it a million times. Suffice to say simply that I did not authorize ANY amount of money to be taken out of my account. As you mentioned previously, they use the "account information YOU PROVIDED" line in the recording to get away with making unauthorized debits.

This is where they got me. After filing an affadavit with bank of america and waiting several months for a research report, B of A said they wouldn't honor my claim because I "compromised personal account information". I talked with a check fraud claim rep at B of A and long story short, since I gave out my account number, there was absolutely nothing they could do.

They scammed me way back in January, so I'm not sure what I can do at this point to get my $149.00 back, but any advice you can give would be greatly appreciated. It seems ridiculous to me that in this day and age anyone can legally steal if they get a few numbers out of you.

Thanks again.
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#5 UPDATE EX-employee responds

SECOND CALL IS FROM SUNTASIA MARKETING

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

To the poster from Aventura, Florida:

The people who called you the second time are Suntasia Marketing in Largo, Florida.

Their Corporate address is:

Suntasia Marketing
8751 Ulmerton Road
Largo, FL 33771

I don't know who called you the first time. If you type in the search box of this website, "suntasia", you will see ALL the complaints filed against them. It will also show you what to do to get them to stop calling you as well as other important information about them. As of today Wednesday, August 16th, 2006 the Florida State Attorney General is investigating this company.

There has been some media attention given to this problem. KOMO Channel 4 News in Seattle, Washington did a story exposing these crooks. Just copy and paste the link below on your address bar.

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

You will see how reporter Connie Thompson did her own investigation and couldn't get any straight answers from the company itself.

Hopes this helps clear up some questions you may have had about the calls.
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#6 UPDATE EX-employee responds

SECOND CALL IS FROM SUNTASIA MARKETING

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

To the poster from Aventura, Florida:

The people who called you the second time are Suntasia Marketing in Largo, Florida.

Their Corporate address is:

Suntasia Marketing
8751 Ulmerton Road
Largo, FL 33771

I don't know who called you the first time. If you type in the search box of this website, "suntasia", you will see ALL the complaints filed against them. It will also show you what to do to get them to stop calling you as well as other important information about them. As of today Wednesday, August 16th, 2006 the Florida State Attorney General is investigating this company.

There has been some media attention given to this problem. KOMO Channel 4 News in Seattle, Washington did a story exposing these crooks. Just copy and paste the link below on your address bar.

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

You will see how reporter Connie Thompson did her own investigation and couldn't get any straight answers from the company itself.

Hopes this helps clear up some questions you may have had about the calls.
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#7 UPDATE EX-employee responds

SECOND CALL IS FROM SUNTASIA MARKETING

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

To the poster from Aventura, Florida:

The people who called you the second time are Suntasia Marketing in Largo, Florida.

Their Corporate address is:

Suntasia Marketing
8751 Ulmerton Road
Largo, FL 33771

I don't know who called you the first time. If you type in the search box of this website, "suntasia", you will see ALL the complaints filed against them. It will also show you what to do to get them to stop calling you as well as other important information about them. As of today Wednesday, August 16th, 2006 the Florida State Attorney General is investigating this company.

There has been some media attention given to this problem. KOMO Channel 4 News in Seattle, Washington did a story exposing these crooks. Just copy and paste the link below on your address bar.

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

You will see how reporter Connie Thompson did her own investigation and couldn't get any straight answers from the company itself.

Hopes this helps clear up some questions you may have had about the calls.
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#8 Consumer Comment

Even if you last question IS ever answered,

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

maybe you want to change all account #s and credit cards to obsolete their info as much as possible. I would make the changes if it were me.

Some people here have posted about dealing with scam camera shops, and subsequent to dealing with the scam camera shops, those posters complained of fraudlent CC charges.
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