• Report: #89685

Complaint Review: Vacations In Paradise, Sunrise Vacation Club

  • Submitted: Fri, April 30, 2004
  • Updated: Fri, May 21, 2004

  • Reported By:Peterborough Ontario
Vacations In Paradise, Sunrise Vacation Club
312-115 First Street Collingwood, Ontario Canada

Vacations In Paradise, Sunrise Vacation Club ripoff, wasted weekend, lying employees, promises unkept, dismal accomodations Collingwood Ontario

*Author of original report: Vacations in Paradise again avoids issue

*UPDATE Employee: In response to Julie's continued claim that we are a ripoff...

*Author of original report: Nick's rebuttal speaks volumes to the lack of professionalism rampant in this company.

*UPDATE Employee: In response to Julie's claim that VIP is a scam

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The following is my report, in the form of an e-mail sent to the 'owner' of Vacations in Paradise, Austin Shaw, on April 30th 2004. They had promised a response by end of business hours today...as usual, another broken promise::

Austin

As the 'owner' of Vacations in Paradise (aka Sunrise Vacation Club) I would expect you to direct your staff to treat matters such as this with extreme urgency. However, that does not seem to be the case.

So.....this is directed to your attention, as I do not believe you steer this very unstable craft unknowingly.

On March 19th 2004, I arrived at the Riverview Inn in Wasaga Beach, looking forward to a lovely weekend with my close friend, dining, skiing and enjoying a promising travel presentation. For this priviledge, my Visa card had been debited with $60 (plus taxes).

My arrival at the 'Inn' was less than comforting. The site was not even Motel 6 standards. The receptionist showed me several rooms, including a 'suite', all of which were probably the worst accomodation for which I have ever been charged. Rickety furniture from Salvation Army stores, vanities propped up with 2 x 4 lumber, TV's that were older than my adult children, unfinished wallboard...and one room to which I was given the key was so steeped in cigarette fumes it made my eyes water and lungs spasm as soon as I opened the door.

I finally accepted a key for a room that I judged to be the best of what was offered...with much distaste.

The receptionist (a very helpful young lady) advised that the Donato House across the street was a sister hotel, and in fact owned the Riverview. She added that we were free to use the pool over there as a confirmation of this fact. She also carefully booked us for the 9:30 am presentation the following morning.

Not only could I not face spending not one, but two nights, at the Riverview Inn, I was certainly not going to ask my valued friend to put up with that either. So, we drove across to the 'sister' Donato House. I might add...to complete this miserable picture....it was a weekend of very heavy rain, so we knew we were unlikely to get much skiing in, and I have to say, Wasaga Beach is dreadful in any weather, but that night and weekend, it was unbelievably dismal.

I explained the situation to the desk clerk at the Donato House, who was very adament that there was absolutely no connection between the two sites whatsover, other than the fact that the Donato House hosted the travel presentations. He did have a room he could 'help me out with' at a rate of $109 per night though. Again, this served only to arouse suspicions and make
me very uncomfortable about the whole situation. However, as I already had $ invested, and as it was 8 pm on a stormy Friday night, and we were 2 hours away from home, it was either that or sleep in my car (which would have been preferable to the Riverview Inn I might say).

The next morning, we went downstairs at 9:30 am for the sales presentation, only to be told that we had been 'bumped' to the Sunday session in Collingwood. As we had planned the remainder of the weekend around the agreed time of 9:30, I asked if some other arrangement could be made. It was agreed we should attend a 'special' session at 1:30 pm that afternoon. You, Austin,
were in fact the person I spoke to at that time, and you were aware of the fact that I had not stayed at the Riverview, because your staff could not find us at 9:20 am when they came to advise us our plans had been changed. We chatted about that, and your interest level in me was obviously fairly high,because as an 'ex-IBM'er' yourself, you would know that I have a healthy
income.

When we arrived back for that meeting, we were greeted by Nick Andre, the presenter, and Kelly, your sales manager. I was pretty clear about my level of discomfort, and stated that as a sales professional myself, I'm very cognizant of the importance of first impressions....and that none of my impressions so far had been anything other than dismal. And I stated that although I was willing to stay for the presentation and listen to the proposal, there would have to be some reparation made beforehand to gain my trust.

Nick professed to be quite upset at our experience, who called Kelly over, who came to speak to you about what had transpired. I was assured by Kelly and Nick, that our hotel bill at the Donato House would be cancelled (I had paid by Amex upon our check-in)..and that in fact, you, Austin, were already upstairs, 'taking care of it'. Kelly seemed most distraught that the clerk at the Donato House had not dealt with this appropriately, as in fact, both sites were partners in this promotion. She indicated we should have been accomodated there, or even in Collingwood ("in a 3 bedroom condo")if that was more suitable.

So, reassured by the seemingly sincere efforts to rectify the situation, we began the sales pitch with Nick. A few minutes into the pitch, Kelly came back over and told us that everything had been taken care of. Apparently the clerk (who was the same one on duty when we checked in) claimed to have had no knowledge of our situation, and had charged us for the room because he thought we had just walked in off the street. I was MOST upset when I heard this, as now there was a bold lie on the table. However, I was again reassured by Kelly that this had been taken care of...so we continued with the presentation.

As far as the presentation is concerned, we listened with an open mind. We both travel a great deal, and were open to a concept that was sound and would obviously be of good value to us both. However, what we heard was seemingly quite bogus. In essence, we were expected to pay at least $6,000 for a password to a website for 20 years, that would save us 10-30% over discounted travel packages we might already have access to. As I make my living on the internet, I could not see value in the volatility of webpages and fly-by-night tour operators.

So, although I believe we gave Nick and Kelly a very good shot at selling us something of real value, in the end there was no perceived product to buy, and we declined. We were still assured however, that we would not have any costs for our stay at the Donato House, and were told to come back on Sunday morning after the morning presentation to receive a $59 ski package credit on my credit card, when I could present my ski tag. Apparently they were all out of passes, due to the latest of the season.

We left the hotel, and drove immediately into Collingwood to catch a movie we had planned to see. Big mistake...in that we left the hotel whilst you were all still there, without checking that our bill had been taken care of. Big mistake indeed.

We completed our day, spent Saturday night at the Donato House and on checking out, expected to be told the room charge had been credited. Instead...I had to deal again with the same clerk that had checked us in and lied about why he charged us for the room. This time, he claimed to have no knowledge of what had transpired with YOU, that there was no credit on my card, that the charge for the room stood.
He also...unbelievably...claimed that he had not worked on Saturday, and knew nothing about having discussed our situation with you. This, in spite of the fact that I walked by him on my way out of the hotel after the presentation. Absolutely unbelieve bold-faced lying.

We left the hotel to spend the morning at Blue, skiing. We figured we would sort this all out when we came back around noon as agreed to get our ski package credit. Ski conditions were very bad, so we were in fact back at the hotel at 11 am, only to be told that none of you folks were there today, that there were no sales presentations. But that there may be one at the Alpine
Lodge in Collingwood. Soooooo....we drove all the way back to Collingwood, and went into the Alpine (apparently another 'sister'!). Here I was treated somewhat rudely when I asked to see someone from the sales team. As I was insistent, eventually someone came up to speak with me, took my details, including my ski pass, and assured me this would be going to 'head office'(hah!) the next day, and that I should call and speak to Vicky about it.

Since that day, it has been a litany of unproductive phone calls, to Vicky (who I must admit was very helpful and forthcoming)...who eventually passed me told me my 'file' had been passed to Jessica. I've spoken to Jessica and Morgan repeatedly also, left messages, been told my file is with management, credits are in process, and any number of other stall tactics. Today, I spoke again with Jessica, who claims to have no knowledge of my file..nor to have spoken to me before. However, as I am now at the end of my very patient and courteous way of dealing with this...I have given her till the end of the day to get back to me with a resolution.

If I do not hear from Jessica.....or anyone for that matter...by 4 pm today, I will move to take care of this myself...with possible legal repurcussions for yourselves. Please take care of this immediately, so that I don't have to spend more time pursuing the matter.

Donato House - $244.16
Ski Package - $59.00

Total of $303.16 credit is required.

After today, a dollar value will be assigned to my time.

Julie
Peterborough, Ontario
Canada

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 04/30/2004 02:33 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Vacations-In-Paradise-Sunrise-Vacation-Club/Collingwood-Ontario-L9Y-4W3/Vacations-In-Paradise-Sunrise-Vacation-Club-ripoff-wasted-weekend-lying-employees-prom-89685. 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 Author of original report

Vacations in Paradise again avoids issue

AUTHOR: Julie - (Canada)

Nick (although I suspect Austin is actually engaged in the last rebuttal)...one more time, with your personal integrity at stake, do you deny that YOU, Kelly and Austin all agreed to reverse my costs for staying at the Donato House??? You keep avoiding what the heart of this complaint is about.....

I came to Wasaga Beach in good faith. I paid the $60, we turned up as agreed. We participated in the sales presentation....and whether you choose to acknowledge it or not, we were more than willing to listen and open to purchase if we found it was a product that interested us. I was still feeling certain that Sunrise Vacations (aka VIP, aka who the heck else now) would take care of the things you said would be taken care. Which is why I spent a good deal of time calling, calling, speaking with first one person then another....until I began to realize that I was not dealing with good business practices, or people of integrity. What your product is, what the basis of your company about, is the least of my concerns.

Turning to this particular medium was - and still is - a less than ideal way for any one of us to deal with this. HOWEVER, I have the phone bills and e-mails to prove that I tried - repeatedly - for several weeks - to resolve this issue with you. Like all of the other complainants who have chosen to post their stories here, you have been completely unresponsive to me. At least with this media, I have your attention.

Continuing to attack me (and for some insane reason a whole other uninvolved company) will resolve nothing. Are you prepared to do what you promised would be done? That is all this is required for me to cease and desist? Whether your company is legitimate or not is not really of any concern to me, we will not be doing business. However, you making good on your promises is...
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#2 UPDATE Employee

In response to Julie's continued claim that we are a ripoff...

AUTHOR: Nick - (Canada)

We attacked our customer named Julie when she attacked us first.

From what VIP understands, ripoffreport.com is a website designed to report scams, ripoffs and malicious companies. Julie's initial posting on this website implies that she believes our company is nothing more than a fly-by-night scam because she's posting on a website that also features reports about scandalous marketing firms, insurance agencies, etc etc. Otherwise, it would not have been posted here. We have the right to defend ourselves against slanderous claims as the ripoffreport website is designed to allow companies to reply to anyones postings. Further, we are well-established in Collingwood and if she was so insistant on settling the matter, she could have easily dropped by our office in person to speak with the owner. We have nothing to hide and we are open Monday to Friday from 9am to 4:30pm with extended hours on Saturday.

The same sort of reasoning Julie is implying could be applied to IBM. Lets suppose we are unhappy with the service contract we have with them and we decide to call them a scam because their level of telephone customer support is less than satisfactory, they are not personable, and that they are nothing more than a fascious monolithic corporation with little red pointed ears, tail and a pitchfork. Will anyone who reads our posting immediately believe IBM is a fly-by-night scam? Obviously not. IBM is a reputable company. You can visit their headquarters and verify they are not a scam. Likewise with VIP. Anyone can visit our office to verify we are not a scam either.

In any event, Julie attended our sales presentation so VIP does not understand why the penalty charge for not attending would even be an issue. When a customer fails to show up for the presentation, VIP is responsible for paying for all expenses related to the presentation such as staff's wages and hotel costs. Nearly every simular type of promotion VIP has seen includes a disclaimer very much like ours.

Insulting remarks directed towards the program we sell are completely without merit and we won't dignify a response, other than we are amazed (and amused) at Julie's interpretation of our program as $6,000 for a password to a website for 20 years (exact quote from her initial posting). We have already discussed this bizarre interpretation on the previous posting. It appears some people will go to great lengths to make themselves look like the innocent victim when its obvious who the real scam artist is. We're sure the millions of satisfied timeshare and vacation club owners would love to contact Julie to ask what she means by buyer beware. Anyhow, the program is not for everyone and we respect that.

Our professionalism stops abruptly the moment a customer intentionally and deliberately spreads lies and slander towards our company. This entire report is apparently over money owing; we are more than prepared to handle any statement of claim regarding this matter and have not lost such a case in court.

Again, to everyone else who happens to read our side of the story, it should be noted that if everyone we brought up on the promotion arrived unhappy, we would not be in business.
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#3 Author of original report

Nick's rebuttal speaks volumes to the lack of professionalism rampant in this company.

AUTHOR: Julie - (Canada)

Not only did he miss (deliberately I'm sure) all of the key elements of my complaint, he actually attacked his customer! Some further points for consideration for any buyers considering buying into this 'plan' (and please note, "scam" is Nick's own word...nowhere in my communications have I used that word or alluded to any illegal or slanderous practices.)

First point..I was not free to just leave when I found the accomodations untenable. The registration document to which you refer (and which is carefully removed from a registrant's possession upon check-in) states that should one leave without participating in the sales presentation, one's credit card would be charged with whatever the posted room rate is at the Riverview Inn. Unacceptable.

Second point...regarding your program itself: simply because you buy products from reputable companies such as Stroman, Heatherflorida and Selloffvacations in no way adds any lustre to your own business ethics. Your package is preposterous, no one in their right mind should buy into it. However, in an industry such as yours, where many companies like yours flourish by taking advantage of more vulnerable consumers, the rules of Buyer Beware can only be applied with a heavy hand.

And lastly....more lies Nick??? You claim that you 'stumbled across this report' whilst looking up something else. My direct e-mails to you have pointed you to this page. And...other employees of VIP have offered so-called rebuttals to other complaints. So...I challenge your personal integrity Nick...offer a further rebuttal with your own personal denial that you, Kelly and Austin all flatly stated that my charges at the Donato House would be cancelled.

Your ignorant comments about my wanting a cheap weekend, and kicking sand in your face when I did not get one don't warrant my energy to respond.

However, I do wonder why Mr. Shaw has his employees repond to these complaints (and they are mounting very quickly...now totalling 5 with very similar themes...and that is 140% more than the number of testimonials on your own webpage, by the way!). A person of high integrity, operating a company that depends on good will and word-of-mouth reputation should respond directly to serious complaints such as this, and take steps to prevent any further accumulation of poor press.

Integrity, ethics....? None existant in this company. Buyers...BEWARE!
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#4 UPDATE Employee

In response to Julie's claim that VIP is a scam

AUTHOR: Nick - (Canada)

In response to Julie from Peterborough, we would like to set the matter straight.

The Riverview lodge has nothing to do with Vacations In Paradise, other than the fact that its used for accommodation only. The confirmation letter that is mailed out upon booking clearly states this fact.

Nobody physically forced Julie to check in to a motel room she didn't want. Her claim that her eyes watered and having a lung spasm is preposterous, unbelievable and obviously was said to make herself look like the poor helpless victim. She was more than welcome to decline the room and return home, no hard feelings.

The confirmation letter that is mailed out to everyone who books the mini-vacation clearly states that the reservation is non-refundable. Accommodations and presentation times are scheduled to change without notice. People who arrive for a mini-vacation are asked to sign a disclaimer stating such and are welcome to decline our offer any time.

Julie's interpretation of our sales presentation is quite unique as it is humourous. We offer a membership where our customers are guaranteed 2 weeks a year availability in Collingwood at our condos (pictures of our condos can be found at vipcollingwood.com to verify that we are not fly by night). International travel is accomplished through a variety of 3rd-party vendors such as Ice, Stroman, Heatherflorida and Selloffvacations.com. While they do not have a direct affilliation with Vacations In Paradise, we have booked hundreds of vacations through them and have no complaints. At no time was Julie told that we are selling a password to a website for 20 years as this would be silly, unbelievable, and obviously not profitable. Julie also signed a form declining to buy our package, and she stated reasons which contradict everything she posted on this website.

As for not being able to ski due to rain, unfortunately, we do not control the laws of physics and nature. We currently do not have a device to prevent the cumulous nature of rainclouds from forming, so, the Weather Channel should have been consulted beforehand. Wasaga Beach is by no means meant for skiiers in the first place. Julie should have refused our mini-vacation offer altogether if she had her heart set on skiing so much.

The Internet has given everyone in the world a voice, but evidently, some people choose to use that voice to spread slanderous lies about a company that has thousands of satisfied members. We would not be in business if everyone who books the mini-vacation arrived upset or hostile. Nor would we still be in business for over 5 years now and have a well-established presence in the community.

We appreciate the nature of ripoffreport.com for people to report scams, however, Vacations In Paradise is not a scam and we will prosecute slanderous claims to the full extent of the law. Its quite evident that Julie was just up here for the cheap weekend and when she didn't get what she wanted, she decided to kick up sand (or snow) in our face and complain out loud to anyone who'll listen.

(We have thousands of satisfied members and only stumbled across ripoffreport.com by a recent search ourselves, we apologize for any delays)
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