In April 2003, I got a phone call from Global Vacation Network inviting me for a free presentation for a vacation time share plan. I went to this presentation in June 2003. The salesman gave us a presentation about the company.
He told me that they were a travel agency/time share company that, unlike other time share companies, did not own any resorts, but just traded them from other resort owners using some kind of a exchange mechanism (like a stock exchange). The advantage of this system was that we did not have to pay any maintenance costs and that they have access to the properties of other companies.
Since I make frequent trips to Asia, I asked the salesman if they had access to resorts in Asia. The salesman specifically assured me that they had access to vacation resorts in many countries in Asia. Primarily because of this answer, I signed up to their program (worth 7000$).
When I tried to get a free air ticket using a coupon I was given for attending the presentation, I found out that there were so many black out dates and restrictions, and I could not use it that should have tipped me off right away about this company.
I then wanted to book a vacation resort in Asia since I was planning on making a trip there. I called to make a reservation, and was told that they do not deal with any resorts in Asia. I use most of my vacation time by traveling abroad, and if I cannot use this program to stay in resorts during these vacations, I would not be able to use it at all!
So, I called the membership department that I wanted to cancel the program. When I brought up the issue of canceling the program, I was told that they just do not have a way to cancel memberships.
I discussed the sales presentation with the head of their customer service departments. When I told her what the sales representative told me about having timeshares in Asia, she told me that that was a verbal agreement' that was invalid. She told me that there was a specific clause in the contract telling me that such verbal agreements were not valid.
Since there was no specific statement promising me accommodation in any country of my choice, they could not honor it. Since verbal agreements could not be verified (e.g., if the salesman left the company), they have a policy of not honoring such agreements. She actually told me that I was stuck with them' since I had signed the contract.
I had to continue making payments even if I was very unlikely to be able to use their services. I told her that it appeared to me that their salesman plainly lied to me merely to induce me to sign the contract. Her reply was that even if this was the case, they were not responsible for his actions and would not cancel my membership. She actually taunted me to sue them if I wanted to.
I had taken a friend with me to this was present during the entire presentation, and he remembered the events exactly as I do. I felt badly cheated by this company. Their salesman clearly lied to me merely to induce me to sign on the contract. As if this wasn't bad enough, the interest I was being charged was outrageous.
I tried to get some legal advice to get out of this, but it turns out that it costs a few hundred dollars to even get them to read the contract to tell me if I had a case. Someone then suggested that I complain to the Attorney General of Minnesota and the Department of Commerce in MN, which I did.
Luckily, a letter from the Attorney General's office did the trick. They asked Global Vacation Network for an explanation regarding my complaint. In response a lawyer for Global Vacation Network replied to them canceling my membership. Along with this, he wrote a strange letter accusing me of calling them under the influence of medications' to make reservations and then canceling them, etc.
He stated that they had tried to reason with me, and that it was I who would not listen! He claimed that I had used the program to the fullest and was now canceling after using it.
In any event, they gave me a full refund, with interest. At the very least, this story has a happy ending. I have never been so relieved. All in all, this was a very educational and bitter experience for me. It has been a few months since this happened, and I still find myself getting worked up about this.
If you get a phone call from these guys, please don't go to their presentation. If you do, just don't sign up. If all goes well (as I am sure it must for some people), then you will not be hurt. However, if it doesn't go well, and you are unhappy, they treat you very shabbily. Their services are just not worth it.