I received a "free" vacation for opening a bank account with Union Federal Bank in Indianapolis, IN. Another couple and my husband and I both opened accounts and got the certificates from American Traveler, aka Mini Vacations, Inc.
We sent in our certificates and received the information back in the mail. We called them and were told we could upgrade our free 3-day cruise to a longer one. We chose a 7-day cruise on Royal Caribbean departing April 2006. We each paid our $500 deposit and were told the balance of $949 was due by January 29th.
After we paid our deposit, in July 2005, we were sent confirmation papers from MVI. All seemed well. In mid-January, I tried to contact MVI to confirm making our final payment. They rarely answered the phone but I finally did get through. I was instructed to fax an authorization for MVI to charge our credit card for the remaining balance because they could not charge our card without authorization. (Sounded legit, right?)
After several days went by, I noticed that neither my friend's nor my credit card had been charged. I tried for three days to call them. I finally got ahold of them and they said that they had not received my fax and had not received my friend's fax either. They suggested that we e-mail them the authorization. The agent never indicated that there was a problem with our "reservations" and all seemed okay.
So, we e-mailed the authorization. They did charge both of our credit cards after the email. We bought our airline tickets the week we sent the final payment in. I just had an uneasy feeling that really can't be explained (thank God I did because I would not know to this day that it was a rip-off since we had received our initial confirmation and were told that we would not get another confirmation until three weeks prior to the cruise).
I began to call them just to confirm that everything was in place. It took me three days to get someone to answer the phone (this was after sitting at my phone on hold for 45 minutes and it wasn't a toll free number). The agent put me on hold for another 10 minutes. When she came back to the phone she said that MVI did not have any rooms open on the Royal Caribbean cruise and for us to ask our credit card company to reverse the charges.
I told her that we had already purchased our airline tickets. She suggested we call Royal Caribbean directly and book our cruise through them (at a MUCH higher price). I was in shock and quickly became furious. I asked how to get our money back and she switched me to the voicemail of her supervisor, Kim Green was the name given me.
My husband called them back the next day (after several tries he got through to someone). As soon as he gave her our certificate number, she became very nasty on the phone, used fowl language (my husband is the most patient and kind man I know), and transferred him to a "supervisors" voice mail.
We have yet to have anyone call us back or answer any emails, letters or faxes.
To Union Federal's credit, when we told them what happened, they booked us on the Royal Caribbean cruise at their expense so it wasn't a total loss for us.
We recently received a 2nd certificate in the mail from "American Travelers"! I can't believe they are STILL sending out bogus certificates and getting away with stealing people's money and have the credit cards fruad division pay for this! We received this in February 2006.