Friday, October 19, 2007

Scam Artists' Legal Phone Scam: New Dream-Vacation Con Games

--Seemingly heaven-sent offerings proliferating, to the chagrin of legitimate travel agents

Magalia, California--Are the recent railings of the FTC against travel scams valid? Are all the add-on costs legitimate? Are accommodations all really 5-star? What's being done to staunch these suspected scams? These are some of the questions analyzed by veteran business writer, Jack Payne.

While "some" travel opportunities sold over the phone or offered through the mail, internet, or by fax are legitimate, "many" are scams that defraud consumers out of "millions of dollars each month."

These are words directly from the FTC on telephone travel offerings. The words and phrase in inserted quotes above should be closely observed. Note how these quoted words add up to, it appears, the true significance of this statement:

> "some" = minority of phone, mail, fax, and internet offers.

> "many" = majority of phone, mail, fax, and internet offers.

> "millions of dollars each month" = scam artists at work: large scale fraud

In the travel agent industry there is widespread agreement, a feeling that this interpretation is factual.

Payne, former publisher of Business Opportunities Digest, chimes in with these observations:

"To the victim of such a pitch, it would start out with a brief, glossed over description of the offered trip package. This would be followed by a request for the victim's credit card number to bill his / her account for this bargain-priced vacation.
The victim would then hear--only if they ask--a dizzying array of additional charges: upgrade costs to receive actual destinations, accommodations, cruises, or dates they were promised, various deposits, port charges, hotel taxes, service fees, and other 'required' up-front fees.

"If the customer even gets to make the trip, after the scam artists have collected all their up-front fees, they should adhere closely to this kind of warning label that appears on the package of a child's Superman costume: 'Wearing of this garment does not enable you to fly.' They should expect bare minimums, and extra charges at every turn.

"The pattern should be crystal clear to anyone wishing to see." continues Payne, author of the legal thriller Six Hours Past Thursday. "Yet, maybe due to the lure of glamour, adventure, or some kind of insatiable wish-fulfillment dream, people tend to let their guards down and fall into these vacation travel traps.

"Most travel agents are hard-working, straight-shooting people," he concludes.
"But their rebuttal task, to counter these outrageous travel rip-offs, is a frustrating one. For all of their flashing red lights of warning, they are making little progress. So, if any clearly-identified travel-lover gets such a phone call, my suggestion is, why not conclude to yourself, in self-deprecating Alfred E. Neuman fashion,, something like, 'I smile a lot because I don't know what the hell is going on.' Then, hang up And, if still interested, consult a local travel agent."


Anonymous said...

I couldnt agree more with this article. I myself have faced this and ended up with a huge cc bill for a vacation which was supposed to have been a budget vacation on an absolute great deal. I suggest everyone should be careful and consult with multiple travel agents before actually giving away your cc details for the "bookings".


Anonymous said...

Overall i do believe that most of the travel agents are honest and basically aggressive businessmen. What irritates me is that they do not disclose all expenses or leave out certain taxes and service charge expenses while giving you quotations.


Jack Payne said...

Appreciate your comments, Bruce and Ashley. Worst part of this is, many of the additional charges quoted are for services which do not even exist--are entirely fictional.

Linda said...

Interesting article. I am sure everyone will agree to the fact that we end up paying way more than what we think we are going to pay for our vacation. I try not to stress on it much though else it will ruin the whole point of going on a vacation.

suchsimplepleasures said...

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wendy said...

First off I would like to say thank you for psoting coments on my blog.
You have some great advice that should be paid attention to. I for one am very particular when traveling and request that I know all the extra fees upfront. I also request them upfront as proof before I give any information.

Expensive enough without the hidden fees
Shame it needs to be a buyer beware world

Wakela Runen said...

Unfortunately this scam has been going on for ages. There are companies that hire college students to make these calls for less them minimum wage. They are offered "bonuses" if they get a certain amount of trips booked.

These students don't know that its a scam. I had unfortunately worked for one such company in the early 90s. I moved away to college and needed a job to survive. So I went searching and basically this was what I found.

I didn't realize that it was a scam. All I knew is that we were calling people back from papers they had filled out at various fairs and expos. These papers were to enter a drawing to "win a vacation". These people won a discounted vacation.

They weren't the only ones being scammed though. I noticed that I was getting enough vacations booked to get my bonus, but I wouldn't get the bonus in the paychecks. My boss told me that they had cancelled. I decided to get smart. I kept logs of people I called and booked. When the boss came and told me they cancelled, I had called those people back to see if everything was fine. They had never cancelled. They just didn't want to pay us the bonuses we deserved.

I quit that place really fast.

Jack Payne said...

Intriguing comment, Wakela. I was aware of the unwitting college student involvement in these scams, but not to the extent that you so excellently detail.

Many thanks for a really valuable comment, indeed.

Chef Tom said...

yeah i went for one of these offers once. It was a huge waste of time.

harleyblues said...

Great blog Jack perhaps you could add some colured background or would that be foreground? lol for the light sensitive.
You are doing a great service by informing readers!

Anonymous said...

I truly believe that we have reached the point where technology has become one with our world, and I think it is safe to say that we have passed the point of no return in our relationship with technology.

I don't mean this in a bad way, of course! Ethical concerns aside... I just hope that as memory becomes less expensive, the possibility of uploading our memories onto a digital medium becomes a true reality. It's one of the things I really wish I could see in my lifetime.

(Posted on Nintendo DS running [url=]R4i SDHC[/url] DS OperaV2)

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