Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Vacation Blues

I’ve had it with these vacation groups that promise you the moon, but barely deliver.
I’m calling one of them out—Phoenix Vacations, which is somehow tied to the “Castaways” vacation club. As far as I am concerned it’s all a scam.
Here’s why:

The company uses out-bound telemarketers to generate leads.
They promise you a free cruise for two, a free week at some resort—attractive incentives to entice you to show up for their presentation.

When you get there, you’re herded into a room where a jovial, entertaining host does 30-minutes of stand-up comedy, tinged with information about how much money one can save by utilizing their travel connections.
And it’s mighty attractive.

Why, do you realize, over your lifetime, if you travel as much as they propose that you will, you could pay for your membership fee several times over?
That argument, of course, is predicated on the assumption you’re going to buy-in to their deal.

After show and tell, couples are descended upon by closing agents like a swarm of locusts. They sit across the table from you, eyeball to eyeball, asking about your kids, your job, your bank account. It’s all calculated to help them determine how much blood they can squeeze from your turnip.

Never accept the first offer.
There’s plenty of “wiggle room” in these plans, because they’re all priced with more inflation than a Goodyear Blimp. My notes show we “haggled” the price down from thousands to about $1,300.00, which still, in retrospect, was way too much.

Quite simply, the plan never worked for us.
We never were able to take our “free cruise,” and the weekend package went unused because they were so difficult to arrange. At the end of the first year, the score was Castaways – 0, Brent’s Travel Service – 2.

Pricing for things like hotel rooms in New York City were vastly different—and more expensive—when quoted through the Castaways plan vs Plain ‘ol Me calling the front desk for room rates and availabilities.

I asked for a refund, which, of course, I didn’t expect to receive.
And did not.
What I didn’t expect was to keep receiving calls from Castaways’ marketing mavens, still trying to scam me for a membership a year and a half later.

I don’t know what’s more irritating about that:
The fact that I have documented proof, in writing, that we were unhappy with them, and do not wish to have any further dealings...or the ignorant, barely literate people who continue to call me, speaking in broken English, and who hang up when I ask to speak to someone I can understand.

I just received such a call this evening.
I spoke with a manager in the Castaways office shortly thereafter, who promised to get it taken care of.
Of course, that’s what I was told last month when this all happened.
We’ll see if it sticks this time.

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