BBB of WESTERN MICHIGAN, INC
News Release #020202
Contact: Ken Vander Meeden
616-774-8230 or E-mail: email@example.com
WEST MICHIGAN CONSUMER ALERT
ORLANDO VACATION SCAM
HITS WEST MICHIGAN NEWSPAPERS
The Better Business Bureau of Western Michigan reports that the "Hawthorne Family" discounted vacation scam offer has appeared in numerous west Michigan newspapers in the past two weeks. The BBB reports that the offer reads:
"Disney Area - 7 day, 6 night hotel stay, paid $600
sell for $199 and (local phone number)"
Upon calling each "local" phone number, the BBB-WMI found out the message said, "You have reached the Hawthorne residence and we (the Hawthorne's) are in the process of moving and if you are calling about the Orlando vacation, contact the agency in Orlando who is handling this for us and tell them you are calling about the Hawthorne offer."
You are then instructed to call an 800 number which goes to RESORT EXCHANGE INTERNATIONAL or FLORIDA RESERVATIONS, INC. On February 21st, the BBB also was informed that a similar offer is being faxed from CORPORATE TRAVEL DIVISION to numerous area businesses.
The Hawthorne family offer is linked to the following Florida based company dba's involved with the supposed discounted offer.
Florida Reservations, Inc. (F.R.I.)
Resort Exchange International of America (R.E.I.A.)
Great Escape Marketing, Inc.
North America Resort Vacation Club
Corporate Travel Division
Orlando Resort or Orlando Vacation Reservation Center
In addition, there are numerous Florida based addresses affiliated with these firms and innumerable phone numbers. All firms listed have an UNSATISFACTORY report with the BBB in Florida due to a pattern of complaints and some government actions as well.
Ken Vander Meeden, president of the BBB of Western Michigan stated,
"We are issuing this local CONSUMER ALERT because many regional newspapers have already run this "DISNEY" ad and we know that Florida vacations are always a big spring break destination for families throughout Michigan. The "alert" is three fold: one, area newspapers need to do a better job of researching some of the offers they publish under MERCHANDISE FOR SALE or OTHER/MISC FOR SALE. Secondly, area consumers are well known for looking for so-called "travel bargains" to Florida resort locations, and three, the initial phone contact message stating that the "Hawthorne family" is not available due to a move is downright ingenious. If there is such a thing as one of the most clever offers we've seen, this is it."
The BBB-WMI recommends the following:
* Always research any offer via the BBB's two million plus report database that is at: www.westernmichigan.bbb.org. Bottom of Form
* Deal only with reputable travel organizations whom you have researched with the BBB first.
* If you have a complaint about any of the above listed companies, contact the BBB in Altamonte Springs, Florida via filing a complaint at www.bbb.org.
* Also, file a complaint at:
Department of Agriculture
Sellers Travel Division
407 South Calhoun Street
Tallahassee, FL 32890-0800
Vander Meeden concluded,
"This, once again, shows how the use of a seemingly innocent home phone message can lead to trouble for bargain seekers who don't research offers from far-away companies. As we say often, "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is." Scam type offers are using technology more effectively than enforcement agencies, hence consumers must become more proactive in researching the companies BEFORE giving out a credit card number."