This mailer invites potential customers to a meeting, but we didn't get a friendly reception.
The President of Destinations Unlimited, Bill Johnston confronts me, saying, "You just want to come down and disrupt business and be sensational."
I responded back, "No I don't. This is the only way I can find you. I can't go to a P.O. Box and talk to someone."
Johnston says, "You could have walked in here without a camera."
I said, "Well this is what I do for a living." He answers, "I understand that."
Here's the background.
A travel company has rented out a conference room here at this Embassy Suites Hotel off of I-25 and Woodmen Road.
I'm told employees are pitching their travel club offering memberships to married couples who make at least $40,000 a year.
But a Colorado Springs family tells us don't bother... it's not worth your time or your money.
Pete Michaud says, "They try to become your friend you know. They put on a real good presentation. They tell you stories that they cannot produce."
Pete and his wife Julie say a tempting mailer from Destinations Unlimited out of Dallas, Texas got them to attend the meeting.
Just for being there they were offered a complimentary three day/two night Hyatt getaway to one of many Hyatt properties in the U.S. along with some other perks.
Julie Michaud tells us, "It turns out that the airline voucher... you have to send in $50 per ticket..." "...and when you fill out the dates you want to travel... they have to be on a Monday or Tuesday."
The Michauds say salesmen spent an hour trying to get them to join a club which wasn't Destinations Unlimited, but another company called SeaLand Travel.
They say salesmen bragged about cheap airfares and great prices for stays in luxury condos by using the travel club's exclusive website.
Club memberships can cost you up to eight-thousand dollars ... depending on how many weeks you purchase.
The Michauds ended up paying nearly three-thousand using their credit card ... only to regret it once they returned home and read about the company on the Better Business Bureau website.
Katie Carrol with the BBB of Southern Colorado says her agency has issued warnings about SeaLand Travel and its associated companies.
Carrol says, "This company, number one, uses high pressure sales tactics, misleading advertising and the bottom line is... they don't deliver what they promise."
Carrol says many of the complaints about the company... deal with its refund policy... only giving money back within three days.
Most folks say they aren't given access to the company's website to see what kind of vacations they can choose from for seven days ... too late for a refund.
We talked to the offices of Attorneys General in Florida, Texas, and Missouri and learned of countless complaints. Most members say they were disappointed to find no deep discounts. In fact, they say they found similar prices booking trips on their own.
We asked the president of Destinations Unlimited about that... when we found him at the hotel bar at the Embassy Suites.
I asked Bill Johnston, "They're saying they're not getting any benefits from that... that it's not cheaper... that there are not any of the perks that are promised."
Johnston responds, asking, "Have you ever used a travel agency as opposed to doing it yourself?"
I said, "Sure."
He then asks, "Is there a convenience factor in there?"
I respond, saying, "Well sure."
He then asks, "Isn't that worth something?"
I say, "Sure, but is it worth $8,000 is what I'm asking."
Johnston says, "It depends on what it is and where you are going."
The Michauds were able to get their money back because they acted within the three day refund timeframe.
The lesson here... before you buy a travel membership or join any kind of club... do your homework.
Make sure you have time to try out the product before the refund period's up. It's easier to hang onto your money than try to get it back later.
By the way, we also contacted Hyatt Hotels and a public relations director says Hyatt had no idea Destinations Unlimited was using the Hyatt name on its promotion.
We're told Hyatt is now considering legal action as well as reporting the company to the Colorado Attorney General's office.
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