Sales meeting at Sioux Falls hotel raises red flags with attendee, BBB & Attorney General’s Office
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -When a flyer arrived in the mail at Grant Washnok’s home, he was intrigued.
Just for attending an event to learn about purchasing a travel package, he could receive airfare for two and more.
“Two days at a hotel and car rental free just for showing up for it,” said Washnok.
He went to the presentation, but the more he listened and reviewed the paperwork, it seemed like things weren’t adding up.
“When they’re kind of closing. Yep, that was gonna be $13,000 And they kept on lowering the price down to like $5,000. So my wife and I had said, no, we weren’t interested in it,” said Washnok.
While he didn’t spend any money, he is worried about others. Washnock inquired at the Better Business Bureau and the South Dakota Attorney General’s Office.
We showed his documents to Jessie Schmidt, state director of the Better Business Bureau of South Dakota. She noticed that the event limited who could attend.
“If it’s such a great thing why can’t everybody hear about it,” said Schmidt.
And the multiple names used between the invitation, the contract, and the booking company is also a concern to her.
“Some paperwork will show one name and another paperwork may show another name, and then the contract may have a different name on top of that, that would be concerning to me,” said Schmidt. Before you join anything like this, I would encourage any consumer to do their homework.”
Checking a company on the Better Business Bureau site may help.
“And a business has a rating whether they’re accredited with us or not,” said Schmidt.
Jody Gillaspie, director for Consumer Protection Division with the Office of Attorney General says the multiple business names can create confusion.
“Simply because the consumer is going to make the check or pay with a credit card to one company, but yes they have to deal with multiple companies, and so they’re not sure who they’re supposed to be dealing with,” said Gillaspie.
It’s OK to take your time and get more than a sales pitch.
“Ask them to give you the literature in writing, so that you can think about it,” Gillaspie.
Travel package sales companies like this are considered door to door, according to Gillaspie. Legally, they need to put in writing, a three-day right to cancel notice or present a 100 percent money-back guarantee.
“Put some red flags off to you because they’re, they’re pushing you to make that flash decision, and you don’t have time to read everything and again, that’s where that three-day right to cancel comes into play,” said Gillaspie.
We wanted to talk to someone with Vacation Plus Travel, so we went to one of the presentations.
While the hotel’s logo was used on the material, the hotel management told us they were not associated with the company. They only booked a business room for Vacation Plus Travel.
Hotel management said Dakota News Now had every right to attend the seminar, and so our reporter went in.
We didn’t speak until the presenter addressed us. When we identified ourselves and started asking questions, the presenter walked out of the room, leaving us alone with their attendees.
The presenter and others who appeared to be with the travel company questioned us on our way out of the hotel, but they wouldn’t answer our questions.
“You don’t want to fall into that high-pressure sale right away, for fear that you’re going to lose, just, you know the best vacation ever,” said Schmidt.
Before you spend money, the consumer protection division of the Attorney General’s Office can help.
“We’d always say, you know, call our office let us do some checking for you, you know, use us in that capacity so that we’re not playing catch up to try to get your money back for you,” said Gillaspie.
As for Washnok, he says he doesn’t plan to book any trips, any time soon.
“Six of these seminars each day over the last week or so. That’s a lot of people from South Dakota,” said Washnok.
The South Dakota Attorney General’s Office issued advice to be aware of in 2013 including:
*When the company cannot give you specifics about the trip.
*You get pressure to sign up for a travel club for great deals on future vacations.
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