The strategy has evolved again (maybe just experimenting) by sending out a Delta Airlines postcard. (See other posts about previous mailings here.) Please comment if you received one with your location.
See below for the postcard images and text.
The postcard says that they have been trying to contact you about free round trip tickets and a hotel stay you have won. Once you go to the sales pitch and sign up, you book through a fulfillment company. I’ve seen two lately: Universal Travel Vacations (website, BBB report) or the The Vacation Station (website, BBB report TN, BBB report SC)
Also, here is another blogger with information about a postcard that looks like it is from Southwest Airlines: http://talestoldfromtheroad.com/2011/11/02/consumer-alert-southwest-escape-offer-grounded/
I have found the answers to this mystery thanks to the great work of the folks at BBB in Tucson, AZ:
An actual story: http://www.kgun9.com/features/investigations/122887609.html
NEW video from INSIDE THE SALES PRESENTATION: http://www.9news.com/news/article/362984/339/Companies-behind-free-airline-ticket-letters-
Video from inside the first ever video encounter I’ve seen: http://www.kboi2.com/news/local/Travel-service-vacation-smart-international-us-airlines-vacationanddeals-com-175915611.html?tab=video&c=y
If you would like to read more about these folks, visit this post. You can read all about the sales presentation, the free offer and the what you get for your vacation membership club cash outlay.
When I read this, it was just too good not to post. It’s from the Nebraska Attorney General (page 13 printed/page 15 PDF).
Look for the warning signs that may indicate a scam:
- Benefits sound too good to be true.
- The company has no permanent address and all presentations are held in rented conference rooms.
- They can’t, or won’t, provide you with references.
- They don’t want to give you an itemized list of what’s included in your trip until you have already signed the contract.
What you should do if you suspect a scam:
- Don’t sign any contract during the travel presentation. They are high-pressure events intended to stir the emotions of an exotic vacation.
- Contact a respected travel agent in town, give them the specifics of the trip, and ask if that seems consistent with industry pricing.
- Shop around. Compare your trip with other travel packages being offered to seniors.
Here is Michigan’s Attorney General’s advice:
Here is the of the postcard:
DELTA / FLY AWAY ESCAPE
Congratulations! You have been selected to receive 2 Round Trip Airfares to anywhere Delta flies in the continental USA. Call within 48 hours. You will also receive as a bonus 3 day 2 night hotel stay!
We have been trying to contact you! (This is not a timeshare or land sale offer)
Toll free 1-800-313-1263 (or other numbers)
RSVP xxxx (your ID in their database) MON-SUN 9am to 8pm
Fine print: Certain restrictions apply. Call for details of participation. This offer is not sponsored by or affiliated with Delta Airlines but they are a major supplier. Taxes, processing fees and reservation fees are the responsibility of the recipient. Offer void where prohibited by law. Not applicable to Alaska or Hawaii.
[UPDATE 12/2/2011] Apparently Delta isn’t the only carrier they are testing out in their new postcards — Southwest Airlines is targeted as well: http://talestoldfromtheroad.com/2011/11/02/consumer-alert-southwest-escape-offer-grounded/
Here is what would happen if you did call: