Letter from a VP of Travel Awards Division about free airline tickets

These guys are going bad to their tried-and-true strategy of making up two-name companies and sending letters offering free airline tickets.   (See all other posts here about these letters.) Please comment if you received one with your location.

It tells you that you have qualified for an award of 2 roundtrip airline tickets. It looks like it was actually signed by Kelly Mane, the “Vice President.” They hand write the address on the envelope and use a real stamp (sometimes!).

Here are the new companies so far:

Fletcher Adams (fletcheradams.com)

Nelson Murphy (nelsonmurphy.com)

Franklin Hobbs (franklinhobbs.com)

Duncan Jacobs (duncanjacobs.com)

Stevenson Barnes (stevensonbarnes.com)

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)

I have found the answers to this mystery thanks to the great work of the folks at BBB in Tucson, AZ:

http://www.bbb.org/tucson/business-reviews/travel-clubs/southwest-travel-club-in-tucson-az-20007983

http://www.bbb.org/tucson/business-reviews/prize-promotions/patterson-bell-in-tucson-az-20027549

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-

Great reporting from WKMG: http://www.clickorlando.com/news/Free-travel-offer-mystifies-consumers/-/1637132/15701330/-/8s7gus/-/index.html

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.

LETTER:


I am pleased to inform you that you have qualified for an award of 2 roundtrip airline tickets. Congratulations. These tickets are valid for travel anywhere in the Continental U.S. The retail value of this award is up to $1,298.00. Certain restrictions apply.

We have attempted contacting you several times without success. This is our last attempt. If we do not hear from you soon, we may need to issue the ticket vouchers to the alternate.

Please call me today at 1-866-517-2406 (numbers always changing).

Regards,

VP du jour (see above)

Vice President

Travel Awards Division


 

 

Here is what would happen if you did call:

ADVICE:

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:
http://www.michigan.gov/ag/0,1607,7-164-34739_20942-44762–,00.html

327 replies
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  1. cheri peters says:

    I just receive a little from Travel Awards Division… signed by Sarah Steward VP. They offered 2 tickets worth up to 1595, any where in the continental US with certain restrictions. no return address on the letter or envelope and when i called “Matthew” told me they were already established in Boise Id (my community) which is a lie. I called back and was told that they wanted to build in this area… the seminar will be help this weekend at Holiday Express.

    Someone should be able to stop this kind of scam!

  2. chris says:

    We received a the same letter, 2 free tickets, looked to be typed on old fashion typing paper and signed by a Sarah Stewart. called the 866 # to get taken off the mailing & phone list and was greeted by a not so friendly female whom informed 3 times that they don’t do that and were only hired to answer the phone. Could not get a contact # to get removed.

  3. Berta says:

    Sarah Stewart sure gets around. I got my letter today. (I live south of Boston.) It struck me funny that it looks like what I used to produce in typing class…in 1980. And it’s my “final opportunity to respond,” even though it is the first (and hopefully last) time I have been contacted.

  4. Dan Peterson says:

    I got the letter today April 16th 2014, signed by Sarah Stewart VP ( I live in Minneapolis, MN) Thanks for all the post. I am sending the letter on to our A.G.

  5. Stephanie says:

    Same experience as Dan Peterson (above): I live in the Minneapolis area, and got the letter yesterday, April 16th, 2015 (…even though the letter was dated April 4th, 2015). Like Dan’s, my letter was signed by Sarah Stewart, VP of Customer Relations.

    Red flag #1: The letter indicated this was my “FINAL NOTICE” in red, right below the “Travel Awards Division” letterhead. We never got any kind of “prior notice” of this deal.

    Red flag #2: The body of the letter mentioned: “REGISTERED MAIL, RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED”; however, the letter was not sent by registered mail.

    Red flag #3: The too-good-to-be-true offer of two round-trip airline tickets valued at $1,595.00.

    Thinking this may just be a hard-sell seminar I could endure for 30 minutes, bypass giving any sensitive personal information, and then MAYBE walk away with some legit airline tickets, I called the toll-free number (1-866-931-8147), and was scheduled for a seminar at the Mall of America by a representative named “Greg Anders,” who told me to bring my photo ID, and took my e-mail address. Greg indicated that he needed my e-mail address so that he could send me a confirmation e-mail with all the seminar details, as well as the phone number for the Confirmation Department, should I need to contact them to cancel.

    Red flag #4: The confirmation e-mail never arrived.

    After finding this site and others – including one from the BBB – I called back today to cancel our appointment.

    Red flag #5: The gentleman who answered the call indicated that the person in charge of cancellations wasn’t in yet, but he would try to help me. He then asked me to explain why I wanted to cancel…but when I explained that it was because of the BBB complaints and negative ratings – as well as the news articles posted above – he proceeded to lecture me about how ridiculous the BBB is: saying their ratings are a farce, and that the only way to get positive ratings from them is to give them your money.

    I told him I wasn’t in the mood for a lecture, emphatically requested he cancel my appointment, and then hung up.

    Legitimate? Riiiiiiight.

  6. Anthony says:

    I received one from Sarah as well. I discarded it. Thank for these post. Long live crowdsourcing the truth…..

  7. Joan of LI, NY says:

    Received the same letter today (Long Island, NY). Sarah Stewart, ticket value $1,595. For whatever good it will do, am reporting # as scam on whitepages.com in case anyone else tries to reverse look up the telephone number.

  8. NotFlyingOnThisLetter says:

    Received same letter. Postmark indicates letter sent from the Phoenix, AZ area.

  9. Carl Mercurio says:

    I received a letter today signed by Sarah. I knew it was a scam on the top of the letter it said REGISTERED MAIL and RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED and it came regular mail from Phoenix. I am in the Boston, MA. area.

  10. Therese says:

    Received letter today. Live in St. Paul, MN. Anytime there isn’t any type of a return address in a business or award letter it’s a SCAM!!! Reparable companies are proud of themselves and will put their address at least 2-3 times on/in letters.

  11. kwhalbach says:

    Poor Sarah – cannot even afford to get off her old IBM typewriter and so the scam cannot be all that profitable. Such an obvious scam but I am sure it is tempting to some. Minnesota seems to be popular. They are not smart enough to mail in our beautiful spring season (versus Winter). I wonder why they cannot be shut down????

  12. Jane C. says:

    Same here. No return address on the envelope, no company listed. Just “Travel Awards Division”. First thing I noticed was the old fashioned typewriter. Didn’t even bother to call as I knew this wasn’t legit.

  13. Janine says:

    Just received the same letter from Sarah Stewart here in NY. Thought it was very strange that the envelope was hand written with no return address. I also never received prior notice. Has SCAM written all over it!

  14. Rochelle W. says:

    Received a letter signed Sarah Stewart VP of Customer relations very crude letter. Trying so hard to look like a professional legit company. I think all the carbon copy references indicated really sent up a red flag for me. Who does all that? So fake, even the post mark looks suspect.
    CCN: MIN-050633
    Cc: Sarah Stewart
    Cc: By regular mail to: My address

  15. Andrea says:

    I just got the ‘Travel Awards Division’ letter today. The text of the letter is exactly the same as the one posted above. And it’s signed by Sarah Stewart, the VP of Customer Relations. And no return address. It’s really sad that people are preyed upon like this.

    I was suspicious of the letter right away and googled the ‘Travel Awards Division’. I use google to find out information on people all the time. Lately, I’ve been using reverse phone number searches to see who has been calling me- we get a lot of numbers with “unknown name” on the caller ID.

  16. allen gehrke says:

    I received one today. Kudos to the old school marketing letter. No doubt it is for a time share or the such. I did not call and it may or may not be legit. My guess it is legit if you agree to something. Be careful what you agree too.

    It is only a scam if they are not up front with the terms

  17. Marsha says:

    received same letter from Sarah Stewart dated June 1 and received on June 11 – same info on letter as stated above – shredded after reading this site – thanks for the info

  18. Ruby says:

    Sarah and her 1980 typewriter is back at it in the Twin Cities. Received the same letter as above today.

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