Better Business Bureau: Many travel clubs are bad deals

The end of school marks the start of the summer travel season. With the cost of travel rising, consumers are susceptible to vacation travel fraud.

The Better Business Bureau is warning vacationers to beware of travel clubs. Complaints to the BBB show that many travel clubs promise huge discounts on hotels, airfare and cruises, but fail to deliver these discounts to members despite the high cost of joining.

“Consumers are looking for vacation bargains,” said BBB President Tom Bartholomy. “Unfortunately, they are being seduced by slick presentations from high-pressure sales people who promise great deals that do not exist.”

In the last three years, hundreds of consumers nationwide have filed complaints with the BBB against travel clubs in the U.S. The complainants allege that they are lured — either in person, by telephone or through email — to a high-pressure sales presentation with the promise of receiving free airline tickets, gas cards or tickets to shows. During the presentation, consumers are told they would be able to get great deals on travel if they joined the travel club for a membership fee of as much as $8,000.

Many consumers who bought travel club memberships have found that they can book the same travel at the same prices on their own. Consumers who complained that the travel club discounts are not as advertised have found it difficult, if not impossible, to get their travel club membership fees refunded.

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