Sunday, February 28, 2016

Vacation Club Presentations: All about the freebies

This is a follow up to my post, Vacation Clubs: Future savings or a scam?

As you'll recall, Rich and I were promised the following in exchange for 90 minutes of our time:
  • Complimentary two night stay in deluxe accommodations at a Wyndham Hotel,
  • Roundtrip airfare tickets for two, and 
  • $100 in dining
What happened to our freebies?  

Hotel & Airfare

After we told our sales rep for the vacation club that we were absolutely not buying, we were handed a small pamphlet with three pretty vacation photos on the front.  ENJOY 2 NIGHTS AT WYNDHAM HOTELS AND RESORTS... PLUS GET 2 ROUND-TRIP AIRLINE TICKETS FOR 2 ADULTS!  To register, we had to follow four simple steps.  There was an activation form we needed to return by certified mail along with a one-time refundable deposit of $100 and a $37.50 per person activation fee (for the hotel) and one-time refundable deposit of $100 and $20 per person activation fee (for the airfare.)  Payment must be in the form of a money order or cashier's check.  You must also include a self-addressed stamped envelope in order for the reservation center to mail back to you your vacation planning package.  

I'm sorry.  What year is this?  2016 or 1986?  Certified mail?  Self-addressed stamped envelope.

There were no details as to what occurs after you receive your vacation planning package, but these statements in the terms and conditions were enough to raise several red flags:
  • For the hotel stay, a travel consultant will contact you about your travel request approximately 30-90 days prior to travel via phone or mail.
  • For the airline tickets, correspondence is not issued until 15 to 21 days prior to your departure date.  (I don't know about you but I can't just drop everything and leave for vacation with two-three weeks notice.)
  • There must be a minimum of 7 nights between arrival and departure for airline tickets.  
  • Capitol Marketing Concepts reserves the right to change these terms and conditions and/or fees without notice.
  • Capitol Marketing Concepts reserves the right to substitute a different itinerary when necessary.

My favorite part of this activation form is the mistake in the fees per person.  In the detailed steps to complete the activation form and in the summary, which you can see below, the activation fees are listed as $37.50 per person for the hotel stay and $20 per person for the airline tickets.  The actual activation form itself has the fees flipped.  So which is it?  Is this a legitimate mistake or purposely misguiding in hopes of tripping people up and causing delays?


I hit the internet in search of someone who had actually suffered through this antiquated process, and found that, as suspected, the end result was not worth the effort.  This Capitol Marketing Concepts is very slow to return mail so you do in fact receive notification only weeks prior to travel dates.  The company uses that "right to substitute" to book your stay in a non-Wyndham hotel, sometimes in a not so nice area.  Another complaint was that after paying fees, you could have paid the same amount yourself to stay at the ratty hotel instead of going through the whole scam.  I could not find anyone with a successful, satisfying outcome.  

Needless to say, we did not return the activation form.  Not worth the headache and hassle.


This is a fairly common scam.  Free Dining!  What you actually receive is $100 through  If you don't have experience with this website, take a browse through it.  Basically, the participating restaurants are struggling and this is most likely an attempt to drum up customers.  We've never dined at any of the restaurants listed for our area.  You also don't receive free dining.  What you're given is a certificate good for a certain amount off of your total restaurant bill.  For example, a $25 certificate can be used on a dining bill of $50 or more.  Rich found a few restaurants that we had either heard of or seemed okay but when he went to redeem, certificates for those restaurants were currently "sold out."  Please try again later.    

Quality Assurance

This is probably my favorite part of this entire experience.  About a week and a half after we attended the vacation club presentation, Rich received a call from Jarrod who identified himself as calling from the Quality Assurance Department.  But with a different company.  (Ultimately, I believe a majority of these companies all fall under the same umbrella.)  According to Jarrod, a "few" couples had been selected to receive free vacation club memberships, but under the company he was employed by.  We only had to pay annual fees.  (And a slew of other fees, I'm sure.) I hit the internet again and as suspected, this is a common practice to attempt to lure you into a vacation club membership.  So while you don't pay the $9,990 or whatever price you can negotiate to join, you still pay annual and booking fees for a club that is not user friendly.  

Rich told Jarrod that we needed to think about it.  Jarrod called Rich's phone later that same night.  Rich didn't answer and Jarrod never called back again.  Bye bye, Jarrod.  


Farah said...

Wow...I cannot believe something like this is legal! Good for you guys for doing research and not falling for this scam. Also, thanks for sharing so that hopefully someone else won't fall for it either.

Tracey's Life said...

I actually know someone who did sign up for something like this. It worked well enough for them for the first few years, but when she had a change in economic circumstances and could no longer afford the monthly or yearly fees, it became a financial nightmare for her. Getting out of it involved collection agencies and attorney fees.

Stephanie J. said...

You should watch the documentary "The Queen of Versailles" just for the heck of it. It's about the family that owns Westgate and the affiliated time share business. It's ridiculous. Your posts about these scams reminded me of it. It's on Netflix.