Lifestyle & Culture

Scam Alert

February 5, 2017

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MY HUSBAND and I are both smart, which is nice. You don’t get scammed when you’re smart, and I’ve always thought scams sounded lame and avoidable, yet mysterious. So last week, when we got a postcard inviting us to be scammed, we thought we’d go forward just to see how it feels. Last Saturday evening we attended a 90-minute sales presentation by TOURICO VACATIONS, the prerequisite for getting two free airplane tickets on JetBlue to anywhere in the United States, and a free two-night stay at a Hilton wherever we wanted to go. We bit. Hey, it was either that or a movie and nothing good was playing. And besides, who doesn’t want free stuff? We called the number on the card and made our reservation.

The lady on the phone said to “Come early, so you can get a good seat.” We arrived at the small hotel in Brunswick, Maine, at the appointed hour and made our way to the conference room, where we were greeted by the telephone lady. She asked if we had come ready to buy something. “Did you bring your checkbook?” she asked, sort of laughing. We said no, not laughing, confessing we had mainly come for the free airplane tickets. She stopped laughing. Eventually nobody else showed up and the Pitch Guy came in, straight from Central Casting and sporting a comically large pot belly and an inky black toupee. He looked like a stand-up comic from the late 1970s, spitting out the same bad jokes. He got started since apparently we were the entire audience. (We had the best seats in the house.)

There was a film showing beautiful beaches with palm trees and cruise ships and Italy and Rome and lots of other destinations. It lasted maybe two minutes, then the TOURICO VACATIONS logo came up and the film ended. Pitch Guy (P.G.) started jabbering about how much money we could save, and that this is not a time share deal, and we would make our money back in two trips and they had 250,000 satisfied customers saving millions of dollars on travel because of their membership in the club. I repeatedly asked the price, but P.G. just skirted the issue and made more bad jokes. Eventually we got some numbers out of him, like $8,995 which quickly dropped to $5,995, then $4,995 and finally $3,995, depending either on this or that variable or the incredulous looks on our faces whenever he mentioned an amount. Plus a $200 annual service fee.

We said we’d like to sleep on it, even though P.G. swore up and down that he was “only able to make my very best offer on this one night only.” We said we’d take our chances and come by the next day with our best offer. We went home and got on our computers and did some research and found almost nothing about TOURICO VACATIONS. I said almost; we found an ABC News video saying the company worked under different names and was a scam, and described our experience perfectly. (Since then the company has hastily thrown up some links to their “website,” and a few falsehoods have appeared on the Better Business Bureau website.)

We decided to go back the next day to claim our free airline tickets and hotel voucher and not join the travel club. Only there was no free anything. We were given cards from TOURICO VACATIONS explaining that the free gifts were from another company, not them, and we would have to register for them and include $75 for the registration fee. Then we would receive information in the mail with instructions on how to get the “free” gifts, but there would be another $150 in additional fees. It was likely, according to one of the few reviews we did find online, that there would be several more forms to fill out, after which we would learn it was too late, it had all taken too long and the offer had expired.

On the way out I stole a chocolate-covered peanut butter ball from the unmanned hotel lobby snack bar. By then I figured I deserved something for free. (BTW, it was to die for.)

—Andrea Rouda
Andrea Rouda blogs at The Daily Droid



16 thoughts on “Scam Alert

  1. Nancy Nichols says:

    I was about to buy now I don’t think I will. I can’t afford to be out of any kind of money. He even went down below $2,000 for 5 years. I am frightened [that] I thought it’d be a good deal. I’m so sad to read these reviews

  2. Jeannine says:

    I have to admit that the sales presentation was very convincing and I almost bought into it. Thankful for sites like this that provided me more information as I was contemplating what to do in the bathroom. I declined to buy into it and received to cheesy printouts for “free” gifts; but what free gift charges you to activate it. At least I am only out my 90 minutes of time. It would be interesting to hear from anyone that has actually purchased what Tourico Vacations is promising.

  3. Unhappy in MA says:

    I’m such an ass. I fell for it. You have 3 days to get a refund. I feel so bad about this. We’ll see if we get our $ back.
    I should have known it was too good to be true, but it seems against the law to say 2 free airline tickets only to have them not really be free. 🙁

  4. Preston Ruddell says:

    My wife & I had the same experience this afternoon – told we would get free airline tickets & vouchers good at major hotels for 3 nights’ stay, only to discover the hidden $98 fee for the air fares, plus another $50 for the hotel, in exchange for which we would get “registration forms” by mail. There was also mention of up to $89 per person for “taxes, ALL SERVICE CHARGES “. If it walks like a duck & quacks like a duck . . . – good thing that all we wasted was a few hours of our time.

  5. Carolyn says:

    My husband and I both fell for this too and normally we don’t! I did tell him this morning it was like a drama show…they all did their part! When I called they told me there was no room for the time we wanted but they will call back if any cancellations..they called back quick!
    When we got there there were 4 of them (Robert, Karen Craig and someone else) and we went into a room with only 4 people waiting! And yes, after all the acting we were given our “free” gifts that all had to be done through a marketing company and it will cost us more to activate than the gifts are worth. At least when we did the timeshare tour we got our gifts on the spot! I am so upset that I wasted my time!

    Their website is fake and tried to post on their FB page and it doesn’t work!

  6. Victoria Mastroianni says:

    Thank you all for your words of caution. I too attended the Tourice Expo and must confess, almost took out my check book. When I explained that I needed another day to make a decision and was denied, was when the red flag popped up for me. Plus my so called “free” airline and hotel gifts which would have cost me over $150 required double occupancy. I was invited to the Expo as a single woman!! Stay away…so happy my instincts kicked in and I’m only out of 90 minutes of time.

  7. Marty Snook says:

    As a prize in a (legitimate) golf tournament, my husband received a gift card for a free night’s stay at the Doubletree by Hilton. There was no local phone number on the gift card, so I got the phone # online. When I called, I got a 3rd party reservation desk and was told the reservation would be made but they would need my credit card to hold the room. The representative said that when I arrived at the desk and showed my gift card, all credit card info would be destroyed and my card would not be run. My 1-night free stay would be honored. I followed his instructions. The following month’s credit card statement showed that we had been charged $286 for the free stay. Capital One was unable to remove the charge and Tourico will not answer my call. Capital One said when they called the Tourico number it was answered by “Get A Room Get A Deal.” This operation is a total scam and Hilton says they cannot refund my money. I hope to prevent this dishonesty from happening to anyone else.

  8. Robin Gaige says:

    My husband and I only spent five minutes at our “informative” session…while we were filling out the form we were simultaneously reading all these reviews. We decided to leave just as one of the reps approached us with “How are you kids doing?” (We’re late 60s). I took our form from him and explained that we had just read the bad reviews and changed our minds. He did a classic double take and said, “What?! What do you mean??” Rather than get in a defensive pissing match with the young man we just politely said our goodbyes and left, listening to him loudly telling the registration girl that we were missing out on a great opportunity. My eye.

  9. Marilyn says:

    I too went to a 90 minute presentation. The presentation was informative. The only thing is I did not know anything about the company. It was not high pressure. Once I said I was not interested, our sales rep got out vouchers. I have a big problem with the FREE vouchers. They want $49 each to just register the vouchers plus more fees when you book. Don’t fall for it. Nothing is free. Lots of restrictions apply.

  10. Dumont says:

    We just went to the scam show in Waterville Maine. To get our free airline tickets it’s would cost us about $300. What a bunch of crap !! I hope everyone writes the truth about this company. What a waist of our time on. Sunday morning.

  11. Janet Coons says:

    They didn’t take my money, only my time, that’s enough!!! I witnessed people opening their check books to fall in their trap. Will pursue further action.

  12. Julie Lynch says:

    Thank you all for posting your experiences! I too, attended one of their sales meetings and received my airline and hotel vouchers. I knew I had a month to send them in, and being super busy that weekend, decided to wait until I had more time to read it all. So today I started reading the vouchers and it seemed weird that there was no way to pay online, and no way to contact them! I was smart enough to take a photo of my invite to the sales meeting and called the number on it to ask some questions. The woman I talked with took my name and number (which they already had) and said someone would get back to me. So while I waited, I decided to research them online and up popped this website and I also found some reviews on BBB website. Looks like I won’t be answering that call! Thank you!!!

  13. Nancy says:

    Wow! Same here! Different guy?Same story, same results! Only we ALMOST had them “help” us get out of a Time Share we want to get rid of. STAY AWAY FROM THESE EVENTS!!!

  14. Pat Weiss says:

    Wow! I just had the same experience. So irritating!! I wish I could get that 90 minutes back! I’m going to call the hotel and complain that this is a scam. Such a drag…

  15. sue hinderfield says:

    I have a similar story. Attended in syracuse, ny at a hampton inn. Sounds like the same guy with a large pot belly. We did not bite either and were given a voucher to send in to get free airline tickets, but am required to send 49 dollars for each ticket for taxes. Was very hesitant so I decided to check some reviews. After reading your review, it confirms that it is a scam and they WILL NOT get my 98 dollars. It is very sad that these people are able to operate this way.
    Thank you for publishing your story. It helped me from being scammed .

  16. Bonnie Schloss says:

    I went to one of these once knowing what it was, just to get airplane tickets. I didn’t bite and I didn’t get the tickets.
    My sister in law went and fell for the nonsense. She charged thousands on her American Express Card. She told me how much money she had laid out and I immediately went online and quickly convinced her that is was a scam.
    She got her money back.
    The moral to this story is if you’re going to fall for a scam, do it on an American Express Card

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