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Horizon Travel / National Vacations / TCI / The tactics of these people is truly unbelievable

1 United States Review updated:

I am preparing to file a small claims suit against Horizon Travel. Please read this and pass on the link to others. Bad publicity is poisonous to a sales-driven monster like Horizon Travel, so just by reading this and passing on the link, you are helping!!

So thanks again. Keep reading, for your own sake!

Like many other victims, I fell for the bait-and-switch business trap being perpetuated by Horizon Travel. Horizon Travel is owned by National Vacations, Inc.

Once I discovered how badly I got burned (just weeks after I signed up), I tried to reason with Horizon Travel for a refund. But they refused every opportunity I gave them, and even IGNORED a certified letter from my attorney! (They signed for it, but didn't respond.)

After discovering that Horizon Travel:

* Has a HORRIFIC record with the Fort Worth Texas BBB,

* Has been BANNED by the State of Indiana Attorney General from doing business in that state,

* And its affiliates have ripped off so many other victims,

I realized that I must sue Horizon Travel. I told them by phone that I would sue if they didn't refund my money. Their response: "That is your right." (in other words "Go right ahead--sue us!")

Here are the sordid details:

I was contacted by phone and offered a free cruise for attending a presentation. At the presentation in March of 2006, Mr. Yaqut Abdullah, a Horizon Sales representative, put us all at ease by telling us that, instead of doing a 90-minute presentation, he would like to do it in 45 minutes--if that was okay with us. Of course, we all liked the sound of that and breathed a sigh of relief. But that was just the first trick!

The presentation actually went on for about two and a half hours, by which time I was very hungry, tired, and pressed for another business matter I had to attend to on that day.

Mr. Abdullah led attendees to believe that HUGE discounts were realizable via the membership due to Horizon Travel's supposed ability to buy cruise vacations at the wholesale level, and as a result the $4000+ cost of membership could be recovered in about four cruises. Only later did I discover that I could get the same price (within pennies) for a cruise from Horizon Travel's booking services as I could by going to the cruise line's booking service online. SO REALLY THERE WERE NO REAL SAVINGS AT ALL!!!

The crux of the scheme is this:
On the sales contract there is a main signature line and SEVENTEEN clauses that you have to initial. At the end of clause 14), it says: "I/We acknowledge that there have been no separate oral or written promises, representations, agreements or warranties between the Club and me or any sales representative."

BINGO! If you make the mistake of initialing that clause or one like it, then they are positioned to use that as a tool to absolve themselves from any responsibility for their salesperson(s) making false promises and/or misrepresentations.

THEY GOTCHA!!! You see, nothing the salespersons say matters; only what's written in the contract matters (and naturally the promises made in the sales pitch are NOT in the contract!).

So they promise great savings in the presentation, wear you out, then barrage you with the contract and trick you with the buried clause. Deception is the mantra.

Clever, huh?

To this day, I have received ZERO BENEFIT from the membership I purchased. But Horizon Travel is intent on keeping all of my money. And of course they want MORE on top of that in the form of annual dues at $179 per year.

I feel people should be warned about the schemes perpetuated by National Vacations and their subsidiaries. And looking ahead, I am considering leading a fresh wave of legal action and coordination with other victims in filing with the Texas State Attorney General to get their operation shut down here in Texas, as has already been done in Indiana.

It is interesting to note that David G. Vavro, one of the Principal owners of Sun Country Travel, is one of the Principal owners of National Vacations, which in turn owns recently formed Horizon Travel. Sun Country Travel and its Principals David G. Vavro, Jerry L. McDonald Sr. and Jerry L. McDonald Jr., were sued by the State Of Texas in 2003 for their deceptive advertising schemes and they lost to the tune of $64 million.

From what I can tell by my research so far, the Principals of National Vacations, Inc. responded to the injunction against their subsidiary company Sun Country Travel by opening a new company--Horizon Travel--and then further refined their deceptive sales techniques and methods to get and keep maximum dollars from new victims, and without honoring the promises made in their sales presentations.

I have spent a lot of time researching Horizon Travel and its affiliates, and the more I dig the more dirt I find. I share some of my sources and otherwise damning evidence with you below. The tactics of these people is truly unbelievable.

Va
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Comments

  • Su
      2nd of Mar, 2007
    0 Votes

    We are from NH and were recently scammed by Horizon Travel/ aka TCI in Salem NH in August 2006. We paid $4,995.00 for this membership which included 2 weeks of condo usage per year. We won a so-called trip for 3 days 2 nights to Cancun, Orlando Florida or Las Vegas. We sent in a check for $100.00 for this trip and have not heard from the company. We also booked a hotel in Boston Mass. in November, had to pay the full amount and are still waiting for the discount. My husband has called the company many times, either they gave him a run around or no answer or answering machine saying they would return our phone calls. My husband received a phone call today (3/1/07) from a person claiming he was a consumer relations representative from TCI...phone number was 602-438-6526, (when I did a reverse phone number look up on the internet, it came up as TCI in Tempe Arizona). However when I called the number back, no one answered. This person told my husband that they were no longer associated with Horizon Travel. He said that they only charge $175 per year for a membership and not the astronomical amount we paid. He said that they never received any of this money from Horizon and said if we still wanted to be members they would reimburse us the money we were waiting for (the $128 from the hotel booking). We sent a complaint report to our NH attorney generals office. We also recently found out that the Salem Office is closed, that Horizon Travel left overnight and no one knows where they went. We want the public to know what this company is doing and to stop others from being scammed. We know we may never see our money again, but feel justice would be served if the public was made aware of this company

  • Sh
      19th of May, 2007
    0 Votes

    This "travel membership" sales presentation is identical to one my husband and I had on Friday, May 18th in Mooresville, NC. The company was VIP Travel, based in Lexington, SC. I could not verify their membership w/ ASTA. They said they were consolidators in the travel industry and could pass on their "blocks" of purchased travel to members at great prices. Two weeks of condos per year at a member price of $399-999 plus add till member benefits... yada yada. Our contract has the same verbiage as The Horizon Travel/TCI contract!!! Make me wonder if this company has simply once again "re-packaged" themselves as VIP Travel to avoid bad press??? They too have a web site available to anyone, with small print at the top that additional discounts would pertain to members only... The red flags are going off!! We luckily had them include 72 hour right of rescission - against their better judgment they said. I hope to cancel this transaction ASAP and walk away not losing anything. Thank you for this website!

  • Ni
      2nd of Nov, 2007
    0 Votes

    My husband and I attended the presentation by VIP Travel, based in Lexington, SC, on Friday, August 10 in RTP, NC. Unfortunately we signed and paid 3000 dollars. They gave us all the rosy picture. and told us what we wanted to listen. They said they are opening a office in RTP on Monday 13th. When we tried to get hotel on Monday 13th and tried to see their web site, we figured out that we have been taken for a ride. Monday I called to cancel and ask for refund. Nothing happened. I have been calling them leaving message for Roxane (their costumer complain director), she never returns our phone calls. They send American express our signed documents and said that we knew what we had signed. We don't know what to do. please if anyone has any idea let us know.

  • Ni
      14th of Nov, 2007
    0 Votes

    I posted my comments (11 days ago) and I got e-mail from person name Will from VIP travel, saying all the good things, I had heard in sales presentation and saying we will look into it right away. I send him the e-mail explaining the whole situation... guess what have not heard a word from him or anyone from VIP.

  • Am
      17th of Feb, 2008
    0 Votes

    Well, we live in Lexington, S.C. and were scammed here too! The TCI guys came to a hotel in town and didn't say they were from Lexington.....? We got the same lines about the condo deals, the cruises and more! We booked a cruise and when we got on the ship they gave us a window and not a balcony like I had "booked" through TCI. I got the run around for over 9 months, not returning calls to me OR just plain old lieing about everything. They even had the nearve to say that they have NO record of me asking for a balcony. (I know this is a bunch of bull because we gave this cruise to my father-in-law because he was dying of pancreatic cancer and he could at least sit on the balcony and enjoy the sea air if he was feeling sick! It was his first and last cruise.....he died 2 weeks ago...) They told me that the reason for all the confusion is that they were being bought out by another company and the new people said that "I should be glad that they took over my membership because they were nice enough to take on TCI old members so we could still have a travel company! I must have used hours on my cell phone trying to get my case heard.......they probably sat down the phone and ate cavier and crackers while I was talking.....
    Another scam they have is that when they "were bought out" by the NEW company they said that they had no record of my yearly renewal check and that I would have to send another one because TCI never processed it or something.... I went to the bank and retrieved the canceled check and emailed them a copy and asked for a response to let me know that they had received it and I still have not heard from them.....over 6 months ago. I'm sure they didn't take the time to respond because they knew I wasn't paying anymore! Oh, yeah don't forget "your membership can be passed down GENERATIONS" so they can CONTINUE collecting $$$$ for all their new employees and future law suites!!!!!!!!!!!!! I want to sue but they keep changing phone numbers and company names and employees........who do I actually sue??
    (I do know that I am contacting my Congressman, a personal friend of mine, and letting him direct me on what I can do.)
    I am going to check out the VIP Travel in Lexington. It is only 2 miles from my house and I have got to see if they are connected with TCI?????????? The phone is 803-808-1841. I will try to let this web page know what I find out.......

  • Me
      22nd of Apr, 2008
    0 Votes

    My husband and I attended a sales presentation on March 8th, 2008 in Little Rock, AR. However, unlike most, we were fortunate enough to realize it had to be a scam, so therefore, we did not purchase their VIP Package. We did, however, agree to attend the seminar after being guranteed to receive 2 airline tickets, anywhere in the Contential US, to be used anytime within one year, and as a bonus, a free rental car for one week. Upon mailing the request form, I received a letter stating they were on backorder and I could choose another gift of 3-4 other items. I re-requested the airline tickets. After one week, I received a letter with a number of requirements to meet, such as, cities of departure and destination were at the travel agent's discrestion, (I guess this doesn't mean anywhere in the US), and to please choose 3 dates we wished to travel on, again (I guess this doesn't apply to anytime within one year), there were other requirements, such as, travel not to be one week prior to any holiday, 60 days prior travel notice and $50 per person in advance. WOW! I can just pay for the tickets myself and come out ahead with less hassle and have a confirmation of when we're traveling (our choice), and as a bonus, our choice of city departure/destination.

    I have contacted our Arkansas Attorney General regarding VIP Travel/Gift Center's scam practices in hopes that he will ban their company from holding future seminars in AR. Good luck to those trying to recover or get reimbursed from this evil scam.

    Melba Mullins
    Greenbrier, AR

  • La
      21st of Dec, 2010
    0 Votes

    My husband and I also attended the presentation in Salem, NH., in 2006 and were duped like everyone else. Our case was part of a class action suit against Horizon Travel by the NH Attorney General's Office of Consumer Protection, and although the class won the case, we have never been able to recover any money.

    We recently (Nov., 2010) received an urgent notice from "Advantage Travel"/TCI entitled "Affidavit Request-Final Notice" indicating that our "equity" is $4, 645.35 (about $1000 less that our "investment."), and have a phone appointment next week to discuss this with one of their reps. I'm wondering if anyone else has received this notice, and/or has discovered what are our options under this proposal.

  • De
      29th of Mar, 2011
    0 Votes

    I too have recently received (March 2011) a notice from Advantage Travel entitled Affidavit Request-Final Notice indicating the same thing. Has anyone else received this

  • Ca
      11th of Apr, 2011
    0 Votes

    Yes, I received this same Affidavit Notice and did not realize that a class action suit against Horizon Travel was won by NH Attorney Generals Office. My guess would be to speak to someone from Attorney Generals Office to attempt to recover this money as this Travel Club is still in business but keeps changing it name (latest being GREATESCAPEs)

  • Br
      13th of Apr, 2011
    0 Votes

    My story is the same a all those above; duped for $4, 000. by TCI/Horizon back in 2004 and recently received the Affidavit Notice from Advantage Travel/Great Escapes/TCI, which essentially says that if I want to stay with them they will waive reinstatement fees. The letter before that announcing their acquisition of TCI said in bold that "the travel benefits have not changed". Their website classifies me as "cancelled for non-payment" and requires $600 for reinstatement. The policies/rules from TCI clearly state that membership can go inactive as long as you want and when you are ready to access the vacation options you simply pay the annual dues and you are good for 1 year. These people have been able to keep this scam going for several years now even though the Attorney generals in every state are aware so I don't hold out much hope unless a large # of people file a class action suit.

  • Ad
      19th of May, 2011
    0 Votes

    We would like to clarify a couple issues raised in this blog concerning Advantage Travel and the TCI members. First, there are several versions of "TCI membership" each with different terms and benefits. When Advantage Travel acquired the servicing rights, the electronic files we received did not differentiate these benefits. Additionally, the physical files we received were many times incomplete or missing document or information. In short, it was, and has been difficult in some instances to determine who is actually a member and if so, what benefits they have. There were also issues with 'what was in the paperwork' versus what members were told or thought that they had. We went through every physical contract that was provided to us to make a determination and classify members. We had physical records for approximately 80% of the names on the electronic files. The "only pay dues when you want service" benefit, for which there were probably 15 versions of this clause, was made part of certain contracts within the exceptions section or on what's called the worksheet. In going through the contracts we identified every contract that included any versions of this and marked it within our servicing system as having the benefit. For accounts without physical documents we marked these as "unknown". We are a membership organization that makes money by having dues paying members and providing them with service. The Affidavit program is designed to determine who is a member and who isn't along with an opportunity to extend some great additional benefits for those who so choose. We will absolutely honor any TCI member that has the "pay when you want service" benefit. For those who don't, we are giving them an opportunity to remain involved without having to pay a reinstatement fee. If their status is unknown, or there is some question as to whether they have it, we ALWAYS give the TCI member the benefit of the doubt. With respect to the website stating that dues and a reinstatement fee has to be paid to access the account, this indicates that our records do not reflect this benefit on the account. A phone call made to a customer service representative would result in the account being updated. I'm not sure why giving members options, including the opportunity to reinstate for dues and stating "Reinstatement fees (if applicable) are waived" rises to the level of a scam in your opinion. In any event, we would be more than happy to discuss this issue or any others with you or any TCI member with concerns. Please feel free to contact our Customer Care Manager vai e-mail at Matt@atclubs.com.

  • Be
      30th of Jul, 2014
    0 Votes

    This liar Advantage Travel/TCI whatever that responded is like I said a liar. These ###s keep calling me night and day at my home and there is no such number to call and they do not listen. I finally got a number in Texas 713-978-7202 and told them to quit calling my house and they acted dumb and said we don't know what you are talking about we do not call people unless they call us..yeah right that's a lie right there the dummies. They are liars and scam artist from the word GO! I told them my family comes from wealth and my brother is a billionaire with several attorneys on payroll which I can access at anytime. Hello there is going to be a law suite against these filthy people who steal from Americans everyday. Do not and I repeat do not believe on them and hang up immediately!!

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