United Reservation Services (Aka Urs) / URS Claims Significant/Non-Existent Vacation Travel Savings while Requiring Significant Membership Fees Up-Front
A Heads Up on URS, United Reservation Services: From a Couple Who Went Through Agony. Here is the URS pitch and what we were put through until we figured out the URS deception and got out. This is what actually happened to us.
Summary: For a significant up-front credit card payment of a “membership price” (starting at $8995) + $449 “processing/documentation fee” + $149 “annual dues” and only their spoken word in return, United Reservation Services claimed their cost-reducing “block reservation” methods would save us money on our travel costs. The reality was quite different: after comparing rates from the URS-designated travel agent to rates we had recently found on our own, for a very similar trip, we found there was no savings. In fact, our own arrangements were better and cheaper than those quoted via URS.
The problem the newcomer to URS faces is that URS will very likely take your up-front fees before you are in a position to confirm key information verbally provided during their presentation and still get out of the membership agreement in a timely manner – you have only five days.
Some Details: At first, during their group presentation, they talked convincingly, were very believable, appeared forthright, and no pressure whatsoever. Their message: how they will save you vacation travel expenses because URS reserves travel locations and other travel expenses directly and “in blocks”, thereby passing on these low discounted rates to you. For this they required a large amount of money up front: a one-time “membership price” starting at $8995 (later, while one-on-one, it was reduced to about half), as well as $449 and $149 for a “Documentation/Processing fee” and “annual dues”, respectively. They assured us we would make these fees up in a relatively short time, even with moderate travel.
We fell for it.
Later, the day after signing up, we realized we had no hard, factual information from URS confirming their actual low rates for specific travel destinations – only their word on certain “typical” rates they presented on viewgraphs the day before. We went to the URS website to get real rates, but couldn’t get into the URS website with the login data they provided us. We promptly became worried and decided to cancel our agreement that day, which we did by writing the URS escrow agent.
Contractually, we had only 5 days to rescind the Agreement, in accordance with the URS Agreement’s conditions, to avoid paying them the above large, up-front fees. In addition, we wished to avoid certain other contractual cancellation fees: a 2.8% “cancellation restocking fee” plus we had to return a URS booklet to avoid paying a “$350 materials fee.”
The next day we were told by the URS escrow agent, we had to have cancellation concurrence by a URS representative before they could accept our cancellation. We were contacted by a URS person who requested we meet with him for a 10-15 minute “exit interview”, which we were told was for the purpose of URS learning and, in return, we would not have to pay a 2.8% “cancellation restocking fee” charge (per the Agreement). This meeting was not an exit interview at all but a long high pressure tactic wherein nothing we said was accepted but every word was rebutted. The URS salesperson got testy, unpleasant and, we later found, deceptive. Finally, he agreed to set up a phone contact with their designated travel agency, but the prices quoted us were worse than those we had previously got on our own! In short, we would never have gotten the URS “fees” back with such routine travel prices.
The importance of “Five Days.” We finally extracted ourselves from the written Agreement with URS, in accordance with its terms, by scrambling to return URS “materials” and formally cancel the Agreement, via their Arizona escrow company, within 5 days.
Why are we doing this? Why are we going out of our way to put our embarrassing, real-life experience out there? Because we originally looked online for “reviews” of URS but we saw only a couple of short, vague critiques about URS, none were specific – never enough to give even a hint of what we experienced in reality. So if we can provide factual information to others of what actually happened to us, it would be worthwhile.
One last consideration: If you exceed the “five days” and believe you have been mislead and want out of URS, there may be another alternative to consider for getting your fees back. Although the Agreement never took effect in our case, we are still very upset about what happened to us. So we are now preparing to file complaints with the State Attorneys General for the states applicable to our case, those in which they do business, including our home state (place of URS presentation/agreement), Arizona (escrow agent), and Texas (URS headquarters). If you believe you have been taken advantage of or mislead, you have this option also. Another option is to file an online complaint with the appropriate states’ Better Business Bureaus. (URS does not have to be a BBB member for one to file a BBB complaint.)