Getaway USA — Free cruise promotions
My wife and I own timeshares and received an offer to attend a "vacation club" presentation. For attending, we were to receive, through Travel Service Center/Getaway USA, a free 3 day 2 night hotel stay with airfare. In addition we were to receive a free 3, 5 or 7 day cruise on several well-known cruise lines. Skeptical we were but we decided to attend.
Stupid us signed up for the vacation club (another rip off which we won't go into now) but it cost us $4600 plus a timeshare we owned.
In any case after submitting our non-refundable $75 "activation fee" to some company in NYC (Madison 4 Corp), we received their beautiful brochure. We decided to check on our free air/hotel vacation but there were so many blackout dates that it was almost impossible to schedule a trip. So, we decided to just take the "free" cruise vacation instead.
Travel Services Center in Tampa provided us with a long list of possible cruises. We selected about 12 cruises (both 7 and 5 day). Three of the cruises were immediately denied for lack of availability (but the cruise line's website showed there was availability). For the others, in almost every case the added costs (processing fees, surcharges, etc.) that were charged by Travel Service Center exceeded the cost of the cruise had we booked directly with the cruise line. In only one instance Travel Service Center's cost was about $77 less than the cruise line (but that didn't take into account the $75 Activation fee we previously paid). All in all there truly is "No Free Lunch" and these companies continue to rip the public off. Needless to say, we are not using Travel Service Center's "Free" cruise offer! What a joke