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First it was an offer ostensibly from Carnival Cruises – like I would trust any cruise ship line in today’s environment of viruses and vacation-killing illness – and now I get an offer (from a different group) for a Hotel getaway. Shades of the old timeshare promotion lead generation era.

It looks like it is being sent from the Marriott Hotels people …


And it sounds like it is being sent from the Marriott Hotels people …


But then you put on your glasses and read the weasel words …


The red flags are flying …

arrow_right_hover arrow_right_hoverRed Flag One – The header uses the name of a prominent hotel chain and not the actual name of the company!

arrow_right_hover Red Flag Two – The mailer comes from Nevada. (Other red flag states are Utah and Florida)

arrow_right_hover Red Flag Three – There is no return address or primary address on their mailing piece.

arrow_right_hoverarrow_right_hover Red Flag Four – The mailing piece is personalized, but contains “or current resident” that indicates your selection is not all that exclusive.

arrow_right_hoverarrow_right_hover Red Flag Five -- The “weasel” words are in unbelievably small print and include legalisms regarding the trademark being used to front the offer, the statement that the “components of the offer are fulfilled by a third party,” and the notice that you are responsible for all applicable taxes and fees. Fees which can include all manner of extra charges.

Looking further …

If I were not going to blog this as a warning to my readers, I would have simply thrown the cards away in the trash where they belong. So let’s explore a little further …

The toll-free number is obviously being answered by a boiler room. In this case, located in Phoenix, Arizona. The polite young man (probably a college student) who answered the phone and claimed that they were acting on the behalf of a wholesale travel group EPG (Empowered Partners Group) with an offer for a Health, Wealth, and Leisure Workshop. After asking a number of questions, he hung up. Calling back, I was told that to take advantage of this offer, I needed to attend a 90-minute presentation (bring the postcard, the confirmation e-mail, a picture ID, and a valid credit card to prove that I could pay the taxes and fees on my free tickets.). I was told to expect a confirming e-mail from Memorable Vacations U.S. To lend a further air of legitimacy, the presentation will be held in a local Marriott Hotel.

Caveat: Toll-free numbers are used to capture ANI (Automatic Number Identification) information regardless of whether or not you have blocked your telephone number.

Time for a little Google research …

Yes, there is an Empowered Partners Group, located in Las Vegas …


And, they have travel services …


And there is a Memorable Vacations – but they appear on the radar of the Better Business Bureau with a description of a similar promotion …

Fake Free Airline Ticket Scam

August 1, 2013 - If you receive a postcard stating you've been selected to receive 2 round trip airfare tickets to anywhere in the U.S., don't believe it. It's a scam. 

How the scam works

You've receive a postcard in the mail stating: "Congratulations we've selected you to receive 2 round trip airfares to anywhere in the contiguous United States - good for the next 12 months.

Call within 48 hours and receive a 3 day and 2 night hotel stay at major brands.

To claim this special offer, simply call and mention your promo code"

These postcards display photos of airplanes and appear to come from a major airline such as American Airlines, Delta or Southwest Airline companies. The cards instruct the recipient to call a toll-free number for more information.

When a consumer calls the number, a representative from he promotions company asks a series of questions such as marital status, age and credit card information.

The company goes by the name of Memorable Vacations based in Phoenix, Arizona. They are a marketing wholesale company that is hired by multiple travel agents who purchase the airline tickets. A BBB investigation found no registration of a company by that name with the Arizona Secretary of State.

Amanda Tietze, BBB Vice President of Public Relations states "These postcards are not sent by the airline companies but are actually from a travel promotion company. The cards are sent in the hopes to lure consumers into attending a presentation encouraging them to join a travel club."

Consumers should be aware that others that have attended similar type presentations encountered high pressure sales tactics to join the travel club costing them thousands of dollars a year. If and when they received their travel voucher, they learned they had to pay taxes and additional fees of $100 per person or more. Whey trying to book their flights, many travel dates were blocked and travel "restrictions" were so strict it was nearly impossible to book a flight. <Source: Better Business Bureau>

Bottom line …

I have no idea whether or not the goods and service offered by this company are as advertised or would be particularly beneficial to anyone. But, I would not do business with any company that refuses to identify itself in lead generation materials or who uses what I would call “deceptive” practices, including piggybacking off well-known and respected company names, to generate leads. And, in my extensive experience, any product or service that is sold via a presentation is often suspect.

The best advice I can give is to pay attention to the Better Business Bureau – Investigate BEFORE you invest!

-- steve

“Nullius in verba.”-- take nobody's word for it!

“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”-- George Bernard Shaw

“Progressive, liberal, Socialist, Marxist, Democratic Socialist -- they are all COMMUNISTS.”

“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS

"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius

“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell

“Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt." (The people gladly believe what they wish to.) ~Julius Caesar

“Describing the problem is quite different from knowing the solution. Except in politics." ~ OCS