Travel club sparks consumer complaints - WFLA News Channel 8

Travel club sparks consumer complaints

Posted: Updated:
Lee Bierman peering out of the company office door to say he was still trying to get his paperwork returned after deciding to cancel his membership in the travel club. Lee Bierman peering out of the company office door to say he was still trying to get his paperwork returned after deciding to cancel his membership in the travel club.

Letters are arriving in mailboxes all over the Tampa Bay area.

They're going to retirees, preachers, mechanics and reporters—people in all walks of life in zip codes from here to Orlando and probably beyond.

Chances are good that you or someone you know have already received one. 

This is how you'll know: the personalized return address sticker on the envelope says it's from Patricia Smith in Holly Hill, Florida.

Inside the letter is an offer for a "FREE Android tablet computer" from a company called CCD Research LLC.

Some people receive the gift right away; others have to work hard for it. Whatever the case, there's a lot more to this offer than a free gift.

A news investigation by Eight on Your Side reveals there is no company called CCD Research LLC registered with the State of Florida, no Patricia Smith living at that Holly Hill address and the letter is anything but personal.

The letter arriving in many homes across the Tampa Bay area and the Orlando area is a sophisticated direct mail offer to solicit membership in the Global Vacation Network. But consumers have no way of knowing that until they follow the next step and call the phone number listed to make an appointment.

To collect their "FREE Android tablet computer" consumers must attend a 90 minute travel club sales presentation and sit down with a "counselor" to close the deal.  

"Standard membership" costs as much as $14,900, but consumers tell  Eight On Your Side their "counselors" dropped the price during their sales pitch to as little as $1,400 in order to close the deal.

If consumers agree to become members they are actually joining a travel club called Global Connections Inc. based in Kansas. In some cases they will sign a revolving credit agreement to pay for the membership cost at a 21% interest rate.

Global Vacation Network President Terry Diegel said his staff does not apply high pressure sales tactics, and says consumers have three days to cancel the contracts they sign.

But consumers we spoke with say they have to agree on the spot after a sales presentation or the Global Vacation Network membership offer is no good and they have no opportunity to talk over the deal in private.

"We came outside to talk to have privacy and he came out right behind us," said consumer Christine Bierman, who came to a presentation in Palm Harbor with her husband, Lee.

"I noticed that the other couples that came out to talk, their counselor is there with them, they follow them out," Bierman said.

All this to receive a "FREE Android tablet computer" that bears no brand or place of manufacture, certificates for travel that come with strings attached, and the opportunity to book "discounted" travel through the club they just joined.

The Better Business Bureau has received around 200 complaints about the business practices of Global Vacation Network. The BBB does not accredit the organization and gives it a C- rating based on the record of consumer complaints.

Ray Bierman thought better of the deal he signed and decided to cancel before he left the company's parking lot.

"Be sharp people, do your homework before you jump into something," Bierman said. "Usually when something sounds too good, as my father put it, it's too good to be true."

The Better Business Bureau says beware of offers that require an immediate decision. Any deal that's good for the moment should also be good in a week, after you've had time to think it over.

  • NewsMore>>

  • Nan Rich touts grassroots campaign for governor

    Nan Rich touts grassroots campaign for governor

    Monday, July 28 2014 1:56 AM EDT2014-07-28 05:56:46 GMT
    Campaign stops like the one in Pinellas County last week are how Democratic gubernatorial candidate Nan Rich is getting her message out.She doesn't have the money her opponents do. So while the two men who have already been governor are showing up in TV commercials, Rich has a different approach."I feel let the two of them go ahead and sling the mud at each other," Rich said. "I'm trying to stay above that."Richeven lumpsboth men together."On vouchers, I put them in exactly the same category,...
    Campaign stops like the one in Pinellas County last week are how Democratic gubernatorial candidate Nan Rich is getting her message out.She doesn't have the money her opponents do. So while the two men who have already been governor are showing up in TV commercials, Rich has a different approach."I feel let the two of them go ahead and sling the mud at each other," Rich said. "I'm trying to stay above that."Richeven lumpsboth men together."On vouchers, I put them in exactly the same category,...
  • USF Police investigates sex battery claim

    USF Police investigates sex battery claim

    Monday, July 28 2014 1:18 AM EDT2014-07-28 05:18:33 GMT
    The University of South Florida Police Department is investigating a report of a sexual battery on the Tampa campus. A woman told authorities she was the victim of a sexual battery that occurred at the Juniper-Poplar Residence Hall early Sunday morning. A resident student told police officers a tall, thin black man who she did not know sexually battered her in the residence hall. Police detectives identified a suspect, who told authorities he and the woman had...
    The University of South Florida Police Department is investigating a report of a sexual battery on the Tampa campus. A woman told authorities she was the victim of a sexual battery that occurred at the Juniper-Poplar Residence Hall early Sunday morning. A resident student told police officers a tall, thin black man who she did not know sexually battered her in the residence hall. Police detectives identified a suspect, who told authorities he and the woman had...
  • One dead, one injured on beach after plane crash

    One dead, one injured on beach after plane crash

    Monday, July 28 2014 12:52 AM EDT2014-07-28 04:52:47 GMT
    Man killed and his daughter was critical injured when they were hit by a plane making a crash landing on Caspersen Beach in Venice.Man killed and his daughter was critical injured when they were hit by a plane making a crash landing on Caspersen Beach in Venice.
    An emergency landing by a small plane on Caspersen Beach in Venice claimed the life of a man walking with his young daughter Sunday, the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office said.About 2:45 pm, Venice Airport contacted the sheriff's office regarding a small plane in distress that was unable to make it back to the airport, Sarasota County sheriff's spokeswoman Wendy Rose said in a news release. Instead the pilot was going to try to land on the beach.The 1972 Piper Cherokee airplane hit the man and...
    An emergency landing by a small plane on Caspersen Beach in Venice claimed the life of a man walking with his young daughter Sunday, the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office said.About 2:45 pm, Venice Airport contacted the sheriff's office regarding a small plane in distress that was unable to make it back to the airport, Sarasota County sheriff's spokeswoman Wendy Rose said in a news release. Instead the pilot was going to try to land on the beach.The 1972 Piper Cherokee airplane hit the man and...
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Lakeland man spray-paints garage door with message for thief

    Lakeland man spray-paints garage door with message for thief

    Saturday, July 26 2014 9:53 AM EDT2014-07-26 13:53:51 GMT
    Jerry Ashley's message spray-painted on his garage door.Jerry Ashley's message spray-painted on his garage door.
    A Lakeland man, grieving his wife’s passing, has spray-painted his garage door with a message for the thief who stole his late wife’s laptop filled with sentimental photos.
    A Lakeland man, grieving his wife’s passing, has spray-painted his garage door with a message for the thief who stole his late wife’s laptop filled with sentimental photos.
  • Pregnant woman injured in accidental shooting

    Pregnant woman injured in accidental shooting

    Sunday, July 27 2014 11:15 AM EDT2014-07-27 15:15:28 GMT
    Hernando County sheriff's deputies are investigating the shooting of a five-month pregnant woman late Saturday.About 6:45 p.m. Saturday, theHernando County Sheriff's Office Emergency Communications Center received a call about a shooting at20079 Suncrest Drive in Brooksville.Sheriff's deputies and Hernando County Fire Rescue emergency units responded to thescene, where they found Kathleen Hoover with a head injury, a ...
    Hernando County sheriff's deputies are investigating the shooting of a five-month pregnant woman late Saturday.About 6:45 p.m. Saturday, theHernando County Sheriff's Office Emergency Communications Center received a call about a shooting at20079 Suncrest Drive in Brooksville.Sheriff's deputies and Hernando County Fire Rescue emergency units responded to thescene, where they found Kathleen Hoover with a head injury, a ...
  • Restaurant Ratings Most Violations: July 14 -19

    Restaurant Ratings Most Violations: July 14 -19

    Friday, July 25 2014 5:38 PM EDT2014-07-25 21:38:43 GMT
    Ever wonder what goes on in the kitchen of your favorite restaurants? We’ve gathered details about the 30 Tampa Bay restaurants that received the most violations during inspections conducted from July 14 to 19, 2014.
    Ever wonder what goes on in the kitchen of your favorite restaurants? We’ve gathered details about the 30 Tampa Bay restaurants that received the most violations during inspections conducted from July 14 to 19, 2014.
Powered by WorldNow

200 South Parker Street, Tampa, FL 33606

Telephone: 813.228.8888
Fax: 813.225.2770
Email: news@wfla.com

Can’t find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.