The Attorney General provides Consumer Alerts to inform the public of unfair, misleading, or deceptive business practices, and to provide information and guidance on other issues of concern. Consumer Alerts are not legal advice, legal authority, or a binding legal opinion from the Department of Attorney General.
Have you received a phone call, e-mail, postcard, or letter notifying you that you have won a free vacation, expensive car, plasma television, or other wonderful-sounding item that must be claimed in person at a certain hotel or business location? If yes, read between the lines, and you may also discover that when you arrive to pick up your gift you will be expected to attend a "travel information seminar" or "preview the benefits of membership into a private travel agency." And when you do, you may find yourself in the middle of an aggressive sales presentation pitching membership to a travel club.
For substantial up-front membership costs and annual dues, travel clubs claim to provide access to vacation travel opportunities and exclusive accommodations at discounted rates. Consumers who rush to purchase without first carefully reviewing the purchase contract have been surprised to learn that discounts which at the time of the sales pitch sounded like a guaranteed 50% savings are in fact up to 50%. They also learn that the vacation accommodations the club provides are subject to availability, even with weeks of advance notice and alternate travel dates provided. While the contract clearly obligates payment by the purchaser, the company's obligations may not be as certain.
Problems with travel clubs frequently reported by consumers include:
Michigan law does offer some protections:
Any time a consumer is notified of a prize and must listen to a sales presentation as a condition of receiving the prize, the consumer must be given a written disclosure that:
If a consumer is offered a prize or merchandise valued at more than $25 in exchange for attending a sales promotion for goods, services, or memberships - such as a travel club membership - that have a value of $500 or more, the consumer must be given written notice that they have three business days after signing to cancel the purchase agreement or contract.
If you experience a problem within a membership travel club, file a complaint with the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division:Consumer Protection Division