Am I about to get screwed by Sundance Vacations?
February 3, 2010 8:45 AM   Subscribe

Am I about to get screwed by Sundance Vacations?

I received a call yesterday advising that my name was selected in a drawing for a 4-day, 3-night Royal Caribbean cruise. The drawing was one I remembered entering and the prize was one I remembered being offered.

The cruise is being offered through Sundance Vacations in Harrisburg, PA. I've been asked to sign up for a 1- to 2-hour informational meeting that promises to be a very hard sell for their very expensive vacation packages. I was informed that airfare would not be included unless I signed up for an informational session by this weekend - a classic hard-sell technique, right off the bat.

A little Googling turns up some alarming links, like this and this. This seems like about the best experience I could expect.

Honestly, the whole thing, even if legitimate, sounds like much more trouble than it's worth. If anyone has first-hand experience with this outfit, warnings (or favorable impressions), or links to travel forums or discussion groups that go into additional detail, I'd welcome your input.
posted by cheapskatebay to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This is a pretty common scam and happened to a friend of mine. They were indeed on the hook for airfare, ended up having to sit through an entire day of time-share presentations (definitely not limited to one or two hours) and spent the rest of the vacation on a really crappy, expensive cruise from which they ended up getting food poisoning. Don't do it unless you already live near the port of call and have a lot of time to burn.
posted by theraflu at 8:52 AM on February 3, 2010

I did one of those timeshare sessions for free tickets to something once. (Disneyland? KBF? I forget.) I just smiled stupidly at the guy the whole time and said "I'm not buying anything" to every question, even if it was "Where are you from?"

I don't know how long the thing was supposed to be, but he gave me my free tickets and moved onto the next person in about 12 minutes. I was a waste of his time.
posted by rokusan at 9:04 AM on February 3, 2010 [9 favorites]

I signed up for one of these at a baseball game, and they called me back a couple months later. It was clear that we couldn't even make the info sessions, but they just... kept... calling. Ugh.
posted by Madamina at 9:05 AM on February 3, 2010

I was informed that airfare would not be included unless I signed up for an informational session by this weekend - a classic hard-sell technique, right off the bat.

When I get these calls on the phone, I do my best to talk to the person about better career options. You know, something more rewarding than robbing old people over the telephone.

I also ask them for their home phone number, Seinfeld-style.
posted by rokusan at 9:12 AM on February 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks, one and all. This is a generous offer I think I'll cheerfully avoid.
posted by cheapskatebay at 9:49 AM on February 3, 2010

If you're not actually very interested in this trip, I'd suggest a pass - headaches and unpleasant surprises are guaranteed.

My sister was phone-sold a discount trip like this to Florida and a 3-day cruise to the Bahamas, and I ended up going last-minute because her companion bailed on her. I had no idea it was going to be a time-share related thing until we got there. I'm pretty sure this was the same company. I assure you that my sister had a hell of a time getting this trip arranged through that company, much like the stories you linked.

Our experience in the timeshare presentation still makes me do a facepalm. It lasted over half a day, and the guy was showing us stuff totally beyond our price range. We even tried telling him we may be interested if they'd show us something we could possibly afford, but he was visibly confused by that.

On the actual trip, I was rather surprised at the hidden costs of everything, to be honest - though it was supposed to be prepaid, we had to pay the taxes on everything... the meals, the landing fees, etc. Granted, if I'd wanted to go on that exact same trip then yeah it was probably cheaper by a few hundred dollars.
posted by lizbunny at 10:22 AM on February 3, 2010

For anyone who DOES choose to attend one of these presentations because it's worth the reward to you, let me tell you the magic phrase:

"I'm not interested in anything we have to finance. We don't pay interest."

My husband and I sat through a timeshare presentation in order to get the free $75 gift card, and when it came time to talk turkey, this is what derailed our saleswoman. She offered us a $15K package, we said "We don't have fifteen thousand dollars," she said "These are our financing terms," and we said "Oh sorry no we don't pay interest." She grinned big and said "You don't? Do you have a car payment?"

"No, we don't. We pay cash for our cars."

the smile lost its conviction. "Well do you carry a credit card balance?"

"Nope. We don't even have any credit cards."

"Student loans?"

"Paid 'em off. The only interest we DO pay is on our mortgage, and that's on an asset that's doubled its value in the past ten years. And, uh, we have a much, much lower interest rate than you're quoting us here."

At this point, the smile was pretty forced. "Well, what kinds of opportunities are you missing out on because of this insistence?"

"The insistence that we only buy things we can afford? Nothing that's worth gambling with our financial future, thanks."

And with that, we were out of there.
posted by KathrynT at 10:43 AM on February 3, 2010 [26 favorites]

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