Amazon E Travel Scam
March 1, 2010 6:32 PM   Subscribe

Can you help me get a refund from some scammers?

To preface, my fiancee went to a bridal showcase recently and signed up for a bunch of give-a-ways, one of which was with a company called Amazon E Travel (AET). My fiancee received a phone call from AET on March 1, 2010 saying that she won a free vacation or honey-moon. The woman from AET was encouraging my fiancee to be more excited because they were recording the conversation as a keepsake to be sent to her as part of the package.

The woman from AET explained all of the "gotchas" (which you can read about on this blog post). The charge was $299 per person. Tho woman kept encouraging my fiancee to give her credit card information saying that this needed to happen NOW, and my fiancee, in her excited frame of mind, caved and gave the woman her credit card information. Big mistake.

A simple google search for this company lists all kinds of complaints, so when my fiancee called me to share the news, I told her to immediately call her credit card company and cancel the charge. She called approximately 40 minutes after she got off the phone with AET, and they had already charged her card $498.

I called the number on their website and spoke with a man who said he was the floor manager. When I told him that we wanted didn't want the offer, and we wanted to cancel all charges he got extremely defensive. He went on a spiel that I could tell he'd given before about how they were a credible company, blah-blah-blah. He told me that they have my fiancee on tape giving permission to charge her card (that's some keepsake), and that they wouldn't give her a refund. When I mentioned that the main reason we wanted a refund was because they weren't accredited by the BBB and they had 2 formal complaints against them with the BBB, he said "You know what, Al Capone started the BBB just to make money." I could tell the conversation was going no where, so I hung up.

My question to you is: Is there any way we can get our money back? Is it legal to charge $500 without any services rendered and not have the option for a refund?

I created a throwaway metafilter account at AmaScam where you can contact me, or you could email me at Any advice you could give would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much!
posted by anonymous to Travel & Transportation (36 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Contact your credit card company. They're the best shot at getting this resolved.
posted by jenkinsEar at 6:41 PM on March 1, 2010 [3 favorites]

Can't your fiance just call her credit card company and tell them to cancel the charge? I've certainly done that in that in the past. She can say she was misled. It really shouldn't be a problem.
posted by alms at 6:43 PM on March 1, 2010

File a claim with your credit card company.
posted by ged at 6:43 PM on March 1, 2010

dispute the charge with the CC company... calling these people is an exercise in frustration....
posted by HuronBob at 6:53 PM on March 1, 2010

Thanks for the help so far. She will definitely be calling the credit card company tomorrow. I'll post back here when I hear back from her.

Do you guys have any thoughts on the legality of not offering a refund? (I realize that you are not my lawyer). Also, another question I forgot to ask: Is there any we we can get access to that recording of her conversation (even though they said we can't have it)?

Thanks again for your thoughts!
posted by AmaScam at 6:59 PM on March 1, 2010

Do you guys have any thoughts on the legality of not offering a refund?

You're overthinking the problem here. You don't need to hire a lawyer or contact your state attorney general. Just have your fiance tell her credit card company not to honor the charge. It's very simple.
posted by alms at 7:08 PM on March 1, 2010

AmaScam, it really depends on where you live, I think. We have, in Florida, a clause that gives you 72 hours to change your mind on a major purchase.

It's known as the cooling-off law.

But even that seems to be null for orders made by mail or telephone.
posted by misha at 7:12 PM on March 1, 2010

To follow up with what other posters said, you can definitely dispute charges for reasons other than unauthorized 3d party charge. They will often take a longer/more hassle to resolve, but it's possible.

For example on a ING dispute form I recently filled out, one choice was:

"I did authorize the sale, HOWEVER:

I have not received the expected services. (Explain in full on separate sheet of paper.)"

So, contact the credit card company and tell them you dispute the charge.
posted by mercredi at 7:26 PM on March 1, 2010

The answers above are correct: call your CC company.

As to other stuff in your post:

- Your fiance needs to learn that any company that asks for a credit card is no giving you a prize. There are NO EXCEPTIONS to this rule. The scam she fell for is the first one in the film Matchstick Men.

- "my fiancee went to a bridal showcase recently and signed up for a bunch of give-a-ways". She also needs to learn to NEVER, EVER do this. She/you will be plagued for the rest of your years as a result of this. Every one of those things she filled out will be sold to other companies and mailing lists for ever and ever.

- Even though you've already made a blog post (good idea) and will be calling your credit card company, I'd recommend you call the Bridal Shower thingy and tell them about this. They probably won't give a shit, but they might.

- For all intents and purposes, the guy is correct about the BBB. It is not a government run organization but a business funded corporation with no authority or power whatsoever. Do not consider "no complaints at bbb" to be a stamp of approval or BBB "accreditation" to be a stamp of approval.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 7:45 PM on March 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Remember that even though the scamming company charged your credit card, you (or your fiancee, whatever) haven't reimbursed the credit card company yet. So you are going to say to the credit card company "I refuse to pay this charge, and here is why". The next step is for the credit card company to go after the scammer, or write the charge off. Either way, you don't pay.

So don't go paying the balance on the card until you have it documented that you are disputing that specific amount. It's a lot harder to get a charge refunded to you then it is for you to refuse to pay it in the first place.

The credit card company could also fight with you on it, so be aware that is a possibility.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 7:52 PM on March 1, 2010

At the risk of breaking the rules, here is the proper reaction to any call/visit/mall-stop where someone wants to give you something too good to be true. It's also where I got the word plagued from, above.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 7:55 PM on March 1, 2010

Nthing that your fiance should call her credit card company. She should tell them she wants to chargeback the transaction. When you initiate a chargeback, the credit card company places a hold on the funds until the merchant can prove that the goods or services were delivered as agreed. The credit card company will usually ask for some kind of statement from the cardholder that the goods/services were not received or not as represented, and the cardholder made a good-faith effort to resolve the issue with the merchant.
posted by zombiedance at 8:19 PM on March 1, 2010

Speaking as a merchant who deals with credit cards all the time, my advice is YES -- call the credit card company. Your success will depend largely on which credit card company you used; some will go up to bat for you and some will tell you to take a hike. RULE OF THUMB for future purchases -- for any purchase you make with a seller you are unsure about, use the card where you have the most confidence in the bank and which has the best customer service. American Express is probably on top of the food chain as far as that goes.
posted by crapmatic at 8:19 PM on March 1, 2010

In addition to your credit card company, also call your state attorney general's consumer division. They may have advice (i.e., there may be a "cooling off" period in your state) and/or they may lean on this company.
posted by Mid at 9:06 PM on March 1, 2010

Whatever you do, do not be deterred by the "tape" or by the idea that the company fully disclosed the "gotchas" -- this was a manipulative, misleading sales pitch, even if they quickly mentioned the costs along with 39 minutes of berating your fiance about acting now. They are counting on you to feel sheepish and ashamed so you will not complain.
posted by Mid at 9:17 PM on March 1, 2010

If these people know what's good for them they will not fuss when your CC company processes a chargeback. The whole purpose of Mr. Floor Manager's spiel was to try to get you to give up before you got to that point. Chances are good they will accept the reversal of charges without further hassle and that will be the end of it.

My instinct would be there is no way you are getting your hands on that recording without going to court. Like the question of whether they can legally refuse a refund, the fact is that these people doubtlessly operate on the edge of the law, and it's a moot point unless you're willing to attack them legally. It's not like the cops are going to tear over there with the lights blazing if you call them about how your scammy vacation prize people won't give you a refund. That "get all excited because this is a keepsake recording for your honeymoon memories" tactic is a new low for these kinds of miserable slimeballs, though. It really burns me that wedding show organizers let these scum buckets ply their garbage at their shows.
posted by nanojath at 9:38 PM on March 1, 2010

I would add that time is of the essence. Initiate all your action as soon as you can but no later than now.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:05 PM on March 1, 2010

Ok and let's say your credit card chargeback attempt doesn't work for whatever reason. If the company has a website or phone number or name (and they gave you the real name), you can find out where its agent of process is on your Secretary of State's website. Most of them contain a searchable public database of every single corporation, LLC etc that is registered to do business in your state. Once you find their agent of process, you know who to serve with a simple easy small claims lawsuit. Most companies will hate the hassle of dealing with any suit and will just pay out, especially on such a small amount.
posted by KimikoPi at 12:21 AM on March 2, 2010

Contact the Florida Attorney General, since the company is located in Florida. Make an official complaint and you'll see your money back lickety-split.

I say that from experience. I fell for something like this 10 years ago (maybe the same outfit). I contacted the Florida attorney general and the charge was reversed in no time.
posted by syzygy at 3:42 AM on March 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

Here's the Florida Attorney General's online complaint form:
posted by syzygy at 3:43 AM on March 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


So, my fiancee called AET today and was put through to the president of the company. She remained civil throughout the conversation despite him being quiet defensive. He said that when she receives her package in the mail, if she sends it back, he will refund all but $50 of the fee. He said that he will email her with a statement of that later today so that she has it in writing.

When she told him that she called the credit card company (Visa, FYI), he threatened her by saying that if she initiates a chargeback, he WILL (his emphasis) make sure she pays the full amount. He said that he will play them the tape and she will pay the full fee. At this point, she has not initiated a chargeback, but is calling the credit card company again to tell them that he threatened her. They told her that they could start a dispute, but she said that she wanted to wait until (if ever) he sends the email with the refund information.

Also, we filed complaints with the BBB and the Florida Attorney General's office, per syzygy advice. I think at this point we'd take the $50 hit to get the rest of the money back. I still don't trust that he'll actually email her with refund information. And it definitely makes me angry that he threatened her. I'll update again if/when he emails her or we decide to push forward with the chargeback.

P.S. Thanks for all the advice so far. It's really great to have all of this in one place to reference. You all are amazing!
posted by AmaScam at 7:52 AM on March 2, 2010

Oops, PP- Still useful I think so I'll post it.
Keep a close eye on your mail. As a means of compliance wrt a cooling off period a lot of these companies send out a letter seeming to be confirming your purchase but the real purpose of the letter is that it has an option to cancel, in tiny text on the back of course, that must be returned within a certain time period. Send your cancellation certified return-receipt.
The company that sold you the vacation may actually have an enforceable contract but the point here is to be as much as a nuisance as possible. As indicated above, notify the Florida AG because they are the ones that have the most power. After that, notify everyone else you can think of. Then go to the Do Not Call registry, you'll be getting a lot of phone calls soon.
posted by vapidave at 8:20 AM on March 2, 2010

I would also hit your own state's AG office, in addition to FL.

Also, the "send the package back" thing sounds suspicious to me. If there is some cooling off period or some short period of time to do a charge-back, you could be blowing it by waiting around for the package and then sending it back (assuming it does not get "lost" on either leg of the trip). I would seriously consider doing the charge-back anyway, especially if you get no written email confirmation from him, as promised.
posted by Mid at 9:23 AM on March 2, 2010

***UPDATE x2***

We heard back from AET:

Hello xxxxx,

In reference to you you and Tom Meehans phone conversation. Please send in all of your documents. When we receive them we will issue the refund which will be $498.00 minus the administrative fee of $49.00. If you have any questions please give us a call at 1877-452-6367. We are open Monday through Thursday 10-4, and on Friday 10-3.

Thank You and Have a Great day

Amazon E Travel
Customer Support Specialist

At this point, we are unsure if we are going to go forward with the chargeback. Our fear is that the package will take weeks to get here, and then when we finally ship it back, he won't refund us. By that time it may be to late for a chargeback. Since we have this refund information in writing, I think we'll be OK. All things considered, I think we'd be alright with a $50 hit.
posted by AmaScam at 9:42 AM on March 2, 2010

Just my personal opinion, and I tend to be toward the paranoid end of the spectrum, but I really don't understand why they would need your "documents" shipped back in order to give you your money back.
posted by Mid at 10:02 AM on March 2, 2010

Amazon E Travel is a scam organization. Don't waste your time with them, don't let them string you along, don't give them the opportunity to run out the clock on a credit card chargeback, and don't agree to let them keep $49 of your fiance's money.

Have your fiance call her credit card company and request that they cancel the payment to Amazon E Travel. Credit card companies like to know who the scammers are. They should give your fiance her money back. If enough people complain about them, Amazon E Travel will lose their ability to accept credit card payments. That's as it should be. But the first step is for you to stop treating them like a reputable business (which they are not) and instead simply deal with the credit card company.
posted by alms at 10:16 AM on March 2, 2010 [3 favorites]

You are a trusting bunch!

What happens when the documents are lost in the mail? What if they claim they didn't get all the documents? What if they disavow the email? THEN you are certainly outside the chargeback window.

Call your credit card company back and do the damn chargeback already.

Dealing with Visa will be less hassle and more reliable than following AET down the rabbithole.

(Don't let this happen again. Sheesh. Remember if you let them get away with ANY of that money, it's just making it good business for them to KEEP DOING THIS.)
posted by whatzit at 12:35 PM on March 2, 2010 [7 favorites]

whatzit: "Call your credit card company back and do the damn chargeback already. "

Seriously. Do this. DO THIS.

I don't care if they've sent you a box of crap. You didn't want this box of crap. You wanted your damn money back. Get a chargeback.
posted by graventy at 1:18 PM on March 2, 2010 [3 favorites]

Yeah, why would you trust them to determine whether or not your credit card company will accept the chargeback? And, for that matter, why are you assuming they won't renege on issuing a credit? They are scumbags who deliberately scammed your fiance! They even chose their name to try to confuse gullible people into thinking they're connected with Why would you trust them at all?

They're trying to intimidate you, and the reason they want to avoid the chargeback process is because if AET has enough chargebacks filed against them, their credit card processor will terminate their account. It doesn't matter that they have a tape... they're using the tape to intimidate you as much as they are as "proof" your fiance wanted to buy their "prize."

Stand up for yourself!

Also, you should get in touch with the local media about this. There's a big story flying around the national news about a phony bridal showcase in the Boston area that the FBI is investigating. Local news outlets are always looking for ways to tie local interest into a national story and "bride-to-be scammed at local bridal showcase" would be a good hook for them.
posted by MegoSteve at 2:51 PM on March 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

Since we have this refund information in writing, I think we'll be OK.

Famous last words. You really need to do the chargeback. Like right now.
posted by dhammond at 5:08 PM on March 2, 2010 [2 favorites]

I would do the charge back. If he calls and threatens, tell him you will send a check for the $49 as it was easier than sending all the crap back. Then do not send a check. Your email is as good as his tape. If he says he'll play the tape, you tell him you will show the email. File with Visa. You can always withdraw your complaint.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:07 PM on March 2, 2010


Screw these assholes. If enough people charge back, they'll have to re-incorporate, and start again, which will be a minor PITA for them, but the loss of income will be greater. Hopefully they'll go out of business.
posted by lalochezia at 1:36 PM on March 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Sorry for the long delay. Here's what ended up happening. The owner, Tom Meehan, apparently googled his company and found this metafilter post as one of the top results. He contacted my fiancee and said that they are going to pull my IP address and find me and press charges. He says that I am sabotaging his company. If he wants to give me credit for everything you all have said, I'll take it.

As far as the money goes, AET refunded all but $50 of the $500. I urged my fiancee to initiate the chargeback, but she wanted it all to be over and decided against it. When she received the confirmation packet in the mail, the contract (or whatever it was) said that they do refund all but $50 if the customer wants, so I'm not sure why they put up such a fight.

Since this page currently shows up as the number five result on a google search for Amazon E Travel, I would like to use this space to list what a person should do, should they be contacted (scammed) by Amazon E Travel:

2. If you don't find this page until it's too late, call AET back and ask them for a FULL refund. Don't settle for the $50 charge. THEY WILL THREATEN YOU! As they did with me, they said that if you initiate a chargeback, they'll play the tape of you agreeing to the charges to the credit card company. They are more than likely bluffing, and even if they aren't, it doesn't matter. Don't be intimidated.
3. Call your credit card company and tell them you want to initiate a chargeback. It is my experience that you can't initiate a chargeback until the charge has been posted (the credit card company has paid AET), so stay on top of it and initiate a chargeback as soon as possible.
4. Contact the BBB, the Florida Attorney General's Office, your own state's attorney general's office, and anyone else you think might like to hear the story, like the The Consumerist.
5. Stand up for yourself! You aren't the first person to fall for these tricks. Fight back so it doesn't happen to others.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at Thanks again for all of your help. The advice here is invaluable.
posted by AmaScam at 5:47 PM on March 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the follow-up concerning Amazon E Travel.
posted by Mid at 9:15 PM on March 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Also - "press charges"?! For what? Telling the truth on the Internet!
posted by Mid at 8:03 AM on March 13, 2010

This page currently shows up as the number five result on a google search for Amazon E Travel.

posted by alms at 8:01 PM on March 14, 2010

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