GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - All over West Michigan, people are finding post cards in their mailboxes telling them they have been chosen to get two tickets to fly anywhere in the country -- but the reality isn't quite so appealing.
The Better Business Bureau advises consumers to just toss the cards away, saying there are fees and strings attached to the so-called "Flyaway Getaway" promotion.
The post card arrives with a scenic photo of an airliner flying over mountains. It looks like it might be from American Airlines, but it's not.
"It has nothing to do with American Airlines and in fact American Airlines is suing businesses who are using this sort of marketing technique," Phil Catlett, president of the BBB of West Michigan, said.
The post card tells consumers they have been selected to receive two round-trip air fares and a two-night stay at a big brand hotel. But it's not free.
"There were many fees associated with attempting to claim that trip, and there was a 90-day pre-planning requirement, and there were fees associated with it all, and you couldn't fly during a lot of blackout periods," Catlett said.
The BBB says it knows that because it sent a secret shopper check it out.
"When you went in to pick up your award you were presented and opportunity to join a vacation club that would cost you $9,000," Catlett said.
That $9,000 membership would let you buy such things as discounted flights, cruises and resort stays.
Catlett says the BBB gets a lot of complaints about vacation clubs. But this post card promotion has people crowding into sales meetings at a Grand Rapids motel.
"The sales person told our secret shopper that they're doing 12 presentations a week through the end of the year -- all people who have responded to these post cards," Catlett said.
Catlett says consumers might do better finding their own cheap travel deals. He says to convince people to buy the $9,000 club membership, the promoter tells consumers they can pass it on to their kids.
"But what's to say this business is going to be around next year or 10 years from now?" Catlett questioned.
Target 8 investigators reached out to the three companies involved in the promotion, but didn't get any response.
The BBB says there is so much money to be made in the travel club game that there could be hundreds of similar companies nationwide.
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