SCAM ALERT: Watch out for RTA Vacation Resort Tours and Accomodation
I started out the night writing a blog entry about the FE exam I am getting ready to take, but then I was interrupted by a phone call.
“You have won a contest for a 7 day 6 night trip to Florida!”
Needless to say, I was freaking out. No. Not just freaking out. I was FREAKIN THE F*** OUT! I never win anything let alone a trip to Florida. PLUS I won it because my name was drawn in one of those drawings they have in the mall. What are the odds of winning that? Pretty effing small. Pretty. Effing. Small.
Jeremy Johnson, my trip coordinator, went through all of the details with me. It was a full week in Florida with gate passes to whatever parks I wanted. For that particular drawing they had also thrown in a 5 day 4 night stay in Cancun with a spa and golf package. And the entire time he was going over the package details with me, I was FREAKING THE F*** OUT because, like I said, I never win. As he said on the phone, the trip was a $2300 retail value. The whole trip would be scheduled by RTA Vacation Resort Tours and Accomodation.
He went on and on about the trip and all of the things I would be able to do, and all of a sudden I heard the words “charge of $499”. I like to think things through before asking a question, so I let him continue with his shpeel while I considered the fee. He never said exactly what it was for, and I never asked. I didn’t really care after he asked that I give up my credit card number.
Obviously, even after his alluring descriptions of the trip, I was still very hesitant. I don’t just give my credit card number to every stranger that calls me at 9pm.
“I’m sorry, Jeremy. I’m very uncomfortable with giving you my credit card number right now. I would really like to check out the legitimacy of this offer…”
He then put me on hold, and all of a sudden some other guy was on the phone with me. He guided me to their website and told me some links to click and described the pictures on the site. He also told me about Barbara Black, some lady that does something for the business that I don’t quite remember. Then he went through everything that my new friend Jeremy had explained earlier regarding the trip details. I am sure that the marketing tactic here was to remind me of all of the things that I would get if I would just believe what he was telling me. And, after about 7 minutes of him rambling on and me saying “uh huh” once in awhile and surfing the internet looking for anything to make these guys look like anything but a scam, he asked for my credit card number again.
“Listen, I am really excited that I won, but I am still not comfortable with giving you my credit card information. I am not trying to offend you by questioning the legitimacy of this contest, but I want to be careful with my information. I can even call you back tomorrow if you would like.”
Suddenly the tone wasn’t so friendly on the other end of the phone. They started telling me that their computer system dialed my number and if I did not accept their offer and give them my credit card number right now I would not be able to claim my prize. I pointed out that Jeremy already told me that he has tried to call me for the last two weeks, but the explanation was “well you didn’t answer so we were able to call again”. I’m not really sure that makes sense, but I didn’t question it. At that point it didn’t really matter what their explanation was because I wasn’t going to give them my credit card number anyway.
They also tried to confirm their legitimacy by pointing out their website (which they guided me to earlier in the phone conversation). Apparently having a website makes you a real, reputable business. Fortunately I was able to point out the flaw in that logic by reminding them that anybody can make a website. A lot of people that shouldn’t have websites have a website. Some people even make their pet’s a website. A website means nothing to me and my credit card.
Eventually they figured out that I wasn’t going to give in no matter how many hotel names and extra perks they threw at me. Their final plea?
“It’s like when you’re in the mall and you see something for 70% or 80% off. You can’t ask them to hold it in the back for you while you think about it for a few days.”
I don’t think they realized the difference that having the item sitting in front of you really makes. I also would know where those businesses are located if there is a problem with my purchase. It’s nothing like having some stranger call you at night promising you a vacation if you’ll only give them $500 of your money. And the only way I would ever have to contact these people are the phone numbers I have for a Jeremy Johnson and Barbara Black. Cute names, by the way.
And so I said no to a very angry man on the telephone. Maybe I upset him by questioning the legitimacy of his business, but can you really blame me? I give them kudos for knowing just the right things to say to make me very interested in the trip. Throwing in all of those extra perks at the end really made it harder for me to say no. But I stuck to my guns, and I am not sorry for it. Even if I am missing out on the trip of a lifetime, I can’t support anything with such a shady business practice.
So anyway, after I finished talking with those kind gentlemen about 20 minutes after the phone conversation initially began, Dan and I started a little of our research.
We found that it doesn’t seem to be 100% a scam. You get to go on your trip, but it’s not as wonderful as it sounds on the phone. Everybody that made a review said that they were placed in disgusting hotels full of ants, mold, and broken things. Additionally, these hotels are $49 a night anyway! They aren’t losing any money on this deal because, if you really wanted to, you could schedule your own vacation for that price. Plus you wouldn’t have to stay in disgusting hotel rooms the entire time. You also wouldn’t have to sit through a timeshare presentation in the middle of your vacation.
I’m not upset that I missed out on a $500 shitty vacation. I still don’t know what their explanation for the $500 was — maybe I should have asked.
But be careful everyone. As far as I’m concerned, these people need to be watched out for. NEVER give your credit card information up to some stranger on the phone that doesn’t want to take “no” for an answer. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.