Taksin Chung and her family had a great vacation at the Grand Palladium Resort and Spa in Jamaica. So how did she end up in almost $9,000 worth of travel club trouble?
Chung’s bad experience is a good lesson to keep in mind when you go on vacation. Be very careful before you sign on any dotted lines.
It didn’t start out as travel club trouble
The Chungs had vacationed with Palladium previously, at one of its resorts in Mexico. So they figured a stay at the company’s Jamaican property would be enjoyable, too.
And it was, except for one thing. Chung says the Palladium Travel Club agent “hounded” the family for days to attend a sales presentation and tour the property. Just before they left, the Chungs did just that and ended up signing up for a 20-week membership. The initial payment, charged to their credit card, was $8,824.
But two days later, a huge case of buyer’s remorse kicked in. The Chungs realized the membership was way too expensive for them. And they felt they had been forced into the contract. So they emailed a formal cancellation request to Palladium.
“I signed up under immense pressure from your sales rep in Jamaica,” Chung said. “I realized and slept on it for two nights, that this will not work out for us.”
The price tag wasn’t the only problem
Chung also feared the property wasn’t as nice as Palladium claimed. She did some online research and was not happy with what she found.
“I was very disappointed when I read all the reviews, and this deal will not work for me and my family,” she told the company.
Chung asked for a full refund on her credit card.
Palladium responded promptly, referring the matter to a verification officer in its travel club office in Jamaica. That officer asked to set up a phone call with Chung, but despite a flurry of back and forth emails, the call never happened.
After two weeks with no updates from Palladium, a huge credit card charge pending, and not knowing where else to get help, Chung reached out to the Elliott Advocacy team.
Chung needed a solution to her travel club trouble. And she needed it quickly. She was getting frantic to get this solved before she had to pay the bill. She was even considering filing a dispute with her credit card issuer.
Keeping track of correspondence is key!
She had a good case. Chung sent Elliott Advocacy all the emails to and from Palladium and the contract for the Travel Club membership. The complete correspondence shows Chung tried repeatedly to have Palladium cancel her contract, but the company never acted on those requests.
That was surprising. Our Executive Director, Michelle Couch-Friedman, has successfully resolved several cases with Palladium in the past. (For example: Post-vacation regret: Snagged by the old timeshare trap)
All of these cases involved vacationers who also ran into travel club trouble. They ended up buying pricey memberships while at a Palladium vacation property, then realizing it was too expensive. The vacationers quickly decided they wanted to back out. And those cases show the importance of keeping good track of email correspondence and staying calm and clear about exactly what you want to accomplish.
Palladium doesn’t want travel club trouble either!
The company says it isn’t trying to force anyone into a membership. It only wants members who want to be guests. And the company has refunded every case that the Elliott Advocacy team has sent to it, as long as it involved a new membership. The team can’t resolve cases where contracts were signed over a year ago, and it doesn’t contact Palladium about them.
So Michelle reached out to Palladium on the Chungs’ behalf. The Jamaican vacation officer replied, offering the family a different membership proposal. This one had less vacation time and a smaller price tag.
Going from bad to worse
That outraged Chung.
“This whole thing has turned out to be such a nightmare for us. This very aggressive and pushy selling of yours is leaving a very sour and bitter taste,” she emailed back. Chung stood her ground, insisting on a full refund.
So Michelle escalated to the next level and contacted a manager for Palladium in Mexico, who had helped in the past. He found the right person in Jamaica, and that got the resolution Elliott Advocacy and the Chungs wanted.
Palladium emailed a cancellation form, the membership was revoked, and the $8,824 refunded in full. No more travel club trouble.
Fun in the sun…or not?
What’s the bottom line to keep yourself out of travel club trouble? Vacations are great. But they’re not a great time to make decisions about signing legally binding, long-term contracts. Go have fun in the sun. Just don’t burn your finances in the process.