Is Saver Express a travel club scam?

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Depending on your perspective, this is either a story about a really annoying customer, or a business that’s scamming consumers. Let’s hear both sides before deciding.

One side comes from a customer named Vicky. No last names today, because she’s afraid she’ll get sued by Saver Express after having a little disagreement with the organization.

Vicky contacted me recently to find out if Saver Express was a legit operation. “Can you tell me anything about this travel club?” she asked.

Most of the details on Saver Express are online. It’s a traditional travel club that offers members “access to incredible discounts in the travel, leisure, and entertainment industry.” You pay a membership fee, usually several thousand dollars, to get access to these discounts.

My answer to Vicky? “I don’t know of any legitimate travel clubs. I would be very cautious.”

A short while later I heard the rest of the story. And it’s quite a story.

“I did my own investigation,” Vicki explained.

True, Saver Express had an A+ rating from the BBB of Florida at the time she completed her review (it doesn’t appear to have a rating any longer, according to my research). But she was skeptical.

Vicky, who apparently had already paid to belong to the travel club (details on its fees and memberships are readily available online), kept digging. She found a connection with a company called Concierge Royale International.

The results of her research were troubling — lots of complaints and allegations of shady dealings. Enough so that the alarm bells were sounding by now.

“I immediately returned to the hotel and cancelled my membership,” she says. “They wanted to know why I was canceling.”

Vicky told them what she’d learned. She pressed them for details of some of the questionable transactions, which she believed might prove they were clean. Although a company representative initially cooperated, Vicky eventually issued an ultimatum.

“I told her if I did not get my refund, I would become her worst nightmare,” she says.

Mind if I call a timeout? I don’t know if threatening is ever a productive way to resolve a complaint. I’ve dealt with plenty of bullies in travel, and a few who have even tried to sue me. They lost, every last one. Point is, you can get far more from negotiating than from ultimatums, at least in this business.

Also, it’s unclear who or what Vicki was negotiating with. Travel clubs change their names often. I’ve found references to a “Saver Express,” and “SaversExpress” Plus, there are lots of other related companies that may be associated with this one. There’s also evidence that the company — whoever it is — likes to quash dissent online. See this TripAdvisor thread and note all of the censored posts.

Point is, it’s really hard to know who you’re dealing with. Saver Express or Express Saver, whoever it is, is an amorphous thing.

The discussion with one of the founders quickly devolved, with the company refusing to refund her club membership and then threatening Vicky, she says. For her, it just confirmed that Saver Express wasn’t on the up-and-up.

“I think they were surprised my investigation of them was so thorough,” she adds. “They may have gotten a kitten the night before, but they had a tiger that morning.”

Vicky disputed her credit card charge and says she received a full refund of her membership fee.

That’s her side of the story.

I contacted Saver Express and asked for its side. I’m still waiting to hear back.

In the meantime, and in the interests of fairness, here’s what the company has to say about itself. It calls itself a “dynamic” vacation club that will “take good care of you.”

It continues,

SaverExpress has exclusive access to an extensive (250,000 pages) database of websites, search engines and travel/entertainment networks – a live feed allowing instant results for your travel arrangements. There is always availability – no matter the chosen destination. The website automatically updates every 20 minutes. SaverExpress will welcome you within 48 hours by email and will follow up personally to confirm your successful and easy access to membership benefits.

Sounds pretty good, right? If only it weren’t for the complaints online, then I might think this looks like a deal. But talk is cheap and Vicky’s experience makes me wonder if this isn’t yet another travel club scam. Then again, maybe she’s just an impossible-to-please customer.

I’ll let you decide which it is.

Is Saver Express a travel club scam?

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