Hey, where’s that Bahamas cruise you promised me?

Aleksey Stemmer/Shutterstock
Aleksey Stemmer/Shutterstock
Maybe you think you’ve heard this story before. It involves presentations with aggressive salesmen, lofty promises made and allegedly not kept, and fingerpointing — lots of fingerpointing.

But you haven’t heard this story. Not the way Troy Bryan tells it, at least.

He recently received a phone call from someone representing a company called Premiere Discounts.

“A representative indicated that I had won a prize from a contest that I had earlier entered,” he says. “I don’t recall entering this contest.”

Bryan took careful notes during the conversation. The representative promised him one of four “prizes”: A 2013 Dodge Durango XT SUV; $2,500 in cash; a Bahamas cruise or a Toshiba laptop.

The catch? He had to attend a sales presentation.

“When we checked in at the hotel, they verified our annual income,” he remembers. “We also had to show them our driver’s licenses and credit cards.”

The spiel was for a condominium offer made by a travel club called Gold Crown Resorts. There was pressure to buy, of course. When it was over, a representative gave him a cardboard pad with a gray circle. Bryan was invited to scratch the circle to see what he’d won.

The prize? A “vacation package” offered by another company, Choices Election, Inc. (confused yet?).

The fine print on the offer said he had to pay for all taxes and port fees, gas surcharges and a “processing” fee of $70 that had to be wired to the company — no checks or credit cards.

Bryan thought there was something fishy about the offer. If he’d won a real prize, it would be given to him without strings attached and any taxes would have to be paid to the government, not to the company.

He contacted me, hoping I could persuade the company to honor its offer of a “free” vacation.

I asked him if he could establish a better paper trail in which he asked the company to honor its promise, and it responded. And here’s where things begin to fall apart.

The response from Gold Crown seemed almost rehearsed:

Gold Crown Resort did not solicit your attendance at the presentation, nor did we offer any type of promotional gift to you.

Gold Crown Resort is not in any way involved in sales or marketing. We are a travel and accommodation service provider. We were contracted by Premier Marketing Concepts to provide these services to their registered clients. After careful review of our systems, there is no registration existing in your name.

It is important to understand that Gold Crown Resort did not issue a voucher to you and plays no role in the promotional item that you may have received.

Gold Crown Resort is a separate and distinct company from the entities you have mentioned including Premier Discounts, Premier Marketing Concepts and www.ChoiceSelectionInc.com.

For these reasons we respectfully request that you direct any further inquiries to the appropriate parties.

Thank you for your understanding.

So Bryan called Premier and spoke with a representative. “She said basically the company did nothing wrong,” he says. All of the fees had been adequately disclosed before the presentation, and if he didn’t like it, he should take it up with the other parties.

Around and around we go.

I’m fascinated by this case. I agree with Bryan that this is a questionable offer, at best. But it’s interesting to dissect a pitch like this, peeling back all the layers to see who is involved. There are at least three separate companies at work here, apparently. And they’re playing off each other in a way that would make a customer like Bryan give up and walk away.

After he pushed Gold Crown to honor its offer, Bryan received the following offer:

We are in receipt of your complaint letter regarding the promotional incentive.

Premier Marketing Concepts, LLC would like to offer to reimburse you for any standard fees associated with processing the promotion; however please understand that Premier will not take responsibility for any upgrades nor additional costs you should elect. Any fees above and beyond the base promotion is your responsibility.

Lastly, reimbursement will only be made once we have received receipt of payment to be provided by you.

He’s not sure if he should trust this offer, and would be happier getting the vacation outright — no strings attached.

Should I mediate Troy Bryan's case?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Underwritten by

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Cavalry Travel Insurance

Cavalry takes the worry of out travel by providing 24/7 access to medical and security professionals combined with the best medical evacuation and security extraction services. Cavalry gets you home safely when you need it most. Learn more at Cavalrytravelinsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Seven Corners

Seven Corners has helped customers all over the world with travel difficulties, big and small. As one of the few remaining privately owned travel insurance companies, Seven Corners provides insurance plans and 24/7 travel assistance services to more than a million people each year. Because we’re privately held, we can focus on the customer without the constraints that larger companies have. Visit Seven Corners to learn more.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Sodexo North America

Sodexo North America Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 80 countries. Sodexo is a leading provider of integrated food, facilities management and other services that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life for millions of customers in corporate, education, healthcare, senior living, sports and leisure, government and other environments daily. Learn more at Sodexoinsights.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelex Insurance Services

Travelex Insurance Services is a leading travel insurance provider in the United States with over 55 years combined industry expertise of helping people dream, explore and travel with confidence. We offer comprehensive travel insurance plans with optional upgrades allowing travelers to customize the plans to fit their needs. Compare plans, get a quote and buy online at Travelexinsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Insuremyrentalcar.com

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at  Mediacomcable.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Arch RoamRight

Arch RoamRight is one of the fastest growing, most-highly rated travel insurance companies in the United States. Travel advisors love working with us, and travelers feel protected with our trip cancellation and travel medical insurance coverage. We also make it easy to file a claim online with our fast, paperless claims website. Learn more about RoamRight travel insurance.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit  Virtuoso.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

As a company that is constantly striving to simplify travel insurance, VisitorsCoverage, is on a mission to help travelers make the better decisions about purchasing travel insurance, quickly. VisitorsCoverage has helped millions of travelers globally to buy the suitable travel insurance and explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at  VisitorsCoverage. Lowest Price Guaranteed.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. Elliott.org readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by TravelInsurance.com

TravelInsurance.com makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at  TravelInsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on  Squaremouth.com to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, SinglesCruise.com, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.

Send this to a friend