Can Palladium Travel Club keep my $8,174?

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By Christopher Elliott

Rowena Cruz buys a membership in Palladium’s Travel Club but almost immediately regrets the decision. Why won’t the company refund her $8,174?

Question

We recently stayed at the Grand Palladium Bavaro in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. While we were there, we were invited to attend a sales presentation for the Palladium Travel Club. We paid $8,174 as initial payment, which included a deposit and administrative fee. We used our credit card for a 30-year package with 60 all-inclusive weeks.

My husband and I soon realized that the membership is not beneficial to us and that we can’t afford it. Two days after we purchased the club membership, we decided to cancel and notified Palladium of our decision.

About two weeks later, I received a call from the sales manager of Palladium Travel Club, advising that I can’t cancel my membership because there is no cancellation clause in the contract. I believe I have the legal right to cancel my membership and we want to exercise that right. Can you help me get a refund? — Rowena Cruz, Ontario, Canada

Answer

You have the right to cancel your contract — if not legally, than ethically. But before we get to that, let’s take a closer look at what happened to you while you were visiting the Dominican Republic. There you were, minding your own business on an all-inclusive vacation, and out of the blue someone invites you to a “brief” sales presentation.

That presentation for Palladium’s club took almost all day and, if its website is any indication, it was filled with lofty promises and hyperbole. How could you not want to sign up for something that offers “endless possibilities to change your way of traveling forever”?

Palladium seems to gloss over the costs and it’s also vague on the benefits of its “club.” Sample question from its site: “How can I get the best out of my membership?” (Hmm, you might start by telling me how much it costs?)

Disclosure: I’m a travel club skeptic. As I wrote in my book, How To Be The World’s Smartest Traveler, there’s only one travel club I trust: AAA. From what I can tell, Palladium’s club is a curious combination of loyalty program, timeshare and all-inclusive. And I see no reason to change my opinion about travel clubs.

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Let us give Palladium Vacation Club the benefit of the doubt

Let’s assume this whole operation is on the up-and-up and that you had signed up in good faith. Should you be able to cancel your membership within a certain period of time? You believed your contract was governed by Mexico’s laws, which require a cooling off period. The Palladium representative to whom you spoke said there’s no such requirement because the contract is governed by Spanish law.

Frankly, I don’t care whose law applies, and neither should Palladium. It sold you the club membership in a high-pressure environment when your defenses were at their lowest, while you were on vacation, and it should immediately refund the money.

Palladium makes regular appearances in this column. For example, Esmeralda Nicolescu and her husband enthusiastically enrolled in a Palladium Travel Club membership, only to discover that it did not hold the anticipated advantages for their family. Despite their efforts to terminate the membership, Palladium declined their cancellation request. Luckily our advocacy team intervened on their behalf.

I list the names, numbers and emails of the Palladium Travel Club executives on this site. A brief, polite email to one of them might have helped your cause.

I contacted Palladium on your behalf. Your cancellation is being processed.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter.

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