Travel Club Banned from In-Person Sales in NC, Will Give Refunds to Members
Consumers that dished out hundreds and thousands of dollars for a travel club membership may be getting their money back.
As part of a settlement with the North Carolina Attorney General's Office, Festiva Development Group of Nevada is banned for three years from face-to-face sales in the state and will pay more than $286,100 in customer refunds.
The Asheville-based company sold and marketed memberships for Festiva Adventure Clubs at resorts in tourist locations throughout the state and South Carolina. According to complaints filed with the North Carolina Attorney General's Office, the company used aggressive marketing tactics, promising them a free hotel stay, free laptop or free dinner to attend a 90-sales presentation.
The high-pressure sales pitch misrepresented the costs and benefits of the travel club memberships and claimed that membership meant discounted stays at in-demand resorts. When members tried to book, they found that rooms were not available and complained that the reservations system was difficult to use. One member complained that he tried six times to book travel through Festiva and each time was told nothing was available unless he paid an extra fee.
Fees to join the club ranged from $5,000 to $20,000 and members also incurred annual fees between $500 and $1,500.
Eligible for a Refund?
North Carolina consumers who purchased Festiva memberships but were unable to book travel will be able to get money back. The amount of the refund will vary depending on how much the consumer paid, whether or not they were able to use the membership when they tried to, and what problems they experienced.
Consumers who already filed a complaint with the North Carolina Attorney General's Office are already being considered for refunds. Those who haven't can file a complaint by February 29 to be considered as part of the settlement.
If you're considering joining a travel club, be aware of these red flag:
- Be skeptical of any company operating out of a temporary location like a motel room.
- Beware of high-pressure sales pitches or offers that are good today only.
- Find out how easy the membership is to use, and investigate the places it would allow you to stay.
- Determine if it would actually save you money. Consider all fees and costs, and how often you would realistically use the travel club.
To file a complaint, contact the North Carolina Attorney General's Office.