Would-be travelers are forking over thousands of dollars just to access 50, 60 and up to 78 percent off the cost of their next trip. However, some say once they paid they got nothing in return.
For as long as she can remember Sandy Keys has loved to travel.
So when she and her husband Bill got an offer in the mail to attend a sales pitch for a discount travel company they went.
They were contacted by Oasis Getaway of Southlake. The Keys went to the Oasis office for a presentation by a marketing company named RSI, or Reservation Services International.
When we called the same Oasis number, that's what we were told too. But instead of Oasis in Southlake, the operator sent us to Vacation UR Way in Richardson with the same website, same RSI marketing and, according to the Keys, the same sales pitch.
Oh, by the way, the company has an F rating with the Better Business Bureau.
We were invited to attend a sales pitch similar to the one the Keys attended. But we took our hidden camera with us.
We were told that RSI is a travel consolidator scooping up rooms and reservations in bulk, then passing the savings along to consumers.
"We charge $8,995 for 10 years, but if you join today you get a lifetime membership," an Oasis representative said in the meeting.
Sandy and Bill signed up, but not before haggling down the price first.
"We settled on $4,294 and this was guaranteeing us discounted travel for a lifetime," Sandy said.
They were given a user name and password and were told they'd get an activation email later that day.
"So I asked the gentleman, 'Can I activate this now?' And he said, 'No, no, no you can't do it now, but you will get an email.' So when we got home we did get our email," she said.
She was eager to see the savings for herself and start booking their bucket list trips, so Sandy logged on, or at least tried to.
"I could get to the website with general information but when you go to the tabs and you click to the drop down menu, I couldn't get in there, I was like, hmmm, something is not right," Sandy said.
That's when she decided to start digging.
"I started putting their name on the Internet and - boom! I realized at that point that we had been scammed," she said.
Dozens of reports from countless customers all told the same story -- no access, no deals and no money back.
John Riggins is the president of the Fort Worth Better Business Bureau. He warns any pay-first-program should be a red flag.
"Before you pay an advanced fee to any company be sure you know who you are doing business with," he said.
Bill and Sandy Keys tried to figure that out. With no access to the deals, they immediately called Oasis.
There was no answer. It was Saturday and the office was closed.
They called their credit card company to dispute the $4,200 charge, filed complaints with the Better Business Bureau, the Texas Attorney General, the Federal Trade Commission, even the Southlake police.
Monday, three days after they signed their contract, they sent a certified letter to cancel their membership.
Oasis agreed, but quickly pointed to the bold-face print in the Keys' contract. The fee to cancel during the first five days is 50 percent of the contract fee, more than $2,000, in this case, for nothing!
"You are not playing fair so we're going to let people know about it. Hopefully we get our money back but bottom line; the world will know what you have done!" Sandy said.
Despite agreeing to the 50 percent cancellation fee when they first signed up, both Sandy and Bill Keys say because their activate account never worked, Oasis never held up their end of the bargain. The contract should be null and void.
"If I buy something I should get what I buy. And if it's not, I'm going to be back in your face figuring out why," Sandy said.
We made dozens of attempts to contact Oasis, RSI and Vacation UR Way, and not one of our calls or emails was returned.
Perhaps after seeing our story they'll give us a call, we would love to sit down for an interview.
As for the Keys, they are still disputing the full charge with their credit card company.
KDFW FOX 4
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