Q: We recently visited the Grand Palladium Jamaica Resort & Spa. This was our second trip and we were thinking of going back year after year. The resort gave us the opportunity to save on future vacations through its travel club. My husband and I thought it made sense. We paid $ 1,599 for a down payment on a Palladium Travel Club membership.
However, after returning to the room, we realized that this was not a saving at all and that they had not given us the true cost hidden in the fine print. We promptly alerted our credit card company and disputed the charge. Palladium has reached out saying that we cannot cancel and the dispute cannot go on. We are contacting you in the hope that you can help us. –Meghan Allen, Cleveland, Tennessee
A: Palladium should have offered a no questions asked refund when you requested one. After all, you had just signed a contract and made a down payment, but you hadn’t started using the product yet. What is wrong with letting go?
But that’s not the way travel clubs work. The Palladium Club offers “tailor-made programs with exclusive benefits for all of its members,” according to the company. âTake the opportunity to share your most special moments, live wonderful experiences with your loved ones and enjoy preferential rates at all of our Palladium Hotel Group hotels and resorts around the world,â he adds.
The Travel Club is a bit vague on the benefits and costs. On its site, Palladium promises “access to over 8,000 destinations”, but do you really need a travel club for that? This gives you “booking priority” – but is it worth $ 1,599 (as a deposit)? And it offers âpersonalized serviceâ – but doesn’t the hotel chain provide good service to all of its customers?
Here again, we are talking about a travel club, which is by far the most fraudulent product in the travel industry. I don’t like the high pressure sales tactics used by travel clubs. I think travel companies hurt themselves when they market their products in this way. They may make short-term gains, but they will alienate many long-term customers. In fact, I only know of one legitimate travel club: AAA.
Your case is an added reminder to pay close attention to the details of your sales presentation and to carefully review the contract before signing. Don’t wait until you’re back in your room or back from vacation to have doubts. By then it may be too late.
I list the names, numbers and email addresses of the officers of the Palladium Travel Club on my nonprofit consumer advocacy site. You may have contacted one of them in writing to see if you could cancel the deposit on your Palladium Travel Club membership.
Instead, you’ve disputed the charges on your credit card, which is usually a last resort. I think you would have lost the dispute since you signed an agreement to join the club.
I contacted Palladium on your behalf. In response, you received a letter stating that Palladium will not fight the credit card dispute. You also had to agree to ânot post or broadcast any negative statementsâ that could âdamageâ Palladium’s reputation. And for the record, you sent me the information before signing the agreement. Next time, be careful not to join a club that makes vague promises and is impossible to quit.
Christopher Elliott is the ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler magazine and the author of âHow to Become the World’s Smartest Travelerâ. You can read more travel tips on his blog, elliott.org, or email him at [email protected]