Charles Berger’s dreams of a future filled with fun family vacations led him to invest in the Palladium Travel Club. But now those dreams have turned into nightmares as he tries to sift through all the extras and blackout dates. Will he one day be able to profit from his “investment”?
Travel clubs have grown in popularity in recent years. At the same time, they are earning the same negative reputation as their brother timeshare. The two have striking similarities, and we’ve seen identical complaints about each. There are hidden charges, downtime, previously unmentioned blackout dates, and difficulty exiting the program
Will Palladium Travel Club release him from his contract?
Berger contacted us because he wanted our help in forcing the club to release him from his membership. He listed his damages at over $ 12,000 and he had already filed a complaint with his credit card company.
âI tried to book a room,â he says. âFor example, I tried to use a free week, but I was told that my 4 year old costs $ 70 per day. Certificates now have blackout dates that I cannot use.
In addition, he had signed up to become a member with a room the size of a “suite”. But now Palladium has told him that he should be reserved in a smaller room because of his children.
âNone of this is in the contract. Also, the ‘special rates’ offered are more than if I were just going to a site to book. I haven’t used any of this travel club yet, âBerger told me. Now he just wanted to withdraw from his Palladium membership.
I can’t say I blame him!
What a tangled mess! Berger had not been able to use his travel club membership once. And he said Palladium is putting up vacation roadblocks at every turn.
What is a travel club?
It seems that most travel clubs follow a business model almost identical to that of a timeshare. In fact, it may even be reasonable to suggest that the travel club moniker was created because the timeshare name has become tarnished.
When is a timeshare not a timeshare? Answer: When you call it a travel club instead.
Travel clubs offer the purchaser “member discounts” and “member benefits” at resorts in the program network that are reportedly not available to non-members. However, the complaints we see would indicate that these perks can be purchased by any paying customer, regardless of their membership status.
Berger isn’t the only one unhappy with the reality of investing in a travel club. A quick search on the internet or on the Elliott Advocacy site will reveal an endless amount of tales of timeshare and travel club woes (Back after the holidays: hanging on the old timeshare trap)
And in our own forums, we often see complaints from travelers wanting to be released from a travel club obligation.
So why do consumers keep buying timeshares and vacation resorts?
For the most part, the high pressure sales tactics of these companies seem to be working. They are designed to create a sense of urgency and exclusivity for the potential buyer.
Time and time again we see complaints that begin with âI felt pressuredâ. Or “They told me I had to sign the deal immediately or it would become unavailable.” Under these conditions, it often happens that a consumer signs a contract without having fully read all the terms.
This move is a mistake. A large.
Would you buy a house or a car without reading all of the terms? I guess most people wouldn’t. An investment in a travel club often involves thousands of dollars and long term commitments. To further complicate matters, these contracts are often governed by the laws of foreign countries, such as Mexico. This type of obligation should not be taken lightly.
However, when vacationing at a beautiful resort, away from the pressures of home and work, inhibitions are lowered. Perhaps under the influence of one (or two) piÃ±a coladas, it’s hard to imagine that the makers of these hard-sell presentations might not have your best interests at heart.
Travel clubs and timeshares are designed to give the consumer the impression that they have purchased something tangible when the product is often quite vague. Often times, once a buyer arrives at their home, they begin to wonder what exactly they bought, and buyer’s remorse sets in.
Do your research on timeshares and vacation clubs before signing on that dotted line
They may search online and find that the “club” is not providing them with anything more than they could have booked on their own or with a travel agent – without a membership.
Unfortunately, we also don’t frequently see a positive resolution of requests for help with timeshares or travel clubs. So when we first read Berger’s complaint, we didn’t have much hope.
In his case, however, we have good news. Before even having had the chance to send us a copy of his contract, Palladium responded directly to his complaint.
âI just got a call from Palladium today,â he told me. “They said they would reimburse me – cancellation of the travel club membership entirely and refund of all payments made.”
If you are interested in a timeshare or travel club, be sure to do your research before you arrive at your destination. It’s never a good idea to make a quick judgment on something that will affect your life for years to come.
There are many schemes and scams associated with these types of programs, and many have turned out to be outright frauds. It’s imperative to check reviews and recommendations both online and in real life if you think a particular club is right for you.
Timeshares and travel clubs have their fans, but we know these happy travelers are the ones who have carefully researched their options and know exactly what they are buying. Remember, once you’ve signed a binding contract, there’s not much that even the best consumer advocate can do for you. So know what you’re getting into before you sign your name on that dotted line.