Mailings From Florida Promises "Gifts" of Airfare, Computers, and Cruises
LABELLE, FL. -- A Florida telemarketing company is attempting to lure consumers with "gifts" of computers, free cruises and air travel to call 1-877-547-7302 so as to sign up the unwary for a 90-minute vacation sales presentation.
Thousands of mailings are made to households offering an "8 - Day/7 - Night Cruise for 2 with an outside cabin, leaving from any major port in the U.S." Additionally a "bonus gift" is offered of "2 round-trip airfares."
On the back of the letter it says the "certificate is valid for two aboard Carnival Cruise Lines for eight days, but the disclaimer says "certain travel dates apply" and "some restrictions apply" and noting the recipient pays for "port charges, deposits, government taxes, custom fees and agency fees."
That seems to be the catch, according to those who have tried to cash in on the telemarketing offer. The "fees" assessed by the company amount to as much as one would pay for the cruise in any standard direct booking. And one has to endure a high pitch sales presentation as well.
Note the company does not actually use the word "free" anywhere on the solicitation letter, only using the word "gift" many times, and the phone number to call to "find out how to claim this special gift."
The company behind it seems to be out of Illinois and uses the same 877-547-7302 phone number for all of it's letters. On the face of the mailing, a U.S. Postage Paid permit from Tampa, Fl, permit #78.
Although there is not any person's or business name or address on the mailing, the company reportedly operates out of a "rent an office" space at 22 West Washington Street, Suite 1500, Chicago, Il. 60602. Office phones are (312) 854-8000.
Sub-contracted Florida telemarketing offices are apparently used to pitch the vacation sales offers when customers call. When asked, the telemarketing company will not clearly reveal who they work for.
The telemarketing offer is varied, many letters say "Congratulations, you were verified and as a result of this offer your name and ticketing number have been issued!" In the same mailing is a "Bonus Gift" of 2 round-trip airfares "leaving from or going to any major airport in the continental U.S."
The face of the envelope may say "FINAL NOTICE" and "Verification of Reservation Information Required" or "Happy Birthday."
Other consumers report receiving offers from the unnamed company promising free computers and airline tickets. Some report letters that include other popular brand names like Expedia, Marriott, Walmart, Costco, Target, Kroger, Giant Eagle, US Airways, and others.
The key to which "gift" is being offered is the tracking number or "offer" number at the bottom. Callers to the toll free number are asked the offer number. The "gift" cruise and airfare ticket offer may be offer #17NP1107SA.
Some offers come as a "Happy Birthday" letter. Other recipients say while not printed as the Happy Birthday offer, they coincidentally arrive in the mail around the time of a family birthday. The company may be using a mailing list that includes customer birthday dates.
The offer also apparently is valid only for couples, although the mailing doesn't clearly indicate it. The couples must attend a sales presentation where they will be offered various expensive vacation packages. Once purchased, there's no backing out or money back guarantees.