Southern Journeys - SCAM

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Sep 8, 2015
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#1
I saw Christopher Elliott's article regarding Southern Journeys being a scam and Lynda Shirley's specific situation (http://elliott.org/is-this-a-scam/afraid-victims-scam/). My husband and I have had the EXACT same experience. We signed up for a chance to win a trip at the Valero Open in San Antonio and were contacted by Southern Journeys. We were told that we won a FREE 3-day trip, a FREE tablet, and a $100 restaurant gift card. All we had to do to get them was sit through an hour long presentation. We went with no intentions of purchasing whatever they were selling (we didn't know what it was about at first). They had a guy rushing through a presentation where he showed us pictures of beach vacation spots and hastily scribbled numbers on a white board to show us how much money we could save. We asked multiple times for him to clarify what each number meant and how he arrived at this huge savings. Each time, he sped through the explanation again, repeating the same thing, before moving on to something else. He asked everyone in the room to name their top 3 destination spots. We chose Ireland, Brazil, and Germany. He assured us that the ONLY location we might have a problem with is Brazil due to safety. Fast forward to now and we find out that there are no properties available in Germany and only one in Ireland during a certain time of year. He INTENTIONALLY and MALICIOUSLY misrepresented that information to us in order to get us to buy into this SCAM. At the end of his presentation, he asked if anyone was interested in learning more and my husband and I raised our hands. We should have known better - it sounded too good to be true but we're young and want to travel. So he took us into the next room where they sat us down with another salesman who immediately started talking about packages. At that point, we wanted more information, not to sign up. This guy goes over the different packages and options, all while leaving out the price information. The salesman started showing us lists of all the vacation trips we could take, which included tons of exotic locations. He assured us we could go to any of these places any time we wanted. Finally we get him to tell us the price. Something like $10,000. My husband and I both started to pull away and said it was way too much money, there was no way we could do it. My husband questioned him on why someone would take the $10,000 package, which included a certain rate for any additional weeks of vacation you wished to buy, when you could just take the $2000 package with the same buy back rate. That salesman told us that not everyone catches on to that... He asked us to talk about it while he stepped away. He went and got his boss - the guy who did the presentation. I referred to him as "the closer" and he got aggravated. My husband brought up the same concern with him. He again got aggravated and asked if we thought he was stupid. He then scribbled down a bunch of numbers and offered us 12 weeks of vacation for $6000 today only. When we asked for time to speak to eachother about it, they gave us all of about 30 seconds to talk before coming back asking to get started on the paperwork. Throughout the entire presentation and our following conversations with the salesman and his boss, we were assured that we could stay in any resort all over the world. The boss even boasted about all the amazing vacations he and his family were "lucky" to take through Southern Journeys. And with them shoving the lists of amazing and exotic resorts in front of us, we decided to do it. We followed along as the salesman rushed through the paperwork and told us where to sign and where to say "yes." Then they made us take a picture in front of a fake beach scene. When we went to actually use the service and book a vacation, I called in looking for something in Phoenix. The rep told me that they didn't have anything available in Arizona - which blew my mind because it was represented to me that we could go anywhere. Later, determined to take a vacation this year since we had to pay a yearly "maintenance fee", we again tried to book a vacation. We wanted to go to Costa Rica. This time, I used their website - which for some reason has an entirely different title. However, when I started to look for Costa Rica, nothing came up. I looked for Germany; nothing came up. They only had a very small number of places available, the majority of which were in the U.S. What happened to all of that "you can go anywhere" business and all those beach resorts? What they do have available is only available during certain times of the year and must be booked years in advance. Furthermore, we were told that all vacations would be at hotels and resorts. Never once were we told that they were actually condos - all very old and run down. We understand that we signed a contract with Southern Journeys. However, in order for a contract to be enforceable, BOTH SIDES MUST PERFORM. We paid in full over $6,000 upfront and have been UNABLE to book any of the "dream vacations" that we were promised because they DO NOT exist. We entered into this contract based on MALICE and MISREPRESENTATION - classic bait and switch. We want out of this contract and a full refund.
 
Jan 17, 2015
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#4
From what I've seen, the best responses from these "vacation clubs" <spit> comes from complaining to the attorney general's office in the state the company is doing business in, and also in your own state. Complaining to your own state's AG won't do much immediate good in most cases, but it does help them understand what scams are going on, and there may be a joint investigation with other states' AGs.

And besides that, I've found that starting a complaint to another state's AG with something like "Jo Doe of MyState's AG office says your office is the proper one to handle...." seems to get a bit more notice.

Looks like Southern Journeys may have offices in both Oklahoma and Texas, so those are the two AG offices I'd start with. Oklahoma's business name registration index says it's actually a Delaware corporation, if I'm reading this right: <https://www.sos.ok.gov/corp/corpInformation.aspx?id=3700707585>
 
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Aug 28, 2015
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#5
This is an awful story and I feel so bad for you guys. Trust your gut next time and when someone can't take the time to answer your questions, this is not a person who deserves your money. Does your contract indicate where this business is incorporated, etc? You are doing exactly what I would suggest- search the Internet for others with the same story and who have had success in recovering funds. These companies are predatory.
 
Likes: jsn55
Mar 23, 2015
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#6
I despise these companies! I'll admit that I've been on more than a few "presentations" but it's always for something tangible that I leave with that day (theme park tickets, or $500 Visa gift card..etc) and never a voucher for travel.

I would also suggest that you go to the AG and file a complaint. I'm afraid your money is long gone and I don't know if you will ever get anything back, but I'd do my best to make their life uncomfortable for awhile.
 
Sep 1, 2015
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#7
Sorry that happened....always remember that we (hopefully) have two good legs and feet to take us away from "deals" like that.

The contract probably has clauses that cover disputes. You may have agreed to arbitration and waived the right to sue or join in a Class Action....and it might say the contract and any actions are tied to a certain state. That said, it's not always ironclad so the other suggestions about an AG are good.
 
Mar 17, 2015
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#8
Amie - I think you need to write the multiple AG's, your credit card company, and maybe even see an attorney. These con artists make me mad.
 
Likes: Neil Maley

Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
#9
What amazes me in this cell phone age is why, when sitting and listening to this bull, people don't pull out their cell phones and do a search for complaints about the company doing the presentation. That's all it takes to be able to walk away and not turn back.

If they tell you something verbally and don't write it in the contract-it ain't happening.

We knew a guy that worked for one of these vs action companies for a month. He said he couldn't do it because he was told to lie and say anything the customer wanted to hear but never put it in writing.
 

Carol Phillips

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Dec 28, 2014
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#10
Even the strongest of us can fall under the spell of these slick talkers. I know that firsthand.

@Amie - I would suggest that you write online reviews of your experience with Southern Journeys and their differently-named website. Your review may help someone else not get taken by these scammers.

Please follow the excellent advice given above and contact the AGs and your credit card company. Possibly also contact an attorney. And please let us know what transpires.
 
Likes: jsn55
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