The sand, surf and dreams of a Hawaiian holiday are enticing as we get ready for winter, but watch out. A number of consumers have responded to ad running in the Gazette and Denver Post offering the vacation of a lifetime, at a great price.
The company, Vacation Properties International which claims to be located in Honolulu offers a discounted trip to Hawaii for two, priced at about $1,400, including round trip airfare, a seven night – eight day stay and car rental. Participants are required to attend a 90 minute timeshare presentation. When consumers contact the company they are asked for their contact information and are told their call will be returned. Some consumers can not get the company to return their calls; others are contacted and informed that to book a vacation they must put down a deposit paid by either cash or check.
Two local consumers have paid deposits of roughly $1000 each, and have not received any plane tickets or hotel confirmation for their trips. One consumer was set to leave on his Hawaiian vacation but never received his plane tickets and other confirmations. When contacted, the company explained that there was a problem with booking his vacation and that they would be refunding his deposit by mail. The consumer has yet to receive that money. Another consumer, who also paid a 50 percent deposit, is still awaiting her trip confirmation and plane tickets. Both received complete itineraries of the flights they would be taking aboard United Airlines traveling direct from Denver to Honolulu. United Airlines has no record of the reservations.
Upon investigation, the BBB of Hawaii has been unable to locate Vacation Properties International. The company advertises that they operate from a location on Ala Moana Boulevard in Honolulu, yet the company directs all correspondence to an address in Oakland, Calif. The BBB of Hawaii has checked with property management of the Hawaii address but the building has no tenant by the name of Vacation Properties International. In addition, the company advertises that they are members of the Hawaii Timeshare Bureau and have been recognized by the Hawaii Trade Association. Upon investigation, the BBB has not been able to find any evidence that these organizations exist.
When responding to vacation or timeshare opportunities beware of the following red flags:
n Heavily discounted offers – If the offer is heavily discounted and sounds “too good to be true” it probably is
n Policy changes -Vacation Properties International informs consumers that their policies have changed and they no longer take credit cards for deposits, only cash and check will be accepted. Remember when using a credit card you have recourse should the company not provide their services; when using cash or check there is no recourse if you want to try and get your money back.
n A rush offer – Companies will often put a deadline on their offer to try and get you to commit quickly
When planning a vacation through a third party call the BBB at (719) 636-1155 or (866) 206-1800 to check on the company.