• Action 9 investigates risky travel club


    ORLANDO, Fla. - A Viera family claims a travel club promised great vacations at bargain prices then refused to honor a $5,000 contract.


    Troy Conwell and his family love to travel. The bigger the adventure, the better.


    That’s why a sales presentation by American Travel Partners Worldwide sounded like opportunity knocking.


    It looked like you could go and stay at a five-star resort for about half the price,” Conwell said.


    The Conwells signed a membership and wrote a $4,800 check so they could access the travel club’s website containing special deals. But for two days they didn’t get a password, so they weren’t able to see anything.


    “Was that a red flag?” asked Todd Ulrich.


    “It was, immediately. That's when we canceled,” Conwell said.


    The Conwells canceled the deal by certified mail within three days just as it’s written in their contract. But four months later, they still have not received a refund.


    “Every time we call, nobody has returned our call,” Conwell said.


    They contacted Action 9 and Ulrich found a trail of complaints.


    Five customers had contacted Florida's Division of Consumer Services.


    Nine people complained to the Better Business Bureau. Some folks couldn’t get refunds and others claim the actual travel prices were not real deals.


    “Am I going to find the bargain they promised?” Ulrich asked.   


    “Usually not,” replied Erika Undaneta, with the BBB.


    In general, upfront fee travel clubs can be risky. Getting refunds can be difficult and many times, customers are not saving money after paying thousands to join.


    “And when you go to book individually by yourself, it's generally cheaper if you do your own research,” Undaneta said.


    State investigators found, at one point, the company didn't have a seller of travel license. However, it currently does have a license.


    American Travel which is based in Tampa, didn't respond to Ulrich’s questions.


    “Do you think they're trying to keep your money?” Ulrich asked. 


    “I do,” Conwell said.


    If the Conwells had paid with a credit card instead of a check and documented their three-day cancellation, there’s a good chance they would

    already have their money back.


    They're hoping a complaint sent to state regulators could still trigger a refund.

    Next Up: