‘It was horrible’: Couple claim they were blindsided by vacation club fees

NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. — A New Smyrna Beach couple claimed a vacation club promised free airfare then didn’t deliver, and they were charged thousands of dollars more than they thought they had to pay.

Cameron Setters said it started with a random sales call informing him of an offer the couple could not ignore. “If you come and join our seminar you’ll get these two free airline tickets, plus two $50 Visa gift cards,” Setters said he heard.

Setters and Kelsey Starns went to a seminar at Global Discovery Vacations in Ormond Beach. They claim they were told the vacation club offers cruises, hotels and airline tickets at wholesale prices.

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“Basically, throwing out there that you can get this great thing for just so little.” Starns said the company offered great deals, including a five-day cruise for $169, a resort in Las Vegas for $23 a night and a high-end hotel on International Drive for $78.

According to Setters, a salesperson told them they could pay a $5,000 membership fee that would be financed, and that they also qualified for a new Mastercard they could use for future vacation purchases.

“It was horrible,” Setters said. In the days after signing up for the travel club, he and Starns discovered that Global Discovery had charged their new Mastercard $4,000 for membership on top of the $5,000 charge they had agreed to.

The couple said they tried to cancel the contract within days of signing it.

“What has the answer from the company been so far?” Todd Ulrich asked.

“Nothing,” Starns replied.

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The couple contacted Action 9. Ulrich investigated Global Discovery Vacations before, when consumers complained about its distributor in Orlando about its high-pressure sales and vacation deals that didn’t exist.

Global Discovery Vacations, also known as Global Connections, had been in trouble with the state. Six years ago, the company agreed to a legal settlement with the Florida attorney general’s office to end its investigation into unfair and deceptive trade. Global Discovery Vacations denied any wrongdoing but agreed to change the way it does business.

After Ulrich contacted the distributor in Ormond Beach, the company promised Setters and Starns that they would get a full refund, and their contract would be canceled. The Ormond Beach company also said its vacation club fees and discounted travel options are fully disclosed before the contract is signed.

“They know how to sweet-talk it,” Starns said.

In general, vacation clubs limit your travel dates and destinations, and the discounts may not be what you expected after paying big advance fees.

The Ormond Beach company also said vacation club fees and its discounted travel options are fully disclosed before the contract is signed.

Todd Ulrich

Todd Ulrich, WFTV.com

I am WFTV's Action 9 Reporter.