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Features AG Cooper advises: Don’t get tripped up by travel promotions

Offers of a free vacation can be hard to resist, but be skeptical of anyone who promises an all-expensespaid getaway. In many cases, the trip isn’t really free, or the offer turns out to be next to impossible to redeem.

North Carolina consumers have reported getting mailings, phone calls, faxes or emails that claim they’ve won travel prizes such as a free cruise or a pair of airline tickets. You’re then told to attend a travel presentation in person to collect your free gift. The presentation usually includes a high-pressure sales pitch to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on a travel club membership. You either wind up having to pay fees before you can claim your “free” trip, or the trip is so difficult to redeem that you’re forced to give up on it.


• A trip is not free if you have to pay or buy something to get it.

• Not all travel clubs live up to their promises or save you money. Memberships can be difficult to use, with lots of restrictions on travel dates and destinations.

• Beware of companies that operate out of a temporary location or that are new to the travel business.

• If you attended a promotion for a travel club and signed up for a membership, you may be able to get your money back. If the sales presentation took place at a hotel or other off-premises location, North Carolina law allows you three days to cancel your contract.

If you signed up for a travel membership that didn’t live up to its promises, or if you get a questionable travel promotion, let us know about it. File a complaint at or contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM.

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