Click through for Part I of this travel scam.
So after sending in my certificate to IIG Promotions, including a SASE, we received this from Travel Select Rewards:
Thank you for choosing the Travel Select Rewards 7G.
Enclosed is the Certificate you selected. Please read all the terms and conditions before sending in the Registration Form included in your Certificate. We will not be able to take any calls prior to registering your selected certificate(s). [In other words, we're not going to help you with this process. If you make the tiniest mistake, you're screwed.]
IMPORTANT: Depending on the reward you have selected, your Registration Form must be received within 21 days or 30 days from the issue date of your Reward Certificate, or your Reward Certificate is void. Please reference the certificate(s) for clarification of all the terms & conditions and time requirements. Voided certificates will not be acknowledged or returned.
Here, in full, are the terms & conditions referred to everywhere. My comments are in [brackets and in blue.]
TERMS AND CONDITIONS
You have received an exciting airfare promotional offer. [Note: Unlike the original postcard, this is not a "complimentary vacation."] Below you will find the terms and conditions regarding this promotional offer. These terms are important to the processing of your reservation. Please carefully read them in their entirety.
[How many people will actually take the time to do this? "I have read and accept the End User License Agreement" is one of the most-frequently told lies on the internet today.]
Description of the Program:
This offer includes round-trip coach airfare departing to and from a major US internaational airport within the continental U.S., Puerto Vallarta or Cancun, Mexico and three days and two nights of standard hotel accommodations for two adults (double occupancy required). Recipient and guest must be 21 years of age or older, be a U.S. citizen and possess a valid driver’s license and a major credit card. A purchase of two additional nights of accommodations at an IIG Promotions approved hotel property will be required if the recipient selects a Mexico destination. [Note: at no time does the "offer" say anywhere that you have won a "free trip." If you got this certificate as the result of sitting through a high-pressure vacation club presentation, be assured that it is worth precisely $0, and will end up costing you a lot of money.]
Registration Form Requirements:
Log on to http://www.rewardregistrationcenter.com to build your IIG Promotions online profile within 30 days of the issue date of offer. Once your offer is registered, you will be provided a link to your Travel Request Form (TRF) to begin the booking process.
If you do not have internet access, you may complete the attached Registration Form and return the original (NO COPIES) to IIG Promotions. Registration Form must be received within 30 days of the issue date of offer. Once your registration is accepted, a TRF will be emailed to you within 14 business days to begin the booking process. If an email is not provided, a TRF will be mailed to you. [Notice all the time-sensitive dates in this offer. Any delay whatsoever, whether your fault or not, will void the offer.]
A $100 refundable deposit in U.S. Dollars, in the form of a money order or cashier’s check will be required at the time of mailing your TRF. Failure to follow all registration requirements, terms of offer, and deposit not being received in the time frame specified renders offer & certificate void without exception. Mail all correspondence to IIG Promotions, P.O. Box 3479, Lake Havasu City, AZ 86405 [Based on the myriad complaints out there about this outfit, getting any money back from them is either impossible or a nightmare. The fact that they only accept payment in money orders or cashier's checks is a huge red flag.]
General TRF and Offer Requirements:
- Three different preferred dates of departure and destinations are required. [They'll validate the cheapest one for you.]
- A 60 day minimum advance notice for preferred travel dates is required. [So they can find the cheapest fare.]
- Preferred travel dates must be in chronological order and be at least 30 days apart.
- Offer is for double occupancy and both travelers must travel on the same itinerary.
- Monday or Tuesday departures only [This limits your options significantly. If you didn't take the time to read these terms and conditions carefully and propose travel dates outside these two days, your entire offer will be voided and the cost will be sky-high.]
- Refundable deposit will be applied to outstanding travel fees and taxes due at time of booking.
- Recipient is required to pay all government taxes, carrier/supplier imposed fees, ticketing/servicing fees (approximately $119 to $219 per person) and any upgrades selected at the time of booking. These fees will vary based on the destination and dates selected.
- Recipient and guest’s base coach airfare (excludes government taxes and carrier-imposed fees) is not to exceed $200 per person. [Note: your base fare can't be more than $200.00, but taxes and fees will most likely be at least $219 per person. This is hardly what classifies as a "deal" in anyone's book. In the end, you will end up paying almost as much or more for a trip than if you had booked it yourself online using a travel aggregator and looking for your own deals.]
- Payment must be made using a major credit card; payment cannot be refunded after travel is confirmed. [This makes it impossible for you to get your funds back if anything goes sideways.]
- Departure and arrival destinations are restricted to IIG approved international airports. [But they don't tell you which ones those are before you send in your $100 deposit.]
- Hotel accomodations are at one of hundreds of nationally known hotels in our system such as Intercontinental, Choice, Wyndham, and other hotel affiliates.
- Only one offer per household will be issued during the promotional offer time period and all travel must be completed within 12 months from your issue date.
To keep offer from becoming invalid, all correspondence is time sensitive and needs to be returned by mail in the designated time frames. [If you don't, the whole ball of wax is void.] You will receive a written confirmation with directions and check-in times (if applicable) by mail or email about two weeks prior to your departure date and only after your vacation has been paid in full for any outstanding governmental taxes, service fees and or additional travel services if ordered through IIG Promotions. It is important that you do not leave for your getaway vacation until you have received written confirmation. IIG will not be responsible for travel arrangements made prior to the confirmation of your trip.
Request for travel dates, cities, ports of departure, travel itineraries and airport offerings outside what is allowed in this promotional offer will result in your travel becoming a discounted trip. [The price of that discounted trip will be astronomical. Have a look at some of the complaints.] Once reservation is booked, failure to show for hotel reservations will result in recipient being charged the full retail value of offer [guaranteed to be some astronomical random number.] Some destinations may be considered high demand year round. This offer is valid for weekday travel during low season with year round usage when available for a surcharge [guaranteed to be astronomical.] During high season, special events, weekends, conventions, holiday and peak travel periods a surcharge [guaranteed to be astronomical] will apply, when available. Holidays and Peak Travel Periods are defined as one full week before, during or after any major government holiday or during the months of March, June, July and August. Non-stop flights, class of service of accommodations, length of getaway not covered in offer are available upon request and require an upgrade fee [guaranteed to be astronomical.] Primary certificate holder must make deposit payment. [If someone else pays the deposit, the offer is void, and good luck getting that money back.] All travel components are restricted to Published and Tariff fares. All travel components are subject to IIG’s promotional availability and booked at IIG’s sole discretion. IIG reserves the right to substitute offer components without notice. This offer does not include the cost for additional guests, extra nights and upgrades or any type of incidental expenses such as but not limited to food, beverages, hotel amenity/resort fees, government taxes, gratuities, travel insurance, and service charges, Sorry, no pets. IIG is not responsible for travel suppliers schedule changes. IIG will make every effort to accommodate your preferred travel date(s) but has the right to add, delete or substitute travel dates, resort, hotel and or destinations. IIG has the option to substitute another promotional travel offer of equal or greater value if this offer becomes unavailable.
If a need arises to change travel or services booked, all reservations are final and non-refundable. [Sorry, you're screwed again.] Cancellation Policy – Cancellation penalties apply and certificate will be ineligible for future use. [Good luck getting any of your money back, sucker.] Confirmed reservations may be changed based on travel supplier policy and at IIG Promotions sole discretion, a minimum fee of $25 applies [but you can be sure it will be a lot more] and is the sole responsibility of the recipient. Should you need to cancel your reservations, prior to being booked, IIG Promotions must receive written notice 30 days prior to the expiration of your travel offer. Cancellation must be sent U.S. Certified mail to: IIG Promotions, P.O. Box 3479, Lake Havasu City, AZ 86405
Limit on Redemptions:
Failure to adhere to the terms and conditions outlined in this offer or appear on a confirmed reservation, late correspondence, submission of an incomplete Registration and or Travel Request Form, will result in forfeiture of offer and wil not be acknowledged or returned. Reissue Policy – IIG Promotions does not assume any liability or responsibility for lost or stolen certificates. [This clause is the biggest loophole of all. If you make a single mistake anywhere along the byzantine booking/redemption process, your offer goes up in smoke, and they don't even have to tell you about it. Your deposit, were you foolish enough to send one in, vanishes like the dew under a desert sun.]
Non-transferable: No Cash Value:
[Brother, they got that one right.] This offer is non-transferable and cannot be sold or redeemed for cash, nor shall any rebates, refunds or credits be issued for any unused time, day (s) or space. This offer is not valid in conjunction with any other discount or promotional offer, nor is it valid for use with group travel. A group is considered two (2) or more families traveling together or meeting at the same destination with the same arrival date.
Limitation of Liability:
This offer us void where prohibited by law. IIG Promotions reserves the right to substitute the components of the offered vacation and varied itinerary with equal or greater value without verbal or written notification should circumstances so require. [Don't ask, we won't tell.] IIG Promotions does not assume any liability for damage, expense, or inconvenience, nor for any loss, injury or death or damge to any person or property at any hotel or on any aircraft/ship, or in transit to or from said hotel/aircraft/ship or for any cause whatsoever due to delays, cancellation due to nature, mechanical breakdown, strikes, or acts of God. All federal, state and local laws apply. IIG Promotions assumes no responsibility for any promises or claims, written or verbal made by anyone, other than those made in the terms and conditions provided herein. [In other words, if the pitchman you talked to promised you anything at all, if it's not in this contract, you're out of luck.] This is a promotional offer [note: not a "prize" or a "free vacation"] and is not to be sold to the end user without prior written consent from IIG Promotions. This offer is not to be used as an employee incentive, by any affiliate of IIG Promotions or the sponsor’s affiliate. The offer is null and void if it is used incorrectly [that's a huge loophole]. In the event of any mediation, arbitration or litigation relating to this Agreement, the parties (1) agree to the exclusive personal jurisdiction of the state courts located in Mohave County, Arizona and the federal courts located in Phoenix, Arizona, and (2) waive any claim of inconvenient forum. [If you don't like using our bought-and-paid-for justice system, tough luck.]
You may cancel this contract without penalty or obligation within 30 days from the date of purchase or receipt of the vacation offer/certificate, whichever occurs later. You may also cancel this contract if accomodations or facilities are not available purusant to a request for use as provided in the contract. If you decide to cancel, you must notify the seller in writing of your intent to cancel by returning the certificate and sending notice to IIG Promotions, P.O. Box 3479, Lake Havasu City, AZ 86405. IIG Promotions is registered with the State of Florida as a Seller of Travel. Registration No. 37367. [Note: this whole scheme is a devious way of selling you an overpriced trip unter the thinly-veiled guise of an "exciting offer." Remember: you get what you pay for, and TANSTAAFL.]¹ No person should rely upon reprentations other than thoe included in these terms & conditions. [Read: We know that our salesmen out there are going to lie through their teeth to you, and we take no responsibility for anything they say.] This contract is for the purchase [Note: "purchase," not "reward."] of a vacation certificate and puts all assignees on notice of the consumer’s right to cancel under section 559.933, Florida Statutes. California Seller of Travel Registration No. 2093731-50.
To streamline the process, we will not be able to handle any phone calls prior to receiving your registration form. [This is repeated multiple times. They don’t want to talk to you or explain anything. If you make a mistake, it voids your certificate and “offer.”
TL;DR – This is not an award or a complimentary trip. It’s an offer to sell you travel, and a very deviously-designed one at that. You think you’re getting a deal, but in the end it’s almost a guarantee that it will cost you more than if you had booked the travel yourself (assuming you did good research.) The people who operate this company and their attorneys must have been pimps and pedophiles in a previous life.
At any rate, I went to the website² and registered as requested. I was promised an email with further details in return. Stand by for Part III.
The Old Wolf has spoken.
¹There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch
² Just for yucks and giggles, the additional Terms and Conditions on the Website (which didn’t display properly, by the way – I had to “view source” on that page to see them) are below: