Friday, May 8, 2009

Sundance Vacations' Propaganda

For those who may be interested, Facebook has a page entitled: "Boycott Sundance Vacations" and it appears to be growning very quickly.

The Better Business Bureau REVOKES Sundance Vacations' business accreditation!!!

Also see: Sundance Vacations Complaints And Cancellation Procedures.

I begin with the undeniable fact that Sundance Vacations has created in excess of 60 websites, blogs, domains, subdomains, URLs and press releases. I meticulously counted 60, although there are more, but I stopped counting at 60 because it was becoming ridiculous! Much of the aforementioned are duplicate content.

All those websites, blogs, domains, subdomains, URLs and press releases are basically advancing the same theme. Being that Sundance Vacations is a magnanimous and very reputable company, with a good product/service, and that all the overwhelming negative Internet comments have no credibility. In other words, Sundance Vacations is telling the truth and everyone else is lying! When children believe in Santa Claus that’s Christmas; but if adults believe in Santa Claus that’s delusion! To suggest that Sundance Vacations is telling the whole truth, but everyone else is lying is delusional, plain and simple!

Consumer reporter, Jeff Gelles, detailed in the Philadelphia Inquirer on August 9, 2009 the ordeal of a young couple who was foolish enough to attend the Sundance Vacations' high pressure sales pitch.

Harry Gross, well respected financial adviser, warns against "free seminars" conducted by "travel clubs" in the Philadelphia Daily News on November 10, 2009.

Then you have this article by travel journalist, Rosemary McClure of the Los Angeles Times, reprinted in the Chicago Tribune.

Three independent highly regarded consumer reporters advising against attending any of those vacation travel clubs high pressure sales pitches; now what does that tell you?

Sundance Vacations has permeated the Internet with both positive and negative comments. Although the fact of the matter is most of the positive comments are published by Sundance Vacations employees in an attempt at self promotion and self-preservation, while most of the negative comments are from average consumers from all walks of life encompassing four different states.

As relates to the more than 60+ websites I asked myself why? Why so much repetition? The previous and mendacious Sundance Vacations communications director, Ms. Amanda Miller, explains all those websites with the statement that "the company operates 7 sales locations nationally. Early in our history, each of these locations operated as a separate franchise. Therefore, they had separate urls and websites."

That is an outright lie! Prior to 2006, Sundance Vacations did not have a website! That FACT can be easily verified merely by going to the Sundance Vacations' website archives, which commenced in 2006! With the exception of their main website, created by Solid Cactus, Inc. to counter all the negative Internet comments, virtually all of those 60+ supplemental websites were created by the Sundance Vacations communications director, whose tenure with Sundance Vacations began in October of 2007. Ms. Miller's redundant websites reminds me of the famous quote by Hamlet’s mother Gertrude from Shakespeare's "Hamlet": "The lady doth protest too much, methinks."

Be that as it may, most organizations have one or two main websites with links or drop-downs to other segments of that website in order to offer additional information about the organization. But Ms. Miller has created in excess of 60 web sites, blogs, domains, subdomains, URL's and press releases! What’s the reasoning? What’s the purpose? Then I had an epiphany! Due to the overwhelming negative perceptions of Sundance Vacations on the Internet, it is obviously a failed effort to crowd out any critical web sites that may appear on Goggles' first few pages (there are many) which is, in my opinion, an attempt to suppress the truth, stifle free speech and chill the 1st Amendment and that is literally a frightening concept.

When any person(s) or entity attempts to silence open dissent or debate, by manipulation or intimidation, that strikes at the very foundation of our freedoms as Americans! Freedoms that tens of thousands have fought and died to preserve over the years! It is that frightening concept, notwithstanding duplicate content, that has motivated this particular article as my personal effort to level the playing field since the consumer is entitled to the whole truth, not only the Sundance Vacations’ version of the truth!

For example. One of Sundance Vacations’ many blogs is titled: “Read what these travelers have to say about Sundance Vacations’ Cruise offer,” dated 5/8/2009. In that blog the Sundance Vacations communications director quotes selected wording written by a consumer, while she knowingly distorts the context of that consumers' negative commentary, much of which is reiterated herein as corroboration. Furthermore, neither of those "travelers" are Sundance Vacation members, nor did they go on the elusive cruise! Ms. Miller selectively quotes another consumer, who she identifies as “Jack,” where “Jack” writes: “We knew what we were getting into after we received the ‘you won a Free cruise’ phone call. We were aware of the taxes and fees that we would have to pay - and that was cool. But we still decided to listen to the hour long program and the pitch for us to buy the vacation program.” Ms. Miller then goes on to say: “Jack’s post is evidence of several good things. He understood that the presentation would take an hour and he also understood that we would introduce our services; he calls it the sales pitch and comments that the pitch is not hard core.”

The words attributed to "Jack" are accurate since they are direct quotes. But are those quotes the whole truth? No, they are not! Because what Ms. Miller conveniently ignores is that “Jack” also writes: "I ended up canceling our free voucher for a cruise knowing that I could book a cruise for less than $250 a person and fly as cheap as $100 round trip and PICK the dates and flights that work best for me. Not too mention I spent over an hour on the phone with the reservation people...25 minutes on hold waiting for a representative and another 45 minutes of them trying to get reservations. Bottom line- take it with a grain of salt....they will try to make it as inconvenient as possible so you will make upgrades and forget that you are slowly but surely spending almost a $800-$1000 on your so-called FREE cruise!” Moreover, the authors' name is not “Jack” but rather Mreddy from Elizabethtown, PA. and diligent research would have revealed that fact! Here is the original post from Ripoff, it speaks for itself! Obviously Ms. Miller is very practiced at taking the consumers' negative statements out of context, but that's what spinmeister's do! Ms. Miller is representative of the Sundance Vacations philosophy; distort the facts, hide the truth and take negative commentary totally out of context!

Another perfect example. In that same aforementioned blog Ms. Miller boasts that Sundance Vacations received the Northeast Pennsylvania (NEPA) local Torch Award for business ethics in 2005. That’s accurate, but is it the whole truth? No, it is not! Because the fact is that the local NEPA Torch Award was suspended for 10 years. Sundance Vacations donates $10,000 to the Katrina relief fund and suddenly the local Torch Award is reinstated and given to Sundance Vacations citing that very donation. Coincidence? Maybe, but I believe it was a quid pro quo! It has always been my caution to remember that man weighs the deed, God weights the intent!

Quoting from another one of Sundance Vacations many websites: “Some Internet posters accuse us of harassing potential clients. Why, they want to know, do we continue phoning if there has been no response to our calls and messages? The answer is, our marketing goal is just one live contact. If the result of our call is no answer, or an answering machine, we call you back.”

I take issue with that specious argument. In my view Sundance Vacations doesn’t understand human nature, or just doesn’t care, although I suspect the latter. There is nothing more diverse in this world than human personality. Some of us are introverts, some are extroverts. Some of us are outspoken, some are reserved. Some of us are aggressive, some are passive. Some of us are more articulate than others so we all have different ways of saying different things. For example; if a company calls someone 6, 8 or 12 times, leaves a brief message with a toll-free return call phone number and that person declines to return those dozen or so calls, what does that tell you? What does that say? I think it’s saying they don’t want “one live contact!” I think it's saying leave us alone and please respect our privacy. What other plausible conclusion is there? You call someone a dozen times, leave a toll-free return call phone number, but they refuse to call you back; my God the message is unequivocally clear, they’re not interested. To brazenly deny that obvious conclusion violates the DNC provisions, period!

But let's read between the lines. What does "one live contact" really mean? I submit it means that Sundance Vacations is going to force the consumer to talk to them and if you don't talk to them they will hound you until you do!

Ms. Miller seems to have a propensity for quoting, albeit out of context, consumers who post on the Internet relative to Sundance Vacations. I will likewise offer a consumer quote from the Internet, by a poster identified as "Gracie." However, this quote will not be taken out of context; rather I will quote every single word, in conjunction with adding the website link so the reader may judge for themselves. This quote was posted on 5/7/2009, from a website known as "WhoCallsMe from 800-309-7000?". It demands repeating, word for word: "What an annoying, crooked company. Don't be fooled. Stay away from Sundance even if you win a FREE trip. Yeah right. My husband won his Free trip (cruise and airfare) at a golf show. Now that they have our phone number they won't leave us alone-they won't mail us the info and insist we go to a 1 hour meeting in Downers Grove IL to be 'elligible' for the trip we 'won'. I told them we'd call them back if we're interested! They still call every day!!! I just blocked their phone number so i'll never hear from them again. They should all go to jail. I haven't read one nice thing about them -just comsumer complaints and pending lawsuits- so beware!!! They are crooks and scammers calling from a telemarketing company. They aren't a real travel agency. Caller ID: 1-800-309-7000 Caller: The Stupid Sundance Vacations Scammers."

That statement reverts back to my prior conclusion that, "...we all have different ways of saying different things." The woman categorically stated: "I told them we'd call them back if we're interested!" What is she saying by not returning the call? Obviously the consumer is saying they’re not interested; not only by their specific words, but by their behavior as well! She didn't call back! It's unbelievable, don't those people at Sundance Vacations get it! They're simply defying the DNC provisions. Who would possibly believe that the quoted consumer entered the sweepstakes and KNOWINGLY consented to be relentlessly called by the Sundance Vacations call center! In psychological terms, Sundance Vacations is in denial because the quote by "Gracie" is not an isolated example, but rather a representative example of complaints all over the Internet as relates to unwanted and uninvited telemarketing calls!

Obviously Sundance Vacations is not concerned with the consumers’ cherished right to privacy, but rather their own bottom line. Certainly such an attitude doesn’t speak well of any company, let alone one with such a nefarious consumer perception. Nonetheless, according to the Sundance Vacations communications director they’re right – the world’s all wrong!

Your first encounter with Sundance Vacations will probably be at some kind of fair, sporting event, shopping mall and other social venues where you will be accosted by a Sundance Vacations representative urging you to enter their sweepstakes. The sole purpose of the sweepstakes is to obtain your contact information so Sundance Vacations telemarketers can call you relentlessly in violation of the Do Not Call (DNC) provisions. I say in violation of the DNC provisions because in recent law suits the FTC has definitively taken the position that a sweepstakes entry form “would not lead a reasonable consumer to expect that by completing it, they would receive a call from the seller about its timeshares and other vacation offerings, and that it did not constitute either ‘express agreement’ or an ‘established business relationship under the DNC provisions.’” Consequently, the FTC has astutely ruled, as has the Pennsylvania Attorney General, that sweepstakes entry forms do not constitute an "express" or "written" request for a telemarketing solicitation call and therefore violate the DNC provisions. See: Sundance Vacations Sweepstakes Vs Do Not Call.

There’s a recurring question on the Internet as to whether or not the consumer will receive the promised promotional cruise if they attend the high pressure sales pitch. First of all, actually it’s a voucher that must be registered and validated in order to use the promotional cruise or other promotional gifts offered by Sundance Vacations. However, the black-out dates and various other restrictions render the promotional cruise impractical, notwithstanding taxes, port charges, upgrades, hotel accommodations and other incidental fees that could result in the cruise costing you more than you might pay on your own without all the restrictions, as detailed in the RipOff posting by Mreddy. Actually, those promotional gifts are purposely designed to be very difficult to use thereby saving the provider money as detailed by Rosemary McClure of the Los Angeles Times and reprinted in the Chicago Tribune.

However, it’s the actual membership that I believe is the most discouraging. All the upgrade fees, terms, conditions, and highly restrictive multiple choice vacation destinations are also well detailed at the following web site, Sundance Vacations - What It Really Costs, for those who may be interested.

After all is said and done the old adage speaks for itself: If it sounds too good to be true – it probably is! Unless, of course, it’s Sundance Vacations because they’re right – the world's all wrong; yeah sure and Elvis is alive!