Scam or good deal: 2 round trip airfares to most major airports in the continguous US

So I get a postcard that congratulates me and says I’m the winner of 2 round trip airfares to most major airports in the contiguous US – good for the next 12 months. It’s got the American Airlines trademark on it and a picture of a big airplane.

I call and it’s an American Airlines number, but I’m immediately transferred to someone who says she’s a rep from a new travel agency in my area and that if I come in for a 90 minute seminar with my wife I can claim my prize.

What’s the scam? I’d like to get some free airfare, but 90 minutes today or tomorrow only is asking a lot. I’m thinking I’ll probably let it pass, but I wonder if anyone else has seen anything like this?

It also says on the card that if I ACT NOW, I’ll get 3 day and 2 night hotel stay at major brands. To me this just screams rip off, but what do I know. I’m paranoid. When interest rates first fell a few years ago and our mailbox got flooded with special offers, I embarrassed myself by telling my wife that no one in their right mind would give us a better rate on our home loan. In reality, there is a huge market for doing exactly that.

Sounds like this

I think this is a scam as I seem to remember getting the same offer. As for the hotel offer, I get those all the time. And no, I may waste a lot of my time but I am not going to waste it sitting in a “time share” meeting or something like that.

I called and they assured me it wasn’t a time share thing. I’m not even sure what a time share is, but the lady I spoke with was all adamant with me. “Sir, this is NOT a time share.” haha. Well, thank heavens! It’s frustrating to be so out of the loop on the scams that you can’t even feel reassured by the scammers. :)

I think I’m going to let this pass. Thanks guys! Much appreciated

I don’t see what the angle is either Tim, but I think you have to file this one under “there is no free lunch” and assume there’s a catch.

Unless you want to refinance your home loan! :)

Sometimes stuff that seems like a free lunch actually has a whole industry behind it. I’ve had to teach myself to be a little more open, but I think in this instance you’re right on the money Mr. Mahone! Enjoy your holiday. :)

The people in the forum I linked to were talking about the same or a similar scam, I guess. The airline tickets were free except for huge ticket taxes and a processing fee. Someone figured out that the company would make 100s of dollars profit from the “free” tickets.

I read some of those posts and that does seem like the most likely angle. The 800 number for this one doesn’t exactly match the ones in that thread, but I bet it’s something similar.

Thank you for sharing your information with me!

Yeah, you have to stop and think “Why would a company just decide, hey, let’s buy a bunch of plane tickets and just give them away without the potential of getting something worth more than the price of the tickets in return?”

Right: they would not.

Why thank you Tim, same to you. And don’t take any wooden nickels! Whatever those are.

The thing about “scams” is you need to know what their profit model is. Take the already-mentioned time share talks. Generally, you will get something out of showing up to the presentations if you are adamant about not taking the bait and you recognize the cost in terms of your time. If so, whatever their giving you to show up is legit and generally pretty reasonable for the amount of time it takes up.

Wooden nickles.

Otherwise I’ll chime in here and say that when I was younger I fell for one of these things. It was a postcard. The address was local. No internet back then. So I went to the place on the card. It was essentially the same. A free trip.

When I got to the door I showed them the postcard and was told, " The place is packed. Standing room only. But for $20 we can let you in."

I looked around the guy and the place had maybe 20 people in a room that could easily fit 200.

I walked away. The guy followed me begging me to come in anyway.

Went to two of these on my honeymoon. We got free drinks and food during the presentations, a free day’s Jeep rental, and $100 apiece in chips at the local casino. They do a really good job of making it seem like you would be a fool to pass up the time share, but I agree if you stick to your guns it is a heck of a deal.

If this is semi-legit, the “It’s not a timeshare!” proclamation may be technically/legally correct. My wife signed us up for one of these things. It was a free 2 night stay with breakfasts. The only thing we had to do was attend a 1 hour sales presentation. They were adamant that it was not a timeshare. It was what they called a vacation club. You pay an annual fee and receive a fixed amount of points each year which could be redeemed for stays at a series of resorts. So technically not a timeshare.

They tried hard to sell but wouldn’t divulge the price immediately. My wife the accountant just repeatedly answered all questions with “So bottom line, how much is it?” And I just looked mean and answered with surly one word responses. We were the first to be ushered out of the presentation after only half an hour and enjoyed a wonderful weekend stay at a nice resort.

It’s sort of like a less-tedious and more-rewarding version of those people who fill out hundreds of surveys online to get a free XBox, except that it’s an original XBox region-locked to south-central Taiwan and the controller is bigger than you remember.

The wife and I sat through a time share talk in Hawaii on my first visit there. The carrot at the end of the stick was a free three day car rental. I had to practically drag my wife out of there because she was ready to buy but the free rental was nice.