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Some Major Lawsuits Brought Against Them May Very Well Spell Doom for a Number of Phony Travel Clubs



     In recent weeks, a slew of phony travel clubs may have met their doom.  And I'm writing about those many deceptive, despicable and contemptible clubs that are out to bilk you.  Until just recently, they seemed to be thriving.  And then they were served with two major lawsuits brought by airlines and one brought by the Attorney General of Illionis.


     Suddenly it seems as if the courts, at long last, will put these clubs out of business.


     If you're like me, you've been contacted on frequent occasions by a phony travel club.  The typical one sends you a postcard inviting you to a splashy meeting with refreshments, to learn about the big travel discounts they claim to bring you. They name a meeting hall, and tell you that you'll be under no obligation to join. All you have to do, they'll continue, is listen--and if you decide not to join, you'll receive as a consolation prize a free round-trip air ticket on a carrier called USA Airways.


     Too many gullible Americans attend these meetings and learn that by making a payment of only four or six thousand dollars per person, they can receive big travel discounts enabling them to take wonderfully-cheap but glamorous vactions.


     If you pay up, and later hear nothing, you learn that the travel club has disappeared--they have a habit of changing their names or addresses.  But even if they actually sell you a trip, you quickly discover that you could have bought the very same journey for less by simply responding to a newspaper ad placed by a reputable tour company or airline.


     And suppose you decide not to join, to save the four or six thousand dollars?  When you receive your consolation air ticket on USA Airways, you discover there is no such thing as USA Airways.


     That's the operating procedure of dozens of so-called travel clubs, and Americans lose millions of dollars by joining them.


     But this past week, the travel clubs may have met their doom.  Two giant airlines--Delta and American--have filed lawsuits against several dozen such clubs, claiming they are fraudulent and that they also make unauthorized use of the trademarks of Delta and American.


     Simultaneously, the Attorney General of Illinois has sued several of the biggest travel clubs, claiming they are fraudulent and out to steal from the public.


     An old saying goes that there is no such thing as a free lunch.  There is no valid travel club that is willing to host large meetings with refreshments, and pay for bulk mailings and hire marketing experts to publicize them--and still can send you on trips at a discount.  I hope that none of our readers will succumb to their tactics.  There is no such thing as a free lunch.