Not a scam… honest

Early this year when I was at a Pearl Jam concert in Camden, I stupidly entered one of those drawings for a car. A Ford Mustang, or some other car I really wouldn’t want. Surprise, surprise, it’s actually just a way for some company to get your information so that they can call you nonstop. In this case I started receiving calls from Dowd Marketing on behalf of Sundance Vacations. From what I have heard, Sundance itself is a decent company, but it doesn’t matter much when you hire a rather unscrupulous firm to handle your marketing.

The first calls were actually back in May. I just ignored them and deleted their messages as I wasn’t interested. After a couple months I listened to one more closely, and found out that they were offering a 3 day/2 night stay at any Marriott along with a $500 shopping spree for coming to their 1 hour sales pitch. I always approach these things with a skeptical mind, but also remember that they can also be worthwhile (my Dad got an incredible deal on a condo rental at Smugglers’ Notch years ago for the entire family, and simply had to spend a couple hours at a dinner listening to their sales pitch). I figured a free weekend somewhere would certainly be nice and $500 is definitely worth an hour of my time.

But wedding and honeymoon plans prevented me from scheduling a meeting, and when they called me two days before we left I had the impression that the promotion would be over by the time we got back. Despite the fact that they had been calling me for months, I was assured that these packages were quite popular. Whatever, Hawaii was far more important. When we got back, I decided I’d give them a call but managed to get another call before I even had a chance. So I made an appointment for Lisa and I to head out to Rockaway the following evening for their sales pitch.

Unfortunately for them, the guy threw out some info at the end that made me realize this probably wasn’t on the very up and up. Suddenly the hotel room couldn’t be used on consecutive nights (which means 3 day/2 nights is an outright lie) and the $500 shopping spree is for a specific website I’d never heard of. So a quick Google led me to a thread on Scam.com about Sundance. There I read other horror stories about dealing with them (mixed in with some good reviews of the company itself, and some probable employees of the marketing company lurking). I’m glad I didn’t waste my time, as you have to jump through hoops to even get the hotel room, and the website sells 5 year old video games for 10 times what you can get them for in stores (plus ridonkulous s&h charges). So we kept our Thursday evening for ourselves.

Now they’ve stepped up the calls, and we’ve received multiple each day for the last few days. Of course I could try to deal with this through proper channels but, instead, I’ve decided to take advantage of technology. This morning I found this neat little option with our Sunrocket account (our VoIP provider). There’s a little button next to the numbers on the caller ID list on the webpage – when you click on it, one of the options is “Block Number.” Buh-bye Dowd. You no welcome here no more.

The moral of this story: Ford cars still suck…

2 thoughts on “Not a scam… honest”

  1. Mr. Slattery:

    I was sorry to read about your experience with my company, Sundance Vacations, and apologize for any inconvenience you experienced; we thank you for the feedback. It is our intention to be clear and honest during each step of our marketing campaign; therefore we place a statement on the front of the registration slip informing entrants of our intention to call.

    Our goal is to gain just one live contact with the potential client. We offer an incentive to attend a “sales pitch” (your words, but we prefer “presentation about our services”). The incentives vary throughout the year and sometimes change unexpectedly. As a thank you for allowing us to introduce ourselves, you were offered a vacation voucher good for two nights at your choice of 600 Marriott locations nationwide. I think you misunderstood, or the person you spoke with was mistaken; the two nights are consecutive.

    When we were looking for a small bonus gift we turned to GoShoppingMall.com because they were widely used by several banks, car dealerships, and several other businesses. Again, we are upfront and honest about the shopping spree in a variety of ways. We tell all clients that they are responsible for shipping and handling during the telephone call and again in writing before they begin the presentation.

    Many things you read on the message board thread mentioned in your post are simply incorrect. The best place to get accurate information about our company is the FAQ page of our website, http://www.sundancevacations.com/faq.html. Because we value our reputation, we monitor these threads. Indeed, we recently discovered that many of the user names are the same person posing as several dissatisfied clients. The owner of that website is being notified of the inappropriate postings on the site. Our constitution protects our Freedom of Speech, but unfortunately, it does not always protect from slander.

    I can assure you that since you filled out an entry form, your name has been entered in the database for the car sweepstakes (I know, “Friends don’t let friends drive Ford trucks”). Entries will be collected for the sweepstakes until December 31, 2006, and the drawing will take place before February 1, 2007, in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania. The name of the winner will be posted on our website, who knows, it might be you choosing a Chevy or the cash!

    If you have any questions, or I can be of further assistance, please let me know. We pride ourselves on helping people take great, affordable vacations, and on creating awareness of our business through honest and ethical means. You may e-mail, or call me at 1-800-220-9400, Ext. 130.

    Thank you,
    Kathy O’Mara
    Communications Director
    Sundance Vacations

  2. Kathy,

    Thanks a lot for your reply. It says a lot about Sundance that representatives keep an eye out for websites speaking about the company. I definitely didn’t want this post to come across as bad mouthing your company as a lot of people had positive things to say about it (although it appears to be a service we probably just can’t use at this time) It really comes down to the marketing firm that contacted me and how they handled the situation, and I cannot remember their name at this time.

    I never had any doubts about the sweepstake being for real, and just a little research assured me that Sundance itself was legit. But having several different people call me about this deal and feed me different lines is a definite putoff. Especially when, just as I agreed to come in, a bunch of stipulations about the incentives were quickly stated (such as the nonconsecutive nights, etc.) which made me nervous. And receiving 6 or 7 calls over the next 3 days made me feel even more suspicious (especially considering I was assured two months previous that these packages were in high demand and would be gone by then).

    Like I said, Sundance seems like a solid company, but you should definitely keep an ear out and listen in on more of the calls to potential customers to find out just how they are sometimes scared off. Once again, thanks for stopping by.

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