Better Business Bureau offices across the US and Canada have received information from the BBB office in Connecticut about questions consumers have about a letter they received informing them that they “qualify for an award of 2 (free) roundtrip airline tickets.” The letter comes from Nicholson Barnes, a Scottsdale, Arizona-based sweepstakes marketing company with an “F” rating, the lowest letter grade assigned by BBB.
Michael Coil, President/CEO of BBB of Northern Indiana, said "Should northern Indiana consumers get a letter such as this, they should not expect to simply claim their prizes and walk away. In this type of marketing, ‘awards’ of various kinds are an enticement to get people to attend what is typically a high pressure sales pitch for a membership of some kind.”
The Nicholson Barnes letter currently circulating in Connecticut provides a telephone number for consumers to make appointments to attend a sales presentation in order to receive the promised award. The presentations are taking place in Mystic, CT, at Triton Travel Group. Information provided to BBB by Triton Travel Group states that it is a franchise of Outrigger Vacation Club.
Outrigger Vacation Club of Tulsa, OK, is one of several companies and individuals named in a pending lawsuit filed earlier this month by the Massachusetts Attorney General for a “bait and switch scheme” that lured consumers with promises of free airline tickets and travel rebates. After consumers paid an upfront fee, the Massachusetts AG complaint says “they received none of those benefits.” The average cost of an Outrigger membership was $4,700.
The suit goes on to state none of the consumers who complained ever received the promised prizes or gifts.
Information submitted to BBB by Triton Travel Group, lists three people, including the company’s owner, who are named in the Massachusetts Attorney General’s lawsuit.
"Should northern Indiana consumers receive a letter such as this, beware," said Coil. "Our office wants to be proactive rather than reactive in letting consumers know. If you have questions or concerns, please call our office at 1.800.552.4631 before agreeing to anything."