Karmel Knocking Around wins free vacation from Sundance Vacations…NOT!

Get this! Melissa and I won FREE SEVEN-DAY VACATIONS and…AND…two tickets to a sporting event OR concert! But wait…there’s more…

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Melissa and I were networking at the Travel and Adventure Show at the Javits Center in New York City. We were handing out cards, I was schmoozing at people while Melissa avoided eye contact and grabbed free stuff.

As we were winding down, we were passing a booth where people were handing out pieces of paper, entry tickets, and asking visitors to just write their names and phone numbers – nothing else was needed – for a chance to win a free vacation.

There was nothing mentioned of any conditions. NAME…PHONE NUMBER…FREE VACATION.

And, of course, now here comes one of my stories…

My mother was a teacher for over 40 years. And as a kid, we always went to Atlantic City for the New Jersey Teachers Convention. And like any other convention or fair, they always had the “raffles” where you would just write your name on a piece of paper and toss it into the fish bowl.

Well, one year, when I was 11 years old, we got a phone call a week after the convention, that my mother had won a set of steak knives. And the man asked if there was a night that they could be dropped off. So my mother scheduled an evening after dinner. (Never did I wonder why could they not just be shipped?)

There was a young man that showed up, and I let him in. My mother and father were sitting at the kitchen table. The man came in with a huge vacuum cleaner and says that he is going to show us how great this vacuum is. My father did not say a word, he just sat there with his hand over his mouth. And I am watching the man give a demonstration of this huge contraption and I was, literally, amazed at what this thing could do. If I was old enough to have a check book or a credit card, I would have had a new toy for myself.

But after the nearly 45-minute performance, the man asked, “Well…what do you think?” I looked at my father and I said, “Dad, this is great! Are we getting it?” My father, ever so calmly, took his hand away from his mouth and asked,” Where are my steak knives?”

The young man literally broke into a huge sweat and his hands were shaking. He said that he didn’t have any steak knives and asked if he could use the phone. My mother gave him the phone and we could HEAR the man on the other end (who obviously didn’t realize the sound volume was up so loud that the neighbors could hear) saying, “Get away from the knives, just try to sell them the vacuum cleaner.” My father said, “I don’t really want to cause you, personally, any trouble, but you can tell your boss that if I don’t have my steak knives within 24 hours I will contact the authorities.

Sure enough, the next day when I got home from school, there was a box on the front porch…with the steak knives. The point is…it taught me that my father was perceptive enough to know not to “be had” and not to fall for anyone’s “con.”

People mobbing a booth at the Travel and Adventure Show

Now back to Sundance Vacations…

According to its website, “Sundance Vacations was co-founded in 1991 by the husband and wife partnership of John and Tina Dowd. Since that time, they have grown the company from a single office and two employees, to having 9 offices spread across two states. Now with over 250 employees, Sundance Vacations has won numerous awards for business ethics, growth and healthy workplace campaigns as well as being on the “Best Places to Work” lists for New Jersey and Pennsylvania multiple times in the last five years. These awards are a direct result of a laser focus on applying the Sundance mission statement to every interaction. The award winning corporate culture is centered on a rewarding concept of helping people experience the joy of vacationing.”

Numerous awards for business ethics, huh?

Melissa and I both received two calls (she let both go to voicemail and I answered the second of my calls) to tell us the exciting news. “Now there is no purchase necessary…the call is being recorded for quality assurance purposes…and…Alan…you will be excited to learn that you have won a FREE vacation to over 40 destinations of your choice…and two tickets to a sporting event or concert in your area…” Here we go. “You just need to go to our Parsippany office and fill out the paperwork…”

Stop right there!

I asked “Mike” if I was going to be expected to sit through a presentation because…”Melissa and I are not sitting through any presentations or sales pitch. We go places and share our experiences and present our reviews. We are not taking valuable time out of our days to listen to your pitch.”

Mike came back with, “Well…we only ask you to watch while the paperwork is being completed and filed with the system.”

“Hey Mike…that ain’t happening. We aren’t participating in any sales event. If we are receiving a free trip, then just give it to us.”

“Then I guess we’ll just give your prize to someone else,” said Mike, after which he hung up on me.

Let’s get back to the business ethics…just Google “Sundance Vacations” and there is a litany of complaints posted on the Better Business Bureau’s website…all with the same complaints – a belief that they won a free vacation that could only be claimed once they PAID FOR some other vacation because the ONLY way you could ATTEMPT to get the one week FREE vacation was for it to be a part of a package that YOU PURCHASED.

So it’s a total scam. A sweepstakes is a promotion in which a prize is awarded on the basis of chance. When you run a sweepstakes in any U.S. state, there are “no purchase necessary” laws. And these laws state clearly that you cannot require users to make a purchase, or provide any other forms of consideration where winners are randomly drawn.

Apparently, someone forgot to tell John and Tina Dowd about this…because they have people in call centers contacting every schmuck (me included) who filled out that stupid entry ticket.

In addition to the hundreds of complaints with the BBB, there was a class action lawsuit filed in 2021 claiming, among other things, a violation of 47 USC § 227, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

At least my father got that guy to deliver the steak knives. I doubt we will be seeing the Northern Lights or the Aegean Sea or the Galapagos Islands any time soon. Well…not through Sundance Vacations, anyway. No FREE destination? No worries. You’re still getting a review. FREE!

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