Today I encountered a bit of frustration with the aforementioned company. They are seemingly one company offering two services for what I understood to be one monthly rate of $16.99. This is most definitely NOT the case! There are in effect, two separate memberships and two fees but that is not mentioned when the program is offered. How did this happen? Here's the story:
On or about June 15th or 16th I was online planning out my recent road trip from NYC to Colorado. I mapped out my stops heading west and was searching for hotels. I found a Days Inn that seemed alright in Springfield, OH and so I called to reserve. During the conversation I was asked if I were a member of any organizations that offered discounts....I am, but went blank when she asked me. She started rattling off names of organizations and finally hit on my auto insurance company which qualified me for a discounted rate from the low internet rate. Cool. Then she began chatting up this Travelers Advantage program and the "big sell" was that I would get two $20 hotel discount vouchers to use which, once submitted with my hotel receipts, would net me $40 back. The 30 day trial cost only $1 and there was 30 days within which to cancel. Perfect, I thought....I'll be done with all this by then and get back a net $39! She also talked about this Shoppers Advantage that was a part of the program but NEVER mentioned there was a separate monthly fee for that membership.....it was described to sound like an additional "perk" to being a part of Travelers Advantage. OK whatever. I know how to shop and save already but if that's part of it, well I'm cancelling anyway so who cares?
I receive a confirmation email from Travelers Advantage regarding my membership in about 3 days. Then the hotel vouchers were sent about 2 more days later in an email from Travelers Advantage with the subject line "Here is the information you requested" and although I did not "request" anything, I opened it and found the two vouchers to use for submitting my hotel rebates. I submitted both rebates while I was still IN Colorado and within a week or two after I was home, I had my check for $40. Then another email came from Shoppers Advantage which also stated "Here is the Information You Requested" and I was ??? So I opened it and there were 4 small vouchers with which I could obtain $10 gas rebates per quarter for 2012. Well, the first quarter was already done, but anyway, I decided to try for those too although Gas Vouchers were NEVER mentioned when I signed up for the 30 trial membership. I submitted them separately as I was crossing quarters but knowing I would be cancelling, I wasn't sure I'd get the second $10 (I sent in the 2nd Quarter voucher while in Colorado as well for the first $10) and then mailed the final one as I was driving back east since the 3rd Quarter of the year had started.
I called to cancel the Travelers Advantage membership on July 16, 2012 to be sure I did not run past the 30 day free trial I paid $1 for. Since I believed the Shoppers Advantage program to be connected to the Travelers Advantage program, I never called them. I never received a welcome email from them, just that voucher email that puzzled me. So I thought I was free of them, and I even received the second $10 gas rebate check after I had officially submitted the voucher - I thought if it had been submitted while I was a member, they'd likely pay it.
Admittedly, in a way *I* was using them as a means of saving money on this trip..the deal was try it, here are the vouchers (but I only ever knew about the hotel vouchers, NOT the gas vouchers) and try it. But if you are going to give me a trial like that, I am going to take "Advantage" of it!! Since I never received a "Welcome" email with separate membership information, I did not believe I was given two separate memberships. The company, Triligent Corporation, runs both programs and their representative gave no indication that these programs were *separate* offers, because she also never mentioned the gas vouchers. I wish I could remember which hotel reservation site I used to book that first hotel room.........I want to say Hotels.com because I would not have used any site that I had never heard of and I knew of them. I believe it was them, but cannot say with 100% certainty, unfortunately.
Today I was reviewing a credit card statement online and saw a charge for $16.99 from Triligent Corporation and so I pulled up an old email, actually a few of them since their phone number was not in their first email, and telephoned to dispute the charge. The first number I called prompted me to ask for an agent, which I did but after waiting a few minutes in silence, I knew no agent would come to the phone. I searched through other emails they'd sent and found a different number and reached a human. He then began to tell me I was enrolled in BOTH program that day back in June and there were separate charges for both, started rambling about my gas vouchers, hotel vouchers etc. and I stopped him to say I knew all about the vouchers! I informed him that I was never told there would be two charges and that it was a deceptive promotion. He knew I had cancelled Traveler's Advantage. He rambled a bit more, I interjected (he said he was not finished talking about some nonsense) and I requested a refund. He did not fight me as I am sure this must happen all the time. Why he felt the need to give me details about these programs is beyond me (maybe trying to sell me again?) which is why I had interjected. A full refund is being processed, thankfully.
It can be said that I most certainly used them, but they also most certainly deceived me with their Sales tactics insofar as omitting cost information on a program that was completely separate from the one I knew I was joining. Who would pay $17 for each program each month to save money every month? Well, I suppose if you leave out the part about the second charge but chat up the other program, which was irrelevant to me to begin with, speak on the hotel vouchers but not the gas vouchers, how is anyone supposed to know that the charge is coming and to keep an eye out to cancel? They've got you. But, happy ending, they ultimately did NOT. I got back $59 (after my $1 trial payment) for hotels and gas and am getting the charge reversed. Yes it could have been far worse. But this just really ticked me off because for so many, it IS worse and costs more, with bigger fights and issues to resolve.
I just am NOT letting Travelers Advantage/Shoppers Advantage off the hook. Who knows...if one did stay in their program, what other trickery they might try to pull next. Sneaky sales practices must be exposed. Shoppers Advantage, seriously? I was traveling, not going to the mall.
The first two Days Inn's that I stayed in were mostly crappy anyway although the third one I used (didn't want to!) was surprisingly lovely in Wytheville, VA. Go figure. Believe me I wasn't expecting much going in, but they should have been better. So I am rather glad I got money back for those stays!!
Oh and eventually I found out which hotels I do have privileges with, through my University Alumni Program and membership in a professional organization. I also used my sister's Alumni benefits program to use other hotels for the trip home. Like my affiliate programs, hers also is extended to family/friends, thankfully! One hotel clerk in Nashville gave me some trouble but I fixed that fast! Got the discount. I never would have thought about my auto insurance offering discounts but now I know - I'm in their privileges program too now! So check and see what you might qualify for. Seems like everyone has rewards/benefits programs now, but be careful of schemes like Traveler's Advantage/Shoppers Advantage. If you DO want to try and do what I did and "use them" to get paid, just know that you'll have to cancel TWICE to get out of their trap.
It's always something!