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Saturday, 23 May, 2009 0:19 AM
EXCLUSIVE: Beware of the Lincoln Navigator Giveaway Telephone Marketing Scandal from Global Vacation Network
PHOTO BY MIKE ISMAIR / ©AMERICAJR.com
Global Vacation Network is located at 5400 Data Court in Ann Arbor, Mich.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Many of you remember when former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick used city funds to purchase a lease on a red Lincoln Navigator for his family. AmericaJR.com has uncovered a new scandal involving a Navigator and a vacation membership club. Global Vacation Network (GVN) hired a telemarketing company to draw customers to its Ann Arbor location. The telemarketing company has reportedly broken the National Do-Not-Call law and called individuals about this promotion without their permission.
Here's how it works: A telemarketer will leave a pre-recorded message on your answering machine. Here's an example of a message left by a telemarketer named Bob Paine: "Hi, this is Bob with the claim center calling to give you the good news about a contest you entered called the Grand Sweepstakes Giveaway where you submitted your entry form to win the 2009 Lincoln Navigator. The contest is officially over and we pulled your entry form so congratulations. What you need to do as soon as possible is to give me a call at 1-800-254-1173. I'll have all the information in regarding to your prize. There's no obligation, however there's a time stipulation for you to retrieve your prize. Once again, my name's Bob Paine, 1-800-254-1173. Thanks and congratulations."
"It is a promotion that this company is running," said Annie Shanklin, Director of Sales at the Ann Arbor office of Global Vacation Network. "People are contacting through the internet to enter this promotion. Basically, when we do our telemarketers, we keep up with everything that they say. A lot of people hear what it is they want to hear. They're given a chance to win a Navigator. They're not being told that they have won a Navigator."
The telemarketing company has many sales people who may call you. Bob Paine is only one of the individuals that has been brought to our attention. The call will come up on your caller ID as a Chicago phone number. It may come from one of the following phone numbers: (773) 546-9063 or (773) 940-1581. The best advice is to refrain from picking up the phone if one of those numbers calls you.
"What we need to look into is whether or not people are going to a sales presentation thinking that they're going to win a prize that they may not actually be eligible for," said Tim Burns, Public Affairs Director of the Better Business Bureau of Detroit and Eastern Michigan. "Based on what we heard from the videotape you presented to us, we do have some concerns about the way they are marketing their presentations. The BBB is sending an investigator to review their file and look into the matter to see if there's something else to look into in a little more detail."
The telemarketer will leave a 1-800 phone number to call them back. If a consumer calls that number, he or she will be told to attend a meeting at one of the offices of Global Vacation Network. There will be a 90-minute presentation about joining their vacation club. The consumer will be pressured with a sales pitch and forced to accept the one-time offer or it will go away.
"Some people on the phone get all excited and then they're running in here thinking they're going to win the Navigator, but it's not like that at all," said Shanklin. "It will tell them that they're going to win one of four or five different prizes. There's a scratch-off card that they're going to scratch. That area is going to tell them what it is they've won when they come in here to the presentation. The person has a knowledge before they even come in through the door knowing what the odds are."
The problem is that the phone message makes it appear that the consumer has already won the Lincoln Navigator. However, there is only one Navigator given away for the entire nationwide promotion. Some of the other possible prizes include flat-screen TVs, MP3 players, grocery coupons and free vacations to nice destinations.
"Whenever you get a phone call, especially if its an unsolicited phone call that someone says you've won some sort of prize or trip or something, first of all you should ask yourself, how did they get my name or address or information," Burns said. "Did I actually submit a form or apply for a contest? If you don't remember doing that, you should probably just hang up or not pay any attention to the call. It's probably some sort of scam or somebody trying to sell you something."
At the sales presentation, a Global Vacations Network employee will indicate that their office's Better Business Bureau rating is an A+. At the Ann Arbor office, their true BBB rating was a B-. However, it is currently under review by the BBB of Detroit and Eastern Michigan. It is best to check out the rating of the GVN office nearest you by visiting www.bbb.org. The employee of the Ann Arbor GVN office showed us a BBB rating certificate from another GVN office that was outdated.
"It's A+," said Shanklin when questioned about the office's BBB rating. "It went from a B- to an A+. Yes, recently."
"Currently, according to the BBB for their Ann Arbor location, they have a B- rating," said Burns of the Eastern Michigan BBB. "That is something that will be under continued evaluation as we look into the concerns that you brought to our attention. We appreciate your web site letting us know about this."
If you call the 1-800 phone number and tell the telemarketer to stop calling, you may still receive calls. If you are registered on the National Do-Not-Call list, you may continue to receive calls from this company.
"I am not saying we are perfect, but we go out of our way to scrutinize what are telemarketers are saying," said Shanklin. "The telemarketing companies is not Global. They are telemarketing companies that are bringing people in. So we're two different entities but of course we have to stand up for what it is they do."
Global Vacation Network has four offices in Michigan including 5400 Data Court in Ann Arbor, 20300 W. 12 Mile Rd. in Southfield, 16740 21 Mile Rd. in Macomb and 3949 Sparks Dr SE #200 in Grand Rapids.
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