Questionable Letters Promising Free Airline Tickets Circulating in Southern Arizona- UPDATEby Nick LaFleur on Sep. 24, 2010, under Life, Tips
*See bottom paragraph for the latest update regarding this company
Better Business Bureau of Southern Arizona is alerting consumers to Patterson Bell, Harris Fields, Lexington Duke, Henderson Gill, Robinson Rhodes, Madden Hall, Nicholson Barnes, Jefferson & Greer, Welsch McCormick, Shelton White, Zimmerman Cain, Davidson Powell, Morrison Banks, Sutton Perry, Gilbert Turner, Sullivan Lang, Stanton Carney, Emerson Ross, Swanson Carr, Thompson Fuller, Richardson Blake, and Hoffman Sims, self proclaimed “Awards Redemption” agencies mailing letters to local consumers that state the recipient has qualified for airline tickets.
Since Dec. 10, BBB has received over 30 inquiries about Patterson Bell from consumers seeking to determine if the offer is legitimate. Consumers who spoke to BBB said they had no recollection of ever entering a sweepstakes or contest for the airline tickets.
Consumers say the letter states that they have qualified for an “award” of two airline tickets that have a retail value of $1,400. The letter claims that Patterson Bell has attempted to contact the consumer multiple times and if the consumer does not contact them by a specific date the airline tickets will be given to an alternate recipient.
According to consumers, Patterson Bell’s address in Tucson is 4811 E Grant Rd, STE 261 85712, and its Web site, www.pattersonbell.com, says the company has additional locations in New York, Florida, Utah, New Jersey, Texas, California, and Oregon.
BBB has also received a number of inquiries about Hoffman Sims, another “Awards Redemption Agency” in Tucson whose Web site, www.hoffmansims.com, is similar to Patterson Bell’s, and claims to operate in the same cities.
Consumers who called BBB concerning Hoffman Sims say they too received a letter indicating they had won free airline tickets. A Hoffman Sims representative told BBB over the phone that they the mailings were sent on behalf of Southwest Travel Inc., a Tucson-based travel club. BBB has not been able to locate an Arizona address or contact information for Southwest Travel, to confirm the business relationship between the two companies.
Phone calls to Hoffman Sims and Patterson Bell each led the same representative who declined to provide any information regarding the mailings and refused to disclose either company’s Tucson address. The representative also refused to say whether Patterson Bell and Hoffman Sims were in any way affiliated.
BBB warns that offers of prizes from travel clubs are usually tied to a requirement to attend a presentation of some kind. Presentations conclude with attempts to enroll consumers in travel clubs, to sell exclusive software, to sell access to a special web site, or to train consumers to become travel agents. Customers are told they can expect elaborate and extensive discounts on their travel purchases.
In BBB experience, the upfront costs of enrollment or purchase in these programs are never recouped. Promised travel discounts rarely materialize and legitimate travel consolidators, lodgings, airlines and rental car agencies generally do not recognize credentials issued by these companies and groups.
If consumers receive suspicious offers from any travel company they can contact BBB at (520)888-5353, or visit us online at www.tucson.bbb.org.
UPDATE: BBB is receiving reports that consumers in multiple states are receiving letters from Awards Redemption Agencies called Harris Fields, Lexington Duke, Henderson Gill, Robinson Rhodes, Madden Hall, Nicholson Barnes, Jefferson & Greer, Welsch McCormick, Sullivan Lang, Zimmerman Cain, Shelton White, Emerson Ross, Richardson Blake, Morrison Banks, Davidson Powell, Stanton Carney, Gilbert Turner, Thompson Fuller, Swanson Carr, and Sutton Perry. Consumers say the wording in the letter is almost identical to letters sent out by Patterson Bell, and all the companies Web sites, www.harrisfields.com, www.lexingtonduke.com, www.hendersongill.com, www.robinsonrhodes.com, www.jeffersongreer.com, www.maddenhall.com, www.nicholsonbarnes.com www.welshmccormick.com, www.sullivanlang.com, www.stantoncarney.com, www.zimmermancain.com, www.thompsonfuller.com, www.sheltonwhite.com www.morrisonbanks.com, www.gilbertturner.com, www.richardsonblake.com, www.davidsonpowell.com, www.emersonross.com, www.swansoncarr.com and www.suttonperry.com are similar to both Patterson Bell’s and the now defunct Hoffman Sims Web site.
UPDATE: It appears Sutton Perry’s Twitter account, www.twitter.com/suttonperry, has been suspended by Twitter due to “strange activity.”
UPDATE: Just in time for for April 15, consumers are telling BBB they’re receiving solicitations in the mail that are designed to look like a W-2 form, claiming they have been awarded two airline tickets. The mailing is from a company called Travel Premium Awards Agency, and the return address on the letter is the same Phoenix P.O. Box used by Patterson Bell, Swanson Carr, Sutton Perry, Zimmerman Cain, Gilbert Turner and all the other aliases which the “airline awards” letters have been sent out under.
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