The deadline for filing taxes, April 15, has come and gone, but some companies are still trying to profit by taking advantage of the public’s tax-season anxiety.
Better Business Bureau of Southern Arizona is alerting consumers to mailings, closely resembling a W-2 form, being sent to Tucson consumers from a company called Travel Premium Awards Agency on behalf of local travel club, Southwest Travel.
The outside of the mailing is laid out in numbered boxes, resembling a W-2 form, with the words “personal and confidential,” in large, bold letters on the reverse side, and the words “official documents enclosed,” and “Notice Urgency: EXTREME,” on the front. In smaller print, the front of the envelope also states that, “this is not a government document.”
When opened, the letter says that enclosed is an “airline ticket voucher” good for two roundtrip airline tickets to anywhere in the continental United States, but the “voucher must be certified to be valid.”
Consumers, who have contacted BBB inquiring about the mailing, say that when they called the phone number given in the letter they’re told they must attend a sales presentation at the offices of Southwest Travel; a travel club that has garnered 7 complaints and over 700 inquires with BBB in 2010.
The return address on the Travel Premium Awards Agency mailing matches the P.O Box used by a Phoenix direct mail company that goes by several names including, Patterson Bell, Sutton Perry, Thompson Fuller, Morrison Banks, and most recently Gilbert Turner.
Since November the company, which solicits clients for Southwest Travel and other travel clubs across the nation, has changed the name under which it sends its mailings at least 12 times. In dialogue with BBB, the company has been unwilling to give a physical address or any insight into the offers in the letters being mailed to consumers, or any verification that their business is a legal entity.
- If you receive a similar form in the mail it is in no way tax related, it’s just a solicitation to attend a sales presentation.
- Sales 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.
For more information on Southwest Travel, Travel Premium Awards or another company, call (520)888-5353 or visit www.tucson.bbb.org.