Fri | Sep 22, 2017

Anniversary anguish - Jamaican couple to get refund from international vacation club after protest

Published:Sunday | April 10, 2016 | 4:00 AMCorey Robinson
Samantha and Michael Cameron requested that their faces not be shown as they provided our news team with details on their ‘Anniversary Anguish’.

Unlimited Vacations Club (UVC) has decided to refund a couple that believe that they were tricked out of more than US$5,000.

Samantha and Michael Cameron had alleged that having marked their wedding anniversary last year with a trip to Secrets Resorts in St James, they were pressured into spending much more than they planned by representatives of UVC.

The couple is now in Las Vegas, United States, for their wedding anniversary this year, but they told The Sunday Gleaner that the pain from last year still lingers.

According to the Camerons, they had been visiting Secrets Resorts each anniversary for the past five years.

They said when they arrived at the resort last year they were introduced to UVC, which offered a premium package with promises of extended stays, VIP services, and other pleasantries for up to a decade.

They were told that the package would cost a total of US$8,000, and Michael said he used the full amount available on his credit card to make a down payment of US$2,500 before withdrawing an additional J$30,000 from a nearby banking machine.

 

Paperwork

 

According to Michael, they were then presented with a stack of documents to sign, but these were ignored, as they were overwhelmed with the excitement of their anniversary celebrations.

He claimed that for about five months after the vacation, without fully understanding the package, he paid an additional US$95 monthly to UVC.

Michael said they later decided to cancel the package as it had started to become burdensome after about five months.

That was when their troubles started.

"They are saying that we can't get back our money, and I am saying that since we can't get back our money, let us get two nights stay down there or something," said Samantha.

"But they kept on telling me they can't do that. Then they are going to say that we owe them," added Samantha.

"Remember, we have not used the package as yet. We gave them all of this money and we have never used anything from it," she argued last week.

According to Samantha, after pressuring Secret Resorts staff for answers, her queries were turned over to UVC agents overseas.

"The people at the hotel said that they don't want to talk to us about it, we have to talk to the people overseas.

"I was in contact with one UVC representative overseas by email, asking if we could either get a refund or a couple of nights at the hotel, and she told me straight 'no; that's not going to happen'," charged Samantha.

 

Promissory note

 

The couple showed our news team a promissory note dated April 5, 2015.

It stated that they: "... agree to pay on demand all costs of collection and enforcement of this note, including, without limitations, attorney fees and expenses and the applicable fees and expenses on appeal or in any bankruptcy proceedings incurred by the mediator."

On September 1, 2015, however, and after much wrangling between the two parties, another email was sent from UVC asking the couple to sign that they have "consented to terminate the mediation agreement ... (and) also, hereby authorise UVC to withhold the amount paid, provided, however, that the UVC hereby releases me from any obligation to any pending amount due according to the mediation agreement".

Samantha said they declined to sign the document and were pushing for a refund or a benefit for the money spent.

Last Wednesday, Deryk Meany, resident manager at Secrets Resorts, confirmed that UVC is doing sales at the resort but said the club's promotions are separate from the hotel's operations.

 

Matter investigated

 

Meany later liaised with UVC representatives and last Thursday, Andrea Purkiss, marketing director of UVC at Secrets Resort, told The Sunday Gleaner that the matter was investigated and the club has opted to refund the couple.

She outlined that UVC has cancellation policies to which members must abide, but that the decision to refund was made early Thursday morning in an effort to appease the Camerons.

The couple was reportedly told of UVC's decision to refund them by email last Thursday.

UVC is an exclusive international travel club whose members enjoy VIP privileges at AMResorts properties in Mexico, the Caribbean and Costa Rica, including guaranteed preferred rates and special offers.

The club advertises itself as offering travellers, through a variety of participation levels - pearl, silver, gold, platinum and diamond - free nights stays at luxurious resorts and access to exclusive partner offers.

corey.robinson@gleanerjm.com