(CNN) -- Donna and David Sloat love to travel (as opposed to the rest of the planet who just hates it). When they got a postcard that claimed they could get 50 percent off the price of cruises and 75 percent off condo vacations, they were intrigued (...and stupid. I'm betting 'and stupid'. In fact, probably so fucking stupid that by the end of the piece, they will be considered the stupidest people in the history of history.)
Donna and David Sloat (Now that's almost Snrub-like. Hello, we're the Sssloooats. Yes. That'll do.) say they were promised a discount they didn't get. (No happy ending to the massage? I thought that was all-inclusive?)
The California couple went to a meeting to find out more (it's like the Eddie Murphy joke about white people in every horror flick - "Let's go in and check!"). While they were there, the vacation travel club offered something they thought they couldn't refuse (Really?) -- a complimentary cruise and two nights' stay at a hotel (Well shit, there can't be any strings to that! Where do I sign? Ooooh, fine print-shmine print.).
The Sloats became members (Natch.).
As it turns out, the "complimentary cruise" cost the couple nearly $600. And that free two-night hotel stay? It never happened. There was an administrative error, Donna said (Donna's still in denial, poor girl...and poor hair. OOOOOHHHH, SNAP!).
But they were still hopeful about the club's prospects. "We decided to go ahead and pay for the cruise ... we bit the bullet," she said. (Man, I have to get into the scam business. Fuck this waiting tables shit!)
But the perks didn't get better. Three times throughout the year, Donna and David tried to take advantage of travel plans through the group. But each time, rates were the same or lower at other places that are open to the public. (Can I repeat this here? Three. Times! Retards. Your bus is leaving.)
"We enjoy traveling very much," Donna said. "So I'm always trying to get as good a deal as I can. (Done a bang-up job so far.) When you're expecting to spend money and you get what you pay for, it's not a problem. But when you're promised a discount and you don't get it -- that's a problem." (Who said that first? Goethe? Keenan Ivory Wayans?)
The saying goes "There's no such thing as a free lunch." But what happens when that "free lunch" costs $7,500? (Then it's not free. See? That was easy. Let's go on just for shits and giggles.)
Stephen and Jean Liang of Kansas City, Missouri, were on a weekend getaway trip to Branson, Missouri. While picking up a map, the couple was persuaded to attend a presentation on joining a travel club (The map was talking to them!!! Holy Shit! That's the real story here!).
"They told us we could get $90 if we would sit for a 45-minute presentation," Jean said.
During the presentation, Stephen and Jean were told they could get discounted condo rates and other travel benefits around the world. They decided to join -- for $7,500. Jean said they were assured they could cancel within three days. (Okay. Let me see here. I'm in a makeshift conference room with folding chairs, tables that looks like they came from my church basement and a crapload of people I don't know listening to a pitch from a company I've never heard of or has a name akin to calling an appliance line MayTog. Some guy comes up and asks to charge my credit card $7,500. That's a tough one. [thinking...thinking....thinking] Okay, yeah. Let's do it.)
Before Stephen and Jean even left, they were offered a discount coupon for Red Lobster. (Wait a minute. I didn't know that. So it was a wash, then. Have you had their Scampi?)
"We really enjoy Red Lobster," (Of course you do) Jean said. "We thought it was a bonus for joining."
They were asked to sign a piece of paper after they received the card. The Liangs didn't think much about it. (I think I'm going to start selling my dog's poop in this manner. Seems like there would be a few takers out there.)
"We thought we needed to sign it to show we'd gotten the card," Jean said.
But, unfortunately, Stephen and Jean didn't realize that by accepting the Red Lobster card, they had used the services of the travel club. And by signing that piece of paper, they were waiving their right to cancel their membership.
But the couple soon found out the next day when they tried to cancel.
Jean said they felt deceived. (And were mind-blowingly stupid. Works for the Liangs as well.) "This is really, really wrong. A person's word is what they are." The couple found out the hard way that it doesn't always work that way.
For the record, Red Lobster has no affiliation with the travel club. (Glad that's cleared up.)
Thousands of complaints have been filed with the Better Business Bureau about travel clubs in the last three years. (See. $7,500 for poop from the craziest freaking dog you've ever met. If a woman can find an image of Jesus in a Cheeto, I can make a killing.)
All these complaints tell a similar story of being lured -- either in person, over the phone or through the mail -- to a high-pressure sales presentation with the promise of receiving free airline tickets, gas cards, or tickets to shows.
Promises of free vacation tickets or maybe a free TV if you sit in on a time-share sales pitch are common. Although attendees may or may not get the item they were promised, one thing is sure -- they're a captive audience for some hard selling.
"They'll tell you the deal is only good for today; that you'll miss out on the opportunity," (All together now in your bestest Homer voice. LIMITED!?!?!!) said Alison Preszler of the Better Business Bureau. "They want you to sign on the bottom line. They may make promises that aren't in the contract."...
...The travel club that the Sloats joined is still operating, but under a different name (MayTang). It maintains an unsatisfactory rating with the Better Business Bureau. The travel club that duped the Liangs is still operating, but also under a different name (KenMorer).
So before you join or take advantage of deals, check out companies you're considering at the Better Business Bureau Internet site (And make sure to pull down your pants before you shit. That was the latest life lesson from Captain Obvious.).
Rely on word-of-mouth to help you steer clear of bogus deals. Consumer Web sites such as fatwallet.com and epinions.com allow you to read customer reviews and post your own assessments. (while hooking up with other swingers.)
Remember, there are some legit deals and freebies out there. But make sure you understand exactly what you're getting into. (and for Christ's sake, if it's a Bennigan's coupon, you know it's a fucking lie. - topical humor.)