That political survey robo-call you just got? It’s a scam

If a group called Political Opinions of America calls you, hang up. They're really just trying to sell you a timeshare.

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Our file contains a pattern of complaints from consumers who state they were contacted by this company and told they won a free three day two night cruise to the Bahamas. The only fees mentioned are the port fees in the amount of $59 per person. Some consumers state they are not told of additional fees or that they must attend a two hour timeshare presentation as a part of the agreement. Consumers report the timeshare presentation is very high pressure as well as high pressure sales to upgrade their cruise. Some consumers complain they were told they have 30 days to review the travel packet and cancel for a full refund. Requests for a refund result in rude customer service and a refusal to issue the refund as mentioned in the sales presentation.

Caribbean Cruise Lines (CCL) operates dozens of different promotional Web sites, including 2012getaway, BahamasGetawayCruise, Funcruiseforfree, and Freecruise4you. The company doesn’t actually operate any cruise ships, it’s just a high-pressure telemarketing boiler room operation. Legitimate travel companies like Celebration Cruises provide the actual trips.

Dan Askin of CruiseCritic has a nice rundown of the differences between the two companies. His take: CCL can be a cheap way to get to the Bahamas for a couple of days, if you don’t mind the relentless attempts to upgrade you to more expensive travel packages, the high-pressure time share sales pitch, and CCL’s questionable business tactics.

Political Opinions of America.org (POA) also has a Web site, but it’s so obviously fake it’s laughable. There is no actual information about the organization; no names of principals, executives, or clients; and no physical address. All the news links are all to Gallup Polls (Gallup spokesperson Alyssa Brown says the firms are not related in any way), and the contacts page doesn’t work at all. It’s a front.

 

Not surprisingly, the domains are registered anonymously.

Interestingly, the same day I got my robo-call FoxNews ran a story about this scam. This faux polling campaign is apparently the work of a company called The Berkley Group (aka Vacation Village Resorts), which specializes in – you guessed it – timeshare sales.

Via a spokeslawyer, the group claims its POA calls are legal because the Telephone Consumer Protection Act allows for political polling, even if your number is on the FTC’s Do Not Call Registry (as mine is).

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