Did I really win a free cruise?

At a chinese restaurant the other night, my girlfriend filled out a form to “Win a free vacation to the Bahamas!” There was no fine print on the box or the form, other than a notice that port fees and taxes were not paid. Yesterday, I got a 5-minute long call on my answering machine telling me I’ve won and I need to call and pick up a packet by Tuesday.

The website for the company, Security Travel USA, also offers sign-ups for the free cruise, as well as offers on other vacations in the Bahamas. No details are available on the cruise. There are testimonials, but I tried using Switchboard to find a couple of names and only got disconnected numbers. The website says this is not a timeshare offer. The Better Business Bureau’s report is currently “on update” and is not available.

Has anyone had any experience with this company? Is this a scam, and if so, what do they do? I can’t imagine they can do too much with the info they have, since they only have my name, my parents’ address and their phone number.

I’m supposed to have won a trip to Dublin from Guinness. (Going in September.)

Based on your comapany’s web site, you could called the Tampa Chamber of Commerce for a start. You could also call them back and see if they want any money. Other than that, they’ve got your phone number, so calling them isn’t going to give them a means to hassle you.

They’re probably going to try to sell you a timeshare.

It’s a scam - or at least not entirely on the up-and-up. Here’s a link:

:smack: I missed that part about it not being a timeshare offr (sez them). They’re still going to try to sell you something.

Yep. Timeshare. In order to pick up your free cruise, you have to go into their office. Oh, and there’s going to be a short presentation. That you have to sit through. Followed by a one-on-one discussion with one of their sales representatives. Followed by you getting your free cruise. Which leaves from a port 500 miles away from where you live. How you get there and back, and what you spend on meals, is up to you to take care of.

Thanks for the info, especially that link to the news story, JerH. I did try to use the search function of the Tampa Chamber of Commerce, but I couldn’t get it to work. It looks like I’m not going to the Bahamas after all. At least not on a deck chair.

You could sit through the timeshare sales pitch, then just say “no” to everything at the end and claim your prize.

I did that once, only it was for two free vacations of your choice. There were a number of loopholes involved in getting the vacations – you had to register three months in advance, you had to pay a (refundable) deposit for the taxes, you couldn’t pick specific black-out dates, your accomodations were definitely low-tier places, etc. I ended up picking the free vacations to Las Vegas and Catalina, but never actually redeemed them (though I did get my deposit back, and a little extra as well).

So yeah, you can get freebies from those time-share sales-pitches; you just have to be willing to slog through a lot.