New Orleans - Many of us are looking forward to vacations as summer kicks into high gear. But as we plan our getaways, others are plotting too.
The FOX 8 Defenders and the National Council of Jewish Women are getting complaints about everything from mis-leading travel deals to full-fledged scams.
Three different consumers have called the FOX 8 Defenders for help dealing with the same company, an adventure travel outfit that may be offering deals too good to be true.
Every year, people across the world lose millions in travel related scams or vacation packages with hefty, hidden catches aimed at folks looking for a great deal.
The FOX 8 Defenders are trying to help three people who bought into a company called Festiva offering deals like a seven day Caribbean cruise that members would pay just nine dollars for, a savings of 63 percent.
Also offered is a week at a two bedroom Florida condo that most people would pay $899 for, but members could get for just $49 a week. Each one of these people says Festiva initially contacted them, saying they were winners.
All three of the consumers say they were told to come to an office in One Canal Place to receive a free prize. But when they arrived, all three say what they received was a high pressured sales pitch.
All three consumers bought in, signing contracts agreeing to buy memberships worth about $8,000. All three now want their money back, complaining they've not only been hit with surprise fees, but they've also never been able to redeem those free gifts or any of the vacation deals they were told about in the sales pitch.
The Better Business Bureau says, with some companies, that free gift can be a warning sign of problems to come.
After repeatedly calling but getting no answer, the Defenders went up to Festiva's sales office in Canal Place looking for answers. No one was there, but the hallway door was open and the office appeared ready for business with presentation rooms set up and advertisements touting Festiva's vacation getaways.
After multiple tries, the Defenders finally reached someone at Festiva's corporate office who explained Festiva uses third party vendors for many services like those promised "free" gifts.
Festiva says it will review the individual details of each of our consumers' complaints to see if there's been a mis-understanding.
The BBB recommends people always pay with a credit card when purchasing travel packages. Most credit card companies offer the consumer a chance to dispute the charges if the services are never received.
If you have a consumer problem, call the FOX 8 Defenders at 1-877-670-6397.