I have recently received numerous letters from Awards Verification Center, 2400 W. Pioneer Pkwy, Suite 210, Arlington, TX 76013, with toll free numbers 1-800-239-9259, and 1-888-438-9492, informing me that I am an "official prizewinner" in their new Mercedes, BMW, Porsche or $40,000 cash promotion, and that they have been unable to contact me. They are also offering me a 4-day Royal Caribbean Cruise and a long list of other prizes, shopping sprees and cash rewards. How kind of them! I disregarded the first few letters, but they continued to come, and just yesterday I received a yellow envelope labeled "WESTERN MAILGRAM" addressed to me, which was obviously made to look like it came via Western Union, so it must be important.
I decided to do a little research and found a blurb on the Better Business Bureau's site stating that Awards Verification Center (who also has a long list of other known company names) is a company that "sells and operates vacation timeshares at various resort locations. The company sends letters offering one of several free awards to customers who agree to attend a sales presentation for vacation property." Of particular interest is this company's consumer rap sheet which sums up the company's 154 consumer complaints in the last 36 months. The site states, "Our file experience shows that this company has been the subject of complaints alleging misleading or high pressure selling tactics or dissatisfaction with the free award received at sales presentations. Complaints from timeshare owners primarily allege difficulties cancelling contracts, difficulties making reservations for specific dates, or dissatisfaction with resort services." Other folks have also complained about this company. This was not surprising. One guy even decided to have a little fun with them.
"If you have received an award letter from this company, it does not mean that you have won a contest," the BBB says. They caution that this company (whatever name it's going by) will invite people to its high-pressure sales meetings and offer you a vacation package that includes only daytime use of a facility, with overnight accommodations and transportation excluded. Do not give any personal information, credit card numbers or any other information to these types of solicitors. Basically, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. (Source: BBB)
UPDATE (9/8/06): I received another letter from Awards Verification Center, and this time, when I called them to request they remove me from their mailing list, they insisted I give them my telephone number. I'm positive they do not have my telephone number (BTW, I used Skype to call them), and I wasn't about to give it to them. They refused to remove me from their unsolicited marketing mailing list.
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