(Bartlett, TN) For more than two decades, Jay and Sandra Blondis have made it their mission to spread the gospel.
The Bartlett couple have raised five kids of their own, but they have other “babies” too.
“Sometimes we’ll wind up sharing with 8,000 students in a one week period of time,” said Jay.
The Blondis’ help lead teams of missionaries on a trip to Brazil every year.
Over time, travel has gotten more expensive.
Jay expects their next trip to run around $2400 per person.
So, when they heard about a way to save, they figured it was worth checking out.
“On the hotel, save money on the airline ticket and bring that price down,” explains Jay. The potential discount came in the form of a postcard.
“Just for listening to a presentation, short presentation they said,” Sandra says they were told they could get a free cruise, plus airfare.
The Blondis’ sat through that presentation offered by Endless Travel at the Hyatt Place near Wolfchase Mall.
Besides hearing about that free trip, the Blondis’ were offered membership into a travel club, where for a fee, they could access major, travel discounts.
“Like a complete package type of deal, across the board, things would be cheaper,” says Jay of what he learned at the seminar.
The Blondis’ say their salesperson, Corie, told them membership would cost $8500, but he could get it down to $6500 and even have it financed.
“He took the credit information we filled out, left the room, came back and said, I got it for you, Bank of America,” adds Jay.
After that, the deal was done.
However, months later, as the Blondis’ began to inquire about booking, “You would call them and talk about different trips, not just the Brazil trip, but when it got right down to it, it was not going to be any cheaper,” Sandra says.
In addition, the cruise never came through, but their new, credit card bill did.
“The moment for me was when I decided, oh my goodness, we’ve been scammed, I typed in Endless Travel scam,” says Sandra.
Dozens of other complaints popped up, from message boards to the Better Business Bureau.
Sandra discovered Endless had set up shop nearly 300 miles away in St Louis. She filed a complaint with Consumer Affairs in Tennessee and Missouri.
“When I filed the complaint there, they Attorney General’s office told me that they had six other complaints,” Sandra says.
Those complaints were from other customers like Sandy and Gale Rupp, “It was very believable. She’s talking about all the major discounts you can get,” says Sandy about their experience at the seminar.
The Rupp’s paid $3000 for their membership, but made the purchase on their credit card and quickly canceled after going home, and like Sandra, searching online.
“Then we saw all this stuff on the internet,” explains Sandy.
Pat and Jack Wolf live outside Cleveland, Ohio. They paid more than $4700 for their membership. Pat says their salesperson, also named Corie, hooked them up with another company to sell their timeshare.
That never happened, nor the free cruise, or travel discounts.
The Wolf’s filed a complaint with the Ohio Attorney General and eventually got half of their money back.
“Absolutely headaches and nightmares, high blood pressure, can’t sleep nights, that’s what we’ve gotten from them. It’s a horrible experience,” says Pat Wolf.
Sue McConnell is a Senior Vice President with the Cleveland BBB.
She says Endless Travel, and the salesperson identified by several customers as Corie Willner has been on their radar for years.
“He opened up shop in Florida, Texas, Arizona and Missouri and every time we’ve seen his name surface, it’s always been in connection with different names. The company keeps changing names.”
That didn’t stop us from trying to track them down.
A producer wearing a hidden camera got turned away from one of those seminars because his wife wasn’t with him.
“It’s a couple’s presentation so I would need both of you to be here,” said a receptionist at Endless Travel. Later, when asked to see Corie Willner or the owner, an employee replied, “I’d have to get it to him and he’ll have to let you know.”
The company, whose own website lists ways to avoid travel scams, did respond via email.
President Jack Keefe says disclosure forms that customers sign regarding the cruise, never use the word “free.”
He says they’re trying to resolve BBB complaints and are “always willing to talk to any members who have a complaint about pricing, service, etc.”
Meanwhile, we contacted Bank of America about the Blondis’ charges and discovered Endless was never even authorized to offer the credit card. A representative wouldn’t tell us how they would resolve the issue but did say they planned to reach out to the Blondis.’
“I mean, nobody gives something away for free, I know that, but I still got sucked in. I’d love to see everybody that’s been scammed paid their money back,” says Sandra.
Besides consumer complaints, the Attorney General’s office in Missouri confirms they have an open investigation into Endless Travel.
The Tennessee Division of Consumer Affairs urges anyone with a similar complaint to call them at 615-741-4737.
If you do attend a seminar for a travel offer, don’t take your credit card or checkbook, and don’t sign anything on the spot.