Budget Rent-a-Car slime move

*Updated July 29, 2008* I should probably change this item to “Elite Excursions and the Banks team up to relieve you of your money..”. Anyway, Clark Howard – a local consumer advocate – just posted an item that I thought relevant to this whole fiasco:

The Berkeley Center for Law and Technology analyzed corporate America to see which companies have the highest incidence of ID theft. The No. 1 company? Bank of America.

*End Update*

Is anybody else getting tired of these companies picking on our less savvy citizens?

I just received this in the mail from Budget Rent-a-car and find it eminently distasteful that they use this tactic to fool folks into subscribing to their “Elite Excursions Membership”.


The fine print under the cash amount says “Cashing this check activates a membership in the Elite Excursions program.”.

I’ve seen several of these over the years and every time it galls me that they appear to be specifically targeting folks who are either too trusting or too dumb to understand that this is not a check without strings attached.

As with all terrible advertising – this one is headed for my shredder.

This reminds me of the time I received an envelope from Circuit City with “Final Expiration Notice” boldly printed on it. The idea being for me to urgently open the envelope and respond to their Extended Service Policy offer.
I was so incensed that I wrote them a snail-mail letter (this was back in 2000 after all). I told them what I thought of their tactics ending with,

I am certain that I am not alone in my sentiments and wanted to at least let you know that your tactic has led me to shop elsewhere for fear of receiving yet more undeserved “Final Notices”.

I really can’t abide misleading or sensational (shock) advertising and just wanted to rant.

147 thoughts on “Budget Rent-a-Car slime move”

  1. Yes, I have just found out that I am a target in this sickening scam. Between the “Elite Excursions” & “Great Fitness” and Bank of America’s NSF fees, They have swindled over $1500 from me since May ’07. I am like many of you, a single mother of small children living paycheck to paycheck. I am on board with ANY of you that are looking into a lawsuit. Please keep me posted!

  2. My rip off experience was with Juniper CC/ Barclay’s Bank that are affiliated with Elite Excursions. I tried to file a claim with Juniper CC and they denied being associated with the company and would not honor by charge back. I gave Girard Gibbs LLC my info and they did not contact me.

    The real kicker is that Juniper sent me another email trying to get me to sign up again after denying any association with this company. If you get the so called checks, NEVER mail them in. I malied mine, cancelled within 30 days, and they never honored my cancellation and subsequently charged me for nine months. They never sent me a sign up packet so I didn’t know that they “failed” to process my cancellation. What a scam! They could get sued for $100 million dolaars and are still walking away rich!

  3. I have also just learned that BoA has been taking $19.99/moth from my checking account for at least a year, for a Euro Excursions membership which I never signed up for. I called BoA customer service and they explained that the membership was automatic when I accepted an offer for an MP3 player. I never got an offer for an MP3 player, let alone accepted an offer for an MP3 player, and certainly have never received an MP3 player.

    When I called BoA customer service to complain, I was told they could refund me for two months but would not go back any further.

    Has anyone taken any legal action regarding this???

  4. Just found out today that I was one of the Victim by this company called ” GREAT FUN” Phone number 1-877- 488-9480. PO BOX 6100 westerville, ohio 43086. I was not aware that they have actually charge from my credit card for almost 2 years already. They lied that all they charge for was only a month. I have the credit card statements in my hand and it says almost 2 years. I am an Active duty, in the Army, so I constantly travel. I do pay my credit card on time, but to my mistake, I overlook on some of these charges. When I found out about the Scam, I called right in to cancel the membership. Cancellation was done but I found out the charges continue on. Another TRICKY part also is that if you have been inactive with that credit card, there would be no monthly charge from the scam company. On the other hand, the charges would be hiding somewhere in your statement on the months that you have actually use the credit card. Several phone calls after that, all they told me was to fax all statements and they will reimburst. I wasn’t sure how true that is.

  5. i just found a 9.99 charge on my wmau account that i didnt authorize

    HCS*IDNTITYPROTECTPLAN is what the charge says

    but the number that wamu gave me to call is 800-313-4440

    when i called that number i got a dfferent story each time. rather amusing actually. definetly something fishey. so i googled the number and found this blog. the number shows up on the list of elite excursions nums.

    this must be yet another scam they are running.

    luckily for me i was looking to see if a check cleared and this charge hadnt even cleared yet and was the first one. i have already gotten a provisionary refund.

    the moral of the story is
    check your monthly statments!

  6. What a great website! I opened what I thought was typical junkmail only to read a slimy letter by John Sessler thanking me for purchasing membership in his foneybalony company Elite Excursions. I’d never heard of these people muchless purchased anything from them. I serched the web and found this blog and instantly called these scammers to cancel membership that I’d never heard of to start with. The idiot who answered the phone informed me that Chase Bank had sent me some sort of rewards check that I’d cashed which automatically enrolled me into this scam. I told her very angrilly to cancel membership immediately when the silly twit launched into a sales pitch. She thought this was FUNNY!! I called Chase Bank to report my card lost or stolen and the Indian rep launched into some long-winded sales pitch for Chase’s anti fraud services. Trilegiant is operating out of Norwalk, CT scamming people by the thousands nationwide. Since 2001 several states have ordered Trilegiant to stop its fraudulent practices and they are still going strong. States are getting big settlements and the common Joe’s getting hosed!

  7. I just got a “check” from Trilegiant Corp via Budget Car Rental, and googled this site.

    Apparently, one of Budget’s sister companies is Trilegiant, and Chuck Fallon, Budget’s Executive Vice President of Revenue Generation (I love that) worked with them.

    There must not be any more opportunities making money providing valued services, and Mr. fallon has to resort to duplicity.

    Check out his photo. It’s a measure of some justice: http://www.budget.com/budgetWeb/html/en/aboutus/companyinfo/execbios/profilefallon.html

  8. I just received a so-called check that will activate a membership in “Just for Me”, whatever that is, when I cash it and allow membership fees to be charged with my credit card that is on record with Budget. I called “Just for Me” and complained and then called Budget’s customer service line. Budget accepted a formal complaint from me and promised to remove my name from their “list”. I let them know very clearly that I will not rent cars from them in the future. The only way to make these guys stop this is to hurt them financially. Call Budget’s customer service line at 800-214-6094 and give them a piece of your mind. At the very least it feels good having made the call – but remember the poor schmuck who takes your message is not the decision-maker, so be nice to her/him.

    Happy New Year.

  9. Marc – Thank you for your blog! I googled AutoVantage and stumbled upon this blog. I was thinking about joining this “club” for $15/mon to get a free MP3 player and then cancel. Anyway – I won’t be doing this.

    Great consumer blog!

  10. I checked my Chase CC statement for a charge of $119.99. I immediately called Chase to disupte the charge and the lady on the phone said it was a “club/organization membership” which was their classification and I should contact the company first to try for a refund.

    She gave me the number (877-432-3117) which I called to only find they were open M-F 8AM-11PM. When I Googled the company nothing legit came up for business except some third-party websites and this web blog.

    I called my CC company back to dispute the charge which they said Chase would issue a call/fax/letter whatever to get the charge credited. If that didn’t work within 28 days I would get a letter stating the situation with the charge.

    I will be trying again tomorrow to the company to see “what’s up.” Any hassle from them and I will contact my lawyer. This kind of scam/business is entirely unethical and should NOT be legal.

  11. hey again,
    I actually agree with what David said. He posted a comment on September 20th, 2007. He said “If you keep your documentation thorough, you can beat them at their own game.” This is exactly right. My father also had the same experience.
    He was offered an emergency assistance service by AutoVantage Enhanced (this company is under Trilegiant) for $149 a year. My father asked me if he should accept the offer for a free mp3 video player. Then, I said sure, just dont forget to cancel it on time. So, when he got the membership material, he sent the free mp3 video player card and keep material . He then called the company to cancel the membership. He said that the person on the phone promise him to send him another mp3 video player if he does not cancel the membership today plus give him another 30 days evaluation for free. He then wrote down the person’s name.
    After a few weeks, he got the mp3 video player. But then he got another mp3 player just as promise a few weeks later. So, he called the company to cancel the membership few days later, wrote down the cancellation number and got mp3 player for free. Until now, he never had a problem with this company.
    So, a good tips will be : accept the offer, keep the membership material, send the free offer card, cancel it on time, write down the cancellation number, then in a few weeks you will get a free stuff.

  12. I received my credit card statement in today’s mail and an item for $119.99 appeared. The phone number (877-488-9283) appeared alongside the the entry, TLG*ELITEEXCUR…. My enquiry resulted in the person at the other end advising that I cashed a $9.50 check (in Nov 2007) from a Chase Credit Card promotion that automatically placed me in their Travel Club. I challenged this and further asked for his supervisor. She came online after several minutes and repeated the orignal speel. TLG is to return documentation within 4-6 weeks. While I never cashed their check I am now contacting Chase Credit Card for an explanation as to why they would participate in such a scam.

  13. I also had issues with TLG Excursions through an apparent Chase Credit Card rebate check.

    The gentleman I had on the phone didn’t seem to fight me too much. I told him he was mistaken (who knows?) and that I never signed up from this “travel program.” He tried selling me on it but I cut him off mid-speel and told him to cancel my membership and refund my money immediately by reversing the charge on my CC.

    He complied and said it may take upto 30 days and I said he had one week.

    5 days later it was credited back to my account.

    Unethical business practices like these should be what Congress asks about…not steriods.

  14. PO Box 6100, Westerville, OH 43086 –> I have recently discovered that my debit card has been charged $11.99 monthly (for the past eight months) to LiveWell.net. LiveWell is promoted through 1-800-FLOWERS and somehow obtained authorization for membership charges to my bank account. I see from this blog that this PO Box is registered for several other “scam”-ish companies, including Elite Excursions.

    I’ve requested a full refund for the charges incurred, but we’ll see what happens. Watch out for LiveWell!

  15. I just got a $119 charge on my Chase card after cashing a couple of those $9 elite excursion checks. I cancelled within the trial period, so I called the company. When I told the guy I wanted to cancel, he told me a bunch of bs and added “I’m going to keep your membership active and go ahead and send you the coupon booklet. Is this ok?” twice. I was firm and said “No. I cancelled my membership after before the 30 day trial period so I shouldn’t be charged. That’s what it said in the fine print.”

    He then stated I would have the charge taken off my card in 15 days.

    Be firm and mention what I did – they will quickly budge. If not, threaten to report them to the Better Business Borough… that was going to be my next move 😉

  16. I have been charged from May 2007-Jan 2008 19.95 a month from BOA Elite Excursions without my permissions. They have been taking it out directly from my bank account without my permission.
    What did you do to get your money back I have written 2 letters and have gotten no response.

  17. I have been charged from May 2007-Jan 2008 19.95 a month from BOA Elite Excursions without my permission. They have been taking it out directly from my bank account!
    What did you do to get your money back? I have written 2 letters and have gotten no response and closed my account

  18. In January, I saw a $59.99 charge from TLG Hotline on my statement. It almost slipped by, but my husband happened to be in front of the computer and so he googled it. Well, you’ve read it all in the previous posts. Supposedly I cashed a $9.50 check which signed me up for this “fraud protection service”. Although I remember seeing that check come in the mail, and it looked like a cash rewards check for charging on my Chase Credit card, I don’t believe I cashed it because it looked suspect. Anyway, in January I saw the $60 charge, and after a few phone calls, I got the charge taken off my next statement. I was just about to mail in my Chase customer service survey that they had sent me after my complaint where I had actually thanked them for reversing the $60 charge, when I looked at the same statement with the reversal and saw a $119.99 charge for TLG Elite Excursions! So I called, and she said that because I had cashed a 9.50 check in Dec, I signed up for this travel discount service! I told her I had already called about this before for the “fraud protection” plan, and the only protection I need is from you guys! She tried to give me 2 $50 vouchers if I’d keep the plan. I said I wanted nothing to do with it-cancel all TLG memberships! She gave me a cancellation number, which I didn’t receive from the last set of phone calls dealing with this issue. I reopened my Chase customer service survey and told them what I thought of them and their relationship with their “3rd party partner” TLG. This is outright fraud. If I hadn’t been discriminating about looking at my credit card charges, this would have slipped through the cracks, and I’m sure that this is what they are banking on. $180 could have been lost to nothing. BEWARE!!!!!!!!!

  19. All you have to do is NOT cash the checks. I work there and grow so tired of hearing people call in about these charges they see on their credit card statements or receive membership packets and say “I never signed up for this!”. Our reps really DO NOT care if you keep the service or not (and really wish there was a different way for you people to cancel your stupid membership). The checks purposely have the terms and conditions written on them in more than one place (including on the back just above the endorsement line in plain book print (not fine print) so people will read it.

    As for who to get mad at… our clients. Places like CHASE (esp. them), BUDGET, BANK OF AMERICA and so on. They are the places that call Trilegiant and want to offer the service to their customers. Those clients decide who to offer the service to, how much it will cost them, which benefits they will get, and whether or not they are suppose to receive a refund or not if they wish to cancel.

    Also reporting the company to the BBB would be a pointless effort on your part and threatening to sue the company makes no difference to the person you are talking to on the other end of the phone. Once you hang up (and they are happy when you do) they never have to even remember they’ve ever spoken to you. They are graded on whether or not they make the attempt to save your membership and docked if they don’t. You are offered things as a procedure and if you say no… we hurry up and give you a cancellation code you we can STOP TALKING TO YOU. It sucks because many of the jerks that call in act as if the representative on the phone signed them up (you really don’t have to swear at us either because all we are trying to do is read a script). IF you are signed up and you know you have shredded the check… sue your bank of whoever because they are the ones who gave the company your credit card information (and ask for the proof of enrollment address because we do have that department available for you).

  20. I’m laughing at what Jessenia is saying, I never cashed any check, yet am getting money taken from me. I called Elite Excursions and was given a fax number (1800-964-8115), which I use to send a letter requesting full refund. Over the phone I could get the refunds for the past 2 months. Has anyone successfully gotten a full refund?

  21. Chase Bank and Trilegiant Corp have an agreement. Google the two names together and you’ll find that the State of Tennessee won a lawsuit against the pair for deceptive practices.

    Chase has a “rewards” program for their credit card customers. Periodically Chase will send checks for small amounts that supposedly reflect a % refund on credit purchases. Cash that check and you’ll likely get a mailing from AutoVantage Enhanced…a Trilegiang subsidiary…informing you that you’re a member and unless you call or mail a discontinuance you’re credit account will be billed…

    read all the small print

  22. I found debit transactions from Elite Excursions on a secondary account with BOA, which I barely use and check. This company is partnered with BOA. Apparently they “BOA” had given out the account numbers to Elite excursions. I was told by my local BOA manager to go to small claims or hire a lawyer!

    Recently a similar fraud case settled with Wachovia–http://www.charlotte.com/123/story/597084.html

    I think anyone who has been affected by these fraudelent account debits should find joint legal representation, since it is obvious that BOA or Elite Excursions do not intend to refund all debits.

    Let’s act now before it is too late!!!!!!!!!!


  23. OMYGOSH — they just showed up on my checking account as an electronic withdrawal. I’ve never cashed any check y’all are talking about or heard of them before. I dont use budget rent a car. My bank was nice enuf to put a stop payment on it free of charge. I would really like to know how they got my information though. pretty sleazy if you ask me.

  24. I have discovered that Bank of America gives away private information such as account numbers to third party associations such as Elite Excursion. Later, those companies start charging $20 monthly. I went to the bank and their solution is to activate an option called “OPT OUT” which apparently stops the sharing of your private info with other companies associated with Banl of America.

    I’ve been charging for 2 years can you believe it?

    I’m sending an email to Help Howard from channel 11. Plz, guys send your complaints also, it can’t continue this bulshxx

  25. Wow, this is a lot of responses, hope I receive one back: I’ve just noticed that I’ve been being charged a fee from these guys since January. How would I go about fixing this problem? Or who can I refer to in order to get this fixed? A response ASAP would be most appreciated…

  26. John, contact your credit card company immediately and tell them the charge is not authorized and tell them the full total amount of the unauthorized charges. They may have a time limit on the no. of months they will credit back, but they should stop it immediately. There should be a customer service phone no. on the back of your card.

  27. John, you should go to your bank and make them call to that company to get all your money back. It seems that Elite Excursions get a little intimidated when a representative from the bank calls. Anyway, make sure that when the representative from your bank calls to get the name and id number of the Elite Excursion employee. Plus make sure to ask in your bank for an option called OPT OUT which stop the sharing of customers private info with third party associations

  28. i have just got 120$ charge on to my chase credit card from Merchant Name: TLG*EliteExcur… when i searched google .. this page showed up…. my god ,,, there are so many people here with that problem….
    the story about me is that i guess i did cash the 10$ cheque which i got a year back.. and now i just came to know that they charged me 120$ for a membership…

    can any one please give suggestion and guide me for what i have to do to get my money back and get rid off this membership… membership…

  29. I just received one of these in Arkansas that was dressed up as if it was some sort of gas rebate. However, in the fine print it was an agreement to be charged fees for some sort of Health Saver club. I looked on the Arkansas Attorney General web site and found that our state had been in litigation with Trilegiant and made them agree not to do that, so I sent the paperwork with a complaint to the state’s Consumer Protection Division. If each of us would make prompt complaints to the States Attorney Generals there is a chance they can take this company to its knees. Only through powerful litigaton can these unscrupulous business practices be stopped. In Illinois a class action law suit won $25 million. I don’t like frivolous law suits, but in this case I’m on the lawyers sides. So, complain, complain, complain to your State Attorney General or find a law firm on the internet who has a class action suit going against them. Consumers must fight fire with even bigger fire! (Do a google search on Trilegiant.)http://www.consumeraffairs.com/scam_alerts/tlg.html

  30. I have had a membership with Elite Excursions for several years now. Yes I get charged a modest fee every month, but I have literally saved thousands of dollars on my trips, according to the company rep on the phone. It’s so easy to pay them because they take it out automatically from my account, I don’t even realize I paid it most times. Plus, whenever I try to cancel they are very friendly and give me another year membership at a discounted (5%) rate.

  31. Marc,

    Not only does it happen to trusting or dumb people. (I’m trying to excuse myself maybe). I had a problem related to Budget too. This month I rented a truck online for moving. I called, as they suggested, to confirm the truck would be ready. After confirming, they asked if I wanted to get information on an insurance that would cost one more dollar of the cost of the rent. Too good I know, but I didn’t find a reason at this point to suspect that I was going to be tricked by Budget. I said yes and they tranferred me to some one else. They gave me the info on the insurance, some hundreds of bucks that could pay for the repair of the truck if I smash it or something. Not being used to driving a 20 feet long truck, the first thinking is that you could misscalculate its size and “scratch” it. After accepting this “deal” they told me I had been signed in for a monthly service blah blah…and I said -WHAT? please cancel this. – I can’t. he said. -you would have to call later to cancel.
    The thing is I’m right now trying to cancel it. I don’t know at what point I got distracted to fall into this or if there was a point where I could have catch it. You don’t expect these scams from what you consider to be a serius company.

    Long description but I hope it can help someone who is renting a truck this way.

  32. July 2009, and Trilegiant remains vigilant in it’s agressive fleecing business. I received a “check” from them, clearly targeting me from a transaction with Budget Rent-a-Car. My best guess is that this transaction took place about 18 months ago, which leads me to believe Trilegiant bought access to a list from Budget of roughly year-old travel transactions. Year-old transaction records are cheaper for them to buy, so I guess their conversion factor — the total number of mailings they send out vs. people who actually cash the check — remains attractive despite the weakness of these “leads.” Trilegiant is obviously vile to the core; the “check” (or “Enrollment Form”, as aggressive litigation has no doubt convinced them to begin labelling their mailers) stunk like day-old sturgeon. But what gets my knickers in a twist is Budget, pimping my credit card number to this third-party snake. I will never again rent a vehicle from Budget, and will encourage others to boycott.

  33. I know it’s late in the game, but I wanted to comment on my experience with the company.

    Earlier this year I received the “Free DVD Player” offer with my US Bank Statement. I sent in the offer, but never heard anything back. A couple months later as I was doing some reorganizing, I came across the extra copy of the offer page, so I called them to see what was going on. They said they had sent me the claim card, but I never got it. Anyway…I received the new claim card within about a week, and my membership packet too. I canceled the membership immediately and forgot about it altogether. Well, just today (about 3 months later), I got the dvd player in the mail! I couldn’t believe it!

    I also signed up for the free trial of “Traveler’s Advantage” and “Great Fun”, after booking a hotel room online. Along with those memberships, I was to receive $30 cash back on the hotel, and $20 cash back from dining out. As soon as I received my membership packets, I canceled. It took about 2 weeks, but I received both of the cash back checks, after submitting my receipts.

    All in all…was it worth the time and effort of canceling???? I think so. It was easy, and I ended up with a DVD player and $50.

  34. just went to their website, clicked on the contact info, contacted them and cancelled my membership. they may even refund my last payment.

    just be frank and stern.

  35. Elite excursions (elitexc) has been stealing money from my parent’s account for two years. Whe I called and asked to return the money they said that my parents had signed an agreement. My parents don’t speak English so they were unable to understand who was taking the money. IN my case elitexc was a bank of america scam. So, we filed a small claim against bank of america and got at a year and a half worth of money. My suggestion is file a small claim against both the bank that you have an account with and the elitexc. Document everything and take them to court. Skip mediation and in front of a judge and explain the situation. Also, spread the word. They don’t like publicity on the scams they are running.

  36. Today I realized that I had FIVE different companies charging me every month for bogus memberships, ALL OF THEM originating from Budget rent a car’s “slime move mailing” that started this post, including “Great fun”, “Health Saver”, and 3 others. Although they all list different phone numbers on the amex statement, I was able to cancel all 5 accounts by calling the first one, which shows that it’s just one big scam.

    So why was I dumb enough to cash the checks? Because I often buy software and other stuff that have mail in rebates for small amounts like $10, so when I get one of these checks, I just assume it’s that. I never even SUSPECTED that cashing a check could tie you to anything – this is insane, and it has cost me over $600!! How can you be enrolled in some membership without having given an actual, clear, consent, such as a signature?!?!

    Can this really be legal?

    Apart from that Tenessee lawsuit, has anyone heard of people getting their money back? Budget getting sued? A class action? Anything?…

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