Buying Clubs and Vacation Clubs
WHAT IS A BUYING CLUB?
A commercial buying club offers discounts on merchandise and or services to its members. The membership fee is often high, sometimes as much as $500 or more. If the member receives a 25% discount on merchandise, in order to recoup the $500 membership fee, a member would need to buy $2,000 worth of merchandise. The savings may apply to the, "suggested retail price", an amount that is usually higher than the average selling price. Also note that a discount store could offer an item at the same price as the buying club and not charge a membership fee.
WHAT IS A VACATION CLUB?
A vacation club provides or claims to provide its members with vacations, vacation plans or services connected with the scheduling of vacations at discount prices. Again, the membership fee is often high and you may find that there are no real savings. By comparing prices and travel plans with your local travel agent, you can make an informed decision on whether or not a vacation club would be beneficial to you.
As in any business, a buying club or vacation club owner operates to make a profit. To do so, some club owners use the membership fees and advance merchandise order payments to keep their businesses afloat - a dangerous situation for members. There is also the possibility that the club may go out of business after you join. Some clubs have shut down and left their members with little hope of recouping their losses.
BEFORE YOU JOIN:
* Make a list of what you want to buy and compare local retailers' prices with prices the buying club is offering.
* Check to see if freight or other service charges are added to the purchase price.
* DO NOT join a buying club that will not show price lists or a catalog until after you have joined.
* Make sure that the buying club has a showroom of merchandise and be certain that you tour the showroom.
* Compare prices of vacations with your local travel agent.
* Are there hidden costs involved with the vacations? Are there limited times you may travel?
* DO NOT succumb to high-pressure sales techniques.
* Always check out the club's reliability report with your BBB.
CANCELING YOUR MEMBERSHIP:
Make certain that you understand the cancellation policy if you join a buying club or a vacation club. The contract will state what the cancellation policy is. These contracts are generally very binding.
Some pyramid schemes are often touted as "vacation clubs" or "buying clubs." You may receive an invitation to join a buying club, but the discount merchandise is not the focus of the club. The driving force of the "club" is to recruit new members so that they will pay "membership fees" to those whose names appear at the top of the "membership list" or pyramid. The discount merchandise is secondary to the "plan". Pyramids invariably collapse with most members losing money.
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