Philadelphia Inquirer’s Jeff Gelles’s Series on Sundance Vacations and Its Efforts to Silence Internet Critics

The main story is here, and sidebars on efforts to silence internet critics can be found here (quoting fellow blogger Scott Michelman) and here. An excerpt:

[The consumers] agreed to pay $16,600 in principal and interest, with seven years of monthly $195 installments. In return, Sundance promised 30 weeks of "resort area condominium accommodations" in the United States, Mexico, or the Caribbean – all provided by Sundance's partner, Travel Advantage Network (TAN) of Millersville, Md., with terms spelled out in eight pages of contract language and disclosures.

Looking back, the [consumers] said they felt pressured and misled into signing up for a deal that to them proved nearly worthless. In return for their money, they mostly counted a litany of frustration – particularly that they were unable to book lodging they wanted and faced fees that made a Sundance vacation more costly than other, less-limited choices.

Sundance rejects such criticism, saying its customers freely enter into contracts after salespeople outline all the key terms – including by requiring customers to sign disclosures asking such questions as, "Do you feel your decision to purchase was based on high-pressure sales tactics?"

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