Franklin Rodeo Bans Vendor After Complaints - WSMV News 4

Franklin Rodeo Bans Vendor After Complaints

Updated: May 26, 2011

Fans at a recent rodeo were excited to get a chance at a free vacation from a company, but they had no idea what they signed up for. Hundreds of Middle Tennesseans are now on a list that means they'll get phone calls and sales pitches they never expected. And as the Channel 4 I-Team found out, the rodeo is banning the company from ever coming back.



"This year was our biggest and best we've ever had. We don't want our reputation being tainted by something else," said Bill Fitzgerald of the Franklin Rodeo and Rotary Club.


One of the vendor booths set up at the Franklin Rodeo was called My Dream Escape, a vacation and timeshare company. It claimed to be giving away free exotic trips if people filled out a basic information form.


"It was name and address, you know, general stuff, so they could notify you if you won," said Aimee Baggett.


Baggett filled out the form. She never heard her name called in the raffle that night, but she was called a few days later by the company.


"'Congratulations, you've won,' and I was very excited," said Baggett.


At first, she thought she'd won the trip advertised at the rodeo. But a little later on into the conversation, she found out she'd won a different vacation, but that vacation wasn't so free.


"She said that the state of Florida pays for 85 percent of the trip that you've won, so I would be responsible for $398 worth of promotional fees," said Baggett.


When the company then asked for a credit card number or a bank draft, she became skeptical. She did some research, and so did the Channel 4 I-Team. My Dream Escape goes by three different names and has a D-rating from the Better Business Bureau, and Baggett found complaint after complaint about the company on consumer websites.


"We've got a call in to the company, and we're trying to get to the bottom of it as well," said Fitzgerald.


The I-Team also called My Dream Escape.


"Everything is a full disclosure on the forms they fill out," said Johnny Lyons, a manager for My Dream Escape.


Lyons said they disclose their marketing tactics in fine print on the information forms people signed at the rodeo. Just signing it means they're added to the company's call list.


"Maybe I really did win this thing, and it really did sound great up until they asked for $700," said Baggett.


"No, nothing is free, nothing is ever free from a marketing phone call," said Lyons.


The company manager denied telling people they "won," but the I-Team talked to a few recipients who said they were told they won a trip because they went to the Franklin Rodeo sponsored by the Franklin Rotary Club.


The Rodeo said this company is not invited back and that it will more closely monitor vendors at the event from now on.


So what do you do if you signed up for a free trip or any other free prizes? Don't be surprised if you get a follow up phone call or two from the company, and don't give out your credit card or bank information, unless you are willing to pay. Also be sure to always read the fine print.

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