January 22, 2004
The sohovacation business idea

Net-savvy users will know better than accepting any offer that's randomly thrown at them as "visitor number 1,000,000" or as "today's lucky winner", but sometimes offers can sound oh-so-tempting:

Click to zoom

The Pop-up ad served at


promises 1101.00 discount on a package that according to them includes both 2 Florida hotel stays and a Bahamas cruise. The total retail value of the offer is, according to the page, 1699, and you have "won" the opportunity to purchase it all for 299.

Digging deeper on the pages served reveals that not only are flights, taxes etc not included, but the value has been greatly misrepresented in the advertising: the terms and conditions of the "Details of Participation" say themselves:

The value of this offer varies depending on seasonal rates. The fair market value is up to $1599. This offer cannot be redeemed for cash and is good for stated services only as defined herein. No cash value applies for any unused portion of this package.
US$ 1599 is only equal to GBP 870 at todays rates, i.e. accepting the offer of a > 1000 pound discount should get you cash, much less mean you'd have to pay...? (Click below to see full conditions of offer)

Click to see full conditions of offer (source: http://www.sohovacations.com/FCV/Details.htm)

Furthermore, one of the conditions state that "You must mail this Reservation Form no later than twelve (12) months from the date of purchase as shown on the reverse side of this form." and "All reservations are subject to availability for your protection and may be made by Fax using the reservation request form. Soho Vacations should receive the reservation request form at least sixty (60) days prior to arrival date." - briefly summarized (I'm not a lawyer, so all the usual legal disclaimers apply) it sounds like you're buying a prepaid type of certificate that must be used within 12 months, and it can only be used if the hotels have availability AND if you make up your mind at least 60 days before...

I've heard of better deals...

Caveat emptor! (Buyer beware!)

(Screnshots generated for your future reference only, using url2bmp, found via Hebig)

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More references available online that are definite must-read before spending any money with soho vacations or first choice vacations:


Posted by: Anders on January 22, 2004 05:07 PM

I had called within 3 minutes.But the person who took phone after saying something,put the phone down.

Posted by: Rinku on February 13, 2004 06:24 PM

I had called within 3 minutes.But the person who took phone after saying something,put the phone down.

Posted by: Rinku on February 13, 2004 06:24 PM

I won this great 'prize' too - and admit that I should have known better, but was sucked in by the fact that it was an 0800 phone number - which usually means free (though why on earth I thought that made it OK I have no idea!!).

Once I realised it involved actually spending quite a lot of money I politely told 'Darlene Allen' several times that I couldn't afford it - but was still repeatedly hassled about my credit/debit card. I said I thought that even though it sounded like a great holiday I really didn't have that kind of money to spend.... but I just couldn't get these people off the line (by this time I was talking to Darlene's 'superior' - a well known sales technique). Eventually - they became angry when I kept repeating I couldn't afford it (entirely true)..... and then they ended the call. DON'T BE FOOLED! THESE PEOPLE ARE SERIOUS SCAMMERS! See also article on Guardian Unlimited!

Posted by: maggie on February 17, 2004 05:37 PM

Please help

My friend has paid 585 for this soho vacation package deal and is now unable to go. So she has transfered it into my name as I was desperate for 2 weeks away. Something wasn't right about the holiday, so have looked into it. I have obviously read your comments. I haven't paid my friend yet and all comments sound as though it was people who wanted a refund that have been fobbed off. Do you think I should go, I can just about afford the package and the plane fair. Do you think there are any more hidden charges?

Just wanted your advice?


Posted by: Suzanne Waite on February 20, 2004 06:42 PM

could anyone possibly help me who has actually taken up the amazing offer with soho vacations and actually gone on there holiday package to orlando,daytona beach and bahamas cruise if you have i would appreciate any information or feedback you have to offer. many thanks sandra

Posted by: sandra chipperfield on February 25, 2004 02:19 PM

My husband got caught with this one. We were persistant in requesting a refund. Get your credit card company involved. Contact the Better Business Burueau in Florida and spend time on the phone to Soho Vacations, don't accept it when they keep saying they will not refund. We were persistant and a full refund has just appeared on our credit card.

Posted by: karen on February 28, 2004 01:01 PM

I got caught with soho vacation package,could any one help me how to get my money paid back.They dont want to refund my money,and now they are not answering the phone.Is there any hope???.
ps. I am from denmark.thx

Posted by: Elias w. farah on March 5, 2004 07:58 PM

Hi I have just handed over my credit card details to soho vacations, i really would like to go on this holiday and I am willing to pay the money, but how much do the taxes actually add up to and is does anyone actually ever get the holiday if they pay and want to go on it? Please email me: littlepiggyrecords@yahoo.co.uk
Thank you

Posted by: Michelle on March 6, 2004 05:23 PM


I've just been taken in by this 'scam'. Does the Holiday as outlined by others who left comments actually exist?

Posted by: Roy on March 7, 2004 08:39 PM

I have spoken to my bank about Soho Vacations and they said that if I return the holiday package forms with a cancellation letter between 30 days form purcahse and get a proof of delivery I should be able to get a refund by law. But before do anything, speak to your bank.

Posted by: Maria on March 11, 2004 01:24 PM

I think we should all work together, find an American Layer and sue Soho Vacations.
We can not let them keep doing this to people.

Posted by: Maria on March 15, 2004 03:38 PM

i've just handed over the credit card details to soho vacations.is there anybody who has taken the holiday...please help me.i wan't to know the opinion of somebody who has actually taken the holiday.should i try to get it back? please help me

Posted by: sheeba on March 21, 2004 10:16 AM

I have been on a SOHO vacation, and just wanted to share some information. Once you get past the charges you didn't know about i.e. port charges and taxes, it really is a wonderful trip. Though I was not told about the port chrges to take the cruise, I researched that and found out that on any cruise you take, there are in fact port charges. If you read the backs of the reservation request forms all of the charges are outlined for you. We really did enjoy our holiday and felt that we recieved a good deal. The resort in Orlando was lovely, though I didn't enjoy the beaches as much as I thought I would.

Posted by: Tracey on March 21, 2004 06:55 PM

I was just wondering how much extra money you have to find for the SOHO vacations trip? How much are the port charges and hotel taxes? So the holiday really does exist then?

Anyone else been on a holiday with SOHO?

Posted by: on March 24, 2004 10:42 PM

I too have been on on a soho vacation. I felt that the deal we recieved was a fair one and that we were treated very fairly by the reservation department. For the cruise there are port charges were a bit much, but reservation told us we could exchange the cruise for extended stays in Orlando and Daytona. The hotel taxes were just a few US dollars, nothing really. We enjoyed the trip a great deal.

Posted by: sasha on March 26, 2004 02:21 AM

I was caught up In this crap,I thought that i had cancelled, because I found out that we couldn't do it I called "customer service" and cancelled way before thirty days they said it was taken care of. Not satisfied the next day I called them again to make sure they were not taking anything off my credit card. they said it was cancelled and I just found out today that I can't even write a check at a grocery store because these thieves decided to deposit funds that i told them to cancell!!!!

Posted by: Renee on March 30, 2004 06:16 AM

i just bought a soho vaction package and receive it and it seems like a very good deal but it there anything in the fine line that i need to know before doing any of this? we got 36 months to take this vactions but the paper work saids 12 what should i do is this a problem or not?

Posted by: Linda on March 30, 2004 08:42 PM

Oh dear, I too have got into it! Surely it cant be that bad! Apart from the taxes, of which I was told about surely it has to be a good deal, alround! If anyone has been on this holiday can you let me know how much these taxes added up to, ie port taxes etc. Any assistance would be appreciated.

Posted by: COLIN JAMIESON on April 5, 2004 06:18 PM

like most of the contributors i felt uneasy about the offer...yes i knew that is a time share and i understood the potential hassle,but having priced a equivalent holiday i thought why not, i suppose that its down to personality type.I and my partner intended to go, but Soho Vacations were unable to arrange the trip within the timescales that we wanted,so i cancelled and asked for my money back.Naturally they refused and also threatened to impose a cancellation charge.I informed my credit card company of the situation(oh by the way i had pre-handled it with them in as much i had expressed my doubts about Soho)and provided them with all the correspondence that i had with Soho....there was lots of it, including faxes and emails it was a bit like war and peace and in fairness to my credit card company they paid up.Don't really know what else to say really,most has been said already.We did go Florida for we had already booked our flights,we had a great time.Interestingly, one of the places we stayed for three nights was at Wyndam palms vacations in Kissimmee....I think that the parent company is none other than Universal Vacations i believe that they are connected.The facilities were superb and was very reasonable....very reasonable indeed

Posted by: ray w on April 9, 2004 04:24 PM

spot the loonie i fell for soho vacations tried to get money back also got credit card company involved to no avail threw it back at me to pursue anyway have booked for end of april to try and get something out of this fiasco any positive comments from anyone who has been will be welcome and any pitfalls eric

Posted by: eric on April 15, 2004 09:25 PM

Feeling very stupid! BUT am contacting Paysystems for refund and requesting refund in writing from Soho. As I understand it you are ENTITLED to a refund under Florida law if you request it in writing within 30 days. Also Paysystems will refund if you request it within 90 days (for cheque payments) or 6 or 18 months if paid by credit card. Most of my info from Blagger.com and Guardian Unlimited sites. Anyone welcome to e-mail me if wanting further advice and I will do my best to help.

Posted by: fiona on April 17, 2004 10:27 AM

I was stupid enough yesterday to go for this amazing, too good to be true offer.
I however did not use my credit card but used my Debit visa card from Lloyds, anyway the 598 was declined by my bank and then the representative suggested to then withdraw 299 which was declined too.
I was then ask if I have another credit card, which I have but I said I'm not comfortable using , that I need to find out from my bank why this has been rejected. I was told they will call me back today to try and make the transaction again, they advice me to ask the bank to remove the security on my card.
Anyway I called the bank and ask why the card has been declined and I was told it was due secury fraud flag. then I started to investigate and found the Guardian report and this site.
I think I've been lucky, as I've told my bank to put the security back on my card and no transaction should go ahead with Soho vacations.

My vacation was meant to be for 2 adult and 2 children and the following are the extras I was quoted.

Children will pay extra 78 each for the cruise.
Hotel taxes is about 3 extra per day spent in the hotel.
They advice to actually hire a shuttle because the transfers are all your reponsibility.
From Airport to the first hotel then to transfer to second hotel then transfer to the port and then back to the airport.

Posted by: Ronke on April 22, 2004 01:11 PM

598 for FOUR people (which is what they offered me) for 13 days with a 2 year choice of time sounds fair value anywhere. Where's the catch? I've got an open mind on this.

Posted by: Geoff on April 22, 2004 11:02 PM

Some more information from the Guardian (includes legal information from Florida Better Business Bureau):


Posted by: Anders on April 27, 2004 02:55 PM

I too gave my details and ever since I have been trying to get my money back. I managed to only pay 299 and was due to pay 299 when I booked the dates. I cancelled my card but it was too late because they get authorisation when you are on the phone. The credit card company couldn't help me they advised me to keep trying. ABTA advised me to call Florida Department of Agriculture and put in a complaint, which I did.

I received a letter from Dept of Agriculture yesterday, asking for proof of payment and then will then take it further. I then called Soho and asked again for my money back, they said they would accept just the one payment and I could still take the holiday but I have nothing in writing. I then received another pop up box and decided to call again and really question them, I asked them how long they had been going and they said 13 years, I then found out from the Dept of Agriculture they have only been listed as a travel agency since March 18th 04. Previously they were called First choice!!!they were bought out.

I would recommend everyone try hard to get their money back because when I did the sums it actually does only cost about 600 to stay in those hotels listed or something simular and you wont be sold to.

Also they tell you all the hotels are 5 star, on the web they say they are 3 star or AAA. It may be a good holiday but nothing is free.!!

Posted by: Eve on April 28, 2004 12:17 AM

I too ended up buying this holiday but I did get my money back. Soho used mypayment.com to collect my payment. I found out that you can get every penny back within 1 week by going to www.mypayments.com and follow instructions on how to get your money back. I couldnt quite believe it when Visa told me that my money was returned. I also received an email from Soho saying sorry I didnt want to take the holiday.

I hope you all have success in getting your money back, it was so easy in the end.

Posted by: Eve on May 7, 2004 11:54 AM

Hi Eve: I've tried going to www.mypayments.com, but cannot locate any instructions to follow for a refund. Please help!

Posted by: NeedHelp on May 8, 2004 12:10 PM

I just got off the phone with Kurt and Kim from Sohovacation. I went to the 2pac site when the ad popped up with that special 299 package. It does sound way too good to be true and after 30 minutes on the phone with them I refused times and again to give them my credit card. I am glad I did insist that they 'let me go'

Posted by: hung nguyen on May 21, 2004 04:00 PM

I "WON" this holiday too but am too long in the tooth and there is no such thing as "A FREE LUNCH." They bent over backwards to "HELP" me, extending times and tempting extras but I am thankfully not that daft.

Lots of phsyclology involved ie the young lady I spoke to had the same name as me... what crap. I worked as a pshychiatric nurse and can c all the conns right down to the background noise of people having a gr8 time. The personal stuff which may or not be true given by the assistant and supervisor were all very touching but r there to give a sense of "being genuine", these r well coached professionals don't be fooled folks. Who wants the headache of trying to get their money back. Research then rest assured this offer will POP UP again.

I had no intention of going for it but it made for an interesting 1/2 hour and while on the phone I punched soho vacations into google and came up with this site and a few others.

Buyers beware but it's a gr8 shame that many r conned by these promos. I'm sure it is a gr8 hol if u can afford it and am not dissing the company. BUT if they were really reputable they would not be giving u just 3 mins plus the length of the phone call to make up ur mind and part with ur cash... nuff said?

Posted by: Linda on May 26, 2004 05:28 PM

got scammed aswell,still slapping myself now!! would appreciate any help as to how to gain refund.

Posted by: kevin on May 31, 2004 02:50 AM

got scammed myself!! if your having problems with customer service number the original pop up number for claims is 0800 091 0588 just keep calling till you get a responce!!lets give them grief!

Posted by: kevin on May 31, 2004 12:19 PM

i was looking at a fertility site when the screen popped up, i was nearly sucked in. i phoned and the guy who sounded really nice told me all about the holiday. I was excited, but you also feel it's too good to be true. I didn't have my credit card on me as i called from work. The guy suggested that i call my bank for the details on line 2. I said i would do that but called my partner instead. Told my partner all about it whilst entering the google search for soho vacations.

Thank you google for finding this site, and thank you Anders Jacobsen's blog so this informative page.

I then cut the guy off.

Posted by: Gillian on June 4, 2004 01:58 PM

Regarding Soho Vacations it is a legitimate company who give's away (sell's) these packages. They are a timeshare type of company and they may try to sell you a timeshare once you are there. Selling the timeshares is how they can afford these cheap packages. Those who have actually managed to go on their vacation have stated that they enjoyed it. The biggest problem has been when people change their mind (buyers remorse) and then want to cancel.

Posted by: Cathy on June 9, 2004 08:52 PM

I unfortuantly work for soho vacations. i did not realize what it was when i started they have an ad out for employee's they call it customer service representatives. i thought i would be dealing with cusotmers not selling a vacations package. but unfortuantly i can't quit until i get another job i can't go with out a pay check. if the people calling up would actually see the call center they would hang up immediately. there are no computers you sit in front of a black phone in a little cubeical. the phone rings and you answer it you write down the peoples information on a piece of paper and read from a script that actually says to say really? are you sure that it isn't 250? wow that's the largest prize amount that we award today well i'm going to have to place you on hold for just one moment so that i can verify your claim number. we put you on hold so that you think that we are checking our computers for that magical claim number. do you know what the claim number really says. what site you were visiting that gave the pop up. we keep a tract of that so that if we sell more from claim number 620 and not much from 157 then we'll drop our ad off of 157. managers are running around tellling people to stand up cause their pitch isn't great. they are constantly telling you to sell sell sell. it's awful. in the morning they drill you on the script over and over and this rebuttal process. it states well what's it that holding you back is it the price? the locations? or does it just sound too good to be true. then we go through the time share rebuttal about the vip preview, then the e-commerace rebuttal then then straight to to set up. what does to stand for well take over of cource. we put a closer on the phone cause we can't get the card from you. they may call them selves, vp of promotions, director of promotions, manager of promotions etc. they play this hip hop music really loud and then expect the people on the phones not to hear it. if we were professional at all we wouldn't do that. their are tarps up everywhere to close out the rooms. as soon as i can find a different job i'm leaving cause this is ridiculous. you know how by law you have to have 2 15 min breaks and a 30 min lunch a day. well good luck taking it. you have to ask before you can leave your seat. they very strongly encourage you not to take your breaks. you don't get your check on friday until 6 so good luck getting it into the banks to pay your bills. they have never gotten any of my checks right since i started working there. they always mess up on everyone's checks. and if you don't make 6 vacations sales a week you have to work sat with out pay (technically they give you 250 a week wither you work 5 or 6 days). i feel sorry for the people on the phones and i feel sorry for the people who work there. the assholes who work there i don't care about but the people like me who need this job unitl they can get something better i feel sorry for and good luck in finding something better

Posted by: Mary on July 10, 2004 05:13 AM


Posted by: KAREN on July 30, 2004 11:16 PM

Could anybody out there give me some help and advice re. soho vacations offer at Daytona Beach, Orlando, and the Bahamar Cruise.I was talked into the above offer on the understanding that all the locations could fully cater for my wife who is completly disabled and permanetly in a wheeled chair because she suffers with multiple sclerosis. Her needs for tranfering requires a hoist etc.After reading peoples comments I do not believe her needs will be met.Please forward your comments on my dilemma.

Posted by: Vaughan on August 19, 2004 04:35 PM

Can any one help me need to get intouch with soho vacations im due to leave in 2 weeks time and have not heard anything from them do know a phone number I can get intouch with them I can not get through to the number which they gave me 1800 583 8057 have they changed there name it seem like they have moved office

Posted by: pat on September 19, 2004 11:10 PM

I do not see anything about Solo Vacations I See nothing has been posted
afer Sept. 19th 2004
I believe now that Solo Vacations have changed their name to TainoVacations,
they say their company name is Taino Beach and
Flamingo Bay Yacht Club and Marina Resorts.
Every thing they do here is exactly the same as this Solo Vacations. even the speach on the phone that Mary posted on July 10, 2004..

So If anyone has lost touch with this bunch may try this one now. pop up the same and everything,,, got took also... I will be watching also thanks for the help, here.

Posted by: Meggan on November 6, 2004 07:06 AM

well tainovacations or soho vacations what ever there called got me too. I got a phone call telling me i won a holiday getaway. I am a telemarketer so i know theres a lot of laws and big big fines if they mislead me in any way. It sounds like a good Idea but i have to admit i am gullible. Supposively this is a 7 night getaway.
The package is for (2). $69 bucks for each ticket...thats$130 total. Not bad. It includes 2 multiday passes to your choice of universal stuidos or disney world. For the first 4 days and 3 nights you stay at the disney planning center. You go to a siminar and they try to get you to buy time shares the first day. I believe after that the vacations yours. Next is the Bahama cruise which includes 2 nights at the flamigo hotel. Port taxes are 159$ per person. Two people do the math. Next you will spend your last 2 nights at your choice of daytona or coco beach.
Your responsible for hotel taxes which are between 5 and 12$. room service, long distance calls, transportation,meals, drinks, tips, suviners, ect. Your provided with breakfast daily. I was told for 75$ more dollars I can upgrade my getaway. I'd be staying in condos instead of resorts. If you stay in a condo theres supposivly no hotel taxes. No taxes. Also I get 2 vip badges which gives me vip pass to all the resource aminities which supposively include, jet ski's, water trapalines, spa, drinks at the assigned bar, ect. I figured up about how much all of this will be and it is kinda pricey. I'm thinking considering we'll be driving from KY. about $1500.oo total. Considering all thats included it sounds like a pretty good deal. I'm just worried that they'll dissapear and I wonj't be able to find out how to take the trip or where to go. Me and my guy really wanna take the trip. For anyone thats already taken the trip... how do we go about making reservations and getting directions and all?
Feel free to email

Posted by: Brit on November 18, 2004 06:41 AM

I was also one of the lucky people who won a big discount on a SoHo vacation.(Should be Ho HO here comes another sucker).I went to Daytona ,Orlando and was supposed to go on the cruise.When I purchased the deal in January there was no mention of time share on the phone or in any of their web site information,it has now been changed but luckily I have copies of all the original documents.The luxury resorts advertised and offered in the web site didn't materialise and we ended up in Motels/hotels that you could find yourself for $4o per room.So for the non mathmetically inclined for 8 nights 160 for two people.Disney tickets can be obtained for $30 for two people providing you attend an 1 hour timeshare presentation but remember to lock your credit card in the back pocket.The stirling Casino cruises from port Canaveral are free and the book of discount vouchers supposedly worth $400 is also free .So even at the big discount price you pay to SoHo you are still being ripped off.My 4 day 3 night all inclusive Bahamas cruise magically changed to a trip to Nassau and back with three nights in a hotel.Didn't want and hadn't paid for that so was offered 2 nights and 1 day cruise instead with 2 nights in Fort Lauderdale,Didn't make it in the finish because of the thanksgiving holiday traffic but most importantly because of lack of instructions on where to go and contact.Incidently the first cruise instructions were mailed to me after I had actually left England.For those contemplating the adventure the port charges will set you back another 177 add to that the hotel taxes and it starts to get expensive.I now understand that the cruises to Bahamas are very popular and inexpensive if you arrange your own.Air fares to Orlando are not cheap and if you really want to go its a better option to go with an airline that also gives you accomodation and the option of cheaper car hire.
I have passed the matter to my credit card company to look into the non return of the cruise taxes and I have copied all the rest of my package to the Orlando equivalent of our trading standards.

Posted by: brian on December 12, 2004 06:26 PM

SO whats the deal....I was approached with the same items in regards to vacation in Florida. Have I been scammed...am I out this cash or is there still a chance to claim the deal I paid 130bucks for?

Posted by: Eric on February 19, 2005 07:45 PM
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Anders Jacobsen's blog: Sohovacation party on the blog (April 23, 2004 11:00 AM)
"Several people have posted hearbreaking stories about how they were unable to get refunds for or profit from the vacation offers from Soho Vacations. ''Miraculously,'' however, last night three ''different'' people posted comments in rapid succession t..."
Anders Jacobsen's blog: Soho vacation - inside story (July 17, 2004 02:45 PM)
"I have no guarantee that Mary is who she says she is - a Sohovacation employee - but then again I don't have very large doubts about her story. Here it is (unedited) for you to make up your own minds: ''I unfortuantly work for soho vacations. i did not..."
Anders Jacobsen's blog: More info on Travel Express / Soho vacations (January 27, 2005 09:37 PM)
"Comment posted by C earlier today in reply to Mary's information about working at Sohovacations: If this and the previous comments are not enough to scare anyone away from doing business with these people, I don't know what is..."

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