Update- March 20th 2019 InteleTravel UK have been granted ABTA membership and are now pursuing ATOL membership. This Travel website has more information. Botwatch is glad that any customers of these reps will be properly protected now if their holiday goes wrong.
Update- since writing this article, Inteletravel have gained membership of IATA. I have left the old information in to illustrate what the situation was at the time of writing. This membership will have no bearing on U.K. reps.
We have been contacted by some very concerned people who have been involved in Inteletravel. Let’s call them Ian Cognito and Ivor Fakename. They joined Inteletravel because it looked like a great MLM to join.
That sounds good. Anyone can join, pay their fee and do a few hours of reading at home. They watch a little video, get given a website and call themselves independent travel agents.
Looks good, doesn’t it? You don’t often come across an MLM that is risk-free.
Let’s have a look at the Trust Guarantee.
I guess that’s quite a lot of small print, but would be necessary to ensure that people really were putting in enough effort. It wouldn’t be fair if people joined up and didn’t try, just to get their money back would it? Except the guarantee isn’t fair because it is impossible for members to achieve these criteria.
Ian tried to complete point 3. He had to register with a preferred partner and sell one of their packages. Except that there is only a little booking platform and you cannot join it without being a member of ABTA. Ian wasn’t even allowed to register with them. Point 7 isn’t possible either because you can’t register with them without having ABTA membership. Ian says that when he phoned up Inteletravel to complain about this, they didn’t even know what he was talking about.
Here is an official facebook post on Inteletravel’s Facebook page in February explaining that people can’t book, or even contact the ‘preferred partners’ until they have ABTA membership.
They shouldn’t really be promising holidays like this then:
ABTA, IATA AND ATOL
ABTA are a travel association that have a code of conduct and protection for people who book holidays through ABTA members. If a person buys a holiday through an ABTA member and then, if when they are on holiday, the company shuts down, there is a process whereby the holiday maker will be brought home or their holiday can continue. Most holiday providers in the UK will only sell their packages through agents that have this membership. This ensures that the holidaying population are protected from being sold holidays by amateurs and scammers.
Inteletravel have been promising ABTA membership is coming soon. They have been promising this since 2015. See this email sent in early 2017. Their website still says they will be getting ABTA approval in 30-45 days.
ATOL are the organisation that offer travellers financial protection for air travel. Recently, people who were customers of Monarch received help when they were abroad during its demise. Inteletravel are not ATOL protected.
Perhaps reps shouldn’t be posting adverts like this then:
IATA protected? IATA stands for International Air Transport Association. See here for what membership gets you if you are a travel agent. You don’t have to have it to be a travel agent but it has benefits around offers and payment. It lends credibility to a company to have this membership. I searched their website and found Inteletravel are not members.
Which makes me wonder why Inteletravel have the logo on their slides:
And in this communication to reps:
In this group chat where reps are concerned about the IATA status not being true, the company explains it to them:
If IATA are ineffective and not needed, why are Inteletravel acting as though they are members? I would not be concerned about the IATA status affecting sales in the UK, but rather, why is there the deception around whether they are members or not? For a contemporary discussion of the issues, check out this forum for work at home travel agents.
Inteletravel used to be members of IATA but their membership was cancelled by IATA in 2007. I have asked IATA for a comment on why this was and what their status is now.
I am glad to see that members of this scheme are asking questions of Inteletravel and trying to ensure they are not being scammed. So many people were asking Inteletravel about ABTA membership that they issued this warning.
That’s not very nice! Ivor decided he wasn’t going to be fobbed off and became suspicious of this warning. He told Bot Watch that Inteletravel informed their reps that ABTA wrote to them asking them to tell the reps to stop calling them. Ivor rang ABTA to check and was told that no such letter was written. Ivor found out that ABTA are having a committee meeting on April 13th 2018 to decide whether to allow Inteletravel membership. I have asked ABTA to clarify the situation. Watch this space.
However, Inteletravel are now telling people (before the committee meeting) that they have been given an ABTA number, they just don’t want to go public yet. The ABTA website shows that they do not have a number. This message is from one of the ‘directors’ (what they call the people high up in the pyramid) this April.
REPS/ AGENTS/ SCHEME MEMBERS
What should we call people in this scheme? They call themselves Travel Agents, the MLM world calls them reps or Independent Business Owners. What do Inteletravel call their members? Have a read of this exchange between a disgruntled ex-rep and the company:
Customers. I can’t say I’m surprised. People who join up spend £526 in their first year.
Because reps have a limited source of holidays they can offer and they are desperate to try and sell some to make some commission, many of them are tempted to lie in their adverts. Ivor explains how these reps/customers bend the truth to make their deals look good.
Here is a price comparison for two room bookings, the top one with Inteletravel and the bottom one with Trivgo.
The room options for the Trivago option has been cut off. The Trivago option is for a more expensive room. This is not a fair comparison.
On this comparison, they have chosen a deluxe room for the online booking site. The Inteletravel price is not a fair comparison because this this could be for a basic single room.
This comparison is unfair because the rep has put up the price before the price has even been finalised. A room hasn’t been chosen. This will put the price up. Probably to more than £381.13.
If £142 and then £32 a month seems pricey for an MLM, don’t worry. You can join a different company that has ‘partnered’ with Inteletravel. PlanNet Marketing. With PlanNet Marketing, you can join for £16 and pay £16 monthly. You do not need to sell any holidays. You can just sell memberships in a ‘society’ made up of people who want to be travel agents. Payments are based solely on the people you recruit. Here is their compensation plan.
Readers at this stage might be interested to read up on what makes a pyramid scheme an illegal scheme in the UK. Here’s a snippet. (Fair Trading Act 1973)
This is a bit wordy but what it means is this- People are not allowed to recruit you and charge a fee with the promise that you can just recruit others and earn money from it. Anyone that does this is running an illegal pyramid scheme.
Have a look at their Income disclosure statement:
97.65% of their reps earn, on average, $69.95 a year. Considering that it costs $239.40 a year to be a member, this doesn’t look like such a great deal. 23.07% of reps earned nothing at all.
WHAT TO DO NOW?
If you have read the evidence and decided you still want to join, then go ahead. If you are already a member and you are happy, great. If you are currently a member or you have left and you feel you want to take action, there are things you can do.
If you were deceived into joining the scheme and found you couldn’t make money, complain in the UK to:
Safer is a company set up by the police to investigate scams and job fraud.
Action Fraud is a branch of the police that investigates fraud like illegal pyramid schemes.
Trading Standards can be contacted if you think a company has broken the law or acted unfairly.
If you see a misleading advert you could complain to the Advertising Standards Authority who will investigate and have the ad removed if necessary.
You could tell your story by commenting below, to warn other people that may be looking at this company.
THE CONTINUING SAGA OF ABTA MEMBERSHIP
On Friday 13th April 2018, there was a meeting at ABTA about whether Inteletravel should be licenced with them. The reps have been told before this date that they have their membership and will be announcing it on Super Saturday on April 14th.
They really believe it and have been telling everyone that they will officially be announcing their membership. There are posts on Facebook like this-
On Thursday 12th April:
On Friday 13th April:
Does anyone really believe that Inteletravel will get their ABTA number? I have no doubt that all their reps thinks they will. What will happen if/when they don’t get it? How are they going to explain it to everyone? I for one will be keeping a very close eye on things on Saturday and will report back here. Watch this space.
Here is a Facebook conversation with someone who was at the Super Saturday event on 14th April.
It starts with an optimistic picture:
Followed by an excited conversation. Red is at the event and her fellow reps are waiting to hear about it:
They never got to hear about ABTA granting Inteletravel their certification. Because they didn’t get it. The meeting was held at ABTA yesterday and their application was denied.
What was Inteletravel’s excuse?
They are now saying their membership is ‘pending’ while their new UK manager ‘gets set up’. They are putting their faith in this one person to get them their membership. And they are saying they don’t need ABTA anyway.
They do need ABTA if they want to be travel agents in the UK. Come on Inteletravel agents, stop and think.