New Jersey’s Better Business Bureau (BBB) is reporting that Bloomfield, N.J.-based Club ABC has gone out of business. “On Oct. 3, 2012, the BBB received numerous calls from concerned consumers who had booked tours with the company and are reporting cancelled tours or non-responsiveness by the company to any inquiries,” the BBB website reports. “The BBB has contacted the business by phone and email regarding its operation status and is awaiting the company’s response. Investigation by the BBB alleges that Club ABC ceased operations Oct. 1, 2012.” The Better Business Bureau goes on to advise consumers who have pre-paid their travel arrangements by credit card, to contact the credit card company and alert them about the status of Club ABC operation.
According to several reports, many Club ABC travelers are stuck in Europe at the moment. One supplier, Turkey-based Neon Tours, was expecting several club members who had been booked and instead received a last-minute call from Club ABC saying the tour had been cancelled. When Neon called about payments it was owed by the Club, the calls went unanswered. Currently, the Club ABC website, www.clubabc.com, is not up. Some Club ABC employees have described a Monday morning meeting at the Bloomfield office in which Robert and Tom Paris, owners of Club ABC, reportedly dismissed employees, telling them that the company was ceasing operations.
Club ABC’s business model was to go direct to its membership with travel deals that it had purchased at low rates, thanks to its bulk purchasing power. “That worked very well when they had many members,” said Koray Edeman, the president of Key Tours, “but in recent years we noticed that their prices had increased and were basically in line with the prices being offered by companies that used travel agents. The high prices led to them losing members. Anyway the kind of customer who is looking for that kind of deal is probably bargain hunting on the Internet these days.”
Neon, which is owed about $100,000 by Club ABC, reported that about a dozen Club ABC travelers have showed up at their door. “It’s unfortunate news for the whole travel industry,” says Edeman. “Without travel agent support you lose market share. Their model might have worked in the 1980s and 90s, but you can no longer turn your back on the travel industry and go it alone. It’s not good business.”