We have received many questions regarding the situation surrounding a website called Unsold.com, which was heavily advertised on Facebook and Instagram during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Their “business model” was selling heavily discounted travel packages that were supposed to be valid for several years.
You can access Unsold.com here.
Earlier this month, the company emailed their customers and informed them that they had ceased trading and that all reservations already made at any of the hotels would be null and void. They also communicated that they would later have a refund application up on their website. That begs the question, how could they refund any money if they had no money to pay the hotels in the first place?
Here’s the page that they have up currently:
So let’s break it up:
We regret to inform you that despite all efforts, Unsold.com has been forced to cease normal business operations effective immediately and has had to cancel all future travel reservation(s).
Translation: We have run out of money and cannot pay for the reservations that we have made for our customers.
While a customer may pay upfront for a booking through an OTA, the hotel does not receive that payment until the stay begins or has been consumed. This all depends on the agreements between the OTAs and the properties.
Like so many others, our business has succumbed to the unrelenting effects of COVID-19, including the new delta variant that continues to wreak havoc on the travel industry. Extended government-imposed travel restrictions and additional lockdown requirements, hotel closures, rising fulfillment costs, and massive cancellations have resulted in exorbitant unforeseen costs. These factors have made it impossible for Unsold.com to continue normal operations.
The Unsold.com business model was built on Covid-19 and peoples’ pent-up desire to travel once the pandemic was over with heavily discounted advance reservations. None of the reasons above should affect their business. Unsold.com doesn’t pay travel providers until the customer stays, rather they get to keep the cash until you travel.
The real cost of COVID-19 in the world is very high. Like so many around the world, the Unsold.com family too has suffered from the loss of life and livelihoods; with the final blow being to those who trusted us with their travel plans, our clients.
Customers trusted Unsold.com with the cash that now appears to be gone. Instead, they try to portray themselves as the victims instead of the customers who entrusted them with their hard-earned cash and holiday dreams.
We are working with our suppliers to attempt to lessen the negative impact of our business closure on your future travel plans. Please contact your hotel or accommodations provider directly for information related to any pending reservation(s) you may have.
Why would their suppliers care and hotels accommodate guests if they are not getting paid for by Unsold.com?
Our team is striving to refund all customers that we can over time. Refunds will be processed in the order they are received here.
How do they refund customers if they are not even able to pay their suppliers? Are they only trying to prevent buyers from charging back purchases they made, hoping that they can be lured to fill out a refund application that probably would never get processed? Most credit card issuers have a time-limited window in which consumers can initiate a chargeback or dispute.
Unsold.com says they have started to refund guests that they can and then offer “restitution” to others. It makes you wonder what pittance this restitution would be, if it ever materialized.
Unsold.com & BookVIP
Plenty of common history!
Here are some questions that readers have left us:
How do I claim for a holiday I paid for but didn’t book from unsold.com?
Do you have information on the Unsold.com site that looks shut down? They own me 2 trips!
Do you have any info on the UNSOLD.COM going under?
I booked 3 stays and fully paid by CC (heavy Facebook advertising post Covid that has scammed many) only to learn today that their website says they are ‘temporarily out of business’.
I am at a loss, literally. Their site says they will have a form for reimbursement online soon though I don’t have any faith in this.
Thanks for whatever info you have to shed light on this situation.
This is what I get for venturing outside of the well known and recognized industry leaders, but my first…and last…attempt at trying out unsold.com has resulted in a fail!!
After agreeing to purchase a 3 night, 4 star vacation in Banff, AB, for $366CDN, last October for a vacation coming up later this month…I received the email below just this morning.
Probably not a surprise for you…and I suspect I am not alone in receiving this type of notice.
Just curious if you have any thoughts or comments to give me.
I purchased a vacation to Nashville and my boyfriend booked one to Key West. What’s going on with this site? It’s been down for a week. Are they folding? Can I get my money back?
I paid for accommodation around 12 months ago and was yet to redeem the offer (up to 24 months from purchase). Is there an avenue to obtain a refund (even partial)? Does anyone know if the hotel suppliers will honour the arrangement? Ours was bought for Sunshine Coast QLD Australia and seemingly had availability during the first 12 months that the offer was available. Stupidly I should have taken it up earlier when available but family matters did not allow.
Any advice appreciated.
I just recieved my notice 1 week before my trip. I will dispute it with my credit card company ASAP! Had to do the same with my 3rd party “discount” airline company! Called my hotel and the reservation was cancelled. I booked another hotel as fast as I could at a good rate. Too late to cancel airlines, car rental and tour packages.
I had doubts about unsold, but a friend had had a successful trip with them, so I took a chance. In my case, payment was received by BookVIP.com.
Called them, they refuse to reimburse claiming they are no longer affiliated with Unsold.com. They were at the time they happily received my funds. I’ve filed complaints against both with the Florida Better Business Bureau as well as American Express.
If you are owed money or have purchased a travel package from Unsold.com that has not been consumed:
1. Immediately file a chargeback with your credit card company on the basis that the company has ceased trading.
2. File a complaint against Unsold.com on the Florida Attorney General’s website (access here).
3. File a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (access here).
Previous Unsold.com articles:
It seems that Unsold.com and BookVIP, and some other related entities have engaged in similar business practices of selling vacation packages for use at a later date with a deep discount.
James Colligan, the corporate director, and the person behind Unsold.com, has previously been associated with BookVIP as one of its founding members.
A reader noted that BookVIP had taken their credit card payment on Unsold.com’s behalf and now claims they won’t refund it because there is no longer any affiliation with Unsold.com. This defence is a weak excuse as the merchant of record is BookVIP, and as such, they are either required to refund or provide the purchased service.
It is difficult to tell if this was a travel-based Ponzi scheme, a typical internet fraud, or a legitimate attempt to build up a business during the turbulence of Covid-19.
If you are owed money by Unsold.com for services purchased but not provided, you should file for a chargeback and file complaints with the Attorney General of Florida and the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.
As the old adage goes, “if something appears to be too good to be true, it usually is, “… even in the travel industry.