Running an internet based luxury travel club has its great rewards. The beautiful properties and wonderful people come to the top for sure. But it also comes with some bumps and bruises.
To that point, as some of you are aware, we have recently been the subject of cyber-bullying by Jan De Volder, an individual who joined our club last year, hacked into our system, and then when caught, made us the target of his ire. Rest assured, we removed him from the club and closed any loopholes to protect our customers. Now we have been forced to go public in our actions to address this resilient individual.
We cannot stand for cyber-bullying. Accordingly we created a website http://www.thetruthabout3rdhome.com which contains much of the content shown here. Since we created the site many of our customers have rallied behind us and shared their positive experiences there. To them we are grateful.
I created 3RD HOME, the reciprocal travel club for luxury second home owners, in 2010. We have proudly performed over 1700 trips for 1200 customers as of today, with a run rate of as many as 125 reservations a month. We currently have hundreds of very happy customers. Their reviews of 3RD HOME are unedited and can be seen on our website site at http://www.3rdhome.com/pages/testimonials
3RD HOME is creating a new category in the home exchange business. As such, not everything is perfect, but we do our best for every customer. I am proud of what we have built. Our program is really simple: An owner of a luxury second home gets approved as a member based on the quality and location of his or her home, and their agreement to abide by the rules of the club. They then choose weeks that they will make available for other members’ use. For each week they deposit they earn 3RD HOME Keys that act as currency and allow the member to immediately reserve any other home listed as available on the site.
On June 19, 2012, Jan De Volder of Malta joined 3RD HOME. We approved his home in Malta with a one Key value. On the same day we approved three weeks he deposited earning him three Keys.
In our overnight quality control process, we observed that Jan had somehow used his three Keys to reserve a five Key property in London, one of our most attractive high value properties, and then withdrew the remaining two weeks. This was not possible.
We instructed our technology team to investigate and found that he had hacked into our system and had been playing with the value of his property and the number of deposits – making adjustments 16 times in a 4+ hour period – to earn himself more keys and make the reservation, and then readjusted the Key value down and withdrew his other two weeks.
We cancelled the reservation and we notified Jan of that. When contacted, he admitted he had manipulated the values. We did not threaten any action. We decided to cancel his membership and return his membership fee. He quickly initiated a chargeback which we did not contest.
We expected and would have preferred that the customer just went his way and did not decide to make 3RD HOME the target of his discontent. But he did. He created a website that contains a series of lies and falsehoods about the program and myself stating 3RD HOME is a scam. We unluckily ran into the one person who wants to hurt you and your business and has the internet skills to do so.
We tried to deal with him directly but he has resisted our attempts. We could not remain silent and inactive, and allow a person to make false claims unanswered hidden in the internet. Our first priority is to protect the sanctity of the club and the reputation of our business. Therefore, we filed a lawsuit against Jan De Volder and created the site to respond directly to it.
To view the current lawsuit please visit www.lawsuitagainstjandevolder.com.
I welcome any questions and comments on this matter.
Founder and CEO