Seattle -Aug. 23, 2000- A lawsuit filed today against three Washington travel companies is part of a coordinated nationwide effort to crack down on unscrupulous travel and timeshare operators, Attorney General Christine Gregoire announced.
The companies are accused of using misleading and deceptive tactics, failing to deliver on promises, and trying to sell interests in timeshare properties not registered in Washington state.
Named in the suit are Renton-based Leisure Life and Travel Inc., its owner, Earl Lee Brischle; Resort Properties Inc., its owner, Marcus Talley; and R & J Consulting, and its owner, James Mikula.
"These companies were big on promises and short on delivery to consumers," Gregoire said.
According to the complaint against Leisure Life and Travel, prospective company customers were invited to travel-club sales promotions with promises of limousine and dinner vouchers, three-day getaways and local river cruises.
Many consumers complained they were unable to redeem the promotional offers because Leisure Life and Travel failed to ensure that the offers were available, failed to tell consumers of restrictions, and failed to pay the firms that supplied the offers.
Consumers also complained that the company failed to live up to promises of access to a full-service travel agency providing "hundreds of dollars in savings."
Consumers who bought Leisure Life and Travel memberships were later pressured to attend follow-up meetings to discuss changes in their travel-club memberships. This second meeting proved to be a high-pressure sales presentation for timeshare properties marketed by RPI and R&J Consulting and their owners. Two of the timeshare properties were located in
California and South Africa, and were not registered in Washington as required by law, the state’s lawsuit said.
In total, the AG’s office has received more than 300 written consumer complaints against Leisure Life and Travel. The AG’s office is seeking restitution for consumers who lost money as a result of the alleged illegal activity.
Today’s action is part of a nationwide travel-industry crackdown coordinated by the Federal Trade Commission under the name Operation Travel Unravel. The effort is intended to respond to the growing number of consumer complaints involving travel companies, Gregoire said.
In 1999, consumers made 1,780 written complaints to the AG's office about travel sellers. Travel now ranks fourth on the Top Ten list of consumer complaints.
When making travel plans, Gregoire recommended that consumers comparison shop with several local travel agencies and avoid companies that use free prize offers as bait to attend high-pressure sales presentations.
Consumers who want to file complaints against travel companies or who would like tips on protecting their travel dollars should contact the Attorney General's Office by calling 1-800-551-4636. Tips are also available online.