May 3, 2005
Forsyth, Mo. — A Branson business that sold travel club memberships with false promises of deep discounts must repay consumers more than $13,000, under a court order obtained Monday (May 2) by Attorney General Jay Nixon. Nixon had sued World of Vacations Travel Co. and owner Tommy Tran last August after consumers complained they paid membership fees of up to $6,000 but did not receive the discounts or the services that were promised.
"When people go on vacation, they are looking for fun and relaxation — not a travel scam," Nixon said. "This restitution order sends the clear message that Missouri will not let consumers' vacation dreams be turned into nightmares."
The consent judgment signed by Taney County Circuit Judge James L. Eiffert requires World of Vacations and Tran to repay $13,545 to seven consumers. Two other consumers who filed complaints already have been credited almost $8,900 on their credit cards. In addition, the order requires the defendants to pay $3,000 to the state for the costs of the investigation and lawsuit, and prohibits them from violating Missouri consumer protection laws and laws regulating buyer's clubs. The defendants have acknowledged the memberships they sold were covered by state laws on buyer's clubs.
Nixon's lawsuit stated the defendants promised consumers discounts on airfare, hotel rooms and more in exchange for the fee. But after the fee was paid, consumers often were unable to make travel arrangements using their club memberships, nor could they reach anyone at World Vacations. At least one consumer who tried to book a vacation through the club was told his agreement with World of Vacations would not be honored.
In addition, several consumers who tried to book vacations through the club found they could get better prices on their own. World of Vacations also refused to allow consumers to cancel their contracts within three days as required by buyer's club laws, and would not give refunds, Nixon said.
The World of Vacations lawsuit was one of nine Nixon filed last August against travel-related businesses. Nixon previously obtained $3,500 in restitution from Tickets For Less. Of the other lawsuits, six are still pending; the lawsuit against National Vacation Services was dismissed because the owner could not be located.