March 7, 2014
Jefferson City, Mo. – Attorney General Chris Koster announced today he has sued two travel-club companies for deceiving consumers about the benefits of memberships.
In one suit, Koster sued Anytime Vacations in Taney County Circuit Court. Koster's suit alleges that Anytime Vacations promised consumers discounts on airfare, hotel accommodations, cruises, and other travel benefits for joining its travel club and paying fees of hundreds and even thousands of dollars. After joining, however, consumers found the "discounts" were nonexistent, and that they could get better deals going through standard, free services such as Travelocity and Orbitz.
Koster said his office received 50 complaints against Anytime Vacations, alleging that consumers paid fees to the companies totaling more than $140,000. In one case, a consumer paid $6,995 to join the club. Anytime Vacations refused to cancel the consumer's contract and refund his money after he discovered it cost more to book a flight through Anytime Vacations than through routine travel websites.
In the second suit, Koster also sued Red Rock Travel, LLC, doing business in Missouri as Endless Travel Vacations, and its owners, Jack Keefe and Sherri Wolff, in St. Louis County Circuit Court for the same type of fraudulent business practices.
Koster said his office received five complaints about Endless Travel Vacations, totaling $19,000 in fees paid.
Both lawsuits also allege that the companies violated Missouri law by failing to register with the state or provide proof of sufficient reserve funds to provide the services they promised. In addition, the travel-club companies told consumers they had just three days to cancel contracts, when consumers legally had three years to cancel because the clubs were unregistered.
"Some travel clubs use high-pressure tactics to make it difficult for consumers to say 'no', and then put up roadblocks for consumers to cancel," Koster said. "My office will pursue travel-club businesses that cheat Missouri consumers and violate our state's laws."
Koster is seeking restitution for consumers, as well as civil penalties and the costs of the investigation and prosecution.
Koster said that before signing a contract, consumers can check with his Consumer Protection Hotline at 800-392-8222 to determine whether there are complaints filed against the travel club, if the travel club is registered in Missouri, and if it has demonstrated the financial ability to provide the discounted benefits they are offering.