Keith Loria Jul. 6, 2010, 3:44pm
BOSTON (Legal Newsline) - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced on Tuesday that she has obtained temporary restraining orders against three companies accused of selling fake vacation club memberships.
Only Way 2 Go Travel of Plymouth, Fantasia Travel Group of Methuen, Outrigger Vacation Club of Tulsa, Okla., and multiple individuals associated with the companies allegedly used deceptive marketing and sales techniques to trick people into buying vacation memberships that provided little to none of their promised benefits.
"This was a classic bait and switch scheme by these companies against consumers who were simply hoping to reduce the costs of their summer vacations," Coakley said.
"They were lured with promises of free airline tickets and travel rebates, but after the consumers paid an initial fee up front, they received none of those benefits."
The complaint also alleges that the companies used mail and telephone solicitations to lure customers to presentation centers by offering incentives such as plane tickets and rebate cards. When consumers came to claim their prizes, the companies used high-pressure tactics to get them to sign on for an Outrigger Vacation Club membership, Coakley says, adding that the average fee collected was approximately $4,700.
Many consumers who signed contracts also believed they would be getting benefits such as better-than-Internet prices on vacation packages, cruises and other travel services, but this proved to be false, Coakley says. Coakley alleges that the $8,500 membership cost more than if consumers had planned a vacation themselves.
Judge Raymond J. Brassard issued a temporary restraining order securing the defendants' assets and prohibiting them from destroying or changing any records. The order also stops the defendants from attempting to sell travel services and vacation club membership in Massachusetts.