Va. AG suing

Bryan Cohen Apr. 24, 2012, 1:47pm


RICHMOND, Va. (Legal Newsline) - Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli filed a lawsuit on Monday against two wine touring entities and their owner for allegedly engaging in multiple violations of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act.

Tareq Salahi, Virginia Wine Tourism Inc. and Celebration Entertainment Productions LLC, collectively known as, allegedly failed to deliver tours as promised, failed to provide refunds for tours that were cancelled and misrepresented reputable businesses as official partners. The defendants offer wine tour services in the Northern Virginia area through the website.

Salahi is the owner and director of Virginia Wine Tourism Inc. He is also thought to be the only manager and member of Celebration Entertainment Productions LLC. The website offers to give transportation to prearranged tours with particular wineries. The tours offered ranged from four hour tours for smaller groups to week-long charters for as many as 45 guests. Prices for tours range from $200 to $1,350 for day tours and more for the weeklong charters.

The Virginia Better Business Bureau and Office of Consumer Affairs received multiple complaints about Cuccinelli's lawsuit alleges that the defendants have not been delivering wine tours as promised.

The state Consumer Protection Act prohibits suppliers from engaging in misrepresentation, false promise, false pretense, fraud or deception connected to consumer transactions. The lawsuit alleges that violated the act by failing to deliver agreed-upon services, failing to deliver services as promised, failing to deliver on promises to give refunds and misrepresenting affiliations with reputable businesses.

Consumers complained that they received calls on the morning of their scheduled wine tours that the tours were cancelled, often due to a vehicle malfunction. Some consumers allegedly never heard from the company again after paying in advance for the tours. Some complaints alleged that the consumers were not taken to all of the wineries promised to them and that the mode of transportation was not as advertised or promised.

When the defendant failed to deliver on services, it allegedly promised to make things right by providing full refunds, sometimes in writing. The refunds were allegedly not given.

The defendants also display logos on their website of multiple reputable businesses such as the Bed and Breakfast Association of Virginia, Facebook and United Airlines, citing them as official partners, Cuccinelli says. The lawsuit alleges that many, if not all, of the entities whose logos appear on the website are not official partners with the defendant.

The lawsuit, filed on Monday with the Fauquier County Circuit Court, requests that the court enjoin the defendants from violating the CPA and that all money obtained from consumers in violation of the law be returned. In addition, the lawsuit seeks civil penalties of as much as $2,500 for each violation of the law.

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