FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
December 6, 2002
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Genene Morris (973)504-6327
NEWARK—Attorney General David Samson and Consumer Affairs Director Reni Erdos today announced the filing of a lawsuit against several New Jersey companies and their principals for allegedly luring consumers with false promises of luxurious vacations, accepting payments for services they knew they could not deliver and then refusing to give refunds to dissatisfied consumers when they complained.
The complaint names eight companies and individuals as defendants, alleging that consumers were defrauded out of more than $750,000 paid for vacation travel accommodations and services. After receiving payment for their services, the complaint alleges that the defendants ceased operations and ran off with consumers’ money without delivering the services they aggressively peddled to consumers.
The nine-count complaint names:
Holiday Connections, Ltd., 134 Monmouth Road, Elizabeth, N.J. The company has had places of business at 377 Route 17 South, Suit 610, Hasbrouck Heights and 692 Main Ave., Passaic.
Holiday Destinations, 200 Sheffield St., Mountainside. The company ceased operations and began assigning its consumer contracts to Holiday Connections in the summer of 2001.
John A. Jureidini, 134 Monmouth Road, Elizabeth, the president, secretary and sold shareholder of Holiday Connections and former owner, officer and/or director of Holiday Destinations.
Robert Pastorious, formerly of 189 Crestview Ave., Bridgewater. Pastorious is a former owner, officer and/or director of Holiday Destinations.
Northeast Locators, L.L.C., 157 Narragansett Trail, Medford Lakes, N.J. It also conducted business from 3131 Princeton Pike, Building 4, Suit 201, Lawrenceville.
United Reservation Systems (formerly known as Worldspan, Inc.), 1100 Lincoln Drive West, Suit 1, Marlton. The company also did business from 1415 Route 70 East, Suite 606, Cherry Hill.
Holidays International, 3523 Walton Way Extension, Augusta, Ga. The company had its principal place of business at 560 Stokes Road, Suite 23-354, Medford, New Jersey 08055.
Michael Midkiff, owner, officer and/or director of Northeast Locators, Worldspan, United Reservation Systems and/or Holidays International.
In addition, the suit also names Conrad Credit Corporation and Conrad Acceptance Corporation for allegedly harassing and threatening consumers in an attempt to have them pay for the services they did not receive.
The State’s complaint alleges that the travel companies used sales promotions, glossy brochures, and telemarketers to entice consumers into buying the services they were purportedly offering.
However, the complaints allege, when the time came to deliver on their promises, they failed to do so, leaving consumers out of their money and with little recourse.
“When a company takes money from a consumer in exchange for a product or service, it has a legal obligation to live up to its end of the agreement and deliver on its promises Ñ regardless of what the company is selling,” Governor James E. McGreevey said.
“The defendants named in the State’s suit played on vacationers’ desires and dashed those desires through a pattern of deception and misrepresentation,” Attorney General Samson said.
The complaint alleges, the defendants frequently called consumers to tell them they won a free dinner to a restaurant and/or a three-day trip to an unspecified location if the consumers visited their offices and listened to a sales presentation about their travel packages and services. When consumers responded, they did not receive any prize, but were subjected to the defendants’ high-pressure sales presentations that were geared toward convincing consumers to purchase pre-paid weeks of vacation.
During sales presentations, the complaint alleges, the defendants:
detained consumers in their offices for long periods of time until consumers purchased vacation packages;
showed consumers brochures and photographs depicting the types of accommodations allegedly available through their respective programs, but refusing to provide consumers with the buyers’ pack Ð which contained a description of the club’s program and the identification of resorts and accommodations differing markedly from the brochures shown during the sale Ð for review prior to the execution of the contract; and
required them to sign a Consumer Disclosure Questionnaire containing inaccurate and/or incomplete responses to questions.
The complaint also alleges that the defendants misrepresented to consumers that travel accommodations would be available anywhere in the world and of certain type and quality and, in some cases, handicapped accessible. However, when consumers did sign up and attempted to take advantage of the services for which they paid, they allegedly encountered numerous problems including:
repeatedly attempting to contact defendants and leaving messages seeking information to no avail, thus rendering vacation planning unsuccessful;
submitting vacation request forms well in advance of travel dates and providing all required information, but not obtaining confirmation until the last minute, if at all; and
traveling to a confirmed location only to find that the location had no record of their reservation and/or finding the accommodations were not as promised and, sometimes, physically unacceptable.
“The travel companies were undercapitalized and depended upon money received from later sales to fulfill the vacations that earlier consumers had already paid,” Erdos said. “The defendants knew or should have known that they had insufficient funds to fulfill the travel packages they were selling. Nonetheless, they failed to disclose this fact to consumers, who were prepaying the contracts with money they thought would go to pay for their future vacations”.
“None of the travel companies are currently selling new travel packages and as such, have and will continue -more- to have insufficient funds to fulfill the existing vacation contracts for which they have received payment,” Erdos said.
The State’s case seeks to have a receiver appointed and to have the defendants pay penalties to the State, costs and fees and restitution to affected consumers.
Deputy Attorney General Sharon A. McCloskey of the Division of Law is handling this matter for the State.
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