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Florida Travel Companies Agree to Refund Money to DC Consumers Under Settlement Agreement with District of Columbia

Thursday, February 10, 2000

Florida Travel Companies Agree to Refund Money to DC Consumers Under Settlement Agreement with District of Columbia

Two Florida-based travel companies have agreed to pay refunds to District of Columbia consumers under a settlement agreement reached with the District of Columbia government. The settlement resolves allegations by the District that Florida Travel Network and Imperial Majesty Cruise Lines of Treasure Island, Florida, have used deceptive practices to market their vacation packages.

Florida Travel Network and Imperial Majesty Cruise Lines advertise Florida, Bahamas, and Caribbean vacation packages by direct mail and on the Internet. "Imperial Majesty Cruise Lines" is a trade name used by Crown Plaza Resorts, L.C.

(Last month, two other travel companies, National Travel Services and Ramada Plaza Resorts of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, agreed to pay refunds to consumers to resolve a separate lawsuit by the District of Columbia alleging deceptive marketing practices.)

The District of Columbia alleges that Florida Travel Network and Imperial Majesty Cruise Lines, in their mailings to District of Columbia consumers, have represented that the consumer is being offered a free vacation package when, in fact, the consumer is being offered only the opportunity to purchase a vacation package. The District also alleges that, in some mailings, the companies have misrepresented that the consumer has received a travel voucher entitling him or her to a large discount off the retail value of a vacation package. Finally, the District alleges that the companies' mailings have failed to disclose clearly and conspicuously that the travel arrangements will require the consumer to attend a sales presentation for time-share real estate.

The proposed Consent Order and Final Judgment ("Consent Judgment") to resolve the District's allegations against Florida Travel Network and Imperial Majesty Cruise Lines contains injunctive provisions prohibiting future misrepresentations and requiring disclosures of the terms and conditions that apply to travel offers. In addition, the Consent Judgment includes restitution for DC consumers who have purchased vacation packages from the companies. The companies have agreed to entry of the Consent Judgment without admitting any wrongdoing and for settlement purposes only. The Consent Judgment must be approved by the DC Superior Court.

Florida Travel Network and Imperial Majesty Cruise Lines have reached similar settlement agreements with the States of Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Under the settlement agreement with the District of Columbia, Florida Travel Network and Imperial Majesty Cruise Lines have agreed to refund all money paid to the companies by any District of Columbia consumer who (1) purchased a vacation package from the companies, (2) has not used the vacation package, and (3) complains in writing to the District of Columbia Office of the Corporation Counsel or to the BBB of Metropolitan Washington on or before April 7, 2000.

In addition, a District of Columbia consumer who has purchased and used a vacation package from Florida Travel Network and Imperial Majesty Cruise Lines may qualify for a partial refund by mailing a notarized complaint to the Office of the Corporation Counsel, postmarked by March 10, 2000, citing specific instances where the vacation accommodations were not as represented or portrayed by the companies. The complaint need not be notarized if it is signed as follows: "I declare (or certify, verify, or state) under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct. Executed on (date). (Consumer's Signature)". How much will be refunded to consumers who used their vacation packages will depend on the number of complaints received.

Consumers may submit written complaints to the Office of the Corporation Counsel at:

Vacation Package Refunds
c/o DC Office of the Corporation Counsel
Enforcement Division, Civil Branch
441 4th Street, NW Suite 450-N
Washington, DC 20001

Media Contact: Leigh A. Slaughter, Special Deputy Corporation Counsel, (202) 724-5198.