TOLEDO, OH (April 28, 2015) — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has announced a lawsuit against a group of interrelated companies accused of violating Ohio’s consumer protection laws by failing to honor consumers’ rights to cancel travel club memberships sold at hotel sales presentations in Toledo, Cleveland, and Columbus.
In the lawsuit, the Attorney General seeks an end to unfair and deceptive practices by the companies, restitution for consumers, and civil penalties.
The lawsuit names the following companies as defendants:
- A2Z Vacations LLC (a Wyoming corporation also known as Member Choice)
- Great Quest Travel Inc., doing business as One and Only Travel (an Alabama corporation)
- World Wide Travel Resources Inc. (a Louisiana corporation)
- Travel Supplier of America Inc. (a Delaware corporation)
- Universal Concepts Inc. (a Delaware corporation)
“When out-of-state companies do business with Ohio consumers, they must follow Ohio law,” Attorney General DeWine said. “In this case, we found that the cancellation policy did not follow Ohio law and some consumers were unable to get their money back. In our lawsuit, we are seeking reimbursement for those consumers and an end to any violations of state law.”
According to the lawsuit, the companies (directly or indirectly) offered A2Z travel club memberships to Ohio consumers through postcards in the mail claiming that consumers were eligible to receive gifts or prizes, such as “2 round-trip airline tickets” plus a “3-day/2-night weekend getaway.” The ads did not disclose the retail value of the prizes or that consumers were required to listen to a sales presentation in order to take advantage of the offer.
The sales presentations were held at local hotels in Toledo, Cleveland, and Columbus, and often lasted one to two hours. Consumers who signed up for the travel club memberships paid enrollment fees ranging from $1,000 to $8,000 and annual dues of $200 to $300, according to the lawsuit.
Although the cancellation policy stated that consumers could cancel the contract within three business days, it also stated that a $399 member processing fee was non-refundable and that members would be charged a cancellation fee of 15 percent of the membership price.
In Ohio, consumers must be allowed to cancel this type of contract within three business days without any penalty or obligation, and the three-day right to cancel does not begin to run until the business has given the consumer proper notice of the consumer’s cancellation rights.
Some consumers allegedly tried to cancel their memberships and received only partial refunds or no refund at all, even though the law says consumers are entitled to receive full refunds after canceling this type of contract.
In other cases, consumers who tried to take advantage of the travel club discounts found that they could receive similar rates on their own through Internet travel sites.
The Ohio Attorney General’s Office is aware of approximately 20 complaints filed against the companies, though additional consumers may be affected.
In the lawsuit, filed in the Lucas County Common Pleas Court, the Attorney General accuses the companies of violating Ohio’s Consumer Sales Practices Act, violating the Prize Rule, and violating Ohio’s Home Solicitation Sales Act.
Consumers who suspect an unfair or deceptive business practice should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at 800-282-0515 or www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov
View a PDF document of the lawsuit here: Lawsuit (PDF)
PRESS RELEASE SOURCE: Ohio Attorney General’s Office
Dan Tierney: 614-466-3840
Kate Hanson: 614-466-3840