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    Resorts Exchange International - Settles Lawsuit with FTC over Vacation Travel Scam

    The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has reached an out of court settlement with Resorts Exchange International of America Inc of Orlando, Florida over alleged vacation travel scams. The Florida firm target marketed its travel packages primarily through unsolicited faxes and while doing so, allegedly violated the FTC Act and Telemarketing Sales Rule.

    Since 1999, the company, and its owner Anthony A. Arrigoni, have promoted deceptive travel packages throughout the U.S. Using in-house sales personnel and a number of third party boiler rooms throughout Florida, REIA contacted consumers by the unsolicited faxes to their workplace promoting travel packages at deeply discounted rates. The faxes were addressed to "All Current Employees", and they typically said that the "wholesale travel department" was releasing reduced-price, corporate closeout discount vacations.

    The promoted packages typically included a number of nights in destinations such as Orlando, Cancun and Hawaii, as well as a "complimentary" Carnival Line Cruise. Customers were told to call an 800 number to purchase the vacations for $349 per person. When customers called the number, they were told they were being charged an additional $149 booking fee.

    During the sales presentation, the defendants told customers they could cancel their payment in the future if they wanted to. However, when customers did attempt to cancel, they were told they had no right to do so.

    After customers bought packages, REIA sent them written confirmation material containing ads & information about the places they were to visit. When customers read the fine print in these confirmation notices, the total cost of the packages were quite different then previously represented.

    Customers were routinely asked to upgrade their vacations. As well, accommodations were seldom available at the "discount" prices quoted in the original solicitation. The company then resisted booking customers who did not want these upgrades.

    Under the agreement, the defendants must not violate the FTC Act and the TSR ever again. As well, the defendants must post a $400,000 performance bond prior to engaging in telemarketing or the sale of travel-related products. There is also a $4 million suspended judgement that can be reinstated if the defendants are found to have misrepresented their financial situation.

    Date of Story: Thursday, August 23, 2001
    Story Posted By: Ron Reinhold
    Source: Ron Reinhold

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