Saturday, November 29, 2014 04:48am
North Adams, MA now: 14 °   
Send news, tips, press releases and questions to info@iBerkshires.com
The Berkshires online guide to events, news and Berkshire County community information.
SIGN IN | REGISTER NOW   

Home About Archives RSS Feed
AG Claims Pittsfield Travel Company Ripped Off Consumers
Staff Reports On: 12:48PM / Monday March 31, 2014
Important
0
Interesting
1
Funny
0
Awesome
0
Infuriating
0
Ridiculous
0

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The attorney general is accusing a city-based travel company of deceptive business practices.

Attorney General Martha Coakley is suing Berkshire Concepts LLC for allegedly misleading customers into paying thousands of dollars for services that were never provided. Coakley is seeking more than $278,000 from the company.

Coakley alleges that Berkshire Concepts, Netrate Concepts and CRW Marketing "used high pressure sales tactics to offer consumers free travel incentives and extreme discounts on travel but instead charged consumers thousands of dollars for access to a 'proprietary software' database that failed to provide the promised discounts."

The company is owned by Charles Whiteman and Dennis and Daniel Merritt of Pittsfield.

"Vacation or travel scams offer free or discounted deals that often never materialize, and our office alleges these companies stole thousands of dollars from consumers through their deceptive memberships," Coakley said in a press release issued on Monday. "While many travel opportunities are genuine, we want to educate the public as much as possible to protect themselves and be wary of deals that sound too good to be true."

According to the complaint issued in court on Tuesday, between February 2011 and April 2013, the companies sent postcards to several residents offering a free cruise or airline tickets for attending a presentation. Other mailings told residents that they had won free travel and needed to claim the prize.

However, the free travel required hundreds of dollars in taxes and fees to redeem. The company also claimed that their website provided customers with direct access to travel tickets at wholesale price. Membership for that access cost thousands of dollars and the company failed to provide log-in information until after the cancellation period expired.

One family paid nearly $6,000 for the 'platinum level' membership, Coakley said. The website did not provide the deals promised during the presentation. Others found the website offered more expensive travel rates than other free websites.

According to the complaint, the company collected thousands of dollars from at least 25 consumers. None of the customers received refunds from the companies and Coakley is seeking more than $108,000 in restitution and $170,000 in civil penalties.

Coakley alleges that the company violated consumer protection laws by advertising 'free' travel while requiring customers to pay taxes and fees, advertising non-existent 'wholesale' discounts and holding customers to a three-day cancellation period without allowing the customer to have access to the website.

The attorney general's office provided the following tips to help residents avoid scams:

  • Calls or letters saying consumers have won "prizes" or "awards" for a contest that they never entered are almost always ploys.
  • Always read the fine print on all "prizes" and "gifts" to determine any costs associated with them. It is the consumer’s responsibility to pay for anything not specifically mentioned.   
  • Walk away from high pressure sales tactics including "one-day" or "one-time" offers. Reputable companies will never pressure customers to make immediate decisions, and will allow time to consider the terms of an offer.
  • Search Internet sites for customer feedback, and call the attorney general's office to determine if other consumers have filed complaints.    
  • Get the details of any offer in writing and review the terms before deciding to sign up or pay a deposit.
  • Compare promised rates with travel agents, airlines or available Internet-based services. Determine the company that is actually providing the goods or services being promised.
  • Get the details behind vague promises that packages include stays at "five-star" resorts or sailing on "luxury" cruise ships.
  • Find out all possible unexpected expenses including hotel costs, meals and transportation. What will the company do if hotel and other accommodations are completely booked?
  • After determining that a business is reputable, use a credit card to purchase the trip. Credit card companies often provide some protection and can help consumers dispute charges.


0 Comments
     
News Headlines
Ski Season Gets Under Way
Adams-Cheshire First-Graders Find Success In New Reading Initiative
Mass MoCA's Festival Field Getting New Features
Guest Column: Keeping Your Pet Safe This Holiday
Thanksgiving Greetings
North Adams Church Welcomes New Pastor & Music Director
Lanesborough Outlines 250th Celebration Calendar
'Dumb and Dumber To': It Sure Is
Williamstown Chamber Executive Director Departing
Selectmen May Seek Peer Review of Dollar General Traffic Study
Crimewatch Links

North Adams CrimeWatch

Stamford/Clarksburg CrimeWatch

Pittsfield CrimeWatch

Emergency: 911
Adams 413-743-1212
Clarksburg 413-663-7795
Cheshire 413-743-1501
Dalton 413-684-0300
Great Barrington 413-528-0306
Lanesborough 413-443-4107
Lee 413-243-2100
Lenox 413-637-2346
North Adams 413-664-4944
Pittsfield 413-448-9700
Richmond 413-698-3315
Stockbridge 413-298-4179
Williamstown 413-458-5733
West Stockbridge 413-232-7938
State Police  
Cheshire Barracks
413-743-4700
Lee Barracks 413-243-0600
Shaftsbury, Vt., Barracks 802-442-3263

 



Categories:
Adams (33)
Alford (0)
Becket (6)
Cheshire (9)
Clarksburg (27)
Dalton (4)
Egremont (0)
Florida (4)
Great Barrington (9)
Hancock (5)
Hinsdale (2)
Lanesborough (13)
Lee (11)
Lenox (9)
Monterey (0)
Mount Washington (0)
New Ashford (3)
New Marlborough (1)
North Adams (131)
Otis (2)
Peru (1)
Pittsfield (139)
Pownal (9)
Readsboro (10)
Richmond (8)
Sandisfield (2)
Savoy (4)
Sheffield (2)
Stamford (25)
State (1)
Stockbridge (4)
Tyringham (1)
Washington (1)
West Stockbridge (1)
Williamstown (49)
Windsor (1)
Archives:
November 2014 (11)
October 2014 (10)
September 2014 (14)
August 2014 (21)
July 2014 (13)
June 2014 (16)
May 2014 (15)
Tags:
Break-ins Rape Buglaries Armed Robbery Assaults Drug Charges Motor Vehicle Injuries Crash Fraud Veremko Shooting Structure Fire Missing Persons Crime Watch Vehicle Drugs Homicide Assault Murder Fatal Cocaine Police Larceny Accident Mvi Fire Dui Motor Vehicle Accident Embezzlement Robbery Search Stabbing Scam Arrest
Popular Entries:
Great Barrington Crashes Leave Two Dead
North Adams Woman Killed in Route 2 Crash
North Adams Man Crashes SUV Into Home
Man Killed by Bull in Clarksburg
North Adams Man Arraigned on Child Porn Charges
Kincaid Pleads Guilty to Aggravated Rape
Cariddi Auto Sales Burns
Donations Reach State Road Fire Victims
Pittsfield Police Identify Parking Garage Death
Mayor's Wife Arrested for Shoplifting
Recent Entries:
Pittsfield Police Seize 63 lbs. of Marijuana, Cash, Stolen Gun
Superior Court Briefs: Nov. 17 - Nov. 19.
Man Involved in Shooting At Pittsfield Big Y Dies
Firefighters' Quick Response Saves Readsboro Home
Fire Displaces Pittsfield Family of Five
Superior Court Briefs: November 12 - November 13
Report: Pittsfield Experiences Most Violent August in Years
Two People Airlifted To Albany Medical Following Crash In Hancock
Superior Court Briefs: Oct. 28 - Nov. 6
North Adams Man Arrested in Rash of Dumpster Fires


View All
Abbott School Pie Auction...
Gabriel Abbott Memorial School's annual Oh Be Thankful Pie...
Wahconah Football Reaches...
Salvatore grabbed the ball out of the air and sprinted 95...
Proud Pittsfield Fights to...
Pittsfield’s run in the postseason came to end on Westfield...
McCann Football's Run Ends in...
The McCann Tech Hornets road to Gillette Stadium and a...
Berkshire Chamber Showcase...
The Berkshire Chamber of Commerce held its Business 2...
Berkshire Grown Holiday...
Berkshire Grown held its Holiday Market in Williamstown on...
Wizards at Hoosac Valley
The Harlem Wizards faced off against Hoosac Valley staff...
St. Mary's Church Tour in...
Residents, business people, elected officials and Friends...
Williamstown's Mather House...
Traffic came to halt for several hours Wednesday morning as...
Girls Soccer: Nipmuc vs...
Although the Wahconah girls' season ended on Tuesday, its...
Boys Soccer: Belchertown vs...
Belchertown Downs Mount Greylock Boys in PKs
Football: Pittsfield vs...
Shade himself ended up taking it in from the 1 on third and...
Football: Turners Falls vs...
After completing the first-ever undefeated regular season...
Festival of Trees 2014
The Berkshire Museum kicked off its Festival of Trees...
Farmers' & Artisans' Harvest...
organic and handcrafted goods were sold at the special...
Football: Agawam vs Wahconah
The Wahconah football team was down eight points heading...
Abbott School Pie Auction...
Gabriel Abbott Memorial School's annual Oh Be Thankful Pie...
Wahconah Football Reaches...
Salvatore grabbed the ball out of the air and sprinted 95...
Proud Pittsfield Fights to...
Pittsfield’s run in the postseason came to end on Westfield...
McCann Football's Run Ends in...
The McCann Tech Hornets road to Gillette Stadium and a...
Berkshire Chamber Showcase...
The Berkshire Chamber of Commerce held its Business 2...
| Home | A & E | Business | Community News | Dining | Real Estate | Schools | Sports & Outdoors | Berkshires Weather | Weddings
Advertise | Recommend This Page | Help Contact Us | Privacy Policy| User Agreement
iBerkshires.com is owned and operated by: Boxcar Media 102 Main Street, North Adams, MA 01247 -- T. 413-663-3384 F.413-664-4251
© 2000 Boxcar Media LLC - All rights reserved