Sunday, March 29, 2015 12:03pm
North Adams, MA now: 30 °   
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
Williams Women's Tennis Beats No. 1 Emory
Lanesborough School Approves $182K Budget Cut
North County Group Lobbies for Hospital Reopening
Finance Committee, Selectmen See ACRSD Proposed Budget
Former Pittsfield Councilor Pete White Seeking at-Large Seat
Williams College Admits 1,159 Students for Class of 2019
Cheshire Water Protection Bylaws Saved; Bridge Being Closed
Lenox Library Launches 20th Annual Book Donation Drive
Scholarship Deadline Approaching for Girls Inc. Awards
Applications Accepted for Lola Greene Legacy Scholarships

Police Logs

Pittsfield Police

North Adams

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 (37)
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 (136)
Otis (2)
Peru (2)
Pittsfield (146)
Pownal (9)
Readsboro (11)
Richmond (8)
Sandisfield (2)
Savoy (4)
Sheffield (2)
Stamford (26)
State (1)
Stockbridge (4)
Tyringham (1)
Washington (1)
West Stockbridge (1)
Williamstown (52)
Windsor (2)
Archives:
March 2015 (10)
February 2015 (7)
January 2015 (5)
December 2014 (19)
November 2014 (11)
October 2014 (10)
September 2014 (14)
August 2014 (21)
July 2014 (3)
Tags:
Veremko Structure Fire Burglary Cocaine Break-ins Arrest Fire Shooting Vehicle Search Larceny Heroin Rape Assault Accident Injuries Motor Vehicle Crash Robbery Motor Vehicle Accident Assaults Missing Persons Fatal Dui Drugs Fraud Homicide Drug Charges Mvi Police Buglaries Crime Watch Murder Armed Robbery Stabbing
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
Fatal Accident Closes Route 8 in Adams
Recent Entries:
Superior Court Briefs: March 23 - March 24
Man Cited For Running Red Light In Crash Into Pittsfield Storefront
Woman Suffers Multiple Injuries After Being Struck By Train in Pittsfield
Pittsfield Police Search For Robber of Lyman Street Sports Store
Superior Court Briefs: March 16 - March 20
Superior Court Briefs: March 9 - March 13
North Adams Police Charge Three With Drug Trafficking
Superior Court Briefs: March 2 - March 5
North Berkshire Man Arrested in Killing of Former County Resident
Adams Firefighters Rescue Man From Apartment Blaze


View All
Spark Event @ Sohn Gallery
Sohn Fine Art in Lenox hosts a Berkshire Creative Spark...
Hoosac Valley Does 'Grease'
The Hoosac Valley High School drama team is producing the...
North Adams Chamber @River...
The North Adams Chamber of Commerce held its monthly mixer...
Birds of Prey
Julie Anne Collier of
Berkshire Chamber Nite @ UP
The Berkshire Chamber of Commerce held its monthly...
Pitt House Series at Dottie's
The first in the Pitt House Concert Series was a sold out...
Berkshire Awards 2015
Lila Berle, Churchill Cotton and Mary Rentz were honored on...
BYP Networking at AIER
The Berkshire Young Professionals gathered at the American...
Berkshire Art Fellowship Show
The 12 Berkshire Art Association College Fellows for 2015...
Hoosac Boys Lose to Old...
The Bulldogs scored the next six points and later used a...
Hoosac Girls Drop State Final...
The Hoosac Valley girls basketball team ended its season...
Massachusetts Region I High...
Near 80 students from throughout the region met in the...
Mt. Greylock SEE Fund
Williamstown's community access television station,...
2OT, Sends Hoosac to State...
Jameson Coughlan scored on a baseline inbounds play from...
HV Win State Semi-Final
Last season, with 1 min., 30 sec. to go Bellingham was down...
Hoosac Girls to Western Mass...
On Saturday afternoon, it had a chance to hang one more...
Spark Event @ Sohn Gallery
Sohn Fine Art in Lenox hosts a Berkshire Creative Spark...
Hoosac Valley Does 'Grease'
The Hoosac Valley High School drama team is producing the...
North Adams Chamber @River...
The North Adams Chamber of Commerce held its monthly mixer...
Birds of Prey
Julie Anne Collier of
Berkshire Chamber Nite @ UP
The Berkshire Chamber of Commerce held its monthly...
| 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