Saturday, July 26, 2014 07:11am
North Adams, MA now: 57 °   
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
Officials Celebrate Progress on Williamstown Housing Project
Berkshire Kings Gear Up for New Season
Adams Historical Society Exhibits Massive Civil War-Era Flag
iBerkshire Tag Sales: July 25-26
Tanglewood to Unveil Leonard Bernstein Sculpture
Governor Honorary Chair of Hancock Shaker Fundraiser
MCLA Receives STEM Scholarship
Next DownStreet Art Set for July 31
Emergency Drill Planned in North Adams July 29
Sohn Fine Art Expanding to Lenox Location
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
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 (31)
Alford (0)
Becket (6)
Cheshire (9)
Clarksburg (27)
Dalton (4)
Egremont (0)
Florida (4)
Great Barrington (9)
Hancock (4)
Hinsdale (2)
Lanesborough (11)
Lee (10)
Lenox (9)
Monterey (0)
Mount Washington (0)
New Ashford (3)
New Marlborough (1)
North Adams (122)
Otis (2)
Peru (1)
Pittsfield (130)
Pownal (9)
Readsboro (9)
Richmond (8)
Sandisfield (2)
Savoy (4)
Sheffield (1)
Stamford (25)
State (1)
Stockbridge (4)
Tyringham (1)
Washington (1)
West Stockbridge (1)
Williamstown (46)
Windsor (1)
Archives:
July 2014 (13)
June 2014 (16)
May 2014 (15)
April 2014 (10)
March 2014 (12)
February 2014 (11)
January 2014 (22)
December 2013 (1)
Tags:
Motor Vehicle Accident Structure Fire Crash Robbery Rape Search Drug Charges Accident Assault Arrest Motor Vehicle Break-ins Larceny Homicide Vehicle Fatal Fraud Drugs Structure Dui Missing Persons Injuries Murder Cocaine Fatal Fire Shooting Armed Robbery Stabbing Embezzlement Police Veremko Crime Watch Mvi Buglaries
Popular Entries:
Great Barrington Crashes Leave Two Dead
North Adams Woman Killed in Route 2 Crash
North Adams Man Crashes SUV Into Home
Kincaid Pleads Guilty to Aggravated Rape
North Adams Man Arraigned on Child Porn Charges
Man Killed by Bull in Clarksburg
Cariddi Auto Sales Burns
Donations Reach State Road Fire Victims
Pittsfield Police Identify Parking Garage Death
Mayor's Wife Arrested for Shoplifting
Recent Entries:
Berkshire Gas Reports Customers Getting Fraudulent Calls
Superior Court Briefs: July 21 - July 24
Pittsfield Police Log: July 23 - July 25
Pittsfield Police Log: July 19 - July 21
Pittsfield: Property Crimes High; Violent Crime Down
Superior Court Briefs: July 14 - July 15
Pittsfield Police Log: July 15 - July 18
Superior Court Briefs: June 30 - July 10
Pittsfield Police Log: July 9 - July 14
Truck Fire Closes Pittsfield's West Housatonic Street


View All
Mingo's Sports Bar & Grill...
Over 50 cars packed into the Mingo's Sports Bar & Grill...
BYP Networking at Naumkeag
The Berkshire Young Professionals met at the historic...
Pittsfield Shakespeare...
Pittsfield's Shakespeare in the Park free performances at...
Lanesborough Kids Fire Camp...
Lanesborough Fire Department held its annual Kids Fire Camp...
Lanesborough Fire Drill
The Lanesborough Fire Department trains on basement fires...
Pittsfield Polish Picnic
Crowds lined up for golabki and kapusta at the annual...
North Adams Kids Emergency...
The North Adams 21st Century Community Learning Center...
Gather-in Festival 2014
The 42nd annual Gather-In festival was held at Pitt Park in...
BFAIR Mini-Golf Fundraiser
Berkshire Family and Individual Resources held its annual...
Lanesborough Seeds of Harmony...
Bradly Farm in...
Hinsdale Block Party
The Hinsdale Fire Department hosted its annual block party...
Arrowhead Country Craft Fair
Arrowhead, Herman Melville's home in Pittsfield, is hosting...
Pittsfield 3rd Thursday July...
Shakespeare was the theme for this month's 3rd Thursday...
State Little League:...
Pittsfield South defeats Holden, 3-2, in the state...
Live On The Lake Concert
Greylock Band played at Burbank Park on Onota Lake in...
Summer Softball: Force vs....
Berkshire Force beat the Adams Thunder 27-7 at Russell...
Mingo's Sports Bar & Grill...
Over 50 cars packed into the Mingo's Sports Bar & Grill...
BYP Networking at Naumkeag
The Berkshire Young Professionals met at the historic...
Pittsfield Shakespeare...
Pittsfield's Shakespeare in the Park free performances at...
Lanesborough Kids Fire Camp...
Lanesborough Fire Department held its annual Kids Fire Camp...
Lanesborough Fire Drill
The Lanesborough Fire Department trains on basement fires...
| 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