Wednesday, January 28, 2015 11:13am
North Adams, MA now: 10 °   
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
Cheshire Considers Joining BRPC Pipeline Group
North Adams Housing Agency Finds Potential Buyers For Properties
Area Religious Groups Join Social Justice Efforts in New Organization
Pancake Breakfast Slated To Help Lanesborough Firefighter Beat Cancer
Williams Students Aim to Break Record Lego Build Time
Williamstown — Finally — Decides on Town Flag
Berkshire Youth Wrestling Club Set to Host Sectional
Pittsfield Residents Wary of Taconic High School Cost
Lanesborough Voters Will Be Asked to Decide School Affiliations
Williamstown Selectmen to Hire Consultant for Town Manager Search

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 (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 (135)
Otis (2)
Peru (1)
Pittsfield (144)
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 (51)
Windsor (1)
Archives:
January 2015 (3)
December 2014 (19)
November 2014 (11)
October 2014 (10)
September 2014 (14)
August 2014 (21)
July 2014 (13)
June 2014 (9)
Tags:
Veremko Oxycodone Fatal Arrest Injuries Cocaine Larceny Motor Vehicle Accident Rape Assault Break-ins Motor Vehicle Dui Mvi Road Closure Vehicle Buglaries Robbery Fire Homicide Fraud Stabbing Heroin Armed Robbery Accident Drug Charges Shooting Drugs Missing Persons Structure Fire Police Search Crash Murder Crime Watch
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:
Superior Court Briefs: Jan. 22
Superior Court Briefs: Jan. 12 - Jan. 15
Superior Court Briefs: Dec. 22 - Jan. 9
Williamstown Garage Fire Snuffed Out
Readsboro Rollover Blamed on Slick Roads, Speed
Superior Court Briefs: Dec. 11 - Dec. 18
UPS Worker in Pedestrian Accident Treated & Released
Four Injured, Pets Lost in Pittsfield Duplex Fire
No Injuries in Route 7 Collision at Mount Greylock School
Pittsfield Domestic Disturbance Prompts Special Response Team


View All
Berkshire County UCP Telethon
United Cerebral Palsy of Berkshire County held its 52nd and...
Girls BB: Athol vs Hoosac...
McKenzie Robinson dished out nine assists to help the...
Swimming: Wahconah vs St....
Liz Bernardy won the 100-yard freestyle and 200 individual...
Boys BB: Drury vs Hoosac...
Friday night basketball, Drury boys win over Hoosac Valley...
Girls BB: Lee vs Mount...
Barrett scored a game-high 27 points in Thursday's 57-44...
Boys BB: Smith Academy vs...
The Pittsfield boys' basketball team defeated Smitch...
North Adams Chamber @...
The North Adams Chamber of Commerce held its first...
Hockey: St Mary's vs Wahconah
The Wahconah hockey team defeated St. Mary's Wednesday...
Berkshire Chamber @GFCU
Berkshire Chamber of Commerce held its January networking...
Boys BB: Wahconah vs Drury
The Wahconah boys basketball team was able to pull away and...
Boys BB: Hoosac Valley vs...
Jerry McDonough scored 14 points and went 4-for-6 at the...
Girls BB: Wahconah vs Lenox
The Wahconah girls basketball team got back on track with a...
Girls BB: Hoosac Valley vs Mt...
Hoosac used 25 points and 11 rebounds from Emily Rosse to...
Co-ed XC Skiing
The Mount Greylock cross country ski team had the home...
Girls BB: Millbrook vs Miss...
Grace Guachione scored 19 of her 22 points in the first...
Girls BB: Pittsfield vs...
The Pittsfield girls basketball team defeated Wahconah...
Berkshire County UCP Telethon
United Cerebral Palsy of Berkshire County held its 52nd and...
Girls BB: Athol vs Hoosac...
McKenzie Robinson dished out nine assists to help the...
Swimming: Wahconah vs St....
Liz Bernardy won the 100-yard freestyle and 200 individual...
Boys BB: Drury vs Hoosac...
Friday night basketball, Drury boys win over Hoosac Valley...
Girls BB: Lee vs Mount...
Barrett scored a game-high 27 points in Thursday's 57-44...
| 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