Thursday, March 05, 2015 01:44pm
North Adams, MA now: 19 °   
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
Adams Housing Authority Gives Property To Habitat for Humanity
Pittsfield Group Suggests Limiting Chemical Spraying For Mosquitoes
Baker's $38B Budget for 2016 Raises School, City Aid
Mount Greylock presents 'South Pacific'
North Adams Happenings: March 4-10
Berkshire County Head Start Registering Children for 2015-16 School Year
Williamstown Housing Trust Awards Second Homebuyer Grant
North Adams Rent Board OKs Increase for Wheel Estates
Cheshire Asks Kinder Morgan For Information Presentation
North Adams Historical Commission Nixes Park Lighting Scheme

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 (35)
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 (2)
Pittsfield (145)
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 (2)
Archives:
February 2015 (7)
January 2015 (5)
December 2014 (19)
November 2014 (11)
October 2014 (10)
September 2014 (14)
August 2014 (21)
July 2014 (13)
Tags:
Cocaine Mvi Assault Robbery Buglaries Break-ins Fatal Shooting Oxycodone Fire Vehicle Motor Vehicle Motor Vehicle Accident Police Fraud Injuries Larceny Armed Robbery Crash Accident Homicide Search Veremko Stabbing Murder Structure Fire Rape Heroin Missing Persons Drugs Arrest Dui Crime Watch Drug Charges Burglary
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: Feb. 23 - Feb. 26
Superior Court Briefs: Feb. 17
Adams Woman Dies in Fire Caused by Candle
Superior Court Briefs: Feb. 10
Police Investigating Death of Wanted Adams Man
Police Say Peru Man's Death Not Suspicious
Superior Court Briefs: Feb. 4 - Feb. 5
Superior Court Briefs: Jan. 28 - Jan. 30
Pittsfield Police: Gun Found Near Reid Middle School
Superior Court Briefs: Jan. 22


View All
Wahconah Boys Win
Itís been 12 years since the Wahconah boys basketball team...
Hoosac Boys' Win over Drury...
There wasnít much separating the two teams in the...
HV Girls into Western Mass...
After going into the locker room behind, 33-32, the...
Pittsfield Girls into Western...
Pittsfield advanced to the finals with a 66-52 victory at...
Princess Ball 2015
The Lanesborough Fire Association's 2nd annual Princess...
Girls BB: Middlesex @ PHS
The Generals rallied and rode an 18-point, 16-rebound...
Thunderbolt/Thunderfest 2015
The Thunderbolt Ski Race held its 80th anniversary run on...
Girls BB: Wahconah vs Hoosac...
No.1 Hoosac is heading back to the Cage as they beat No.9...
10X10 Art Party 2015
The 10X10 Festival's Real Art Party fundraiser, organized...
Berkshire Chamber Nite @...
Berkshire Chamber night on Wednesday at Mingo's in North...
Boys BB: Renaissance vs Drury
For Drury senior Justin Girard, the 63-61 quarter-final win...
Boys BB: Mount Greylock vs...
The Hoosac Valley boys basketball team got enough...
Boys BB: Quabbin vs...
Jerry McDonough scored 15 points, and Scott Steinman added...
Girls BB: Lee vs Mount...
Karli Retzel hit a 3-pointer and went 2-for-2 at the foul...
Boys Hockey: Wahconah vs...
The No. 5 Warriors won over No. 4 Belchertown 2-0 Tuesday...
Boys Hockey: Mt Everett vs...
Amherst No. 3 seed eliminated No. 6 Mount Everett 3-0...
Wahconah Boys Win
Itís been 12 years since the Wahconah boys basketball team...
Hoosac Boys' Win over Drury...
There wasnít much separating the two teams in the...
HV Girls into Western Mass...
After going into the locker room behind, 33-32, the...
Pittsfield Girls into Western...
Pittsfield advanced to the finals with a 66-52 victory at...
Princess Ball 2015
The Lanesborough Fire Association's 2nd annual Princess...
| 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