OLYMPIA -March 17, 2000 -A Bothell travel company will have to pay $90,000 in immediate restitution to consumers for continuing violations of an agreement to stop deceptive practices in the sale of travel club memberships in Washington and Oregon.
Under judgments entered in King County Superior Court, Ultima Systems, Inc. its owner, William Hunter, and manager, Michael Vasey, admitted breaking the law and violating the consent decree originally entered in the case in 1997. Hunter also agreed to cancel $3 million in payments still owed by members for their membership payments and annual dues.
Today’s judgments settle an enforcement action first filed against Ultima by the Attorney General’s Office in February 1997. It alleged the company engaged in unfair sales tactics, and misrepresented the amounts and availability of travel discounts. That suit was settled with the entry of a Consent Decree.
Since the 1997 Consent Decree, Ultima, Hunter and Vasey continued using "free prize" offers to entice customers to attend high pressures sales presentations and misrepresented actual services provided to members. Members typically paid as much as $3,000 to join the club, and $200 in subsequent annual fees for travel discounts that never materialized.
"Ultima Systems blatantly violated the agreement filed to protect consumers from the club’s dishonest sales representations," said Attorney General Christine Gregoire. "Over 900 new complaints to this office reveal the same patterns of deception that prompted the original enforcement action."
"Now consumers have been further deceived by Ultima’s false claims that their program was approved by the Attorney General’s Office."
The Attorney General’s Office will be sending copies of the judgments to companies Ultima used to collect their membership and annual dues payments, instructing them to stop all such collections.
Ultima members who continue to receive collection notices for payment of membership fees or annual dues should contact the Attorney General’s Office at 1-800-551-4636.
Information received by the Attorney General's office indicates that some Ultima members may have been recently contacted by other travel sellers. In these offers, the marketers have referred to association with or agreement with Ultima or the Office of the Attorney General. The Office of the Attorney General does not endorse any product or service offered to consumers and recommends that those contacted review such offers carefully.