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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 09, 1996
AG CRACKS DOWN ON TRAVEL SCAMS


SEATTLE, July 9, 1996-- In an on-going crackdown against unscrupulous travel sellers, the Attorney General's Office today filed a lawsuit against Platinum Passport, Ltd., a Bellevue-based travel club.

The lawsuit, which also names Platinum's two marketers, Northwest Marketing and Zth Ltd. both of Bellevue, alleges consumers who purchased club memberships were guaranteed substantial travel savings that never materialized. Consumers paid between $795 and $4,995 for memberships.

"These companies promise dream vacations that evaporate once they have the consumers' money," said Attorney General Christine Gregoire. "Sales were made based on promises that never were delivered."

Platinum also allegedly used high pressure sales tactics, failed to provide an adequate number of travel agents to support some 8,000 members, and failed to provide consumers with promised rebates.

Gregoire recently filed lawsuits against three other travel sellers, Sun Vacations, Inc., a Kirkland marketer of vacation certificates; IBEX Travel, a Seattle travel agency; and Travel Express, a Georgia-based travel seller.

Unscrupulous travel sellers use very slick, very professional marketing techniques to sell their product. According to Gregoire, sales presentations focus the consumer on a romantic island get-aways, not the price of the membership which is often more than what most consumers spend annually for vacations.

"There are two victims in these cases, the consumer and the legitimate travel industry," said Gregoire. "The consumer is out the promised savings or travel and the travel industry is out the business."

Nearly 400 consumers, claiming losses of more than $265,000, have filed complaints this year with the Attorney General's Office against travel sellers. Platinum Passports and its marketers have 133 complaints and Sun Vacations has 110 complaints.

All of the companies sued by the Attorney General's Office allegedly failed to register under the Travel Sellers Act that went into effect in January. Registration gives consumers information about the businesses and requires travel sellers to place customer deposits in a trust account.

Consumers who want travel tips or complaint information should call the Attorney General's Office at 800-551 -4636, or for the hearing impaired, 800-833-6384.


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