Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive
Monday, October 15, 2001
CORNYN FILES SUIT TO STOP DECEPTIVE DISCOUNT TRAVEL
Travelbridge, Turn of the Century Cited in Lawsuit
AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn has filed a lawsuit against Turn of the Century Adventure, Inc., Travelbridge International, Inc., and several Travelbridge-related companies for falsely representing to consumers that, for an up-front program fee, they are entitled to rates and privileges available only to travel agents.
These alleged practices enticed several thousand Texas consumers to sign up for costly memberships. The Attorney General alleges the companies violated the Deceptive Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act and is asking the court to order restitution to affected consumers.
Turn of the Century and Travelbridge market their programs in the major metropolitan areas of Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, Austin and San Antonio. They use marketers in telephone solicitations, promising consumers a "free" trip if they attend a presentation on discounted travel. Then these companies market and sell a discount travel program for up to $5,390 and misrepresent that consumers would be entitled to the same discounts, upgrades, and courtesies available only to travel agents at travel suppliers such as airlines, car rental companies, cruise lines and hotels.
"Smart consumers routinely look for good deals on travel. That's the name of the game and that's as it should be," said Attorney General Cornyn. "But deliberately misleading honest travel shoppers cannot be tolerated."
Consumers are misled to believe they can obtain these special industry rates just by becoming an "associate" agent with these companies without actually working as a travel agent or selling travel. Company representatives then issue them so-called "travel agent" credentials, which consumers are told is key to obtaining travel agent rates.
However, Turn of the Century and Travelbridge failed to disclose that most major travel suppliers, including those cited in their sales presentations, will not honor the type of agent identification cards they issue. They also failed to disclose that most major travel suppliers require travel agents to have a valid International Airlines Travel Agent Network (IATAN) card to be considered for these discretionary rates.
Travelbridge or Turn of the Century cannot guarantee or provide these discretionary rates. Travel agents must work at least 20 hours per week and earn a minimum of $5,000 per year in commissions as an agent to qualify for an IATAN card.
The Office of the Attorney General has received a substantial number of complaints and inquiries regarding Turn of the Century and Travelbridge. The lawsuit seeks a temporary and permanent injunction, restitution, civil penalties, and attorney fees and costs.
The Travelbridge companies include Travelbridge of Texas doing business in San Antonio at 4625 Centerview Rd. and in Austin at 2809 Longhorn Blvd.; Travelbridge of South Texas, L.L.C., located at 17175 Tomball Parkway in Houston, and Travelbridge of North Texas, L.L.P. located at 1825 Walnut Hill Lane in Irving, Texas. Turn of the Century Adventure, Inc., operated the Irving location until entering into a business relationship with Travelbridge in January 2001, who now services former Turn of the Century members and new Travelbridge members.
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