Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive


Friday, February 15, 2002

TRAVELBRIDGE / TURN OF THE CENTURY ADVENTURE SETTLEMENT

Current Action: Filing of Final Judgment and Agreed Permanent Injunction (Feb. 14, 2002)

Style of Case: State of Texas vs. Turn of the Century Adventure, Inc.; Turn of the Century Marketing, Inc.; Travelbridge International, Inc., d/b/a Travelbridge Air, Land, Sea, Ltd.; Travelbridge Partners, Ltd.; Travelbridge of North Texas, L.L.P.; Travelbridge of Dallas, L.L.P.; Travelbridge of South Texas, L.L.C.; Travelbridge of Texas, A Texas Joint Venture; Travelbridge of Texas, L.L.C.; Travelbridge of Illinois, L.L.C.; and BITS, L.L.C.

Cause No.: 01-8711; 14th District Court, Dallas County

Date of Filing of Original Petition: October 8, 2001

Summary of Settlement:

The Final Judgment and Agreed Permanent Injunction requires Travelbridge to pay up to $350,000 ($200,000 to Travelbridge members and $150,000 to TOC members) in restitution into trust funds; $25,000 in civil penalties; and $75,000 in attorney's fees and costs. TOC is ordered to pay $25,000 in civil penalties and $75,000 in attorney's fees and costs.

Consumers are eligible for a refund if they purchased a membership from TOC or Travelbridge from January 1, 2000, to February 28, 2002, and submit a written refund request by March 31, 2002, or have already requested a refund in writing. Consumers who purchased the program prior to January 1, 2000, are eligible for a refund if they previously submitted a written refund request to the OAG, Travelbridge, or TOC. If the total amount of refund requests exceeds $200,000 and $150,000 for Travelbridge and TOC members, respectively, refunds will be made on a pro-rata basis. Travelbridge must pay the total amount of refunds no later than June 30, 2002.

Refund requests can be sent to:

    TB Refund Trust/TOCA Refund Trust
    P.O. Box 27846
    Tempe, Arizona 85285-7846

Summary of Allegations in the State's Lawsuit:

The State alleges that Travelbridge and Turn of the Century Adventure (TOC) market and sell a discount travel program for up to $5,390 by misrepresenting to consumers that they would be entitled to the same discounts, upgrades, and courtesies available only to travel agents at airlines, car rental companies, cruise lines, and hotels. Consumers are misled to believe that they can obtain these special industry rates just by becoming an "outside" or "associate" agent with these companies without actually working as a travel agent or selling travel. Travelbridge and TOC market their program through telephone solicitations by promising consumers a "free" trip in return for attending a presentation on discounted travel.

After purchasing the program, consumers are issued "travel agent" credentials for the purpose of obtaining these special industry rates. However, Travelbridge and TOC fail to disclose that most major travel suppliers, including those cited in their sales presentations, will not honor the type of agent ids they issue. They also fail 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 which cannot be guaranteed or provided by Travelbridge or TOC. Travel agents must work at least 20 hours per week and earn a minimum of $5,000 per year in commissions as a travel agent to qualify for an IATAN card.

Summary of Injunctive Provisions:

The Final Judgment and Agreed Permanent Injunction has numerous injunctive provisions which address the fundamental concerns raised in the State's Petition including, but not limited to enjoining Defendants from:

    1. Using the terms "Travel Agent rates," "Agent rates," or other similar terms in describing benefits their members are entitled to;

    2. Representing expressly or by implication that their members are entitled to Travel Agent rates;

    3. Representing expressly or by implication that their members are Travel Agents, outside Travel Agents, associate Travel Agents, or any other similar term that implies that their members are Travel Agents;

    4. Issuing identification cards that state or imply that their members are Travel Agents, outside Travel Agents, associate Travel Agents, or any other similar term that implies their members are Travel Agents;

    5. Failing to disclose in any oral or written solicitations that their members are not entitled to Travel Agents rates;

    6. Failing to disclose in any oral or written solicitations that most major travel suppliers have policies which limit Travel Agent rates to individuals who work in the travel industry;

    7. Failing to disclose in any oral or written solicitations that most major travel suppliers require, at a minimum, Travel Agents to possess a valid International Airlines Travel Agent Network (IATAN) ID card to be eligible for Travel Agent rates;

    8. Failing to disclose in any oral or written solicitations that individuals must work at least 20 hours per week and earn $5,000 per year in commissions and/or salary in the travel industry to be eligible for an IATAN ID card.

Travelbridge Offices in Texas:

    Travelbridge of Texas
    4625 Centerview Road
    San Antonio, Texas

    Travelbridge of Texas
    2809 Longhorn Blvd.
    Austin, Texas

    Travelbridge of South Texas
    17175 Tomball Parkway
    Houston, Texas

    Travelbridge of North Texas*
    1825 Walnut Hill Lane
    Irving, Texas

* This location was formerly operated by Turn of the Century Adventure, Inc. (TOC) through December 31, 2000, at which time TOC and Travelbridge formed Travelbridge of North Texas, L.L.P. to operate the Irving location as a Travelbridge affiliate.

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