PENNSYLVANIA — Attorney General Michelle Henry announced the filing this week of a lawsuit against Vantage Travel Services, Inc., and its founder, for alleged violations of the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law resulting in consumer losses of thousands of dollars.
The lawsuit alleges that the Massachusetts-based travel tour operator and founder Henry Lewis engaged in deceptive and unfair business practices by promising “risk-free” travel to consumers. The promises were never fulfilled; Vantage took large sums of money from consumers and then failed to provide any refunds when consumers could not travel.
Many of the impacted consumers were sixty years old or older.
Vantage promised customers that they could, “Cancel [their] journey due to an unforeseen event — from an emergent illness to a last-minute family gathering — up to the day of departure [and] retain the full value of [their] travel investment.”
Instead, Vantage marked those plans as postponed or rescheduled and did not issue refunds.
“Vantage took advantage of older Pennsylvanians by continuing to hold their refunds hostage,” Attorney General Henry said. “If Pennsylvania consumers pay for goods or services and get nothing in return, our office will fight for those victims.”
In numerous instances, Vantage failed to fully and timely issue refunds to Pennsylvania consumers for their canceled travel tours by deeming those tours “postponed” or “rescheduled” rather than canceled. Consumers were forced to either rebook a new tour after years of delay or submit a cancellation request for a partial refund, which was subject to a per-person cancellation penalty fee of up to 100% of the purchase price.
Many of these tours had a purchase price of up to $10,000 per person, or even more in some instances.
Vantage allegedly advertised and accepted payments from consumers for tour reservations that they knew or reasonably should have known could not be fulfilled on their purchased departure date.
The lawsuit further alleges that Vantage repeatedly assured its customer base that purchasing a tour, or re-booking a tour, would be a risk-free purchase– even though booking a tour came with the very real risk of the customer being stuck with travel credits for an indefinitely “postponed” tour or a highly-delayed, partial cash refund.
Some consumers who booked tickets through Vantage are still waiting on a refund.
The Complaint was filed in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas and is being handled by Deputy Attorney General Kevin R. Green.