NEWARK – A Superior Court judge has ordered a Paterson travel company and its owner to pay $277,000 and permanently cease doing business in New Jersey after finding they defrauded customers who purchased travel and/or vacation planning services that were never provided.
Denyse H. Turner and her company RX 4 Fun Travel, LLC (“RX 4 Fun”) violated New Jersey’s consumer protection laws by accepting payments for travel and/or vacation planning services - including hotel, flight, and/or cruise reservations - then failing to make the arrangements, or cancelling them after the payments were received, according to a ruling by Judge Thomas J. Laconte in Passaic County on Monday.
The court’s ruling granted an Order to Show Cause Summary Action filed against the defendants by the Attorney General and the Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs.
“Consumers who purchase vacation packages deserve to enjoy their time away, not end up stuck at home, dealing with the loss of their hard-earned money,” said Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino “We’re pleased that the court has approved our legal claims to protect consumers from this kind of blatant consumer fraud.”
“The defendants advertised custom travel experiences at fantastic values, but all consumers got for their money was the runaround,” said Sharon Joyce, Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “As the filing of this action shows, we will not allow unscrupulous travel agents to defraud people out of their vacation funds.”
Turner and RX 4 Fun accepted payments ranging from $753 to $1,326 per person to make group travel and/or vacation services for three travel groups, comprising 47 consumers in total.
The court found that the defendants committed multiple violations of New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act and Advertising Regulations by, among other things:
- Failing to make, or cancelling consumers’ travel and/or vacation arrangements after accepting consumer payments;
- Requesting payment of the remaining installments after representing that all travel and/or vacation arrangements had been made, when no such arrangements had been made or had already been cancelled;
- Requesting an additional payment to avoid the cancellation of a reservation by the airline, when, in fact, no such reservation had been made;
- After consumers discovered that the defendants cancelled or failed to make travel or vacation arrangements, promising to make the arrangements, or promising to refund payments to consumers, but then failing to do so;
- Representing on the RX 4 Fun Travel website “We realize that you have worked hard for your vacation – and our goal is to provide the best overall customer service for a meaningful vacation experience at a fantastic value!”, when such is not the case; and
- Representing on the RX 4 Fun Travel website “RX 4 Fun Travel LLC places a high value on quality and attention to detail, and will meet or exceed our clients’ expectations by continually updating our knowledge of the travel industry and our skills in the latest travel products and tools,” when such is not the case.
Turner and RX 4 Fun were ordered to pay $235,000 in civil penalties and $13,880 in restitution to 15 consumers who were not able to recoup their losses from the credit card companies or by other means. The defendants were also ordered to pay the state $27,695.49 in reimbursement of attorney fees and investigative costs.
Additionally, Turner and RX 4 Fun are permanently enjoined from advertising, selling and/or performing vacation services within the state. Turner is permanently enjoined from owning, operating, or otherwise managing any vacation services business in the state, including Travel With Purpose Events LLC, another company she owns.
Investigator Brian Penn of the Division of Consumer Affairs’ Office of Consumer Protection conducted this investigation. Deputy Attorney General Mark Critchley represented the State of New Jersey in this matter.
Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of consumer abuse, can file an online complaint with the State Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its website or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey) or 973-504- 6200.
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