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Post date: September 1 2005

Tour Company Pays Close To $300,000 In Restitution And Penalties

Attorney General Spitzer today announced an agreement that will significantly reform the sales and advertising practices of a Long Island business engaged in organizing travel tours for student groups. The agreement requires Alpine Tours to implement changes in its advertising and business practices, and to pay over $265,000 in restitution to consumers, along with $32,000 in penalties and costs.

Alpine Tours, located in Woodmere, New York, resolved an investigation by Spitzer’s office after Spitzer’s office and the Better Business Bureau heard from numerous customers of Alpine Tours with complaints that Alpine Tours misrepresented the price of its tours and the services and amenities it would provide.

Alpine Tours offers educational tours to school groups throughout the United States to cities such as Washington, D.C., New York, Boston and Philadelphia. Customers complain that students worked hard to raise money for their school trips, but did not get what they paid for.

The complaints presented a picture of wide-ranging misrepresentations by Alpine Tours. Customers claimed that Alpine Tours promised "deluxe hotel accommodations" but instead relegated students to low-quality lodging far outside the cities they were visiting. Schools complained that Alpine Tours didn’t provide promised tours guides, failed to make necessary group reservations at tour sites and left tour leaders scrambling to arrange their own activities. Customers also complained that Alpine Tours refused to provide refunds in accordance with its cancellation policies, added charges to package prices after receiving deposits and treated them rudely.

"This agreement will help ensure that school groups get the trip they pay for," Spitzer said.
Under the agreement, Alpine Tours must disclose the full price, and all terms and conditions of the tour, before receiving any customer deposits. Alpine Tours must also fully disclose the type of accommodations, services and amenities to be provided, set forth a schedule for providing itineraries and travel documents to consumers, notify consumers of its cancellation policy and abide by that policy. The agreement also requires Alpine Tours to ensure that all its communications with customers are free of misrepresentations, and to improve its customer service.

The investigation was handled by Assistant Attorney General Victoria Safran under the supervision of Juan Merchan, Assistant Attorney General in Charge of the Nassau Regional Office.