Attorney General James Sues Travel Company for Failing to Refund Consumers

AG James Seeks Full Refunds from Vantage Travel for Dozens of New Yorkers Who Were Not Reimbursed for Canceled Trips

NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit against a travel company, Vantage Travel Services, Inc., and its founder and owner, Henry R. Lewis, for failing to refund thousands of dollars to more than 100 New Yorkers whose tours were canceled. The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) received dozens of complaints from New Yorkers in New York City, Albany, Westchester, and Long Island about Vantage Travel denying refunds for cancellations, including cancellations because of COVID-19. Attorney General James is seeking full restitution and penalties from Vantage Travel. 

“When a trip is canceled and a refund is denied, it adds insult to injury,” said Attorney General James. “My office will not let Vantage Travel get away with flouting the law and denying dozens of New Yorkers the refunds they deserve due to canceled trips. Companies that make promises to consumers must fulfill their end of the bargain or bear the consequences. I encourage anyone who has faced similar circumstances and believes they are owed a refund they haven’t received to contact my office.” 

Vantage Travel is a Massachusetts-based travel company that offers cruises for locations worldwide. The lawsuit charges that Vantage Travel and Lewis engaged in deceptive business practices by failing to honor the company’s policy to promptly refund consumers who had their trips canceled or had to cancel for health reasons. In a complaint submitted to OAG, a New York couple paid for a trip but had to cancel when the husband was diagnosed with a heart condition that did not allow him to travel. Vantage Travel refused to refund the couple thousands of dollars for the trip they booked despite repeatedly telling consumers in emails that the company offered a “risk-free cancelation policy.” 

The company often mischaracterized its trip cancellations as “postponements” and then rescheduled the trips for much later times, sometimes as much as a year after the original scheduled trip, and trips were often rescheduled multiple times. If a consumer did not want the rescheduled trip, Vantage Travel offered only a credit for a future trip instead of a refund for what in fact was a cancellation. Consumers, who are often seniors, often paid $10,000 or more for the tour packages but could not reach anyone at Vantage Travel to provide a refund.  

The lawsuit also alleges that Lewis was aware of the issues consumers were facing but did not address the problems. From July 2020 to February 2021, Lewis communicated to consumers that their trips would be postponed due to the pandemic. However, he did not provide a rescheduling date, nor did he provide consumers an option to receive a refund. 

Through her lawsuit, Attorney General James seeks full restitution for all impacted New Yorkers, civil penalties, and disgorgement. 

Attorney General James asks any consumers who believe they have been the victim of these practices to file a consumer complaint online or contact OAG at (800) 771-7755.   

This matter is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Melvin Goldberg of the Consumer Frauds & Protection Bureau, under the supervision of Bureau Chief Jane M. Azia and Deputy Bureau Chief Laura J. Levine. The Consumer Frauds & Protection Bureau is a part of the Division of Economic Justice, which is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General Chris D'Angelo and overseen by First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.