FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
January 28, 2000
Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr., announced today that his Consumer Protection Division has fined a Glen Burnie travel agency $87,000 for taking money from customers and then failing to provide vacation services. Kokkomo Travel, Inc., and its owners, Stuart C. and Vicki Lee Hill of Severna Park, were also ordered to pay $62,926 in restitution to customers.
The Division determined that Kokkomo violated the state's Consumer Protection Act by selling travel services that were never provided. Kokkomo accepted deposits and advance payments from customers but did not make the necessary payments to cruise lines, resorts and airlines in order to book the customers' trips. Some customers did not find out until a week before they were to leave on a trip that their reservations had been canceled for non-payment. Most of the customers who lost money by paying for trips they didn't receive lost $1,000 to $2,000.
The order makes final a cease and desist order issued by the Division in February 1998 against Kokkomo, which required Kokkomo to stop accepting deposits or advance payments from customers and to pay refunds to consumers who paid for services but did not receive them. That order was not final until a hearing requested by the Hills was held, at which time a civil penalty of $1,000 per violation of the Consumer Protection Act was added, totaling $87,000.
"When consumers give money to a travel agency they expect that it will be used to book their vacations," Attorney General Curran said. "Kokkomo simply accepted the money for the cruises and trips and then failed to keep their end of the deal."
Kokkomo is no longer operating as a business, and Stuart and Vicki Hill have filed for bankruptcy. However, the Division is contesting the Hills' request to get out of their obligation to pay the fine and repay customers by filing bankruptcy. The order applies to the Hills in connection with any future business they may own or manage in Maryland.