Consumers left stranded by a pair of Columbus, Ohio, travel agencies may not be going anywhere but they'll have some walking-around money.
Franklin County Common Pleas Court Judge John Connor has ordered Morena Tours Inc., Victoria Travel Inc. and their owners to pay civil penalties totaling $450,000, provide nearly $40,000 in reimbursement or restitution to their victims and cover court costs.
Businesses have an obligation to deliver promised goods and services to consumers, Attorney General Jim Petro said. That didnt happen in this case, leaving some victims trapped out of town without a ticket home and others at home with ruined vacation plans and empty wallets.
Specifically, the judge ordered the defendants to pay a $25,000 civil penalty for each violation of the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act (CSPA). That means Morena and its principal owner, Meibe C.S. Villumsen, must pay $125,000 each in civil penalties. Victoria and its principal owner, Jens Villumsen, owe $100,000 each.
The defendants failed to show at a July 15 damages hearing, at which several of the victims testified about the nature and extent of their losses. At that hearing and in his filings with the court, Petro proved the travel companies and their owners violated the CSPA by charging consumers credit cards without authorization, making false or misleading statements to consumers and failing to disclose their restrictive refund policies.
While Victoria Travel is no longer in business, Morena Tours continues to operate.