BBB Alert: “F” Rated Travel Company Escapes With Consumers Money

  
     
December 13, 2017

Ancient City Escapes, LLC a St. Augustine travel club has closed its doors, allegedly costing paying customers thousands of dollars. According to consumers who have attempted to visit the businesses location they are no longer operating in the area. The business website www.acetravelmembers.com is no longer active, phone numbers have been disconnected, and their license as a travel agency has expired with the State of Florida. Furthermore, Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation lists the businesses status as inactive as of November 20, 2017.

BBB Serving Northeast Florida & the Southeast Atlantic has received 7 complaints on Ancient City Escapes, LLC since we opened our file in January of 2017. Consumers allege that they made large payments for travel accommodations that they have been unable to schedule, and that Ancient City Escapes, LLC misrepresented the savings of their travel club membership.

One recent complaint states “Have tried contacting Ancient City Escapes in St Augustine FL at 904-209-5112 over a dozen times to schedule one of our 8 yearly guaranteed vacation weeks. Phone number goes automatically to fast busy signal. My wife and I have contacted 1-858-622-2904 (reservations) 4 times. They answer and claim they can service Ancient City Escapes but when we try to book one of our yearly condo weeks we are told we have to contact 904-209-5112. We tell them the number is inoperative, they try the number, agree with me and send message to the St Augustine office requesting that that office call us. We have been "upgraded" to high priority without return contact yet. We have left voice message with owner Robert Green at 904-466-8835. His recording references that he is with Total Access Travel not Ancient City Escapes. To date he has not returned our call. I have repeatedly asked the representatives at 1-858-622-2904 if Ancient City Escapes is in business since all contact attempts have failed. They have repeatedly assured me that it is in operation. I believe this to be inaccurate and further believe that Ancient City Escapes has defrauded my wife and me with a scam travel service. I am in the process of filing a dispute with my Discover credit card who processed our membership fee.”

If you have a complaint against Ancient City Escapes, LLC you may file it with the Florida Attorney General's office at : http://bit.ly/2yWwcNQ.

BBB advice on what to do if a company goes out of business unexpectedly:

When a retailer closes their doors, customers are often left confused and wondering what will happen to purchases they’ve paid for but haven’t received. The same applies in situations when warranties or unused gift cards are involved.

Attempt to determine if the company has filed bankruptcy.

If possible, ask the company directly if they have filed. If not possible, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Bankruptcy Court keep records online and in paper files. Those records can be accessed online at sec.gov or in person at the SEC headquarters in Washington, DC. The Bankruptcy Court in the state where the company is incorporated or has its main place of business will also have those records.

If you want to review court filings, you can access them through the PACER system, which is a web-based index of filings in federal courts. To do so, you need to set up an account. Please note that PACER charges a nominal fee for access to court filings.

If a company closes, but hasn’t officially filed bankruptcy.
First, send the company a letter in case their mail is being forwarded. If able, physically go to their location to see if they left a message on the door for customers. Ask neighboring businesses if they have any information. Try to reach the owner. If you have merchandise in the store, contact the landlord to see if you can be given access to the company’s facility. As a last resort, contact law enforcement.

Warranties.
The validity of any outstanding warranty varies depending on the facts. If a retailer goes out of business, the consumer may be able to rely on the manufacturer’s warranty. If a manufacturer goes out of business, the consumer may be able to rely on a retailer’s warranty. Many extended warranties and service plans are provided and administered by third parties and are typically not affected by a retailer or manufacturer closing its doors.

Unused gift cards.
Under Chapter 7 bankruptcy law, the gift card holder must file a claim through the courts. Under Chapter 11 bankruptcy law, courts will decide if the business must honor gift cards. To avoid problems, the BBB advises that consumers redeem gift cards as soon as possible.

Chapter 7 bankruptcies.
Under Chapter 7 bankruptcy law, the money gained from selling the company’s assets goes first to back taxes, secured creditors and employees. That usually depletes available assets. If any assets are left over, they are divided among unsecured creditors, including customers who didn’t receive services or goods already paid for.

Chapter 11 bankruptcies.
A Chapter 11 bankruptcy allows the company to continue operations while it reorganizes for future stability. If a company files for Chapter 11 protection, they will often still honor gift cards, fulfill services and deliver on goods. Unfortunately, some Chapter 11 bankruptcies are unsuccessful and convert into Chapter 7, which leads to closure and complete liquidation. At that point, the chances for the consumer to receive any compensation are greatly diminished.

Dispute the charge if you paid by credit card.
Customers who paid with credit cards may be able to dispute the charge with their credit card company to get their money back. Others who paid by check or cash, will need to file a claim with the bankruptcy court administering the process. A creditor must file a proof of claim within 90 days after the first date set for the meeting of creditors. Visit www.uscourts.gov for more information.