The Commission has approved a stipulated final judgment with the following California-based travel company and its owner Jeffrey Allen Donohue: QBI, Inc. According to the Commission's complaint, QBI marketed travel packages that promised "free airfare," using vouchers distributed at banks and retail businesses. Based on suggestions from QBI, the stores distributed the vouchers to their customers while expressly or impliedly representing that the airfare would be free. Neither QBI's suggested advertising nor its vouchers, however, disclosed that the "rack" rates that consumers would pay for their hotel accommodations were significantly more expensive than those of typically available hotel accommodations. The cost of these peak-rate rooms, the complaint contends, along with other undisclosed charges, often negated savings the consumers realized through the free airline tickets. In addition, QBI falsely represented that it would return consumers' travel deposits upon request. While the conditions for the return of the deposits was specified on the vouchers, in many instances the company failed to return the money to customers who had met these conditions. Lastly, according to the Commission, QBI falsely represented that it would fulfill its customers' travel requests in a timely manner.
Through the court settlement, which did not contain an admission of liability, QBI is required to disclose the terms, conditions and fees required to redeem its travel vouchers. In addition, if the company uses the terms "standard" or "rack" rates, it must disclose that such rates are higher than the typical rates a consumer would pay for hotel accommodations. QBI has already refunded more than $51,000 to its customers to resolve the FTC's allegations. The Commission vote to approve the court settlement was 5-0. (FTC File No. 992-3196; Civ. Action No. CV-00-10304 JSL (Mcx); staff contact is Raymond E. McKown, FTC Western Region - Los Angeles, 310-824-4325.)
The Commission has approved a divestiture from the following: Dominion Resources, Inc. and Consolidated Natural Gas Company (CNG). Pursuant to the terms of the Commission's order announced on November 5, 1999, regarding the proposed merger of these companies, Dominion had requested approval to divest CNG's subsidiary Virginia Natural Gas Company, Inc. (VNG) to AGL Resources Inc. (AGL). The Commission vote to approve the divestiture was 4-0, with Commissioner Thomas B. Leary not participating. (Docket No. C-3901; staff contact is Roberta Baruch, Bureau of Competition, 202-326-2861; see press release dated November 5, 1999.)
The Commission has approved the publication of a Federal Register notice announcing the dates and location for its: Public Forum on Warranty Protection for High-Tech Products and Services. As detailed in the notice, the Commission will host a two-day public forum on October 26, 2000 from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and October 27, 2000 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at FTC Headquarters, 600 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. The forum is being held to examine warranty protection for software and other computer information products and services that are marketed to consumers. Contact information for those wishing to attend the forum is included in the Federal Register notice. The forum is open to the public and there is no formal registration process. The Commission vote to publish the Federal Register notice was 5-0. (FTC File No. P994419; staff contact is Daniel R. Salsburg, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 202-326-3402.)
NOTE: The Commission files a complaint when it has "reason to believe" that the law has or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. A complaint is not a finding or ruling that the defendants have actually violated the law.
Copies of the documents mentioned in this release are available from the FTC's Web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; toll free: 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357); TDD for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710.
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