A travel agency based in Plainview is being sued for $250,000 after refusing refunds to 16 college students that booked spring break trips to Mexico through their website. Xtreme Brands LLC, who operated as Xtreme Trips, were originally located at 1 Dupont St., but have since vacated the office building and have made their business strictly online.
According to the lawsuit, students signed up for trips to Puerto Vallarta on the agency’s website. Some of the kids said that they were told they were going to be representatives for the company, which meant that they would try to get other kids to join and they can go for free. Some of the kids backed out and after they told the agency they were cancelling the trip, they were put on a $100 to $150 a month payment plan. When the students started backing out, they started charging their credit cards for the full balance of the trip. Some students also had the trips canceled on them.
“Everybody’s [complaint] was a little different in terms of exactly when the trips were cancelled and whether they cancelled the trip or the trip was cancelled on them,” said Peter Thomas, a Forest Hills attorney who filed the lawsuit on behalf of these students last month. “They have a very wacky policy. They have a 19-page contract that you can’t even see until you are ready to sign up. On Facebook, they advertise that you can become a rep and go on a free trip. It doesn’t say pay for the entirety of the trip and then if you got enough kids, they’ll reimburse you. That’s not what it says.”
Xtreme Trips has made the argument that they have a no refund policy, but Thomas said that they never provided any services or goods to warrant the policy being enforced.
“It’s one thing to say you have a refund policy for the deposits you made to date,” said Thomas. “These kids were cancelling eight months before the trip and yet they are being held to pay the full amount for the trip. Some kids were charged up to $5,000.”
The agency recently has moved to dismiss the case altogether and responded further by filing a counter suit against two students and parents that took to social media to express their complaints about the company. One of the students wasn’t even on the original lawsuit filed by Thomas back in April. The agency is seeking $41 million in the lawsuit.
“That’s $10 million each,” said Thomas. “It doesn’t make sense because these comments were shared less than 20 times. So if you have a comment that says Xtreme Trips is not reputable and they refused to give a refund, and that comment was shared a half a dozen times, its going to cost them their business? Their business was in the toilet long before these comments were made.”
The agency is being represented by Glen Edelman, an attorney based in Lake Success. The Herald reached out to Edelman but he said he had no comment at this time.
Thomas also has email exchanges between students and the agency that show that when students pressed the agency on why they were being charged after cancelling, the organization said that it “must be a mistake in the office” and that they “will figure it out.” Thomas also said that these issues with the agency had gone on long before his litigation, pointing to the poor rating and complaints that the company has on the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
“Truth is the best defense to an allegation of defamation,” said Thomas.
Senator Jim Gaughran, who represents Plainview, recently held a press conference in front of the abandoned agency on Dupont Street to remind travelers of their rights.
“We thought it would be best for us to try and explain what New York State does now to try and assist people,” said Gaughran. “The Traveler’s Bill of Rights exists to try to help consumers make the best decisions when they are looking to hire travel agencies because people spend a considerable amount of money in these circumstances.”
Gaughran, along with other local travel agencies, reminded the community to read the fine print, check that the seller is registered with New York State or the BBB, do your homework, use verified payment sources such as PayPal or a major credit card and get it in writing.