Remember Barbara Smidt? She purchased a Cancun vacation package on Cyber Monday through Fresh Trips, a website promoted by Travelzoo. After she paid for her trip, she discovered that Fresh Trips was not delivering on the deal — and she would have to find other, much more expensive accommodations to complete the trip.
There’s both good and bad news to report. And a whole lot of moving parts.
Let’s start with the bad: Smidt hasn’t seen a dime of her money yet. She has opened a dispute with her credit card company, and with any luck, they’ll see what happened here (or rather what didn’t happen) and issue a permanent credit to her account for the money paid to Fresh Trips.
And now on to the good news: Smidt had a great trip to Cancun, where she stayed at the Royal Sands. Of course, she paid traditional rates for the all-inclusive stay, and on top of what she had already paid to Fresh Trips. But she enjoyed her vacation.
Now there’s nothing like a good lawsuit between two businesses to shine a flashlight on the cockroaches and watch them scatter. On Feb. 26, Travelzoo filed a lawsuit against Fresh Trips and its principal officers in New York state court, confirming in a very public way its displeasure over the handling of the Cyber Monday deal gone bad.
The Travelzoo lawsuit makes eight claims and seeks more than $600,000 in damages, primarily for breach of contract, trademark infringement and damage to its reputation. Notably, Travelzoo’s complaint says that, “To date, Travelzoo has received zero compensation for publishing the promotion.”
Additionally, Travelzoo asserts that it, not Fresh Trips, “worked around-the-clock and went to extraordinary lengths attempting to address the concerns of its customers.”
Travelzoo further states that the actions and omissions of Fresh Trips have resulted in substantial costs and reputational damage to Travelzoo. It specifically claims Fresh Trips ignored its requests to remove its name from the Fresh Trips website, instead calling the two companies “partners.”
Travelzoo didn’t much care for Fresh Trips’ “false assurances” to customers, specifically citing some of the bizarre statements we highlighted in our own coverage of the case:
As several affected travelers were voicing concerns on third-party websites and social media, Fresh Trips continued to falsely reassure travelers that their concerns would be satisfied, which made things worse. For example, Fresh Trips created a separate tab on its webpage publicly pronouncing:
Despite what you’ve read on TripAdvisor and other social media – OUR COMPANY IS VERY REAL and there’s no scam here!
Please be patient with us and we will ensure you are 100% taken care of – thank you!
Fresh Trips also issued a press release apologizing for the “mistake” that they had made with the Royal Resorts, which is located https://fresh-trips.com/formal-apology-royalresorts/.
Fresh Trips again falsely reassured customers that “everyone who booked through them will be taken care of and compensated if displaced or moved.” According to Fresh Trips’ public pronouncements: “We also want to reassure all guests who booked through us that they will be accommodated to their satisfaction.” Defendant Fresh Trips’ apology is attached as Exhibit C.