The investigation was launched after complaints that rooms were booked at hotels that were actually closed
Following an investigation launched earlier this year into complaints that hotel rooms were being booked at some Mackinaw City hotels even though they were closed, some operators obtained voluntary assurances of compliance as a result of the investigation.
The investigation concluded that the hotels were advertised through a tourism website owned and operated by people who also had equity interests in the entities operating the properties themselves.
The following is a full statement from Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel about the investigation’s findings:
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has reached an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance (AVC) with the operators of several hotels and tour groups in the Mackinaw City area following an investigation into business practices related to customer reservations.
Earlier this year, Nessel issued a Notice of Intended Action (NIA) following consumer complaints that alleged cases where consumers had booked rooms at hotels that were advertised as available and the reservations were eventually confirmed, but were actually closed without notification to consumers. Additionally, attempts by consumers to secure refunds in these cases have been unsuccessful.
During an investigation by Nessel’s Corporate Oversight division, it was discovered that the hotels were being advertised through a tourism website owned and operated by individuals who also have equity interests in the entities operating the properties themselves.
The department has been working with lawyers representing the entities since February to reach this settlement, which will prevent further action by the department.
AVC was achieved with the following subjects:
- Enjo Properties LLC
- Jade Enterprises, Inc.
- Lieghio’s Hamilton Inn Select, Inc.
- Mackinaw City Chamber of Tourism, Inc.
- Mackinaw City Chamber of Tourism, Inc., d/b/a Jabber Hotel Travel Advisor
- Quality Features of Macknaw, Inc.
- Queen’s Properties, Inc.
The above entities do business as several hotels throughout Mackinaw City. The contract therefore also obliges the following properties:
- Crown Choice Inn & Suites Lakeview & Waterpark
- Beach house
- Bayside Hotel of Mackinac
- Bridge Vista Beach Hotel & Convention Center
- Bell’s Melody Motel
- Bridgeview Motel
- Budget Inn Mackinaw
- Mackinac Cabins
- Motel Capri
- Calrion Hotel Beach
- Comfort Inn Lakeside
- Days Inn Lakeview
- Fairview Beachfront Inn
- Hamilton Inn Select Beachfront
- Mackinaw Beach and Bay
- Northwinds Motel
- Best Western Plus Marina
- Quality Inn & Suites
- Ramada Inn Waterfront
- Starlite Budget Inn Mackinaw
- Super 8 Beachfront
- Super 8 Bridgeview
- Sunrise Beach Motel
- Thunderbird Inn
- Waterfront Inn
- Welcome Inn
Highlights of the agreement include:
- Hotels will no longer accept room reservations at hotels that are closed for the season, and if the room reservation cannot be fulfilled at another time, consumers are assured that they will be able to cancel and receive a refund.
- The tourism entity is required to remove the “Official Seal” from the website of the Chamber of Tourism and also to display a prominent disclaimer on each website that states: “This website and all hotels on this website are jointly owned by the 5th generation of a local family, which owned, developed and personally managed Mackinaw City hotels since 1955.
- Consumers will have 90 days to submit refund requests and are eligible for a 100% refund from the entities if they can provide proof of a fully paid reservation at one of the hotels that was closed for the season and the consumer was transferred to another hotel, starting January 1, 2017 .
- Consumers who filed complaints with the Department or the Better Business Bureau about being redirected to another hotel upon arrival starting January 1, 2017, through the February NIA release, are eligible for an additional $100 refund from the entities.
- Entities will be responsible for consumer payments up to a total of $25,000.
- In addition to consumer payments, the entities will pay $5,000 to the State of Michigan and $35,000 to the Michigan Strategic Fund.
“Our consumer protection team is working to ensure that residents and tourists to our great state can relax and enjoy their Northern Michigan vacation,” Nessel said. “I urge eligible consumers to contact us immediately to secure these refunds.”
Consumers who can document their experience booking at any of the above hotels while it was closed for the season from January 1, 2017 to the present, and who have not previously received a refund, may let us know that they wish to be considered for distribution under this Agreement by filing a consumer complaint online. Be sure to include the name of the hotel where the reservation was made. Our Consumer Protection team will then follow up by sending you a claim form which can be returned with copies of any supporting documents such as receipts and emails.
A copy of the contract is now available on the website of the Ministry of Public Prosecutions.
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