NASHVILLE, TN (THE TENNESSEAN)- Three Nashville residents who say a local vacation club took them for a ride have taken their complaints to a new destination: Davidson County Court.
In separate lawsuits filed on Tuesday, Molly Clark and Harry Whittaker and his wife accuse Big World Vacations, its principals and several affiliates of defrauding them out of thousands of dollars. A Nov. 7 court date has been set in both cases.
The suits are the latest salvos fired against Big World, which has been the target of multiple consumer complaints, leading the local Better Business Bureau to give the company an ‘F’ rating.
“This is an absolute scam operation,” said Brian Manookian, the Nashville attorney handling Clark’s and Whittaker’s cases against Big World. The company has had a storefront in the 2400 block of Music Valley Drive.
In the lawsuits, Clark and Whittaker say Big World offered them free airline tickets and other prizes if they attended a company sales presentation in the Music Valley Drive storefront. At the presentations, Big World promised they’d receive travel discounts if they enrolled in the club, the lawsuits say.
Whittaker paid $5,000 and Clark paid $4,693 for memberships, but say Big World failed to deliver the promised savings or refunds. Instead, all they got were a user name and password for Big World’s website and online reservation system — which actually were Travelocity’s, which Big World rebranded to make them appear as its own, the lawsuits say.
“In truth, Big World Vacations provides no service of value to its members,” the lawsuits say. “It is a classic high-pressure, front-end scam with vague assurances of discounts and no delivery.”
The suits also contend the company’s membership contract violates state consumer protection laws because it does not contain required disclosures, including the buyer’s right to cancel within three business days.
Clark and the Whittakers each are seeking triple damages plus attorneys’ fees from Big World and two of its principals: Peter D. Milana of Westin, Fla., its president; and Tammy Damron, a local real estate agent. Neither responded to emails and voice mails seeking comment on Tuesday.
The suits also name Royal Elite Vacations, a Williamsburg, Va.-based company that also operates as Grand Premier Vacations and Royal Elite Exchanges; Keith Kosco, its CEO; and Tina Williams, its president, as defendants.
They were included because they own and operate the “illusionary travel plan” that Big World was selling in Nashville, the suits say.
“I haven’t seen anything and I have no comment,” Kosco said when contacted Tuesday. Williams did not respond to emails.
BBB gives firm an ‘F’ The BBB of Middle Tennessee said it has received 30 complaints about the company in the past 14 months. About half of those complaints were resolved, but BBB gave the company an “F” rating because of a “pattern of complaints” alleging misleading advertising and poor customer service.
Big World also has operated as BTM Distributors, BMV and Cascadia Condominiums in an effort to hide its past, the two lawsuits contend.
Other consumers have filed complaints against Big World with the state Division of Consumer Affairs, which has forwarded those to the state attorney general’s office for review.
Source: The Tennessean