|SAME AS||No Same As|
|Add §157-b, amd §159, Gen Bus L|
|Requires travel consultants to furnish written travel agreements to consumers; requires written and electronic disclosure of terms of such agreement at the time such agreement is entered into; increases penalties for relevant violations.|
|03/02/2017||referred to consumer affairs and protection|
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NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY
MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF LEGISLATION
submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
BILL NUMBER: A6291 SPONSOR: Crespo
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the general business law, in relation to travel agree- ments   PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF THE BILL: To require travel consultants to furnish written travel agreements to consumers.   SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS: Section 1 amends Article 10-A of the general business law by adding a new section 157-b requiring travel consultants to provide written or electronic disclosure of terms of purchase. Currently, only travel promoters are required to provide such disclosure. Section 2 amends subdivisions 1 and 2 of section 159 of the general business law by establishing a Class E felony when a travel agency caus- es a consumer financial loss of five thousand dollars or more. Section 3 amends subdivision 4 of section 159 of the general business law by allowing a court to impose a civil penalty based on the amount of financial loss to the consumer. Section 4 establishes the effective date.   JUSTIFICATION: Many consumers depend upon travel agencies to provide travel services. Yet, some travel agencies have taken advantage of the trust placed in them by consumers, especially consumers facing language barriers. The recent exploitation of hundreds of would-be travelers and their rela- tives in Chinatown resulted in losses totaling more than $1 million. Such depression cannot be tolerated. New York State law must provide greater protections against the fraudulent activities of dishonest trav- el agencies. The "Truth in Travel Act" was passed in 1974 to safeguard "the public against fraud, false advertising, misrepresentation and similar abuses." The law prohibited certain misleading practices by "travel consultants." In 1990, the law was amended to include "travel promoters" who are agents who directly solicit consumers and offer more comprehensive trav- el services such as time shares, travel clubs, etc. A violation of the "Truth in Travel Act," as the law exists today, may only qualify as a misdemeanor. This bill increases the penalty for violations of the "Truth in Travel Act" to a Class E Felony when finan- cial loss to consumer is $5,000 or more. In addition, the bill increases civil penalties related to violations of the law based on the amount of financial loss to the consumer. Travel agencies should be held responsi- ble when they cause high degrees of financial harm to consumers. Written disclosure detailing a transaction represents a critical piece of evidence that can protect consumers when disputes arise. By requiring promoters and consultants, rather than just promoters, to provide writ- ten disclosure, this bill seeks to ensure that consumers receive proof of purchase regardless of the type of travel agency worker with whom they contract. Moreover, requiring travel consultants to give written or electronic disclosure at the time of sale, ensures that the consumer knows the services they are buying at the time of purchase.   PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: A9079 of 2015 died in consumer affairs and protection. No prior legisla- tive history.   FISCAL IMPLICATIONS FOR STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT: None   EFFECTIVE DATE: Immediately.
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STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 6291 2017-2018 Regular Sessions IN ASSEMBLY March 2, 2017 ___________ Introduced by M. of A. CRESPO -- read once and referred to the Committee on Consumer Affairs and Protection AN ACT to amend the general business law, in relation to travel agree- ments The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assem- bly, do enact as follows: 1 Section 1. The general business law is amended by adding a new section 2 157-b to read as follows: 3 § 157-b. Additional prohibitive practices by travel consultants. A 4 travel consultant shall not receive payment for travel or services 5 connected therewith unless at the time or prior to the receipt of 6 payment, the travel consultant provides the purchaser with written or 7 electronic disclosure of the terms of the purchase. Such disclosure 8 shall clearly and conspicuously include: 9 1. the name, business address and telephone number of the travel 10 consultant; 11 2. the amount due, the date of payment, the purpose of the payment and 12 an itemized statement of the balance due, if any; 13 3. the name of the carrier with which the travel consultant has 14 contracted to provide the transportation, the type and size of carrier 15 to be used, and the date, time and place of each departure; 16 4. a detailed description of any other services provided in conjunc- 17 tion with the transportation; 18 5. conditions, if any, upon which the services between the travel 19 consultant and the traveler may be cancelled, and the rights and obli- 20 gations of all parties in the event of such cancellation; 21 6. the conditions, if any, upon which the agreement between the travel 22 consultant and the carrier or other service provider may be cancelled, 23 and the rights and obligations of all parties in the event of such 24 cancellation; and EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD04415-02-7A. 6291 2 1 7. a description of all contingencies, limitations and/or conditions 2 of the agreement. 3 § 2. Subdivisions 1 and 2 of section 159 of the general business law, 4 as amended by chapter 754 of the laws of 1990, are amended to read as 5 follows: 6 1. Except as otherwise provided by law, any travel consultant who 7 shall violate the terms of section one hundred fifty-eight of this arti- 8 cle shall be guilty of a misdemeanor provided, however, that where such 9 violation results in five thousand dollars or more of financial loss to 10 a consumer, such violation shall constitute a class E felony. 11 2. Except as otherwise provided by law, any travel promoter who shall 12 knowingly violate the terms of section one hundred fifty-eight-a of this 13 article shall be guilty of a misdemeanor provided, however, that where 14 such violation results in five thousand dollars or more of financial 15 loss to a consumer, such violation shall constitute a class E felony. 16 § 3. Subdivision 4 of section 159 of the general business law, as 17 added by chapter 754 of the laws of 1990, is amended to read as follows: 18 4. Enforcement; penalties. Whenever there shall be a violation of 19 section one hundred fifty-seven-a, one hundred fifty-seven-b, one 20 hundred fifty-eight or one hundred fifty-eight-a of this article, an 21 application may be made by the attorney general in the name of the 22 people of the state of New York to a court or justice having jurisdic- 23 tion by a special proceeding to issue an injunction, and upon notice to 24 the defendant of not less than five days, to enjoin and restrain the 25 continuance of such violations; and if it shall appear to the satisfac- 26 tion of the court or justice that the defendant has, in fact, violated 27 this article, an injunction may be issued by such court or justice, 28 enjoining and restraining any further violation, without requiring proof 29 that any person has, in fact, been injured or damaged thereby. In any 30 such proceeding, the court may make allowances to the attorney general 31 as provided in paragraph six of subdivision (a) of section eighty-three 32 hundred three of the civil practice law and rules, and direct restitu- 33 tion. Whenever the court shall determine that a violation of this arti- 34 cle has occurred, the court may impose a civil penalty [ of not more than35 five hundred dollars] based on the amount of financial loss to the 36 consumer whose agreement was the subject of such proceeding for each 37 violation. In connection with any such proposed application, the attor- 38 ney general is authorized to take proof and make a determination of the 39 relevant facts and to issue subpoenas in accordance with the civil prac- 40 tice law and rules. 41 § 4. This act shall take effect on the sixtieth day after it shall 42 have become a law and shall apply to all proceedings for violations of 43 article 10-A of the general business law beginning on and after such 44 effective date.