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A06291 Summary:

BILL NOA06291
 
SAME ASNo Same As
 
SPONSORCrespo
 
COSPNSR
 
MLTSPNSR
 
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.
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A06291 Actions:

BILL NOA06291
 
03/02/2017referred to consumer affairs and protection
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A06291 Memo:

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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A06291 Text:



 
                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.
                                                                   LBD04415-02-7

        A. 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 than
    35  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.
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