Following an investigation initiated earlier this year into complaints that hotel rooms were booked in some Mackinaw City hotels despite being closed, some operators have reached an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance as a result of the investigation.
The investigation deemed that the hotels were advertised through a tourism website that was owned and operated by people who also had ownership interests in the entities running the properties themselves.
Following is a full release from Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel on the findings of the investigation:
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has reached an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance (AVC) with the operators of several hotels and tourism groups around Mackinaw City 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 instances where consumers booked rooms at hotels that, while advertised as available and the reservations ultimately confirmed, were in fact closed without notice to the consumer. Additionally, attempts by consumers to secure refunds in those instances were unsuccessful.
During the investigation, conducted by Nessel’s Corporate Oversight Division, it was determined the hotels were advertised through a tourism website that was owned and operated by persons also having ownership interests in the entities running the properties themselves.
The Department has been working with the attorneys representing the entities since February to reach this amicable outcome, which avoids additional action by the Department.
The AVC was reached with the following entities:
- 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 Hotel Jabber Travel Advisor
- Quality Properties of Macknaw, Inc.
- Queen’s Properties, Inc.
The above entities conduct business as several hotels throughout Mackinaw City. Thus, the agreement also binds the following properties:
- Crown Choice Inn & Suites Lakeview & Waterpark
- The Beach House
- Bayside Hotel of Mackinac
- Bridge Vista Beach Hotel & Convention Center
- Bell’s Melody Motel
- Bridgeview Motel
- Budget Inn Mackinaw
- Cabins of Mackinac
- Capri Motel
- Calrion Hotel Beachfront
- Comfort Inn Lakeside
- Days Inn Lakeview
- Fairview Beachfront Inn
- Hamilton Inn Select Beachfront
- Mackinaw Beach & Bay
- Northwinds Motel
- Best Western Plus Dockside
- 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
Some of the highlights of the agreement include:
- The hotels will no longer take reservations for rooms in hotels that are closed for the season and when a room reservation cannot be fulfilled at other times, assurances are given consumers will have ability to cancel and obtain a refund.
- The tourism entity is required to remove the “official seal” from the Chamber of Tourism website and also include conspicuous disclaimers on each website stating, “This site and all the hotels on this site have common ownership by a 5th generation local family that has owned, developed, and personally managed Mackinaw City hotels since 1955.”
- Consumers will have 90 days to submit claims for reimbursement and are eligible for 100% reimbursement by the entities if they can document a fully paid reservation at one of the hotels that was closed for the season, with the consumer being transferred to a different hotel, since Jan. 1, 2017.
- Consumers who filed complaints with the Department or Better Business Bureau about being directed to a different hotel when arriving from Jan. 1, 2017, through the issuance of the NIA in February are eligible for an additional $100 reimbursement from the entities.
- The entities will be responsible for up to $25,000 total in consumer payments.
- 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 residents and tourists to our great state can relax and enjoy their northern Michigan vacations,” Nessel said. “I encourage eligible consumers to file with us right away to secure these reimbursements.”
Consumers who can document their experience with a reservation at one of the above-listed hotels during a time when it was closed for the season from January 1, 2017 through the present, who did not previously get a refund, may let us know they wish to be considered for a distribution under this agreement by filing a consumer complaint online. Be sure to state the name of the hotel at which the reservation was made. Our Consumer Protection Team will then follow up by sending a claim form that can be returned with copies of any supporting documents, such as receipts and emails.