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Group Expels Time-Share Firm

June 02, 1996|CHRISTOPHER REYNOLDS

Vacation Break, a direct-mail vacation and time-share marketer that was profiled in an April 21 Travel section article ("Your Trip's in the Mail"), has been expelled from the American Society of Travel Agents.

ASTA officials said the expulsion, announced May 21, was prompted by the company's legal wranglings, which stem from alleged misrepresentations in marketing.

In January, Vacation Break USA Travel Agency signed a consent judgment brought by Idaho's Attorney General, who sought clarification of language used in mail solicitations. In addition, company officials have acknowledged that, within the last 17 months, state officials in Arizona and Virginia each levied fines against Vacation Break, accusing the firm or its independent representatives of misrepresentations in their sales pitches.

Vacation Break, based in Fort Lauderdale, publicizes its time-share projects and promotional vacations by mailing an estimated 300,00 or more unsolicited "vacation certificates" weekly.

Company officials said they regretted ASTA's action, and in a prepared statement Chairman Ralph P. Muller maintained that Vacation Break "has always followed the highest standards." The ASTA expulsion has no effect on the company's operations.

ASTA, the nation's largest and most influential travel trade association with 28,000 members, has expelled nine members since January, 1995, a spokesman said. Expelled companies can re-apply for membership in three years.

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