Somes operated businesses including TourBUSters, Club Impac, and Lids For Kids, among others. These businesses purported to offer motor coach tours to destinations around the Northeast United States and Canada. Somes also advertised that net profits from the tours would be donated to benefit children; the complaint alleges that that did not happen. Numerous consumers complained that after they made deposits, Somes would contact them saying that the tour had been cancelled. When the consumer requested a refund on their deposit, Somes would attempt to convince the consumer that for various reasons he could not give the refund or charge them a cancellation fee. Somes has exhibited this pattern over numerous years, prompting this action from the Attorney General to enjoin him from future similar business ventures. In the last several years the Attorney General’s Office has received 54 complaints from consumers seeking refunds of deposits paid to Somes. Of these 54, Somes has paid refunds to only 17 consumers.
“Mr. Somes took money from many elderly people who were looking forward to what might be their only vacation of the year,” said Attorney General Mills. “He pulled the rug out from under them by not only cancelling their plans, but also failing to provide timely refunds so they could make alternate arrangements. This is not how a reputable business operates. By bringing this action, we hope to discourage others from trying to do the same.”
The Attorney General is also seeking an accounting of how the consumers’ deposits were used and a disgorgement of any ill-gotten gains by Mr. Somes. Should the court find that his actions were intentional, the court could impose a $10,000 civil penalty for each violation. The civil complaint brought under Maine’s Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act was filed in Kennebec County Superior Court on February 29, 2016.
The Maine Office of the Attorney General is interested in hearing from any other consumers who may have had similar dealings with Mr. Somes. They are encouraged to contact the Office of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division.