Complaints from Timaru people who booked a train trip to see Elton John perform in Dunedin, and ended up taking a bus, form part of the case which saw a Christchurch tour company in court.
Racing Tours and Promotions Australasia and its New Zealand director Roger Sutherland each faced 43 Fair Trading Act charges in Christchurch District Court this week.
While Sutherland was remanded without plea to November 8, his Timaru "customers" are not expecting to see their money any time soon.
The charges relate to last November's trip to Dunedin.
Commerce Commission spokeswoman Victoria Rogers said the commission received "quite a few" complaints about the trip.
The charges were loosely in three categories, relating to misrepresenting that a train trip was being offered through advertisements in newspapers including The Timaru Herald, the company's own website and faxes sent by the company. Some charges related to what was being referred to as the "celebration class" tickets which included drinks and beverages during the trip. Other charges involved undisclosed transaction fees allegedly charged.
Two Timaru woman who laid complaints with the commission, were happy charges had been laid.
Jill Pearce paid $700 for her "train" tickets, and opted not to go on the bus Sutherland provided.
She contacted him repeatedly about a refund and was eventually offered a $700 credit towards other trips he was running, but none proved suitable.
"His cellphone has been disconnected. I would love a contact number for him so I can call him at three o'clock in the morning when I am thinking about it. It really annoys me."
Even though charges have been laid, Mrs Pearse is not confident she will see her money, suspecting he will declare the company insolvent.
Temuka woman Lisa Wilkinson and friends paid $355 each for train and concert tickets, but when they learned the train was not running, they were told by Sutherland they could not get a refund for the train tickets, which cost $170 each.
They took the bus to the concert as they felt they had no other option as they had already paid, and still wanted to go to the show.
"I'm very, very pleased the charges have been laid. It was never really about the money at all. It was all about stopping him doing it to other people. He might finally think about what he has done."
- © Fairfax NZ News
Should the Star Trust GM be able to attend Timaru's meeting on synthetic cannabis?Related story: 'Legal, but it's not safe'