Date set for tour promoter to plead

19:18, Nov 12 2012

The Christchurch man behind a train trip that never happened, must plead to 43 Fair Trading Act charges on December 20.

Racing Tours and Promotions Australasia's New Zealand director, Roger Sutherland, appeared in Christchurch District Court last Thursday and the judge remanded him to December 20 to enter pleas on that date.

Complaints from Timaru people who booked a train trip to see Elton John perform in Dunedin last November form part of the case against Sutherland.

The train trip became a bus trip. Some of those who had booked train tickets opted not to go by bus, but were still to receive the hundreds of dollars of refunds they are owed.

The Commerce Commission received complaints about the Dunedin trip. The charges are loosely in three categories, relating to misrepresenting that a train trip was being offered through advertisements in newspapers including the Timaru Herald, the tour company's own website and faxes sent by the company. Some charges relate to the "celebration class" tickets, which included drinks and beverages during the trip. Others involved undisclosed transaction fees allegedly charged.

If Mr Sutherland pleads not guilty on December 20, a date for a defended hearing will be set, probably next year. If he pleads guilty, then a date will be set for his sentencing.


The Timaru Herald