AG's office accuses Cumberland man of cheating customers

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CUMBERLAND — After filing a complaint against a Cumberland resident, State Attorney General Janet Mills hopes to hear from other consumers who had poor dealings with several Falmouth motor coach tour businesses.  

Mills last month filed an Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act complaint against Barry Somes of Cumberland, who allegedly took deposits from customers for motor coach tours but, when those tours failed to happen, did not issue them refunds, according to a March 3 press release from Mills’ office.

The complaint was filed Feb. 29 in Kennebec County Superior Court.

Somes reportedly operated Falmouth businesses such as TourBUSters, Lids for Kids, and Club Impac, which offered tours around the northeast U.S. and Canada.

“Somes also advertised that net profits from the tours would be donated to benefit children; the complaint alleges that did not happen,” the release states.

“Numerous consumers complained that after they made deposits, Somes would contact them saying that the tour had been cancelled,” it adds. “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 could not be reached for comment.

The attorney general’s office has received 54 complaints from customers seeking refunds of the deposits they paid Somes. He only gave 17 refunds of the total requested, according to the complaint.

“The Better Business Bureau has received 28 complaints and has given Defendants an F rating,” the complaint states. “Sometimes when Defendants cancel a tour, they offer consumers a 20% discount on a second tour, which is also cancelled.”

Somes continues to take advance deposits from new clients, while still owing refunds to existing customers, the complaint adds.

“Mr. Somes took money from many elderly people who were looking forward to what might be their only vacation of the year,” Mills said in the press release. “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 AG’s office seeks an account of how Somes used the deposits, as well as “a disgorgement of any ill-gotten gains by Somes,” the release states, noting that Somes could receive a $10,000 civil penalty for each violation should the court find his actions to have been intentional.

Other consumers who have had such dealings with Somes are asked to contact: Office of the Attorney General, Consumer Protection Division, State House Station 6, Augusta, ME, 04333-0006. They can also call (800) 436-2131 or email consumer.mediation@maine.gov.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

Janet Mills

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.