12/08/2022

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Mackinaw City hotels accused of tricking guests into booking at closed hotels agree to stop, must give refunds

Mackinaw City hotels accused of tricking guests into booking at closed hotels agree to stop, must give refunds

The Mackinac Bridge (Photo by Amber Ainsworth/FOX 2)

Multiple Mackinaw City hotels accused of tricking travelers have agreed to stop the deceptive practice and issue refunds to customers. 

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel reached an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance (AVC) with entities doing business at more than 20 hotels and vacation rentals in the city. See a full list at the bottom of this article.

Mackinaw City hotel room swap scheme

These hotels were accused of booking rooms at closed hotels then moving customers to other hotels, while declining to issue refunds. Complaints about these alleged schemes led to an investigation.

Nessel issued a Notice of Intended Action (NIA) in February after investigating Beach House Hotel, Crown Choice Inn & Suites, and Hamilton Inn Select Beachfront.

According to the NIA, customers were able to book rooms for the closed hotels without knowing that the businesses were closed. When they arrived at the Mackinaw City hotels, they would discover that they were closed and be put in rooms that they didn’t select at other hotels.

MORE: Mackinaw City hotels trick customers into booking at closed hotels

Customers who were deceived were unable to get refunds because canceling would be outside the 72-hour cancellation policy.

“The refunds are denied even though the consumer was not made aware of the original hotel’s closure at any time prior to the consumer arriving in Mackinaw City,” the NIA stated.

During the investigation, one of the hotels was accused of moving a state agent who had booked a room at a hotel with waterparks to one with no waterparks. The hotel then refused to refund the agent, the NIA said.

He had booked this room through a website claiming to be the “Official Mackinaw City Chamber of Tourism.

Mackinaw City hotels, AG agreement

The hotels have agreed to stop taking reservations for rooms in hotels that are closed for the season. If reservations cannot be honored, customers will be able to cancel and receive a refund.

The tourism entity is required to remove the “official seal” from the Chamber of Tourism website and also include conspicuous disclaimers on each website stating, “This site and all the hotels on this site have common ownership by a 5th generation local family that has owned, developed, and personally managed Mackinaw City hotels since 1955.”   

Also, the entities must pay $5,000 to the State of Michigan and $35,000 to the Michigan Strategic Fund.

What impacted customers can do

Customers will have 90 days to submit claims for reimbursement and are eligible for 100% reimbursement by the entities if they can document a fully paid reservation at one of the hotels that was closed for the season, with them being transferred to a different hotel, since January 1, 2017.  

If you filed complaints with the Department of the Attorney General or Better Business Bureau about being directed to a different hotel when arriving from January 1, 2017, through the issuance of the NIA in February, you are eligible for an additional $100 reimbursement from the entities.  

The entities will be responsible for up to $25,000 total in consumer payments. 

Fill out a consumer complaint form to begin the reimbursement process. Make sure you include the name of the hotel where the reservation was made.

“Our Consumer Protection Team is working to ensure residents and tourists to our great state can relax and enjoy their northern Michigan vacations,” Nessel said. “I encourage eligible consumers to file with us right away to secure these reimbursements.”  

The AVC was reached with the following entities:  

  • Enjo Properties LLC  
  • Jade Enterprises, Inc.  
  • Lieghio’s Hamilton Inn Select, Inc.  
  • Mackinaw City Chamber of Tourism, Inc.  
  • Mackinaw City Chamber of Tourism, Inc., d/b/a Hotel Jabber Travel Advisor  
  • Quality Properties of Macknaw, Inc.  
  • Queen’s Properties, Inc.  

The above entities operate these hotels:

  • Crown Choice Inn & Suites Lakeview & Waterpark  
  • The Beach House  
  • Bayside Hotel of Mackinac  
  • Waterfront  
  • Bridge Vista Beach Hotel & Convention Center  
  • Bell’s Melody Motel  
  • Bridgeview Motel  
  • Budget Inn Mackinaw  
  • Cabins of Mackinac 
  • Capri Motel  
  • Calrion Hotel Beachfront  
  • Comfort Inn Lakeside  
  • Days Inn Lakeview  
  • Fairview Beachfront Inn  
  • Hamilton Inn Select Beachfront  
  • Mackinaw Beach & Bay  
  • Northwinds Motel  
  • Best Western Plus Dockside 
  • Quality Inn & Suites  
  • Ramada Inn Waterfront  
  • Starlite Budget Inn Mackinaw  
  • Super 8 Beachfront  
  • Super 8 Bridgeview  
  • Sunrise Beach Motel  
  • Thunderbird Inn  
  • Waterfront Inn  
  • Welcome Inn