Attorney General Bill McCollum filed a lawsuit against a Broward County cruise ship company for failing to adequately disclose fuel surcharge fees. According to the lawsuit, Imperial Majesty Cruise Line LLC has collected approximately $4m in fuel surcharges from late 2006 to present.
The company, which offers two-day cruises to the Bahamas, is also accused of falsely representing those fees as governmental taxes or fees. An investigation conducted by the Attorney General’s Economic Crimes Division determined the company’s web site informs consumers that a “fuel/security” surcharge will be added to their onboard account “…only if (they) have not paid the governmental taxes and fees at the time of booking.”
Consumer complaints indicated that when travelers arrived to board the ship they were charged the surcharge, even though it was not, in any way, mandated by any governmental entity. Many consumers first learned of the $20-$30 surcharge only when they arrived to embark on their cruise.
The lawsuit follows agreements reached this spring with other cruise line companies after the Economic Crimes Division received several hundred complaints from around the country about the entire cruise line industry, alleging cruise lines were retroactively charging a fuel supplement charge after cruises had been booked and deposits had been made by consumers. In addition to investigating the manner in which the charges were disclosed, the Attorney General’s Office also looked into whether or not the charges violated an agreement from 1997.
(Source: Office of the Attorney General of Florida)