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State Cracks Down On Tourist "Sale" Scams

Alaska sues retailers for tourist "sale" scams

Sep 10, 2009

The state is cracking down on Southeast retailers who lure cruise-ship visitors with "blowout" sales and "everything must go" pitches.

The attorney general's office says the signs in Juneau, Ketchikan and other Southeast shops are misleading and violate retail advertising regulations. It has sued two jewelry store owners for displaying such signs when regular prices for the items did not exist.

"It's deceptive to the consumer because they think they're getting some sort of reduction when they're not," said Assistant Attorney General Cynthia Drinkwater.

"Sometimes stores will do what essentially becomes a continuous sale," she said. "If something is always on sale, then the sale price is the regular price."

The state wrote to store owners in tourist towns last year telling them that their advertising practices were in question, Drinkwater said. More letters followed when the state determined the signs were not removed.

One defendant, Bobby Jagtiani of Ketchikan, has jewelry stores in Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan. He agreed in May to pay a $50,000 fine. He said everyone puts up signs, so he feels like the state's "guinea pig."

The state's second case is against Jewelers International in Juneau. Owner Samuel Sengul said he would not comment because the case is pending.

One Juneau jeweler called the advertising of his competitors "a joke."

Alaska sues retailers for tourist "sale" scams
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