e were holding back on our Outrage of
the Month award because some airlines still haven't been heard
from, but even though there are eight days to go, we're going to go
out on a limb and give April's trophy to California attorney Brian
This is the fellow who filed suit in California against 225
travel agents, and then put a page on his Web site (since removed)
that presumed to offer them legal advice on what they should do
about being sued. Ever helpful, Kindsvater advised the agents he
sued to send him an e-mail for a sample settlement agreement, which
would include "a monetary component."
For one travel agent interviewed by Travel Weekly, the word
"extortion" came to mind.
Kindsvater filed the suit on behalf of the Consumer Action League,
a heretofore unknown entity. He later told our reporter that the
league is not a "full-blown organization." The disappearing page on
his Web site said the league actually is an "individual person,"
whom he declined to name. He said, "It really doesn't matter who
the plaintiff is."
But it seems to us that it matters quite a bit who the plaintiff
is and what the plaintiff's motives are. Doesn't that help the
courts weed out frivolous lawsuits and lawsuits that abuse the
This lawsuit does not allege that Kindsvater or the league were
harmed by the alleged failure of any of these agents to meet
California's registration and disclosure regime for sellers of
The suit simply alleges that the agents either failed to
register or failed to disclose their registration number. Well,
maybe they did. Maybe they forgot. Maybe their Web pages were
attacked by viruses. Maybe they were going 45 in a 40 mph zone.
What do you do if you see 225 people going 45 in a 40 mph zone?
You could call a cop. Or you could file a lawsuit and then suggest
that the plaintiffs send you a check. Maybe it depends on whether
or not you regard law enforcement as an entrepreneurial activity.
• • •
The Hickory venture
ickory Travel Systems, which is
itself an ARC-accredited entity, is launching a venture that will
allow small agencies and work-at-home agents to queue their airline
business to the larger entity and share in its overrides and other
This program could take some of the sting out of airline
commission cuts for many small and single-person agencies, which is
why ARTA has embraced it as part of an ambitious project to bring a
range of new options to its members.
This kind of cooperation between the very big and the very small
is not uncommon, but it's not common enough, and for that reason
alone, we hope it gets a fair trial in the marketplace.