FAIRFAX, Va. -- Travel agent arbiter William McGee refused to
lift liability from a Miami agency that received more than $100,000
in debit memos from airlines that honored some of the 2,000 tickets
stolen from the firm. McGee ruled that the agency, Multi-Travel
& Tour Inc., could not be relieved of liability to pay for the
debit memos because its ticket security was "a very low
Two full boxes, each containing 1,000 automated ticket and
boarding pass (ATB) coupons, were taken, evidently by shoplifters.
Based on the agency's own testimony, its entire supply of ticket
stock always had been kept on the premises, which McGee described
as a perpetual violation of the Airlines Reporting Corp.'s "most
basic" security rule.
At the time of the theft, both full boxes of tickets were left
"out in the open," which he said "was indeed a major causative
The agency had one printer and therefore was allowed to keep one
spare box locked up on the premises; the excess box should have
been stored in a bank box or other off-premise security
The boxes evidently were stolen last Sept. 27 by two men and a
woman posing as walk-in customers, according to McGee's decision.
The men feigned interest in fares, while the woman looked at
brochures. At one point, the woman dropped some brochures as an
apparent distraction, and the trio left.
Earlier that day, an employee (now the owner) had taken the
boxes out of the safe to audit the ticket inventory in order to
prepare an ownership change application to ARC. She had placed one
box on the floor under the printer because the feed roll was
getting low. When the three visitors came in, she put the other box
behind the printer to get it out of the way.
The printer could be seen from the front door, and the brochure
rack that attracted the woman was near the printer. McGee called it
"a glaringly dangerous office setting," adding that "neither box
was noticed to be missing for hours afterward."
In separate news, McGee has produced a CD-ROM containing all of
the nearly 4,000 decisions that he has made since 1988, when the
office was created, through 1996. The price is $495 for those who
pay now, which includes a free CD-ROM later this year containing
the arbiter's 1997 decisions. The price is $550 for those who wait
for the complete 1988-1997 version.
The arbiter also said he is exploring the idea of establishing a
Web site and posting his decisions on it. For information,
interested firms can call (703) 847-9427.