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ASTA SAYS CONSUMERS ARE GETTING A BAD DEAL FROM AIRLINE PRICE-FIXING SETTLEMENT

 ASTA SAYS CONSUMERS ARE GETTING A BAD DEAL
 FROM AIRLINE PRICE-FIXING SETTLEMENT
 ALEXANDRIA, Va., Aug. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- "Confusing forms, the aggravation of searching for three- and four-year old receipts to verify past ticket purchases and the inconvenience of not being able to go through the normal distribution channels to redeem travel coupons, make the recently announced airline price-fixing settlement agreement a bad deal for consumers," said Philip Davidoff, CTC, president of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA).
 The price-fixing settlement agreement provides more than $400 million in discount coupons to be issued to the public. ASTA has filed papers opposing the settlement with the federal court in Atlanta, which is due to hold a hearing on Oct. 19 to determine whether the agreement is fair and adequate.
 Consumers are Baffled by Procedures
 "The claim forms that are being mailed to consumers defy the understanding of the average person," Davidoff said. "Thousands of people will probably not respond as a result. ASTA travel agents around the country are being inundated with calls from travelers who don't understand the terms of the agreement or what they need to do to make a claim.
 "Another deterrent consumers face is the record-searching aspect," Davidoff said. "How many people save airline ticket receipts for four and a half years? My guess is almost no one, which makes the agreement's fairness extremely doubtful."
 He said another disadvantage involves the principle of diminishing returns. "As more and more people file claims, there will be less and less available to each individual." Some experts say the highest valued coupon amount would only be around $10, which is hardly worth the aggravation and effort.
 Consumers who rely on the convenience of a travel agent to make the related arrangements that go along with air travel, such as hotel and car-rental reservations, will now face a more complicated process. "Even if consumers used a travel agent to book the original tickets that prompted the coupons, they will have to go directly to an airline to take advantage of the discount, Davidoff emphasized.
 ASTA has encouraged its travel agent members to keep clients informed of the status of the settlement. According to the terms of the agreement, claimants would have until Feb. 15, 1993, to submit their claims. Submitting claims earlier gives them no advantage.
 -0- 8/3/92
 /CONTACT: Nancy Gravatt or Emily Porter of the American Society of Travel Agents, 703-739-2782/ CO: American Society of Travel Agents ST: Virginia IN: AIR LEI SU:


DC -- DC011 -- 6117 08/03/92 11:45 EDT
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Date:Aug 3, 1992
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