Golf fan says AmEx bait-and-switch left Ryder Cup trip below par

David Yates Nov. 6, 2007, 10:00am

Clontarf Castle Hotel, Dublin

Burned by what he claims was a bait-and-switch ploy by his credit card company, Tommy Vance Vaccarrello is suing the American Express Co. for a trip to the Ryder Cup that fell below par.

Vaccarrello claims American Express offered its cardholders an all-access trip to the 2006 Ryder Cup and then switched the package amenities once the trip was purchased.

Vaccarrello's deceptive trade practices suit was filed with the Jefferson County District Court on Nov. 5.

According to his petition, in May 2006, American Express offered its cardholders a trip to attend the 2006 Ryder Cup being held in Dublin, Ireland. The Ryder Cup Matches are a biennial golf tournament featuring the best of the U.S. players against the best in Europe.

The trip package that Vaccarrello claims he purchased offered International Pavilion tickets to the opening ceremony, three days of Ryder Cup matches, a closing dinner, on-site K Club hospitality and meals, play at the Royal Dublin Golf Club and five nights at the Clontarf Castle Hotel.

Vaccarrello accepted the offer and purchased the trip for himself and his wife for the sum of $10,878, not including the cost of airfare, the suit said.

"Only after reserving the non-refundable package, plaintiff learned that the hotel had been unilaterally changed to the Dublin Hilton by Defendant," the suit said. "The amenities the package purportedly provided, including International Pavilion passes for the opening ceremony and Ryder Cup matches, cocktail party, Ryder Cup preview with a former Ryder Cup player or television commentator, golf at the Royal Dublin Golf Club, etc., were not provided or available."

Vaccarrello contends that American Express engaged in false and misleading and acts that violate the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices - Consumer Protection Act.

The alleged violations are listed as follows:
- Represented that goods or services have sponsorship, approval, characteristics, ingredients, uses, benefits, or quantities, which they do not have or that a person has a sponsorship, approval, status, affiliation, or connection, which he does not;
- Represented that goods or services are of a particular standard, quality, or grade, or that goods are of a particular style or model, if they are of another;
- Advertised goods or services with intent not to sell them as advertised;
- And failed to disclose information concerning goods or services.

Vaccarrello further alleges in his suit that American Express is guilty of breach of warranty, common law fraud, negligence, misrepresentation, and breach of contract.

He is suing for economic and actual damages, plus mental anguish and all court costs.

Vaccarrello is demanding a trial by jury and is represented by attorney Adam Terrell of the Weller, Green, Toups & Terrell law firm.

Judge Donald Floyd, 172nd Judicial District, has been assigned to the case.

Case No. E180-716

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