BISMARCK, ND – An Oklahoma woman who sold time share vacations has been banned from conducting business in North Dakota. Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem issued a Cease & Desist Order against Diahann Cott of Miami, Oklahoma, dba Cheap Branson Fun, Christian Travel, and Galaxy Christian Ministry, for violations of North Dakota’s home solicitations sales law, consumer fraud laws and Do Not Call laws.
“Cott ignored the state’s Do Not Call laws and took advantage of unsuspecting consumers with her deceptive business practices,” said Stenehjem. “We continue to vigorously enforce North Dakota’s Do Not Call Law violations and it is particularly unfortunate when those violations are combined with fraudulent solicitations,” Stenehjem continued.
Cott made telephone solicitations offering cheap vacations opportunities to consumers if they first attended a timeshare seminar and paid a $99 attendance fee. The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection division initiated an investigation after receiving a complaint from an elderly individual whose number was registered on the Do Not Call list. He reported that he agreed to attend one of Cott’s timeshare seminars but when he changed his mind, Cott told him the fee was non-refundable and charged his credit card.
Investigators determined that in addition to making sales calls to numbers registered on the Do Not Call list, Cott did not provide consumers with the notice of cancellation required by law for home solicitation sales, or obtain a signed contract before charging the consumer’s credit card. When investigators contacted Cott by phone, she was both unapologetic and uncooperative. Cott ignored a formal Civil Investigative Demand and in a follow up call, told the investigator to “do what you’ve got to do.”
Parrell Grossman, director of the Consumer Protection division, reminded consumers that they have a three-day “right to cancel” that applies to purchases over $25 made away from a permanent place of business, such as a home party, door-to-door salesman, or services sold over the telephone.
“This right to cancel must be provided both orally and in writing, on the contract or receipt,” said Grossman. He explained that if a consumer cancels the transaction within the cancellation period, they either cannot be charged or the purchase price must be fully refunded. Consumers aged 65 or older have up to 15 days to cancel a purchase more than $50.