Sunday 15 September, 2019

Sandals calls class action lawsuit 'baseless'

A class action lawsuit filed against the Caribbean based luxury hotel, Sandals, alleging tax fraud has been described by the company as “baseless”.  

The lawsuit was filed by the Miami firm Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. against Sandals in the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida. The suit claims Sandals “engaged in deceptive business practices for many years, having marketed all-inclusive packages to customers that include all taxes”. 

It also claims that the resort overcharged for the packages and they concealed the fact that a portion of the tax fees collected from customers were mislabeled in the package as a “tax” payment. It is alleged the resort retained the excess charges as a means of enhancing profits.  

The claim details that, 

“Sandals presented the charges to their guests in an unfair and deceptive manner by labelling the excess charges at-issue as a 12 percent accommodation tax that was to be paid to the government. In reality, however, Sandals had entered into an undisclosed agreement with the governments of Turks and Caicos Islands (and other Caribbean governments in countries where Sandals operated resorts) to retain a significant portion of the intended taxes.” 

Sandals released a statement refuting the claims as “categorically false” and said the company is “the biggest economic contributor and taxpayer”.  

“Our operations in all territories have been subject to regular audits that have, without exception, always delivered clean reports. We have never imposed unlawful and inappropriate charges on our guests and will not cower to false tactics that claim otherwise. Class action lawsuits are often intended to coerce a company into settlement to avoid high litigation costs and negative publicity.”  

Sandals said they intend to “fight this lawsuit to the end” to clear the company’s name.  

“In this digital age – when anybody can say anything, however untrue – trust and track record remain paramount. Our reputation and relationships with our valued guests are four decades in the making, which is why our guests continue to put their faith in us, year after year.” 

The lawsuit is filed on behalf of current and former guests who have stayed at resorts throughout the Caribbean prior to 2017.  

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