Shlachter, Nishimura & Baker
More complaints surface about sportstravel firm
Posted Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011
By Barry Shlachter, Scott Nishimura and Sandra Baker
Star-Telegram Staff Writers
Was it a"hiccup"? That's how the "official fan travel partner" of the Dallas Cowboys put it when some East Coast football fans didn't receive game tickets and dozens of others got a different hotel than promised for the mid-December weekend when the Cowboys took on the Redskins.
Ronni Sokol, owner of Maximum Sports Connection, insisted that it was a rare glitch. Sokol told us she would get make good on the lapse and then dispatched a batch of laudatory e-mails from past customers. But the incident seems less isolated today.
Since the Dec. 23 article ran, Jeff Fuller, general manager of Embassy Suites Outdoor World in Grapevine, told us that Maximum still hadn't paid a $31,500 bill for rooms in October.
And a Maryland travel agent, Betty McKenzie-Mabry, said Sokol has made good on refunds for only two of seven hotel and ticket packages costing $449 each that Maximum had failed to deliver, leaving the fans at home. "They are getting ready to sue me and her," McKenzie-Mabry said of her clients. "They said, 'Enough is enough.'"
Then we heard from two Auburn fans this week who said Maximum never came through with packages for the BCS National Championship in Glendale, Ariz., on Monday.
Michelle Robinson, an Auburn fan from Safe Harbor, Fla., said the firm contacted her less than a week before the game, saying there were no 50-yard-line tickets as contracted in a $3,317 hotel-and-ticket package. But if her party of four ponied up $2,495 more apiece, it might be able to scare some up, Robinson quoted Maximum as saying.
The group flew out to Phoenix anyway and dealt with a series of what Robinson called shady scalpers until it finally negotiated four tickets at less than $2,500 each, Robinson said. Meanwhile, she has disputed her charge to Maximum but has yet to hear whether she's been credited.
Atlanta resident Bill Moss, 41, another Auburn fan, said Sokol promised to reimburse airfare for fans who didn't go because she failed to secure tickets, something experienced by many other travel companies as demand outstripped supply.
And she promised to cover the cost of a Phoenix hotel room for Moss if he dropped his complaints to the Better Business Bureau and the Texas attorney general's office. Sokol blamed phone trouble for not paying by checkout time, requiring Moss to pay$455 out of his own pocket. But she promised by e-mail Tuesday evening that she would make good on her commitment, Moss said.Until she does, Moss said he has let his BBB complaint stand.
Sokol did not respond to our phone messages and e-mails in the past week. The Cowboys front office said it had never gotten any complaints about Sokol or her company, and Maximum has an enviable A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
Last edited by CowboyDan : 12-27-2012 at 11:26 AM.