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Archive for May, 2012

Airline fees for seat selection pushing passenger to tipping point

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — For the past few years, airlines have hiked up fees for a variety of extras like early boarding and checked bags. Now they’re looking to charge for seat selection.

Several airlines are tacking on fees for select seats in coach, while some are charging passengers for assigned seats.

US Airways and American Airlines have started reserving more aisle and window seats for those willing to pay the fee, but that also makes it harder for friends and family to sit next to each other unless they shell out $25 or more each way.

ILM Airport Director Jon Rosborough says the rising cost in fuel is the main reason for the changes.

“Our passenger numbers are up 5.9 percent, and these fees have been on for some time now, for the last six to 12 months, and sooner or later there’s going to be a tipping point, and I think that’s what the airlines are seeing,” Rosborough said. “How much further can they go without turning away customers?”

The Associated Press reports the average domestic round trip ticket this summer is estimated at around $430. That’s three percent higher than last year.

Some passengers say if airlines keep tacking on the fees, they just won’t fly any more.

“‘National Lampoon’s Vacation’ style, and just pack up the family wagon and drive,” ILM passenger Zach Lehman said.

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Former Peak Fitness owner banned from business

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

RALEIGH, NC (NEWS RELEASE) — Jeff Stec, former owner of more than 20 Peak Fitness locations across North Carolina, is banned from the health club business for 12 years for repeatedly violating a state law that requires health clubs to maintain sufficient bonds, Attorney General Roy Cooper announced Tuesday.

“Consumers who’ve paid for a gym membership deserve a refund if their health club expires before their membership does,” Cooper said. “That’s exactly why these bonds are required and why we keep pressing to make sure health clubs have them.”

North Carolina law requires health clubs that sell pre-paid memberships to purchase an appropriate bond and file it with the Attorney General’s Office. If the club shuts down, the bond can be used to pay refunds to members.

Under terms of a consent judgment approved this week by North Carolina Superior Court Judge Robert H. Hobgood, Jeffrey R. Stec and his former Peak Fitness associates are banned from working in the health club business in North Carolina for 12 years. If Stec violates the ban, he will have to pay a $2 million penalty to the state.

At one time, Stec owned or operated Peak Fitness health clubs in Apex, Asheville, Cary, Chapel Hill, Charlotte, Clayton, Clemmons, Concord, Cornelius, Durham, Fuquay-Varina, Harrisburg, Garner, Knightdale, Lincolnton, Raleigh, Statesville, Wilmington, and Winston-Salem. Since 2006, Cooper’s office has received more than 700 complaints regarding Peak-related health clubs.

Cooper’s Consumer Protection Division first began investigating Stec and his health clubs in 2006 and filed a lawsuit against Stec in 2007 alleging that he failed to get proper bonds and committed other unfair and deceptive practices when operating the Peak health clubs. To resolve that lawsuit, Stec agreed, via a January 2009 consent judgment, to get proper bonds and make other changes to Peak Fitness’ business practices.

Later in 2009, Peak Fitness filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and its bonding company cancelled all of the clubs’ bonds. Around that time, Cooper’s office received sworn statements from Stec regarding health club bonds that significantly understated the outstanding liabilities of several Peak health clubs. Cooper’s office filed another lawsuit against Stec in May of 2009, alleging he violated North Carolina’s health club statute, and the prior Consent Judgment, by failing to maintain proper bonds. Today’s Consent Judgment resolves the second lawsuit against Stec and bans him from the health club business.

“We’ve been able to recover more than $1.3 million for hundreds of North Carolinians who were members of health clubs, gyms or dating clubs that shut their doors,” Cooper said. “If your health club closes down unexpectedly, let us know about it.”

Cooper encourages consumers to check out a health club thoroughly before signing any contract. If you have problems with your health club or want to check up on one before joining, contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at www.ncdoj.gov or toll-free at (877) 5-NO-SCAM.

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Ahrens named Principal of West Brunswick High

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

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Ceremony honors sacrifice of Merchant Marines in WWII

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A wreath and flowers were tossed into the Cape Fear River today in remembrance of the Merchant Marines who served during World War II.

Veterans say it’s important to hold ceremonies like this so that generations to come remember the sacrifices that were made to protect our freedom.

“I think about how fortunate I was to be in a combat zone and to return home in good health opposed to be carried back or being brought back in some other manner, and I thank God for that every day of my life,” Army veteran Frederick Johnson Sr. said.

Of the nearly 243,000 Merchant Marines who served during World War II, more than 9,500 died. It was the highest casualty rate of all the US services.

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Wild animals need care of experts

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

It is important to note that regulations in North Carolina forbid those unlicensed in wildlife handling from housing wild animals.

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