Worst Dallas Contractors of 2010

Randall Reed's Prestige Ford Lincoln Mercury | Garland, Texas

For at least three years, Prestige Ford Lincoln Mercury on South Shiloh Road in Garland defrauded customers by selling or offering to sell more than 400 used vehicles with false emissions stickers, according to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott. The practice, called "clean scanning," involves attaching emissions-testing equipment to one vehicle but issuing the sticker to another. The sticker means the vehicle emits acceptable levels of hydrocarbon, carbon monoxide and other noxious gases.

Abbott filed a civil lawsuit in May, accusing the company of violating the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. That same month, Prestige agreed to pay $227,000 in civil penalties, $15,000 in court costs and to train used-car employees, managers and emissions-testing workers on proper testing procedures. The company has paid all fees.

Randall Reed bought the dealership in mid-2007 and says he fired the employees involved in September 2009 when the AG's office made him aware they had violated the law. "Not only did we immediately terminate the employees who were responsible, we made sure that policies were put into place to ensure that it could not happen again," he says.

Reed says people who bought used cars from Prestige between June 2007 and September 2009 may receive a free state inspection.

Royal Palms Travel/All Inclusive Excursions | Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas

Texans spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on "worthless" SeaLand Travel Club memberships sold by a company doing business by several names, including Royal Palms Travel, which operated as All Inclusive Excursions in Dallas and Fort Worth, says Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.

He filed a civil suit in March accusing the travel agency of using misleading, high-pressure and illegal sales tactics to defraud people. Abbott says the company deceived customers with a multitude of names, which also included Travel Services Inc. and Funseekers Vacations. Club memberships cost $2,000 to $8,000 each, but the travel packages "were no more discounted than ordinary prices quoted on the Internet," Abbott says.

The AG reached an agreement in August with Royal Palms and manager Adrian D. Miller of Grapevine, Texas. It includes $30,000 in restitution to victims, $100,000 to the state's general fund and $20,000 in legal fees. It also acknowledges the company's refund of more than $300,000 to unhappy customers.

The company also must follow the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Royal Palms and Miller did not admit wrongdoing. The attorney general filed a second suit in September with similar allegations but directed at Travel Services/Funseekers Vacations and principals, William H. Bailey and Christy Spensberger, both of Litchfield, Ill.

Messages left for Miller, Bailey and Spensberger were not returned.

ATVDiscounter | Dallas

Angie's List member Barbara Sollberger says the $2,500 "new" motorcycle she purchased from ATVDiscounter had a cracked cast-iron motor, burn marks around the motor casing, loose bolts and light problems. "My husband and I were afraid to drive it," she says.

The Midlothian resident says she returned the motorcycle for repairs in late 2009 to ATVDiscounters. "They are very unscrupulous," she says.

Sollberger is one of 67 consumers in 38 states who complained about the company to the state attorney general, who sued ATVDiscounter owners Sheri Lynn Barling, 36, and Glen Mark Barling, 57, in February for violating the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. The Barlings settled in July, agreeing to pay $100,000 in restitution.

Texas Secretary of State records indicate the business is dissolved. ATVDiscounter's attorney, Rick Guzman, did not return calls.

— by Matthew Brady and Nick McLain


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