Alamo, National Accuse Orbitz of Consumer Deception, Breach of Contract

Alamo Rent A Car and National Car Rental have filed a lawsuit against Orbitz Worldwide, Inc. The lawsuit claims that Orbitz is willfully violating its online listing agreement and is thereby misleading consumers and inflicting millions of dollars in damage on Alamo’s and National’s business, according to a press statement issued today by the Taylor family, owners of Alamo and National.

The lawsuit – filed April 25 in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Ill. – states that Orbitz inappropriately demanded a $1.5 million payment not required by their joint online listing agreement, which runs through Dec. 31, 2008. The lawsuit also states that when the owners of Alamo and National refused to make the additional payment, Orbitz retaliated and deliberately violated its contract by removing both Alamo and National from its main Rental Car Matrix.

“This isn’t just about Orbitz deliberately violating its contracts with Alamo and National – it’s also about violating the trust of consumers,” said Greg Stubblefield, president of Alamo Rent A Car and National Car Rental. “We hope this lawsuit sends a powerful message that our company and our industry won’t tolerate this kind of conduct.” The lawsuit accuses Orbitz of breach of contract, intentional interference with prospective business relationships, consumer deception, deceptive trade practices and unfair competition.

Alamo estimates that this breach of contract by Orbitz could cost the company more than $27 million in revenues through the remainder of 2008, according to the press statement.

In the lawsuit, Alamo and National asked the court for a temporary restraining order, a preliminary injunction and a permanent injunction, specific performance damages, punitive damages and attorneys’ fees. Alamo and National became charter members of the Orbitz matrix when Orbitz was launched in 2001. Alamo and National are operated by Vanguard Car Rental USA Inc., which was acquired by Enterprise Rent-A-Car last year. Orbitz says the lawsuit lacks merit.

“Vanguard is apparently upset with the way that Orbitz sorts its search results, which provides Orbitz’ customers with valued rental car choices,” says Brian Hoyt, Orbitz spokesperson in a prepared statement. “The bottom line is that Vanguard is trying to use a lawsuit to get a sorting result from Orbitz that Vanguard and Orbitz did not agree to.”

“In short, Vanguard is trying to use its lawsuit to get something for nothing,” Hoyt says. “Orbitz will vigorously defend itself against Vanguard's claim.”

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