JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Shopping guides aboard cruise ships that come to Alaska have new rules to abide by, following complaints that they were misleading passengers and smearing local stores.
The state earlier this year agreed to a $200,000 settlement with the three Florida-based companies that put port lecturers on Alaska cruise ships, Onboard Media, Royal Media Partners and the PPI Group. The companies run shopping programs and pay cruise lines to have their employees — known as "port lecturers" — on board the ship, APRN reported (http://bit.ly/1bYp27Q). As part of the settlement, the companies did not have to admit any wrongdoing, but they did have to start requiring that port lecturers disclose they didn't work for cruise lines and are engaged in advertising.
The agreement also barred them from bashing stores that don't participate in the program or making misleading statements about sale prices and return policies.
Ed Sniffen, an assistant state attorney general who handles consumer protection issues, said local businesses had been upset, and passengers also were complaining that they were being ripped off.
"'Hey, I bought this diamond at this shop, and they told me that it was a two-karat something, and I paid $20,000 for it. When I got it back home and had it appraised, it was really only worth $5,000.' You know, some of those kinds of things," he said.
Though port lecturers are found on cruises around the world, Alaska is the first place to crack down on their employers.
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