Crime & Courts

Anchorage RV rental company ordered to pay $110,000 over unfair treatment of tourists

An Anchorage RV rental company was ordered by a judge to pay $110,000 over unfair and deceptive business practices, the Alaska Department of Law announced this week.

The state attorney general’s office filed the civil action against Alaska Motor Home Inc. in 2019. According to a complaint filed by the state at the time, the company’s owners took advantage of dozens of tourists traveling from out of state in 2017 and 2018, charging exorbitant fees or canceling on short notice to rent vehicles to customers willing to pay higher prices.

The company, owned by Peter and Cole Harkovitch, made it intentionally difficult for customers to receive refunds for a canceled deposit, charged excess taxes, gave customers gift cards in exchange for favorable reviews, added contractual penalties for negative reviews, advertised newer RVs but provided older models, concealed the terms and conditions until customers had paid for reservations, and added charges for damage that was caused before or after the customer’s rental period, according to the complaint.

The practices violated the state’s Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act.

A Superior Court judge in Anchorage imposed the judgment after a settlement agreement, according to a statement from the Department of Law.

Attorney General Treg Taylor said in an emailed statement that Alaska has a reputation for being a tourist destination and the “settlement sends a strong message that we will not allow unscrupulous companies to take advantage of tourists through unfair business practices.”

Attorney Jeffrey Robinson, who represented the RV company, denied in an interview that the owners intentionally violated trade practices or harmed consumers. He said an “overwhelming majority of customers that have done business with my client had positive experiences.”

“I truly believe that my client acted aboveboard in good faith to the best of their ability,” he said. “But there were some growing pains in the initial years, they worked out those kinks and were incredibly honest about areas where they needed improvement.”

According to the Better Business Bureau, 16 complaints have been filed against the company in the last three years. Peter Harkovitch owned B&B RV Rental prior to Alaska Motor Home Inc., the state’s complaint said. That business closed in 2017 and Alaska Motor Home Inc. was opened the same year.

A news story from 2014 highlighted a series of similar complaints against the original company.

[Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that prosecutors filed the civil action against Alaska Motor Homes Inc. It was filed by the state attorney general’s office.]

Tess Williams

Tess Williams is a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News, focusing on breaking news. Before joining the ADN in 2019, she was a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota and previously helped cover the Nebraska Legislature for The Associated Press. Contact her at twilliams@adn.com.

Sponsored