Background for this Legal Action about Judicial Corruption — 2005

This legal action is best understood with some background.  

Alcatraz and Maid of the Mist Enter Into Contract in March 2005

On March 3, 2005, Maid entered into an oral agreement with Alcatraz to allow Alcatraz to purchase tickets for the boat ride at Niagara Falls from Maid at a discounted rate for the entire 2005 season (April to October).

The terms of the oral contract were specific.

The period for the oral contract was less than a year.

It was a binding oral contract under Georgian law.

Carlson entered into the contract with Alcatraz on March 3, 2005.

Carlson made the agreement with Windsor.

Carlson made the agreement with Carolyn Ballard Bazzo (“Bazzo”).

Carlson sent faxes to both Windsor and Bazzo following the telephone conversations of March 3, 2005.

Maid agreed to provide Certificates of Insurance naming Alcatraz as additional insured, and Maid did.

Maid agreed to provide information for Alcatraz to use on its web sites, and they did.

Alcatraz agreed to submit a voucher (E-Ticket) for Maid’s approval, and Alcatraz did.

Maid approved the voucher.

The approval of the voucher was the final obligation agreed to when the contract was entered into on March 3, 2005.

Alcatraz advertised for Maid of the Mist boat tours at Alcatraz’s website  Alcatraz advertised for various tours in the Niagara Falls area, as well as for tours in Canada, New York and in others cities in the Northeast.  This web site did not represent that it was sponsored by Maid.  Rather, it expressly represented that it was run by Alcatraz.  Alcatraz has also used additional web sites to promote its 74 different Niagara Falls tours and activities and its 17 tours that include a Maid of the Mist ticket.

Alcatraz began generating excellent sales for Maid of the Mist in March 2005.

It still took a long time and a lot of hassles to get the informationn needed from Sandra Carlson, but it finally was resolved in early April.

Background for this Legal Action about Judicial Corruption — 2004

This legfal action is best understood with some background.  


Alcatraz is an Atlanta, Georgia-based booking service – a seller of destination tours and activities, with agreements to purchase from over 2,000 companies across the United States as well as in Canada, Mexico, and in many countries worldwide.  Alcatraz also provides charter transportation services, bus rentals, boat rentals, limo rentals; and provides group tour and group event services.  Alcatraz is also a licensed Georgia ticket broker, though this is a tiny part of the business.  Alcatraz offers customers the convenience of finding detailed information regarding a variety of destination tours and activities and purchasing these tours and activities over the internet or over the telephone in advance.  Customers receive E-Tickets (or vouchers) that are redeemed at a designated location for the tour, tourist attraction, or activity.

Alcatraz competes with Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity, and Priceline as well as other online travel services.

Upon information and belief, Alcatraz is the largest destination tour and activity seller in the world.  Alcatraz has sold over 10,000 different tours and activities available to it at wholesale rates from over 2,000 suppliers.  Alcatraz believes it is actually larger than travel giants Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity, and Priceline in the destination tour and activity segment of the travel business.  Alcatraz has approximately two million customers.

Alcatraz is a rather unique business due to the variety of products sold.  In most cases, Alcatraz buys at wholesale rates, adds its profit margin, incorporates its own services, and promotes to customers at Alcatraz’s own rates.  Alcatraz pays the wholesale rate and generates a profit if it prices the product correctly and manages its overhead properly.  Alcatraz simply calculates its net expense, adds its profit margin, and then quotes a rate to the customer.  Alcatraz does not work on commission.  Alcatraz does not act as an agent for any supplier.  Alcatraz states in its Terms that its rates include a booking fee or service charge.  Alcatraz states this so customers will understand why Alcatraz’s rates are usually higher than the rates charged by Alcatraz’s suppliers.  Most of Alcatraz’s competitors make no such disclosure.  Alcatraz asks every supplier to give 25% so Alcatraz can sell at essentially the same price as the supplier.  If a supplier will not give 25%, Alcatraz has to charge more because Alcatraz loses money unless it has at least a 25% margin.

Alcatraz offers many benefits to its customers.  Alcatraz promotes worldwide offering tours and activities in almost every US state and Canadian province as well as all around the world.  Alcatraz usually offers the largest assortment of tours and activities in the markets it serves, and Alcatraz provides convenience and one-stop shopping for its customers.

Customers can contact Alcatraz or make reservations 24 hours a day, every day of the year, either online or by telephone.  Very few of Alcatraz’s suppliers are open from 8 am to 10 pm every day of the year.  Alcatraz provides simple one-stop shopping for travelers’ vacation and leisure needs, while most suppliers offer only the small number of tours and activities that they operate themselves.  Customers can plan and purchase all of their vacation needs from Alcatraz.

Alcatraz spends millions of dollars on advertising and provides travel and tour information and customer service to millions of people annually for free.  Alcatraz only gets paid when a customer decides to purchase booking services from Alcatraz.  Alcatraz offers excellent customer service with over 2,000 web sites and a large staff.  Alcatraz has approximately 1,000 toll-free numbers as well as local numbers in many markets so it does not cost anyone anything to call Alcatraz for more information.  These no-cost phone numbers are available to anyone – not just customers.  Alcatraz endeavors to provide the answers to most questions customers ask in the descriptions that Alcatraz provides for each tour and activity online.  Alcatraz also has an automated telephone system that enables customers to obtain basic information 24-hours-a-day.  Every page on every web site has two links that enable customers to email Alcatraz with their questions and needs, and toll-free telephone numbers are shown several times on each page.

Alcatraz has a large staff of well-trained Reservations Agents, and their job is to provide free information to anyone who calls or emails.  Reservations Agents are available by phone from 8 am to 10 pm every day of the year.  Customers are given toll-free numbers to reach Alcatraz’s Reservations Agents as well as local numbers and toll-free numbers to reach the tour operators.

Customers use Alcatraz web sites to learn about tours and activities that they would have never known about otherwise.  Alcatraz enables customers to make reservations before they travel.  This enables customers to have the assurance that they will have reservations to do the things they want to do.  Alcatraz enables customers to get guaranteed reservations for tours and activities that often sell out.  Customers avoid sold-out situations by using Alcatraz.

Alcatraz enables customers to pay in advance by MasterCard, VISA, Discover, American Express, wire transfer, or check, while many tour operators do not offer all of these options.  Alcatraz offers the ability for customers to obtain their tickets from any computer anywhere in the world with an internet connection.

Alcatraz provides a free travel planning service for its customers.  Alcatraz enables customers to use its computer system as a vacation planner, and customers may set up free accounts to track their plans and save their basic information as a time-saver when using the system in the future.  With Alcatraz, there is no such thing as a lost ticket as Alcatraz maintains a copy of the ticket on its web servers so tickets may be accessed at any time from any computer anywhere in the world with an Internet connection.

Customers receive E-Tickets (or vouchers) that are redeemed at a designated location for the tour, tourist attraction, or activity.  Like most retailers, Alcatraz charges fees for its services that are factored in along with supplier costs when Alcatraz’s retail prices are calculated and set.

Today, Alcatraz is a significant business headquartered at 8200 Roberts Drive, Suite 205, Atlanta, Georgia 30350.

Alcatraz provides extensive travel and vacation information on its network of approximately 2,400 web sites and by way of approximately 1,000 incoming toll-free telephone numbers.  Each web site offers a variety of tours and activities in a particular market as well as links to other markets that may be of interest to vacationers.

Alcatraz and Maid of the Mist Make Contact

Alcatraz contacted Maid ofn the Mist in June 2004 about a business relationship.  Carolyn Ballard Bazzo made the contact for Alcatraz, and she dealt with Sandra Carlson, Assistant Controller of Maid of the Mist.  Carlson was based in Niagara Falls, Ontario.

Alcatraz had problems with Maid of the Mist from the very beginning because Sandra Carlson rarely did what she said she was going to do, and she had trouble even receiving normal emails and faxes.

Since Carlson failed to do what she pronised in 2004, Alcatraz was unable to begin selling for Maid of the Mist in 200.  Alcatraz had been, however, selling Maid of the Mist through tour operators in Niagara Falls since 2003.

Alcatraz had its largest growth in terms of nunmber of markets served and tours sold between 2004 and 2006.

Background for this Legal Action about Judicial Corruption — 2001

This legfal action is best understood with some background.  

When Alcatraz Media added a toll-free number in 2001, the phone started “ringing off the hook.”  Much to my son’s chagrin, the callers were not interested in Internet services; they wanted tickets to Alcatraz. There apparently were no companies named Alcatraz listed with directory assistance in San Francisco, because Ryan was told that when people called directory assistance for a number for “Alcatraz,” the operators would apparently say the only listing they had was a toll-free number for “Alcatraz Media.” Many would then call the toll-free number to reach my son.

My son was the only employee, and every incoming call rang to his cell phone.  After many days telling people that Alcatraz Media offered email service, web hosting, and web design, and didn’t sell Alcatraz tickets, and after many hundreds of dollars in toll-free telephone bills, my son seriously considered changing the company’s name.  The other option was to begin to sell Alcatraz tours.  This was a joke when first discussed, but after getting the toll-free telephone bill and realizing how many calls he was getting, my son thought it might make sense to try to capitalize on this accident.  So, he began selling tours to Alcatraz Penitentiary in San Francisco in 2001.

Soon after launching the Alcatraz/San Francisco website late in 2001, my sonan felt it would be wise to diversify so Alcatraz Media would not be totally dependent upon one market.  Tours and activities were added in Hollywood, Los Angeles, San Diego, Seattle, Orlando, and a few other markets in 2003.

The Company was largely a two-person operation (a computer person and my son) until the summer of 2003.  Alcatraz opened its first real office in April 2004 when the first employees were hired.  Prior to that time, the business was a virtual company with a few independent contract workers scattered around the country.

From September 2003 through March 2004, the business operated with a telephone system installed in our garage in Atlanta Georgia.  My wife and brother handled the calls.  A small office was finally opened in Norcross Georgia in April 2004.  Alcatraz moved to a larger space less than a year later.  Atlanta was chosen because family was here to help, and the cost of an office and staff in San Francisco was cost-prohibitive for a business such as this that works on a very small net profit margin.

A major expansion was undertaken in 2004 and 2005.  By the close of 2005, Alcatraz had achieved most of its North American territorial expansion goals with operations in 215 cities in all 50 states and most of the Canadian provinces.

Total revenues for the business were less than $60,000 in 2001 but grew to tens of millions of dollars by 2008.