Several TravelStar/JoyStar travel agents have filed a Chapter 7, involuntary petition for bankruptcy against TravelStar d/b/a JoyStar for unpaid commissions due them, according to Peter Slilphen, Coral Sands Travel. In an interview with Travel Agent, Stilphen reports that Drew Axelrod, an agent who claims to be owed over $35,000 by JoyStar, filed the petition on December 31, 2008 in the Southern District of Florida's United States Bankruptcy Court. (Case # 08-30191-RBR.) JoyStar will have 20 days after receipt of the petition to respond and the petition names 15 JoyStar agents claiming to be owed more than $150,000 in commissions since April 2008. Additional petitioners will be added after receipt of the court creditor declaration attesting to the amount owed them by JoyStar.
According to Stilphen, the travel agent group is asking the Bankruptcy Court to step in and take control of JoyStar's assets in hopes of eventually getting paid their commissions. Stilphen said Axelrod has a growing list of over 50 agents who claim to have not been paid their commissions. He hopes that other JoyStar agents will now come forward. It was felt that this action was necessary because no one has been able to contact JoyStar/TravelStar president and CEO William Alverson and there are concerns that JoyStar funds could be diverted in another direction, Stilphen said.
Axelrod, according to Stilphen, is asking the agents themselves and others in the travel industry to make a donation to the legal fund to defray upfront costs. “If sufficient assets are found the court will be asked that the legal fees be returned to those that have donated," Stilphen said. "As CEO of Coral Sands Travel and a strong advocate of the travel agent, I will contribute to this legal expense fund. I do hope other travel agents, my fellow host agencies, the organizations and suppliers will do the same.”
Checks should be made payable to the JoyStar Agents Legal Fund, according to Stilphen. C/O Drew Axelrod, 823 S.E. 18th Street, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33316 email: [email protected].
Stilphen, a staunch advocate of agents, urges all JoyStar travel agents who have legitimate claims for unpaid commissions should send details to Axelrod as soon as possible. Stilphen also urges a 5 percent contribution to the legal fund. “I doubt that creating chat rooms where you can call Alverson et al names and write about how much you have been hurt by this and filing small claims actions in your local court or just doing nothing will get your commissions paid,” Stilphen said. He also urged action by industry associations, suppliers and former TravelStar/JoyStar employees and shareholders to act. At press time neither Alverson or Axelrod were availible for comment.