BELLEVUE, Wash., Sept. 25, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- While more and more frustrated consumers file formal complaints against timeshare developers and come forward to tell their stories in new ways, the Coalition to Reform Timeshare (CRT) continues to advocate for a Timeshare Bill of Rights that will protect the rights of more than 9 million timeshare owners in the U.S.
A flurry of recent U.S.-based lawsuits allege that timeshare consumers have been subjected to fraud, deception and preying on the elderly, along with violations of local, state and federal regulations.
"Between the increasing formal complaints that have been filed and the ones we're seeing in the media, as well as the thousands who have signed onto our Change.org petition pushing for reform, it's clear that there is an incredibly high demand for timeshare reform right now but the industry is flat-out ignoring it," said Brandon Reed, a founding member of the CRT. "No matter how much they try to paint exit companies as the enemy and pretend that everything they're doing is proper, we're going to keep fighting until every consumer is aware of the shameful tactics that are hurting millions financially and emotionally every day. We will only stop when laws and regulations are enacted that protect the consumer in this unregulated timeshare industry."
Here is a list of the most recent legal cases against timeshare developers:
- In Williams v Wyndham, a jury heard evidence that Wyndham fleeced elderly people, and that it had a pattern and practice of retaliating against employees who blew the whistle on Wyndham's rampant fraud; the court ruled in 2016 that Wyndham's conduct was "highly reprehensible" and a former Wyndham employee who presented evidence that she was fired in retaliation for reporting fraud was awarded $20 million for lost earnings, emotional distress and punitive damages.
- In 2015's Overton v. Westgate, a judge ordered Westgate to pay punitive damages to timeshare owners for the "reprehensibility of Westgate's conduct" during lengthy, all-day sales presentations in which sales representatives allegedly promised rewards and amenities that did not exist in order to close on a sale. Following repeal attempts, the judge ruled again in favor of consumers, reiterating that the punitive damages order was warranted and reasonable in proportion to the deceptive conduct of Westgate.
While notable ongoing complaints include:
- In Bailey et al v. Wyndham, 42 timeshare owners allege elder financial abuse, securities fraud, common law fraud and negligent misrepresentation, all at the hands of Wyndham. Wyndham allegedly made owners sit for 4-9 hour sales presentations during which sales representatives falsely claimed owners would be able to bequeath their "property" to family members, resulting in children liable for ever-increasing debt. The owners further allege that timeshare owners were not informed of additional fees and interest within contracts, some of which caused owners to pay nightly rates as high as $9,166.
- In Amilcar v. Wyndham, ten former employees allege that Wyndham retaliated against them for refusing to participate in sales practices they perceived as unlawful, unethical and fraudulent. Under the instruction of Wyndham to "do whatever they have to do" to close deals, sales representatives alleged deceptive tactics included misdirecting buyers to points charts that depicted false information, inaccurately claiming a timeshare is an investment that would increase in value over time, altering buyers' income level on their credit applications and preying upon the elderly.
- In Moore v. Westgate, 10 timeshare owners, on behalf of themselves and other similarly situated timeshare owners, allege that Westgate's perceived high-pressure sales tactics involved convincing prospective purchasers to buy into its vacation timeshare program while failing to disclose legally required information to buyers, and failing to provide purchasers with adequate access to their timeshares.
- In George v. Westgate, 39 timeshare owners allege that Westgate sales representatives misrepresented to them that Westgate's timeshares are good investments that can be resold for a profit, misrepresented the ease of reserving accommodations and gave false advice regarding estate planning.
- In Drury v. Wyndham, Hamm v. Wyndham and McLearn v. Wyndham, timeshare owners allege that Wyndham misled, pressured and bullied them into purchasing multiple upgrades of their Wyndham timeshare properties or points, all while it systematically eliminating benefits that impact the owners' use. Some of the statements from Wyndham that the owners viewed as dishonest included telling them that offers were made on a "one-day-only" basis and would expire; that maintenance fees would be lower if they upgraded or traded; that the timeshare could be used as a tax deduction; and that Wyndham would buy back their timeshare.
Many of the problems addressed in these complaints would be nonexistent if the CRT's Timeshare Bill of Rights were implemented. Key elements of the Bill of Rights include an upfront full disclosure of the entire cost of timeshare ownership and the true market value of the timeshare when purchased, the right to be free of any high-pressure sales techniques and verbal misrepresentations, and the right to have the rescission period for a contract extended to one week after a person returns from their vacation to allow appropriate family and/or legal counsel review.
CRT is inviting timeshare owners to join forces with this growing coalition membership and tell their own personal stories by contacting it here, and by demonstrating to lawmakers and the timeshare industry that there is a real demand for change.
About Coalition to Reform Timeshare
The Coalition to Reform Timeshare consists of individuals dedicated to reforming the timeshare industry. It believes that timeshare companies should be subject to a strict code of ethics and transparency in their sales techniques. The coalition advocates for consumer rights to legally exit from timeshares and educate consumers on state, local and federal legislation that may positively or negatively affect timeshare owners. The coalition's goal is to change the industry by holding timeshare companies responsible and advocating for honesty and consumer fairness. For more information, visit reformtimeshare.org or sign the petition to reform the timeshare industry at change.org.
SOURCE Coalition to Reform Timeshare