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Bluegreen and Bass Pro Settle for $40 Million After Owners File Lawsuit

picture-of-the-interior-of-bass-pro-shops-in-florida-where-bluegreen-vacations-sells-timeshare-ownership-to-retail-customers-through-solicitation

In April of this year, 16 co-plaintiffs filed another amendment in their lawsuit against Bluegreen Vacations. Their reasoning surrounds fraudulent misconduct that includes misleading sales tactics, statutory violations and a failure to point out the owner’s right of rescission. The damages they’re seeking restitution for began after a routine trip to a local Bass Pro Shop. The plaintiffs and others never really knew the extent of their timeshare purchase and believe they’ve been intentionally manipulated.

Bluegreen’s Partnership With Bass Pro Shops.

For nearly 20 years, Bass Pro Shops has allowed Bluegreen to sell timeshare ownership in their stores. The agreement provides customers with store discounts and other promotional items in exchange for attending Bluegreen presentations. From 2016-2018, nearly 15% of the timeshare company’s revenue came from the retailer. But the relationship has become tense ever since Bass Pro Shops heard their customers were being treated unfairly.

How Bass Pro Responded to Customer Allegations.

In May, once the consumer lawsuit was made public, Bass Pro Shops announced they were banning Bluegreen Vacations from 69 of their stores. After voicing their concerns with “high-pressure or offensive salesmanship,” they took things a step further by announcing they were suing the timeshare company. While one might think it’s because of the damages customers incurred, it seems as though the outdoorsmen supplier is using customer complaints to their advantage. 

In the lawsuit, Bass Pro Shop claims Bluegreen has refused to pay them $10 million in commissions. Instead of standing for those suing, they decided to file their own suit. Although the contract between the two runs through 2025, Bass Pro knew they had the leverage. Bluegreen heavily relies on leads from their stores. Aside from refuted payments for “sampler packages,” Bass Pro also claims they’ve been shorted commissions when buyers defaulted on or decided to cancel timeshare contracts.

How Bluegreen Responded to a Voided Partnership.

Their decision to oust Bluegreen resulted in a 50% plummet of the travel company’s shares. In turn, Bluegreen had no choice but to mend the relationship monetarily. A few weeks ago, the timeshare company announced they will be paying an excess of $40 million over the next five years to Bass Pro Shops in order to resume selling fractional ownership in their stores. You could say they’re financially motivated to settle their differences. $20 million will be paid this month and $4 million will be deposit per year for five years.

President and CEO of Bluegreen, Shawn Pearson, had this to say: “We look forward to building on our 19-year partnership with Bass Pro, through which we have developed close to 700 units in our joint venture at three luxury resorts.” Bluegreen’s willingness to quickly fork over the cash shows how dependent they are on the retailer for revenue. 

Aside from these hefty sums, they also agreed to pay Bass Pro (which includes subsidiary, Cabellas, Inc.) $70k per year for each store they operate a kiosk in plus an additional $32.00 per vacation package sold less any cancellations and/or refunds. “We are excited about our ability to expand into Cabela’s locations, which will further cement our ability to grow and give store visitors the opportunity to make memories at our resorts,” said Pearson.

Since mending the relationship, Bluegreen has already seen a 35% increase in their shares. This tells us Bass Pro’s approval carries a lot of weight. It would have been nice to see them go to bat for their customers in this way but hopefully it encourages them to monitor sales more diligently. Either way, Bluegreen and other corporations have a lot of explaining to do when it comes to the way they go about selling fractional ownership.

Bluegreen Will Continue to Face an Uphill Battle.

Consumers who claim wrongdoing by Bluegreen state they have been harassed to attend high-pressure sales presentations, only to be sold overpriced, low quality timeshares. While timeshare developers will tell you they can’t please everyone, the fact of the matter is millions of timeshare owners are dissatisfied.

The problem is, most timeshare companies view upgrades or add-ons as solutions. A number of lawsuits claim that timeshare company’s solutions are meant to hold them hostage. The Pinnacle program, for example, is said to be “devoted to exclusively keep owners trapped in the resale market void.” Resale, income opportunities and a promised ability to cancel the timeshare are all primary reasons people decide to give timeshare ownership a try. But nearly every timeshare company doesn’t actually help them find relief in any of these ways. In reality, none of them even exist unless you contact a 3rd party company to help you legally get rid of a timeshare.

The lawsuit against Bluegreen and Bass Pro mentions this sense of misguided hopelessness. Part of the complaint in Case 3:19-cv-00054-HSM-DCP documented that “In addition to inducing purchases through fraudulent sales tactics, once Bluegreen convinces owners to purchase a time-share interest, it traps them in a valueless resale market, leaving them with few options but to continue paying their monthly mortgage and maintenance fees.” If buyers initially attended a Bluegreen presentation just to get a discount at Bass Pro, they have every right to be upset. 

Everything seems to revolve around bait and switch tactics here. It appears that Bass Pro decided to ignore the misconduct in exchange for a payment, which is troubling to say the least. “Bluegreen shares our commitment to providing our customers and its owners and guests a memorable vacation in the great outdoors,” said Bass Pro’s founder and CEO, Johnny Morris. “We look forward to this next chapter of our long running relationship.”

Lawsuits, settlements and partnerships like these should shed some light on how important consumer representation is today. Deception is a real problem in the travel industry. Hopefully our commitment to exposing timeshare related sales misconduct allows more consumers to make informed decisions.

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10 Responses

  1. I am trying to negotiation with then to come out from the contract which was sold to my son, and unfortunately, they are not complying,contract is stander and there is no explanation in how or when to be finish and penalty in case you decide to cancel.

    After making a payment for 2 years and no answer from there office is absolutely not acceptable.

  2. I upgraded 4 times as “the answer to not being able to find a place when and where we wanted to stay.” Now they have $88,000 of my money and I still can not plan a trip. I went through the Attorney General of Florida and Bluegreen never answered them. Bluegreen offered to let me out of the contracts admitting no wrong doing and keeping my money. I need a good lawyer.

  3. The problem has been clearly identified. How and when can it be resolved. I am being held captive to payments I receive no benefit from.
    Very blatant on Bluegreen part. This is the USA correct?

  4. We bought our Bluegreen timeshare in 2007, we live in England. Flights were too expensive then the dreaded maintenance fees and management fees. They kept on increasing the fee by at least $100 each and every year. We managed to pay cash for our membership $23,000 £16,664. My retirement was in 2013, then we started to think about our outgoings, the maintenance fee was not on the list. We were once told by Bluegreen that our timeshare was worth $35,000 we of course did not believe that for even a second. We put our timeshare on the market with pinnacle for $5,000 together with 40,000 points unused. Pinnacle offered to take it off our hands for nothing, we went to our local Notery public and had the papers supplied via Pinnacle signed and stamped for £123, and this released us from having to pay fees. We are hoping that the European standard will be employed in the USA, that standard is that perpetuity is limited to 25-50 maximum otherwise the timeshare becomes illegal if it is longer. So now in Europe any timeshare that is for longer than 50 years is not allowed, and refunds are to be had, for all costs to all members. We want $35,000 for our compensation. We are waiting, and so will are kids and Grandkids. One day may be, I am hoping.

    1. We were tricked intoi buying this fraudulent time share sign no good knowledge about it. Now we can’t keep up with the fees. I wish we can join hands and file a suit against them. I gout this law firm that promised to take on the case but will charge me 4000usd and promised to refund me if he doesn’t get me out of the contract.

      1. We have been with Bluegreen now for several years. We have been extremely unhappy and don’t know exactly what to do. At first they told us that it was dog friendly. We actually took our dogs the very first time we went for our presentation but since then we have been told that is no longer the case. We can never book a vacation when we are able to go but yet we still have those dues and maintenance expenses. What do we do? Please help

  5. I’ve tried to work with them multiple times, I’ve even offered to sell it back to them at a loss, they knew I was on disability before purchase. They told me we could sell it back in the future with no problem, they said I could refinance just like actual property because it was a high-interest loan, well I couldn’t and the payment was so high Id have paid back way more than it cost. So I used my retirement to pay off the loan and then tried to sell it.. that was a joke not even offered pennies on the dollar. I figured I get penalized for trusting them and a 40-50% penalty was more than fair. Even being this reasonable they wouldn’t do it, again they knew I was disabled and on a fixed income, I’m not normally gullible but when you cant afford nothing for your family and they tell you you can get it today and refi later no problem well I fell for it sadly, this works for people with money, not for those on a tight budget and lying is wrong regardless.

    1. Same thing happened to me as well. During selling, they told all false statements after purchase it is completely different. I lost about 24K by paying them. I am trying to get my money back, I have recorded some evidences how they cheat in our fourth visit. Need some inputs to get my money.

  6. Owner since 2007. Heard all the wonderful promises( actually lies ). They are money grubbers. The places are run down in some places. So I ask what is my club dues and maintenance fees going too. I got the blah blah blah. I asked how many units are given out as eye candy for future owners and got blah blah again like none of your business. I can barely or narry get a date I want. I have spent a lot of money to become a Silver owner so my family and I can have a nice vacation. Very disappointing. More like disgruntled and disgusted. Time shares.👎😤😵

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