Last year, we published an article that described the level of timeshare discourse in Missouri. Although the article had more to do with the state’s acknowledgement and fight against exit scams, vacation owners wouldn’t be seeking relief if their timeshares were fulfilling. In this part of the country, far too many consumers purchase the product on a whim that seems to be too good to pass up. But when things don’t pan out as expected, the binding agreement can become crippling to say the least.
According to a 103 page lawsuit filed in the District Court this past summer, hundreds of class members accuse Westgate Resorts (and other participating parties*) of withholding pertinent contract information and wielding “high pressure tactics” to register new timeshare owners. This follows a common trend that’s not limited to the American region. Nearly every case of fraud in the timeshare industry involves bait and switch tactics that are full of lies.
Why Did Westgate Timeshare Owners File Suit?
Plaintiffs in the lawsuit against Westgate Resorts claim they were tricked into signing perpetual agreements they didn’t fully understand. Mandatory information was supposedly left out of timeshare sales presentations and buyer’s legal rights weren’t even explained, purportedly. Class members also claim they were “lied to” about their future lodging. After touring several luxury suites, the rooms they received were nothing close to what they expected.
New owners stated they never investigated the details of the purchase within their rescission period (2-7 days to cancel) because their right to rescind wasn’t explained and they thought they already toured the product. In other words, their confident ignorance was likely fueled by the sales pitch. They wholeheartedly believed the rooms they viewed were exactly the same as the rooms they “would own”.
There Was More to the Complaint Than Contractual Misrepresentation.
Even if new buyers wanted to visit their properties during the rescission period they were apparently denied access according to the complaint. The plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit against Westgate Resorts claim the reservation process was extremely “confusing and inconsistent.” Availability and booking limitations eventually pushed proposed class members to spend thousands of dollars to improve their experience.
Despite upgrading packages and paying more than anticipated (on annual maintenance costs, interest rates and other contractual obligations), the hundreds of owners at Westgate Resorts complained that they still could not use their timeshare as advertised. According to the class action lawsuit, the product was something buyers were “rarely, if ever, able to use as reasonably expected”.
Do the Westgate Resort Owners Have a Case?
In short, they are stating that they bought something they couldn’t use that was lower quality than presented for more money than expected. The case went on to presume that Westgate properties were oversold so many times to so many buyers that it’s nearly impossible for buyers to ever obtain the perks and bookings they were promised.
“In reality, Westgate fails to disclose that timeshare owners are routinely unable to book units in the Resort with as much as 12 months’ notice—the earliest Westgate allows owners to reserve the use of their timeshare. Timeshare owners have made repeated attempts to book a stay during their allotted time, only to be told by Westgate officials that there is no availability at the Resort,” the lawsuit reads.
“As a result, many Class Members have been entirely unable to use their timeshare property for an entire year.” As you can imagine, this came as quite the shock to many; especially those that made hefty down payments. Plaintiffs are hoping the lawsuit allows them to permanently cease their contractual obligation by proving they were never even given a chance to fully understand the purchase. You can follow the case below.
*Additional defendants involved in the class action lawsuit against Westgate Resorts are Westgate Resorts, Inc., L.P.; Westgate GV Sales & Marketing, LLC; Central Florida Investments, Inc.; CFI Resorts Management, Inc.; Westgate Vacation Villas, LLC.