While many vacation owners worry about the outcome of their annual vacation in 2020, those that purchased Welk Resorts points from January 2011 to March 2016 are in for a big surprise. Just last week, up to $3.55 million was awarded to those that have been misled by the timeshare sales process. Although the stipulated judgement is subject to court approval, the California Attorney General believes it “sets an unprecedented example to the timeshare industry. “You cannot violate the law and get away with it,” said AG Xavier Becerra to reporters.
After a number of complaints had been filed by Welk owners, Becerra’s office asked the CA Department of Real Estate and the San Diego District Attorney’s office to help him investigate Welk Resort’s sales presentations. They came away with irrefutable evidence of a pressure-dried environment that utilized false promises and misleading information to persuade attendees. The Welk resort in Escondido, California took a lot of heat for most of their tactics.
Timeshare Sales Agents Don’t Always Tell the Truth.
According to the settlement, Welk representatives were selling timeshare interests, which violates the Vacation Ownership Timeshare Act (2004), California’s Timeshare Law, False Advertising Law and the Unfair Competition Law. The restitution in this case is the largest consumer relief package that has ever been awarded to the People by a timeshare company.
Not only was the settlement monetary, but Welk Resorts is also required to implement some sort of compliance to ensure further violations don’t occur. Resort employees will be asked to complete proper training courses on VOTA requirements and risk prevention. “Truthful disclosures are especially important in a high-pressure sales environment such as timeshare sales,” said Becerra.
He went on to say, “This settlement is a significant win for California consumers. It provides victims with the largest consumer relief package ever obtained by the People for violations of the Vacation Ownership Timeshare Act (VOTA), returning money to the pockets of those cheated by Welk.” Initially, those that have already filed a claim will be first to receive restitution. Shortly after, the remaining buyers from that time period will be given a chance to submit a claim for cash, additional points or a resort credit.
Helping Consumers Understand Timeshare Laws.
San Diego District Attorney Summer Stephan also played a big role in the settlement. “The law protects consumers by prohibiting timeshare salespeople from overpromising with misrepresentations. Consumers need to know what they are getting up front without false promises,” she said. She’s right. Far too many people are lured into something that was never ideal to begin with because they’re uninformed.
Efforts from AG and District Attorney’s offices shouldn’t go unnoticed. Like we mentioned before, vacation owners aren’t getting much assistance right now. It’s good to see these organizations stepping up. The final stipulated judgement was announced earlier this month and also required Welk Resorts to pay Stephan and Becerra’s offices’ $2 million bill for investigative expenses. “The expertise in our DA’s Consumer Protection Team was brought to bear to protect consumers from false promises in purchasing timeshares,” concluded Stephan.