Timeshare owners are continuing with their suit against Marriott Vacations Club, despite the resort giant’s attempts to disrupt and delay the class action. Lawyers for the timeshare owners have now asked the court in Florida to penalise Marriott over intentionally withholding documents. This is the latest action taken by the owners in an attempt to hold Marriott Vacation Club responsible over its conduct. They allege Marriott operated a fraudulent scheme which allegedly sold misleading points based timeshare memberships. If the owners are successful, it could have huge implications for Marriott and other resorts, over how they sell timeshares and holiday club memberships in Florida.
The class action was first bought to the courts in 2016, claiming Marriott Vacation Club violated racketeering and timeshare laws by conspiring with Orange County, Florida to falsely represent to owners that their purchase meant they were acquiring the rights to land. In reality, customers were purchasing a purely points based membership which gave them access to multiple resorts throughout the Marriott Vacation Club inventory. The plaintiffs also claim that Orange County has played a role in the scheme by failing to fulfil it’s statutory duties to verify the timeshare deed and transfer of real property.
They say this is not only a misrepresentation by the resort, but also that owners are paying the costs imposed on them by Marriott, but are associated with property ownership, like title policy premiums, taxes and maintenance fees. They argue that they should not have to pay these costs when they are not getting any of the benefits of ownership. Instead, they only have a license to use properties operated by Marriott Vacation Club. The case also highlights how points based memberships unfairly harm consumers by restricting access to properties, making it difficult to book vacations when and where the customer wants or was promised to them by the sales agents.
Instead of the traditional timeshare model, in which customers have an interest in real property and are able to stay in that property for an allotted week or two each year, Marriott Vacation Club owners are allotted increments of points that can be used to book days at various timeshare resorts. Despite this, Marriott are continuing to sell this holiday product as a vested interest in a Florida statutory land trust and misleading their members.
The case continues and in this latest action the owners argue that Marriott vacation Club have continually continued to withhold documents. They want the court to issue sanctions against the resort and force them to produce relevant documents relating to the case. It will be interesting to watch as the case continues to unfold, and may well produce a landmark verdict that dictates the way in which timeshare operators are allowed to sell their holiday products.
People who enter into Timeshare agreements often find it difficult to keep up with the mounting maintenance fees and simply cannot afford it any longer. They may also find that the Timeshare no longer suits their needs and simply want to end the contract. There are too many individuals who are willing to take advantage of Timeshare owners and offer fake products, along with Timeshare exit schemes. Before agreeing to any Timeshare termination or exit procedure with an individual or company, seek independent advice and fully research any company you are thinking of working with.
It is also important to remember that purchasing a Timeshare should NEVER be viewed as a financial investment. Timeshare is an investment in lifestyle, in future holidays and family time together. There is almost no resale value to a Timeshare.
The mis-selling of holiday products is, unfortunately, common practice within the holiday industry and these type of crimes often go unreported by the most vulnerable in our society and criminal convictions are few and far between.
If you have purchased a Lifestyle / Concierge Service, a Timeshare or a ‘Holiday Points’ based product from a resort or company and feel unhappy with the service, or feel you have been mis-sold this product, please get in touch with us to discuss how we may be able to help you with a possible timeshare termination.