More Bad News for Westgate Timeshares, Hit with $1 Million Judgment
Saturday, November 22, 2008
(Sources: The Park Record; Deseret News) The tightening of the credit market combined with the declining economy has already forced Westgate timeshares to lay off workers and to scale-back sales efforts. And just when they did not need more bad news, a Utah County Court has ordered Westgate timeshare to pay $1 million in punitive damages in a consumer related court case. The timeshare company is being held accountable for having attempted to attract prospective timeshare buyers to their Westgate Park City Resort, by using problem-ridden travel vouchers as bait.
An attorney representing the Consumer Protection Group says that the timeshare company defrauded consumers. “They weren’t telling them they were getting a voucher; they were telling them they were getting an Anaheim trip,” explained attorney Scott Boyd, who qualified that the trip was supposed to include air travel and lodging and have a value of approximately $500. Boyd explained, “For all timeshares, they have to get bodies through the door so they can do the sales. Now how different companies choose to get people through the door may tell you who’s reputable and who’s not so reputable in the industry.”
Here’s How the Westgate Timeshare Problem Started
People who toured Westgate timeshares in late 2000 and in 2001, received letters advising them that they may have been defrauded. More than 900 individuals responded to the Consumer Protection Group’s letter. In the end, 30 Utah residents (or 15 parties) made up the case against Westgate Resorts.
As is too often the case in such timeshare problems, people who toured at Westgate timeshare believed they were receiving a product (a gift) that in the end, turned out to be too problematic to use. Voucher holders were restricted from redeeming their trip during any weeks before or following 10 different holidays and they were required to depart only on a Tuesday, and return only on a Thursday.
Adding to the confusion and complexity of the ‘deal’ was the fact that the voucher holder had to kick in $135 upfront, and redeem the voucher within 21 days. While many people looked at the extensive restrictions and simply tossed out the vouchers, others complied with all the stipulations only to be told that the dates requested were not available.
After a three-week jury trial, the case was decided in favor of the plaintiffs. Attorney Boyd admitted that the individuals involved, “did not stand to make a lot of money,” but said that, “This is to make a point to the timeshare industry, to Westgate, that you cannot have a fraudulent scheme.”
Westgate reportedly has plans to appeal a final civil judgment. The timeshare company’s attorneys claim that it was an independent telemarketing firm that scheduled the timeshare tours, and that they (the telemarketers) had failed to warn callers of the travel restrictions.
The Timeshare Authority is not defending or condemning Westgate timeshares, as there are always two sides to every story. But the question does arise … if there were only 30 plaintiffs, which was defined as 15 couples, and they do, “not stand to make a lot of money,” then who do you think is receiving the lion’s share of the million dollar settlement?
Other recent posts on The Timeshare Authority involving Westgate timeshare: