Westgate Lakes Resort Timeshare Tells Guest to “Take Off That Shirt!”

Westgate Lakes Resort timeshare recently told timeshare owner Ray Nix that his shirt had to go. Nix, in an interview with WFTV News Orlando, said that he had paid $15,000 for a Westgate timeshare and that the company had failed to make good on a promise of timeshare exchange at a Park City, Utah Westgate timeshare resort.

As a way of venting his displeasure with Westgate timeshares, Nix had a T-shirt made to read, “Westgate ripped me off,” which he then wore to breakfast at one of the company’s Orlando timeshares.

In a post on the Sun Sentinel’s blog, “Floriduh,” author Barbara Hijek wrote:

“The security surrounded me (Ray Nix) when they saw me with my T-shirt on at the pool. They told me they could charge me $1,000 a day for wearing my T-shirt on the property,” Nix said. Nix took off his shirt and moved his protest to the street corner. But he says the resort still hit him with a $4,000 fine for the violation.”

Is This a Matter for Westgate Timeshare or for the Homeowners Association?

While some say that Westgate timeshare impinged on the timeshare owner’s right to free speech, others point out that free speech protects you from interference by the US government, but doesn’t ensure that any of us can stand at a place of business and say (or exhibit) whatever message we choose to put out there. Whether or not Westgate timeshares as a company had the right to squelch what Nix was communicating, or whether this falls under an issue of the timeshare management or even the homeowners association is something beyond my knowledge of the law. I do question who has the authority to levy fines for such action, unless Nix had previously signed a contractual agreement stating that he understood he could be fined in the event he ever wore an unacceptable T-shirt on the resort property.

But all of those details aside, here’s what jumps out at me. Westgate timeshare had an unhappy client. Instead of seeing the opportunity this holds, they turned the event into bad press and a polarizing situation. This could have been a time for Westgate timeshare to engage with the their dissatisfied client, work with him to resolve the issues, offer solutions or even compromises that he might not have considered, and find a way to turn a very dissatisfied client into a happy customer for life. And in deference to the fact that every story has two sides, none of us knows what, if any, measures Westgate timeshare had gone (prior to this event) in an effort to resolve the dispute.