Four named plaintiffs have filed a proposed class action in which they claim Bluegreen Vacations Unlimited, Inc. and Bluegreen Vacations Corporation have violated a Wisconsin law that prohibits illegal referral selling of timeshares in the state.
The defendants—hereafter referred to as Bluegreen—sell timeshare contracts to consumers through “front-line” and “in-house” sales, the lawsuit says. Front-line sales, according to the suit, consist of Bluegreen selling “timeshare points”—i.e., beneficial ownership and use rights in a property—to consumers who do not already own them. In-house sales, on the other hand, aim to sell “timeshare points” to individuals who currently own interests in the defendants' properties at the time of the sales presentations. These “timeshare points,” the case continues, can be used by their owners to stay at the defendants' Club Resorts and Club Associate Resorts. The suit claims the points are actually interests in real property being sold by Bluegreen from its Christmas Mountain Village resort headquarters in Wisconsin Dells.
The allegation at the heart of the lawsuit is that when Bluegreen sales representatives attempt to sell “timeshare points” to consumers, the reps do not know the location or the identity of the owner of the real property up for sale. At the time of a face-to-face “timeshare points” sales presentation, the lawsuit says, the owner of the real property could be Bluegreen, via one of its “Club Resorts” subsidiaries, or one of its many third-party developers, called “Club Associate Resorts.” The lawsuit claims Bluegreen sales reps, in truth, can’t give consumers very much information at all on what’s being offered:
“In fact, at the time of the sales presentation, Bluegreen sales representatives can never tell a guest or owner where the real property that Bluegreen is actually offering to sell the guest or owner is located because neither the sales representatives nor Bluegreen knows where the real property they are selling is located at that point in time.”
According to the lawsuit, Bluegreen does not determine the location or owner of the property it’s selling until after a consumer has already agreed to purchase a certain number of timeshare points, or until after the individual has made a down payment.
The plaintiffs argue the failure of Bluegreen sales representatives to disclose the identity of the true seller of the real property being offered “at the beginning of Bluegreen’s initial contact” with a consumer violates the Wisconsin Timeshare Act. Specifically, the case asserts the defendants’ statement during its initial property sales pitches that “The seller is Bluegreen Vacations Unlimited, Inc.” is a material misrepresentation aimed to induce consumers into entering irresponsible contracts.
As for the contracts themselves, the lawsuit has some choice words for how Bluegreen allegedly handles its purported cancelation policy:
“Bluegreen’s contracts are expensive and difficult to understand. Many consumers, including Plaintiffs, desire to cancel them once they understand what they have gotten into. The purpose and effect of the misrepresentation of cancellation rights is to make cancellation difficult and burdensome.”