A proposed class action lawsuit alleges Wyndham Vacation Resorts, Inc. has enticed consumers into purchasing timeshares through hours-long, high-pressure sales presentations loaded with “material misrepresentations.”
Filed in Delaware, the 26-page suit alleges specifically that Wyndham has used “consistently deceptive and misleading” sales practices to pressure consumers in Nevada and Tennessee into signing contracts with the company. The lawsuit claims consumers are “repeatedly lied to” by Wyndham sales representatives during lengthy sales presentations “that take up to six or seven hours,” and are told that they will save money by becoming timeshare owners and enjoy “a dizzying array of choices.”
The case alleges, however, that the opposite is true.
“In short, the reality of Wyndham timeshare ownership is the opposite of what is represented in Wyndham sales presentations,” the complaint reads. “Owners are locked into timeshare ownership that has limited availability of destinations, often requires that bookings be made a year or more in advance, and results in Wyndham Owners paying more for vacations than they would on public travel websites.”
According to the case, Wyndham sales representatives fail to disclose certain “fundamental aspects” of the company’s timeshare program, including:
That $15,000 to $25,000 worth of timeshare points sold by Wyndham could be resold on eBay.com for as little as $1;
That timeshare owners would often be forced to book vacations over a year in advance due to “persistent availability issues” at desired Wyndham resort locations;
That “ever-increasing” annual maintenance fees would eventually cause the overall value of some owners’ timeshares to fall below zero; and
That Wyndham properties were often cheaper and more readily available through public websites such as TripAdvisor.com.
Stressing the last point, the lawsuit alleges that Wyndham has “intentionally and consistently” failed to disclose to prospective buyers that through public vacation booking websites, they can often travel to the same destinations with greater flexibility and without spending the average cost of $21,000 to become a timeshare owner.
More broadly, the lawsuit highlights what it calls “a steady drum beat” of complaints, adverse awards, and a “massive number of claims” against Wyndham over its allegedly deceptive sales practices, noting that the company has recently begun inserting mandatory arbitration clauses in timeshare owners’ contracts in order to avoid class action litigation.
The plaintiffs take issue with Wyndham’s entire business model, alleging that such is built on lying to consumers, including senior citizens and retirees, in order for them to sign “confusing, vague and ambiguous boilerplate contracts” that purport to disclaim every falsehood contained therein. The case claims prospective buyers are routinely coerced into signing a “two or three inch stack” of contract documents that is only provided at the end of sales presentations during which consumers are all but locked in a room for hours on end despite being told that the meeting would only last an hour or two. After being “worn down” by the all-day presentations, provided little food, and given a hundred-page document to sign, owners are unable to review the terms of their timeshare agreement, the suit says.
The case seeks to represent anyone who, within the last four years, signed a Wyndham Security Agreement in Tennessee or Nevada after attending a Wyndham sales presentation and unsuccessfully requested cancellation of their contract.