>> EASTERN USA TIMESHARE NEWS:
ORLANDO: It’s taken longer than I expected, but a potential class action lawsuit is pending against Marriott Vacations Worldwide/Marriott Vacations Club regarding their switch to a Points system in 2010.
Originally filed in the Ninth Circuit Court in Orange County, FL, it was subsequently moved to Federal District Court. The Plaintiff is Salvatore Desantis on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated; the Defendants are Marriott Vacations Worldwide Corp., Marriott Ownership Resorts, Inc. d/b/a/ Marriott Vacation Club International, and Marriott Ownership Resorts Procurement LLC.
The complaint against Marriott is kind of reminiscent of the discontent generated when RCI developed its Points system and “Weeks” owners felt discriminated against; a class action lawsuit was filed against RCI in that case in 2006 (Murillo vs R.C.I.) and settled in 2008/09.
In this case Salvatore Desantis alleges that when Marriott stopped offering its Weeks Program in 2010 and switched to a Points Program, the company considerably devalued the timeshare interests of those in the Weeks Program. Because Weeks owners may only exchange with other Weeks owners, without enrolling new Weeks owners those currently in the program face a dwindling pool of properties/locations available for exchange.
Making it worse, Marriott allegedly has targeted Weeks owners for upgrades into the Points Program, claiming that it’s a better system — but the upgrade isn’t free. According to the complaint, Marriott charges upwards of $10,000 for Club Members in the Weeks Program to convert to the Points Program.
Note that in 2006 Desanti paid $17,400 for his timeshare at the Horizons by Marriott in Orlando, and has since paid all applicable maintenance fees, etc.
According to the complaint:
As a consequence of Marriott’s hard-sell effort targeted at Club Members in the Weeks Program, it has profited enormously by selling to its customers something Marriott has already sold them — the right to easily vacation in Marriott Club resort locations across the globe using their timeshare. Furthermore, with each “upgrade” sale it makes to Club Members in the Weeks Program, Marriott further undercuts the market for exchanging weeks and further devalues timeshares of those in the Weeks Program.
Marriott Vacation Club members enrolled in the Weeks Program have thus been left with two unappealing possibilities. They may accept that the once-robust trade network that once allowed them to new and different places is now so depleted that it either severely limits their options or confines them to only using their deeded real estate; or they may pay Marriott an enormous amount of money to receive a benefit they had already bargained and paid for.
The lawsuit claims that Marriott’s attempt to extract thousands of dollars by trying to resell members in the Weeks Program the very benefits they have taken away from them is fraudulent, deceptive and unconscionable.
The Class the Plaintiff seeks to represent is all MVC members who owned their timeshares under the Weeks Program at the time Marriott stopped selling that program, which was June 20, 2010. Man, that’s a whole lotta people! Attorneys in the case opine that the class could number up to 15,000 timeshare owners.
Marriott is being represented in this case by Greenberg Traurig. The plaintiff is being represented by three law firms: New York-based Squitieri & Fearon, Varnell & Warwick of Lady Lake, FL and Gersowitz Libo & Korek also of New York.
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