In the ongoing case of Marriott V Ritz-Carlton Club members, a federal judge partly granted a sanctions motion.
Owners filed the motion earlier in the year, claiming Marriott was acting unreasonably, and in bad faith, by hiding essential documents from the court. Marriott Vacations said they had simply made a mistake by failing to hand over key evidence in the class action, claiming it caused the owners’ property values to plummet.
In a partial win for the timeshare owners, the judge ordered Marriott Vacations to pay reasonable attorney fees to more than 200 owners, finding that the company withheld an affiliation agreement from evidence. However, he also stated he found no bad faith or wilful misconduct on the company’s part. He said he did not agree with the timeshare owners that the actions of Marriott warranted a default judgement, as requested.
In his ruling Judge Gallagher said: “To put it bluntly, if Marriott was trying to hide the affiliation agreement, they did a relatively ham-handed job of it. Marriott left too many clues, from explicit discussion in the acknowledgement agreement to specific deposition testimony for the court to be convinced that there was an intent to bury the affiliation agreement. The failure to provide was a mistake, perhaps a costly and time-consuming mistake, but a mistake nonetheless”.
An overview of the Case:
Back in April 2018, Ritz Carlton Timeshare Club members bought a class action claim against Marriott Vacations, claiming the Timeshare Giant caused the value of Ritz-Carlton Club members deeded units to decline and, in some cases, owners lost up to 90% in the value of their timeshares at the resort. Owners claim that an affiliation between Marriott Vacations Worldwide and Ritz-Carlton Destination Club, which allowed Marriott members to trade one week at the Ritz-Carlton Club in Aspen Highlands with points-based members of the Marriott Vacation Club, caused the value of their investments to sink. Ritz Carlton Club was sold to owners as an exclusive and upmarket resort, which would yield an investment for owners over the years.
The class action has been bought by more than 200 owners, who say that Marriott Vacations actively engaged in fraudulent activity and breached their financial responsibilities to owners. They claim that the affiliation between the two companies decimated the value of the owners’ original investment, which the timeshare owners purchased from the group. The owners claim their timeshare units are now worth less than 20% of the original purchase prices and the hospitality giant, Marriott, is to blame for this.
Marriott introduced The Ritz-Carlton Club as a luxury alternative to its Marriott Vacation Club timeshare offerings, selling this holiday product at a substantially higher price, based on incentives such as longer use and access to upscale properties. By doing this, it caused the value of existing owners timeshare units to plummet and owners now say that their assets are virtually worthless and will see no return on their investment. The case continues and it may be sometime before we see a final ruling.
People who enter into Timeshare agreements often find it difficult to keep up with the mounting maintenance fees and simply cannot afford it any longer. They may also find that the Timeshare no longer suits their needs and simply want to end the contract. There are too many individuals who are willing to take advantage of Timeshare owners and offer fake products, along with Timeshare exit schemes. Before agreeing to any Timeshare termination or exit procedure with an individual or company, seek independent advice and fully research any company you are thinking of working with.
It is also important to remember that purchasing a Timeshare should NEVER be viewed as a financial investment. Timeshare is an investment in lifestyle, in future holidays and family time together. There is almost no resale value to a Timeshare.
The mis-selling of holiday products is, unfortunately, common practice within the holiday industry and these type of crimes often go unreported by the most vulnerable in our society and criminal convictions are few and far between.
If you have purchased a Lifestyle / Concierge Service, a Timeshare or a ‘Holiday Points’ based product from a resort or company and feel unhappy with the service, or feel you have been mis-sold this product, please get in touch with us to discuss how we may be able to help you with a possible Money Back Claim.