Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Courthouse News Service
NEWARK (CN) - Resort Condominiums International cheated investors in timeshares in the Dominican Republic, a class action claims in Federal Court. Plaintiffs claim RCI and its subsidiary, Lifestyle Holiday Vacations Club, “lured thousands of individuals into purchasing timeshares by lying outright about the quality and, more, the nature of services provided.”
The complaint continues: “In so doing, the company has defrauded [lead plaintiff Monique] Crete and others, fraudulently causing them each to spend thousands, if not tens of thousands, of dollars on timeshares worth little more than the paper their contracts are printed on. The company provides services that are not only grossly deficient and substandard in almost every aspect, but are simply not what it promises. Plaintiff is forced to sue the company to stop its theft and obtain some restitution for herself and class members.
“The Company makes many promises, all made personally by salesmen, particularly targeting those already vacationing at the Company’s resorts in the Dominican Republic.
“The Company promises ready and simple access to its timeshares, located in both the United States and abroad. In essence, it promises availability. This is the most fundamental part of the Company’s business.
“But, rather than the simple access to timeshares when its customers desire them, class members regularly find that rooms are unavailable, or are forced to pay substantially more for them than promised in the initial contract.
“Simply put, the ‘ready and simple access’ uniformly promised to class members during the sales pitch does not exist.
“The company also promises that access to timeshares can be sold to family or friends so that class members can make a profit from their investment. Moreover, beyond just promising that access can be sold, salesmen even promise that the company sets up the sale: the company says it will help class members turn a profit.
“The company’s salesmen claim that they regularly help to set up rentals for class members who wish to allow friends, family, and even strangers to ‘purchase the use of [their] membership’ rather than using it themselves. But when customer class members later attempt to make use of this option, they are told that it does not exist. Then, if class members attempt to press further, they are informed by the company that such an action is, in fact, both prohibited and illegal.
“The company also promises that any questions or requests for use of facilities will receive a response, via email, ‘immediately.’ In fact, class members are given a personal contact through whom they should make all requests and who is supposedly responsible for managing their vacation time.
“While, of course, class members do not expect a response within minutes twenty-four hours a day, class members are regularly forced to wait more than a week before receiving a response of any kind. There is no immediate response.
“Finally, the company promises that class members may back out of their membership at any point during the first year after purchase with a full refund. Naturally, given the lack of availability of accommodations, poor communication with company representatives, and inability to resell purchased time in order to make a profit, many class members seek to take advantage of this option.
“However, when class members request the promised refund, even within a matter of months from the purchase date, company staff tells them that the option does not exist.”
Plaintiffs demand punitive damages. They are represented by Yasmeen Allen with Balestriere Lanza of New York, N.Y.