By Benn Dover, a Westgate Timeshare Hostage
Plaintiffs William Cantrell and Sheneka Kimbro filed an amended complaint on October 3, 2022, concerning a lawsuit they had filed against Westgate Resorts on September 14, 2022, in Sevier County, Tennessee. The lawsuit alleges that Westgate violated the Tennessee Timeshare Act when they purchased a timeshare at Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort and Water Park. Case No. 22-CV-241
Pertinent claims stated in the lawsuit include:
- First Claim: The sales agent, manager and closing agent were not real estate licensed, as required by the Tennessee Timeshare Act.
- Second Claim: The Public Offering Statement was not provided before the purchase, or on the date of sale, as required by the Tennessee Timeshare Act.
The Public Offering Statement (POS) discloses, along with other important information, the purchaser’s right to cancel. The lawsuit complaint mentioned that Westgate’s Public Offering Statement was hidden from view:
- Defendant hid the public offering statement on a flash drive containing hundreds of pages of documents. Defendant’s surreptitious behavior prevented the Plaintiffs from ever finding the public offering statement.
I was particularly interested in this because, on February 25, 2022, I filmed a video demonstrating how I found my Public Offering Statement hidden in a secret compartment long after I had purchased a timeshare in 2010 at Westgate Smoky Mountains Resort. I did not discover our Public Offering Statement until 2020. At purchase, we had been given a leather folio that was supposed to contain all our documents. I called Westgate in 2020 to ask a question. We were told the information we needed was in the POS, prompting my search.
Follow this link to see the full video of my search through numerous computer files – James Bond eat your heart out!
The Secret Compartment Holding the CD-ROM with no CD in the packet designed to hold a CD
Top photo: Bottom left side with the Westgate emblem is a compartment the size of a CD-ROM, Middle bottom photo: Taken with a flashlight shows the secret compartment that held the POS; Left bottom photo: Taken without a flashlight.
When we complained about the hidden compartment, Westgate claimed that we were aware of the POS and knew where we could find it. If Westgate does not have to disclose the location of the POS, how would a purchaser find it in a timely manner – before the rescission period ended? The burden should be on the resort to present the POS conspicuously.
How many lawsuits have to be filed before the Tennessee Attorney General takes note?
A “secret pocket” has been mentioned in several lawsuits, including:
Plaintiffs MARILYN MOORE, RYAN and LAURA SPADO, CYNTHIA LOVELESS, and ELLEN and LARRY GILLILAND, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, v. WESTGATE RESORTS, LTD., L.P. a/k/a WESTGATE RESORTS, LTD., CENTRAL FLORIDA INVESTMENTS, INC., WESTGATE RESORTS, INC., WESTGATE MARKETING, LLC, WESTGATE VACATION VILLAS, LLC, and CFI RESORTS MANAGEMENT, INC. Defendants
Westgate relies on its closing agents to provide written disclosures, but then provides them with a closing folio to use that contains a “secret pocket” where the closing officers can conceal legally required disclosures about the purchasers’ rights, including their statutory right to rescind their purchase. Case 3:18-cv-00410 filed on September 25, 2018 in the Eastern District of Tennessee, Knoxville Division.
Moore vs Westgate Moore Vs Westgate Case 3:18-cv-00410
Timeshare Industry Lobbyists Amended Florida’s Timeshare Act to allow all documents to be provided electronically.
Florida HB 575 was signed into law this year allowing all contract documents to be provided electronically, including the Public Offering Statement. Instead of the POS being presented at, or prior to signing a timeshare contract, as mandated in other states, this law allows the purchaser 10 days to review the POS after signing a contract. One of the four sentences on the cover of a Florida 3/8/2018 POS advises in all caps: DO NOT RELY ON ORAL REPRESENTATIONS. If the developers really wanted us to know this, it would be disclosed prior to a sales presentation.
Our Westgate Smoky Mountain Purchases
I first purchased a 2 BR Smoky Mountains Westgate week in 2010 in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. In 2012 I purchased a second 4 BR week after my sales agent Jesse convinced me that I could rent the second unit to offset the maintenance fees for both units. The agents showed me Westgate listings on Craigslist, eBay and a third-party website that showed a 1 BR going for $1,500. Some sheets had rental prices and some had sale prices. According to our sales agents, I would be able to easily cover annual maintenance fees for both units! This turned out to not be feasible. Attempts to sell the unit were unsuccessful.
After learning that renting to cover maintenance fees on both units is unfeasible, I asked to be released. We have no outstanding loan. Westgate informed me that there is no option to be released, despite being prominently featured on the American Resort Development Association’s (ARDA) timeshare industry’s Responsible Exit website. Westgate said they don’t have to give a reason to deny a release.
Westgate, the BBB, and the FL and TN AG Responses
I filed complaints with the BBB, the Tennessee and Florida Attorney General, and other departments. Westgate responded by re-stating my complaint incorrectly, saying that I claimed I did not receive the CD-ROMs or that I claimed the CD-ROMs did not work. Our complaint was that I checked that I wanted documents in hard copy format. The regulators didn’t care that the POS was hidden from view.
A Public Records Request filed with the state of Florida produced 551 complaints (over 4,000 pages). The dollar amount of the complaints totalled over $4 million. Nearly half of the complaints complained of being assured it would be easy to rent out the timeshare to cover costs.
Are my Consumer Rights being eroded? February 25, 2022
Thank you Benn Dover for providing an update on the subject of Public Offering Statements and the efforts to hide them from scrutiny by consumers. If the point of a “secret pocket” has been raised many times before, surely that should send the various Attorneys General alarm bells ringing, or do they need hearing aids?
In the end, it still comes down to the developers allowing their sales agents to lie, always hiding behind their pathetic excuse “We are not responsible for what our sales agents say“. By “hiding” the information contained in the POS especially the right to cancel, they are endorsing what the agents are doing and profiting from it. AIT also believes it is bordering on fraud, by ensuring the consumer doesn’t cancel within the time permitted, they are now locked into a contract they don’t want and the never-ending costs.
As always your comments are welcome on this or any other article, please place them on the relevant page, if you require further information regarding your own timeshare please use the details supplied on our contact page.
That is all for this week, we hope you have a great weekend, Baby Dog is pleased to have his Tio back and promptly grabbed his toy.