Wyndham

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Wyndham Vacation Ownership

The Wyndham Vacation Ownership Brand includes Wyndham Vacation Resorts, Worldmark by Wyndham, and Shell Vacation Club. This company is one of the industry leaders in vacation ownership, having approximately two billion dollars in sales last year alone (2016). Owners enjoy the properties that Wyndham has to offer, but for the most part are extremely disappointed in the way they are treated through the "member services" and "owner update" processes. 

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WYNDHAM CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT CLAIMS ‘RESORT FEES’ ARE ILLEGAL

By Tamara Burns
June 8, 2016

A proposed class action lawsuit has been filed against Wyndham alleging the daily “resort fees” charged when consumers book rooms through the website is in violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act (CFA) and the New Jersey Truth-in-Consumer Contract, Warranty and Notice Act (TCCWNA).

Plaintiff Thomas Luca Jr. claims that the “resort fee” charged by Wyndham is assessed deceptively and does not reflect the true nature of the charge, therefore misleading consumers.

“Defendants’ failure to adequately disclose the resort fee charge as part of the true cost of renting a hotel room is deceptive and causes consumers, including Plaintiff and the Class, to believe that they are paying substantially less than they actually are being charged for a room at Defendants’ hotels,” the complaint reads.

The lawsuit further states that consumers are not aware of the actual cost of the room as compared to Wyndham’s competitors, so they are “unable to make an informed purchase decision among the various competitors in the hotel room marketplace.”

Luca says this purposeful “carving out a portion of its room charge, calling it a ‘resort fee,’ and excluding it from the big bolded number that consumers use for price comparison among hotels” amounts to “the quintessential definition of consumer fraud.”

The proposed class action lawsuit states that in 2013, “resort fees” collected by hotels were estimated at $2.1 billion, twice the amount of fees collected a decade ago.

According to the complaint, a “resort fee” is a mandatory per-night charge that hotel operators add on to the nightly advertised room rate. However, Luca claims that it does not cover any additions to the room such as amenities or services.

“Instead, it is an arbitrary amount that is deducted from the room rate a hotel operator charges consumers to stay at its hotels,” the lawsuit states. “By deducting this arbitrary amount from the room rate, the hotel operator can advertise the nightly room rate as lower than it actually is.”

The lawsuit refers to this practice as “drip price” advertising, where only a part of the price is advertised and the rest of the charges are revealed later. This practice has been detailed as improper in a warning letter from the FTC, according to the complaint.

Luca goes on to say that as he and other consumers make a room night purchase on the Wyndham website, these “resort fees” are later added in to the total price under the heading “Taxes.” However, the “resort fee” is not a true tax despite the way it was represented in the charges for the room.

An itemized statement shows that the actual city and state taxes were also applied to the “resort fee” charge, according to the lawsuit.

“Given that the resort fee itself it taxed, it is clear that the fee is not a tax, but rather, part of the true cost of renting a room from Defendants,” Luca argues.

In addition to allegedly deceiving customers by excluding the resort fee in its pricing, Luca also claims that the terms of use “purport to disclaim virtually all liability connected with the booking process and renting a room” from Wyndham.

Two counts were brought forth against Wyndham including violation of New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act and violation of the Truth-in-Consumer Contract Warranty and Notice Act.

Luca is seeking to certify two nationwide Classes. Luca’s proposed Resort Fee Class would include all U.S. citizens who booked a Wyndham hotel room through its websites and were charged one or more resort fees. The proposed Terms of Use Class would include any U.S. citizens who booked a hotel through the website. Both proposed Classes would be bound by the statute of limitations.

On behalf of himself and the proposed Class, Luca is seeking injunctive relief for Wyndham to halt its allegedly deceptive advertising and launch a corrective advertising campaign, an injunction to remove the Terms of Use language in alleged violation of law, statutory damages, actual damages and/or treble damages, attorneys’ fees and costs and any other relief deemed fair by the court.

The plaintiff is represented by Gary F. Lynch, R. Bruce Carlson, Jamisen A. Etzel and Kevin Abramowicz of Carlson Lynch Sweet Kilpela & Carpenter, LLP; Joseph J. DePalma, Katrina Carroll and Kyle A. Shamberg of Lite DePalma Greenberg LLC; and Joseph P. Guglielmo and Erin Green Comite of Scott+Scott, Attorneys at Law, LLP.

The Wyndham Website Terms of Use Class Action Lawsuit is Thomas Luca Jr. v. Wyndham Worldwide Corporation, et al., Case No. 2:16-cv-00746, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

UPDATE: On Aug. 15, 2016, Wyndham filed a motion to dismiss a class action lawsuit alleging the hotel giant fails to adequately disclose its resort fee and advertises nightly room rates that do not include the per night resort fee charge.

UPDATE 2: On Sept. 14, 2016, the plaintiffs accusing Wyndham of failing to disclose hidden resort fees asked a federal court judge to deny the resort chain’s motion to dismiss a proposed class action lawsuit.

UPDATE 3: On February 15, 2017, a federal judge dismissed two of the Wyndham entities from the class action lawsuit, but has determined the case will proceed against the remaining defendants.

Wyndham Sued For Alleged Financial Fraud Against Senior Citizens

June 02, 2017

Insidethegate.com

NASHVILLE, TN (JUNE 02, 2017) — A Nashville law firm has filed several lawsuits in Tennessee alleging fraud, breach of contract, and violations of the Tennessee Timeshare Act against Wyndham Vacation Ownership, Inc., the world’s largest timeshare company.

Attorneys Aubrey Givens and Kristin Fecteau have seven lawsuits pending in State and Federal Court in Tennessee, alleging widespread abuse and consumer fraud by Wyndham and its subsidiaries.

Givens said, “We have over 285 senior citizens who are our clients who are alleging financial fraud.”

According to Complaints filed with the court the plaintiffs allege they are victims of fraud, deceptive trade practices, and were not advised of their right to rescind the deal until it went into effect. The allegations say that Wyndham sales people intentionally deceived, misled, and financially injured people who were buying Wyndham timeshares, especially targeting the elderly. Wyndham’s advertising states that in order to attend their sales presentation, prospective buyers must have a minimum annual household income of $60,000. However, there is no such qualification if someone is 55 or older or is fully retired.

The court documents allege that Wyndham engages in all kinds of deceptive tactics, such as selling timeshare points at hugely inflated prices, and failing to go over the information required when closing a real estate transaction as mandated by the Truth In Lending Act.

The lawsuits filed with the court also claim that Wyndham does not disclose that timeshare points are an illiquid asset with no aftermarket, making it difficult if not impossible for people to resell their Wyndham timeshares.

Other allegations included in the court documents state that during the sales process, Wyndham sales agents make numerous intentional or negligent misrepresentations designed by Wyndham to create a false sense of urgency, further pressuring owners to purchase new or additional timeshares.

Additionally, the court documents allege that Wyndham sales agents are intentionally verbally telling people things that are untrue, only to have them sign voluminous, fine-print documents that directly contradict the representations made to them during the sales presentation.

Fecteau said, “If we can make timeshare owners aware of their rights, we can let them know that they have an advocate who will look at their contracts and advise them of their options.”

The four lawsuits pending in Federal Court can be viewed by logging onto PACER, which is the Federal Court online access system.

$20 Million Verdict For Whistleblower Who Exposed Financial Fraud of Elderly By Wyndham Vacation Ownership -- World's Largest Timeshare Company

November 18, 2016 13:36 ET

Marketwired.com

SAN FRANCISCO, CA-- (Marketwired - Nov 18, 2016) - A San Francisco jury awarded $20 million to Trish Williams, a former Wyndham timeshare sales representative, who was wrongfully terminated for reporting timeshare fraud on the elderly (San Francisco Superior Court Case No. CGC-12-526187). The verdict, read late Thursday, followed a one-month trial in which Williams was represented by Chris Dolan of The Dolan Law Firm and Anne Costin of Costin Law Inc.

In 2010, the plaintiff, Williams, reported that elderly customers were being defrauded by Wyndham salespeople, who were opening and maxing out credit cards without their knowledge and lying about reducing interest rates, maintenance fees and the ability to obtain rental income from their timeshares. She also disclosed an illegal, industry-wide practice of falsely representing that if owners spend enough money, often hundreds of thousands of dollars, Wyndham would buy back the timeshare at full value at the owner's request.

Evidence presented at trial revealed that Wyndham employees engaged in "pitching heat," high pressure sales tactics involving deliberate lies and misrepresentations to get people to buy more timeshare "points." These sales practices included "TAFT" days, which stands for "Tell Them Any F@#*ing Thing" days, where employees were encouraged to say anything to make a sale as long as they didn't put it in writing. The highest selling sales agent was quoted as saying, "I sold my soul to the devil. I can say whatever I want so long as I don't put it in writing, that's why Wyndham has good lawyers."

"I am grateful a jury of 12 people exposed the facts of this fraud and confirmed that I was terminated for standing up to Wyndham on behalf of the elderly clients they were ripping off. For six long years, I have battled the world's largest timeshare corporation so that the facts showing their dishonesty would be revealed to an unbiased jury and the American public," said Williams following her verdict. "I want to say to others that know people are being cheated by their employers: have the courage to stand up and protect others. It's not easy, but it's the right thing to do. I'd also like to thank my lawyers, Anne Costin and Chris Dolan, who took my case and beat back the army of defense lawyers that Wyndham threw at us. We need more lawyers who will fight for what's right."

Williams' attorney, Costin, stated: "This was an epic battle against a well-funded army of lawyers that took us across the United States to obtain evidence and testimony demonstrating the fraud. This jury was deliberate and careful. In no way should this verdict be characterized as anything other than what it is: just compensation for Ms. Williams and a penalty of less than on half of one percent of this mammoth corporation's net value."

"This is a warning to corporations worldwide: do not steal from the elderly as you will be held accountable. Given the aging of our population, more and more elder financial fraud is occurring. Whistleblowers need to come forward, and they should be commended for their courage and sacrifice. If others in this industry, or any industry, see fraud, report it to an outside agency and make a protest to your company's ethics line. It's up to individual citizens, lawyers, judges and juries to protect the vulnerable and bring the powerful to justice," emphasized the plaintiff's attorney, Dolan.

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