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Missouri AG sues Branson Resort

Suzy

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I saw this in our local newspaper, and went to the website. Festiva must be a high-pressure sales presentation.

Nixon sues Branson timeshare broker for high-pressure and misleading sales tactics. Alleging high-pressure and misleading sales tactics, Attorney General Nixon is suing Festiva Resorts, which sells timeshares at the Cabins at Green Mountain, located in Branson. In a suit filed in Taney County Circuit Court, Nixon says Festiva violated Missouri consumer protection laws by misleading customers into buying timeshares. The lawsuit alleges Festiva lured consumers by falsely promising to:

Help them sell other timeshares they owned.
Help them rent out timeshares they bought from Festiva.
Help them get good deals on condo rentals in attractive locations.
Help them get good deals on vacation packages.
Give refunds to those dissatisfied with their purchase.

Nixon also says Festiva didn’t give consumers enough time to make decisions, creating a sense of urgency and a high-pressure sales environment.
 

dougp26364

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Looks like the AG might as well go after EVERY timeshare doing business in the state of MO then. All of them make promises very similar to what's listed in your post. He (or she) should sit in on a Bluegreen, Westgate or Sunterra presentation sometime.
 

JLB

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Vacations deals have always been a favorite of Jay Nixon. He travels around the state and gives speeches about his record against the vacation industry.

However, in the past I have never noticed it to be against actually, legitimate, timeshare efforts. It has normally been against vacation clubs or the guy that bought a Branson motel and then timeshared it out on his own.

This is new. Libraria will have soemthing to say. I know she has been pressured to upgrade their Cabins on Green Mountain pre-Festiva to Festiva, and has resisted.

But, like you say, who hasn't been made all those same promises?

I have sent my timeshare gripes to the MO AG, and you can do that at:

ag@ago.mo.gov
 

Suzy

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I'm sure they do make similar claims, but like Jim said, he's usually targeted the vacation clubs. I don't know if this was a few isolated sales reps or not.

In the lawsuit, Nixon is asking the court to order Festiva to refund more than $200,000 to consumers who were misled into buying timeshares from the company. The lawsuit also seeks preliminary and permanent injunctions, fines of up to $1,000 per violation of the law and reimbursement to the state for its investigative and legal costs.

I guess they have all passed the recission period, so it will be interesting to see what happens.
 

Kal

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I would be willing to wager that every single buyer signed a document that any verbal statement they have heard from the developer has no merit and the only binding agreements are those in writing.

Sounds like a vote getting gimmic.
 

geekette

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We went to a presentation there and it was pretty awful, while I've never been pressured like that by Bluegreen. He made fake phone calls to his ts broker to get us an offer to buy our "worthless" ownership. What with that juicy amount from the broker, we could easily afford a cabin!

Absolutely true on the misleading crap, as the guy was producing typed-up crap and trying to pass it off as legal docs. He was making up stuff about how Bluegreen points wouldn't be usuable as soon as "the court order" went into effect. So much mumbo jumbo. I can see how people could have been duped, scared into "trading" what they have for what he was selling, only to find out later, there had been no broker on the phone, no guy making out a check for $10k.

No other presentations I've been to have stooped as low as the Festiva guy. That's just my limited experience.
 

JLB

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Kal said:
I would be willing to wager that every single buyer signed a document that any verbal statement they have heard from the developer has no merit and the only binding agreements are those in writing.

Sounds like a vote getting gimmic.
Au contraire. :D

I can assure you that Mr. Nixon's office does not just run down to Branson and gather up the hooligans at the drop of a hat. There must have been a heck of a lot of very similar complaints that were then documented by some methods for him to file charges like are being talked about.

Even if they did sign the routine documents, which we all know they did, the AG here would not file charges without proof of verbal misrepresentation. He just wouldn't do it. I don't believe he has ever lost a vacation-related suit, and the industry knows it.

Hey, this isn't Florida! :cool:
 

JLB

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If I'm not mistaken, after years and years of doing a pretty dang good job of being an AG, he has recently announced that he is running for Governor, because he and the kid running our state are having a feud.
 

JLB

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If Westgate tried the stuff here that they do in Orlando they would be getting served also.

Amazingly, I have not heard any complaints about them here, yet.
 

libraria99

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Great news! Festiva’s latest newsletter tells us they are building a new timeshare in Branson. Will give everyone many more opportunities to listen to their sales pitch, ha, ha.

OK, here’s my Festiva story, long, but you might be interested. Cabins at Green Mountain were originally built as Lodges at Maple Creek. That developer went bankrupt and the resort was purchased by Festiva who are building many more units. But, I guess because of the bankruptcy, the original Lodges owners are not considered “Festiva” owners. I bought a float week deeded to one of the original Lodges units, which is a nice one because it is close to clubhouse and the back porch is right on the “babbling brook”. The newer units are up a hill and overlook parking spaces. I bought it on eBay re-sale, paying less than $1,000 in 2003. Our first visit was Thanksgiving week in 2004. We were only going to stay a few days, then had rented out the 4-day Thanksgiving weekend. When we checked in they asked if we would like a 30-minute tour of the new things Festiva was adding to the resort. They would give us two free show tickets. No thanks, we already had our show tickets. How about two free dinners? No thanks, our plans were already made. How about $40 cash? Well, ok, that sounds good. Well, there was no tour because it was rainy and cold, but a young man came to our unit. Basically, what he wanted was for us to trade in our unit and buy a “Festiva” unit, because we could then do an internal exchange for their other resorts, or go on a yacht, all these wonderful things. No thanks, we just want to use our unit here in Branson. But, he said he could sell us an every third year usage unit for ONLY $5,000. No thanks, just want to come to Branson. BUT, he says, Festiva is paying for all these new things at the resort, new pool, etc. I say, what are you going to do? Kick me out of the swimming pool? Well, no. He’s half way out the door when I say, hey, where’s my $40? So he signed a piece of paper that I had to take to the sales office to get my $40.

Something sort of ironic happened that week. We went to the clubhouse for one of the planned activities. There were only about 8 people there, and one of the couples we met were there with their granddaughter. Turns out they were the original owners of our unit, and had succumbed to the sales pitch to buy a “Festiva” unit, because, they told us they were afraid they would lose everything. They asked how much I paid for it, and when I told them, they just got a “sick” look on their face.

I’ve also had e-mail correspondence with someone who bought a “foreclosure” every other year unit for $5,000. They were told they could rent out their unit for big bucks and use the money to go other places, or they could go anywhere in the *exchange* company book for $199/week. They told me they were going to reserve a $199 week over Christmas in Hawaii for a honeymoon for their daughter. I haven’t been in contact with them lately, but I highly doubt they were able to do this.

So, that’s my Festiva story. I love the resort. We went the last weekend in October and the staff are very friendly. Hopefully, I will always be able to reserve one of the original units because I love their location.
 

dougp26364

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Sounds like Festiva is one of the worst. I can't say that Bluegreen was as bad but......they did tell a lot of lies in order to try to get us to purchase.

Sunterra in Williamsburg told lies about as bad as what has been posted about Festiva. We were told we could transfer our weeks with other resorts into Sunterra's system and get something like 27 weeks of usage out of our 5 weeks of ownership. We could then rent those weeks for $1,000 (or more) per week so we would be making $27,000 (or more) less the cost of our MF's. We were also told that we wouldn't have to do ANYTHING. Sunterra would take care of EVERYTHING including renting those 27 weeks for us. If Sunterra in Branson tells such stories then the MO AG would need to look into them.

Club De Soliel in Vegas was trying to sell us a unit as an investment. They were trying to tell us we'd be able to pay the MF's on the Soliel unit PLUS the MF's on our two PT's units ($1,500 between the two) by renting out just one week at their resort. There weeks were actually renting for around $400/week for a two bedroom at the time. Not enough to even cover their own MF let alone the other units we owned at the time.

Sunterra, Club De Soliel and Bluegreen have all tried to tell us we could WRITE OFF our timeshare travel expenses on our federal/state income taxes. If that's not an outright lie (and illegal for giving tax advice) then I don't know what is.

In reality, if ANY state AG ever launched a full undercover investigation into timeshare sales practices, I bet they could pretty much make a living taking them into court.

Keep in mind that I don't believe the AG suits in civil court but is bringing a legal action for breaking the law against Festiva. I believe the burden of proof is much higher than in civil court.
 

JLB

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What I said before, the industry knows that Mr. Nixon knows what the burden of proof is, and that he does not file charges if he does not have the goods.

He is not involved in a conspiracy to vilify innocent businesses.
 

dougp26364

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Personally, I think it's a good thing. TS sales have been a racket for as long as we've gone to them (since '98). I'm happy that someone is at least trying to get them to clean up the lies we hear on a routine basis or hold them accountable for what they say in a sales presentation.

If other businesses told the lies TS salesman routinely tell, there would be a congressional investigation into the buisness practices of that industry. Just imagine if car salesman told eveyone that: Their cars would get 150 MPG, resale values would go UP, the cars would withstand any accident without damage, insurance premiums and cost of maintenance would never go up and that there would never be a recall (or had never been a recall) of any car they sold. Or how about, if you're not happy, we'll glady refund you money with no questions asked?

If any other indurstry allowed their sales staff to tell the lies that TS sales staff regularly tells, they'd be put out of business.
 
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