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SVN - new arbitration provision

whwaldo

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Received my 2016 maintenance fee statement, which references a new arbitration provision in the SVN network disclosure guide. The provision mandates arbitration of disputes, and also includes a class action waiver (if you arbitrate you can't join a class action lawsuit). There is an opt-out provision (quoted below).

So - can anyone think of any reason that every existing SVN member/owner should not immediately opt out of this new provision?

-------------------------------------
Right to Reject Arbitration Provision: Owner may reject this Section by sending Network Operator a written notice which gives Owner’s name and Agreement number and states that Owner rejects the Arbitration Provision.
The rejection notice must be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested, to Vistana Vacation Network, Inc.,
9002 San Marco Ct., Orlando, Florida 32819, Attn: Legal Department - Arbitration Rejection Notice. A rejection notice must be signed by Owner and received by Network Operator within thirty (30) days after becoming a
Network Member or 30 days after these Network Rules have been updated, whichever date is later. Rejection of arbitration will not affect any other term of this Agreement.
 

BLUE AYES

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"The provision mandates arbitration of disputes, and also includes a class action waiver (if you arbitrate you can't join a class action lawsuit). "

There has been much discussion in legal circles, including recent NY Times articles about how corporations are moving to demand arbitration and limit consumers, employees, etc. from joining class action law suits.

The Supreme Court has enforced the rights of corporations to have law suits dismissed and classes decertified if the consumer accepts arbitration and gives up the right to join a class action.

YOU SHOULD OPT OUT OF THIS REQUEST FOR ARBITRATION !!!!
 

ragdoll

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WOW!

Received my 2016 maintenance fee statement, which references a new arbitration provision in the SVN network disclosure guide. The provision mandates arbitration of disputes, and also includes a class action waiver (if you arbitrate you can't join a class action lawsuit). There is an opt-out provision (quoted below).

So - can anyone think of any reason that every existing SVN member/owner should not immediately opt out of this new provision?

-------------------------------------
Right to Reject Arbitration Provision: Owner may reject this Section by sending Network Operator a written notice which gives Owner’s name and Agreement number and states that Owner rejects the Arbitration Provision.
The rejection notice must be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested, to Vistana Vacation Network, Inc.,
9002 San Marco Ct., Orlando, Florida 32819, Attn: Legal Department - Arbitration Rejection Notice. A rejection notice must be signed by Owner and received by Network Operator within thirty (30) days after becoming a
Network Member or 30 days after these Network Rules have been updated, whichever date is later. Rejection of arbitration will not affect any other term of this Agreement.

Thanks to you for spying this devious clause which was cleverly buried in a miscellaneous paragraph of nonsense! Everyone should read it.
 

DanCali

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Did owners at all resorts receive this? Didn't see it in my WKV MF statement.
 

vacationtime1

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Did owners at all resorts receive this? Didn't see it in my WKV MF statement.

It's there -- and very well hidden. Look on the back of the first page of your bill; there is a typewritten paragraph with a link to a website. The arbitration provision is on the website.

I would never have read the paragraph (let alone looked on the website), if OP hadn't posted this.
 

cubigbird

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It's there -- and very well hidden. Look on the back of the first page of your bill; there is a typewritten paragraph with a link to a website. The arbitration provision is on the website.

I would never have read the paragraph (let alone looked on the website), if OP hadn't posted this.

Why WOULDN'T you opt out? If you do, does that impact your membership in SVN or impact resort ownership?
 

whwaldo

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It's there -- and very well hidden. Look on the back of the first page of your bill; there is a typewritten paragraph with a link to a website. The arbitration provision is on the website.

I would never have read the paragraph (let alone looked on the website), if OP hadn't posted this.
<---- Lawyer. I always read the fine print, and advise everyone to do the same.
 

whwaldo

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Credit where credit is due - TUGger YYJMSP found this weeks ago:
http://tugbbs.com/forums/showthread.php?t=233399

Need to read it in full - in the credit card arena, if you object to a change in the terms of service, you often need to stop using the card. I'm not at all thrilled with an arbitration provision, but don't want to impact my SVN membership. Will report back if I can determine anything.
 

cubigbird

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<---- Lawyer. I always read the fine print, and advise everyone to do the same.

What happens if we object and opt out per the document? How does that change our membership?
 

LisaRex

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Not to be a wet blanket, but if only a handful of people opt out, then opting out is essentially meaningless because the vast majority of potential plaintiffs are now theoretically restricted to arbitration. IOW, no law firm is going to spend a bunch of time and money representing the dozen owners who actually read the fine print and opted out.

However, if an issue actually does arise that is truly worthy of a class-action suit, I have no doubt that a class action lawsuit could still successfully be filed. Their first order of business would be proving that Starwood acted in bad faith with this rules change by burying this arbitration provision in fine print and making it an "Opt out" provision.

Just MHO.
 

BLUE AYES

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LisaRex,

Please be very careful about dispensing advice such as " I have no doubt that a class action lawsuit could still successfully be filed". As an attorney of over 20 years, I disagree with that statement. Most requests for arbitration are hidden in the fine print. Please everyone, do a Google search for the large investigative NYT article about this very issue. There have been HMOs and Doctors that couldn't be sued for horrific malpractice claims because of arbitration clauses, groups of employees that were discriminated against that could not get class certification because of an agreement to arbitrate.
 

BLUE AYES

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Maybe I'm a conspiracy theorist too, but this request for arbitration coming on the heels of the SVO sale and the announced Starwood sale stinks. I'm sure long term some of our benefits or perceived values will dissipate. Perhaps SPG Platinum for Life or the ability to convert options to points will disappear.

Maybe then those of us with six figures invested in SVO will want to sue II or Marriott to restore our benefits.

From the SVO web site (about the II deal)

"WILL CURRENT AND FUTURE STARWOOD VACATION NETWORK (SVN) MEMBERS STILL HAVE ACCESS TO STARWOOD HOTELS? WILL I STILL BE ABLE TO CONVERT MY STAROPTIONS TO STARPOINTS AND ACCESS STARWOOD HOTELS WORLDWIDE?

Yes, all current and future Owners will continue to enjoy Gold-level access to the Starwood Preferred Guest® program as they have in the past. The terms and conditions governing access to Starwood hotels through SVN and the SPG program are reviewed and updated from time to time. Any changes that may take place in the ordinary course of business would not be attributable to the transaction".
 

LisaRex

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LisaRex,

Please be very careful about dispensing advice such as " I have no doubt that a class action lawsuit could still successfully be filed". As an attorney of over 20 years, I disagree with that statement.

Listen, I appreciate your concern. However, I think it's clear to everyone that I wasn't "dispensing advice." I was simply expressing my lay person's opinion on rather innocuous matter (IMO) on an informal, non-professional, message board. I even ended my argument with the words, "Just MHO." So I actually WAS being careful.

BLUE AYES said:
Most requests for arbitration are hidden in the fine print.

BLUE AYES said:
There have been HMOs and Doctors that couldn't be sued for horrific malpractice claims because of arbitration clauses, groups of employees that were discriminated against that could not get class certification because of an agreement to arbitrate.

You actually keep bolstering my position: If the courts actually do allow these sneaky rules changes to stick, then the class action is essentially dead anyway. Because the vast majority of owners (pick 1 or more): 1) Don't really understand the rules change; 2) Don't really object to arbitration; 3) Don't even realize that Starwood is attempting to change the rules; 4) Won't be arsed to Opt Out anyway.

Honestly, I can't even imagine a cause of action against a Vacation Ownership group that would cause me to bemoan the loss of my Class Action rights. However, if I had to dispense actual paid advice, I'd say to always err on the side of caution and Opt Out. For all the good it'll do you.

Once again, IANAL (I am not a lawyer) so this is just MHO (my humble opinion).
 

Markus

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Maybe I'm a conspiracy theorist too, but this request for arbitration coming on the heels of the SVO sale and the announced Starwood sale stinks. I'm sure long term some of our benefits or perceived values will dissipate. Perhaps SPG Platinum for Life or the ability to convert options to points will disappear.

Maybe then those of us with six figures invested in SVO will want to sue II or Marriott to restore our benefits.

From the SVO web site (about the II deal)

"WILL CURRENT AND FUTURE STARWOOD VACATION NETWORK (SVN) MEMBERS STILL HAVE ACCESS TO STARWOOD HOTELS? WILL I STILL BE ABLE TO CONVERT MY STAROPTIONS TO STARPOINTS AND ACCESS STARWOOD HOTELS WORLDWIDE?

Yes, all current and future Owners will continue to enjoy Gold-level access to the Starwood Preferred Guest® program as they have in the past. The terms and conditions governing access to Starwood hotels through SVN and the SPG program are reviewed and updated from time to time. Any changes that may take place in the ordinary course of business would not be attributable to the transaction".

I am worried about this as well, and am suspicious about the timing. I enjoy my conversion and platinum benefits and would not like to see these changed.
 

DavidnRobin

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I am worried about this as well, and am suspicious about the timing. I enjoy my conversion and platinum benefits and would not like to see these changed.

Don't worry... they stated it is a WIN-WIN for all, and will make SVO/SVN Great Again!
:hysterical:
 

DanCali

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It's there -- and very well hidden. Look on the back of the first page of your bill; there is a typewritten paragraph with a link to a website. The arbitration provision is on the website.

I would never have read the paragraph (let alone looked on the website), if OP hadn't posted this.

Found it....:eek:

Thanks!
 

JudyS

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,,,,
Right to Reject Arbitration Provision: Owner may reject this Section by sending Network Operator a written notice which gives Owner’s name and Agreement number and states that Owner rejects the Arbitration Provision.
The rejection notice must be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested, to Vistana Vacation Network, Inc.,
9002 San Marco Ct., Orlando, Florida 32819, Attn: Legal Department - Arbitration Rejection Notice. A rejection notice must be signed by Owner and received by Network Operator within thirty (30) days after becoming a
Network Member or 30 days after these Network Rules have been updated, whichever date is later. Rejection of arbitration will not affect any other term of this Agreement.
Whwaldo, thank you for posting this!

Certified mail only, huh? It seems Starwood is trying to make this as difficult as legally possible.

I own Starwood, but only at non-mandatory resorts purchased resale. I have no StarOptions. So, does that mean I am not a member of SVN and this arbitration provision doesn't apply to me? :ponder: The Starwood website always refers to my reservations, MFs, and so forth as being part of SVN, even though technically they are not.

Also, since I do not own StarOptions, all of my ownership rights are pretty clearly started in the condo documents and deeds. Is that protection enough? :shrug:
 

JudyS

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Perhaps I have already found the answer to my question.

Tugger YYJMSP posted the text of the arbitration opt-out "notice":

We’re always looking for ways to enhance your Owner experience and expand the ways you plan vacations. As you know, earlier this year we began offering nightly stays reserved 8 months prior to your vacation dates. And, with updates to StarwoodVacationNetwork.com, making online villa reservations is now easier and more convenient than ever. In addition, we are pleased to provide the updated SVEC Guide and SVN Rules, starwoodvacationnetwork.com/2015-svn-rules-mandatory which contain a new arbitration provision. SVN Owners who are interested in opting out of the arbitration provision can do so within 30 days of receiving this notice. Please read the arbitration provision for more information on how to opt out.

Sounds like this applies only to people with StarOptions...
 

DanCali

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Not to be a wet blanket, but if only a handful of people opt out, then opting out is essentially meaningless because the vast majority of potential plaintiffs are now theoretically restricted to arbitration. IOW, no law firm is going to spend a bunch of time and money representing the dozen owners who actually read the fine print and opted out.

However, if an issue actually does arise that is truly worthy of a class-action suit, I have no doubt that a class action lawsuit could still successfully be filed. Their first order of business would be proving that Starwood acted in bad faith with this rules change by burying this arbitration provision in fine print and making it an "Opt out" provision.

Just MHO.

From what I know (and I am not a lawyer either) you need at least 40-50 people for a class action.

If you don't opt out of arbitration, you won't be able to be part of a class but I imagine that with this thread going on, at least a few dozen will opt out.

That said - arbitration may have advantages too. It's faster and it's cheaper (seems Starwood picks the tab on arbitration expenses over $250).

But given how this was done, and how well hidden, I can't help thinking that's it's a bad idea to give up the right to a trial by jury or class action.
 

DanCali

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What happens if we object and opt out per the document? How does that change our membership?

The answer is pretty clear in the document itself:

"Right to Reject Arbitration Provision: Owner may reject this Section by sending SVN Operator a written notice which gives Owner’s name and Agreement number and states that Owner rejects the Arbitration Provision. The rejection notice must be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested, to Starwood Vacation Exchange Company, 9002 San Marco Ct., Orlando, Florida 32819, Attn: Legal Department - Arbitration Rejection Notice. A rejection notice must be signed by Owner and received by SVN Operator within thirty (30) days after becoming a SVN Member or 30 days after these SVN Rules have been updated, whichever date is later. Rejection of arbitration will not affect any other term of this Agreement."
 

LisaRex

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But given how this was done, and how well hidden, I can't help thinking that's it's a bad idea to give up the right to a trial by jury or class action.

I'm pretty sure my SVV docs already state that I've given up my right to a jury trial. I'll look it up later.
 

JudyS

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...

That said - arbitration may have advantages too. It's faster and it's cheaper (seems Starwood picks the tab on arbitration expenses over $250)....
The problem is, the organizations who do arbitration tend to strongly favor companies, not consumers. Many companies' arbitration rules actually give the company the right to choose the arbitrator. I don't know if that is true of Starwood's arbitration clause or not.

Arbitration seems to work well in situations such as divorces, where both parties have relatively equal power. In cases where a small group of consumers is fighting a large company, the company almost always wins.
 

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How do you know when the 30 day clock starts if you own multiple weeks and get the mantinence fee notice at different times? I would like to send a single notice. Any thoughts? Or did I miss the boat already?
 

okwiater

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How do you know when the 30 day clock starts if you own multiple weeks and get the mantinence fee notice at different times? I would like to send a single notice. Any thoughts? Or did I miss the boat already?

I was wondering the same thing, but the language ("Owner's name and agreement number") suggests that you have to reject arbitration for every one of your contracts separately.
 
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