A Colorado-based timeshare sales company recently settled a lawsuit filed by the state for $325,000, according to reports from the Vail Daily and BusinessDen.
Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman brought the suit against Highlands Resorts at Christie Lodge and its head, Edward “Todd” Herrick, along with another salesperson and vendors, for employing tactics that the state says “intentionally deceived, misled and financially injured consumers.”
What sorts of tactics? Amy DiPierro at BusinessDen paints a stark picture:
According to the lawsuit, Highlands Resorts hired third parties to conduct telemarketing and postcard campaigns, telling would-be buyers they could redeem free travel packages by attending sales seminars.
But after enduring a 90-minute pitch, the state alleges, customers received certificates for their “free” airline tickets and cruises – which included deposits as high as $200 and only applied to trips at predetermined times and in predetermined places.
Highlands Resorts told customers the travel packages were worth $1,900, but each certificate only cost the timeshare business $40 to buy, the complaint claims.
In addition to luring consumers in with flimsy promises, the company also used deceptive sales practices, according to the Attorney General’s complaint. According to documents, Highlands Resorts would claim that the price of a timeshare would jump up to $25,000 unless customers took advantage of a same-day discount offered during the sales presentation. The state, however, alleged that said “discount” never expired, and most consumers paid just a fraction of that supposed $25,000 value.
“Highlands Resorts feared that if a consumer left the sales presentation without making a purchase, they would never return,” the state wrote in its complaint.
And it doesn’t stop there. As BusinessDen reports, the company “also contacted Colorado residents on the state’s no-call list.” Highlands Resorts was also “not a registered telemarketer in Colorado for most of the time that it marketed Christie Lodge properties,” according to the state; while it eventually registered itself after being notified by the state Attorney General, “its vendors did not,” DiPierro writes.
It’s important to note that Highlands Resorts is not a part of Christie Lodge, one of the nation’s largest independent timeshare properties. Instead, Highlands Resorts was contracted by the Lodge to sell timeshare weeks; it was Herrick who added “Christie Lodge” to his company’s name when Highlands Resorts landed the contract, according to the Vail Daily. Citing lack of performance, Christie Lodge’s board of directors severed its contract with Highlands Resorts in March of 2016, long before the state filed its suit in Denver County Court.
Led by Attorney Michael D. Finn with 50 years of experience, the Finn Law Group is a consumer protection firm specializing in timeshare law. Our lawyers understand vacation ownership as well as the many pitfalls of the secondary market of timeshare resales. If you feel you have been victimized by a timeshare company, contact our offices for a free consultation. Know your rights as a consumer and don’t hesitate to drop us a line with any questions or concerns.