posted: Jan. 31, 2009 @ 2:16p
If you were a member of the RCI Weeks Exchange Program at any time from January 1, 2000 through November 30, 2008, you may be eligible for benefits.
The lawsuit claimed that RCI rented deposited weeks rather than make them available for exchange. http://www.weeksprogramsettlement.com/pdf%27s/NewNotice2.pdf
You may participate in this settlement only if you were a member of the RCI Weeks® Exchange Program at
any time between January 1, 2000 and November 20, 2008. To make a claim, either (i) complete this Claim
Form online at via a link at www.weeksprogramsettlement.com and submit it electronically no later than April
6, 2009 by clicking the “Submit” icon at the end of the online form, or (ii) complete the Claim Form manually
and mail it to the address set forth in Section IV below, postmarked no later than April 6, 2009.
Timeshare owners enrolled in the exchange program with RCI have grown increasingly frustrated by the unavailability of equitable timeshare trades. This frustration has culminated in two separate class action lawsuits being filed in New Jersey on March 14, 2006, both suits alleging RCI allows improper rentals and is committing fraud.
In the case filed in the United States District Court for New Jersey, the Complainant, Murillo, accuses RCI of marketing its program to RCI memebers as though they are the only ones to have access to the deposited timeshare weeks. The lawsuit summary introduction alleges, "As RCI tells it, each member can deposit his or her timeshare with RCI - thereby making it available for other members of the program - and can then withdraw a timeshare [that] another member has deposited. A key selling point is that only members of the program can access the deposited timeshares. This concept of a one-for-one exchange exclusively among RCI members is RCI's bedrock marketing principle. Unfortunately, RCI creates this image of its program through a uniform fraudulent, deceptive and unconscionable marketing scheme." On RCI's home website, it states "One of the most significant benefits of RCI subscribing membership is the ability to exchange into one of the many RCI affiliated resorts...Exchange Vacations are a great solution when you need to change the annual weeks you've been assigned at your resort. Simply deposit that week with RCI and choose a vacation at a time and place that works for you." The process sounds remarkably easy, but unfortunately for the RCI members, they're finding it anything but. Comments regarding the lawsuit that were sent in to "Timesharing Today" magazine vary from, "I have suspected precisely what is being alleged against RCI. I hope someone nails them good" to "Three cheers for the lawsuit," and "May I be in the complaint, residing in Maryland?"
This backlash is because members are realizing that using the program isn't nearly as simple as RCI claims it is. The lawsuit further alleges that "In practice, the RCI members are not the only persons with access to the timeshares. While RCI members deposit their timeshares into the system, RCI does not make all these timeshares available for exchange. Instead, RCI skims a large percentage of the timeshares from the system, including many prime timeshares, and rents these out to the general public for profit. RCI also uses these timeshares for promotional purposes and as fringe benefits for its employees, further depleting the number of timeshares available for member exchanges." Unlike any normal banking procedure where a customer can make a withdrawal equal to a deposit, people who bank their weeks hoping to exchange their time for time of equal value are unable to regardless of following normal and expected usage protocol.
The detrimental consequences to the majority of RCI members are plenty. As outlined in the lawsuit, "Through these and other business practices, RCI converts many of the prime timeshare deposits into cash, leaving much less desirable timeshares in the system for member exchanges. As a result of these fraudulent practices, the actual exeriences of many RCI members is that no matter how meticulously they follow RCI's rules and procedures, no matter how far in advance they begin looking for an exchange, they simply cannot find any comparable exchanges. RCI profits by these practices at the expense of its members, whose timeshares and RCI "benefits" are rendered virtually worthless."
Even more exasperating is the commonly held belief that RCI is involved in agreements with travel vendors further depleting available timeshare exchanges for paying RCI members. This allegation is made by both the Murillo Complaint, and also the Chase class action suit filed in New Jersey Superior Court. The claims are that "RCI secretly enters into agreements with third-party vendors who purchase high-demand timeshare weeks which had been deposited by members and resell them to the general public through various websites, while concealing any relationship with RCI," and that "RCI, despite its public pronouncements to the contrary, uses weeks deposited by members to provide inventory for its various affiliated rental programs." Because the allegations in these cases are similar, it's likely that they will be consolidated into one case, and both have already been assigned to the same Judge. RCI has only commented that their "policy is not to comment on matters in litigation." For more information visit www.RCIClassAction.com