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The Great Smoky Mountains are gorgeous. So, of course the prospect of a dream vacation in the Smokies is going to appeal to quite a few people. And if you pay for that dream vacation by, say, investing in a Gatlinburg timeshare, you'd like to actually go on that dream vacation.
But according to a recent lawsuit, one Tennessee resort was using high-pressure sales tactics to sell timeshares, and then never allowing buyers to visit.
"It's part of a very complicated, high pressure scheme, as we've alleged, to take money but deliver essentially nothing," according to plaintiffs' attorney Mark Chalos. Chalos is one of several attorneys suing the Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort and Spa, which promises its guests can "rest and relax" right in the heart of the Smokies, but good luck actually getting to use it.
"They're never told that in fact they're probably never going to be able to ever use the property," Chalos explained, claiming the Westgate sell condos not just once, but over and over and over again to dozens of buyers. "So, one unit, they may sell hundreds of times, and when people call to say, 'I'd like to use a week,' they're not available."
Perhaps the best (or worst) part of the scheme, according to Nashville's NewsChannel 5, were the binders given to timeshare purchasers which ostensibly held all the legal documents relating to the transaction, including those spelling out their right to cancel.
"It appears to be a standard practice there that they use these leather binders that have these secret compartments or secret pockets," Chalos told reporters, "and they appear to be used with some frequency." The attorney believes the secret pockets were designed to hide documents from consumers. Two Westgate customers have already filed lawsuits against the company, but hundreds more could be affected.