Thursday, October 29, 2015

Guest Blog Post From Michael Finn

As anyone who has read this blog knows, the ongoing issues with Festiva Orlando (formerly Celebration World Resort) and RCI and the ensuing Class Action lawsuit have been going on for several years.

Understandably, frustration has set in among many owners of the resort that are or may be affected.

Sadly, this frustration has taken a nasty turn...I've been accused of being a shill for Festiva...NOT TRUE.  The Finn Law Group has been accused of not being a real law firm...NOT TRUE.  And so on.

What follows is an unedited response from Michael Finn of the Finn Law Group:

Of course it's disheartening to hear that Finn Law Group is being characterized as being part of the problem and maybe even being controlled by the Defendants. It's further a frustration that I cannot divulge the status of the settlement negotiations because of the imposition of confidentiality that governs all settlements activities, this one being no exception. There are some statements I can make that shouldn't impact the settlement discussions, and I do feel compelled to defend my firm's efforts to obtain some recompense for the injured owners.


First, know that I believe the settlement negotiations have been mostly successful and we well should have a proposed resolution prior to the court ordered mediation date of Dec 16th, 2015. We have the framework of a potential resolution already in place, and, as they say, the devil has been in the details.


More importantly perhaps, at least to me, is addressing the insinuation that I've somehow, after 45 unblemished years of law practice, fallen in with the very industry I've been battling over the past 5 years. Believe me folks, no one on the timeshare developer/operator side of the equation is inclined to even speak to me, and selling out my clients after all these years is not even possible. They can't print that much money.


Please do recall that Celebration World, a defunct company did not sell or transfer the subject resort to Festiva. Festiva purchased the assets from a third party who obtained the Celebration assets after Celebration defaulted on their secured debt to this third party. Neither Festiva nor RCI, the prominent defendants in our litigation, were directly involved in either the default nor the repossession of Celebration Word assets. Many of you received notice from the State of Florida's DBPR (Department of Professional Regulation) that they had investigated the complaints of Celebration World owners, and in their opinion, nothing inappropriate occurred and further that they planned to take no action against any of the players, including our named Defendants. 


Finn Law Group saw things differently and with the involvement and direction of the class representatives, brought suit on their behalf. Class action litigation is costly and time consuming with no guarantees of a win. We've invested a lot of time and money in this, and owe a duty of loyalty to our clients, the class representatives. We have yet to receive a penny on this matter and are therefore perhaps the most unhappy participants in this oft delayed ordeal.


I can deal with all of the above, but what is a bitter pill for me to swallow after taking the risks I've taken, is being accused of being the reason for the delays in the proceedings, when exactly the opposite is accurate. I know you folks are looking for the source of delay to blame but to castigate the only law firm who's tried on their own dime to make some of this right, is simply inaccurate, and a tad hurtful!


I can't offer more than this at this time but I do hope the coming holiday season will be good to all of us similarly situated participants in this sad clean up of what should have been far better handled by the regulatory agencies who sat back and did nothing. Perhaps if you're looking for someone to be upset with, that might be a better place to start.


Mike Finn

Monday, October 26, 2015

Thinking About A Vacation Club? READ THIS

Day in and day out I receive e-mails from consumers who either are thinking that a vacation club is a great alternative to a timeshare, or have spent thousands of dollars on a vacation club and now that they are faced with the truth, want my help in getting their money back.

Sorry no can do.

Before you even think of spending a dime on a vacation club, READ THIS taken directly from our friends at Inside The Gate:

Global Vacation Ventures has entered into an agreement with the Florida Attorney General’s Office following accusations of fraud. An Assurance of Voluntary Compliance for Global Connections Inc. also known as Global Discovery Vacations, Premium Destinations, LLC, GVV, Florida Inc. doing business Global Vacation Network and Global Vacation Ventures was filed earlier this month.

Through 2013 the AG’s office received at least 51 complaints, most of them from people over 55, citing high pressure sales tactics and bait-and-switch, among other things. For instance, one couple booked a cruise through Global, but found their promised ocean view room turned out to be a view of a lifeboat. Others reported they could not reach the company within the three days required when they tried to cancel their membership.

Global Vacations is a distributorship/sales agent for Kansas-based Global Connections, Inc., the company that fulfills the travel club members’ vacation requests. Global has agreed to pay $5,000 towards attorneys’ and investigative fees and agreed to comply with a number of requirements, such as not using the word “free” in offering incentives to consumers to attend its sales presentations.

And of course Global denies it engaged in any wrongful or unlawful conduct and contends that its business practices were and are consistent with industry best practices and that fair and adequate disclosures were and are made to consumers. But just to resolve the complaints, the company agreed to the following requirements, among others:

• It cannot distribute any advertisements or offerings to the public using the following words: free, awarded, prize, absolutely without charge, free of charge, and words or groups of words of similar intent which reasonably lead consumers to believe they may receive something of value without payment, unless the item or a portion of it is free.

• It cannot make any statements to the public which offer items as free with conditions such as having to travel to a pickup location unless that is clearly and conspicuously disclosed.

• It must make an effort to ensure that at least 90 percent of all consumers who are offered and accept a marketing incentive for attending a sales presentation utilize it within one year. For example if 100 consumers are offered a free cruise, attend a presentation and seek to attend the free cruise within one year, at least 90 of those consumers must be able to book the cruise within a year.

• It must not make any misrepresentations to consumers with respect to the identity of the company selling the vacation club and travel services products, the identity of the company which is the actual fulfillment center for the products, which company’s Better Business Bureau ratings are being displayed or provided, the number of consumers served or a particular period of time and the length of time Global has been in the business of selling the product.

• It must provide consumers attending sales presentations with access to view a date-specific list of destination -based properties currently available for reservations through the travel club program during the succeeding 12 months via a web page or print-out hard copy of the webpage.

• It must not make false or misleading statements of fact concerning the reasons for, existence of, or amounts of price reductions as it relates to the sales of vacation club and travel services products.

• During sales presentations, it must accurately present the vacation club and travel services products and membership uses and benefits and fully describe the membership’s pricing and options.

Aw rats! A vacation/travel club distributor forced to sell a clean product in a clean manner? What’s next? Politicians forced to tell the truth?


Friday, October 23, 2015

The Timeshare Crusader Returns To The Airwaves

I'm delighted to announce that I return to the radio airwaves, this Sunday, October 25th.  From 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm, I'll be talking timeshare with Tom Kelly on KIRO in Seattle.

You can listen live and call in as well.

Here's the link:

Hope to hear from you!