Refund due timeshare buyers who claim they were duped

Time share buyers receive settlement in Pa.A Florida timeshare company will refund Pennsylvanians who say they were tricked into buying expensive vacations they couldn't take, says the state attorney general's office. Consumers have until June 24 to get the refund -- part of a settlement that ends a lawsuit filed in 2008 against Bluegreen Corp. and its related businesses.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett said in a statement that consumers complained they were "unable to use their timeshare," and that the company "made false promises about when or where consumers could travel and situations where timeshare purchasers did not receive extra services or discounts that were promised during the sales presentation."

Also listed in the lawsuit were Bluegreen Resorts, Bluegreen Vacations Unlimited Inc. and Great Vacations Destinations Inc., all of Boca Raton, Fla. Bluegreen owns or manages more than 45 resorts across the country including sites in New Orleans, Las Vegas, Orlando and Branson, Mo.

"Bluegreen is very pleased that the matter has been settled," says Stephen Wilke, the company's corporate communications director. He declined to comment further on the settlement.

Corbett said many of the complaints filed with his office were from consumers who spent $20,000 to $40,000 on vacation packages. The state expects more than $1 million to be refunded. The settlement also includes cash for those promised free gifts, including gas cards, hotel stays and airline tickets.

The statement says that, as part of the settlement, Bluegreen Corp. agreed to "eliminate future confusion about consumer rights involving timeshare purchases," to alter the way free gifts are advertised, and to comply with the state's Do Not Call law. Pennsylvania has a five-day "cooling off" period during which consumers can cancel a timeshare contract by notifying the seller in writing through certified or return receipt mail.

Consumers can call the state's consumer protection hotline at 800-441-2555 or use the attorney general's web site to make a complaint.
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