Murillo vs. R.C.I
RCI weeks members should be aware of developments regarding a possible class action lawsuit that is currently undergoing the class certification discovery process. The lawsuit is related to an alleged practice through which RCI takes out a lot of the gold crown, and highly sought after properties to rent out to the general public for profit, or for use as a fringe benefit for RCI employees and special guests. This skimming of available weeks makes it difficult for RCI timeshare resort weeks members to bank weeks for exchange at other resorts, since the availability pool is severely limited by this activity.
It is a well-known fact that RCI weeks members experience a great amount of difficulty when trying to find comparable exchanges within the RCI system. The plaintiffs in this law suit are asking for an injunctive relief through which RCI would be required to provide notice to Weeks Program members about RCI’s rental practices, as well as other relief, including reimbursement of the profits RCI has earned as a result of the alleged wrongful practices.
The class action suit was originally filed in May of 2006 so we can expect it to be quite some time before this case would go to trial. The current status of the case seems to be tied up with uncovering evidence to show that the lawsuit can hold its weight in the courtroom, and this could take quite some time – usually years. If you are a weeks member that wishes to be included if the lawsuit is heard in a court of law you do not need to do anything. All weeks members will receive relevant literature regarding the case by mail prior to the trial date, and at that time you will have the option to opt out of the case – which basically means you will not be held to any of the binding litigation that comes as a result of the trial.
This lawsuit should prove interesting, especially considering that RCI has financial interest in two companies that rent out timeshare weeks to the general public – Snap Travel and Leisure Link. I am not sure if they have controlling interest in SnapTravel and LeisureLink, but I look forward to hearing them try to talk themselves out of the accusations of selling highly sought after time share resort properties to non-members while RCI members are forced to trade their weeks for stays at resorts that can be considered mediocre at best.
UPDATE: RCI may be trying to settle this case out of court. On July 8, 2008 a settlement conference was held in U.S. District Court in New Jersey, and another was held July 15, 2008 in Federal Court in Newark, NJ. We are still waiting to see what the next steps are in the case, and if they did agree on terms for settlement.
This just makes me wonder – if RCI really believes they have done nothing wrong, and have nothing to hide, why wouldn’t they be requesting a trial date??
LATEST UPDATE: December 2008, it appears Murillo and RCI have reached a settlement. No word yet on whether or not this has been approved, but if approved, this settlement will allow RCI members to search prior to depositing a week. RCI will also be required to disclose trading power in all relevant situations (which, to me, would seem like any instance in which a trade is being processed). Please see the post – Murillo vs. RCI Settlement Conditions – for the verbose outline of the settlement agreement, and what you, as an RCI member, may be entitled to.