Sevierville vacation club closes doors

Sevierville vacation club closes doors, leaving customers out in the cold

Posted:
The book the Lentines received featured a number of possible destinations. The book the Lentines received featured a number of possible destinations.
"We didn't go anyplace. We couldn't get book anywhere," Deborah said. "We didn't go anyplace. We couldn't get book anywhere," Deborah said.
"I thought this was the way to go and we were dealing with a reputable company," Tony Lentine said. "I thought this was the way to go and we were dealing with a reputable company," Tony Lentine said.

By DON DARE
6 On Your Side Consumer Investigator

SEVIERVILLE (WATE) - A discount vacation club from Sevierville has closed its doors, creating a big financial loss for nearly 1,500 customers in several states.

With lots of time shares in our area, East Tennessee is rich with discount vacation clubs.

These businesses invite potential customers to seminars with the promise of a free vacation weekend or an offer of a big prize, as they lay out the details of their club's program.

Some clubs deliver the promise, but 6 On Your Side has reported over the years several that have come up short.

Deborah and Tony Lentine were customers of one of those companies - Royal Resorts International.

Pictures in a leather-bound book illustrate a variety of featured vacation destinations, places like Las Vegas, a number of beach locations, even the Wild West. The book is elaborate.

"I was very impressed," Deborah Lentine said.

"I thought this was the way to go and we were dealing with a reputable company," Tony Lentine said.

The Lentines were looking forward to some exciting vacations when the signed up with Royal Resorts International in November of 2010. They paid $2,500, plus another $89 a year.

But the excitement generated by the pretty pictures soon turned to disappointment.  
 
"We didn't go anyplace. We couldn't get book anywhere," Deborah said. "It didn't pan out. We're still very disappointed," said Tony.

Deborah said she tried to book a vacation for two years in a row, but the company always said nothing was available or would not return her calls.

The office for Royal Resorts International in Sevierville is now closed. 6 On Your Side has been told the two brothers who owned the business have left the state.

For customers like Tony and Deborah Lentine and nearly 1,500 others who signed up for the discount packages, a call brought them to the vacation club office at Governor's Crossing Mall.

"They enticed us by saying you could win a Lincoln Navigator and a free trip," Deborah said.

"When they told us how much to put down, they wanted $10,000. We declined, then they brought out another person to talk to us," Tony said.

"They put pressure on you. If you don't sign up now, then we can't offer this again to you," Deborah said.

At the Better Business Bureau, Jeanie Hoskins notes that most of the complaints against Royal Resorts International were problems with product and service.

"It's very high pressure," Hoskins said. "Don't sign anything unless you are absolutely sure you want it because once you can't change your mind once you do.>

"It's a scam," Deborah said.

As the Lentines look back now, they admit the decisions they made with the vacation club should have been wiser.

"Pay attention to everything they say but do not make a decision," Tony said. "When they talk money, say to yourself, 'Is it worth it or should I just walk out of this place?'"

Today, on the website for Royal Resorts International there is an emergency telephone number. By calling it, members of the club are connected to a legitimate business in North Carolina that takes requests for vacation travel for club members as long as their $89 renewal fee is paid.

At least one former customer of Royal Resorts International has sued the company.

In situations like this one, the Federal Trade Commission is one investigative arm of the government where people can file a complaint. 


You can see Don Dare's 6 On Your Side reports every Monday and Wednesday on 6 News at 5:00.

If you have a consumer question, send Don an email at ddare@wate.com or call his 6 On Your Side Hotline at (865) 633-5974.

Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WATE. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.