SB 1034 Regulates vacation clubs
LR Number:3711L.12C Fiscal Note:3711-12
Committee:Economic Development, Tourism & Local Government
Last Action:05/14/04 - H Calendar S Bills for Third Reading w/HCS Journal page:
Title:HCS SS SCS SB 1034
Effective Date:August 28, 2004
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Current Bill Summary

HCS/SS/SCS/SB 1034 - The act concerns vacation clubs exclusively and does not include travel agencies.

In this act, vacation clubs are defined as businesses selling the reoccurring right to purchase vacation benefits at discounted prices and charging customers a membership fee that collectively equals at least $300.

Vacation clubs will be required to maintain an effective registration statement with the Attorney General's office. The registration statement must contain the following information:

(1) Pertinent identification information - the club's name, affiliation with other organizations, place of organization, bylaws, governing documents, names of owners and directors, address, and other organizational information; and

(2) A description of the vacation benefits offered for sale.

The Attorney General must provide evidence of his or her approval of the registration statement within 30 days of its submission. If the registration statements meets the requirements stated, the Attorney General must approve the registration. If deficiencies exist, the Attorney General must inform the vacation club in writing to allow the club the right to cure. The Attorney General must provide the advice needed to cure the deficiency within 15 working days from the initial filing of the documents.

Vacation clubs that are currently operating may continue their business during the processing of their registration statements as long as it is filed within 90 days of the effective date. Registration of a vacation club is not transferable.

The Attorney General may charge an annual renewal fee of no more than $250 for registration statements. The renewal must be made within 30 calendar days of the anniversary date of the issuance of the club's registration statement.

In addition to the registration statement, the Vacation Club must provide the following:

(1) The form of contract which contains a recission statement;

(2) The form of surety bond that will be issued upon approval of the registration statement by the Attorney General, which can include a bond, letter of credit, certificate of deposit, or other financial assurance; and

(3) Payment of $250.

The recission statement in the contract will state that the customer has the right to rescind the transaction for five working days after the date of agreement by delivering a written statement and he or she must return all materials received from the club. The rescission statement will state that a complaint may be filed with the local county mediation board, local prosecutor or the Attorney General.

The rescission statement will contain the addresses for the Attorney General's Office, the office of the local prosecuting attorney, and the county board of vacation club mediation. The statement shall also include the address which the vacation club has designated for the receipt of complaints.

The surety bond that is required to accompany the registration statement must be for $50,000. However, in the event that a surety bond has been accessed previously to reimburse purchasers, the amount of the bond shall be increased by $25,000 per reimbursement.

The surety bond is designed to reimburse customers who exercise their rights under the recission statement but do not receive a refund or those who are subjected to fraud or misrepresentation. The bond must be in place for the entire time the vacation club is operating and the Attorney General must approve the bond.

Under this act, all purchasers of vacation benefits from a registered club have a non-waivable right for five working days to rescind and cancel their purchase and receive a full or partial refund minus any services actually consumed or utilized. Upon rescinding the contract, the purchaser must return any materials he or she received from the club. However, all purchasers of vacation benefits from a non- registered club have a non-waivable right for three years to rescind and cancel their benefits.

Any individual who purchases vacation benefits and has a grievance or a travel services provider who can document cumulative losses of more than $100 for honoring vacation club benefits may file a written complaint with the Attorney General, County Prosecuting Attorney, or any existing county vacation mediation board. The office which receives the complaint must deliver it to the vacation club within 10 working days. If such office fails to do so, any action shall be stayed for 15 days to allow the club to cure the grievance.

Prior to utilizing any other remedy available, a vacation club will have 30 working days following the filing to cure any grievances. The parties may not seek other forms of redress during this period. Upon satisfaction of any complaint, the parties must execute a written mutual release which will remove the matter at issue as a basis for further action by any entity or person pursuant to this act.

Under this act, the consumer will have various options when pursuing a complaint, which include mediation, arbitration, prosecution, or civil action.

A county commission may appoint a three-member board to choose a mediator. The members shall include one person from the Chamber of Commerce membership, one person from the industry, and one elected official from a political subdivision.

At the request of either party and upon the failure of the vacation club to cure any grievance, the board must contact me other party to determine if mediation is an acceptable means of dispute resolution. If so, the board shall schedule a mediation session with 15 working days and select a mediator. During this period, the parties may not seek other forms of redress. Within 15 days of the first meeting but not more than 45 days from the filing of the complaint, the parties must resolve the dispute or seek alternative methods of redress.

Under this act, the vacation club shall pay any costs associated with mediation. If mediation is not available or acceptable, the parties may pursue prosecution, arbitration, or civil action.

The Attorney General, prosecuting attorney, or buyer may enjoin a vacation club from operating if it violates Sections 407.682 to 407.699, RSMo. A person who violates these sections is guilty of a class D felony and is subject to a $10,000. The money collected from such fines shall go to education.

This act shall not apply to publicly held corporations along with the affiliates, subsidiaries, and divisions of such corporations.