Bluegreen Vacations, the timeshare marketer based in Boca Raton, FL, will pay more than $40 million to Bass Pro Shops to settle a dispute over Bluegreen’s alleged high-pressure sales tactics. The settlement allows Bluegreen to resume sales at kiosks inside Bass Pro’s locations.
On May 25, Bass Pro said it was kicking Bluegreen out of 69 stores where the timeshare developer operated kiosks. The retailer cited Bluegreen’s “high-pressure or offensive salesmanship.” Bluegreen denied that it violated the agreement or engaged in high-pressure sales tactics.
As part of the settlement, the two companies have amended their Marketing and Promotions Agreement that will reinstate Bluegreen’s access to Bass Pro’s marketing channels, including all marketing activities in Bass Pro retail stores and extend into the Cabela’s retail stores.
The parties have entered into a Settlement Agreement and Amendment which provides that:
Bluegreen will pay Bass Pro the following amounts as a settlement of all prior claims, with no admission of wrongdoing:
- $20 million within 15 days of the execution of the Settlement and Amendment;
- $4 million each January 1st starting in 2020 through 2024 (a total of 5 payments in the amount of $4 million each); and
- Bass Pro will keep the remaining $1.5 million of an amount prepaid to them earlier in 2019 under the Marketing and Promotions Agreement.
- In lieu of the existing generation commission, Bluegreen will pay Bass Pro a fixed annual fee of $70,000 for each Bass Pro and Cabela’s store that Bluegreen is accessing plus $32.00 per net vacation package sold (less cancellations/refunds). The fixed annual fee will be prorated for 2019. The Settlement and Amendment includes provisions regarding minimum numbers of stores that Bluegreen will be obligated to pay for, as well as provisions under which the minimum number of stores will be reduced.
- Bluegreen and Bass Pro agree on specific enhancements to its customer service policies and procedures, as well as an enhanced complaint resolution process.
- Bluegreen and Bass Pro will continue expansion of the Bluegreen/Big Cedar Vacations, LLC joint venture and have modified certain terms of the operating agreement of the joint venture, including that Bluegreen will continue to sell tours to the joint venture at agreed-upon costs.
- Bluegreen will become a supporter of the not-for-profit Wonders of Wildlife Foundation with a portion of proceeds from net vacation packages sold being donated to the cause, subject to a minimum annual donation of $700,000.
- The parties agree to resolve any future disputes thru a binding arbitration process under the Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services, Inc. (JAMS) process.
- The parties executed mutual waivers and releases and have agreed to the dismissal of the pending litigation.
“We look forward to building on our 19-year partnership with Bass Pro, through which we have developed close to 700 units in our joint venture at three luxury resorts and together built a successful marketing partnership in their stores,” said Shawn B. Pearson, President and CEO of Bluegreen. “We are excited about our ability to expand into Cabela’s locations, which will further cement our ability to grow and give their more than 200 million store visitors each year the opportunity to make memories at our resorts.”
Johnny Morris, Founder/CEO of Bass Pro said, “Bluegreen shares our commitment to providing our customers and its owners and guests a memorable vacation in the great outdoors. We look forward to this next chapter of our long running relationship.”
Bluegreen, through its Big Cedar Vacations affiliate, markets and sells three timeshare resorts near Table Rock Lake in Branson, MO. Bluegreen owns 51 percent of this venture, while Bass Pro owns the other 49 percent. It has marketed timeshares in Bass Pro outlets since 2000.
Following Bass Pro’s announcement in late May, Bluegreen said the loss of the Bass Pro marketing deal would cost it no more than $20 million Bass Pro accounted for 14 percent of its $254 million in timeshare sales in 2018.
In April, Bass Pro filed a lawsuit against Bluegreen, seeking $10 million in damages for allegedly violating its marketing agreement. Bass Pro hasn’t offered details about Bluegreen’s sales tactics
In a separate lawsuit filed this year, nearly three dozen timeshare buyers from around the country sued Bluegreen and Bass Pro Shops. The consumers said they were lured into high-pressure sales pitches, then sold expensive shares in units that they claimed were overpriced or needed repair.
Bluegreen operates dozens of resorts in such tourist areas as Orlando, FL; Myrtle Beach, SC; and Williamsburg, VA.
Photo courtesy Bass Pro