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Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this week’s Letter from America, today Irene Parker gives her account on the workshop she attended at the Florida House of Representatives, regarding the Florida House Bill 435. As Sunday is St Patrick’s Day for all of our Irish friends, we couldn’t resist using the definition of Blarney in the opening graphic. After watching the recording of the Workshop, it seemed apt to use it, once you watch it for yourselves, you will understand why.

Before we go to Irene’s report some very brief news on the legal front in Spain.

In Tenerife, Silverpoint have been subject to a “cash” embargo, this is a result of a case brought by Canarian Legal Alliance for an execution of sentence on a recent case. Their senior lawyer Eva Gutierrez brought the order to the court to force Silverpoint to lodge the awarded amount with the court. This was done to ensure swift payment of the funds to the client, who will now receive 27,047.11€ plus legal fees and all legal interest.

CLA are now using this enforcement action as soon as the sentence is issued by the court. This stops any delaying tactics by the timeshare companies in making payment. It seems to be working very well.

It has also been published that the Fiscal Prosecutor in Gran Canaria, is looking into the accounts of Anfi Resorts and Anfi Sales, for the possible illegal movement of money to various accounts in order to delay the payment of funds to clients who have won cases against them.

For the Fiscal Prosecutor to be involved in this, shows that it is a serious matter, the full story can be read at the link below. Although it is in Spanish, use google and use the translate page feature.

https://m.eldiario.es/canariasahora/tribunales/Grupo_Anfi-timesharing-condenas-timesharing-insolvencia_punible_0_875612945.html?fbclid=IwAR0NGGZM0o8F8R8ZI3bD_Jsw5fS-HVuRSc0g1ed-lUJOS01GUZC48huO0_c

No for Irene’s report.

Florida House of Representatives

Business and Profession Workshop held in Tallahassee March 12

Florida House Bill 435

Does it restrict the rights of citizens to retain legal counsel?

By Irene Parker

March 15, 2019

Inside Timeshare has received many complaints about timeshare exit companies, in addition to reports from timeshare buyers describing unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices. Critics of Florida HB 435 feel if passed this bill would restrict the ability of timeshare buyers to seek legal counsel.

Due to disclosures, we will not publish the link to the recording of the Florida HB 435 workshop held March 12, but the recording can be easily found at https://thefloridachannel.org/. Search the workshop by entering 3/12/19 Business and Professions Committee. The first 1 ½ hours is about beer and spirits distribution. The timeshare workshop can be found by fast-forwarding to the session’s last hour.

A panel composed of exit company attorneys and industry attorneys answered questions from Florida state representatives, who clearly seemed on top of the issues. Panel members included:

Jason Gamel, Sr. Vice President, Legal at Wyndham Vacation Resorts, Inc.

Shannon Zetrouer, Outside Counsel, Reed Hein and Associates

Tiffany Kimble, Director of Underwriting, First American Title’s Vacation Ownership Services Division

Wayne Halper, Esq., in-house counsel Wesley Financial Group, LLC

K.L. “Ken” McKelvey, CPA, ARDA ROC Chairman

Boyd McAdams, from the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR), shed light on the number of consumer complaints filed in the last few years. Previously, our figures reported 2,360 timeshare complaints filed from April 2012 to April 2014. DBPR only acted on 110 of those complaints.

The approximate figures of timeshare related complaints, as I understood the figures, are:

2016        1200 complaints          600 reported misleading information

2017        1300 complaints          700 misleading information

2018        1300 complaints          700 misleading information  

2019        700 complaints            300 misleading information

Victoria Butler, from the Florida Attorney General’s Department of Consumer Protection, reported a figure of 1,500 to 1,600 complaints in recent years, with about 50% involving senior citizens. She said the majority of complaints were in regard to the initial sales presentation.

Ms. Butler stated that the Florida timeshare division engaged only 42 complaints, the majority concerning resale. This fits with our members reporting that all timeshare complaints they submitted, DBPR responded, “Verbal representations are difficult to prove.”   

Consumer attorneys matched the strength of industry attorneys. I would like to point out and dispute a few of the comments made by panel members Wyndham attorney Jason Gamel and ARDA ROC spokesperson Ken McKelvey.

Reid Hein’s legal counsel, Shannon Zetrouer, described how a buyer, typically held for hours in a high pressure timeshare sales presentation, signs a perpetual contract, often reporting that they were given misleading information.

Ms. Zetrouer argued that Florida HB 435 would infringe on a consumer’s right to seek other legal services, such as bankruptcy, foreclosure, or estate planning advice. She feels the bill, as currently worded, is overreaching in that it would affect timeshare buyers across the nation if they purchased in Florida.  “I specifically have concerns about House Bill 435. First, I think it will actually have a negative impact on consumers…It seems to infringe on the right of contracts and the right of companies to contract with consumers for relief that they [the consumers] are clearly seeking. Otherwise this industry wouldn’t exist,” said Zetrouer. “Simply put, if going to developers was an option for these consumers, then there would be no third party industry,” she added.

Mr. Gamel spoke of the 2012 Transfer Act that addressed disclosure, rescission, escrow and prohibited acts.

Ms. Kimball addressed the problems associated with fraudulent transfers.

Wayne Halper, Esq. described the criteria required to become a client of Wesley Financial Group, LLC. Wesley Financial receives 3,000 to 3,500 calls per week from timeshare buyers seeking relief from timeshare contracts. Of those initial contracts, only 150 to 200 per week are accepted as clients, because they must meet the criteria for fraud. Similar to the complaints Inside Timeshare receives, 100% of Wesley clients report being told the timeshare is an investment and will increase in value and 91% report the ability to rent will offset maintenance fees and provide an income stream in retirement.

Mr. Halper echoed Ms. Zetrouer’s comments, in that 99% of timeshares sold in America have a presence in Florida, and the bill as written would eliminate the right of timeshare members to seek the services of those offering exit services. Later in the discussion, Mr. Halper pointed out that being released from a timeshare contract can take up to three years. He felt it would be unfair to expect a provider not be allowed to charge for services performed until after proof of exit has been provided, proof not always provided.

ARDA ROC Chairman K. L. McKelvey said ARDA ROC represents 1.8 million Timeshare Owners. I have asked 742 families who have reached out to me, feeling they experienced unfair and deceptive sales practices, if they even knew what ARDA ROC stands for. Not one member could answer, yet collectively timeshare members give ARDA ROC approximately $5 million a year, often “opt-out” contributions.  

Mr. McKelvey described ARDA’s Responsible Exit Industry Coalition. For my timeshare, this is nothing more than media spin. I surveyed all 64 members of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association. Of the 64 members, 22 members responded, saying they would not accept a listing for my timeshare company, feeling restrictions the company places on points purchased on the secondary market excessive.

In response to a question asked by Representative Randy Fine (R), asking the percentage of Wyndham’s marketing costs; Mr. Gamel thought 30 to 40%.

Let’s compare this scenario to the primary housing market. The timeshare buyer sits across from a real estate agent in most states. There is an understandable assumption a buyer would think they have the same rights as a primary housing market buyer.

What would happen to the primary housing market if:

  • The Buyer paid 30 to 40% upfront in commissions,
  • The Buyer is demanded to buy the house the same day,
  • The Buyer learns licensed brokers won’t accept a listing to sell their home should they need to sell.

Committee member Representative Michael Gottlieb asked about “Adhesion” – meaning a timeshare contract cannot be changed, so why should someone need to talk to a lawyer before signing a contract, because you can’t change the contract anyway. The reason is because buyers are exhausted after an hours long high pressure sales session, signing a perpetual contract without being allowed adequate time to review copious and complicated documents. Not only attorneys, buyers are discouraged from seeking advice from a mom, dad, son or daughter. Sales agents are trained on how to defer this request, according to numerous current and former sales agents. Not being allowed 24 hours to think about a perpetual purchase, spending anywhere from $20,000 to $150,000 highlights the unfair in unfair and deceptive practices.

There have been many Attorneys General investigations and lawsuits concerning unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices. Former Wyndham sales agent and whistleblower Trish Williams was awarded $20 million after reporting deceptive sales practices, and a recent Florida whistleblower lawsuit was filed November 2018 on behalf of ten former Wyndham sales agents and employees, working at Wyndham’s Florida Clearwater Beach Resort. Buyers need to beware of potential deceptive timeshare sales practices.

Buyers sign perpetual timeshare contracts accompanied by rising maintenance fees. Often existing members are sold additional points, promised maintenance fee relief programs that do not exist. The lack of a viable secondary market exacerbates the problem. Wyndham lists a viable secondary market as a risk to their stock market investors in their 10k reports.

Clearly, as Committee Chairwoman Heather Fitzenhagen stated, timeshare is a thorny issue. Let’s hope actual member voices can be heard in future sessions.   

On Tuesday, our reader data can easily address concerns expressed by Mr. McKelvey and Mr. Gamel:

1.     How rescission periods are easily dodged

2.     Why reading the contract does not always help

3.     Why the delay in reporting fraud

Related article: By Wyndham member and Marine Veteran Jim Sherwood, hardship appeal: http://insidetimeshare.com/http-insidetimeshare-com-p5114/


Self-help groups we feel are not industry influenced.

https://www.facebook.com/timeshareadvocategroup/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/DiamondResortsOwnersAdvocacy/

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

https://everythingabouttimeshares.com/consider-exchange-options/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/180578055325962/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/465692163568779/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1639958046252175/

We seek to provide timeshare members a way to proactively address membership concerns; to advocate for timeshare reform; to obtain greater disclosure from the company; to advocate for a viable secondary market; and to educate prospective buyers.

Contact Inside Timeshare to let your voice be heard.  

Inside Timeshare did have trouble locating the recording mentioned in paragraph two of Irene’s report, so Inside timeshare has provided a direct link to it in order to assist readers, the relevant part starts at approx 1:45:50

https://thefloridachannel.org/videos/3-12-19-house-business-and-professions-subcommittee/

Thank you Irene for your time in attending this workshop and writing this report, let us hope that the Florida Representatives see the need to protect consumers from the industry.

All that is left for us now is to wish you all a wonderful St Patrick’s day and to use one of their phrases

‘Bhi craic agus ceol againn’ : We had fun and music.

Join us next week for more news on the world of timeshare.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this weeks Letter from America, today we publish a press release about the Arizona House Bill 2639, a bill designed to give consumers the protection they need when purchasing a timeshare. As usual ARDA (American Resorts Development Association) is opposing this bill, this release is a call for all consumers, timeshare owners and non-timeshare owners to voice their support for the bill.

First an update on Claims Assistance Bureau Ltd, as we published yesterday they are also using the name of a genuine registered and regulated claims company, Claims Advice Bureau (UK) Ltd, well, it looks like they have already started using another name.

The cold call is from a Paul Burrows, the company this time is called Travel Claims Solutions Ltd, Company Registration Number  04831724 and registered address:

Flat 12 Stamford House, Great Heathmead, Haywards Heath, England, RH16 1FH

Changed on 28 August 2018 from:

22 Updown Hill Haywards Heath West Sussex RH16 4GD England

According to Company House records the company was incorporated on 14 July 2003, with the current directors being, Hannah May Edwaards and Jeremy Robert Goodyer, both are the original directors.

The story from Paul Burrows is the same as before, Eze Group member has been awarded a specific amount of money, but to get this they first have to pay a fee of £695. This will be held in “TRUST” at an unnamed High Street Bank, the client will then receive their money in 10 days.

Now for our Letter from America

Time-Sensitive in Advance of Arizona House Bill 2639 Vote

We Need Your Voice

ARDA Opposes Arizona House Bill 2639, Which Offers Consumer Protection

On the heels of perceived unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices that have left many families financially devastated, 13 Arizona representatives have proposed the creation of Arizona HB 2639 in an effort to safeguard consumers from entering into a perpetual contract, often buying a product they have not even had a chance to try before purchase.

Buyers often enter into timeshare contracts when on vacation, are encouraged to review documents after they return home from vacation, sometimes long after the rescission period has ended – leading to confusion, anxiety and costly fees that can last years.

Arizona House Bill 2639, aimed at alleviating some of those problems, was approved by a committee in a 7-0 vote, but is strongly opposed by the timeshare lobby group American Resort Development Association (ARDA), an industry-supported PAC.

Provisions in the proposed bill offer safeguards for timeshare buyers. We ask that consumers voice their support for this bill by emailing the representatives listed below.

The proposed bill includes:

  • Purchaser is granted a 14-day rescission period. The closing, as evidenced by delivery of the deed or other document, is prohibited before the 14 day calendar period expires.
  • After the end of the rescission period, the first use of the timeshare interest concludes; “first use of the timeshare interest” means the first time the purchaser or third party transferee stays in a timeshare pursuant to the purchase agreement.
  • The seller can charge up to a 10% cancellation fee. Seller may charge regularly scheduled maintenance fees for one year.
  • The purchaser may cancel the purchase agreement and relinquish all the timeshare interest within one year after the purchaser signs the agreement.
  •  At least ten years after a purchaser purchases a timeshare, a purchaser who has paid the entire purchase price and current annual fees may terminate the purchase agreement without cause.
  • A request can be denied only if it does not meet the criteria described.
  •  The bill also requires disclosure to alert the purchaser that the contract may be of a perpetual nature.

Please contact the following representatives in support of this bill. There have been numerous Attorneys General investigations, BBB complaints and lawsuits describing unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices. The following individuals are the bill sponsors; we urge you to call and write to them to voice your support.

RepresentativePhone NumberEmailDesignation
Bolick, Shawnna(602) 926-3244[email protected]Bill Sponsor
Biasiucci, Leo(602) 926-3018[email protected]
Blackman, Walter(602) 926-3043[email protected]
Carroll, Frank(602) 926-3249[email protected]
Dunn, Timothy M.(602) 926-4139[email protected]
Fillmore, John(602) 926-3187[email protected]
Finchem, Mark(602) 926-3122[email protected]
Grantham, Travis(602) 926-4868[email protected]Committee Chair
Kavanagh, John(602) 926-5170[email protected]
Payne, Kevin(602) 926-4854[email protected]
Roberts, Bret(602) 926-3158[email protected]
Toma, Ben(602) 926-3298[email protected]
Weninger, Jeff(602) 926-3092[email protected]

For more information, contact Inside Timeshare or Timeshare Accountability GroupTM

http://insidetimeshare.com/

https://www.facebook.com/timeshareadvocategroup/

So there you have it, a bill to protect consumers being opposed by the industry because it does not fit in with their own agenda and curbes the power they have held over consumers for years.

It is now down to you the reader to exercise your right to lobby and have this bill past to protect all consumers. The industry has had its own way for far too long, they need to be brought down and be regulated by independent regulation.

On The Tuesday Slot we shall be publishing more about this bill, so join us then.

If you have any comments on this or any other article, or if you have any information regarding any company that you are suspicious of and believe it is a scam, then use our contact page and get in touch.

Have a great weekend and remember to do your homework on any company that contacts you.


Friday’s Letter from America: On Thursday

Welcome to this week’s Friday’s Letter from America, yes it is Thursday, but due to personal matters we are publishing this today, also to give a little more time to gather more people to attend the Las Vegas Miracle Mile Protest. We also thank Patty Boyak for this article.

Our Las Vegas Miracle Mile Protest at the Mall Entrance

Harmon Avenue

Protesting Unfair and Deceptive Timeshare Sales Practices

Join Us this Weekend February 16 & 17 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Don’t Fall for Deception Pressure and Traps Disguised as Vacations

Thursday, February 14 (Friday’s Letter from America)

By Patty Boyak, event organizer

February 14 is Valentine’s Day. I should be thinking about hearts and flowers, but I am having a hard time getting over the deception 70 Platinum timeshare members experienced. I am one of the 70. We were told and believed buying additional points would qualify us for a program to reduce or eliminate our maintenance fees. It was a program that did not exist. Other Platinum members were sold on the ability to be able sell points. They later learned that their timeshare points are all but worthless. We were loyal, and most importantly, trusting customers, so believed timeshare sales agents. We are educated professionals. We are not deadbeats with buyer’s remorse.

Florida Representative Wyman Duggan submitted a Florida House Bill 435 concerned about unfair and deceptive timeshare exit company sales practices. What about unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices? The bill proposes exit companies be required to provide one day for a buyer to review a contract. https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2019/435/BillText/__/PDF

Why can’t timeshare buyers be given one day to review a contract?

  • Probably because the industry would disappear if the buyer was allowed 24 hours to review the contract. Timeshare companies demand buyers must buy a timeshare the same day – often after a long aggressive sales session.

What about deceptive timeshare sales practices?

Why isn’t Florida Representative Duggan concerned about the much larger dollar amounts consumers are losing to unscrupulous timeshare sales agents?

The St. Louis, Missouri Better Business Bureau gets it:

THE ST. LOUIS BBB RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE INDUSTRY

  • More honesty from the industry. The timeshare industry needs to develop and adhere to a set of ethical standards to address widespread reports of high-pressure and deceptive sales practices and to deliver accurate, honest sales pitches to consumers. Reputable companies do not pressure consumers over several hours to purchase services they had little interest in buying or, in some instances, can’t even afford. If presentations are held, consumers should not be detained past the scheduled time or express a false sense of urgency to act immediately. Avoid telling consumers something that will entice them to sign but is later contradicted by your contract.
  • Honor promises. Provide tickets or other promotional items at the time of the presentation. Do not mail them later or make the consumer obtain them from another source.  
  • Do not mislead about timeshare inheritance. Too often misleading statements or scare tactics are used to encourage those who have inherited a timeshare to believe they are liable for it. Don’t misrepresent the law or circumstances for financial gain.
  • Do not require consumers to initial documents “under duress.” Too often, consumers are faced with presentations consisting of long hours; eventually succumbing to high pressure sales tactics.
  • More transparency from the industry. If a consumer is referred to another company or person to complete the presentation process, be transparent about the process (ie. obligation to sit through a two hour presentation to obtain discounted tickets) and amount of time it will actually take to possibly alleviate someone from their timeshare.
  • Eliminate company mediation. Do not require consumers to mediate through the company’s internal program should a dispute arise. Instead, use a neutral, third-party mediation source such as Better Business Bureau or American Arbitration Association.
  • Easier exits. The recent establishment of deed-back programs may be a step in the right direction. More consumers should be able to take advantage of these programs. The establishment of more deed-back programs is likely to lead in a decrease in fraud seen in the resale and exit markets.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR GOVERNMENT

  • Tougher law enforcement action. Regulatory agencies have reported receiving an increasing number of complaints about the timeshare industry. Bringing action against any bad actors in the industry could help consumers and deter companies from violating consumer protection laws.
  • New laws. BBB hears from many senior citizens who have been affected by the timeshare industry. Missouri legislators should consider special protections for those 65 and older who enter into agreements with timeshare and travel club companies. An extended right of rescission period could help seniors who may not totally understand what they have purchased. All consumers should receive pertinent information – such as access to websites and passwords – at point of purchase so that they can check potential savings and actual values of timeshares on resale market so that if they decide to cancel, they can take advantage of the rescission period.

https://www.bbb.org/en/us/article/news-releases/18149-dont-fall-for-deception-pressure-and-traps-disguised-as-vacations-a-better-business-bureau-study-of-the-missouri-timeshare-vacation-club-industry?bbbid=0734

Voluntary deed-backs work for those who have used and enjoyed their timeshare for years, but what about the buyer deceived who signed off on high interest rate loans and credit cards after experiencing unfair and deceptive sales practices? Voluntary surrender programs don’t help them.

If “You signed a contract” – is the industry’s official response to complaints of unfair and deceptive practices – seconded by lawmakers and the regulators in some states (like Nevada), the public needs to be made aware misrepresentations reported by timeshare buyers will be ruled in favor of the timeshare sales agent. In Nevada all our complaints were dismissed with “You don’t have proof.” There are too many educated professionals, who don’t know each other, reporting similar, and in several cases, identical complaints.

Platinum member Sheila Brust (and our T Shirt designer) reported, “We were given ludicrous advice from a Florida regulator that is clearly out of touch with timeshare consumer reality. I was told to contact a licensed timeshare resale broker, but every agent I contacted informed me my timeshare had no secondary market.”

Check with a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association before buying any timeshare or to find out if your timeshare even has a secondary market. http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

Our Mission Statement

We seek to provide timeshare members a way to proactively address membership concerns; to advocate for timeshare reform; to obtain greater disclosure from the company; to advocate for a viable secondary market; and to educate prospective buyers.

https://www.facebook.com/timeshareadvocategroup/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/DiamondResortsOwnersAdvocacy/

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

https://everythingabouttimeshares.com/consider-exchange-options/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/180578055325962/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/465692163568779/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1639958046252175/

 

Thank you Patty for your article, for all those who are going to attend, Inside Timeshare will be with you in spirit and we hope you all have a wonderful day. We never know, it may just make a difference, we can but try!

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this weeks Letter from America, today we publish Part 2 of our Secret Shopper Questions, by Pete Gibbes, our Secret Shopper Coordinator.

First we have some rather sad news to share, Bob Massi, a Las vegas Attorney and host of the Fox TV show Property Man has sadly passed away at the age of 67, after a battle with cancer.

He was a great advocate for the underdog, even suing Diamond Resorts for Elder Abuse. He was also one of the law firms listed on the Diamond Resorts Owners Advocacy group on Facebook, which is reserved only for the most trusted of firms.

Inside Timeshare would like to extend our sincerest condolences to his family.

R.I.P. BOB MASSI

https://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/bob-massi-real-estate-attorney-fox-news-legal-analyst-dead?fbclid=IwAR2zqLDycKfIEMJDXv7PDYj6n711zWY01wblVCDqM1ySxm8eJbTNGOGT1Po

Secret Shopper Questions Part II

By Pete Gibbes, Secret Shopper Coordinator

 Friday February 8  2019

Many timeshare complaints begin with, “The sales agent said….” and are dismissed with “You signed a contract” or “We are not responsible for what our sales agents say.” Due to this overused knee-jerk dismissal, timeshare buyers should record their sales presentation. You can legally do so without the other person aware in a one party state. This link allows you to select your state to determine if you can legally record.

http://www.dmlp.org/legal-guide/state-law-recording

If you are attending a presentation in a two party state, note taking may be the next best alternative. If the sales agent says you are not allowed to take notes, red flag. Walk out. No gift is worth being lied to. If you do stay and the sales agent scribbles a “Pencil Pitch” on a piece of paper, buyers should remember that paper, ask to see it during the signing process, and ask the agent or closer to show you in the contract where his or her promises appear in the contract. Ask to have the item added to your contract as an addendum. This is an actual response to a “The sales agent said” complaint:

“We must advise that it is specified clearly in the contract documentation that if you relied upon any verbal information given during the presentation you must ask for this to be put in writing. Likewise, if anything was said that was of particular importance to you, but which is not contained in the terms and conditions of the membership, this should have been requested to be implemented in the body of contract before documentation was signed.”

It’s a good idea to get to know the agent’s qualifications.

How long have you worked at this resort?

Have you worked at other resorts?

What did you do before you sold timeshare?

What’s your ID number?

Consumer Protection Questions

May I call my lawyer/accountant/son/daughter/mother/father to discuss your proposal? May I take the contract to my room so that I can have an adequate amount of time to review such a major purchase?

If the answer is no, ask why not? The reason they say no will be suspect. Contrary to what you will be told, trust me, you can still buy a timeshare tomorrow. The reason for this, “You have to buy today” strategy is because anyone who thinks over buying a timeshare in all likelihood will not buy if given a chance to think it over. You need to be in the driver’s seat, not the sales agent.

According to Highlands Resort sales manager Steve Abrahamson, named in a Colorado Attorney General’s investigation, “In the eighteen months he worked for Highlands Resorts, not a single consumer returned after their sales presentation to make a purchase. In his fifteen years in the timeshare industry, Abrahamson never saw a consumer purchase a timeshare after leaving a sales presentation.”

Are you a member? May we log onto your account so I can check actual availability and value? I am spending a significant amount of money on something I have not even attempted to use.  

There are many complaints about promised availability and limitations on trial timeshare products the buyer was not aware of.

Ask about Resale or Exit Programs

What happens if I can no longer use or afford the timeshare?

Who do I call? Can you give me a reference? Most timeshare companies will not allow their agents to assist in resale in any way, shape or form.

BEFORE you go on your sales presentation, contact a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association. They charge no money upfront to list a timeshare. The best part is they work with all timeshares, so you are not relying on the word of a sales agent that their program is the best program. Check the pros and cons of buying directly from the timeshare company compared to buying on the secondary market. http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

Maintenance Fees

Is there anything I can do to offset maintenance fees?

This is what we get the most complaints about – bogus programs that claim to offer maintenance fee relief. Watch out for scare tactics. For instance, beach erosion is one reason provided as a reason for special assessments, but an ocean engineer, one of our Supporters, said beach erosion is the responsibility of the state or federal government. http://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-17/

What is the cap on maintenance fee increases? Do you have a five year history of maintenance fee increases?  If not, don’t buy.

If I can use my points for maintenance fees, how much per point are they credited?

Where in the paperwork can I verify this information?

If I can offset maintenance fees with credit card purchases, how much of a $1 purchase (typically $.01 or $.02) will be credited toward maintenance fees? How much would I have to charge to pay off my entire annual maintenance fee? (It would cost $200,000 in annual purchases to pay a $2,000 maintenance fee at $.01 per dollar spent!)

Travel awards are often grossly misrepresented

If I can use my points for hotels, what is the actual value per point? Provide an example. If I can use my points for airline tickets, what is the value per point?

If I can use my points for a cruise, what is the value per point?

Can I rent my timeshare to pay maintenance fees? If the answer is yes, review the requirements in the contract. Some companies do not allow the member to use the internet to rent points.

Loans

Where in the paperwork does it state my loan interest rate?

How much will I pay for the timeshare if I carry the loan for the maximum term?

Is there anything I can do to reduce my interest rate? This is a set-up question because banks do not finance timeshares. Never transfer to a third party lender because then you are asking the timeshare for a refund instead of a loan cancellation.

If consumers must take out a loan to buy a timeshare, consider carefully the actual cost of financing a vacation at 12 to 18%. America is a buy now pay later society. I don’t think many financial planners would recommend financing a luxury item at 12 to 18%.

We hope Secret Shoppers create smart shoppers asking the right questions before plunging into a purchase so many of our readers have come to regret.

Our first Secret Shopper, Laurie Sabbagh, offered the first Secret Shopper report:

http://insidetimeshare.com/friday-review-news-across-ocean/

Contact Inside Timeshare if you have interest in becoming a Secret Shopper or would like to share a positive or negative timeshare shopping experience.

There are several member supported Facebooks and websites where members can reach out to other members to share experiences.

We seek to provide times members a way to proactively address membership concerns; to advocate for timeshare reform; to obtain greater disclosure from the company; to advocate for a viable secondary market; and to educate prospective buyers.

https://www.facebook.com/timeshareadvocategroup/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/DiamondResortsOwnersAdvocacy/

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

https://everythingabouttimeshares.com/consider-exchange-options/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/180578055325962/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/465692163568779/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1639958046252175/

Thank you Pete for your contribution, also a big thank you once again to Irene Parker for your editing efforts, we know that you have been very very busy of late, so we appreciate you taking the time to carry on.

Well that is it for this week, remember if you are unsure about any company that has contacted you, or that you have found yourself on the internet or from an advert, then contact Inside Timeshare.

If you purchased your timeshare in Spain and would like to know if you have a valid and viable claim then Inside Timeshare can point you in the right direction.

Have a great weekend.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to the first Letter from America of February, this week we hear another “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” from the Wheat family and their experience with Wyndham, edited by our very own Irene Parker. First a little news from Europe.

Yesterday, Thursday 31 January, at Birmingham Crown Court , Dominic O’Reilly, Stephanie O’Reilly and Eze Europe Limited, appeared for sentencing. As we know they had faced many charges of unfair trading practices, misleading consumers and many more. On checking the courts website this morning, nothing has yet been posted, but Inside Timeshare has emailed the court for confirmation of sentences and we are waiting for a reply. As soon as this comes in we will be publishing on these pages.

News came in this morning regarding another case involving Diamond Resorts in Tenerife, Canarian Legal Alliance originally had a case in which the Court of First Instance found in favour of Diamond. They instantly appealed this decision to the High Court

The High Court reviewed the case and ruled that the First Instance Courts decision was flawed, they immediately overruled the first court’s ruling, as per the Supreme Court rulings. They deemed that all 5 contracts were illegal and declared them null and void, they also awarded the client 100% of the purchase price, plus double the deposit paid within the 14 day cooling off period, all legal fees and legal interest. This client will now be receiving over 25,000€ and can now enjoy a timeshare free life.

Now for this weeks Letter from America.

The ‘Take Away Timeshare Close’

By a Wyndham buyer

February 1

By the Wheat Family

Introduction by Irene Parker

Inside Timeshare has heard from 671 families. Like a broken record, the member reports being told “I can’t believe that last salesperson sold you this!” You should have never bought:

 

  • So few points!
  • The wrong package!

 

Understand that this is a tried and true sales technique. I spent 30 years in sales selling in a number of industries, but can’t recall using this technique unless I felt the sales agent really did sell the buyer a wrong product. For example, as a stockbroker I would run into a young person’s 401K funded with a fixed income product. In timeshare, it’s used as a ploy. If both sides of the supposedly wrong/right product sell against each other, it means no consumer should buy the product. It’s not unusual to hear, on the same day, from two different members, Sales agent A said I should not have bought Product 1 while sales agent B said I should have bought Product 1. It’s called the Take Away Close:

The Take Away Close really takes some time to master. Though it sounds simple at first, the real secret is learning when to use it. The danger is always using the take away close and having a customer agree to purchase a lesser product when they were close to committing to a larger sale. From The Balance Careers

https://www.thebalancecareers.com/the-take-away-closing-technique-2918597

The Wheat Family Explains

The motive behind the ‘Take Away Close’ is to make the customer/prospect feel like they are missing out on something they should have been entitled to and then make them spend the money so they feel they are getting their money’s worth.

We experienced this sales ploy. I wonder how many other people fell for it too.

We bought a Discovery package (200,000 points) for $1,944 at Wyndham’s Great Smoky Lodge at the beginning of 2017. A credit card was opened and the purchase charged. When we tried to use the Discovery package for Florida in July 2017 it did not work. There were restrictions on when we could reserve. In August 2017 we tried to reserve in Myrtle Beach. We tried a third time at the beginning of 2018 for the Smoky Lodge. We were told it was full so we paid for two days ourselves. That is when another salesperson, JR Renteria, said they had 64 vacant rooms so we should have been able to reserve one. He said the problem was because of the Discovery package we purchased. Although Wyndham would not be able to reimburse us, they could give us a free week certificate (which turned out not to be free). Mr. Renteria advised us to upgrade so we would not have this lack of availability problem again.

With an upgrade we were told we would be VIP members and that the original credit card that was opened for our first purchase would be upgraded to a Gold credit card which we could use to reserve when and where we want to go, any day.  They said we could get 50% off cruises and restaurants. Other family members could make reservations in their names. Mr. Renteria said if we upgraded they would roll the original 200,000 Discovery package points over for the next year. Renteria gave us our documents after we signed the new contract, but told us to wait for the Gold Card and the Silver VIP card before we tried to book anything. This effectively dodged the contract rescission period. He told us we should receive the new cards in about a week. It took around three to four weeks before we received the VIP card. We still have not received the upgraded Gold Card. We were told we had six months to pay in full with no interest.

We bit and got bitten for $18,000.

Another strange thing was that Renteria said he wanted us to write a note saying the first reps, Carol Finch and Cyndy Vdaw, did not cover everything properly for the Discovery package. Maybe this was part of a scam, maybe Wyndham actually kept a copy. Either way, we wrote a note saying we did not understand everything on the Discovery package deal.

After the upgrade we tried to reserve a room to attend a wedding in Atlanta. Wyndham told us we would have to reserve two months in advance in order to use our points. (Renteria had said we could book on the day with our new Silver member status.) Wyndham told us that they could reserve a room for $188 on the day we needed it. The sad thing is we could book the same room for the same dates for $108 online.  You would think being a Silver member (VIP) we should have been able to get a better price than a non-member.

Renteria told us we could call him if we ever had any problems getting reservations and he would take care of it.  We tried to contact him but NEVER got a reply to any of our calls or texts.

We called Carol Finch at the Discovery timeshare when Renteria did not return our calls. I told Carol we were not happy and that nothing we were told was true. She said we should not have had to wait two months to reserve a room and Renteria should have combined the two timeshares. She said she would let him know and would call us back that afternoon. We have not heard back. That was the final straw. In this day and age of Expedia, Airbnb and Booking.com, don’t buy a timeshare. That’s my takeaway close.

But that’s not all!

To make things worse, after looking over the credit card application we found that the application had been doctored. There is an annual income noted under both of our names for $100,000 each.  However, $100,000 is what we may make combined, not individually. I have a copy of the credit card application as proof. My writing is very distinctive. I filled out the whole form, yet the only place that was left blank was filled in by someone with a much scruffier handwriting than mine and he wrote another $100,000 to double our annual income. We sent this obviously doctored form to Wyndham, but they did not even acknowledge it. They chose to focus on the parts of our complaint that they could reasonably deny because the lies were verbal and can’t be verified. Wyndham conducted an ‘investigation’ into our allegations of concealment and omission. We were informed, somewhat predictably, that their investigation had found that our allegations were baseless and the contract was properly executed and legally binding. I suppose I’ll go and ask the drunks to guard the bar for my next trick.

Other representations we feel were unfair and deceptive:

  • They did not say we were actually buying a timeshare. They called it a vacation ownership or something like that.
  • They said they would help us rent so we could earn a profit.
  • They said maintenance fees would never increase.
  • They said we could call every six months to continue our interest free rate.
  • They told us our purchase would give us more reservation rights than it actually did.

Do yourselves a favor and stay away from Wyndham. I imagine Wyndham is not alone, so the best advice is to stay away from timeshare altogether.

Thank you to the Wheat family for sharing their experience. Timeshare companies should want their buyers to feel good about their decision to buy a timeshare. Timeshare is not for everyone and we hope by sharing experiences, buyers will be better informed as to whether the timeshare product is right for their family.

Related articles:

Veteran family Wyndham buyer Kleen family article:

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-38/

Veteran family Wyndham buyer Althage family article:

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-37/

Self Help groups we feel are not industry influenced:

We seek to provide timeshare members a way to proactively address membership concerns; to advocate for timeshare reform; to obtain greater disclosure from the company; to advocate for a viable secondary market; and to educate prospective buyers.

https://www.facebook.com/timeshareadvocategroup/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/DiamondResortsOwnersAdvocacy/

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

https://everythingabouttimeshares.com/consider-exchange-options/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/180578055325962/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/465692163568779/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1639958046252175/

Thank you Irene for your editing efforts and a very big thank you to the Wheat family for sharing their experiences with us. These real life stories that we publish do show how the industry is in dire need of reform, especially in the tactics employed by their sales agents. As we know when high commissions are the motivation, these agent will say and do anything to get the sale.

If the industry does not do anything themselves to curb these practices, then maybe like Spain, the law needs to take control in order to protect consumers. We do know that many other countries in Europe with a large timeshare presence have been watching Spain very closely and are also now in the process of enacting similar legislation.

If you have a “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” story that you would like to share then contact Inside Timeshare, it is through your own experiences that we hope we can make the industry listen and change.

Have you been contacted by any company with a story that sounds too good to be true?

Are you looking to do business with any company you have found on the internet or advertising in the press or magazines?

Do you want to know if they are genuine and will do what they say?

Are you able to find out for yourself or do you need help?

If you answer yes to any of these questions, then use our contact page and we will point you in the right direction.

Remember doing your homework will save you not only money but also a whole lot of stress.

Have a great weekend and join us again next week.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to another Friday’s Letter from America, this week we publish revised instructions on how to file a complaint, this has been revised by one of our readers who was successful.

First a quick piece of news from Europe.

The Supreme Court in Madrid has issued another judgement, Spain’s highest court once again has defended the rights of timeshare consumers, in this case British, by declaring a Diamond Resorts contract null and void. As in all other judgements the court ruled that the contract was in contravention of Law 42/98, as the contract had no end date, known as perpetuity. The law clearly states that timeshare contracts may only be for a minimum of 3 years and a maximum of 50 years.

The court also awarded the clients all money paid in the first three months in double, this reaffirmed the court’s stance on the illegal taking of deposits within the cooling off period. Along with over £11,000 they were also awarded back their legal fees and legal interest. (click on PDF below to see court document)

Supreme Court Diamond Ruling

This is yet another victory for timeshare consumers brought on their behalf by Canarian Legal Alliance.

Now on with this weeks Letter from America.

How to File a Timeshare Complaint (January 25, 2019 revision)

By a Timeshare Member who Followed our Complaint Process

Step 1 GATHER INFORMATION

  1. Read Your Contract and any documents given to you at the time of signing. If your contract offers a rescission and you are still within the offered period you should take the steps necessary to rescind immediately.
  2. Educate yourself! There are many resources in place that are meant to protect consumers (most of which I was completely unaware of until I had to tackle this issue). The more you know the better you will be able to stand up for yourself.

LIST OF RESOURCES AND ORGANIZATIONS TO FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF WITH  

a: AG: Attorney General – You will want to file a complaint with the AG from the state in which you purchased your timeshare. If you can connect with other buyers in your state of residence, file a complaint with your own state Attorney General. See instructions below. Some states, like California and Nevada, require you file your complaint with the state real estate division against the sales agent.

b: ARDA-ROC: American Resort Development Association-Resort Owners Coalition

ARDA Timeshare Consumer Protections Page : Did you receive one of the three required “disclosure documents”? Is there a rescission period? When did it begin/end?

Excerpts from ARDA Code of Ethics: Read this code and make note of any parts that were violated during your purchase.  ARDA ROC does not mediate disputes, but they have a Code of Ethics that may be violated. The full code of ethics can be found here.

http://www.arda.org/ethics/

c: FTC: Federal Trade Commission-Protecting America’s Consumers There is a timeshare tab not easy to find. Follow these instructions: http://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-13/

d: BBB: Better Business Bureau: This is the organization that most people are familiar with and the link to file a complaint is found right on the homepage of their site. You may need to edit your complaint to 4,000 characters, sometimes no easy task. The good thing about the BBB is that they often allow you to log in and file a rebuttal if you disagree with the company’s answer to your complaint.

e: SEC: US Securities and Exchange Commission: You will only file a complaint with the SEC if you were falsely led to believe that the purchase of a timeshare was a good investment. The sale of an investment product must be registered with the SEC.

f: FBI: Sound serious? That’s because it is serious to report a complaint to the FBI. The definition of White Collar Crime is “Deceit, concealment, violation of trust, bait and switch.” File an online complaint at IC3.gov. Select Internet Crime from the three choices available. It’s confusing because your timeshare complaint doesn’t have to be about internet crime. That’s just the name of the portal.

g: Legal Action: Retaining a lawyer is something you can do after you have exhausted the above resources and still feel as though you are getting nowhere. It is a last resort option and it will cost you; make sure that the cost is worth the possible worst-case outcome. There is a compiled list of law firms that specialize in timeshare cases on one Advocacy Facebook page. Law Firms Doc You do not have to use one of these lawyers but it is recommended that you use someone who has specific experience with timeshare, and do not do business with a lawyer or a law firm you do not know. One timeshare lawyer has recently been disbarred

h: TUG: Timeshare Users Group TUG Forums: These forums are incredible for gathering information from other timeshare owners. You can search specific questions to see if anyone else has already asked and received answers.

i: Timeshare Exit Firms: BEWARE! A lot of these firms are scams. Some are not, but you can do the lion’s share of what any exit company can do. Beware especially of money back guarantees. Some companies consider foreclosure an exit. Obviously, you don’t have to pay anyone to get foreclosed. Also, it is important to note that some timeshare companies will not approve voluntary relinquishment of a timeshare if you have contracted with an exit firm.

j: Most would agree The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau does not offer the consumer protections it once did, they still regulate banks. File a complaint with the CFPB if your complaint involves a credit card. Remember to dispute the credit card charge, even if the transaction extends beyond 30 days. Some companies will extend the period if you can present a compelling case for fraud.  The Secret Service also investigates credit card fraud.      

Step 2 HOW TO WRITE A COMPLAINT LETTER

    1. Create a Record of Events: The very first thing you should do is make a list of everything that you were told by timeshare representatives (i.e. salespeople, managers, receptionists, concierge services). Write down every detail that was said even if it seems insignificant; you can always weed out details that are less important later. Your memory of the event will start to warp and change over time so it is important that you write down this information as soon as possible so that every complaint you file has consistent information.
  • Organize the information:

a: Create a Timeline: Begin with when you first became involved with the company and proceed chronologically. Keep your history brief up to the point when things began to go wrong; it at this point you should be as detailed as possible.

What was your first encounter? (phone call, concierge, sales agent)

  • What resort or location did the presentation take place?
  • Date and time of presentation.
  • Names of all sales agents/managers that you dealt with (names will typically be listed somewhere on your contract)
  • How long did they tell you the meeting would last vs what was the actual duration of meeting?
  • Did they offer you food or beverages during the duration of the meeting?
  • Did they take your ID and credit card? Did you ask for these items to be returned?
  • If you feel you experienced unfair and deceptive sales practices, describe your experience.
  • When did you first realize your agent misled you?
  • Was it possible to learn you were deceived during the rescission period? Sometimes an agent will say a bogus program won’t be available until after the first of the year, or wait a few months before refinancing. Banks don’t finance timeshares. Sometime over promised availability can’t be determined until allowed onto the booking site, after the rescission period has expired.  
  • What steps did you take after realizing you were misled? Did you contact the agent or the company? What was their response? List dates/times if possible. Keep all emails.
  • Did the sales person ask you to apply for any credit cards/loans or take any other extraordinary measures (refinance home, equity line of credit, etc.) in order to cover costs? Transferring to a third party lender complicates things.

b: List Relevant Complaints: Here is a list of some common complaints from timeshare owners.  Certain misleading statements are more serious than others:

  • The agent said I could easily sell my points. To find out if your timeshare has a secondary market, contact a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association. They charge no upfront money to list a timeshare. http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/
  • The agent presented maintenance fee relief programs that do not exist
  • The agent said I had to give up my deeded timeshare and buy points
  • The agent said I have to give up my deed and buy points or my heirs will be burdened
  • The agent told me this would be a good investment. At least 49% of the cost of your timeshare is attributed to marketing costs (source a major timeshare company’s annual report)
  • The agent said that I could rent out my timeshare for money when the company rules do not allowed renting
  • The agent overstated the value of travel awards to pay for airline tickets, or the use of a travel credit card to pay maintenance fees
  • The rescission period was dodged

Step 3 EMAIL AND SEND YOUR LETTER OF COMPLAINT

Below is an example of a sample layout with some ideas of information that you might want to include in your letter. Copy and paste your complaint into the body of an email (do not send as an attachment). Email or send to all interested parties, including customer service, ARDA ROC (if their Code of Ethics has been violated), the credit card company if a credit card is involved. You will send your complaint to regulatory agencies if your request is denied, so make sure you take the time to present your grievance clearly and factually. Have a friend or family member read your complaint before submitting to see if they understand the complaint.

Include the following information:

Name(s) of Member(s)

Phone Number

State of Residence

Today’s Date

Member Number

**List the following information for each contract you are disputing**

Date and Place Purchased

Number of Points Purchased

Sales Agent and Sales Agent ID# (if available)

Purchase Price

Down Payment

Amount Financed and Interest Rate

Loan Number

Current Loan Balance

Information to include in the body of the complaint:

  • What do you want? Do you seek a refund, cancellation of contract, or relinquishment?
  • Why? Is it due to Deception, Health, Age or Financial Burden?
  • This is your written timeline. Provide a chronological account of what happened during the sales process that makes you feel you experienced unfair and deceptive sales practices.
  • Consider citing the ARDA code of ethics and what articles of the code were violated.
  • Making emotional statements will most likely not help your case.
  • In conclusion, restate the main complaint and what it is you are asking for.

**Complaints expressing dissatisfaction with general availability will go unheeded and so will requests based on not being able to afford the timeshare.

**If there was no deceit then request relinquishment. This is only an option if your Maintenance fees are current and you have no outstanding loan. Contact your resort for more information about voluntary surrender.  

HOW TO FILE A COMPLAINT WITH THE ATTORNEY GENERAL

  1. File your complaint with the AG from the state in which you purchased your timeshare. In “Part 2” of the link below it explains how to find the correct AG and file a complaint. Some states, like California and Nevada, require you file a timeshare complaint with the state’s real estate division.   

Steps for filing an AG complaint

  1. Always send copies of important documents and keep originals
  2. If not filed online, mail your complaint via Priority Mail with tracking.

OTHER CONSUMER PROTECTION RESOURCES

  • Seniors should consider contacting the AARP Fraud Hotline. Weigh their advice as they are not timeshare experts, but it is important for them to be aware that a significant proportion of complainants are age 60 or older. Click HERE to visit the AARP site.
  • Remember to pay no money upfront without reaching out to other members, or a resource like like TUG Timeshare Users Group
  • Forward your complaint to the Association of Vacation Owners.          AVO Contact Us Page

Contact Inside Timeshare if you are interested in helping other members or have questions about the filing process. Our goal is to make consumers more aware of the financial pitfalls that can result if you buy a timeshare you don’t understand or was not presented truthfully. We know there are many who use and enjoy their timeshares and sales agents that sell the product honestly. Honest sales agents are also negatively affected by predatory sales and lending.    

Timeshare Accountability Group™

Well that is all for this week, remember, before engaging with any company that contacts you or you have found on the internet or through adverts in publications, do you homework and stay safe.

Have a great weekend.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this week’s Letter from America, today’s article is from another new contributor, the Kleen family, who we welcome to our pages. They explain their own experiences and show how the lack of a secondary market can harm families. So on we go with another in the series “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”.

A Wyndham Worldmark Member Offers an Analysis

Families Harmed by No Secondary Market

There is no secondary market for timeshare ownership. No one wants to buy a timeshare, so owners have trouble getting rid of one.

https://thriftylittlemom.com/2015/06/25/should-you-invest-in-a-timeshare/

By the Kleen family

January 18, 2019

There is something inherently wrong with a product that cannot be sold or sometimes even given back, especially a product purchased for thousands of dollars. A lifetime is a long time to live without experiencing an adverse life event necessitating a need to sell. Wyndham states in their annual 10-k report that a viable secondary market is a risk to their investors. There is no mention of the risk to their customer stuck with their product that has virtually no secondary market.

Friends of ours in good standing with Wyndham received a $.36 per point buyback offer from Wyndham Ovations, which they accepted. The Wyndham Ovation program is Wyndham’s voluntary surrender program available to members in good standing. When we initially contacted “Wyndham Cares” about our medical hardship we had hoped for a similar offer, but never heard back. We have an outstanding loan, so are probably not eligible.

Timeshare points dramatically lose value. To compare, think of a house purchased for $100,000 that could only be sold for $11,666. That’s what $.36 per point would translate to for what we paid at $2.50 to $3.50 per point. They tell you think of your timeshare as a second home, but what home purchased for $100,000 would you buy that had a resale value of $11,666?  What would happen to the housing market if virtually no secondary market existed? Too many families are being harmed. If you own a home with a loan, you can still sell the home.

We purchased our Wyndham Worldmark timeshare in 2011.

Our son Matt believes it is imperative that veterans be provided more disclosure. The housing market requires veterans be provided greater disclosure, like on HUD loans. Especially for active duty service members, who can get transferred or sent overseas, the lack of a secondary market is of real concern. “In the case of my parents, they would have been eligible for the Armed Services Vacation Club, which Wyndham runs and operates. This would have been a much better program for them. My father even told the sales agent he was a veteran,” said Matt.   

In 2016 we wanted to help Matt. Matt is totally disabled, now living with us along with his daughter. The fact that not only is this timeshare worthless, but we are held hostage by it, prompted us to write this article hoping others will understand that timeshares are worthless, should you need to sell.        

In 2015 we were looking forward to enjoying our retirement and a timeshare seemed a good way to do it. This purchase fell far short of that. Every time we went to a resort, the staff enticed us with offers of gift cards and money to attend “owner updates” which were just other chances to use high pressure sales. There was never anything presented about updated information.

They always told us that our points would never lose their value. Salesman told us that our previous point level was worthless, and could only be rendered of value by buying more points, explaining we would have a much better chance to get where we wanted to go, when we wanted to go, only if we purchased additional points.

More than eight months ago we contacted WorldMark/Wyndham Resort Development to request a hardship release. We have called and contacted Wyndham several times, but never received any answers. A manager said she was going to do her best and get back to us. Not one word received.

We are full time caregivers for our son and his daughter. We can’t use the timeshare as originally planned.  Our two dependents require financial, medical, and emotional support. Our son needs special furniture. Traveling by car or plane is nearly impossible due to his lack of mobility.  Since they have never contacted us about our hardship request, we add that to our “lack of customer service” complaints.

Sales agents always presented offers in a very confusing way. We had to ask questions again and again and have them repeat their answers as we tried to get clarification on certain things. Sometimes we just gave up. The sales presentations always lasted longer than the promised 60-90 minutes. We would end up leaving because the salesmen wanted us to sign statements about the cost of points in the future if we did not buy right then. They got very nasty when we refused to sign.

The salesmen never told us that upgrading was mandatory, but they pressured us greatly to upgrade. We were able to get away and use the program a few times this year. It is not an easy thing to do because of the responsibilities at home, but we were able to get away for a few days at a time for respite. Most of these stays had to be around when Wyndham had availability, so trips were not always convenient.

We hope our article reaches the eyes of those considering a timeshare purchase. We question why anyone would spend so much money on an “asset” that is really a liability if even the timeshare company does not want it back.

If you know what you are buying is worthless, should you need to sell, and still are comfortable with your purchase, then buy the timeshare. We wish we had known.

Thank you to the Kleen family. We agree too many families have been financially harmed by timeshare’s lack of a secondary market. Contact Inside Timeshare if you have a story to share.

Self-help groups Inside Timeshare feels are not industry influenced.

https://www.facebook.com/timeshareadvocategroup/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/DiamondResortsOwnersAdvocacy/

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

https://everythingabouttimeshares.com/consider-exchange-options/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/180578055325962/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/465692163568779/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1639958046252175/

 

That is it for this week, join us on Monday for news and information on the world of timeshare, have a great weekend.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this week’s Letter from America, today we welcome a new contributor David Althage with his Nightmare on Timeshare Street”  story. David is another in the long list of veterans who have experienced problems at the hands of timeshare sales agents. Once again a big thanks to Irene Parker for her introduction.

A Wyndham Timeshare Buyer, a Marine Veteran, Shares his Timeshare Experience

January 11, 2019

Introduction by Irene Parker

Marine Veteran David Althage is one of 90 veterans and active duty service members who feel they have been financially harmed by their decision to buy a timeshare. Many of the veterans are disabled. By publishing member accounts, we hope others will be made aware of the financial hardship that can result when a perpetual contract is signed, a contract accompanied by annual maintenance fees, with little to no secondary market.

We understand there are many who use and enjoy their timeshare. Many may have not been made aware of the difficulties that can arise when there is little to no secondary market.

A draft of today’s article was sent to Wyndham but the dispute was not resolved. We feel there should be better disclosure as to the lack of a viable secondary market. Timeshare companies list in their 10k annual reports a viable secondary market is a risk to their investors.   

By David Althage

I would like to share my Wyndham experience, hoping others will take the time to think about a decision that can easily become a financial albatross. I deeply regret our decision to buy the timeshare. They pressured us to a huge extent, but we didn’t realize this until much later. I feel we experienced elder abuse.

I am a veteran of the Marines. I served from 1964 to 1968 and ended up as a Corporal E4. I spent most of 1965 and 1966 in Vietnam and my specialty was machine gunner which I did on the ground and also as the door gunner on helicopters. I was wounded twice and I have also suffered from skin cancer, possible from Agent Orange. All of that seems a lifetime away as my wife and I have been settled for many years in Missouri. These days I repair mobile homes for work, and I keep going at this even though I am now 73. I do not have retirement or a pension. I only have social security.

My wife and I were in a Branson, Missouri mall when a woman at a kiosk told us she had some things to give away, but we would need to attend a 90 minute presentation. The 90 minute Wyndham presentation lasted over five hours. Over 5 hours!

The sales reps kept talking, stalling and feeding us more information. They talked so fast it was difficult to take it all in. There was a lot of paper. We started at 8:30 a.m. They did not tell us how much the timeshare would cost until about 12:30 p.m. We were tired, hungry. We kept asking how much longer it would take. The reps did not offer lunch nor would they allow us to leave to get lunch. Due to our medical issues, our heads were spinning, and my wife’s blood sugar was really dropping. She felt unwell. I suffer from macular degeneration and glaucoma, and I also need cataract surgery. I don’t see well. It was impossible to properly examine all the paperwork. And by the way, the original agent at the kiosk promised us show tickets on the Branson Belle, but it was sold out.

We are shocked at how hard this program is to use. Early in November 2017 we wanted to book a suite in Branson after Christmas in order to see a special show. We were surprised and totally disappointed when the booking center told us that we would have to book at least nine to ten months in advance. They had nothing available at any of their six Branson resorts. We don’t know our schedule that far ahead due to health issues and doctors’ appointments, etc. They did not tell us about having to book so far in advance at the sales meeting. We received a letter from Wyndham which stated,

“As part of an ongoing commitment to enable more owners to vacation where they want, when they want and how they want, in May we introduced updates to the CLUB WYNDHAM Plus Program Guidelines. These updates, made by the FairShare Vacation Owners Association Board, were introduced to help you own your vacation experience and get more out of your vacation.”

We really resent that Wyndham said we could vacation wherever and whenever we wanted. They didn’t give us the straight facts on how hard it is to book. I can only conclude that this statement was a lie.

We found out later that when you book a room and you have to cancel, you have to do it 17 days in advance of your reservation or you lose your points. This is an egregious way to treat anyone, let alone senior citizens! As a result of all this, the timeshare is not of much benefit, especially considering the price we pay.

Another point we wish to make is that the sales reps told us that by taking out visa cards through Barclays, and by making all our payments through these cards, the timeshare would “pay for itself” by generating income from points on purchases. They claimed that these points would then pay for our maintenance fees and our payments to Barclays as well. This is absolute nonsense! You can only pay for about 1% of the maintenance fee by charging, so a $2000 maintenance fee purchase would require $200,000 a year in charges!

One of the reps told us that if we decided we did not want the timeshare, we could easily sell it with no problem. By saying we could do this “with no problem” we took it that it would at least hold its value. Checking online, we were shocked to find out that these timeshares have almost no value at all. He misled us.

Sales agent Landon Anderson gave us his phone number and said to call him any time. He said, “If you ever have any problems, we will work with you.” We said we were going to Branson after Christmas to which he replied that he would take us out to dinner. We called and called, but there was no answer. We believe this number was a burner phone in a drawer somewhere.

Finally, the reps never gave us a hard copy of the contract. We specifically asked for this, but instead handed us a tablet saying that these days everything was electronic. As a result, we could not read the contract so I don’t even know if we could have rescinded in time. I called Wyndham and insisted that they send me a hard copy by mail. It took a long time to arrive. We have been unable to make the electronic device work, so for the longest time we had no idea what was on there.

It felt like they were only interested in making a sale.

This is my sorry Wyndham experience.

From Florida Trends

The world’s largest timeshare developer, Wyndham Destinations, got off to a promising start this summer as a standalone company. The Orlando-based business, established when Wyndham Worldwide split its hotel and timeshare divisions, announced in August that timeshare sales increased by 7% and earnings exceeded Wall Street expectations during its first quarter on its own. “It was an outstanding quarter,” Michael Brown, Wyndham Destinations’ president and CEO, said on the company’s earnings call with analysts.

There was a cloud over the results, however. During the call, Wyndham also revealed that the number of owners defaulting on their timeshare mortgages climbed during the second quarter, extending what has become a multiyear increase in defaults. The company says the rate of increase in its provision for loan losses has slowed to “under 5%” in the second half of 2018, but in the earnings call Brown said defaults remain “higher than we would like,” seconded by CFO Michael Hug, who added that “loan loss remains a central area of focus.”

Of the company’s nearly 900,000 owners, only 200,000 have loans. However, the company expects to set aside 21% of its gross sales to cover losses in 2018 — meaning it expects not to collect $21 of every $100 it’s loaned.

Wyndham blames much of the problem on secondary companies in the timeshare market — firms that resell timeshares, arrange for the transfer of ownership or help purchasers get out of their timeshare contracts.

https://www.floridatrend.com/article/25726/timeshare-tussle

We are no fans of exit companies, but the industry as a whole seems to show undue finger pointing at exit companies, rather than even consider there might be a problem in-house.   

Former Wyndham sales agent and whistleblower Trish Williams was awarded $20 million:

Wyndham’s sales goals for employees were impossible to meet if representatives adhered to the company’s policies and regulations governing timeshare sales, Robert Parker, a former sales executive, testified in depositions. When sales at the Canterbury lagged, he explained, something known as “TAFT days” came into play.

“TAFT is the acronym for ‘tell them any frigging thing,’” Mr. Parker testified. “In other words, it didn’t matter what you said. We need business. Today’s your day. Just tell them whatever you got to tell them. That’s what TAFT is.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/25/business/my-soul-feels-taller-a-whistle-blowers-20-million-vindication.html

It may be a lofty goal, but we are hoping that by hearing the consumer’s side, a better relationship, and better corporate margins can be achieved, by addressing the problems rather than pretend the problems don’t exist. Inside Timeshare has listened to 659 mainly infuriated timeshare members.

Self-help groups we feel are not industry influenced:

https://www.facebook.com/timeshareadvocategroup/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/DiamondResortsOwnersAdvocacy/

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

https://everythingabouttimeshares.com/consider-exchange-options/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/180578055325962/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/465692163568779/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1639958046252175/

Thank you to David for sharing his story, if you find after reading these articles that you have similar experiences and would like to share them with other, then use our contact page. We will then be in touch and welcome your contributions. It is only through your stories and “Nightmares on Timeshare Street” that the industry might, just might take notice, then we may see changes for the better.

Following on from the many articles that Inside Timeshare publishes about bogus law firms, claims companies, resale and exit companies, if you have been contacted or even been taken in by them, again use our contact page to get in touch. Your information can then be published to warn others, it is only through you the readers that these scam merchants can be outed and others prevented from falling victim.

As always do your homework before engaging with any company that has contacted you or that you have found either on the net or through adverts in various publications. Just because you see an advert in a prestigious paper or magazine, does not mean they are legitimate. Remember, the advertising department is there to sell advertising space, they make no checks on whether the company is genuine.

Have a great weekend and join us again next week.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to another edition of Letter from America, this week we publish another “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” which was originally published on 21 December 2018 but was withdrawn due to having to be changed. It is another story about the ongoing problem of Elder Abuse, Brenda Santos explains her parents “Nightmare”, edited by our very own Irene Parker.

The main character in today’s article is a name that has come up many times on Inside Timeshare, Rick Casper, a name that is well known around timeshare circles. Yet Diamond allowed him to continue his deceptive practices even though they should have known what he was doing, in this I believe Diamond is as culpable as Rick Casper.

We think that you will be shocked once you have read this article, so without any further ado, on with the last Letter from America before Christmas.

Why I Feel My Parents Experienced Elder Abuse

Their Encounter with Diamond Resorts and Rick Casper

By Brenda Santos, a daughter and Irene Parker

December 21, 2018

January 4, 2019 Retraction by Irene Parker

Diamond Resorts, via the Duane Morris law firm, has demanded that Inside Timeshare publish a retraction due to a misinterpretation of a sentence in the italicized paragraph below.

We mistakenly stated that Dan Percy allegedly sexually assaulted Rick Casper’s fiancée at Diamond CEO Michael Flaskey’s penthouse, when the alleged sexual assault, according to Rick Casper, took place in their guest accommodations. It was my understanding Michael Flaskey’s penthouse was the same property as the Villa, in other words, the Villa and Michael Flaskey’s penthouse were one and the same.

After receiving the letter objecting to the statement, Charles Thomas immediately deleted the offending sentences. However, Duane Morris/Diamond has demanded a retraction we thus provide.

We apologize for the misunderstanding. Our intent was to shed light on the actions twenty Diamond members contend were perpetrated by Rick Casper. The alleged sexual assault was mentioned because Rick Casper alleges he was fired for reporting the alleged sexual assault to Diamond’s Human Resource department, not because he created reasons why existing member had to buy additional points.      

The actual wording in the complaint filed in US District Court District of Nevada reads as follows:

  1. Plaintiff (Rick Casper) and Ms. McGrath left before the concert ended to retire early to their guest accommodations.  
  2. Upon information and belief, after the concert, Defendant Percy and other Diamond Resorts employees and contest winners were invited by Michael Flaskey to his Penthouse Suite at Cabo Azul for more cocktails and then later to the hotel bar, whereupon Defendant Percy and another Diamond Resorts employee were nearly engaged in an altercation.
  3. Upon information and belief, Percy was drinking heavily at the dinner, the concert, and at Flaskey’s Suite and hotel bar.
  4. Plaintiff’s guest accommodations at the Diamond Resorts event were at guest bedroom at Villa Palmila, a Diamond Resorts property (“Villa”). The Villa was a well-appointed house with several bedrooms. Plaintiff and Ms. McGrath had their own bedroom and shared the Villa with other Diamond Resorts employees and contest winners who occupied the other bedrooms.
  5. To get to Plaintiff’s bedroom in the Villa, it was necessary to walk through two sets of double doors.

Original paragraphs:   

According to the lawsuit, Mr. Casper earned over $1 million in 2015, $2.4 million in 2016 and $2.4 million in 2017 selling Diamond timeshare points. Why did this go on so long when members reported his actions as far back as early 2016? Members report being told Casper said the member would be able to sell points or eliminate maintenance fees if they bought more points – programs that did not exist. Casper filed the lawsuit alleging his Diamond VP Dan Percy sexually assaulted his fiancée at Diamond CEO Michael Flaskey’s penthouse in Cabo San Lucas. Casper alleges he was fired for reporting the incident to Diamond’s Human Resource department.

As Rick Casper alleges, “At instruction of DIAMOND RESORTS, Plaintiff CASPER was asked to identify or facilitate issues that were wrong with the owners’ current ownership points.” Case 2:18-cv-01455-GMN-NJK

Original December 21 article with the offending paragraph omitted:

Having connected with six other grown children whose parents have been harmed by timeshare, it is our intention to organize a media, legislative and regulatory outreach for the purpose of alerting the public as to unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices which we feel also constitutes elder abuse. We are professionals. Three of us have parents who are veterans, one a double Purple Heart recipient.

My father Dale, age 73, is an Army veteran and was a Captain in the Vietnam War. He earned a Bronze Star for Victorious Service. My mom will be 73 in January. Our family has been financially and physically devastated by their decision to buy Diamond timeshare points. My parents always lived debt free, saved to buy things like cars, so having to do a reverse mortgage because of what these sales agents told my parents is unbearable. We have learned we are not alone.

Roy and Lillian Simmons, a Navy veteran and a retired letter carrier

http://insidetimeshare.com/tuesday-slot-irene-13/

Raymond and Teresa Mori, Mr. Mori a Marine Veteran, two Purple Hearts

http://www.insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-42/

My parents represent the 20th Rick Casper complaint from our support group of over 2,000 Diamond Resort families. I have learned Rick Casper’s name is known among law firms outside of our group.

In a lawsuit Rick Casper filed August 7, 2018 against Diamond Resorts and his former VP Dan Percy, Rick Casper admitted he created reasons or problems why existing members needed to buy additional timeshare points, as happened to my parents. A summary of the 20 Rick Casper complaints are listed below. As Diamond understands Rick Casper employed deceptive and unfair sales tactics, it is wrong not to recognize and correct what Diamond and Rick Casper did to my parents. I challenge anyone to read the 20 complaints and not conclude my father is telling the truth.

According to the lawsuit, Mr. Casper earned over $1 million in 2015, $2.4 million in 2016 and $2.4 million in 2017 selling Diamond timeshare points. Why did this go on so long when members reported his actions as far back as early 2016? Members report being told Casper said the member would be able to sell points or eliminate maintenance fees if they bought more points – programs that did not exist. 

As Rick Casper alleges, “At instruction of DIAMOND RESORTS, Plaintiff CASPER was asked to identify or facilitate issues that were wrong with the owners’ current ownership points.” Case 2:18-cv-01455-GMN-NJK

My parents were former Sunterra owners since 2006. Their problems first started when they went to a timeshare presentation at Diamond’s Daytona Beach Regency resort on May 11, 2015. According to my parents, they were told they were not full Diamond members so it was important to get things changed. The sales agent explained that Diamond took over Sunterra due to bankruptcy.

That was not true. Diamond Resorts acquired Sunterra, but not because of bankruptcy: https://www.travelweekly.com/Travel-News/Hotel-News/Diamond-Resorts-to-acquire-Sunterra-Corp-for-700-million

The following is what my father recounted to me about his Diamond experiences.

The Florida sales agent in 2015 explained that we needed to get out of our current Sunterra contract to become Diamond members. He used scare tactics to get us concerned that if we did not make the switch to Diamond officially our current investment with Sunterra would be worthless. The sales agent said if we purchased Diamond points, we would no longer be part of a bankrupt orphan group.

We previously purchased a Diamond Sampler (trial) package but it was almost impossible to get a reservation. We were trying to figure out how to get out of it when the sales agent presented what seemed to be a perfect solution. He said that by buying additional points, Diamond would fold our Sunterra contracts into one new Diamond points system. Several managers explained that we were not going to have enough points to do anything now that the Sunterra credit card was not able to be used due to the bankruptcy. The manager told us we would have legal issues and would risk losing everything and would not be able to sell the timeshare if we were not fully vested Diamond members.” We have learned Diamond points are virtually worthless.

After six hours, we were exhausted. Irene is diabetic and her blood sugar was increasing. We were stressed from hearing the news about our bankrupt investment, so we signed fast just to get out of there to get Irene’s blood sugar taken care of. We were thrilled to be out of the Sampler and thought we were finally set as a fully vested Diamond member. Diamond sales agent Mike sounded very helpful so we bought 2500 points for $10,925.

Three months later, on August 11, 2015 we met with Scott at Cancun Resort in Las Vegas. This meeting lasted seven hours. The representative kept reiterating how he was just trying to help us get out of the mess we were in because of our Florida purchase.

Scott said the only way to get the best benefits was to purchase more points to get to Silver status. He explained that until you get to Silver you will have all kinds of problems. He also said our maintenance fees would be taken care of and we would be able to sell points back, possibly at a profit. We said we were not interested. A manager told us we needed to know the truth about what happened to us as a result of our Florida purchase because the changeover to Diamond did not happen correctly. He said we were still not fully deeded with Diamond Resorts.  

Diamond points are not deeded.

The sales agents said we had to purchase 6,500 points to get out of Sunterra completely to become a true vested Diamond member. He told us the vacations and airline tickets would pay for the points so we would not be out any other money and that maintenance fees would not increase, but be capped by reaching Silver status. None of this was true.

I was offered a Barclay credit card to pay for the fees. We purchased 6500 points for $22,945. Silver status benefits were totally misrepresented. Our maintenance fees were not taken care of. We found out later that our prior contracts were indeed with Diamond and legit.

My parents purchased 7500 points on March 15, 2016

Purchase price:  $32,625

We went to a timeshare presentation on March 15, 2016 and met with Rick Casper at Cancun Resort in Las Vegas. Casper told us when we started the presentation that he was not going to sell us anything. He said we had not been told the truth about a lot of things and that he wanted to make things right. “With the program I am in charge of there will be an exit strategy so that someday, if you don’t want the timeshare and your kids do not want it, they can exit out easily.” He said he was a family guy and would not want his kids to have to deal with high maintenance fees so it would be better to ensure a cap on maintenance fees. He explained how we or our children would never be able to get out of the timeshare in the future unless we were part of his special group that would allow us to exit. He said we could make money on our investment by selling points.

Rick Casper showed us a worksheet as to what we would save by using points for maintenance fees and airfares. The math figures made sense. I already had a Barclay card that I used to finance the 2015 purchase. Rick Casper told us that if my wife could get her own Barclay card we could put almost the entire purchase on the Barclay Mastercard.  

We were there for over seven hours. We felt like hostages because they would not give us our free gifts until Rick’s supervisor finished. We bought with the understanding that we would be able to sell points. The charges on our Barclaycard ended up being way more than was disclosed.  Rick Casper said our Gold status bonus points would put a cap on maintenance fees for generations, but our maintenance fees skyrocketed as a result of this contract which was supposed to consolidate four prior contracts.

We signed fast because Irene almost passed out due to her diabetes and blood sugar levels. We told Rick we had to leave. We were tired and already under a lot of emotional distress to find out that Scott Pritchard did not fix anything the year before. We felt pressured to make it right or risk never being able to use points to pay for maintenance fees or exit out of the timeshare without being in Rick’s special elite program.  

When we received our Barclay credit card statement we noticed an additional $1000 charged for what Rick Casper presented to us as a gift from Diamond.

We contacted Diamond. A representative told us that there was no way we could use our points to pay for maintenance fees. I called and asked Rick Casper to correct the issue. His response was in a loud screaming threatening voice, “How dare you accuse me? I didn’t tell you those things; you are trying to get me in trouble. I am going to sue you if you pursue this and go to my supervisor.” I told him that he was dishonest and that we would take action.  His screaming was abusive, degrading, and caused me physical and mental distress. I have been through a lot of trauma as a Vietnam War veteran but have never been screamed at and degraded like Rick Casper did to me. I ended up very traumatized emotionally which caused me to have a stress attack in 2016.

After recounting this incident for my daughter a few weeks ago, I had a similar attack and had to be admitted to the hospital for heart symptoms. The doctor was a different doctor from the same medical group. He noted from my patient history that the mention of Diamond prompted my 2016 symptoms. I was put on blood pressure medication due to this emotional stress and have daily deteriorating health issues as a result of the stress this causes me every time I walk into my house and know I have debt on my home as a result of tactics I consider to be an organized effort to take advantage of us.

We had to do a reverse mortgage on our home as a result of these timeshare purchases because our social security income was too low to cover the total charged on both Barclay cards. I worked as a Baptist pastor until retirement. My credit score was 817 the day we met with Rick Casper but it has gone down considerably.  

In May 2016 we went to another Diamond presentation to try and figure out how to use our points to pay for our maintenance fees since we were having a hard time getting through to anyone at Diamond.  The timeshare representative was very embarrassed about what had happened and apologized on behalf of Diamond Resorts for the deception. He told us he wanted to help us understand what we had. He said that paying $32,625 for 7500 points was unheard of and that we could not do anything Rick Casper told us we could do at our current Gold status, which he said was only put in the system temporarily.  

That Diamond representative told us that we should take action and file a complaint. He explained how using points for an airline ticket would cost us 11,000 points (or about $2,200 for one domestic airline ticket) so not a good deal. We could not use points to pay for maintenance fees at Gold status. Only Platinum members can use points to pay maintenance fees and at only $.04 per point.  

Gold status did not give us what Rick Casper said it was going to give us, which included paying maintenance fees with points, exiting out of the timeshare, and being able to sell our timeshare points to make money on our investment.

We are both in terrible health and financial distress as a result of this Diamond resort investment trauma.

I learned of this only recently. I’m still trying to grasp the situation.  Diamond responded denying the request to cancel the last purchase because they used their points and said that nothing Rick Casper said was in writing. What is there to stop this from happening to others if misrepresentations continue unchecked? I believe my parents. How could anyone not believe them after reading so many similar complaints? I sent this article to Diamond for comment on December 17, but they did not respond.   

Twenty Rick Casper Complaints and excerpts from articles submitted by those who purchased points from Rick Casper:           

  1. SM, age 65 and his wife 81, 21 years Army, trained chemical, biochemical, nuclear defense RESOLVED http://insidetimeshare.com/nightmares-timeshare-street/

After the last Rick Casper up-sell, their monthly payment escalated from $431 a month to $2200. They told Mr. Casper they were worried about passing this burden on to their heirs.  

  1.  CL $75,000 RESOLVED – A Stage 4 cancer patient

During our meeting we were told about all the changes that had been discussed at the dinner that would allow us to sell our points. My husband has cancer so all that was going through his mind was trying to make a choice that would help me later on if the chemo didn’t work and when Rick Casper convinced him this was the answer that’s all that my husband heard.  

  1. N C, ages 67 and  69 $142,000 RESOLVED

http://insidetimeshare.com/another-nightmare-timeshare-street/

We are both disabled and retired from civil service. Dan is a retired army Lt. Colonel and a combat Vietnam and Desert Storm veteran.  

We are Platinum members. We feel our most recent Diamond purchase was made under deceptive and extremely high pressure selling techniques. We had been struggling with two loan payments of $329 and $121 but the most recent purchase we did not even realize we made, will drive us into foreclosure. Rick Casper in Las Vegas on January 22, 2017 sold us 50,000 Diamond points bringing our total number of points to 106,000. Our new loan payment is $2,133 a month which we cannot pay. The $142,400 purchase of 50,000 points included $17,000 charged to a DRI Barclaycard. We did not realize we made this $142,000 purchase until we returned home and checked our credit cards. As I have had a double mastectomy, undergone chemotherapy, radiation and have had two knee replacement surgeries, buying more vacation points was in no way our intention. Dan has had two minor strokes and a mild heart attack. He has chronic pain and is on 25 medications prescribed by the VA and our doctors. He suffers from PTSD. I was in terrible knee pain. Rick provided me with two glasses of wine in a Styrofoam cup with plastic lids because alcohol is not allowed at presentations.

Rick said we should join the new “Legacy program” that allows members to sell blocks of Diamond points to a third party with all Diamond benefits intact.  He said if we joined the Legacy program “people would be standing in line to buy our points.”

After six hours, my pain increased and I became confused. I walk with a cane so it was an effort just to walk to the restroom as it was some distance. Dan was confused due to diabetic symptoms. We were so overwhelmed by the time we were signing contracts, we did not even realize we were buying points. Rick kept saying we would receive 50,000 bonus points. We signed just to get out of there.

  1. KK, age 61 $117,000 RESOLVED

Questionnaire sheet asked: Had you attended a dinner? What is your exit strategy? Apollo had dinners informing members Cloobeck was leaving.  Not everyone heard the presentation so Rick was talking to Platinum members about the Legacy program. He said DRI never allowed you to sell points. This will. He knows real estate people can get $5 on resale for DRI points. New members are paying $9 so if you buy at $4 it is easy to sell. He had contacts that he could set us up with. 12/29/2016

5 RB, age 66 $75,000 RESOLVED

Mr. Casper said on at least four occasions I was eligible for a Pool Party Upgrade that would provide an exit strategy. He said the program was about to expire so I needed to write a sentence that said I wanted to do this and he would get the purchase approved. I never received a copy of the sentence. The purpose was to make my existing points more valuable. Mr. Casper went on to explain that this exit strategy would allow me to monitor and sell points. He mentioned that he is a family man and does not want to pass his points and maintenance fees on to his kids.

6 JH, age 56 $132,000 RESOLVED

The main benefit that Rick Casper presented was the ability to convert points directly into cash at $0.30 per point. If we had leftover points, he said we could be reimbursed in cash. All we had to do was contact Rick’s Vice President Dan Percy who would process the transaction and put the money on our reloadable Visa card.

I continued to ask questions about each benefit to be certain.  I worded questions differently to see if I would get the same answer.  I threw out this scenario; if at the end of the year I have 30,000 points still sitting in my account, you’re telling me that I can get reimbursed cash for these points at $0.30 per point?”  His response; “Absolutely – You contact Dan Percy and he will load $9,000 onto the Visa card.” We purchased 40,000 points to get us to the level of Super Platinum. There is no level above Platinum.

7 AC, age 68 $55,000

http://insidetimeshare.com/wednesday-article-america/

We purchased an additional 20,000 points on July 16, 2016 for $55,200 from Richard Casper. The reason is because Rick told us if we went from Gold to Platinum, he could sell points to substantially reduce our maintenance fees by submitting receipts to him for goods and services. We have never seen a tangible way to reduce our current $8,685 fees.  

During the presentation we asked about combining our eight contracts. Casper advised that any free and clear points sold on the resale market will have the same benefits except loyalty level as long as no more than 20,000 points were sold to one individual so it would be better not to combine the points. None of this was true. Casper stated that many Gold owners would be happy to buy 20,000 points at the lower price to become Platinum.  

We contacted Richard Casper by email on April 7, 2017 because we needed to sell 20,000 points. We received an auto reply stating to contact VP Dan Percy. Dan Percy stated that Diamond Resorts sales personnel don’t assist people who need to sell points.

8 JM, age 61 $90,000 RESOLVED

Rick Casper was introduced to me as a Platinum specialist. Mr. Casper said I made a big mistake buying Hawaii points and a bigger mistake transferring the 20,000 points I bought in Daytona, due to a class action lawsuit against DRI that caused exorbitant increases in maintenance fees because of storm related beach erosion.  

Mr. Casper said I had to transfer back to US Collection and if I owned 100,000 points I would be unofficially known as double Platinum and that I could sell unused points back to Diamond at 30 cents per point. Mr. Casper said this was closely regulated by the authorities. Mr. Casper said by selling these points back I could pay some or all of my maintenance fees for that year and years to follow. Mr. Casper said this would allow my children not to have to pay maintenance fees. “You are really passing your children a bill.  We have a new program if you reach me in November to let me know what you did not use. Diamond will buy the points back at $.30 to, ‘put them back in the kitty’. We need the points because we can sell them to other people who need them. What are you waiting for? This is a no brainer.”

I purchased an additional 30,000 points. I now owned 115,000 points. Mr. Casper said the reason for the 30 cent program was due to the sale of Diamond to Apollo. Mr. Casper said Mr. Cloobeck wanted to do something for members who owned over 100,000 points to show his appreciation. He included the 30 cent per point program in the terms of the Apollo buyout.  

In November 2016 I called Rick Casper to inform him I had 80,000 points I wished to cash in so that I would receive $24,000 as he had illustrated.  He denied any knowledge of the arrangement.  I spoke with Dan Percy. He said no such program existed.    

  1. SW 100% disabled Army veteran Agent Orange exposure

April 6, 2018 $170,000 1099 issued

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-44/

In 2016 we went to Las Vegas and stayed at Diamond’s Cancun resort and met with Rick Casper. Mr. Casper said if we upgraded, we would be able to cover maintenance fees. However, maintenance fees increased after the upgrade from $5,000 to $16,000 a year. After five hours, my blood sugar was at 400. I was recovering from congestive heart failure. Rick Casper said it would cost us $198,000, $2500 a month in payments for the next 10 years but after ten years we would have no maintenance fees and no loan payment. Rick Casper said, “Then the little people will be paying for your vacation.” He said it would take up to a year and a half to set up but he would personally handle it. He said since we were only paying $3, he had a guy that could sell points for much more than that and the proceeds would pay for maintenance fees. I ended up paying a company in Branson MO $1500 to get out of this; but now the IRS has issued us a 1099 for $170,000. I’m 71 years old.

#10 MP RESOLVED, a widow, a speech teacher, age 71

April 2018 Platinum

My husband John and I purchased an additional 25,000 US Collection points May 2017 from Rick Casper. He said we had to purchase these points to take advantage of a program that would allow us not to have to pay Maintenance Fees after we paid off our loan. Mr. Casper said the program description had been sent to us in a letter we should have received. Rick Casper told us that because we did not get a letter, Diamond would still offer what had been offered.  He did not have a copy of the letter. Rick Casper told my husband and me (John was still alive at the time), that once we paid off our loan, we would not have to pay maintenance fees.

The scare that Rick put into me was because he said we would be paying a million dollars in maintenance fees over our lifespan if we did not buy the additional 25,000 points.  Rick Casper explained how Diamond maintenance fees would continue to skyrocket. We purchased the 25,000 points for $86,250. Wed had purchased 53000 points previously.

John was in much pain. We did not know at the time he had cancer, spine and skeleton, which had metastasized. John kept saying, “I do not want to do this.” Rick Casper even asked, “Is he alright?” I was incredulous because it was obvious John was not alright. He was diagnosed with cancer October 13, 2017. Our presentation started at 8:30 AM and did not end until 7:30 PM. John was terribly affected by my decision. He couldn’t get over what we (I) had done because we already had enough points.

Well, in order to not have to wait ten years to not pay maintenance fees, I went right out and got a lower interest rate home equity loan. I felt this way I could pay the loan off in 30 days so that I would not have to pay 2018 maintenance fees.

#11 D H UNRESOLVED

We told Rick Casper about our concerns:

  1. Concerned about paying even more maintenance fees if we purchased more points.

Rick reassured us that if we purchased more points we could use them to pay all our maintenance fees every year and still have points left to travel.

We trusted Rick so we bought 25,000 more points, upgrading to Platinum so that we could take advantage of the .30 per point benefit. How can this be justified? These deceitful sales tactics go against many laws (FBI, ARDA and SEC to name a few).

  1. Concerned that we couldn’t use the points we already had, let alone buy more.

Rick was very skilled in reassuring us that all would be ok if we purchased more points. He even stated that as Platinum he would be our personal concierge.

  1. Concerned our timeshare was not a good investment.

Rick reassured us it was a good investment, and that points were selling for more than what we originally paid; he showed us a chart with yearly increases. He mentioned that he had a friend that resells timeshares and that DR points were in high demand. He said that if we ever decided to sell that he would put us in touch with his friend, who can easily sell our points for double what we paid. This eased our minds. Nov. 2016, I texted Rick and asked him if he still knows a guy that’s willing to buy our timeshare. He never replied.

#12 J K We were Gold members, told we could save on maintenance fees via a reloadable VISA card that would be credited to pay maintenance fees. Purchasing additional points or upgrading to Platinum was never mentioned.

Rick Casper said DRI VP Dan Percy would take care of our 2018 maintenance fees.  Due to signing electronically, we were not aware we had purchased an additional 30,000 points until we returned home and reviewed the actual documents, received new credit cards, and invoices. It was difficult, if not impossible, to read the contract via the electronic signing.

I have learned there is a real program called 20/20 or 30/30, depending on the loyalty level in which 30% of vacation points can be credited toward travel discounts.  Rick Casper adulterated the actual program to be able to cover himself and Dan Percy. In other words, you can redeem points at $.30 per point, but not for the reasons Rick Casper stated. You cannot redeem points at $.30 per point to pay maintenance fees.

#13 MS, ages 80 and 84 Parents of #12

Rick Casper said Dan Percy would handle our 2018 maintenance fees. He explained that the program they were up for and the current ownership will benefit us and allow for better use of ownership.  Due to the electronic signing of the contract, we did not know we had purchased 30,000 additional points until we returned home and could properly review the documents, received the credit cards and invoices. It was difficult, if not impossible, to review the contracts on the small Tablet.  

#14 M Y, age 72

We went to Polo Towers September 2, 2017. We wanted to know how to reduce maintenance fees. Rick Casper told us that the only way to reduce maintenance fees was to buy more points. He asked, “Are you happy about paying all these maintenance fees?” We purchased 47,500 additional points.

When we got home, three Barclay cards came in the mail. We were charged almost $28,000. He never mentioned that he was even going to open the cards. We already had one Barclaycard. When we got to our room, we reviewed the documents, but it did not really show the Barclay charges.

The very next day we told Joey Guiterrez we wanted to cancel. He said if you cancel you will lose all your benefits and be fined $40,000. I asked why and he said that’s just how it is. When I complained, he denied saying this. My husband was with me. I became depressed for months.

#15 T T Rick Casper complaint

TT (age 51) and IT

25000 points purchased Polo Towers, Las Vegas, NV on September 5, 2017

Sales Agent: Richard “Rick” Casper – Real Estate License S.0172679

Purchase Price: $102,000

Down Payment: $29,000

Amount Financed: $73,750 @ 12.1305%

Down payment charged to Barclay Diamond Cards

Rick Casper said we would not have to pay out of pocket for Maintenance Fees ever again, and we would not have to worry about losing any points at the end of the year – Dan Percy, VP of Sales, will be in contact with us after 21 days and will work with us.

Casper said that if we did not purchase, we would not be included in the new program to use our points to pay for all our maintenance fees. He caught our interest when he told us how the Maintenance Fee could be fully paid for by points and the credit card program by getting credit for paying for the Maintenance Fee, flights, car rentals, cruises and other travel expenses. He said the points could be redeemed at $0.30/point. What Rick told and showed us addressed many of the struggles and anxieties that we faced owning the timeshare, so we were glad to hear about the new programs (we later learned did not exist).

Rick said to get started; we needed to purchase more points. I asked Rick specifically: “If we were to be in this new program, would we need any out of pocket money to pay maintenance fees?”  He replied that by using points and the credit card, that with the additional 25000 points, it would be enough to cover the maintenance fees for future years.

I was unemployed at the time, so asked if we could delay purchasing more points but he became very strict in explaining the offer was only for this session, and how he would note that we refused the new program on the exit form. We felt compelled to purchase the points. We definitely do not need these additional points.

Dan Percy moved to Hawaii and directed inquiries to go to Joey Gutierrezs.

My wife and I have determined through contact with Joey Gutierrez and others at Polo Towers that the program for points for maintenance fees does not exist. Platinum members can pay maintenance fees at $0.04 (not $0.30) per point and will not pay the full MF amount of $8,631.  

#16 G K

We bought points five or six times. We did not have problems with Diamond until we encountered Rick Casper.  We purchased 50,000 points. I called Joey Guiterrez two days after we purchased to cancel. He was skillful in dodging the rescission clause.  Our Polo Towers meeting with Rick Casper was August 18, 2017

I was told at the beginning of the meeting that I would be spending $700,000 over the next 20 years just in maintenance fees. Rick Casper said he would help me create a program to cover these expenses. I pulled out my cell phone to use the calculator to check this figure. Mr. Casper assured me the amount was correct so I put the calculator away. The $700,000 was not correct. I created an Excel spreadsheet based on the average increase of 5.6% a year.

My maintenance fees were about $14,200 at the time. Rick Casper said that if I purchased 50,000 points, I would be able to redeem the points at an average of $.20 a point which would generate $10,000 in cash. Rick Casper said I could then sell half the points I already owned to generate the remaining amount to cover the maintenance fees.

I called Diamond Resorts around February of 2018 and asked to redeem 50,000 points. I was informed there was no such program. I would have to use my points for travel such as airfare ($.10 a point) or restaurants or lodging outside Diamond at only $.10 a point. There were very few ways in which to use points for this. I don’t need a new TV let alone dozens of them.

Rick Casper said I would be assigned my own agent (Daniel Percy) in Vegas to assist me with all bookings. When I called I found out that the bookings would simply be made through Interval International. It seems Daniel Percy worked in tandem with Rick Casper.

No mention was made of the fact that purchasing an additional 50,000 points would raise my maintenance fee by approximately $8,300.

AFTER signing, I was given a folder with the spiral bound book that said to the effect: “Read This Thoroughly before Signing Any Documents”.  Upon reflection of the documents I signed, I found that my maintenance fees would now increase by over $8000 meaning any efforts to “cover my maintenance fees” with this contract were useless!

We had an early start to the airport the next morning to arrive in Seattle for our Alaska Cruise. I placed a call Mr. Joey Guiterrez. I told him I wanted to cancel. He spent about 20 minutes trying to convince me otherwise. He finally said, “Well, if that is what you want” and left it there. On the sixth calendar day, Mr. Guiterrez contacted me. I had called to ask why the contract had not been cancelled. He stated that the contract had to be cancelled in writing within five calendar days. Mr. Guiterrez obviously waited until the sixth calendar day to dodge the rescission period.

The only response from Diamond was, “You signed the contract.”  Noting all of the lies that lead me to sign the contract were a non-issue according to the person I talked to.  .

#17 P B

Disabled, worked ER for 20 years, attacked by patient, the patient did know what she was doing

Age 63 LA County Sheriff’s Department

Deputy Sheriff for 25 years

Our accounts have been foreclosed.  We were in good standing until we met with Rick Casper.

In 2016 we stopped at Polo Towers.  We told them we were having trouble financially because I was on disability income and my husband was just retired. They said they could offer us a refinance but it ended up we purchased US Collection points not even knowing we had purchased them. They said they would slip the paperwork under our door. They did not. We had no documents provided to us. Before we got on our plane to continue on a Dream Holiday, I received an email (which Diamond says does not exist but I have a copy) saying attached is our paperwork and that they would mail the documents. The purchase made us Platinum but we were not even aware we had bought additional points.

Rick Casper did the paperwork process. He went over with us about the refinancing and that the 2017 and 2018 maintenance fees would be included.  We had met Dan Percy before the closing process. He also confirmed that we were doing a refinance that would include the maintenance fees and that this transaction would reduce our monthly payments by a few hundred dollars per month.

They said Dan Percy would be our contact person.  An email said that if we received a maintenance fee invoice, we should contact Dan Percy. We contacted Percy after we received a maintenance fee invoice for $15,000. He said we owe the money.

This company is beyond belief.

#18 TF A non-disclosure agreement signed.

#19 TZ 60,000 points were purchased, but I rescinded the Casper purchase because they would not put in writing what I was told.  Casper tried to convince us to get a mortgage on our home. He said there was no way to get out of a Diamond contract.

Rick Casper complaint #20 are my parents.

Thank you Brenda for your contribution and also to Irene for taking the time to edit, as you have seen, this character has caused untold misery and that is the ones we know about. The question is how many more people have had to suffer a “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” because of Rick Casper?

This message is not just to Diamond, but to all timeshare companies who allow their sales agents to do what the hell they like, just so they can line their pockets with millions in commissions. They are your employees, they are selling your product, they are selling your name, you are “RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT YOUR SALES AGENTS SAY!”

If you have any comments or have a similar story to tell, then contact us at Inside Timeshare by using our contact page, we will get back to you.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to another Letter from America, the original article which was going to be published today has been replaced, this is due to the timeshare company reaching out to the members. As always, Inside Timeshare sends a draft copy to the timeshare company for comment, we do not always get a response, but on this occasion the company did respond. It may have been at the eleventh hour, but we congratulate the timeshare company concerned for their reaching out and we hope that they are able to resolve the matter.

As a last minute replacement we publish a revised version of The Peasant of Venice and the Queen of Versailles, by Irene Parker, originally published in November 2016.

This week has been a rather quiet one as far as the courts are concerned, there have been many cases going before the judges, but the sentences are unlikely to be announced until the New Year. Although we did get news of two sentences issued this week.

The first was from the Court of First Instance No4 in Maspalomas, Gran Canaria, the judge in this case declared the contract with Anfi null and void. The reason was the length of the contract which exceeded that allowed by Spanish Timeshare Law 42/98, which states that perpetuity contracts or contracts with no end date and exceed the 50 years maximum are illegal. The client in this case has been refunded over 61,000€ plus legal Interest.

At the High Court No4 in Tenerife, Silverpoint was on the receiving end. The contract was declared null and void as it did not include any tangible product. Again under Law 42/98, a timeshare must include specific information such as a set apartment or an exact time of year. The client in this case has been refunded over 10,000€ plus legal interest.

Once again these cases were brought on behalf of the clients by Canarian Legal Alliance, contrary to what some forums run by some very dubious characters will tell you, these are genuine cases and are a matter of public record.

     

Now for this week’s replacement article.

The Peasant of Venice and the Queen of Versailles Revisited

    Jackie Siegel, Queen of Versailles  

By Irene Parker

December 14, 2018

“The Peasant of Venice and Queen of Versailles” article was first published November 6, 2016. I wrote the article because I wanted to explain how I went from being a 30 plus year timeshare owner without a timeshare complaint, question or post, to a full time volunteer whistleblower.

In July of 2015 I experienced a pathetically aggressive timeshare sales presentation in Florida. We had previously purchased points in Virginia because the company said they were adding New York properties, only to learn it would take about $10,000 in equivalent maintenance fee dollars to stay at the same hotel, same week that could be booked online for $1,000 plus tax. When I checked December 1, 2018, it would have cost $12,000 using our timeshare points. I don’t blame the sales agent. He may not have known about the poor value. It was the response from the company to the Attorney General listing all the times we had used our points prior to that purchase that bothered me. Eventually I was offered our money back for that purchase, but could not bring myself to sign the non-disclosure agreement.       

Rosa Parks said, “I was just trying to get home from work.” In my case, we were trying to get to our new home, moving from Bowling Green, Kentucky to Venice, Florida. It was my intention to return to my first love – teaching piano lessons. That all changed after the revolting timeshare presentation we experienced in Florida.  Disgusted, I returned to our unit, turned on the television and witnessed the jaw dropping house pictured above, being built by Westgate timeshare owners Jackie and David Siegel. I could not resist.

It was a hot July summer day in Orlando when my retirement turned upside down.

We entered the hospitality area where we were invited to attend a 55 minute “information only” presentation for existing owners. “Will we be paired with a commissioned sales agent?” I asked three times. “No”, Julie replied, “Only if you have questions in the last ten minutes. I attended and I learned a lot! We have group presentations now because we had so many complaints about high pressure aggressive sales sessions.” We did not sign the form agreeing to the 55 minute meeting because the fine print said we would be robo-called if we did. We were robo-called anyway. There was no form to be signed for the three hours that followed the 55 minutes.

A Diamond Resorts member recently sent me this comment from a former Diamond concierge describing an unfair and deceptive practice:

Concierge (Former Employee) – Virginia Beach, VA 23451 – December 3, 2018

A typical day of work consisted of misleading current owners and their guests in order to persuade and entice them to attend a timeshare meeting that could last well over what was initially disclosed….The hardest part of this job was knowing I was intentionally misleading owners/guests of the length of time for their timeshare meeting, as well as not disclosing it as a timeshare meeting as instead it was mandatory we refer to it as simply an “update on their current status” or “ways you can stay here and affiliated businesses in the future”. The most enjoyable part of this job was the interaction with varying people and the connections I gained therein.

https://www.indeed.com/cmp/Diamond-Resorts-International/reviews

Our Nightmare on Timeshare Street begins:

The next day we entered the reception area to be greeted by an attractive young lady. “Hello,” Donna greeted us. “Are you a commissioned agent?” I asked.  Puzzled, she took us by the arm and escorted us to the 55 minute presentation, retrieved us immediately after, and led us to her den.

I told Donna, “My husband is 77 years old. We do not want to invest in vacation plans because we need to investigate long term care plans.” “Why, we have many in their 90’s who come and enjoy our resorts!” she cried. “But we are in the middle of building a house and have no permanent residence at this time,” I countered. Kneeling and looking up, she gazed into my eyes and confessed she was a single mother and had to resort to her Diamond points when she divorced. “I know you didn’t put all your money in that house though,” she added. I kept saying over and over, “We don’t want to travel. We like our new house.” Frustrated, the manager ended by advising me to go to the website if I want to find out what’s new. Three hours and three sales agents and managers later, we returned to our unit.

I checked my email and learned the 4,500 points we had been promised for our Port Elsewhere Ozark timeshare deposit was credited only 3,000 points. Sure enough, I learned later the 4,500 points promised could be changed at any time for any reason. It’s all in the fine print.

I then decided to take my mind off this disturbing revelation by watching television. I turned on the FOX news show Property Man show hosted by Las Vegas Attorney Bob Massi, and there she was – The Queen! The King and Queen of Westgate timeshare were building a 90,000 square foot home that defied the imagination. Jackie’s clothes closet is 5,500 square feet!

http://www.realtor.com/news/trends/queen-of-versailles-q-and-a/

Thinking about the pathetically aggressive timeshare sales presentation we were deceived into attending, and the worthless points specifically purchased to stay in New York City, I wrote to Mr. Massi at Property Man never dreaming I would earn a response. Copying the letter to Diamond customer service, they credited the correct amount promised for our Port Elsewhere week.

A few months later a FOX producer called. I was asked if I would be willing to be interviewed by Mr. Massi. The producer told me the Queen of Versailles show wasn’t even about timeshares. It was about their house, but FOX had been flooded with timeshare complaints. She said I was the only viewer they asked to interview because I was the only respondent who said I wanted to talk about the positives in addition to the negatives of timeshare. I told her I was sorry, but I had just accepted a position as interim music director for a large church and could not participate, but I offered to research timeshare to help them with their talking points.

I started digging. The deeper I dug, the more alarmed I became. Wyndham, Westgate, Bluegreen and Diamond seemed to have the most complaints, with Disney, Hilton and Marriott far fewer. I submitted my research to FOX and returned to the choir. Six months later, after arranging a flight to Phoenix to stay at  a Diamond resort in Sedona, I received a call from the FOX producer, asking if we would agree to be interviewed by Mr. Massi in Phoenix as they had interviews scheduled that weekend. Some things are meant to happen.

The FOX producer told me David Cortese of Magical Realty had also been interviewed by Mr. Massi about timeshare resales. David is a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association (LTRBA). After viewing David’s segment, I contacted him to see if he would sell our Diamond points. I was told their company would not accept a listing to sell Diamond points. I surveyed all 64 LTRBA members and 22 responded also saying they felt Diamond points were worthless on the secondary market. “We feel Diamond has placed too many restrictions on the use of secondary points to be of any value to a buyer,” they sadly explained.

One of the LTRBA members asked if I would speak with a Hispanic family. Since this first October 2016 complaint, the calls and emails have not stopped. I have heard from 646 timeshare members.

Timeshare members want straight answers but straight answers are in short supply at some timeshare customer service desks. Callers or emailers explain how a sales agent lied to them, but when they contacted the timeshare company they were told, “You signed a contract.” Some described how the rescission period was dodged. Some things, like over promised availability, can’t be determined by reading the contract. I feel I was deceived by reading the contract which stated, “You can sell your points but we will not assist you.” They left out the part about no buyers.

From the October 2016 article describing what happened to the Hispanic family:

Maintenance fees increased to the point where they could no longer afford to own their points. The family soon found that they had to charge maintenance fees to their credit card in order to pay them. The family had already taken out a $33,000 home equity loan from their credit union to reduce the high loan interest rate, typically 14% to 18%.

In August 2015, when they complained about maintenance fees, they said that a sales agent tried to convince them to purchase another 10,000 points in order to achieve Platinum level. He said that by being Platinum, it would allow the couple to pay their maintenance fees with their points, as only Platinum members are allowed to use their points to pay maintenance fees. Then and now Platinum members can pay maintenance fees at $.04 per point, so if all 50,000 points were tendered, it would pay $2,000 towards a 2018 $8,631 maintenance fee bill.

If the family had agreed to the additional 10,000 points, they would have gone further into debt with little recourse. Based on hundreds of reported responses, if they had purchased the points, they would have been told, “You signed a contract” or “We are not responsible for what our sales agents say.” They have a daughter who just graduated from high school and has started college.

I spoke to the family not long ago. They relinquished their $60,000 worth of points that they had accumulated. They are still paying off the home equity loan.

Contact a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association to find out if your timeshare has resale value.

Property Man was preempted due to the 2016 election coverage, so our segment aired April of 2017. The Florida DBPR timeshare division only acted on 110 out of 2,360 timeshare complaints from April 2012 to April 2014, so ignore Pam Bondi.  Bob Massi and his advice on timeshare resales:

https://www.facebook.com/RealBobMassi/videos/1041694629230338/

From FOX I stumbled onto Jim Cramer of Mad Money’s investment news service TheStreet, where remarkable editors, possessing the patience of Job, provided a crash course in editing.

https://www.thestreet.com/author/1684637/irene-parker/all.html

A member who submitted an article to Inside Timeshare introduced me to Whistleblowers of America https://whistleblowersofamerica.org/. Accepting an invitation to attend a Whistleblowers Summit in Washington DC this year, I was introduced to OpEd News:

https://www.opednews.com/articles/Witness-to-Las-Vegas-Octo-by-Irene-Parker-America-181030-359.html

And of course, there’s Charles Thomas at Inside Timeshare in Spain and Wayne Robinson in Malaysia and Wayne’s book.  I was honored to edit and write the Forward. Everything About Timeshare, Before. During and After the Sale

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/everything-about-timeshares-wayne-c-robinson/1129749757?ean=2940161600962

So all in all, I’m getting great value from my timeshare points measured in the people I’ve met, readers who read my articles, and the gratitude from members who are grateful for straight answers. We especially appreciate our Facebook administrators and our growing team of members helping other members. I do believe we are a disruptor and hope our efforts will benefit sales agents who sell the product honestly, as well as forestalling new buyers and existing members from making a decision that has financially devastated more than a few families. When sold honestly, timeshare provides years of fun for friends and family.

We seek to provide timeshare members a way to proactively address membership concerns; to advocate for timeshare reform; to obtain greater disclosure from the company; to advocate for a viable secondary market; and to educate prospective buyers.

https://www.facebook.com/timeshareadvocategroup/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/DiamondResortsOwnersAdvocacy/

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

https://everythingabouttimeshares.com/consider-exchange-options/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/180578055325962/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/465692163568779/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1639958046252175/

Thank you Irene for getting this article out to us so quickly, it is difficult to replace an article at such short notice, but at least the timeshare company did respond and for that Inside Timeshare was happy to replace the original one.

That’s it for this week, join us again next week our last one before Christmas.

To all our readers have a great weekend and remember to do your homework before engaging with any company that contacts you or that you have found on the internet.