Welcome to this week’s Friday’s Letter from America, somehow we think that when you have read this story you will be shocked, we certainly were.
Inside Timeshare heard from its first US timeshare member seeking advice one year ago. Like today, it was a Hispanic family. We in Spain feel like first cousins to American Hispanics, so are particularly affected when we hear one of our own might be faced with the possibility of foreclosure.
When the resort says no, a family may have no choice but to consider foreclosure. There is no one company to blame. Deceit on the front end of the timeshare sale has been talked about since timeshare began. The industry has had its ups and downs, but the emergence of the “right to use” point programs seem to have escalated timeshare complaints and lawsuits from both sides of the fence. There has been a flurry of developer lawsuits against exit, transfer or claims companies targeting members desperate for help, as well as lawsuits against lawyers practicing questionable business practices. Legitimate law firms are not immune. Several Attorneys General in America have been investigating various timeshare companies.
Caught in the middle is the timeshare member, like the Vargas family. Hoping to warn the general public as well as existing timeshare members, to the danger of buying something that cannot be sold, Deneise Vargas shares her story.
How easily a Vacation Plan can result in Foreclosure
September 29, 2017
I had hoped Diamond Resorts would help us. A hospitality agent had told me to supply medical documentation about my husband’s medical condition, so I thought they had listened and responded in a positive way. I then learned the person I had spoken with had quit. The person who replaced her said they would not help us because Louis got Bell’s palsy a week before we signed the timeshare contract. Bell’s palsy is not the flu! Symptoms include muscle weakness, drooling and an inability to make facial expressions. Just because a person has not been diagnosed, does not mean they are not suffering from a disease.
In dollar terms, this is what we are facing:
- Current Loan Balance: $93,671 financed at 13.5%
- Paid already: $76,627
- Current Maintenance Fee: $6,948
- We have accumulated 67,500 vacation points
Why buy so many timeshare points?
We purchased a timeshare at Polo Towers in Las Vegas and at Palm Canyon. We were never told maintenance fees would go up each year. With the loans and the maintenance fees, we have used all our savings.
At the Las Vegas sales presentation, the sales manager threatened to have our first sales agent from Palm Canyon in Palm Springs, Tim, fired because it was not legal, per them, for Tim to hold a price for us. The manager got on my phone, speaking to Tim, chewing him out. I was so upset I started to cry. I was confused and did not know what to do. We signed that contract so Tim would not be fired. They opened and charged a Diamond Barclaycard because I did not have enough money. Another $3135 was charged to two different Visa cards. Last July we had to refinance our house to pay off the credit cards.
We went to Las Vegas twice in 2015. They told us we had to attend an informational meeting about Apollo Global Management because Apollo had purchased Diamond. They said it was not a sales presentation. They lied because they again tried to sell us more points. We were told we should buy more points because we could use points to pay maintenance fees and buy plane tickets and other things. We were not told Platinum members can only use points to pay maintenance fees at four cents a point or that a vacation point is only worth pennies per point if used to buy plane tickets.
In 2016 we went again to Palm Canyon Palm Springs. Tim introduced us to Dan Vendl. Dan explained the benefits of being trial Platinum. I hesitated because the money was going. Dan said there was a company we could refinance with that had a better rate than Diamond, so our payment would be less. That was not true.
We were told “We are real estate agents. You can write off the interest paid and closing costs on these contracts because it is like real estate.” They said the proof was because they have real estate licenses. They are licensed real estate agents, but what they told us was not true. Our accountant said we were not allowed to take any deductions. We were told we had to buy that day so we could not talk to our accountant.
Anytime we check in, they harass us to do another update. In Las Vegas while checking in, the woman wanted to follow me to the parking garage to get Louie to change his mind even though I had told her NO. She said she needed for us to participate so she would get credit.
We have cancelled other Diamond contracts after signing. One reason was our 16 year old granddaughter was dying of brain cancer. My son had already lost his wife to cancer and we were helping him.
Now Las Vegas Polo Towers has been calling again. Binni Thomas and his Supervisor Melvin say we need to upgrade to 50,000 points to become permanent Platinum members. Again, we are told we should never have been given a $3.30 price per point. He said the points are now selling for $8.70 each and that is what we should pay.
I told him No!
Social Media helps. At least we know we are not alone. If you or someone you know does not know where to turn for timeshare help, contact Inside Timeshare or one of the self-help Advocacy Group as members work to help other members find the next step.
Now that you have read this story, do you not agree that things must change?
This type of selling must not be allowed to continue, whether it is in the US, Europe or anywhere else in the world. At least In Spain the law is on the side of the consumer, Spain now has some of the strongest laws relating to timeshare in the world. It is through the efforts of law firms such as Canarian Legal Alliance that have brought this about.
The rest of the world take note, have a good weekend.