Welcome to this weeks Letter from America by Irene Parker, who has submitted her name for election to the Diamond Resorts US Collection HOA board. As you all know Irene is a very tenacious campaigner for timeshare members and consumers rights, so for those who have vote, Inside Timeshare urges you to cast them for her.
Back in March 2016 Inside Timeshare published the following article on how resorts and resort owners manipulate the votes to suit themselves.
Before we go to Irene’s article a quick update on news from the Spanish courts who returned to full swing this week and Canarian Legal Alliance sent us this review of sentences issued this week.
A total of 11 victories with a combined value of 371,882.14 € going back to their clients.
They have also had the courts enforce a cash embargo on Silverpoint in order to secure the funds for their clients. This in itself ensures that the funds cannot be diverted.
CLA have also informed us that they have already lodged 54 new cases with various courts all over Spain just as the courts reopened, so we can expect more news on that front in the future. Now for this weeks article.
My Diamond Resorts Campaign for the U.S Collection HOA Board
By Irene Parker
September 7 2018
Five times more members voting for Chantal than closest rival places her in third place due to weighed voting.
James Orr (incumbent) 421
Robert Reyes 361
Chantal Desjardines 2293
A timeshare member thinking they can actually win an HOA election is preposterous, but if throwing my name in the ring can shed some light on the plight of over 500 angry Diamond members, many saying they are financially devastated by their decision to buy Diamond points, I will suffer the humiliation of loss. When attorney friends suggested I submit my name to the list of candidates for Diamond Resorts U.S. Collection HOA board, I laughed. They didn’t.
Our member sponsored Diamond Resorts Owners Advocacy Group Facebook has over 1800 members, less industry observers, trying to understand what happened to them and why.
As of September 2nd, 509 Diamond members have contacted Charles Thomas or me, all but a handful alleging unfair and deceptive trade practices. Retired Air Force Lieutenant Barry Gingrich did not contact us, but his YouTube below accurately summarizes the mantra of complaints reported by members who feel they were subjected to unfair and deceptive trade practices.
Lt. Gingrich’s grievances:
- Hours long tag-team, high pressure, aggressive sales presentations,
- Told the last sales agent sold you the wrong package,
- Told the timeshare is a good investment, will appreciate in value,
- Failure to address the lack of a secondary market,
- Poor availability,
- Sales agent will be your personal representative, but they never call back,
- Use of a credit card will offset maintenance fees (many members complain of being able to pay maintenance fees at $.20 or $.30 per point, but when a complaint is filed, the response back is the actual 20/20 or 30/30 program that has nothing to do with paying maintenance fees at $.20 or $.30 per point).
Sales agents defend themselves by saying members lie. The typical response from some timeshare companies to customer complaints is, “You signed a contract,” echoed by the Nevada Real Estate Division and Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation. When one member asked a Florida DBPR supervisor, why other states take timeshare complaints seriously based on member complaints, the response was that what other states do has no bearing on how Florida reviews timeshare complaints.
We actually liked our Diamond points until we experienced a bait and switch, easily proved. In our case, we purchased additional points in Williamsburg, VA, told Diamond was adding New York properties. We purchased for just that reason because our daughter lives in NYC. If you check Diamond’s booking site, it would take about $8,500 worth of maintenance fee equivalent dollars to stay one week at the same hotel that could be booked online for $950, checking year round. When I asked a Diamond representative about the poor value, the response was, “That’s for members who have so many points they don’t know what to do with them all.”
I filed a complaint filed with the New York Attorney General’s office that resulted in an offer to refund the purchase, but I refused after reading the non-disclosure agreement. It seemed harsh and unwarranted. Had I not been required to sign an NDA, I would have written it off as maybe the sales agent didn’t know about the poor value. I’m not saying Diamond does not have a product or that there are not Diamond sales agents selling the product honestly. The complaints directed against Diamond are not unique to Diamond. There are many lawsuits and Attorneys General investigations and settlements, not to mention thriving timeshare exit scams.
Rather than address member complaints, the goal is to behead the messenger.
As a result of what I consider to be retaliation, for listening and responding to readers, my husband and I attended the Whistleblower’s Summit in Washington D.C. held in July of this year. The summit slogan was:
Speak Truth to Power
For full disclosure, my legal name is Peggy Irene Steckert.
Twice my husband and I exchanged a timeshare and ended up buying a house at our exchange location. One of our kids now asks us if we are coming back when we let her know we are going on vacation. We exchanged a week in 2001 and bought a house in Petoskey, Michigan. While on vacation, I ended up getting hired as a Director of Music for a church in Petoskey. Given the conservative nature of the church, I thought it best to use my husband’s last name of Parker. As a result, I became Peggy Parker of Petoskey, who played the pipe organ for weddings, 25 a summer. I got tired of reading it in the paper, the reporter apologizing.
Next, we exchanged a timeshare for Diamond Caverns (no relation to Diamond Resorts) and bought a house in Bowling Green, Kentucky. I ditched Peggy and switched to Irene. Given my bio describes how I opened the first Edward Jones office on the Big Island of Hawaii, I wanted to explain my name changes in case anyone, like Edward Jones, actually looks into who opened the first Edward Jones office on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Ironically, I built my brokerage business cold calling real estate agents and timeshare sales agents. At one of my timeshare sales agent presentations at Hanalei Bay, Kauai, when I asked if there were any questions, one sales agent raised his hand and asked, “So we’re the units?” They made a ton of money, especially if they spoke Japanese.
The American Funds mutual fund company informed me in 2001 that I was the top American Funds producer for the entire west coast and Hawaii, among all brokerage firms. I also taught classes for the Small Business Administration’s Small Business Development Centers, University of Hawaii, Kona, Hilo and Maui campuses, teaching small business owners how to understand financial statements and make use of financial ratios. I team taught with a CPA classes on business structures. I gave endless seminars at Tutu’s House, which means grandmother in Hawaiian.
Fast forward to 2018 – after developing all those client relationships and great friendships with timeshare sales agents in Hawaii, it pains me to continually hear complaints directed against sales agents. Diamond Resorts considers me an enemy, not the sales agents with multiple, similar complaints.
I guess that’s not much of a campaign speech, but it doesn’t matter anyway. You can’t win.
>> Edward Jones investment representative Peggy Steckert has been named to the President’s Club of The American Funds Group. Steckert, who works out of the company’s Kaimuki office, was honored for superior service to customers and dedication to principles of sound investing. A 15-year veteran in the financial services field, she has been with Edward Jones since 1995.
Irene Parker has experience and knowledge in the fields of finance, sales and marketing. She holds an MBA from St. Louis University, and holds a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) certificate. Irene retired from Edward Jones Hawaii. She served as a founding member of the Salvation Army Board of Directors, Waimea, a member of the Condo Board at One Archer Lane, Honolulu, a member of The Ombudsman Advisory Board in Kentucky, and was a Kentucky CASA supervisor.
Thank you Irene and we all wish you the very best in your election campaign. Well that’s all from me as I’m now on vacation, so there will not be many articles published until October, although The Tuesday slot and Friday’s Letter will go ahead as usual. If any important information arises then I try to get it published.
Have a good weekend.