It’s Friday and time for another Letter from America with Irene Parker, this week is part 1 with part 2 due shortly. Now, in Europe it has been a little quiet on the courts front this week, although there have been many cases before the courts, no sentences have been announced, so nothing there to report.
Inside Timeshare has been receiving many more enquiries regarding RSB Legal and Taylor Marshall Associates, these have all been very similar. They have all paid substantial amounts of money to have their timeshare contracts cancelled, none of this has been done. They are all receiving demands for unpaid maintenance and many are now in around two years of arrears.
It is obvious that these contracts have not been cancelled, despite what RSB Legal and Taylor Marshall are saying. All those who have contacted us have told us the same thing, their resorts have insisted that they do not deal with third parties to cancel contracts, only direct with the member.
Club la Costa has also been explaining this to members, they even informed RSB Legal and Taylor Marshall that they would not deal with them. But obviously they just carried on regardless and taking huge amounts from members knowing full well they would not get the contracts cancelled.
Another company which Inside Timeshare reported on in May, has come up yet again, Donaldson Bruce Associates, as we stated in the original article there is no record of them at Company House in the UK or in Spain. The website is registered under a privacy company and there is no address given just a contact page and a Sheffield telephone number 0114 303 0678.
This time the caller who stated to our reader that Diamond Resorts is closing its European Portfolio and will only be operating in America, well that is news to us and all the Diamond members who own in Europe! Having spoken with Diamond Resorts today about this company, they are now looking into the matter, they also confirmed that they will only deal with members direct regarding surrender of membership and not with any of these types of companies.
This is obviously a scare tactic on the part of Donaldson Bruce agents, to get people to sign up for a claim. Diamond Europe I believe, would inform their members if anything like this were to happen, after all it is in their interest to do so.
We do know that Diamond did close their sales offices and many staff had to be laid off, obviously many of these have set up these “claims” companies and may be using the data “stolen” from Diamond to contact their old clients. On the point of the sales office closures, this was done for economic reasons, Diamond have franchised out the sales side so they are no longer responsible for the marketing costs or wages of the sales staff.
So now on with our Letter from America.
Part I – Did You Get the Letter?
Part II – I got some letters
By Irene Parker
Most members begin their report: They said I should have gotten a letter…
June 22, 2018
There is no question there are millions of timeshare members happy with their timeshare. However, many existing members may be unaware their timeshare has little to no secondary market until a life event makes the timeshare unaffordable, or useless, because of the inability to travel. Deeding it back to the timeshare company without receiving any monetary value back may be acceptable when you have used the timeshare for many years, but what about the buyer who purchases a timeshare and then learns, sometimes just weeks after purchase, they were a victim of fraud? Most of the 466 families reaching out to Inside Timeshare allege they were baited and switched. Many with 800 credit scores now brace for foreclosure.
We need to equip the existing timeshare member, as well as the first time buyer, with the tools needed to make an informed decision. We feel the timeshare consumer should be made aware that there may be little to no secondary market for the timeshare they purchased. It would be helpful to know that the points you paid $60,000 for should only be listed for $4,500, in the case of one timeshare company that has even this much of a secondary market. A member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association can estimate what your timeshare may be worth. LTRBA members will not even accept a listing for the points I purchased feeling my timeshare points have no secondary market. http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/
Do not pay anyone upfront money to get you out of your timeshare without checking with us or one of the self-help groups listed below. There are many scams created by this flawed points based product.
Existing timeshare members almost always begin their complaint like this:
Sales agent: “Did you get the letter?”
Timeshare owner: “What letter?”
Sales agent: “You should have gotten a letter.”
Timeshare owner: “I didn’t get a letter.”
There was no letter and the reason the sales agents said this was to disturb the existing member. This is a common sales technic. As a financial planner, I disturbed my prospects with, “Do you know if you have saved enough to generate 70% of your current income in retirement?” The difference was my prospects needed to fear this, but in complaint after complaint, the fear factor was used to coerce a timeshare member to give up their deeded timeshare and convert to points, or lose everything. Another fear factor is, “If you don’t buy points (if they are not holding a deed), you won’t be at the level needed to pay maintenance fees with points (or sell points if that is the member’s concern). No timeshare member is required to give up their deed, unless all owners are required to do so because the timeshare is being terminated.
Many members are astonished at the level of deceit they say they experienced. One former timeshare sales agent told me her manager told her to order the CIA Manual on Human Manipulation. When I looked up human manipulation I found several of the 20 most common manipulation techniques used, have been used on timeshare buyers. The actions of these bad apples makes it hard on sales agents that do sell the product honestly. For some companies, I’m not sure if the honest or dishonest agent is considered the rogue.
20 of the most common manipulation techniques (my comments to the techniques I picked out as applicable to timeshare are italicized)
Predators are constantly lying about practically everything in their life. They do this to wrong-foot their victim and confuse them. Lying is one of the manipulation techniques psychopaths typically use because they have no qualms about it.
Complaints always begin, “The sales agent said” and the member’s complaint is almost always dismissed with, “We are not responsible for what our sales agent says” or “You signed a contract” unless the member is holding a smoking gun (like the recording of a fraudulent sales presentation or a sophisticated spreadsheet they managed to get a picture of or smuggle out). One complainant even said her sales agent told her when she contacted him, “It doesn’t matter what I said. The only thing that matters is what you signed.” This dismissal is backed up by some Attorney General Timeshare Division reviewers, responding, “You have no proof” or, “You should not have relied on verbal representation.”
Okay fine. Our mission is to alert the public not to believe a word a timeshare sales agent says.
- Not telling the whole story
This is different to lying as a predator will often keep a key part of the story to themselves in order to put their victim at a disadvantage.
Oh Boy! We could write a novel about this tactic. “You can pay all your maintenance fees by charging to a credit card.” This may work for a timeshare sales agent earning $600,000 a year charging $270,000 to a credit card to pay a $2,700 maintenance fee, but for the average timeshare buyer, a 1% credit is a far cry from paying all the maintenance fees. “And you can use your points for airfares!” When I attempted this it would have cost $2,300 in maintenance fee dollars to book one domestic round-trip ticket. One former timeshare sales agent told me he was forced out for explaining the actual value. He had 30 years in the business before joining this particular timeshare company.
- Love-bombing and devaluation
Narcissists typically use love bombing as a manipulation tactic, they will go on a charm offensive and get you hooked into thinking this is the best relationship ever, then they’ll drop you like a ton of bricks without explanation.
This from Phyllis, being encouraged to give up her timeshare deed:
I am a senior citizen 5 feet tall women and he is a 6 feet tall man standing over me stating he was a child of GOD and he can help me then said to me “I am a friend I can tell you the best thing to do only if I signed”. He added the BANK CREDIT CARD. I was misled to only use the card for shopping that my points would go up and maintenance fees would go down. I never received the card. I never used the card. Now I have a trial date May 8, 2018 to pay their lawyers in the amount of $3446.04. They sent a letter stating the timeshare went into foreclosure and I am out of the contract. Since the timeshare and the bank are together I should be out of paying the bank as well? I need help. Could someone give me advice? Can I get someone to go with me and represent me? I am afraid and stressed. Please – email me on what I can so as soon as possible. Thank You.
The credit card company kindly granted Phyllis a 60 day extension to July. She is representing herself.
Often the simplest way a predator will manipulate a person is by denying the thing they are accused of ever happening.
The timeshare company party line response has been, “After a thorough investigation, the sales agent said he didn’t say that. Here are your initials on the fine print. You signed a contract. Kind regards.”
- Spinning the truth
How many times have politicians twisted the facts to suit themselves? This spinning of the truth is often used to disguise bad behaviour by predators such as sociopaths.
This is one of our most recent complaints:
After we said no to L, Mr. Richard C told us we should buy points to save money on airfare since we have to fly so often to India to care for my mother undergoing chemotherapy. Richard said we could use our points to pay for plane tickets to India to help reduce expenses. L gave a long lecture on how immigrants (referring to me) should behave in the United States and should invest in programs like this to save money on travel. They said I could fly four times to India instead of two. We have learned this was all a lie.
Where a predator will try and play down their actions as not important or damaging and shift the blame onto the victim for overreacting.
“You were confused” is a frequent response.
- Targets the victim
When a manipulator accuses the victim of wrongdoing, they are making the victim defend themselves whilst the predator is able to mask their own manipulation techniques. The focus is on the victim, not the accuser.
- Positive reinforcement
This includes buying expensive presents, praising them, giving money, constantly apologizing for their behaviour, excessive charm and paying lots of attention.
In timeshare these are all the free tickets, restaurant coupons and giveaways.
- Moves the goal posts
You might think you know where you stand with a person, but if they are constantly moving the goal posts in order to confuse you, then it’s likely you’re dealing with a predator.
These seniors lost their entire savings, $13,000, and were foreclosed. They were sold a minimal number of points that they could have vacationed with, but then up-sold into foreclosure, told they would lose everything if they did not buy more points. The husband diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and the wife hard of hearing. The company used the recording of the QA against them telling the grown son, and “We recorded the QA. They were very engaged.” In a PR Release the company had stated the recording of the QA was an enhanced Quality Assurance. Members are not allowed to record the sales session.
Diverting the conversation away from the perpetrator’s act and moving the conversation onto a different topic is a typical way predators manipulate their victims.
When I told a scam my timeshare company does not allow renting points and I can send them the rule, they smoothly asked, “So how much are you paying in maintenance fees?” as they moved on to a travel reimbursement pitch.
- Guilt tripping
Someone who manipulates can guilt trip their victim by saying that they don’t care about them or that they are selfish or their life is easy. It all helps to keep that person confused and anxious.
Guilt tripping in timeshare often lays a guilt trip on the parents that they are not providing adequate vacation time for the kids.
- Playing the innocent card
A true manipulator will feign utmost shock and confusion at being accused of any wrongdoing. Their surprise is so convincing that the victim may question their own judgement.
One member reported they were told, “Those sales agents at that sales center are good guys.” This was a sales center we received over 50 complaints against, eleven against one particular agent.
- Over-the-top aggression
Manipulators often use rage and aggression to shock their victim into submission. The anger is also a tool to shut down any further conversation on the topic as the victim is scared but focused now on controlling the anger, not the original topic.
See what happened to Phyllis in Point 4. We are flooded with complaints about timeshare sales presentations that last for hours with members being browbeat by rotating aggressors until they were diminished down to mush. I’m not making this up. If I had not heard 466 stories, I would not be this confident.
It is far easier to keep a person under control if they are isolated from family members and friends who could shed some light and truth on the situation.
This is accomplished by NDAs and arbitration. I refused to sign one after I was offered our money back, which is why I am still standing. The developer describes arbitration something like, “litigating from the comfort of your own home.” The timeshare company hires the litigator for $400 to $500 an hour.
- Feigns love and empathy
Predators such as psychopaths and sociopaths do not know how to love someone other than themselves, and cannot feel empathy, but they can pretend to in order to inveigle others into their lives.
See what happened to Phyllis in Point 4.
If you watch out for the above manipulation techniques, you can keep yourself out of a predator’s clutches.
… For reading, responding and for helping others.
Contact Inside Timeshare or these self-help groups if you need help or have a question you need answered.
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.
FTC Report on Fraud
Thank you Irene, we look forward to the second installment, join us again next week for more “Nightmares on Timeshare Street” and remember to do your homework, check, check and check again, there are many out there who just want to take your hard earned cash.
If you need any help in identifying any company that has contacted you or you have found on the internet and want to check if they are genuine, then use our contact page and get in touch.
Have a good weekend.