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letter from america

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this week’s Friday’s Letter from America, we decided to run with this particular article following the news from Europe on Monday that Diamond was closing its sales offices in Europe. Obviously this will have a great impact on the many employees, who are now out of work and will need to find jobs in an ever decreasing sales industry.

As usual before we go on with our article, this week has not been a very good one for Silverpoint in Tenerife, with another loss at the High Court and also at the Supreme Court.

The judge at the High Court Number 2, found serious breaches of the timeshare laws, declaring the client’s contract null and void and ordering the return of over £49,000 plus legal interest.

At the Supreme Court in Madrid, the judges upheld previous rulings and declared another Silverpoint contract null and void. This particular client will now receive over 28,000€ plus all legal fees and legal interest. Another happy ex Silverpoint owner.

As usual these were clients of the Arguineguin law firm Canarian Legal Alliance. So this does go to show that in spite of what many timeshare companies are claiming, such as the article published on Wednesday about Anfi attacking CLA, this law firm is doing what it says.

CLA Logo

Now on with Friday’s Letter.

Inside Timeshare leapt at the chance to publish details of CLARITY, Diamond Resort’s program to promote accountability, transparency and respect for the Customer. The program was introduced after Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich issued an Assurance of Discontinuance accusing the company of violating Arizona’s Consumer Fraud Act. The Arizona Attorney General received hundreds of Diamond complaints. One source informed us the office received 400 complaints leading up to the investigation and 500 more complaints after the press release.

https://www.azag.gov/press-release/attorney-general-brnovich-announces-800000-settlement-diamond-resorts

Diamond Resorts also provided a Diamond Resorts Consumer Advocacy Department to assist members from day one if they have concerns about their timeshare.

Inside Timeshare continues to receive complaints from members almost daily, with common complaints:

Purchase more points as that will be the only way to sell points. (Diamond’s secondary market restrictions make Diamond points almost impossible to sell.)

Purchase more points because that will provide you with the ability to pay maintenance fees by tendering excess points at 30 cents per point. (No such program exists as this is an adulteration of a 30/30 program designed for other purposes.)

Agents working for the same company selling against each other from the Hawaii Collection to the US Collections telling the member they made a mistake purchasing the collection they purchased, depending on which side of the Pacific the member is on.

Inside Timeshare has forwarded members complaints to Diamond’s PR firm and to ARDA. Both have ignored the complaints, but it is unlikely ARDA will enforce their Code of Ethics against a corporate member that gives ARDA a million dollars a year from Diamond members who unwittingly are billed $7 as an “opt-out” voluntary donation on their maintenance fee invoice. It is doubtful the average timeshare members understands even what the initials ARDA ROC stand for.

After reading complaint after complaint from our Nightmare on Timeshare series, I am certain our EU Diamond agents did not stoop to such tactics. Did this contribute to sales targets not being met?  Inside Timeshare has received 187 reader complaints, of which 178 are from Diamond Resort members.

Diamond Resorts Consumer Advocacy never returned Marsha’s call. One of Diamond’s Advocacy “hospitality” agents left one message but never returned her calls. CEO Michael Flaskey ignored Marsha Young.

A representative from Barclay’s Bank did contact Marsha Young. Although they cannot help, as Barclays does not physically open credit card applications, Marsha appreciated the respect she was given by at least being acknowledged.

You be the judge of Marsha’s story.

How Buying a Timeshare can be Financially Devastating

Luke

Introduction by Irene Parker

Since our first Inside Timeshare US member story was published October 2016, we have received 186 member complaints, of which 171 allege they were sold by deceit and bait and switch, meeting the FBI definition of White Collar Crime. Of the 186 complaints, 177 are from Diamond Resorts members. We don’t dispute there are many timeshare members who use and enjoy their timeshare points, but many have not yet been made aware of the lack of or limited secondary market. The majority of complaints allege they were told to buy more points because only at the next loyalty level could they sell points or be able to offset maintenance fees. Neither program exists. These members are stuck with a product they paid thousands of dollars for, felt were sold by deceit, incur maintenance fees and can’t sell. Their network of friends and family want nothing to do with timeshare. Sales centers should take note as Social Media no longer keeps members silenced and isolated. Diamond Resorts did not respond to our request for comment.

November 10

By Marsha Young

The vacation memories my husband and I shared together at Embassy Suites and Sunterra in Hawaii on the island of Maui are my most treasured, but our memories so precious have been destroyed. Maybe not the memories, but the timeshare we knew and loved has turned into a financial trap.

My husband passed away in 2011. I still travel some with friends and family and I enjoyed the flexibility of the point program until I succumbed to high pressure sales. In the past, when explaining the struggles of raising a family, or other reasons why we could not upgrade, agents would not push us when my husband and I said no, so I was not prepared for what happened. In an effort to warn others to seek counsel before you sign a perpetual contract after a six hour sales session, with rising maintenance fees, and no secondary market, I share my story.  

My problems began at the Diamond Resorts sales center at Williamsburg Virginia May 2017. I told the hospitality agent about how I had been deceived previously by a Hawaii sales agent. She told me she understood and explained that is why sales were stopped at the Williamsburg center for a while until a new program called CLARITY was put in place. My Williamsburg sales agents were Richard Rodgers and Mark Schilling. I told them I did not want to spend any more money as the maintenance fees were going up so much for the Hawaii Collection. They told me I should transfer my Hawaii points to the US Collection because maintenance fees would be less. The cost was never discussed. I thought there would be no charge. I saved the paper they used showing points transferring over to the US Collection. They also encouraged me to open a Barclay credit card because it accumulated points rather than miles, but neglected to tell me the card would be charged $7,100 for a down payment. I had sent an email to both Richard and Mark telling them I did not want to spend more money. The sales presentation lasted six hours. I was exhausted. When I got home and went to my DRI account. I was shocked at the new $34,000 mortgage. The maintenance fees did not go down.

I did not know where to turn so I called a friend who is an investment advisor. He called Mark Schilling. Mr. Schilling’s response was, “She signed the contract. The QA session was videoed.” Recorded QA Sessions are part of the new CLARITY program. The sales presentation is what needs to be taped because that is when sales agents make promises not kept.

Richard Rodgers told me $400 a month would be the maintenance fee but it is the mortgage payment, so I owe maintenance fees on top of the mortgage payment. I was also told I could still book Hawaii, but in July 2017 I went to a meeting in Hawaii and was told I should not have transferred to the US Collection, because I would not be able to get back into Hawaii. They also said the value of the Hawaii Collection was more valuable and had the highest availability. Jessica Ocegueda was the sales agent. She said I had traded down and if I want to go to Hawaii on US Collection points in all likelihood “it’s not going to happen.” I have learned from other members you still can book in Hawaii with US points. I was convinced to transfer all my US Collection points to Hawaii Collection.

After six hours, there is insufficient time or energy to review an inch high stack of documents. Diamond Resorts Consumer Advocacy never responded to my complaint, but they did send the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Barclays Bank my initials for the charge on a document.

  • Of the $138,000 approximate purchase price, $66,915 was taken back as credit for the US points and the balance financed was approximately $70,000
  • The down payment charged to my personal credit card was $8,529
  • A Barclaycard was charged $7,100
  • The monthly payment is $917.58
  • Estimated maintenance fee is $7,418

sad

At age 71, I watched my credit score plummet from the 800s to the 700s. I am a widow living on a teacher’s pension. I learned from reading Inside Timeshare articles and joining an Advocacy Facebook page, many have been told if they purchased more timeshare points, maintenance fees would go down. While the maintenance fee per point may decline a cent or two, the maintenance fee invoice does not decline. It’s easy for the resort defending their position to say, “You were confused,” but the volume of complaints found on the internet speak of sleight of hand, in my opinion.   

Not knowing where to turn I had contacted Irene Parker. Irene told me about the new CLARITY program Diamond Resorts implemented after the Arizona Attorney General issued an Assurance of Discontinuance, accusing DRI of violating the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act. She also said Diamond Resorts now provides an advocacy department for those who have concerns about their purchase. CLARITY is supposed to be about accountability, transparency and respect for the customer. I received none and was ignored by DRI Advocacy. It feels like the customer is always wrong.       

The actions of these agents have taken away my financial security. I feel trapped. It is not as easy or as enjoyable to travel without my husband. I can still travel with friends and would have been able to remain a Diamond customer had I not succumbed to an upgrade for reasons that were not necessary or true.  

I should have learned from the first bad experience I had in Hawaii. In Hawaii, I had been charged $2,995 for a program called the Sampler. I was refunded for that purchase because I did not know a credit card had been charged then until I returned home. Diamond said the agent, Mr. Frank Rippe, had been fired. They also said he had been the top selling agent of that particular product.

It is my hope timeshare members will continue to reach out to other members. It is a sad day when vacation timeshare plan buyers need a support group and a media outreach plan to warn other potential buyers.

act now

We seek to provide Diamond Resort 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://www.facebook.com/groups/180578055325962/

As we read many stories such as this it no longer comes as any surprise, what does seem to be a recurring theme is the age group of the people that contact us. They also all have the same story, credit scores being destroyed, after years of no defaults.

One thing that did make me chuckle in Marsha’s story is Diamonds comment on the the sacking of the sales agent, “he had been the top selling agent of that product”, well that is not surprising if he was being that devious!

Once again Inside Timeshare thanks all those who provide us with the information and contribute their stories, if you would like to contribute contact Inside Timeshare. If you just require any information about your membership or about any company that contacts you or even thinking of doing business with, but don’t know where to start, contact us and we will point you in the right direction.

Have a good weekend and join us next week.

weekend

letter from america

Friday’s Letter from America

Another week over and another Friday’s Letter from America with Irene Parker, but first a very quick look at two cases announced this week.

Silverpoint have once again been on the receiving end of another Supreme Court verdict. They have declared the client’s contract null and void, ordering the return of over £43,000 plus legal fees and legal interest.

In this verdict the court stated that the contract lacked specific information required by law, such as a specific apartment number, date and location. It is quite clear that the Supreme Court has on more than one occasion clarified the law.

In another case heard at the Court of First Instance in Palma de Mallorca, Altres Vacances have been ordered to repay the client over 58,000€  plus legal fees and interest, with the contract being declared null and void.

This court has followed the Supreme Court rulings on the length of the contract, the law is very clear on this point, the contract must be no longer than 50 years. They must also contain specific information as required by law.

abogados-ag-250

Once again, we have to warn about the “fake” law firms operating out of Tenerife, part of the Litigious Abogados family, another reader has been in contact with the new firm Abogados AG, with Armando González Areca named as the main “lawyer”.

They state that following a “groundbreaking ruling on “Tuesday 19 March 2015” (very precise date), against Diamond Resorts International SL, one of the the directors, once again Andrew Cooper, has pleaded guilty to the indictment of the Spanish Civil Code. They also state that the High Court of Santa Cruz de Tenerife have declared 28 of their clients contracts null and void, seizing all the personal assets of Mr Cooper in Spain and the Canary islands.

Now according to this “law firm” they will be lodging the case against Diamond Resorts International Sl and Mr Andrew Cooper on the 7th November 2017, this will heard on Tuesday 21st November, very quick indeed, they must be very well in with the judges!

In the case of our reader, they no longer own any timeshare with Diamond, they got rid of that years ago, so there is no basis for any claim. Beware the claims that you have a case, if you no longer own you don’t, even if you do own you may not have a valid claim. Before engaging with any company that states you do have a claim, check and check again.

See the full letter below, pdf.

Abogados AG

So now on with this week’s letter.

Another Bluegreen Member Alleges a “Bait and Switch”

Sometimes Called “Pitching Heat”

cross fingers

By Irene Parker

November 3  

Back in July, Inside Timeshare published an article by Lela Renea, a detective who alleged she was deceived by a Bluegreen timeshare sales agent. Camyell Pratt, another Bluegreen purchaser, alleges she and her husband were also deceived.

The FBI definition of White Collar Crime, Financial Institution Fraud, is “deceit, concealment, violation of trust and bait and switch.” Inside Timeshare has received 179 complaints from readers, of which 164 allege they were victims of a timeshare bait and switch. https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/white-collar-crime

Lela Renea is a detective. Camyell understands bad debt. She assists in collecting back taxes for a Virginia County government office and understands the repercussions when someone does not pay what they owe. But what if the contract agreed to was purchased under conditions of fraud?

In timeshare, that doesn’t matter thanks to the clause that appears in every timeshare contract – “I did not rely on any oral representation to make my purchase.” In other words, any complaint that begins with “The salesman says” can be conveniently dismissed.

Bluegreen is certainly not the only timeshare company Inside Timeshare has reported on concerning questionable sales tactics by some agents:

A jury awarded Trish Williams, a former Wyndham sales agent, $20 million. Ms. Williams described TAFT days – tell them any blank thing on slow sales days.

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

Attorney General Mark Brnovich issued an Assurance of Discontinuance against Diamond Resorts accusing the company of violating Arizona’s Consumer Fraud Act.

https://www.azag.gov/press-release/attorney-general-brnovich-announces-800000-settlement-diamond-resorts

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman issued an Assurance of Discontinuance against The Manhattan Club. Of note, The Manhattan Club admitted wrongdoing, unusual in corporate America.

NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced a $6.5 million settlement with the owners and operators of the Manhattan Club, a timeshare in Midtown Manhattan, over the sponsor’s repeated false promises to potential and current share owners.

The settlement is the largest in recent history for the Attorney General’s Real Estate Finance Bureau. Under the terms of the settlement, the operators of the Manhattan Club, acknowledge that they repeatedly misled shareowners about the club’s reservation process, their ability to sell back their shares, and the details of the club’s state-approved offering plan.

https://ag.ny.gov/press-release/ag-schneiderman-announces-65-million-settlement-midtown-manhattan-timeshare-scammed

Colorado, Wisconsin, Tennessee, and Missouri Attorneys General took action against other timeshare companies.

As we’ve said before, the abnormal becomes normal, whether it be predatory timeshare sales or sex abuse in the Catholic Church or Hollywood. Victims are messengers to be beheaded or silenced and isolated through non-disclosure clauses. To my knowledge, except for The Manhattan Club, timeshare developers have not even acknowledged deceit on the front of the timeshare sale, despite thousands of internet complaints and lawsuits too numerous to mention.

Current and former timeshare sales agents and managers are also speaking out. As one manager explained:

I watched every day, agents selling for double and close to triple what it was supposed to be sold for but management laughed and congratulated them.  The maintenance fees statement about buying more and using that to pay your maintenance fees was a practice that was encouraged but be careful.  Some of the agents would sell the program for $98k when it was only in the 50k range.  One of the guests came back to cancel but the agent said no worries I have it packed 40k but I’ll give then 15 off and still make a killing!   It made me sick because these particular guests were in their late 70′ early 80’s.  I asked the agent if he had a conscience and he just laughed…if you can get them to pay more you’re a hero!!  They have the money!!  Deception actually goes back further than that.  We were told to pack the price for a trade in and imply that it was what they got back for their TS… we sold it for the regular price….they got nothing for their TS!

Some companies are trying to do the right thing. Bluegreen has been listening and taking appropriate action in some cases. Diamond Resorts has opened a Diamond Consumer Advocacy Department that pledges to help members from day one and has launched a program called CLARITY which promotes accountability, transparency and respect for the customer.

Instead of beheading the customer’s, legitimate attorneys, volunteer advocates and journalists, why won’t the timeshare developer not identify and drain the swamp of predatory sales agents? After receiving 179 complaints from our readers, at times we can guess the agent by the con.         

cartoon fraud

Camyel and Jayson Pratt

Camyell and her husband Jayson endured an eight hour Bluegreen timeshare sales presentation at Harbor Light in South Carolina. They were promised:

4000 points plus 6000 points plus two RCI weeks

Availability to a variety of resorts

What was delivered?

For 4000 points, according to one of our Advocates, also a Bluegreen member, the member can book a studio in winter on the wrong side of the weather report.

After filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, Bluegreen did offer to credit Camyell the additional 6000 points promised. Camyell declined, deciding she did not want to have anything to do with a company that would resort to such tactics. Nevertheless, Bluegreen credited the family 6000 points anyway.

Camyell said they were given no paperwork after they signed the contract, told the contract needed to be processed. They were given a booklet about Bluegreen and the timeshare exchange company RCI.

Let’s see how Camyell’s complaint compares to Lela Renea:

  • Lela was told if she purchased more points her maintenance fees would stay the same. The maintenance fees have increased from $560 a year in 2015 to about $700 a year for 2017.
  • Lela was told she would receive a free cruise, but after all the fees and charges it cost as much as if she had booked it herself.
  • Lela was told the Barclaycard had a low interest rate of 5% when in actuality it was 25%.
  • Lela was not told she was entitled to 4000 bonus points. The points expired before she was aware of them.
  • Lela was promised availability she says does not exist.
  • Lela was showed a Presidential Suite that was said to be comparable to all Bluegreen accommodations.
  • Lela was not aware she had purchased so few points it was almost impossible to find adequate availability.

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-11/

Timeshare members have had enough. Timeshare has been employing tactics former timeshare sales agents call “Pitching Heat” or “No Heat No Eat” for too long.

Like so many of our readers have complained, Camyell was not allowed onto the booking site until after the contract rescission period. When she did finally gain access, she was informed she was not within the booking window and did not have enough points to book the stay she desired and says she had been promised.

Here is our advice for those not knowing where to turn:   

  • Prepare a written complaint and request for resolution. Submit to the resort.
  • If the resort denies the request, file first with the Attorneys General of the state where you signed a contract, where you live, and where the timeshare is domiciled. Some Attorneys General are influenced by lobby dollars, so don’t be discouraged if your complaint is denied. There is still merit filing “for the record” because the Attorney General’s lack of concern can be quantified and reported. Some states refer you to a different department.
  • File a complaint with the state real estate division against the agent (ID #) if you feel the sales agent is at fault.
  • File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission because every state has incorporated some part of the FTC Consumer Fraud Act into their respective state consumer protection act.
  • Report your grievance to ARDA http://www.arda.org/ethics/ – this organization is the American Resort Development Association – Resort Owners Coalition. ARDA ROC does not resolve individual member disputes, but they do have a code of ethics that should be enforced. When the needs of the member and the developer diverge, lobby dollars go to the side of the developer, so think twice about the “voluntary” opt in or opt out donation to an organization that may not always be targeting your best interest.    
  • The FBI definition of White Collar Crime – Financial Institution Fraud – is “deceit, concealment, violation of trust and bait and switch”. File a complaint with IC3.gov if this is the case. IC stands for Internet Crime, but your complaint does not have to involve the internet. That’s just the FBI portal for complaints. https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/white-collar-crime
  • File a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, although this agency has been vastly diminished due to the rollback of the Dodd Frank Act. According to a banker I spoke with recently, they are still the regulators. File with this agency only if a credit card played a part or there is a loan outstanding.
  • Reach out to local and national media. This is by far the most important and effective tool. Typically, timeshare buyers don’t buy a timeshare in their state of residence, so state lawmakers have expressed little interest and can also be influenced by lobby dollars. http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/taking-names-scott-maxwell/os-gov-rick-scott-signs-bad-timeshare-law-20150617-post.html
  • Become an Advocate for change by assisting other members with the process outlined above. Encourage others to act.
  • File a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. The ⦁ BBB does not resolve complaints. They merely report how efficiently a company responds to complaints so ratings can be misleading.

None of the above agencies will act on behalf of a specific individual, but a volume of complaints can prompt an investigation.  

chat

If you or anyone you know has a timeshare story to share, or needs help with a timeshare issue, contact Inside Timeshare or one of the following self-help Facebooks:

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

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

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

 

There we have it, Friday is here, the weekend is about to begin, have fun and don’t forget, do your homework before you deal with any company. If you are in any doubt, contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.

friday cat

letter from america

Friday’s Letter from America

Here we are again, another Friday and another letter from America, yes, this week we are back with our cousins across the great lake. Irene Parker gives us another article in the series Nightmare on Timeshare Street. Irene and her Husband have evacuated from their coastal home due to Hurricane Irma, which is set to hit over the weekend, we hope that you all remain safe.

nightmare

Now on with some news from Europe, as we have shown in the past there are many types scams to rob you of your hard earned cash, this is the latest we have been informed about.

It begins with a telephone call supposedly from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, from a Mr D Clarke, he informs the timeshare owner they have received from the Spanish courts several million pounds, which is to be divided up and paid to owners. In this case the lucky owner is to receive over £24,000, but as it is over the £10,000 limit the owner has to ring the number given and quote the supplied reference number.

The numbers supplied by our reader are 003460209896 which is a Spanish mobile number and 033558663 (the reader has missed out some numbers).

No doubt the next phase is when you do call, there will some “tax” that you need to pay first, once this is paid then you will get the money. Well, we have heard that one before!

hmrc

Firstly, HMRC will not make telephone calls or send emails, they will contact by post, they will also not be working for the Spanish courts to hand out “compensation” especially for timeshare. If you have employed a lawyer or law firm to take legal action in Spain, then once your case has been heard and the court awards you payment, this will be dealt with directly from the court. The court will pay you through a bank transfer direct to your account. They will not be sending it to HMRC or any other third party.

CLA have also published a letter from one of their Norwegian clients, in this case they purchased from Anfi 2 floating weeks in 2005, for around 34,000€. They explained that after 4 years they found what they had purchased was not for them, it wasn’t working in their interest. They also found out that it was difficult to get out of the contract, selling would not get them anywhere near what they paid.

They came across CLA who then took on their case, their case was heard at the Supreme Court, their contract was declared null & void on the basis of the illegality of the floating weeks and the taking of deposits within the cooling off period. Eventually, in June this year the awarded amount was transferred to their bank by the court. This does show that contrary to claims made by Anfi that no one gets paid out, clients do eventually get their money.

So, now on with our Friday’s article from Irene.

Triple Nightmares on Timeshare Street!

Diamond Resorts says Marjorie Menacker’s claim is without merit

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring Closes Case

A Victory for the Oral Representation Clause

back hander

By Irene Parker

September 8, 2017

Marjorie, Ann and Marcia share their experience

Inside Timeshare has received 130 Diamond Resorts complaints from US members. The following three timeshare dream vacations nightmares are allegations, but with 119 out of 130 complaints alleging deceit and bait and switch, in our opinion, a compelling and compounding pattern seems to have developed.

As in any industry, the bad apples make things difficult for timeshare sales agents trying to compete honestly in a world where Master Closers earn $1 to $2 million a year working at sales centers that can book $10 million a month. I have interviewed nine former and current timeshare sales agents and managers who assure me “pitching heat” is endorsed and encouraged top down and industry wide by sales agents that hop from resort to resort as they make their way up the ranks.

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/25/business/my-soul-feels-taller-a-whistle-blowers-20-million-vindication.html?mcubz=3

This came as a shock to me. I built my business as a stockbroker, myself hopping from timeshare resort to resort in Hawaii, signing up timeshare sales agents for retirement and stock trading accounts. Back then many sales agents were independent contractors. “So we’re the units!” they would jokingly say. They were good people and one of those sales agents is still a close friend today. She too is shocked by the escalation in aggressive tactics, assigning buyers to a perpetual contract, often with no secondary market.

Today’s Triple Nightmare on Timeshare Street includes Marjorie, Marsha, and Ann. Marsha called me on the eve of what would been her 51st wedding anniversary, attempting to file a Mark Herring Virginia Attorney General complaint online. Marsha told me she was literally having Diamond Resort nightmares. All three direct their complaints against Diamond’s Virginia sales centers. Inside Timeshare has received twelve complaints against Virginia sales agent. Six of the members have reported a positive outcome feeling Diamond, after many rebuttals, listened and took appropriate action. Diamond Resorts Advocacy Department has resolved issues for a total of 31 out of a total of 74 formal complaints filed by our readers. Ann and Marjorie’s complaints are against the same Virginia sales agent.

Inside Timeshare has reached out to AG Herring and to Diamond Resorts for comment. To date they have not responded. Diamond has introduced a program called CLARITY ™ which they say offers transparency, accountability and respect for members.

I will call the following nightmares allegations, but Marjorie, Ann and Marsha would argue this is what really happened. Ann and Marsha have asked not to be identified, but they want to show Marjorie their support, having experienced up-sells similar to what Marjorie alleges.

3 women

Marjorie’s story

Elle and I purchased an additional 6000 Diamond points December 26, 2015 having been told about an exciting one day promotion if we purchased that day. The sales agents said we would not have to pay maintenance fees for 2016 or beyond. We had been struggling to keep up with rising fees as a result of medical expenses. Our contract lists a William Humphries as our sales agent, although we spoke to Brian and his supervisor Jeff at Diamond’s Greensprings Plantation Resort. We were encouraged to open two Diamond Barclaycards to finance the purchase. The finance rate is 25.74%.

The  sales presentation was very high pressure. We repeatedly stated that we could not afford anything that would require a loan, and did not like the difficulty we encountered finding availability. Maintenance fees were rising faster than we expected.

Brian repeatedly assured us that if we took advantage of the promotion offered that day, we would not have to worry about any maintenance fees ever again. He illustrated in chart form on paper how this program would save us money by trading in part of our total points each year. He said the remaining points would actually get “treated as double points.”

We were told this promotion would have been offered to us had we participated in dinner meeting offers over the previous year. I’ve learned almost all Diamond presentations begin with, “You should have been invited to a dinner meeting.” Out of our sight, Brian obtained special permission from his supervisor Jeff to extend the offer only for the day (12/26/2015).

http://insidetimeshare.com/another-nightmare-timeshare-street-client-experience-diamond/

Ann S

First, last January, when meeting with Brian Humphries at an ‘Owner Update’ in Virginia, we were told FLAT OUT  that if we bought 7500 more points we would now be part of an ‘ELITE’ group of Platinum owners who are credited 30 CENTS PER POINT when ‘recycling’ annual points back to Diamond so that Diamond can bring in potential owners. We were told that the conversion at 30 cents per point would be more than enough with all our points to pay our annual fees and still have points on which to travel. We restated the claim back to Brian several times to make sure we understood correctly. Brian now denies that he made any such promise. When I called Diamond and even the Platinum Department no one had ever heard of such a program and kept referring us back to Brian. He had even told us “When you get your bill and it’s time to pay your maintenance fees just contact me and I’ll explain how you do this.”  We would NEVER have purchased that day had that not been our understanding. But then nothing was ever given to us in writing (they even somehow took our personal notes from us and did not return them) and repeated emails and phone requests only ended in denials or flat out ignoring of our questions. After hearing what happened to Marjorie, I will be filing a complaint with the Virginia Attorney General’s office.

Marsha Y

I only purchased additional points because the sales agents at Diamond’s Powhatan Resort in Williamsburg said the maintenance costs would go down if I purchased more points. I have since learned this was not true. I had told the agents I could not afford the rising maintenance fees. I was also not told a $7,100 charge would be charged to a Barclay card for a down payment. The same thing happened in Hawaii. I was not told a Barclay card was being opened to charge a Sampler. I later learned the agent in Hawaii was later fired for this.

The hospitality agent in Williamsburg, when I told her about how I had been deceived previously, told me she understood and that is why sales were stopped at the Williamsburg center for a while until the CLARITY ™ program was put in place. Still, when I attended the Williamsburg presentation, I was charged $7,100 on a Barclaycard without my knowledge.

My husband (now deceased) and I originally owned three deeded weeks. We had no complaints about the agents that sold us those weeks. Up until this point, what I owned was within my budget. The additional charges have caused a great hardship. I am a widow on a teacher’s pension. The actions of these agents have taken away my financial security. I feel trapped. My credit score has dropped from over 800 to the 700s. I had no intention to buy points as it is not as easy or enjoyable to travel without my husband. I can still travel with friends and would be able to remain a Diamond customer if I would be returned to Silver status.

Will the timeshare industry ever admit to deception on the front end of the timeshare sale? Are these customers really not to be believed, along with so many other identical complaints? All three attended the presentations with their families and are adamant what they heard was what they were told.

The following Facebook pages consist of members helping members. Contact Inside Timeshare or join with others members working towards reform if you have a timeshare story, positive or negative, to share, or need help with a timeshare concern. After this Attorney General’s ruling, it really does seem the only court available is the court of public opinion. We posted below “Do you know your Consumer Rights?” Are there any Consumer Rights?

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

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

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

consumer rights 1

Thank you Irene, Marjorie, Ann and Marcia for your contribution to this week’s article, as you can see, timeshare can become a nightmare, it all sounds so great in the presentation.

It just leaves us to say have a good weekend, and for those of you in the path of Irma, stay safe.

weekend cat

letter from america

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this week’s Friday’s Letter from America, this week we publish Part II of Karen Garello’s Secret Shopper report, but as usual we look at what is happening in Europe.

During our daily searches of various timeshare websites and forums this particular article made us chuckle. It was published on the Travel & Leisure Group (timeshare resale) website under information and Timeshare Blog, it is an interview with Gavin Brown and his recent stay at Anfi, he is manager of the said company, obviously written by one of the employees who conducted the interview.

The piece starts out with Anfi Beach Club is known throughout the timeshare industry as a real gem”. It then goes on to describe the location, “Ideally located on a heart-shaped island in Gran Canaria”. Well straight away that brought everyone down laughing, the heart shaped island is a man made island which is situated between the beach and the marina. It does not have the room for the huge resort called Anfi! It does however have sunbeds, a cocktail bar and a restaurant. You can also hire the island for weddings, if you can afford the 12,000€ for the basic package.

heart shaped island Anfi
The heart shaped island at Anfi

It turns out that Mr Brown, who has been in the timeshare industry for years, has never owned a timeshare, (I wonder why?). Mr Brown stated that he always booked with online travel agents and package holidays, but due to sometimes being disappointed with room location and the standards of the hotels, he felt that timeshare resorts offered better standards.

Well, we can agree with that, so why did he choose Anfi? As he put it he has a great knowledge of Anfi, having sold so many resale weeks, so when “A fantastic week and apartment became available at a great price, and I couldn’t pass it up”. Although we couldn’t help wondering if he would have bought at the ridiculous prices direct from Anfi?

He then goes on with a wonderful sales pitch on how great the place is, the wonderful facilities and the great restaurants, with reasonable prices compared to other 5* resorts. Well sorry Mr Brown, but you can get even better food at even better prices by leaving the resort and heading to some of the local restaurants.

The article then ends with “If this has made you consider Anfi Beach Club, or any of the other Anfi resorts, why not call Gavin himself or one of his colleagues to discuss further”?

Could it be they have that many weeks on their books they need to do a sales drive to get rid of them?

The other point to remember is that when you buy resale you don’t get all the benefits as you would buying direct from Anfi. See the link to the previous article on Resale Vs Direct.

http://insidetimeshare.com/?s=anfi+resale

It has also been announced that ABC Lawyers Ltd, another Mark Rowe company has bought Lansdown Financial Ltd, a claims company registered with the Ministry of Justice. This is another acquisition following that of Tucola Ltd and Justice4 Ltd, Mr Rowe is certainly expanding, the question is why?

After all, his past is not what you could call squeaky clean, there has been a lot in the press and on TV about some of his past enterprises, Monster Credits springs to mind. By purchasing a company already regulated by the MoJ it does save him the problem of applying to the MoJ for authorisation, then having to pass the competence and suitability assessment, which is not a simple task.

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/481751/CMR_Applications_for_Authorisation_Guidance_WEB.pdf

Going back to Anfi, although the courts are closed during the month of August, some staff are still working and issuing sentence papers from cases heard previously, this particular case was heard on 6 July. The Court of First Instance in Maspalomas awarded the former Anfi member 42,625€, again the infringement of the timeshare law was the length of the contract, being over 50 years in duration. So Anfi, do you continue to deny that you are losing in the courts?

So on with this week’s Letter from America.

Link to Karen’s first report.

http://insidetimeshare.com/works-industries-not-timeshare/

Timeshare Advocacy Group™

Secret Shopper Questions and a Secret Shopper Report

two meeting

By Karen Garello, Secret Shopper Coordinator

August 18, 2017

Inside Timeshare encourages its readers to submit positive articles about timeshare experiences, so I was relieved to have attended a positive sales presentation at The Suites at Fall Creek in Branson, Missouri. Unfortunately, the presentation was followed by a less than positive customer service experience.

My Diamond saga began when I purchased a trial Sampler program I had not realized I had purchased until I returned home and saw a $3,995 charge to a Barclaycard. Diamond would not reverse the charge.

http://insidetimeshare.com/works-industries-not-timeshare/

Trying to make the best of a bad situation, I decided to attend a presentation as this is required when purchasing a Sampler. After I returned home from a Branson presentation, I attempted to access Luxury benefits but was denied access. Luxury benefits include luxury hotels, shopping and wine. When I contacted customer services at the Sampler department, asking why I was denied access, the customer service agent put me on hold for a long time while he called Branson. After completing his “investigation” he told me the reason I could not access Luxury benefits is because Branson reported me as a “NO SHOW”!!!

Had it not been for our Diamond Resorts member supported Advocacy Facebook, I probably would not have gotten the sales agent’s name, and I certainly would not have prepared a report.

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

Admitting deceit it seemed, the customer service agent said, according to the notes during the presentation (he initially said I had not attended), I had told the sales agent TK I had complained about the unauthorized charge to purchase the Sampler. I pointed out that I had used my American Express for all the charges I made at The Suites. Customer service said they will investigate further and get back to me.

Now onto my original article

buttons

Many timeshare companies already have Secret Shopper programs. Still, it doesn’t hurt for timesharing member Secret Shoppers to evaluate for other members how near or far a timeshare sales agent ventures from his or her script.

I guess I am not that secret of a Secret Shopper in that my name is on this article, so I hope the good experience I had at Diamond ResortsThe Suites at Fall Creek in Branson, Missouri wasn’t because they were aware of my Timeshare Advocacy Group™ position, Secret Shopper Coordinator. I’d like to give them the benefit of the doubt.

My presenter was TK Armstrong. She used to work for Bluegreen but joined Diamond because she said they have more resorts. TK and I talked for about 45 minutes. I went over my Polo Towers experience. She seemed sincerely concerned. She showed me a description of CLARITY™ Diamond’s new Enhanced Quality Assurance program. She was supportive of the program and said she was going to abide by it. She went over the Sampler product I did not realize I purchased until I returned home from Polo Towers. At least I know what I bought now.

We have three new Secret Shoppers. We will not identify them because they are, well, secret. After compiling over 100 complaints from readers who have reached out to Inside Timeshare for assistance, we have determined the most popular complaints involve the following:

  • Maintenance Fee relief program that do not exist,
  • The ability to sell points or weeks when there is no secondary market,
  • The value of travel awards,
  • Misrepresenting the value of using a credit card to offset Maintenance Fees,
  • Stating a lower loan interest rate can be obtained from a bank or credit union in order to escape high timeshare loan interest rates,
  • Oversold availability

We arm our Secret Shoppers with intelligent questions that, maybe because of being on vacation brain, people forget to ask. These are questions of course that any timeshare consumer can ask, so we share them with our readers. Transparency, honesty and accuracy are rated on a scale from one to five with a five being the most honest. Results are tabulated quarterly and sent to our team for review. After we complete our pilot program, we hope to submit the data to the respective resort for review.

Suggested Questions

  • May I take notes?

Qualifications

  • How long have you worked at this resort?
  • Have you worked at other resorts?
  • What did you do before you sold timeshare?

Consumer Protections

  • May I call my lawyer 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?
  • 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.

Resale or Exit Program

  • What happens if I can no longer use or afford the timeshare?
  • If I can sell it, how can I sell it? Who do I call? Can you give me a reference?

Note: Contact a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association to ask about the benefits or lack of benefits buying on the resale market and to see if they will accept a listing for the timeshare you own.

http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

Maintenance Fees

  • Please show me in the paperwork the cap on maintenance fee increases. How much does a maintenance fee go up on average annually? Does it go up every year?
  • Can you provide a five year history of Maintenance Fee increases?
  • Is there anything I can do to offset Maintenance Fees?
  • 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 offset Maintenance Fees with credit card purchases, please provide an example of the value of a $1 purchase and how many purchases it would take to pay off my annual maintenance Fee? (One member reported it would cost over $270,000 in annual purchases to pay a $2,700 Maintenance Fee!)
  • Can I rent my timeshare to pay Maintenance Fees?

Travel awards

  • If I can use my points for hotels, what is the value per point?
  • 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?

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?
  • What is the interest and penalty if I miss a payment?

risk

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 without comparison shopping. Well over half of the complaints Inside Timeshare has received involve high interest rate financing.

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. Societal changes are influencing the wants and needs of today’s traveler. Are timeshares more flexible or less if you are locked into usage and maintenance fees increasing annually.

Our first Secret Shopper, Laurie Sabbagh, offered the first Timeshare Advocacy Group™ Secret Shopper report. She reported some good and not so good observations. Of merit is the warning to timeshare buyers to take the promise of travel awards a step farther and ask, “At what value?” In general consumers should buy a timeshare for its intended purpose which is to vacation at a resort. Here is Laurie’s 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. Timeshare Advocacy Group™ posts information from all sites. Our motto, courtesy of Jimi Hendrix, is –

knowledge speaks

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

Thanks to Karen for her Secret Shopper part II, also thanks to Irene as usual for the editing and coordination from the other side of the great lake. We have many more articles coming up in the next few weeks with part II of Hug Your Haters and a piece about the Castle Law Group lawsuit with Orange Lake. We will also be having another article from our Antipodean friends from the other side of the world.

So that’s it for this week, have a great weekend and we will be with you next week.

 

 friday dog

 

csat_mystery-shopping

It Works in Other Industries So Why Not In Timeshare?

In todays article Karen Garello shares her experience as a Secret Shopper at a timeshare presentation. Most restaurants, bars and supermarkets are familiar with this concept, it is a useful tool for improving service. The first the staff know about it is when the report is filed by the Mystery Shopper.

The idea is that the staff, sales people, waiters even managers, have no idea, so it gives a very true reflection of service, it also keeps everyone on their toes, especially when you know that your firm employs these mystery people. Inside imeshare hopes you enjoy the article from our new contributor.

Timeshare Advocacy Group ™

Secret Timeshare Shopper

secret shopper

By Karen Garello

June 22, 2017

If you are reading this article, there’s a good chance you bought a timeshare based on something a timeshare sales agent said that was not true. You probably already know about the oral representation clause that states, “I did not rely on any oral representation to make my purchase” which allows the sales agents to say anything to sell vacation points. Even with proof, the timeshare developer can still fall back on that clause.

After what happened to me, I have decided to become a Secret Shopper to report sales agents that are untruthful, as well as sales agents that do tell the truth, and to collect stories from other Secret Shoppers. Our Timeshare Advocacy Group’s new Secret Shopper program has been in existence since March when Laurie Sabbagh published our first Secret Shopper report.

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

But here’s what happened to me

head

I bought a Diamond Sampler product. This is a program that allows you to use a set number of points to try out a vacation plan. Since it is a trial program, the buyer is not locked into a perpetual contract. You do have to attend a sales presentation when you stay at one of the company’s resorts.

I attended a sales presentation at Polo Towers in Las Vegas. My first sales agent was Greg. Greg was respectful when I said I did not want to buy any more timeshares since I was already a Starwood member. He turned me over to Aries. I am a Filipino occupational therapist. Aries is Filipino. Aries offered me 20,000 Diamond points to try out the Diamond program because I was a Starwood member. He said they wanted to give me the points so that I would have an opportunity to compare Diamond’s program to Starwood. I have never had any problems with Starwood, so I had no need to buy additional vacation points. Still, it couldn’t hurt to compare.

Aries said I should open a Diamond Barclay MasterCard. The company was going to give me 20,000 vacation points. I saw no harm in filling out the credit card application. While I was putting my initials on a small piece of paper, I did notice the figure of $3,995 and asked what this amount referred to. Aries said it was the limit on the Master Card. I left with no paperwork.

Leaving the sales presentation, I was elated. Aries told me he was also going to give me a cruise and a $200 restaurant coupon. I called my cousin and told her this Filipino guy gave me 20,000 vacation points, a $200 restaurant coupon, and a cruise! I was embarrassed to later tell my cousin what really happened.

When I arrived home, I was shocked to see a charge for $3,995 on the BarclayCard. The statement said I had purchased a Sampler. Not only had I not heard the word Sampler before, I never heard the word purchase or buy mentioned throughout the entire sales presentation. I called Diamond thinking there must have been some kind of mix-up. I spoke with “Hospitality” agent Kayla. Kayla basically said, “Too bad, you signed a contract.”

Diamond Resorts has a new program called CLARITY™ which is supposed to be about accountability, transparency and respect for the customer. How can the company claim to have this program when I have been treated this way?

Kayla kept repeating that I bought a Sampler. She said she would send me a copy of the contract. What contract? I walked out of Polo Towers with nothing.

What can I do to stop others from being harmed?

speak up

What happened to me wasn’t right. In my opinion, what happened to me was criminal. I began to research corporate fraud and found this on Wikipedia.

First, customers are “baited” by merchants advertising products or services at a low price, but when customers visit the store, they discover that the advertised goods either are not available or are not as good as expected, or the customers are pressured by salespeople to consider similar, but higher-priced, items (“switching”).

In my case, my switch wasn’t higher. I didn’t even know I bought anything!

According to a publication called the balance, unauthorized credit card charges include any type of charge to your credit card account that you didn’t give permission for. I should have called Barclays Bank right away instead of assuming Diamond Resorts would correct it.

https://www.thebalance.com/what-to-do-about-unauthorized-credit-card-charges-960260

Many of our Diamond member sponsored Advocacy Group members say they were sold by deceit and bait and switch. It is one thing to use a timeshare for a long time and just give it back, but many of our Facebook members have invested sometimes $50,000 or more saying they were deceived and found out only two weeks, two months or a year later. I hope others join our Advocacy Group to get the support and encouragement I received in the hope of educating the public as to what to watch out for when on vacation.

We seek to provide Diamond Resort 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/groups/DiamondResortsOwnersAdvocacy/

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

eye

By Irene Parker

Thank you to Karen for joining our network of Secret Shoppers. The more people who uncover deceptive sales practices and report to regulatory and enforcement agencies, the more likely the industry will be forced to change. Public awareness and education through print and broadcast media can make a difference, as in the almost overnight appearance of a generic $200 Epipen.

It is legal to record a conversation in Arizona as long as one person is aware, according to Attorney Carrie Wilcox. “In the case of a telephone or in-person conversation, recording simply means making a copy of the conversation between two or more people. Recording is illegal in Arizona if NO party to the conversation knows that the conversation is being recorded. However, in Arizona, and this varies by state, if one party to the conversation knows that the conversation is being recorded, it is not illegal. However, bugging/wiretapping is always illegal. Don’t make assumptions about the law in other states -consult an attorney to determine what is allowed.”

The Law Office of Carrie M. Wilcox

http://wilcoxlegal.com/bugging-and-tape-recording-conversations-in-arizona-is-it-legal/

There was a time we would never have thought people would not leave home without a phone in their pocket, briefcase or purse. Who knows? Maybe someday timeshare buyers will come equipped to timeshare sales presentations able to record with a blink of a contact lens eye!

https://www.facebook.com/ScienceNaturePage/videos/vb.693504594115135/1087812741350983/?type=2&theater

Deceit and bait and switch tactics will probably always be part and parcel of timeshare, but once victimized, you feel you have to do something about it.

shopper cartoon

Inside Timeshare thanks Karen for her contribution and once again thanks to Irene for her editing. If you would like to share your experiences with others contact Inside Timeshare or Irene on the advocacy facebook page. We look forward to and welcome your views, by sharing it helps other to learn and see they are not alone.

 

 

letter from america

Friday’s Letter From America

Welcome to this week’s Friday’s Letter From America, Irene Parker’s article this week focuses on eleven Platinum Diamond Members who have had problems. But first a round up of the news from Europe.

Once again, those lawyers from Canarian Legal Alliance have made legal history in Spain. Back in March 2015 they secured the first Supreme Court ruling against the timeshare industry, on Tuesday 13 June, they did it again with their 50th ruling from Spain’s highest court. From our sources, no other law firm in any field has managed to get this many rulings through this court. It certainly has shaped the way the timeshare laws are now being applied.

This latest ruling was against Silverpoint in Tenerife, a company with a long history of litigation against them. Since January the Supreme Court has ruled on no less than 10 cases brought by CLA on behalf of their clients.

Yesterday, Thursday 15 June, it was also announced that the Court of First Instance of Granadilla de Abona Tenerife, has ruled against Diamond Resorts Tenerife Sales SL. The client’s contract was declared null & void and the court ordered the return of over 29,000€ this was because the contract was the Diamond points system.

On Wednesday 14 June we published the Anfi CEO’s letter to members, in his letter he still indicates that the Supreme Court has got the perpetuity contracts decision wrong, he also says that it is not true that Anfi are losing. Well here we go, Wednesday 14 June, the High Court No 3 of Las Palmas once again declared an Anfi contract null & void in respect of the contract being over 50 years in duration (perpetuity) and that it also contained “Floating Weeks”. In this case they have been ordered to pay back over 10,950€

The truth is there and plain to see, it can also be easily verified through the courts themselves. Sounds like the “Fake News” syndrome is catching!

At least in Spain, consumers are getting the protection of the law, maybe our cousins across The Great Lake will take heart, that there is some light at the end of the tunnel. Now to Irene’s article.

 

Eleven Platinum Diamond Members Cry Foul

Romeo and Lily Dalisay Share their Story

be strong

By Irene Parker

June 16, 2017

It’s not easy to stand up against wealth and power, whether you are a woman accusing a famous comedian, or a former FBI Director accusing the President of the United States. Any timeshare member who has come forward to share their story can relate to the discomfort felt when the decision has been made to stand up publicly for truth and justice.

Inside Timeshare previously published the story of Romeo Dalisay, age 70, and his wife Lily, age 71, a California Filipino family. Romeo is a retired physical therapist and Lily a hand therapist. The family has maintained a good credit score until now, facing foreclosure for the first time in their life.  Mary was working just to pay for their Diamond Resorts loan and annual maintenance fees, but can no longer work due to complications from diabetes.

Romeo and Lilly decided to release their identity after reading Angela Johnson’s Inside Timeshare article. It was also of great comfort to read about the Fournier family and the lawsuit filed against Diamond Resorts by attorney Amir Goldstein, as the Fournier family is struggling with the foreclosure process as well.

http://insidetimeshare.com/timeshare-advocacy-group-update/

The Dalisay family is one of eleven Platinum Diamond member families that have reached out to Inside Timeshare alleging they were up-sold to a higher loyalty level by deceit, concealment, violation of trust and bait and switch.

Out of the eleven Platinum member complaints, Diamond’s Advocacy Department has resolved three. Three of the eleven complaints involve Diamond’s rental policy change, which states Diamond members can only rent to friends or families. All hold contracts allowing rentals and were sold on the benefits of renting.

philipines flag

The Dalisays are one of four Filipino families who have reached out to Inside Timeshare. Diamond has helped two of the four Filipino families resolve their complaints. The Dalisays first article was translated into Tagalog.

Diamond Resort’s non-deeded vacation points cannot be listed with any of the 64 members of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association, so families find themselves forced to foreclose if they are not eligible for a voluntary surrender due to a loan outstanding. Diamond Resorts is the only major timeshare that cannot be listed with an LTRBA member due to restrictions the company has placed on the use of secondary points the LTRBA members feel are more onerous than other major timeshare companies.

http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

Inside Timeshare has received numerous complaints from Diamond members concerning Diamond’s Polo Towers and Cancun Resorts sales tactics. Of the eleven Platinum members filing complaints, six are from these two resorts. One of the six was up-sold by a Polo Towers sales agent while she was training Diamond’s sales agents in Virginia.

In brief, here is a description provided by nine of the eleven Platinum member complaint allegations that do not concern the rental issue except for Irina. Irina Allen has been accused of renting, although she says she only posted one ad on RedWeek on the advice of her sales agent. There are many Diamond rental ads posted on RedWeek. Irina also alleges she was upsold by deceit. The families are listed only by number.

  • Ka’anapali Hawaii sales center, up-sold from US to Hawaii Collection or there would be no Hawaii availability. Virginia sales center, up-sold to take advantage of a 30 cent maintenance fee reduction program that did not exist, Polo Towers Las Vegas sales center, “should have been invited to a meeting” up-sell from Hawaii to US Collection, or they would regret being Hawaii Collection members.
  • Branson MO up-sold to obtain a survivor release benefit, already available, a Ka’anapali up-sell US to Hawaii claiming only Hawaii points can be rented and only Hawaii members have survivor release options.
  • Polo Towers, a Legacy up-sell because points will appreciate and buying Legacy points is the only way to sell points. Complaint resolved in member’s favor.
  • Polo Towers, a Legacy upsell so they could sell their points. Complaint resolved in member’s favor.
  • Polo Towers, a Legacy up-sell as the only way to sell points. Unresolved Irina Allen up-sold in order to use secondary points, the subject of an upcoming article.
  • Polo Towers, a Legacy up-sell as the only way to sell points. Complaint resolved.
  • A Polo Towers sales agent, working in Virginia to train Virginia sales agents (as she said she helped developed many of Diamond’s policies), a Hawaii to US upsell or there would be no US availability. US to Hawaii upsell or there would be no Hawaii availability and renting Hawaii points is allowed only in Hawaii to cover maintenance fees.
  • Romeo and Lily Dalisay described herein.

Back to Romeo and Lily’s story in their own words

The Dalisays are former Monarch owners. Convinced to give up their Monarch deed, they currently own 60,000 Diamond points. The mortgage balance is $85,968 financed by Diamond at 13.1% and the monthly payments are $1,375. Maintenance Fees for 2017 are $9,034. Historically, according to information culled from lawsuits, Diamond points have sold for $3 to $4 a point, so the Dalisays have spent at least $200,000 on vacation points.

Many Monarch owners at all loyalty levels have contacted Inside Timeshare alleging deception, claiming they were told they had to buy additional points due to Monarch’s bankruptcy as they were responsible for their share of Monarch’s debt, when in fact many Monarch owners were able to deed back their Monarch week for a $250 fee.

In Romeo’s and Lily’s words

In Las Vegas at Diamond’s Cancun Resort in 2013, we were told we should have received an invitation to attend a dinner to discuss the transition from Monarch Grand Vacations to Diamond.

“You should have been invited to a dinner” is being used today on Gold Key and Intrawest owners. It seems designed to confuse.

The sales agent asked us to write a letter stating we did not receive the dinner invitation and therefore should be given the same price per point as those who attended the dinner. He faxed our letter to a Las Vegas Diamond office. We were told that due to Monarch’s bankruptcy we would lose our equity if we did not purchase additional Diamond points. The promised one hour meeting lasted five hours. We eventually broke and signed a contract to buy more points.

We constantly received telephone calls asking us to attend more updates. We generally turn them down, but accepted an offer from Diamond’s Cancun Resort. A previous telephone sales encounter from Cancun lasted over three hours.

In Pomona, California July 2015 at another meeting, we again were told we had to get rid of our Monarch points by buying more Diamond points in order to prevent the increase in maintenance fees due to less and less people owning Monarch.

This is a difficult topic and one of great interest to Intrawest and Gold Key owners as well because it is unclear how diminishing numbers of deeded members will be treated. At a 2016 Monarch Annual Meeting it was announced 30% of the remaining 40,000 Monarch owners had not paid their 2016 Maintenance Fees.

The Pomona sales representative said that if we keep our Monarch deed, we will be assessed increased maintenance fees to pay for the repair of the Cabo property caused by a hurricane. Another example he gave was the water damage at The Point at Poipu, a Diamond acquired property in Hawaii.

This meeting lasted over five hours until midnight. Focus, decision making ability, and judgement falter if kept that long. The increase in maintenance fees after this purchase started our financial struggles.

A total of four credit card accounts were opened to pay the down payment.

http://insidetimeshare.com/timeshare-finance-barclays-hot-water-high-court/

In 2016, we took out loans to pay our maintenance fees. We also used points to pay maintenance fees, but a point purchased for around $4 is only worth $.04 if used to pay maintenance fees.

stick men

Many of the tricks of the timeshare trade, like promising a buy-back program when none exists, are not unique to Diamond. What is unique is an organized effort among 5,000 Diamond member supported Websites and Facebook members determined to report deception when it occurs by obtaining the sales agent’s name and ID number, the resort location, and date and nature of alleged deceit. In other words, we act to hold Diamond accountable when members feel “the script” is nowhere to be found.

We seek to provide Diamond Resort 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/groups/DiamondResortsOwnersAdvocacy/

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

We hope the goals of accountability and transparency promoted by Diamond’s new CLARITY™ program are acted on and enforced as we work in partnership to make sure they are.

Our Timeshare Advocacy Group™ motto, courtesy of Jimi Hendrix, is Knowledge speaks, wisdom listens. It is our hope that one day timeshare developers will not look upon customers such as those described in this article as “the enemy”. Those mentioned in this article with issues resolved issues were initially denied and had to fight for a positive outcome. We teach our children to admit when they make a mistake, but grown-ups working in the corporate liability world must abandon this important principle in order to survive in a sometimes customer unfriendly world.

truth set you free

So there we have it another week over in the murky world of timeshare, thanks to all those who contribute, either by writing their stories or just giving us the heads up on the latest news. The truth is out there as Mulder and Scully from the X-Files would say, it is just a matter of who you wish to believe, those who sold it to you or independent sources?

friday dog

Have a good weekend.

stop press

Just as we were about to publish this news came in from the High Court Number 3 of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Diamond Resorts Tenerife Sales SL, (Diamond Resorts Management Ltd), Club Sunterra Europe Ltd,(Sunterra Europe Ltd) Diamond Resorts International have just been ordered to return over 33,451€, with the client’s contract being declared null & void.

get-involved

Timeshare Advocacy Group: Update

Today Inside Timeshare welcomes a new writer and contributor from across the Great Lake, Angela Johnson. Firstly Irene Parker gives an update on our Timeshare Advocacy Group, with a new Secret Shopper Programme being launched. We certainly look forward to reading some of the reports from this project.

At the end of the article, we give a summary of the latest Class Action against Diamond, which we published in Friday’s Letter From America. The summary has been published as a PDF attachment, due to the length, just click to read.

On now with today’s article, firstly Irene followed by Angela.

The Results of our Timeshare Advocacy Group™ Pilot

“If you build it they will come” Field of Dreams

pointer

Introduction by Irene Parker

Don’t Give Up Your Gold Key Deed

By Angela Johnson

The Timeshare Advocacy Group™ Pilot now has a team of leaders that will assist timeshare owners and members in distress over timeshare problems they have not been able to resolve through their own efforts. Any timeshare problem can and will be resolved through the “3Rs or F of timeshare” – Resolution, Relinquishment, Refund or Foreclosure. The class action complaint at the end of today’s article (attached as a PDF) details what members facing this last unfortunate option must endure.

Many highly educated, professional people who have contacted our Advocacy Group, almost all with 800 credit scores, are facing foreclosure for the first time in their life. I found line 77 of the class action complaint particularly appalling:

That Defendant continued to place several dunning telephone calls to Plaintiff’s cellular phones using an automated telephone dialing system and/or a pre- recorded or artificial voice.

77. That Plaintiffs were charged for the phone calls made by Defendant to their cellular phones.

Clearly people who have lived their entire life financially untroubled, need support and direction during this most discomforting foreclosure process.

 

Timeshare Advocacy Group™ has also launched a Secret Shopper program – a real one.

Laurie Sabbagh was our first secret shopper. Many timeshare buyers fall victim to the oral representation clause. Many contracts, not just timeshare, contain a clause that states “I did not rely on any oral representation to make my purchase.” Timeshare has for years been notorious for using and abusing this clause to get a prospect to sign a contract to buy vacation points by fabricating reasons for purchase that venture far afield from reality. Laurie reports her experience, offering prospective timeshare buyers valuable advice in regard to the value of travel awards.

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

Our two newest additions to our Leadership Team are Angela Johnson, Advocate Coordinator, and Karen Garello, Secret Shopper Coordinator. Angela shares her Advocacy experience this week and next week Karen Garello will tell us what happened to her and why she has volunteered to become more involved.

Angela went through Diamond Resort’s Advocacy Department to air her grievance against Diamond’s Williamsburg Virginia sales center. In all fairness, although never admitting wrongdoing, Diamond has helped several families. Angela was not in that fortunate group so she reached out to our member sponsored Diamond Resort’s Advocacy Facebook.

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

I should add that my husband and I purchased points in Williamsburg. Both sales agents were courteous and professional. We hope our advocacy efforts will support timeshare sales agents trying to sell timeshare points in a non-deceptive way without resorting to a “bait and switch” as Angela alleges in her article.

A Warning: Don’t give up your Gold Key Deed!

By Angela Johnson

June 12, 2017

woman

My complaint was long and complicated, but I felt it was important not to leave out any details. After submitting a 2,000 word complaint to Diamond’s Advocacy department, my mom and I were told we were stuck with the timeshare points we didn’t need and didn’t know we had bought until we got home and opened the first bill.

After being declined a refund, I reached out to the member sponsored Diamond Advocacy Group. After reviewing my complaint, we reduced my accusation from 2000 to 37 words, thinking this would make it easier to understand. While I did get an immediate call back, I was told I was going to be assigned to another Diamond Advocate team member. I gave up at that point because my complaint had already been investigated. My 37 words were so simple there was no need to start over.

My mom and I met with Diamond sales agent Eursla Giles-Jones at a Diamond Resort in Williamsburg, Virginia. What happened, simply put, was this:

Angela: “I cannot afford two loans.”

Eursla: “We are going to combine the two loans.”

Angela: “But I did a credit card balance transfer to reduce the high interest rate.”

Eursla: “We can still combine them. I can make it happen.”

Then the dodge began. My mother was with me when we bought the points. We both heard what Eursla said. I have since learned about the oral representation clause allowing timeshare sales agents to say anything since often there is no proof. We did not have proof. I ended up with two loans instead of one. There is no way I can afford both loans. I did not know about this until I started receiving the bills long after the period when I could have cancelled the contract.

I feel there is a need for timeshare members to be able to have an organization to turn to before taking the drastic step of calling a lawyer. Given I have double loan payments, I can’t afford a lawyer. I had not even thought of contacting the following organizations that I now know exist thanks to the Timeshare Advocacy Group ™. Contacting the following organizations is my next step.

  • The FBI, due to alleged deceit and “bait and switch”,
  • ARDA for violating ARDA’s Code of Ethics,
  • Attorneys General where we signed our contract, where we live and the state where the resort is domiciled,
  • Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under the mortgage option and the bank that financed our loan or issued the credit card,
  • Federal Trade Commission for violating “The Federal Trade Commission Act of 1914 which outlaws unfair methods of competition and outlaws unfair acts or practices that affect commerce.”
  • State Real Estate divisions against the agents. as most states require sales agents to be real estate licensed (the agent’s ID number is helpful)

My mom and I were Gold Key owners holding a deed, but we gave up our deed so we are now Diamond point members. As members, we don’t own anything. We deeply regret this decision. I have since read several posts on our Advocacy Facebook warning Gold Key owners not to give up their deed. I have joined this cause hoping to warn others to check the facts before you sign.

signing contract

Thank you to Angela for sharing her story. Let us know if you need assistance or would like to share your story.  

Timeshare Advocacy Group™ will be scaling up the Pilot to three satellite programs at the request of many. Thus, our most recent US Inside Timeshare article was about a Wyndham owner.

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-8/

The article lists what I find to be the salient parts of Diamond’s new CLARITY™ program issued in response to the Arizona Attorney General’s Assurance of Discontinuance. If just those points are abided by and enforced, there would be no need for timeshare Advocacy Facebooks.

Next week: Secret Shopper Coordinator Karen Garello rolls out Secret Shopper

***

ExcerptfromClassActionDiamond (1)

Things are certainly moving, owners / members are mobilising in a way not seen before, they are starting to realise that together they can achieve more. Through groups such as our Timeshare Advocacy Group you now have a voice along with others to share with and also offer sound advice.

Inside Timeshare welcomes your comments and stories, contact us through our comments section. If you have been in contact with any company, be it resale, claims or any other offer and you are not sure about them, contact us and we will put you in the right direction.

letter from america

Friday’s Letter From America

Welcome to this week’s Letter From America, from Irene Parker, as usual in her own style she explains what is happening across the Great Lake, but first a look at the week’s news in Europe.

Inside Timeshare is receiving many questions about the Anfi SGM and the vote to change the constitution, it seems to be causing a lot of confusion. No one seems clear as to what it is all about, so in a nutshell here it is.

Voting on Resolution 1

To establish occupancy periods for a maximum of 50 years duration, with an option to extend for further recurring occupancy periods of 50 years.

This will bring the contracts in line with the 50 year rule established in Spanish timeshare law, but it allows you to extend voluntarily to another 50 years.

Voting on Resolution 2

To limit the duration of the Timeshare Scheme to a maximum of 50 years.

The same as resolution 1 without the option to extend to another 50 years.

Voting on Resolution 3

Total change of Timeshare Scheme to adapt to Spanish Act 4/2012.

This adapts the contract to  “Rotational Enjoyment Rights” Anfi explains it thus:

“Every current holder of a membership certificate shall be allocated a number of rotational enjoyment rights, equal to the number of membership certificates they currently hold and which will entitle them to enjoy the same week of use as they currently hold”.

It will not make any difference unless you accept the new contract and sign them, it will however affect any new sales and those contracts.

As usual it is framed to confuse, why is it that anything to do with timeshare is made complicated, confusing and difficult for mere mortals to understand. Well, quite simply that is how they sold it to you in the first place!

The courts in the Canary Islands have been busy again this week, with many cases against timeshare companies being heard. Some of these sentences have yet to be announced, but as usual, we think we all know the outcome!

It has also just been announced that another ex-Anfi owner who won their case some time ago, has now received into their bank account the awarded amount. Their contract was declared null & void and now they can enjoy the 15,531€ as well as being timeshare free.

We have also been inundated with enquiries into several “claims” companies, all offering claims on a no win no fee basis. Then comes the crunch, they want several thousand pounds upfront! Obviously this is to relinquish the timeshare then the claim will be pursued, this claim is more than likely to be under the Credit Consumer Act 1974, Section 75. Which as we have stated before will not get paid out as the purchase was more than likely over the 6 year limit, (limitations act) or the fact that they will say you have received the goods and services as you have used the timeshare.

Again it pays to be cautious, so on with our Letter from America.

A Tina Timeshare Pinocchio Tale

Told by a Wyndham owner, possibly foreclosed by now, Mr. Patrick

pinocchio

By Irene Parker

June 9, 2017

Wyndham member Gene Patrick was one of several Wyndham owners to go to the trouble of making a YouTube about his timeshare trouble, continuing on with our “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” series.

Comments ranged from “this is the most boring video I’ve ever watched” to “this is the most informative video I’ve ever watched.”

Mr. Patrick is a videographer. I side with the latter, although the video is long at 45 minutes. Mr. Patrick is also an effective storyteller, but for those who would rather read a short article than watch the video, here are the seven lies (allegations) he described. He seemed to lose count after three, but I believe I found seven. Mr. Patrick did provide a disclaimer stating these were his opinions or allegations, a word I have come to detest in that, even if only half the highly educated and professional people asking Inside Timeshare for assistance with their timeshare troubles are telling the truth, Timeshare has a problem.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q218fyTmYpc

The back and forth comments among the 244 respondents sound familiar. Timeshare Facebooks that maintain a quota of happy vs angry members, admonish the angry members as irresponsible suckers that should have known better. Lawmakers and timeshare developers seem to agree with those hurling insults.

A Timeshare Tale

bloke

Gene and Melissa Patrick used his mom’s RCI points to stay at a Wyndham Resort. He was told he had to attend a member update or he would be charged $77 for a gift. He should have stopped right there, but like so many of our readers, he continued on.

We will call the sales agent Tina Timeshare as the sales agent in the video is like so many others we have reported on. As we always say, we know there are those trying to work fairly and honestly in timeshare, but the proportion of bad apples seems to be higher than even the proverbial used car salesman. Watch the video, but give it a chance. It seems boring in the beginning but the plot becomes more interesting as it thickens. For now, we will just itemize the allegations mentioned.

#1 A timeshare is tax deductible

This is a gray area, so we will defer to RedWeek and TimeSharing Today. Tax laws change, so a date would have been helpful. Apparently, in Mr. Patrick’s case, his timeshare was not tax deductible.

https://www.redweek.com/resources/articles/timeshare-tax-deductions

#2 Jim Cramer of Mad Money said Wyndham is a good investment.

Yes, Jim Cramer has been known to tout timeshare stocks, but that is not the same as saying buying a timeshare is a good idea. Mr. Patrick learned that the television clip he was shown was about Wyndham stock. Fifteen insiders made over $600,000 million on the Apollo buyout of Diamond, but that doesn’t mean buying the timeshare is a good idea. Mr. Patrick feels timeshare stock investors make money at the expense of so many who are duped into buying a timeshare.

One of our readers reported that he was shown a clip of the Ellen DeGeneres show at his Mystic Dunes presentation and told Ellen bought “hundreds of thousands” of Diamond points. Inside Timeshare is following up with Ellen on that one.

This is a good time to slip in the article I wrote for Jim Cramer’s investment news service, TheStreet, about timeshare contracts. At least Cramer allows opposing views.

https://www.thestreet.com/story/13653117/1/the-timeshare-industry-has-improved-its-reputation-but-still-faces-scrutiny.html

Tina advised Mr. Patrick that he had to promise not to sell the membership to someone for a higher price than what he had to pay. It was at this point Mr. Patrick began to lose track of the lies. “The pace of the deceit was so fast I could not keep up,” he lamented.

#3 Wyndham has a buy-back program

Mr. Patrick said his job had just been cut to 32 hours from 40 and he was unsure about his employment stability. “Not to worry Mr. Patrick! Wyndham has a buy-back program,” Tina assured him.

#4 The 90 minutes presentation was heading into its eighth hour

My favorite is #5

#5 God wants you to buy a Wyndham timeshare! He wants you to enjoy life.

Mr. Patrick might have been confused at this point because Tina probably meant “God wants me to enjoy life.”

#6 Your credit is Golden!!!

Melissa raises an eyebrow. “Our credit is golden?  Our credit score is less than 650. Our credit is not golden.” Mr. Patrick might have been confused here as well, because 650 is no problem whatsoever for a timeshare purchase so in that sense, his credit was golden, at least for the sales agent.

#7 is a sin of omission. Maintenance fees go up.

It wasn’t until the eighth or ninth hours, with pens in hand, were the Patricks told about maintenance fees and at that point they were about to collapse from exhaustion it seemed. The kids were getting a little tired too.

the end

That’s the end of our article, but we don’t know the end of the story. We do know that after Mr. Patrick lost his job he learned the hard way Wyndham did not have a buy-back program.

Which side are you on?

Like timeshare sales agent Chuck used to tell us on our timeshare Facebook, we’re all irresponsible suckers and should have known better. Lawmakers, timeshare developers and some Attorneys General seem to be on Chuck’s side.

ARDA says nine million own timeshares and 83% are happy with them. That leaves 1,530,000 not happy with most complaining about being sold by deceit, concealment, violation of trust and bait and switch. I’m on the side that thinks timeshare needs greater disclosure.

Diamond Resorts agrees too as they have launched a CLARITY™ program that, if followed, and that’s a big if, does provide accurate statements about their program. Inside Timeshare has heard stories reporting when CLARITY™ has worked and when it hasn’t.

The consumer is not off the hook here. I don’t blame the buyer for not reading word for word an 81 page contract, but the CLARITY™ forms ARE easy to read and are written in English rather than legalese. Items in bold are in bold on the form. I would have bolded what I have underlined. There are 20 items to be initialed on the legal size single sheet including:

I have reviewed the chart of Maintenance Fees for past years. I understand annual increases are normal.

The purchase of additional points will not decrease my maintenance fees.

Diamond does not offer a buy-back program and makes no representation regarding tax deductions, refinancing opportunities, or that there will be a secondary market for the sale of Points. Points do not typically appreciate in value.

I many not engage in any commercial rental activity to rent out Points for cash through online or print advertising to the general public and understand that my membership may be suspended or terminated if I do.

My membership is perpetual and may transfer by gift, or intestate succession upon my death. However, the transferee is not obligated to accept the transfer.

Redeeming points for reimbursement of travel services does not provide the best monetary value for my Points and is typically not lower in cost than spending cash for the same arrangements.

Non-Platinum Loyalty members cannot redeem Points for Maintenance Fees. Only Platinum Loyalty members may use Points to pay part of their annual Maintenance Fees, but that is not the highest and best use of Points. There is a $100 transaction fee and the redemption value per Point is currently $0.04 per Point and a maximum of 50,000 points can be redeemed.  

That about covers what Inside Timeshare has heard from readers asking Inside Timeshare for assistance with their Diamond complaints. I fell for two of the above.

So the moral of this story is not “Don’t buy a Timeshare” but “Timeshare Buyer Beware” and talk to a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association before buying any timeshare to compare the cost of buying resale or from the developer and the benefits or lack of benefits for doing so. Some may specialize in one resort or another like David Cortese of Magical Realty who specializes in Marriott Vacation Club, or Judi Kozlowski of RE/MAX who likes Hilton Grand Vacations, feeling Hilton has the most consumer friendly secondary market.

Contact Inside Timeshare or our member sponsored Diamond Advocacy Facebook to join the discussion.

We seek to provide Diamond Resort 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/groups/DiamondResortsOwnersAdvocacy/

There we have it, another week over and time to enjoy the weekend, breakout the BBQ’s, open a few tinnies or some vino and as our Aussie cousins say “Stick another shrimp on the barbie”!

Have a great weekend and as we always say before engaging with any company that either contacts you or you contact with anything to do with timeshare, it pays to do your homework!

stop press 1

Just as we were getting ready to hit the publish button this latest news has just come across The Great Lake from Irene Allen.

Lawsuit: Diamond Resorts ‘Harasses’ Timeshare Owners

 

https://www.classaction.org/news/lawsuit-diamond-resorts-harasses-timeshare-owners

It tells of a huge class action filed on 10 May 2017, so it looks like Diamond are being hit on both side of the lake!

 

weekend02

 

us-eu-coop

Working Together Across The Ocean.

In today’s article, Irene Parker explains the work of the Advocacy Group and how it can help you the timeshare owner. Since this project has been going it has achieved some fantastic results, some that we are unable to publish, others have been and there are some to come.

This project has brought people together, ensuring that no one feels that they are alone. There is always somebody to help, even if it just to listen to your concerns. So enough from em and on with Irene’s article.

The Timeshare Advocacy Group ™

butterfly

“Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens” Jimi Hendrix

By Irene Parker

June 5, 2017

What is the Timeshare Advocacy Group ™ and who are they?

More importantly, why are they necessary?

Timeshare Advocates, advocating on behalf of those who have fallen victim to what they consider to be deceitful sales practices, go beyond helpful Facebook posts to walk with the timeshare member until a resolution, relinquishment refund, or foreclosure takes place.

Timeshare members can contact Timeshare Advocacy Group ™ if they:

  • Can’t get out of their timeshare
  • Feel they were deceived or lied to by a timeshare sales agent
  • Don’t know where to start
  • Don’t know who to call
  • Cannot afford an attorney
  • Cannot afford maintenance fees

For too long timeshare developers have relied on the use and abuse of the oral representation clause. Of course there are timeshare companies and timeshare sales agents selling timeshares without deceit, trying to survive in a timeshare world where top producers are all too often encouraged to sell by “deceit, concealment, violation of trust and bait and switch” meeting the FBI definition of White Collar Crime. Financial Institution Fraud is added to the mix when credit card lending crosses over to predatory lending.

cartoon strip

When timeshare buyers begin their complaint with – “The salesman said” – company representatives are quick to ask for proof of the allegation, a word I have come to detest. In most cases there is no proof, but some regulators are listening. After all, it’s not that unusual for someone who has committed a crime to say, “I didn’t do it.”

More and more, surprised timeshare members who feel they are victims of deceit or “bait and switch”, realizing they have signed a perpetual contract with little or no secondary market, are digging in for the long haul, filing complaints with the FBI when deceived and Attorneys General sympathetic to the cause. Not all are.

Inside Timeshare previously published “Chicken Soup for Timeshare’s Soul” simplifying timeshare attorney Mike Finn’s white paper.

http://insidetimeshare.com/chicken-soup-timeshares-soul/

The Florida Timeshare Division acted on only 110 out of 2,360 timeshare complaints between April 2012 and April 2014.

Contrast this with Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s office acting on approximately 400 complaints filed against Diamond Resorts resulting in an $800,000 settlement and an issuance of an “Assurance of Discontinuance”.

The Timeshare Advocacy Group ™ works with print and broadcast media to take timeshare issues before the court of public opinion.

When Timeshare Advocate and former Hyatt and Diamond Resorts salesperson Candace Czarny learned of a May 2017 Arizona AG filing deadline for Diamond restitution eligibility, she wrote and distributed a press release to numerous Arizona publications and news networks. An Advocate who has a complaint in process was told by her reviewer that because of the publication of several articles, the AG office has received an additional 500 complaints. They wanted filers to know they need to be patient.

Hence, we answered the question, “What can one person do to make a difference.”

The Arizona Republic, part of the USA Today Network

http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/arizona/2017/05/18/timeshare-holders-released-contracts-following-deceptive-sales-practices/329107001/

The Timeshare Advocacy Group ™ is a group led by the following individuals who feel the time has come to take back our vacations.

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

Leading these efforts:

  • Irene Allen, TAG administrator
  • Charles Thomas, Inside Timeshare
  • Irene Parker, Inside Timeshare
  • Patrice Johnson, Advocate coordinator
  • Lisa Ann Schreier, media consultant
  • Candace Czarny, timeshare consultant
  • Diamond Resorts Member Sponsored Facebook administrators
  • Club Intrawest Owners Facebook administrators
  • Gold Key Resorts Owners Forum administrators
  • Monarch website administrators
  • Over 100 timeshare owners and members turned Advocates
  • 15 attorneys involved with various timeshare legal actions

This is where we are going. But how did we get here?

It all started with DRIP

http://drip.enjin.com/home/m/1894207/article/4099328

DRIP was launched by over 1000 British owners seeking release from Diamond Resorts timeshare contracts.

To my knowledge, Diamond Resorts has never admitted wrongdoing, but the company has introduced a program called CLARITY™ in response to the Arizona Attorney General’s actions. Is it enough? Members are wary but hope to work with Diamond to improve customer relations.

Monarch (DRI acquired) timeshare owners launched a website

http://www.monarchowner.com/p/opt-out.html

At a 2016 annual meeting, it was announced 30% of the remaining 40,000 Monarch owners have not paid their 2016 dues.

Wyndham Whistleblowers

A jury awarded former Wyndham sales agent Trish Williams $20 million when she exposed practices she said took place at Wyndham. According to Ms. Williams, Wyndham had TAFT days on slow sales days – Tell them any blank thing to close the deal.

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

Two additional Wyndham Whistleblowers, reported by Scott Brinkmann

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/brinkmann-on-business/os-bz-wyndham-whistleblower-lawsuit-20170209-story.html

A former Diamond sales agent introduced me to Charles Thomas, publishing investigative timeshare reports for Inside Timeshare based in Spain. This began a lifelong collaborative effort working together towards timeshare reform.

Diamond Resorts Owners Advocacy Group was launched February 2017

We seek to provide Diamond Resort 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.

advocate 1

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

Club Intrawest Owners member sponsored Facebook 3,000 members

https://www.facebook.com/pg/Club-Intrawest-Owners-Group-921012087982547/about/

Gold Key Resorts Owners Forum member sponsored Facebook

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

The following companies should be thinking about implementing their own version of DRI’s CLARITY™  based on these Consumer Affairs ratings.

The Bluegreen Corporation 1.5 out of 5 stars

https://www.consumeraffairs.com/travel/bluegreen.html

Westgate Resorts 1 out of 5 stars

https://www.consumeraffairs.com/travel/westgate.html

RCI 1.3 out of 5 stars

https://www.consumeraffairs.com/travel/rci.html

Shell Vacation Club 1.3 out of 5 stars

https://www.consumeraffairs.com/travel/shell_vacation_club.html

Hilton Grand Vacations 1.5 out of 5 stars

https://www.consumeraffairs.com/travel/hilton_grand_vacations.html

customer service

Many of the families our Advocates have worked with have been financially devastated by tricks of the timeshare trade. The word we hear most often is “embarrassed” and “ashamed”.

All victims of crimes are silenced, whether child abuse, rape or timeshare – isolated and silenced by perpetrators. The timeshare developers and lobbyist efforts have made it difficult to be released from contracts and difficult to contact other owners. Lawmakers turn a deaf ear to members with eyes wide shut. There is virtually no member representation in the industry.

We want you to know that our Advocates and Inside Timeshare are here for you. Join our efforts and expand our network.

Line up

Timeshare companies are starting to take notice, Inside Timeshare has had reports that many are wondering when we will start to highlight them, they are right to be concerned, because by coming together your voice gets louder. When it gets louder, it gets stronger, once it gets stronger the more you can all achieve.

Irene and myself thank all who contribute to these articles, either by writing or just reading the drafts and pointing out anything that has been missed.

mass media

Diamond in the News Again.

Yesterday 23 May 2017, Canarian Legal Alliance announced another sentence passed from the Courts in Tenerife. The company in this instance is Diamond Resorts Tenerife SL, which was the sales company selling Diamond products in Tenerife.

In this judgement two contracts have been declared null & void, the first was a purchase in 2008 which came under the Spanish Timeshare Law 42/98. In this case it breached the law regarding the points system, which like floating weeks has no actual object to the contract.

The second contract was signed in 1998, so the timeshare law could not be applied, although the lawyers from CLA asked for the nullity by the civil code for the lack of object of the contract (points system).

There were also other infringements of the law which were:

  • The contract was in perpetuity;
  • There was a lack of information in the contract;
  • The withdrawal period was missing along with various other points.

In this case the client has been awarded over 28,000€ plus legal interest.

PDF of Court Sentence. (click to open)

20170523103054910

Another case they announced on 22 May, was that Holiday Club Finland (based in Gran Canaria) have been ordered to pay back the client over 36,000€ and the contract declared null & void.

Once again the Court of First Instance at Maspalomas, Gran Canaria, followed the Supreme Court rulings that deposits taken with the cooling off period illegal. In this instance the client had paid almost the whole amount within the 14 day period, the court ordered that to compensate the client the company had to pay back double the amount received.

As this article was being prepared, CLA announced another case from the Tenerife Courts, this was against that old adversary Silverpoint.

The judge in this instance found many infringements in the contract contrary to the timeshare law. Again the contract was declared null & void with the return of over 24,000€ plus legal interest.

It would seem that the lower courts are following what the Supreme Court has laid down to the letter and according to our information there are many cases still waiting to be heard.

Inside Timeshare also issues this warning, there are many firms being set up purporting to be lawyers, using these cases as a basis for duping the unsuspecting. Not every owner has a claim, with many of these dubious companies stating that they do, then all you end up doing is paying a fortune only to find the company then disappears.

If you want to know if you do have a legitimate claim contact Inside Timeshare we can check this for you. If you have been contacted by any company saying that you have a claim or that your timeshare company has been taken to court, found guilty and there is money waiting for you, then let us know before paying any money.

Be informed and stay safe, in the end you will save yourself thousands, as we always say:

homework
Now for another article from across the great lake, once again Diamond are in the frame!

Another Polo Towers Diamond Misadventure!

Not Las Vegas Again!

Result

By Neina Orrillo May 26, 2017  

It’s hard to believe a fun trip to Las Vegas can turn into a financial disaster – all over a vacation plan! After reading David Franks article about his plunge into the abyss of an eternal timeshare sales presentation, I decided to tell my story too, hoping to warn others to beware of the bait! When Diamond Resorts says “STAY VACATIONED!” they mean it in a way not expected.

I ended up at Polo Towers in Las Vegas at the presentation because I was using a “Sampler” package I had previously purchased. My niece had a dance competition so we decided to use the timeshare to stay in Vegas with our family. Since the Sampler is a trial presentation I was told I had to attend a sales presentation.

We listened to a vacation plan that was out of this world. It sounded as if it was too good to be true. It was. I fell for it, but I know I am not alone thanks to our member sponsored Diamond Advocacy Group.

We seek to provide Diamond Resort 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/groups/DiamondResortsOwnersAdvocacy/

We signed up and we are living to regret it. Here is what Diamond sales agent, Janine Viraga, told us:

The timeshare would be tax deductible like mortgage interest, and the deal is so great if she wasn’t already an owner she would take the deal she was offering me.

We would receive a “free” trip but it turned out I had to pay $1000 before I could even book the trip!

I should and could easily get a personal loan like a home equity loan to refinance it to reduce the 14% Diamond interest rate.

The interest rate on what Diamond financed would be no higher than 13.99% when it turned out to be 15.99%.

When I said I wanted to take the offer back to my room and think about it, she told me that if I left before buying then she could not offer me the deal I was getting.

Here is what timeshare buyers should know that I didn’t know:

Know your cancellation period. I was never told of the 5 day cancellation policy.

I didn’t have the money for a down payment so she “talked to her manager” who decided they could put the down payment on the Diamond Barclaycard credit card and finance the rest so double interest charges.

Go to complaint sites and Advocacy sites like our Diamond member sponsored Advocacy Facebook before you buy to see how many complaints there are relative to other timeshare companies. Most car shoppers and home buyers don’t buy the first car or house they see. They comparison shop.   

Learn about availability issues. I have a hard time using the timeshare because everything is always booked. I am a nurse anesthetist, so I am not retired and cannot travel as spontaneously as someone who is retired.

We ended up buying 7,500 points for $29,305 and the balance on our loan is financed at 15.99%. Through our Advocacy Group I learned Diamond is the only major timeshare company that can’t be listed with a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association because the 64 members feel the restrictions Diamond places on the use of points purchased on the secondary market is more restrictive than any of Diamond’s major competitors.

When I contacted Diamond’s Advocacy Department after filing a formal complaint I was told, “Well, you signed the contract.”

I realize now I have joined a growing list of timeshare consumers who know we were sold by deceit, concealment, violation of trust and “bait and switch”.

It’s time timeshare members organize to stop predatory and aggressive timeshare sales and lending.

My Advice:

Consumers need to do their homework and don’t sign anything on the same day!

Stay Strong!

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Thank you Neina for your contribution, your voice has been added to all the others.

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As we were about to publish this last piece of news just arrived.

Following Yesterday’s article on “Clarity”,   one families story that was highlighted by Irene Parker,  has had a successful outcome.

 

Your voices are being heard, some of these companies are taking notice. One voice is never heard, but coming together they get louder and stronger.

To those owners at Los Claveles, take heart from this, your voices will be heard above the lies, deceit and bullying of the Ona Group. You have many supporters, all it takes is them coming together.

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