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Friday’s Letter from America

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

Now for this week’s replacement article.

The Peasant of Venice and the Queen of Versailles Revisited

    Jackie Siegel, Queen of Versailles  

By Irene Parker

December 14, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Nightmare on Timeshare Street begins:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Tuesday Slot

Welcome to our Tuesday Slot, this weeks article by Irene Parker looks at a possible “Special Assessment” which may be levied against Diamond Hawaii Collection members and something she terms as the “Ping Pong Up-sell”. This is something we have heard about from readers on numerous occasions.

After our article yesterday on the “Fake” Procuradur and Lawyers, Inside Timeshare has already had several emails from readers who have thanked us for bringing this to their attention, they had been contacted by the “fake” firms mentioned and were almost taken in by them. Thankfully they decided to do a search on the internet and found previous articles as well as the one published yesterday.

This really does go to show how cautious you have to be when being contacted about your timeshare, the “pitch” is always very convincing and plays on the fact you will get back thousands. For many of these owners this is very tempting, as they tend to be elderly and can no longer afford the maintenance fees or even be able to travel.

Now on with this weeks article.

Beach Erosion in Hawaii and The Ping Pong Up-sell

By Irene Parker

December 11, 2018

I read a RedWeek post last week written by a Diamond Resorts member asking about a $6,000 special assessment they were told was to be levied against Diamond’s Hawaii Collection in 2020 due to beach erosion. Diamond sells their points as Collections, so there is a U.S. Collection, a Hawaii Collection, and a few others. The RedWeek post:

Has anyone heard of an upcoming assessment to repair the beach erosion? I recently attended an update meeting and was encouraged to get out of the Hawaiian collection. I was told that in 2020 owners will be charged an assessment to repair the beach erosion. My assessment was estimated to be around $6,000.

The poster apparently was attending a presentation on the U.S. mainland, because the sales agent told her she should not have purchased Hawaii Collection points due to the anticipated levy of a $6,000 special assessment.

As I was reading the post, my phone rang. Coincidentally the caller happened to be an ocean engineer who called because he was concerned that his elderly parents had purchased timeshare points, told if they did not give up their deeded timeshare with another company and buy points, their heirs would be responsible for the timeshare. This is a common complaint and almost always not true, but beyond the scope of this article. A recent article entitled the Heir Scare, our Halloween edition:

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-27/

The ocean engineer’s professional opinion:

My suggestion would be to ask Diamond for documentation to support the additional charges. For instance, it is reasonable to ask if the funding is for future flood protection that might be afforded by a beach nourishment project. Alternatively, inquire if the money might be required to pay for damage that has already occurred to structures or to restore a previously eroded beach.  If the assessment is intended for a beach nourishment project, it is likely that arrangements are in place for cost sharing between local stakeholders and government entities. Participation by a state or federal agency is an opportunity for those impacted by the additional billing to independently verify the project cost. The cost and scope of government efforts are a matter of public record, and learning the particulars is typically as easy as calling the project managers. If difficulties are encountered, the public has recourse in filing either federal or state Freedom of Information Inquiries.

In addition, 2020 is too far out to predict with any sort of fidelity. Concrete financial planning numbers at this stage are unlikely. There is an effort to have cost sharing between stakeholders and the federal entities. I have not heard of a federal project in Hawaii. It could be state, but most major beach nourishment projects are underwritten in part by the federal government. I have not heard of a state paying for damages from a flood.  The member needs to know what the assessment is for, in more detail than just beach erosion. Is it for protection or for damage that has already occurred? One is flood damage expense, the other is flood protection afforded by beach nourishment projects.

As I understand it “water intrusion” would be the responsibility of the timeshare developer, as water entered the property. Beach erosion is a natural, or some say a climate change generated phenomena, with the responsibility most likely in the hands of the federal government, but possibly the state.

This switch from one Collection to another is a common complaint. It’s been reported so frequently I have termed it “The Ping Pong Up-sell.” Numerous members have reported that they were told they should have not purchased U.S. or Hawaii Collection points, depending on which side of the Pacific they are sitting. We have categorized about 400 of the over 500 complaints.

One former Diamond member reported that her Virginia Diamond sales agent showed them pictures of decaying Hawaii air-conditioners as the reason they needed to switch to the US Collection from the Hawaii Collection.  

Roy Simmons and his wife are in the painful and demeaning timeshare foreclosure process. Mr. Simmons is a Navy veteran, living on a letter carrier’s pension. Mr. Simmons switched back and forth from the U.S. to the Hawaii Collection, ending up with $2,700 a month in Diamond loan payments. In his YouTube, which has had over 2,000 views, Mr. Simmons explains the reasons why he switched from:

  1. The U.S. Collection to the Hawaii Collection, then
  2. About six months later after this switch, Mr. Simmons switched from the Hawaii Collection to the U.S. Collection. According to Mr. Simmons, the Florida sales agent asked, “Why Hawaii?” The sales agent said the interest on their loan payments should be about $200 to $300 less in the U.S. Collection because Hawaii has hurricanes, and in the past, damage from the hurricanes had been expensed to members. He said they might have to pay thousands in special assessments.
  3. About six months after that, they traveled to Hawaii and were asked, “Why U.S. Collection?” “It was true the interest on our loan payments did not decrease by $200 to $300 a month, only $20 to $30 per month, and because we purchased more points, we ended up with $2,700 a month in loan payments. We always enjoyed our Diamond points,” said Mr. Simmons.

Mr. Simmons’ YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_nca6lMA4U&feature=youtu.be    

Diamond’s Kauai Poipu Resort did experience water intrusion damage in 2012, which prompted a lawsuit filed by owners.

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g60625-i1817-k5926954-Settlement_Reached_Between_Diamond_Point_at_Poipu_Owners-Poipu_Kauai_Hawaii.html

I asked attorney Mike Finn his opinion concerning special assessments of this nature:

I essentially agree with your engineer’s comments. The owners would be called upon for a special assessment if it was a water intrusion issue, as it would be assessed to them by the property owners association.

The legal issue regarding Poipu Point was the obvious mismanagement from the association’s management company in failing to prevent the water intrusion and/or failing to remedy the situation once it was discovered. The management company failed in its duty to pursue the insurance claim as well, perhaps realizing that their poor maintenance was probably the source of the problem and that was not covered by insurance.

As to the association’s responsibility for beach erosion, that would be quite a stretch and should be challenged by any board members not in the pocket of the developer. Maintenance of the beach should not be an association issue. That sounds like a salesman’s scare tactic.

As always, Inside Timeshare knows there are many Diamond timeshare sales agents that sell the product properly, and we hope the company will consider that Mr. Simmons may be telling the truth. We hear from senior after senior, contemplating foreclosure. I have listened to many tears.

Self-help timeshare groups we feel are not industry influenced and our mission statement:

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

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

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

Thank you Irene and also a big thanks to attorney Mike Finn for your contribution, we are sure that this article will be of great interest to many Diamond Members.

If you have any comments or wish to contribute an article, then contact Inside Timeshare, we would love to share them with our readers worldwide.

Have you been contacted by a so-called law firm or claims company with a story that your timeshare company has been or is being taken to court?

Have you been told that your name is on a list of creditors owed money which the court is holding, due to a purchase you made years ago?

If so, then use our contact page and let us know, be safe rather than sorry, get the facts before you pay any money. Do your homework, you know it makes sense.

Friday’s Letter from America

Today Timeshare Advocacy Group Secret Shopper Coordinator Pete Gibbes describes a remarkable Diamond sales presentation. Inside Timeshare is always ready to publish a good report. Pete has not yet heard back from the sales agents and managers who said they would look into the complaint that prompted Pete to become more involved with advocacy efforts. Inside Timeshare will follow along and report in as soon as Pete hears back.

On 17 October Inside Timeshare published an article warning about another new “fake” law firm in Tenerife called,  ADN Alberto Dlendro Nabalez, Litigacionespaña SL, we have now had another reader send us information on the contact they have had with them. It seems that the Director of their timeshare resort The Harbour Club at Los Gigantes, Tenerife, has been charged with fraud. ADN have told our reader that many owners are getting together to cancel their membership, ADN would do this for them for 20% when the claim goes through.

Our reader then received another call informing them that a date has been set for a hearing on 20 November at 12.20pm. All they need to do is pay the “fake procurator” as soon as possible and they would be part of the case. This is very speedy indeed, but as we have said before this is all a FRAUD, there is no case, the director has not been charged with fraud and no trial date has been set. If you have had a similar call to this regardless of who you own with, then contact Inside Timeshare, your information is invaluable in helping others steer clear of this outfit.

http://insidetimeshare.com/consumer-warning-a-new-fake-law-firm-in-tenerife-part-of-the-litigious-abogados-family/

It has been a very busy week for the courts all over Spain, on Wednesday 7 November there were 15 cases being heard in various courts against a variety of timeshare companies and resorts.

In Tenerife another High Court has affirmed a First Court sentence and declared a Silverpoint contract null and void, with the return of their initial payments and double the deposit paid.

Continuing with Anfi, after yesterday’s article, it was announce that a further two sentences have been received from the Court of First Instance No 1 in Maspalomas, both contracts have been declared null and void with the return to both the clients of over 43,933€ and 47,582€ respectively.

Court Sentences PDF’s

Anfi Sentence a

Anfi Sentence b

Now for this weeks Letter from America.

Our Diamond Resorts Experience

A Not So Secret Shopper Reports

By Pete Gibbes, Timeshare Advocacy Group™ Secret Shopper Coordinator

November 9, 2018

We stayed at Diamond’s Los Abrigados Resort in Sedona Arizona October of this year. I was treated like royalty during a member update and sales presentation, neither of which would have lasted 15 minutes unless I had more concerns. Our sales promotion presenter, who said he had been with Diamond Resorts for 27 years, said that if we would like to buy more points we could talk about it. If not, was there anything else we wanted to ask? I asked if I was in an alternate universe.

They maintained that the company no longer employs hard sell because they found it to be counterproductive.

The internet is flooded with complaints that begin with, “The sales agent said….” only to be dismissed with, “You signed a contract” or, as we were told in 2016, “We are not responsible for what our sales agents say.” In my opinion, any company which does not take responsibility for their salesperson’s words and actions is implicitly incentivizing them to misrepresent the product in order to elicit a sale. When the sales agent is allowed to keep his or her commission, time after time, undisciplined or not terminated, that company is rewarding unfair and deceptive business practices.

To avoid being fleeced, I advise – don’t believe a word a timeshare sales agent says. “You signed a contract” is a fair response for simple buyer’s remorse.  If companies refuse to reverse transactions when allegations of misrepresentations are detailed and credible, sales will ultimately be affected.

I hope our experience at Los Abrigados is representative of future updates to come.   We received “Priority Check-in”, i.e., whisked to their VIP accelerated check-in which, according to the Diamond Resort’s website, is reserved for ‘Gold‘ and ‘Platinum’ loyalty owners, but I’m just a ‘lil old Silver member’.

During the update I was asked to document my previous purchase elicited, I believe, by deception. They actually wanted me to put it all down in writing because they wanted to directly bring my case to Diamond. They said to specifically use the word ‘misrepresentation’, because that has been the term which phony sales presentations have been scrutinized over. They also said to be sure to put that I was pursuing legal remedies, because Diamond took that seriously.

Two or three higher level people at the update were shocked and dismayed about how we had been treated in 2016. A senior manager appeared and commiserated with us. He sweetened the vouchers. They maintained that several years ago the abusive sales practices were addressed and things changed for the better. They were glad that I had let them know how I had been so shabbily treated before. They wanted to go to bat for me. (My account of what happened in 2016 follows this Secret Shopper report.)

At the sales presentation we were told that we could use our Diamond points to pay for nights at ANY 3 star rated hotel. I’d be reimbursed for 300 (or 400?) points per night. Now that’s not a bad deal, at least for many Diamond stays. At 400 points per night for 7 nights you’d be paying 2800 points for a very nice lodging, and it would be wherever you wanted to go, whether there was a Diamond resort available or not. I had not heard of such a benefit. This time around I will confirm if this is true. I have this sales agent’s contact information. He said to call him anytime about anything.

Also, there are supposed to be now 39 different ways for you to spend points, although he said points for flight miles wasn’t a very good use of points at $.07 to $.10 per point. It would take about $2,000 in maintenance dollars to book one domestic airline ticket. Typically, the best of use of points for any timeshare member is to use the points to stay at the resort’s properties. There are 39 different ways to use points? That may be a whopper.

I would like for someone familiar with alternative uses of points to refer me to where all these uses are detailed so we can calculate the actual value. I don’t see them listed on the Diamond website. Members need to do their timeshare math, as using the Barclaycard to pay maintenance fees is only at 1% per purchase, so it would take $200,000 charged in a year to pay a $2,000 maintenance fee bill. When members are told, “You can pay maintenance fees by charging purchases to a Barclaycard”, do the math to determine the actual value of this strategy.  

We were given all kinds of extra vouchers and discounts to attractions because I had had such a poor experience with the company. The concierge seemed amazed at the generosity of our discount/voucher amounts. He said he had never seen anything like it. Thought somebody must have made a mistake. This may have been a bit of luck, but our unit had what surely must have been the best view of the red rocks as anyone there.

The entire experience was far friendlier than I have ever experienced at a Diamond Resorts property. It was bizarre. Could they have been apprised that I am TAG’s Secret Shopper Coordinator? Or does Los Abrigados just happen to be a resort where members are treated particularly well? If my dispute over our 2016 purchase gets resolved, I will credit the sales team at Los Abrigados. I certainly would praise this particular resort, if my experience is typical, which I don’t know. I thought you would find my experience of interest. Maybe someone can even explain it to me.

All in all, I felt like Donald Trump must feel like when he stays at one of his properties. I do have to say that if the people I dealt with were ‘acting‘, they should be up for some awards, because even my highly tuned BS detector never flashed any warnings. Unfortunately it never did two years ago either. Proof is in the pudding, as they say.

It may be advisable to make all the people on our advocacy site Co-coordinator Secret Shoppers.

Here’s what happened to us at a Hyatt presentation in Charlottesville 11/18/2016.

My goal here goes well beyond getting this transaction reversed. I am hoping all those who feel that they experienced unfair and deceptive sales practices will come forward and file regulatory complaints and warn prospective buyers to be EXTREMELY skeptical of anything a timeshare sales agent says. This is not fair to those selling the product honestly, but the liars are so good, it is impossible to tell the difference.

We originally purchased 11,500 points in 2007 at Lake Tahoe Vacation Resort. We were not unhappy with Diamond until the 2016 Virginia purchase.

We learned about six months after our purchase that a Diamond “buy-back” program described in great detail by our sales agent does not exist. The buy-back program was the only reason we purchased the additional 4000 points for $15,500.

We attended the member update only because we wanted to get out from under the Diamond points we had already purchased. It was then DRI sales agent Mark W offered us a “great new deal” whereby DRI members who bought enough points to become Silver loyalty members could sell back ALL Diamond points.

After multiple “no” responses to other reasons to buy additional points, Mark W brought up the non-existent program that was of great interest to us. He said that if we became Silver members, after three years, we would have the option to sell all our points back to Diamond for $108,000. He said Gold loyalty members would be able to sell points back in two years. He put this in writing (which I have), by writing down $108,000. He also wrote 2Y=G and 3Y=S.

I was extremely skeptical because I had never heard of a timeshare buying back points. However, after he repeated this ‘new deal’ about five times, we finally decided he must be telling the truth. We signed.

When we ultimately learned there was no buy-back program we repeatedly asked Diamond to cancel the contract. Diamond’s response inevitably was, “It doesn’t matter what the salesman said,” or even wrote down apparently. They said that we had signed the contract.

My oral and written requests to get our contract cancelled began around June 2017. When you buy additional points, obviously you are not thinking about selling. It is only until you inquire about selling you learn you were duped.

I am encouraged by the Sedona Diamond representatives and their willingness to look into our complaint. There is a lot more detail to our complaint, but no sense rehashing it here since the entire experience is well documented. I look forward to hearing what my new friends at Los Abrigados find out.   

Advocacy Facebook offer support groups for those who have had bad timeshare experiences like ours. Our Facebook has over 2,000 members.

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

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


Contact us at Inside Timeshare or one of our Advocacy Groups if you or someone you know needs timeshare help.

Don’t forget the book by Wayne C Robinson, Everything About Timeshares, Before, During and After the Sale, with the forward by Irene Parker, you can obtain your copy from the link below.

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

So that is all for this week, join us again next week for more news and views on the world of timeshare, have a great weekend.

The Tuesday Slot

Welcome to this weeks Tuesday Slot, once again this is not the article we had scheduled, that has been pulled at the last minute. The original article (which as always was sent to the timeshare company Holiday Inn Vacation Club for comment), was a particularly heart wrenching story of woe, but thanks to someone at the timeshare company, (some of them do have a heart), the matter has been resolved. All we can say to Holiday Inn Vacation Club is thank you and well done for responding so quickly.

Inside Timeshare has been receiving many emails from readers wanting to check on companies calling them, it is that time of year, as maintenance bills start to arrive, so all these companies are getting in with the usual pitch, we can get you out of your timeshare. Unfortunately most are bogus and fake law firms, which we have highlighted in previous articles. So beware the caller, get as much information about them as possible, then contact Inside Timeshare for further help.

We have also heard from one of our German readers regarding Diamond Resorts (Europe), it would appear that Diamond may have changed the policy on exiting the contract. We do know they have exceptional circumstance, which are over 75, death of a partner, financial difficulty and medical, where they will allow exit for free. For those who do not fall into this category they were allowing an exit on payment of 2 years maintenance, well, according to our German reader who applied for this, he was told “NO”! They would only let him out when he fits the exceptional circumstances or reaches 75, until then he must continue to pay maintenance.

We will be keeping an eye on any other developments regarding this, it does seem strange that this policy has suddenly changed. If any of our other readers have experienced this please do let us know, it may be that this was just a one off incident from an un-informed member of staff.

How to File a Timeshare Complaint (October 22, 2018 revision)

               

Start with the Attorneys General Office

If necessary, continue to the FBI at IC3.gov

Finish with the Federal Trade Commission, if Section 5 is violated

If you were sold a timeshare as an investment, file an SEC complaint

“I was told that in order to be released from a timeshare, which was a deeded timeshare, I had to turn the deed into points. Believing the sales agent, on June 19th I bought $12,000 worth of points for no reason. A few weeks after the purchase I learned through Social Media the company has a voluntary surrender program. I had told the sales agent that my wife had bought this timeshare 18 years ago and that I had hated it for 18 years. I explained that I was only attending the presentation to find out how to get rid of it. At that point he should have advised me of the voluntary surrender program instead of selling me points for no reason. The response from the company was it sounds like a ‘he said she said’ and to make matters worse, there is a six month waiting period for the voluntary surrender program.”

We have received 634 timeshare complaints as of October 22, 2018. Recently, several complaints have been from timeshare members who say they were told the timeshare was an investment; the timeshare could be rented for income, and would be easy to sell. The complaints were directed against four timeshare companies.

Marketing a timeshare for the purposes of generating income, or leading the buyer to believe the retail price is what the timeshare is worth, is selling the timeshare as a security without being registered as a security with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Therefore, we have added the SEC as an avenue for grievance if this applies to you.

We have also added the AARP fraud alert. The AARP hotline responders have been responsive, but misleading in their advice. We will be publishing an article shortly to address why we believe AARP is providing misleading information.

https://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/?CMP=KNC-DSO-Adobe-Bing-FWN-Core-Brand-Brand&s_kwcid=AL!4520!10!73804843580956!73804805721970&ef_id=W0ZctQAAAJQd2ANC:20180725171110:s

One Attorney General’s office is directing people to a list of timeshare attorneys. The member pays the attorney, the attorney has no timeshare experience, and the member ends up referred to us. We help for free and the lawyer gets paid. This has happened several times. Do not use an attorney without timeshare experience. The field is too specialized.   

In all but a few cases, the timeshare company has dismissed member complaints with “You signed a contract” or “It doesn’t matter what the sales agent said.” If timeshare companies would acknowledge that some timeshare sales agents do intentionally mislead the consumer, there would be no need to file complaints and no reason for the existence of member supported advocacy groups.

According to FBI agents and lawyers our advocates have consulted, it is not legal to hide behind fine print, but it takes volumes of complaints to raise a regulator’s eyebrow. The Federal Trade Commission released its 2017 complaint report, listing travel, vacation, and timeshare as one of the most costly frauds at $1,710. Our reader complaints dollar amounts range from $4,000 to $400,000 or more. We wish members were only losing $1,710. Inside Timeshare has received complaints from 81 veterans and active duty military and law enforcement.   

Travel, vacation, and timeshare frauds were the most costly with people losing a median amount of $1,710. The FTC also broke out fraud losses for members of the military and found their median fraud loss to be 44 percent higher than the general population.

https://www.jacksonsun.com/story/opinion/columnists/2018/04/06/ftc-releases-2017-complaint-statistics/493425002/

Most of the members contacting us have an outstanding loan. The industry has created this nightmare because if you buy a house and have a loan outstanding, you can still sell the house. When the member alleges they experienced unfair and deceptive sales practices, they have signed a perpetual contract with little or no secondary market. Timeshare companies list a viable secondary market as a risk to their shareholders.

Timeshare Members need to be especially vigilant about “Get you out of your timeshare” firms because many are scams. Some are not. Timeshare Advocacy Group™ (TAG) has a scam research team formed by members who have themselves been scammed. This 15 page US Department of Justice timeshare scam report illustrates the seriousness and extent of the problem, caused by the lack of a viable secondary market.     

https://search.justice.gov/search?query=timeshare+scam+report&op=Search&affiliate=justice  

Advocates for reform feel the problems that exist in the industry today are caused by an overreliance on the oral representation clause, iron clad developer based contracts, the lack of an adequate secondary market, and limited enforcement. We don’t dispute there are many who use and enjoy their timeshare and many sales agents who sell the product properly, but here are the most common timeshare complaints reported by our readers:

  • The agent said I could easily sell my points,
  • The agent overstated the value of travel awards to pay for airline tickets, or the use of a travel credit card to pay maintenance fees,
  • The agent said I had to give up my deeded timeshare and buy points,
  • The agent said I have to give up my deed and buy points or my heirs will be burdened,
  • The rescission clause was dodged because the agent said the (bogus) program would not be available until after the first of the year, or we were not allowed access to the booking site until after the rescission period.    

To begin your complaint, raise your right hand.

Do you promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God? Present your information factually and without opinion or inflammatory language.

Information Needed to File a Timeshare Complaint

Name (s) and age of member

Phone Number

State of Residence

Member Number

For each contract in dispute:

Where Purchased and Date of Purchase

Number of Points Purchased

Sales Agent and Sales Agent ID# (if available)

Purchase Price

Down Payment

Amount Financed and Interest Rate

Loan Number

Current Loan Balance

Name of Credit Card if one was used to pay the down payment

What do you want? Do you seek Refund or Relinquishment?

Why? Is it due to Deception, Health, Age or Financial Burden?

Complaints expressing dissatisfaction with general availability will go unheeded as will a request based on not being able to afford the timeshare. If you feel you were deceived, list the reasons why. If there was no deceit, ask for relinquishment. Maintenance fees must be current and there can be no loan outstanding. Just like your personal residence, you can’t go to your home mortgage lender and say you can’t afford it. The difference is you can sell your home if there is an outstanding loan.  Section 5 Federal Trade Commission, explains unfair and deceptive practices:

FTC Unfair Practices

An act or practice is unfair where it

  • causes or is likely to cause substantial injury to consumers;
  • cannot be reasonably avoided by consumers; and
  • is not outweighed by countervailing benefits to consumers or to competition.

 

FTC Deceptive Practices

An act or practice is deceptive where

  • a representation, omission, or practice misleads or is likely to mislead the consumer;
  • a consumer’s interpretation of the representation, omission, or practice is considered reasonable under the circumstances; and
  • the misleading representation, omission, or practice is material.

https://www.federalreserve.gov/boarddocs/supmanual/cch/ftca.pdf

MOST IMPORTANT – Purchase Timeline

It is better to state your narrative as a narrative referring back to the figures at the top of your complaint. Begin with when you first became involved with the company and proceed chronologically. Keep your history brief up to the point when things began to go wrong.

After you complete your complaint, email it to the appropriate resort department. Expect to be denied. Typically your resort reviewer will restate your concerns, produce your initials and signatures, point out the oral representation clause and inform you, “If something was important to you, you should have asked for it to be put in the contract.” File a rebuttal if you disagree with the company response.

Mark your email to the resort urgent if you are in financial distress. It is best to file a complaint before the debt collectors are hounding. If one of our advocates is assisting the member, the member will report back to us if the issue is resolved. Due to the required non-disclosure, terms and conditions will not be discussed.

Attorneys General

If the resort has dismissed your complaint, the next step is to file a complaint with the Attorney General of the state where you signed your contract. It can take sometimes a month to hear back from an AG. You can find any Attorney General by searching the state name and Attorney General. Some states will direct you to the real estate or consumer division. You should file a complaint with the state Real Estate Division against the agent if the agent was deceptive. Not all states require timeshare sales agents be real estate licensed.     

We have determined, based on reports from our readers, some Attorneys General walk lockstep with the developer, responding to complaints with, “You should not have relied on verbal representations.” Thus, in those states, the consumer is out in the cold and at the mercy of the developer’s decision. In other states, Attorneys General have opened investigations and reached settlements based on a volume of complaints and a pattern of consistent reports of deceptive behavior.

The FBI

Any complaint reported to the FBI should be of a more egregious nature. “They promised me a free cruise but it wasn’t free” is an example of a complaint that is not serious enough for the FBI. Our opening example, describing a buyer told they had to give up their timeshare deed when that was not necessary, would merit an IC3.gov report. To determine if your complaint is serious enough to file an FBI complaint, review the FBI definitions of criminal acts:  

White-collar crimes are characterized by deceit, concealment, or violation of trust and are not dependent on the application or threat of physical force or violence. The motivation behind these crimes is financial—to obtain or avoid losing money, property, or services or to secure a personal or business advantage. These are not victimless crimes. A single scam can destroy a company, devastate families by wiping out their life savings, or cost investors billions of dollars (or even all three).

Mortgage fraud is a subcategory of financial institution fraud known as “fraud for profit”:

Fraud for profit: Those who commit this type of mortgage fraud are often industry insiders using their specialized knowledge or authority to commit or facilitate the fraud. Current investigations and widespread reporting indicate a high percentage of mortgage fraud involves collusion by industry insiders, such as bank officers, appraisers, mortgage brokers, attorneys, loan originators, and other professionals engaged in the industry. Fraud for profit aims not to secure housing, but rather to misuse the mortgage lending process to steal cash and equity from lenders or homeowners. The FBI prioritizes fraud for profit cases.

https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/white-collar-crime

The FBI has advised our members, if the allegation involves credit card fraud, the member should also file a complaint with the Secret Service.

https://ask.metafilter.com/81136/Should-I-call-the-Secret-Service-over-credit-card-fraud

Most important, consider reaching out to local or national media. Reporters look for content and are surprisingly easy to reach. Write an article about your experience. The more people who come forward, the more the public is made aware of timeshare black holes before engaging in a timeshare sales presentation.

Summary of Regulatory and Law Enforcement Agencies

  • The Attorney General’s office where you signed your contract. Most AG complaints can be filed online.
  • The Real Estate Division of the state where the agent is licensed if your complaint is against the agent.
  • The FBI at IC3.gov portal if you feel you were deceived. For allegations of a serious nature you may also contact an FBI field office to file a tip orally. Have your facts and figures ready. The FBI complaint website is called IC3.gov which stands for Internet Crime. This is a bit confusing. IC is the name of the portal. That doesn’t mean it has to be an internet crime. Click IC3 as your choice when filing. Sometimes your local field office will pay closer attention than say Las Vegas, where losing money is a tourist attraction. You can find your nearest field office from this website. https://www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field-offices https://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx
  • The Federal Trade Commission is one of the most important agencies to file with, because it is federal. Most states have incorporated a portion of the FTC’s “Unfair and Deceptive Trade Act” in their state law. It’s tricky to find the timeshare tab. Look for “next page” until you find it.   
  • The media – the court of public opinion is often the only court available. Inside Timeshare, published in Spain, welcomes member submissions, positive or negative.
  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for credit card or lending complaints, under the mortgage option (even if no mortgage), selecting the bank involved. Timeshare has dodged this regulatory bullet because most members don’t know the identity of the lender as the timeshare company often services the loan (Timeshare companies are not an option from the CFPB’s drop-down menu). CFPB is the organization that helped Wells Fargo victims. The CFPB lost influence after the roll back of the Dodd Frank act March 2018. The Dodd Frank act was enacted after the abuses caused by subprime lending. The CFPB is still considered a regulator. https://www.consumerfinance.gov/
  • File a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. The company’s BBB rating can be misleading in that the BBB only rates how efficiently a company responds to complaints. Sometimes the BBB allows you to log in and file a rebuttal. If you file a complaint, a review is not allowed. We have received complaints from members reporting that a company representative called, saying the message is time sensitive, but does not answer the phone when the member repeatedly tries to call back. We suspect this boosts the company BBB rating because the company can report, “We reached out.”
  • Lawmakers – The problem is the timeshare buyer typically does not buy in their state of residence which is why lawmakers don’t seem to take timeshare seriously. Still, any effort to contact lawmakers is encouraged.
  • The Securities and Exchange Commission for selling timeshare points as an investment without being registered as a security.
  • AARP Fraud Watch

If this sounds like work, it is, but you can file with some, all, or none of the agencies. If you pick two, pick the Attorney General and the FTC. We have a team of advocates who can answer questions and help guide you through the process. We feel “Action and Advocacy” is the best way to change questionable timeshare business practices. Many families contacting us are financially devastated by their decision to buy a timeshare. We seek to promote consumer awareness.   

Depending on the seriousness of your complaint, you may forward your complaint to the firm’s public relations office or firm and to ARDA, the timeshare industry’s PAC, for violating ARDA’s Code of Ethics. ARDA’s Code of Ethics can be found on ARDA’s website. ARDA ROC does not mediate disputes, but ARDA does have a Code of Ethics. Due to lack of response to over 200 of the more serious complaints we forwarded to ARDA, we do not recommend owners make the voluntary “opt in” or “opt out” ARDA ROC donation on your maintenance fee invoice. Not one of the members we questioned knew what ARDA ROC stands for, yet collectively members gives ARDA ROC about $5 million a year. It is the opinion of our advocates, that although ARDA lobbies for the industry and for timeshare members, when the issue at stake is one that is at odds with members, members lose because they have no voice.

You may also forward your complaint to the Association of Vacation Owners.

https://avoworldwide.com/news/

AVO has been tracking our complaints for research purposes. http://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-with-irene-3/

If you are granted a positive outcome, you may not say or write anything disparaging about the resort, but there is no harm in staying involved by referring timeshare members who need help to Inside Timeshare or to one of the self-help groups listed below we know are not industry influenced.  

Who We Are and Why We Do This

Our advocates are not attorneys and we do not provide legal advice. We have researched regulatory agencies and are here to direct consumers to the appropriate regulatory and law enforcement agencies. The right to file a regulatory complaint is the right of every citizen who feels they have been wronged.  

It’s a good idea to contact a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association to find out whether your timeshare has a secondary market. http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

Venting on complaint sites has no effect whatsoever but an organized campaign to track complaints and report alleged fraud has already born fruit in the form of Attorneys General investigations and greater public awareness.

If all else fails, we will refer to an attorney if the member can afford one. If you are forced into foreclosure, but have an otherwise unblemished credit report, you can write to the credit reporting agencies in an effort to explain why you were deceived and why you were not able to resolve your dispute.

Contact Inside Timeshare or email Irene Parker at [email protected] or call 270-303-7572 EST if you are interested in becoming a volunteer. Feel free to call any day of the week from 1:00 to 5:00 PM EST. It’s best to schedule a call. All calls and emails are returned within 24/48 hours.  If your email is not returned, please resend and send a text message.

 Self-help groups seek to provide 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. We hope to promote a better relationship between disgruntled timeshare buyers and their respective resort. We appreciate all timeshare companies who have responded to article drafts and resolved customer issues. Inside Timeshare would always rather see a dispute resolved over publishing an article.

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

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

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

October 23, 2018 Irene Parker

Timeshare Advocacy Group     

Related article: FTC Section 5

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-12/

If you have any timeshare problem or need help in checking if a company is genuine, contact Inside Timeshare with the details, we will point you in the right direction.

The Tuesday Slot

Welcome to the Tuesday Slot, this article replaces the one originally scheduled as at the last minute the problem may have been resolved, news on this will be published when we have confirmation. So this week we publish the results of the election where our very own Irene Parker stood to be elected to the HOA Board of Diamond US Collections as a representative of all members.

As for news from Europe, the courts have not issued any new sentences, although many cases have been heard.

On the fake “lawyers” front Inside Timeshare has received many emails from anxious owners being contacted by those we have highlighted. All are telling the same story, their timeshare company has been taken to court and found guilty, they have awarded the owners so many thousands of pounds in compensation, but to release it they must first send 20% of the awarded amount to cover tax. For those of you who are familiar with our articles, you know what this is, a complete and utter scam.

Since our article about Silverpoint on 3 October, Inside Timeshare has been overwhelmed with emails from very concerned purchasers, this has resulted in the lack of article being published. It was felt that these enquiries were to be answered and addressed, so our apologies for the lack of articles.

We have also received an email from one reader who has contacted a law firm in the UK and they want £850 to conduct a viability report to see if there is a claim on a no win no fee basis! For a more intense report they want £1,200 This law firm Seth Lovis is charging money from a timeshare owner to see if they can take on her case!

This is totally unethical, Inside Timeshare will do this for free, then we will pass you on to a lawyer who has the experience in this field.

Now for our Tuesday Slot.

Diamond Resorts Election Results – U.S Collection HOA Board

5,387,000 Votes! A Landslide Psychological Victory

By Irene Parker, Candidate finishing #8

October 16, 2018

Diamond Resorts announced election results for their U.S. Collection which was held  October 10, 2018. I finished #8 with 5,387,000 votes.

I have been researching this industry for over three years now. I keep hearing the same complaints over and over from those who bought timeshares from several developers. It’s a broken record coming from 614 families, as of October 14, all but a handful alleging unfair and deceptive sales practices.

My husband and I owned three timeshares for 30 years, our life revolving around the next vacation. I didn’t even know how to use Facebook until I attended a pathetically aggressive timeshare presentation in 2015. I wrote a couple articles and started to hear from timeshare buyers complaining of unfair and deceptive sales practices. I saw that there were a number of Attorneys General investigations and settlements launched against several developers.

I resent being called an “industry hater” by one developer, as I loved this industry for 30 years. It is preposterous for timeshare lobbyists and developers to insist there is no problem with the front end of the timeshare sale – only with exit companies “targeting” timeshare members who would otherwise be happy timeshare owners. Families report being financially devastated and don’t know where to turn.

I have always said half a problem goes away when confronted. Either the industry will confront the deceit on the front end of the sale, or Timeshare Wars continue.

All but a handful of the 621 families have reported:    

  1. They said it was an investment,
  2. They said it was easy to sell,
  3. They said to fill out an application to see if we were eligible, but they opened a credit card and charged it for the purchase (or down payment),
  4. They said we could pay our maintenance fees with this new program, but the program didn’t exit,
  5. They said we could sell our timeshare if we bought more points, but the program didn’t exist,
  6. They said we could pay our maintenance fees by using a credit card, but we would have to charge $200,000 in a year to pay a $2,000 maintenance fee,  
  7. They said airfare would be included when we booked a stay,
  8. The sales agent said the last agent did not sell us enough points,
  9. They showed us a book of resorts, but there is never any availability when we try to book,
  10. They said we could rent our timeshare, but the resort does not allow this,
  11. They said if we did not give up our deed and buy points, our children’s’ credit would be destroyed if something happened to us,
  12. Hours long tag-team, high pressure, aggressive sales presentations,
  13. They said if we didn’t change to another program our maintenance fees will go through the roof,
  14. I should not have bought a timeshare in Hawaii because they have hurricanes,
  15. I should not have bought a timeshare in Florida because they have hurricanes,
  16. The sales agent said he would be my personal representative, but he never returned my calls or text messages.    

Timeshare Advocacy Group™ mission statement:

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

Our Diamond Resorts member-sponsored advocacy Facebook launched by an economics professor broke 2,000 members today:

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

My campaign bio:

Irene Parker has experience and knowledge in the fields of finance, sales and marketing. Irene holds an MBA from St. Louis University, and holds a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) certificate. Irene retired from Edward Jones Hawaii. She served as a founding member of the Salvation Army Board of Directors, Waimea, a member of the Condo Board at One Archer Lane, Honolulu, a member of The Ombudsman Advisory Board in Kentucky, and was a Kentucky CASA supervisor.

You did!

Thank you,

Irene

Timeshare Advocacy Group™

Facilitator

Well, all we can say is well done to Irene, you certainly gave them a run for their money, your hard work and tenacity has proven that the little people can make a difference. Also a very big thank you to all those who voted for Irene, your voices have been heard.

If you have a timeshare problem that you would like real information on, then use our contact page and get in touch, we have a wealth of knowledge from so many sources that we will find a solution for you. When you contact us, please let us know from what part of the world you are from and where you own or are a member, it will help us put you in touch with the right people.

The Tuesday Slot

Welcome to The Tuesday Slot, this week we welcome another new contributor Wilma Miller with her “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” and her Buyer Beware article. First we have a quick round up of European news.

October is now with us and in the next few months the annual maintenance bills will be arriving, this will also bring in many calls from “companies” offering cancellation of contracts and claims against timeshare resorts. The warning is beware the fantastic offers these will come out with, from the guaranteed cancellation and the promise of no win no fee claims.

As usual it is important to do your due diligence before engaging with any company, that means check and check again. There are many questions you should be asking yourself:

  1. How long has this company been operating, can they actually have done what they state in the time they have been working?
  2. If they are offering “no win no fee” claims, how are they going to claim?
  3. In order to do the claim do they want money upfront to cancel the contract first?
  4. Are they going to sell you another product?
  5. What lawyers are they going to use if taking the case to a Spanish Court?
  6. Can these lawyers be verified as genuine and registered with their relevant bar associations?

If you need help in answering any of these questions, then use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will point you in the right direction.

The Courts of First Instance in Maspalomas began the month with another ruling against Anfi, in his ruling the Judge of Court No 4 declared the contract null and void, this was on the basis that the contract was longer than the stipulated maximum of 50 years as required by Law 42/98. The judge also awarded double the deposit paid within the cooling off period as this is also in breach of the law, in this case the German client has been award over 66,000€ plus legal interest.

Right click on image and select open in new tab to enlarge

Last month ended with a bang for Canarian Legal Alliance with a total of 18 sentences being issued in various courts ranging from First Instance to High Courts, there were also 6 provisional executions of sentences whereby Anfi has been ordered to deposit  over 184,000€ with the court. These provisional executions of sentences will speed up and ensure prompt payouts for the clients.

In all the 12 other sentences were against:

All contracts were declared null and void and the total awarded was over 286,000€

It would also appear that Abogados Lopez another fake law firm has become active again, with calls to existing CLA clients telling them that they have taken over their case from CLA. Beverley Pritchard is another new new name along with Ricardo Sanchez.

http://insidetimeshare.com/news-on-wednesday-more-warnings/

The telephone numbers being used are the same as before:

0034 951 242 867 which is a Malaga code

0034 602 654 670 which is a Spanish mobile

0044 1291 440 500 which is a Chepstow code, although when trying to call this number back a recording states the number does not exist.

If you are an existing client of Canarian Legal Alliance and receive a call from any of the names or numbers above including the original name of Hope Brugge, do not pay them or give them any information, they may sound credible, but are a complete scam.

Now for our Tuesday Slot.

A Buyer Beware Timeshare Experience

Diamond Resorts

By Wilma Miller

October 2, 2018

We first encountered Diamond Resorts while on vacation June 2017. Their people knocked us off our feet with free tickets to a show, and switched us from the Stratosphere to Diamond’s Polo Towers Suites. They even picked us up in a limousine! All we had to do was attend a 90 minute presentation. It’s easy to catch people off guard while on vacation.

Looking back, I believe the presentation room was designed to be noisy and crowded. The 90 minutes turned into hours. I am 78 and my husband James, a Vietnam Army veteran, is 75. As the hours wore on we became more tired and more confused. The presentation began about 11 a.m. and lasted all day.

James has health issues. He was not feeling well after several hours had passed, but the sales agents just kept on. It did not even register when we mentioned his health issues. Sales agents Ninmar N and Diana C were vague on how the program worked. They were vague on the cancellation procedure, and the payment procedure. We felt pressured into signing and we were not allowed enough time to read the documents. They showed us the documents as they explained what was in them, but did not give us a chance to actually hold or read them before we signed. They hurried us through the signing process by placing papers in front of us, telling us what it said, asking us to sign. We later received a copy.

They had said we were eligible for a senior package. We’ve learned there is no such thing called a senior package. We did not know the maintenance fees would be so high. We did not even know we had purchased a timeshare. Jim kept asking if this was a timeshare. They never admitted it was.

We bought 3000 points. They charged $14,000 to two Diamond’s Barclaycard. We were not aware we had opened the cards, much less that the cards had been charged. We repeatedly told the sales agents we were not interested, but they kept insisting we sign the contract.

After the signing process, they placed the Diamond Resorts U.S. Collection Public Offering Statement in our packet. We were not given an opportunity to even see what it was, much less read it. They said no one ever reads it. When we looked at it later it said right on the front – THE PROSPECTIVE PURCHASER SHOULD READ THIS REPORT BEFORE SIGNING ANY PAPERS!

In our opinion, the biggest deception of all was when they told us the payment would be $80 per month with no interest and Diamond Resorts would invoice us for the payment. This is in complete contrast to what has since transpired. Instead of one payment of $80, there are two payments, making it double the price they told us.

We received two Diamond Barclays Bank Credit Cards in the mail. As I mentioned, we were not even aware the cards had been opened. One Barclaycard was in my name and the other in James’ name. Neither agent mentioned credit cards during the presentation. They said we had to fill out an application to see if we would qualify. We never received a copy of the application.

To add insult to injury, the credit cards had no interest charges until now. Now the two payments are too much for us to afford.

After we received the high maintenance fee bill and credit cards, we went back for our orientation August 2017. We told them several times that we wanted to cancel or sell the timeshare. We said we wanted out.  When we told one person, they would get another person to talk to us. They tried to sell us an upgrade even when we said we could not afford what we bought! We talked to several sales people, but they ignored our concerns. It was obvious to us they did not care.  We never saw our original sales agents. Despite being told it was an orientation, we received no training or explanations.

We complained to Diamond Resorts directly. They dismissed our claims out of hand. They expect us to pay for something based on being told:

  • This was a great financial investment that would increase in value,
  • There were tax benefits as owners,
  • We could easily sell it,
  • Diamond had a buy-back program but recommended we never use it because we would lose all our points,
  • We would have a personal representative or coordinator assigned to us. They said this several times.  We never heard from anyone, much less a personal representative or coordinator.

They did not tell us:

  • How much vacation time we would get. We kept asking the sales agents but never received an answer. They bypassed every question.
  • We received 3000 points, but when we asked how we could use them, they gave us a confusing run around.
  • When we asked about maintenance fees and other fees, they avoided answering our questions by changing the subject.

We have sent a letter saying we cannot and will not make payments. We received a lot of collection calls. We sent a letter asking that the calls be stopped. They did stop. We had a high credit score before this. We stopped making payments around March. We received a form saying they would settle for a lower amount. They were talking about the Barclaycard.  

James has been diagnosed with cancer. It’s hard enough growing older without having to go through this. How many seniors will be harmed and harassed before lawmakers and Nevada regulators do something to stop this?  We fear it will never stop, so the best we can do is write about our experience, hoping it will help others.

When I submitted this article to Inside Timeshare, I was told about this member sponsored Diamond Resorts Members’ Facebook page. I wish I knew about this Facebook before we got ourselves into this. It’s been a disaster.

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

This article was written and submitted by Wilma Miller. We invite Diamond Resorts and Barclays to respond. We publish member accounts, good and bad, in an effort to warn the general public to know what they are signing and what they are buying.

That’s it for today, remember to do your homework before engaging with any company that has contacted you or one that you have found on the internet. It must also be pointed out that just because a company advertises in a prestigious publication, the radio or the TV, this does not mean they are genuine, these are sold advertising spaces, the marketing companies that sell them do not check on the authenticity of the company advertising. They will also publish a disclaimer, that they are not responsible for the content or authenticity of the advertiser.

If in doubt, use our contact page and we will be pleased to help you with your checks.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this week’s Letter from America, it is not the article that was actually scheduled for today, but is a last minute replacement. The original will be published at a later date.

Tahoe Beach and Ski Resort HOA Election Results

Jake Bercu and Al Fong Declared the Winners!

By Irene Parker

September 28, 2018

Tahoe Beach and Ski Resort held their annual meeting and election for two board positions September 22, 2018. The two board members running for another three-year term were Alfred Fong and Jacob Bercu. Three other candidates were on the ballot.  

The results:

Jacob Bercu            2124
Javier Cervantes(withdrew) 39
Alfred Fong 2154
Timothy Dobbs 39
Pat Hanna 1929.5
Laurence McGill 1887

Typically, voting is private, but the math indicates that Diamond Resorts voted for Pat Hanna and Laurence McGill. One owner reported that Hanna and McGill both stated they were in contact with Jason Toste, vice president at Diamond and one of the three board members named in the Point at Poipu lawsuit. They said they wanted to work with Diamond Resorts. According to the owner reporting, this made owners suspicious, as the association has made numerous attempts to work with Diamond Resorts to resolve affiliation and operations issues, to no avail.

https://advantagevacation.com/the-point-at-poipu-angry-owners-file-lawsuit-against-diamond-resorts/

Diamond Resorts controls 23% of the inventory at Tahoe Beach and Ski Resort and, in the opinion of the member reporting, who wishes to remain anonymous, Diamond has had a difficult time following the rules of the association.

Another twist to all this is the revelation that a member of the board at Tahoe Beach and Ski is now running for the board at Lake Tahoe Vacation Resort, a Diamond property. This was not disclosed to the owners. When questioned about his motives for running for the Lake Tahoe Vacation Resort, he stated that he was interested in gaining useful information about Diamond Resorts.

The letter below is from an owner at Tahoe Beach and Ski Resort. The candidates supported by Diamond campaigned on the fact that Diamond is a new company with new management and that Diamond has changed their ways and we need to work with them. There have been many complaints about Diamond posted on various complaint sites and the Attorney General of Arizona has issued an Assurance of Discontinuance after receiving hundreds of complaints from Diamond members accusing the company of unfair and deceptive sales practices. Diamond did not admit wrongdoing. Based on the letter below and the daily posts on our member sponsored Diamond Advocacy group, we feel improvement in customer relations is warranted.

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

In addition to Jason Toste, Kathy Wheeler was a board member named in the Point at Poipu lawsuit. They are the authorized owner-representatives for Diamond Resorts at Tahoe Beach and Ski. Owners said they have had reports from other TBSC owners that Diamond sales agents and employees at Lake Tahoe Vacation Resort, Kaanapali Beach Resort and Historic Powhatan have been claiming for the last six years that:

  1. Diamond owns Tahoe Beach and Ski Resort,
  2. Diamond manages Tahoe Beach and Ski Resort,
  3. Diamond guests have full access to the private beach at Tahoe Beach and Ski Resort.

Owners also reported that Diamond Resorts also occasionally claims that when they take over Tahoe Beach and Ski Resort, owners will have to pay a large special assessment to renovate the resort, just as they are now doing at Tahoe Seasons Resort.

The owner’s letter:

Hello, Tahoe Beach and Ski Owners.

I do not believe Diamond is our friend, and I know many of you feel the same.

Gini and I were pricing a Safari Rose Sunset Cruise rather late the other evening.  A lady approached us and offered assistance. As we were setting up the cruise details, she asked if we would like a discounted price… sure! The key to the discount was to attend a Diamond Timeshare presentation. She asked if we were current timeshare owners and when we said Tahoe Beach and Ski, she looked us in the eye and said, “We want your beach. Diamond wants your beach!

This made us even more curious about what they had up their sleeves, so we agreed to attend their presentation. The next afternoon, we met with their salesperson Alejandro. When we affirmed our Tahoe Beach and Ski ownership & our lack of interest in Diamond membership, he made statements to the effect that:

  1. Diamond owns Tahoe Beach and Ski,
  2. Diamond manages the daily operations at Tahoe Beach and Ski Resort,
  3. It’s only a matter of time before DR takes over and totally renovates the resort.

He then asked what would I accept for my Tahoe Beach and Ski timeshare… $1,000, $5,000, or $10,000?  He then offered $10,000 credit on any Diamond program purchase in exchange for my current deeded timeshare.

Please help Al and Jake keep Diamond out of our resort.  I want my family to continue to enjoy this closely knit, small-town ownership community that we all love.

Comments from Irene Parker:

Congratulations to Jake and Al and to the efforts of many hoping to regain control of our vacations. It was suggested I throw my hat in the ring for Diamond’s US Collection election. I did this with the understanding that it is impossible to win, so agreed for the purpose of letting our voice be heard. We’re grateful to learn, at least at Tahoe Beach and Ski, a real owner really representing other owners can happen.

To me it would be simpler to have meaningful discussion as to our concerns about questionable sales and marketing practices, rather than engage in this nonsensical battle I call Timeshare Wars. Through our Diamond Advocacy Facebook, Inside Timeshare, and members who found us on the internet, we have heard from 531 Diamond members in the U.S., all but a handful reporting that they experienced unfair and deceptive sales practices. It is my belief Diamond has a product, but over promising and making false claims should not be a part of the selling equation. I feel “The customer is always wrong” because of the automatic; “You signed a contract” will be the downfall of this industry, as Diamond is not alone in the onslaught of member and owner complaints. Why can’t we just talk? I have always said that half a problem goes away when confronted.

If you have any views or comments on this or any other article published, then use our contact page and let us know, we welcome your views and insights.

That’s the end of another week, join us again next week for more insights into the world of timeshare, have a great weekend.

 

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this weeks Letter from America by Irene Parker, who has submitted her name for election to the Diamond Resorts US Collection HOA board. As you all know Irene is a very tenacious campaigner for timeshare members and consumers rights, so for those who have vote, Inside Timeshare urges you to cast them for her.

Back in March 2016 Inside Timeshare published the following article on how resorts and resort owners manipulate the votes to suit themselves.

http://insidetimeshare.com/manipulation-votes-resorts-resort-owners/

Before we go to Irene’s article a quick update on news from the Spanish courts who returned to full swing this week and Canarian Legal Alliance sent us this review of sentences issued this week.

In the High Courts in Tenerife there have been FIVE issued against Silverpoint, a company that still denies that their contracts are illegal

There was ONE in the High Court against the Gran Canarian Resort ANFI DEL MAR, with SIX issued in the Courts of First Instance , again another company that insists it is not losing in the courts.

A total of 11 victories with a combined value of 371,882.14 € going back to their clients.

They have also had the courts enforce a cash embargo on Silverpoint in order to secure the funds for their clients. This in itself ensures that the funds cannot be diverted.

CLA have also informed us that they have already lodged 54 new cases with various courts all over Spain just as the courts reopened, so we can expect more news on that front in the future. Now for this weeks article.

My Diamond Resorts Campaign for the U.S Collection HOA Board

By Irene Parker

September 7 2018

Chantal DesjardinesDiamond Embarc/Intrawest June 2018 election results:

Five times more members voting for Chantal than closest rival places her in third place due to weighed voting.

James Orr (incumbent)    421

Robert Reyes                       361

Chantal Desjardines           2293

http://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-with-irene-10/

A timeshare member thinking they can actually win an HOA election is preposterous, but if throwing my name in the ring can shed some light on the plight of over 500 angry Diamond members, many saying they are financially devastated by their decision to buy Diamond points, I will suffer the humiliation of loss. When attorney friends suggested I submit my name to the list of candidates for Diamond Resorts U.S. Collection HOA board, I laughed. They didn’t.

Our member sponsored Diamond Resorts Owners Advocacy Group Facebook has over 1800 members, less industry observers, trying to understand what happened to them and why.  

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

As of September 2nd, 509 Diamond members have contacted Charles Thomas or me, all but a handful alleging unfair and deceptive trade practices. Retired Air Force Lieutenant Barry Gingrich did not contact us, but his YouTube below accurately summarizes the mantra of complaints reported by members who feel they were subjected to unfair and deceptive trade practices.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rjcgw0dAIKk&feature=youtu.be

Lt. Gingrich’s grievances:

  • Hours long tag-team, high pressure, aggressive sales presentations,
  • Told the last sales agent sold you the wrong package,  
  • Told the timeshare is a good investment, will appreciate in value,
  • Failure to address the lack of a secondary market,
  • Poor availability,
  • Sales agent will be your personal representative, but they never call back,
  • Use of a credit card will offset maintenance fees (many members complain of being able to pay maintenance fees at $.20 or $.30 per point, but when a complaint is filed, the response back is the actual 20/20 or 30/30 program that has nothing to do with paying maintenance fees at $.20 or $.30 per point).

Sales agents defend themselves by saying members lie. The typical response from some timeshare companies to customer complaints is, “You signed a contract,” echoed by the Nevada Real Estate Division and Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation. When one member asked a Florida DBPR supervisor, why other states take timeshare complaints seriously based on member complaints, the response was that what other states do has no bearing on how Florida reviews timeshare complaints.

We actually liked our Diamond points until we experienced a bait and switch, easily proved. In our case, we purchased additional points in Williamsburg, VA, told Diamond was adding New York properties. We purchased for just that reason because our daughter lives in NYC. If you check Diamond’s booking site, it would take about $8,500 worth of maintenance fee equivalent dollars to stay one week at the same hotel that could be booked online for $950, checking year round. When I asked a Diamond representative about the poor value, the response was, “That’s for members who have so many points they don’t know what to do with them all.”

I filed a complaint filed with the New York Attorney General’s office that resulted in an offer to refund the purchase, but I refused after reading the non-disclosure agreement. It seemed harsh and unwarranted. Had I not been required to sign an NDA, I would have written it off as maybe the sales agent didn’t know about the poor value. I’m not saying Diamond does not have a product or that there are not Diamond sales agents selling the product honestly. The complaints directed against Diamond are not unique to Diamond. There are many lawsuits and Attorneys General investigations and settlements, not to mention thriving timeshare exit scams.

Rather than address member complaints, the goal is to behead the messenger.  

As a result of what I consider to be retaliation, for listening and responding to readers, my husband and I attended the Whistleblower’s Summit in Washington D.C. held in July of this year. The summit slogan was:

Speak Truth to Power       

 For full disclosure, my legal name is Peggy Irene Steckert.

Twice my husband and I exchanged a timeshare and ended up buying a house at our exchange location. One of our kids now asks us if we are coming back when we let her know we are going on vacation. We exchanged a week in 2001 and bought a house in Petoskey, Michigan. While on vacation, I ended up getting hired as a Director of Music for a church in Petoskey. Given the conservative nature of the church, I thought it best to use my husband’s last name of Parker. As a result, I became Peggy Parker of Petoskey, who played the pipe organ for weddings, 25 a summer. I got tired of reading it in the paper, the reporter apologizing.

Next, we exchanged a timeshare for Diamond Caverns (no relation to Diamond Resorts) and bought a house in Bowling Green, Kentucky. I ditched Peggy and switched to Irene. Given my bio describes how I opened the first Edward Jones office on the Big Island of Hawaii, I wanted to explain my name changes in case anyone, like Edward Jones, actually looks into who opened the first Edward Jones office on the Big Island of Hawaii.     

Ironically, I built my brokerage business cold calling real estate agents and timeshare sales agents. At one of my timeshare sales agent presentations at Hanalei Bay, Kauai, when I asked if there were any questions, one sales agent raised his hand and asked, “So we’re the units?” They made a ton of money, especially if they spoke Japanese.

The American Funds mutual fund company informed me in 2001 that I was the top American Funds producer for the entire west coast and Hawaii, among all brokerage firms. I also taught classes for the Small Business Administration’s Small Business Development Centers, University of Hawaii, Kona, Hilo and Maui campuses, teaching small business owners how to understand financial statements and make use of financial ratios. I team taught with a CPA classes on business structures. I gave endless seminars at Tutu’s House, which means grandmother in Hawaiian.

Fast forward to 2018 – after developing all those client relationships and great friendships with timeshare sales agents in Hawaii, it pains me to continually hear complaints directed against sales agents. Diamond Resorts considers me an enemy, not the sales agents with multiple, similar complaints.

I guess that’s not much of a campaign speech, but it doesn’t matter anyway. You can’t win.    

RECOGNITION

http://archives.starbulletin.com/2001/06/10/business/bizbriefs.html

>> Edward Jones investment representative Peggy Steckert has been named to the President’s Club of The American Funds Group. Steckert, who works out of the company’s Kaimuki office, was honored for superior service to customers and dedication to principles of sound investing. A 15-year veteran in the financial services field, she has been with Edward Jones since 1995.

Irene Parker has experience and knowledge in the fields of finance, sales and marketing. She holds an MBA from St. Louis University, and holds a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) certificate. Irene retired from Edward Jones Hawaii. She served as a founding member of the Salvation Army Board of Directors, Waimea, a member of the Condo Board at One Archer Lane, Honolulu, a member of The Ombudsman Advisory Board in Kentucky, and was a Kentucky CASA supervisor.

 

Thank you Irene and we all wish you the very best in your election campaign. Well that’s all from me as I’m now on vacation, so there will not be many articles published until October, although The Tuesday slot and Friday’s Letter will go ahead as usual. If any important information arises then I try to get it published.

Have a good weekend.

The Tuesday Slot

This week’s Tuesday Slot is an update by Teresa Laird first published on 23 March 2018 in Friday’s Letter from America, it tells the story of Double Purple Heart recipient Raymond Mori and his wife’s “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”. This article has also been published by OEN, opednews.com with an introduction by Irene Parker.

https://www.opednews.com/articles/Raymond-Mori-83-Two-Purp-by-Irene-Parker-Fraud-180828-295.html

At the moment Europe and especially Spain is very quiet on the timeshare front, mainly because we are in the middle of the summer holidays, with the courts in Spain on close down. But one reader did pass on a piece from one of the Anfi members forums, it poses a very interesting question on liability when it comes to private renting of timeshare apartments and weeks.

The writer starts by mentioning that members can’t help noticing that apartments are being privately rented at Anfi and the question arises of who would be liable if that renter had an accident in the apartment?

Would the resort be liable or would the person renting it out be liable if any legal action were to be brought, a very interesting point as the resort could claim that as they are not members but have rented from a private individual they are not covered by their public liability insurance. That would mean the owner of that week and apartment would theoretically be liable, but as an owner renting it out for whatever reason, be it no longer using themselves but covering the maintenance fees, they are unlikely to have any insurance cover for this eventuality.

The writer also goes on to say that this wholesale renting was not what was originally intended, it was for the sole use of members and their families, he believes this is just another nail in the timeshare coffin and would not be surprised if Anfi became a hotel in the future leaving members with little redress.

On that last point, we do know that IFA Lopesan has set aside millions of euros with the intention of buying the Cazorla shares giving them full control. It is also a known fact that IFA Lopesan have no interest in the timeshare model, they favour hotels which are mainly all inclusive and of a very high standard.

If you are an Anfi member what are your feelings on these points, Inside Timeshare would like to hear from you, now for this Tuesdays article.

Retired Marine Raymond Mori, Two Times Purple Heart Recipient, Alleges Timeshare Fraud at Age 83

An update since my original article March 23, 2018

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

Tuesday Talk Member’s Forum August 28, 2018

  

By Teresa Laird,  

Purple Heart 9/29/68

“I am writing this at my parent’s last Diamond Resorts update March 13, 2018, I am convinced my parents, at age 83 and 79, would have purchased 30,000 additional Diamond vacation points for $234,295 had I not been with them. This offer required a down payment of $69,993. I kept the paper of these terms under the table because members are not allowed to walk out with hand written notes. My dad was not feeling well. He falls asleep in his wheelchair and had spent six months in the hospital after a heart attack. The stress over this expense has caused my parent’s health to deteriorate further.”

Raymond Mori before being shot down twice, a gunner,  earning two Purple Hearts.

I changed their phone number to avoid Diamond’s collection calls. My mom still shakes when she hears the phone ring. She has never been late on paying a bill in her life, so this has caused her to lose weight and lose sleep. I learned my mom’s entire Social Security check goes to pay the Diamond mortgage. We have learned Diamond points have no secondary market value, so unlike your home, you can’t sell the points if you have a loan.

My parents today, Lillian and Raymond Mori, married 61 years

I have reached out to Angela Sandstede as her parents are going through exactly what we are going through. Roy Simmons is a Navy veteran. His Diamond mortgage payment is $2,700. He is a Navy veteran and a retired letter carrier.

Roy Simmons and Angela Sandstede Simmons

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_nca6lMA4U&feature=youtu.be

Like many, my parents used their Monarch Grand Vacation timeshare for years without complaint. They said they were told they had to give up their deed and buy points. I’ve learned they did not have to do that. Since Diamond acquired Monarch, their annual maintenance fees have increased from $2,600 to $4,600.        

I first learned of their purchase when my mom told me they had purchased an investment. She said they had invested in property. I called Diamond Resorts when my dad said they wanted to sell some points. When I asked how to go about selling points, the DRI hospitality agent laughed at me.

What they bought

4,000 Diamond points 3/12/2013 for $20,416  

2500 Diamond points 6/25/2013 for $8,325  

2500 Diamond points 7/29/2013 for $8,616

5000 Sampler points 5/4/2014 for $2,995

At ages 79 and 75 they were sold a Sampler trial program?

I called Diamond and told them that they needed to take back this last Sampler purchase at the very least. They said they would work with us but had to talk to my parents directly. What did they do – they sold my parents 17,000 more points over the phone at then ages 79 and 73 for $49,492. My parents said they were told they cannot cancel the Sampler, but the points could be added to something else. This is why they are in foreclosure. The caller said they would attach the Sampler points to another program. I could not believe it. Their new maintenance fees are $4,780.

My mom worked as an interpreter for the Ontario California liaison. She speaks Spanish. My dad is diagnosed with early Alzheimer’s. To think their lives have been financially ruined by this company is unforgivable. I am an advocate now. I am a veteran. I am working on a graduate degree and am active in the Veteran’s Resource Center. There is a Veteran’s Resource Center in every university. As soon as I finish my degree, I plan to make it my life’s work to warn veterans about predatory timeshare sales that can financially ruin the lives of those who served to protect us, including those who intend to do us harm. I am one of 72 veterans and active duty military and law enforcement who have reported alleged timeshare fraud.  https://www.csun.edu/vrc

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

Thank you Teresa for the update, it is despicable that the timeshare industry allows its sales agents to behave in this manner, we have said it before and will continue to say it, you as an industry

ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT YOUR SALES AGENT SAY AND DO!

It is your products they are selling, you employ them to represent your companies, the buck stops with you. If the industry can’t change its practices, then maybe it is time for major legislation forcing them to change. We have seen this in Spain, consumers there are now given the full protection of the law, the strongest in Europe, with other countries starting to follow their lead.

If you have any comments or would like to share your own “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”, then contact Inside Timeshare, remember you are not alone.

Have you been contacted by a company offering resale, claims or relinquishment and are not sure if the company or what they are offering is genuine, then use our contact page and we will point you in the right direction. Doing your homework before engaging with any company dealing with timeshare will save you money and a whole lot of stress.

The Tuesday Slot with Irene

Welcome to The Tuesday Slot, this weeks article is by a new contributor, Della Morris C.P.A., M.B.A., M.S. with the introduction by Irene Parker. As is usual with articles such as this, Inside Timeshare submitted the draft to the company concerned for comment. The reason for this is very simple, we hope that the situation can be resolved and on some occasions the article is then not published when a positive outcome is achieved.

In the case of some companies, no response is received, then when the article is published they start to issue legal notices, sending in the lawyers with threats because they don’t like what has been published. Well, that is their problem, they are given ample warning but fail to respond.

In the case of this article we did receive a response from ARC, all credit is due to them, you can read their comment in Irene’s introduction.

Senior Foreclosure

The Hardship created by Perpetual Timeshare Contracts without a Secondary Market

By Della Morris, an Americano Beach Resort owner in foreclosure

Introduction by Irene Parker

August 14, 2018

Inside Timeshare has published two articles about Americano Beach Resort as the developer, ARC, works toward reopening the resort damaged by hurricanes Matthew and Irma. Work is progressing, but today’s article is about how the perpetual timeshare contract is forcing senior after senior into foreclosure, often those with high credit scores who have rarely been late on a payment. The foreclosure process is demeaning and demoralizing, but for some seniors the relentless calls can affect their health and wellbeing. We’re not singling out Americano, or their current developer, ARC, as this is an industry wide problem. A few companies, like Wyndham and Diamond Resorts, are offering voluntary surrender programs, alleviating the problem for some.

My husband and I owned a deeded week at Port Elsewhere (named after the medical drama series St. Elsewhere from the 80s), Osage Beach in the Missouri Ozarks for almost 30 years. Living in Florida, we no longer desire to vacation in Branson. I called the resort, spoke to the person I had gotten to know over the years, who responded to my request to deed back with, “Yeah, we discussed this at our HOA meeting and decided it’s not fair to place such a hardship on aging owners, especially those who have faithfully paid their maintenance fees for so long. I’ll send you the form to sign and return.” We left Port Elsewhere holding no animosity, only fond memories. We knew it was time to go when all our neighbors said, “My grandma and grandpa bought this!”  

Out of the 530 timeshare members who have reached out to Inside Timeshare, not one was aware of how difficult getting out of a timeshare can be. Almost daily we hear from another senior bracing for timeshare foreclosure. Many of their stories are heartbreaking, and for more than a few, devastating.

For timeshare members, lucky enough to have purchased a timeshare that does have some salability, contact a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association. They charge no money upfront and can provide straight answers if your timeshare has no secondary market. Scams asking for upfront money to “get you out of your timeshare or your money back” abound. Based on 530 reader complaints, honesty is in short supply. Many of our readers have been duped by exit scams.  http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

Della is at her wit’s end. She contacted Inside Timeshare after reading Meryl Stefan’s July 27 article that contained a description of Freedom 365, an exit and travel plan ARC is offering deeded owners. For many original buyers, the answer to their timeshare nightmare is not to spend more money by joining a Travel Club.

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-14/

Della had already talked to ARC, but hoping to help find a solution I contacted ARC and was provided the following information. Della will follow up.  

The Association does have a hardship surrender policy.  It’s managed by the administrative manager at the resort  (Contact information was provided). Generally, the policy is that the owner has to bring their account current before the Association will accept the deed, but we’ll work with every owner based on their specific needs.

I believe many complaints can be resolved by finding the right person to talk to. The salespeople are paid to sell, so the sales agents mentioned in Della’s article were probably not the proper people to talk to about a deed-back. Through dialog we hope to create a kinder, gentler relationship between disgruntled owners and developers.

By Della Morris, C.P.A., M.B.A., M.S.

I am 70 years old and currently live in Virginia. I bought my Americano timeshare in 1994. It has been difficult for me to pay my dues each year and many times I asked Americano Resort to take my week back, even before ARC acquired Americano. When I bought the timeshare, I had no idea timeshare can be a product that cannot be sold or given back.

I had a back and neck injury that resulted in eight surgeries from 1990 thru 1997.  Many years my income was low, but I continued to pay the fees. I owe dues for 2017 and 2018, but cannot afford to pay them. I paid Americano maintenance fees from 1994 until 2016, despite never using the timeshare.

Sometimes you get the feeling that these resorts lump all seniors together like a herd of sheep. We are people. To give you an idea of my background, I worked for a company that audited corporations. A congressional law was passed by Senators Sarbanes and Oxley in response to the Enron scandal. The law required public companies with a certain amount of equity to have an independent audit by an auditing firm not connected with the company that prepared their annual report.   

When my health failed, I did not apply for Social Security. It was such a cumbersome process, so I just worked the best I could, sometimes for minimum wage, taking anything I could get. I have lived in West Virginia, Florida and North Carolina and was eligible for Vocational Rehabilitation in each of those states.

My contact with ARC, (Bernie and Edwin)

Edwin from ARC called me August 8 about turning over my Americano unit with a quit claim deed so my special assessments and annual fees would be forgiven, but they were asking $5,000 in order to do so, to join their Travel Club, Freedom 365. He said this would be a better deal for me than staying with Americano Resort. Edwin said Americano will continue to have large annual assessment fees and I will have to pay assessments plus maintenance fees each year.

Edwin stated if I do not pay the assessment and maintenance fees, my timeshare would go to foreclosure, plus I will have to pay property taxes. I told Edwin I knew of many not happy with the current Americano situation, with the resort not open. In my situation, I would be paying out good money after bad. I could not decide that day. They said they had to have $1,000 to hold the offer. I paid $500 with my credit card, but disputed the charge because of their aggressive sales tactics.   

Freedom 365 would require I travel to one of their properties at least one time per year at a cost of $299. I never even stayed at the resort I bought! They also offered 1,000 points each year to be deposited to my account so I could book other stays. The difference between the price given and the discount rate would come from the points. Points would not carry over if not used, or if some were remaining at the end of the year, after paying $299 for travel and the other travel destinations through Freedom 365. This plan sounded convoluted and the last thing I needed to do was pay an additional $5,000 for something I never used.

They told me foreclosure letters would be going out soon. I wrote a check for my 2017 dues but apparently the check was never cashed. I feel the industry needs to do something besides browbeat seniors who have been paying them money for years, holding them as financial hostages. So, I brace for the collection calls and demand letters. I find the industry shameful.

Thank you to Della for sharing her story and to ARC for their response. Della is not alone. Inside Timeshare has been flooded with complaints, and not just from seniors. We hope industry executives will wake up and realize this is not the way to keep timeshare viable and healthy. Many families are devastated.

If you or someone you know has a timeshare problem, contact Inside Timeshare or one of the self-help groups listed below.

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

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

Thank you Della for your article and also to Irene for the editing and introduction, also a big thank you to ARC for responding, at least they have informed us and our readers that they do have a policy in place and who it is managed by. As Irene stated in her introduction, it really does depend on who you speak with, if only other timeshare resorts and developers informed members of the correct department, we would not have the situation we have today.

If you have any comments or questions on this or any other article published, Inside Timeshare would like to hear from you, use our contact page and please let us know where you are located. This helps us to make sure we get the correct answers for you.

Also it is that time of year, especially in Europe, when many cold calling “scam” companies start to make contact, if you are contacted by any company or even found one on the internet and want to know if they are genuine, then contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.