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Ovation

The Tuesday Slot with Irene

Welcome to the first article of the New Year, as the holidays are just coming to a close there is not a lot of news to bring. This will no doubt change over the next few weeks, when we begin to receive emails and questions on the myriad of companies that will be starting their New Year campaigns.

As usual we warn all our readers to be careful before engaging with any company that contacts you, especially with news that your timeshare resort is being taken to court (with the director pleading guilty) and you can also be part of this for a small fee.

Some basic points on the subject of claims, unless you purchased your timeshare in Spain after January 1999, you will not have a claim in the Spanish courts. If you have been offered a no win no fee claim, beware that it does not entail a large fee to relinquish your timeshare or even the purchase of another product, such as “Lifestyle Credits”. These no win no fee claims are usually the enticer, the promise of large sums to be returned, then it turns out it is a frivolous claim under Section 75 of the Credit consumer Act 1974.

Over the next few weeks we should be receiving the news from the Crown Court in Birmingham on the sentences for Dominic O’Reilly and Stephanie O’Reilly of EZE Group. If you remember they pleaded guilty to charges of Aggressive Sales Practices and Coercion, contrary to The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

Another group of companies are also subject to investigation from Trading Standards and could also be facing criminal charges, these are the companies of Mark Rowe, which include ABC Lawyers. At the beginning of December it was announced that several enterprises had been raided, with employees being questioned and documents seized for further investigation.

We will be keeping an eye out for any news on these and will bring you the news as it comes in.

Now for the first article from Irene Parker for 2018.

Timeshare Advocacy Group™

Plans for the New Year

By Irene Parker

January 2, 2017

  • Boost our media outreach group
  • Boost our legislative outreach
  • Boost our active duty and retired military outreach group

Inside Timeshare published many Nightmares on Timeshare Street articles in 2017. All were written or submitted by highly educated professional people. In 2018, will timeshare developers continue to hide behind the oral representation clause, or will they instead consider their customers might be telling the truth?

Timeshare Advocacy Group™ ended 2017 with a total of 260 timeshare complaints of which 245 alleged they were sold by deceit and bait and switch. The other 15 could not afford the timeshare. Members contacted us through Inside Timeshare or one of the U.S. self-help, member supported Facebooks posted at the end of this article. Many complain they had responded to unsolicited marketing calls asking if they wanted out of their timeshare only to learn the money they paid was lost.

Timeshare developers are beginning to listen. Wyndham now offers a surrender program called Ovation and Diamond Resorts announced just last week a surrender program called Transitions. Inside Timeshare has already received several questions from readers about Diamond’s Transitions program. We will be reporting on our readers’ transitions experience in 2018.

Legacy resorts are those that are sold out, free standing, deeded weeks. Liberté Management Group of the Pinellas Islands, Inc. announced TARS, a “limited deed, limited fun” exit plan will be operated as a subsidiary of Liberté and will be jointly headquartered in Treasure Island, Florida. We will continue to follow TARS in 2018.

TIMESHARE ADVISORY AND RESOLUTION SERVICES LLC EXPANDS SERVICES FOR LEGACY RESORTS AND OWNERS

Unfortunately, the majority of our readers are saddled with high interest rate loans, thus not eligible for a voluntary surrender program. It’s important to remember transferring to a lower interest rate loan through a third party lender is not advised, according to timeshare attorney Mike Finn of the Finn Law Group. When transferring to a third party lender, the money in questions is no longer between you and the timeshare company. According to Mike,

Another tremendous and informative article! I think the one major, major admonition I have for anyone, client or not, who has purchased a timeshare with developer financing and may want to reconsider the merits of the purchase (and, of course, assuming the rescission period has passed), do not, I repeat, do not under any circumstances, attempt to re-finance the purchase via a home equity line or a transfer to a lower interest credit card, or, for that matter any other methodology that has as its objective, re-paying the developer with other third party money.

http://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-2/

Also, anyone buying a timeshare should look to see if their contract contains an arbitration clause. We advise timeshare members exercise their right to opt out of arbitration within the allotted time available to opt out.

To start 2018 off on a positive note, this is an article Inside Timeshare published back in July about a company we firmly endorse, ruled by a bunch of little critters.

http://insidetimeshare.com/lesson-timeshare-companies/

What does Disney Vacation Club do other developers don’t that almost eliminates complaints? The reasons are detailed in the article, but in my opinion, it is mainly because Mickey allows and supports a secondary market.

Think about it. What if the primary residential housing market decided you could not sell your personal residence. Inside Timeshare has received complaints involving amounts up to, and on occasion exceeding, $500,000. This is easily the cost of a home. Timeshare companies tell us to think of our vacation points as a second home and they always greet us when we arrive, “Welcome Home!” Not being allowed to sell your home would devastate the housing market, and in our opinion, is destroying timeshare today. Out of 260 reader responses, not one knew when they purchased their timeshare, the limited or sometimes lack of a secondary market.

We have forged remarkable relationships with many of our readers, some who have moved on, having signed a non-disclosure agreement agreeing not to say anything negative about their resort, or were subjected to an arbitration ruling that was private and binding. In this way Inside Timeshare provides a voice for the voiceless when victims of white collar crime, financial institution fraud, are effectively silenced and isolated.

It’s easy to get discouraged, but Inside Timeshare and advocacy groups have made remarkable progress. So we soldier on into the New Year.

Contact Inside Timeshare or one of these U.S. member supported self-help groups if you have a timeshare concern. We’re here to listen and act, going a step beyond helpful posts.   

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/

If you have any questions or comments on any article published, contact Inside Timeshare, if we don’t know the answer we will find out for you. If you require any information about any company that you may be thinking of doing business with, but need to find out about them first, get in touch and we will point you in the right direction.

 

Wyndham´s “Ovation” Surrender Program: Latest News

On 2 November 2016, Inside Timeshare published the article News From America: “Wyndham Launches New Surrender Program”, by Irene Parker. (See the original article via the link at the end). It focused on the new initiative by Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, which is one of the largest timeshare concerns in the USA.

The new initiative is called “Ovation”, it is designed to give timeshare owners a secure and legal way out of their timeshares, without fees, hidden costs or the need to make additional purchases in order to participate. Irene even managed to get a response from their media contact Lori Ford, in her statement she said “Our goal is to help owners transition to the next phase of their life and reach as many owners as possible, before they are contacted by fraudulent companies,” it certainly looked promising for owners.

wyndham logo

Inside Timeshare was contacted by a reader Steve Lloyd, he had several enquiries about various timeshares he owns and how to get out of them. He explained what he owned and asked what were his options to either claim back, sell or just relinquish. Well we all know that the resale market is virtually non-existent, so that left the claims or relinquishment option the only course.

It turned out there was no possibility of claiming, so we looked at the only course for him to take, relinquishment. It was explained to Steve that two possibilities existed, hire a reputable law firm to do it for him or contact his resorts. Inside Timeshare advised to contact the resorts first and see what they had to say.

Then came the news about the Wyndham programme, we contacted Steve with this news and he duly got in touch with Wyndham. That was on the same day as we published.

Yesterday 16 January 2017, Steve sent an email with some great news, he received an answer from Wyndham. His timeshare has now been surrendered through the Ovation Program. This is his email:

“The attached was received this morning and signals the successful completion of our exit from WorldMark via their Ovation programme.  A very successful and satisfactory process, I feel.  All through the process, WM/Wyndham staff have been friendly, courteous and helpful, and the final letter shows a nice human touch that doesn’t cost them anything.  Please use the contents of the letter for the good of all as you see fit”.

Worldmark Exit Contract closure letter Jan 2017redacted

As you can see, he is very pleased with the result, praising the way he was treated and how courteous they were, this is truly a good sign for the timeshare industry. He is still waiting for a response from Diamond Resorts (Europe).

Irene Parker received this brief statement from Lori Ford, the Wyndham media contact:

Thanks so much for the opportunity to provide a response. Please feel free to incorporate the following statement.

“According to Wyndham Vacation Ownership (WVO), “We are pleased to hear of Mr. Lloyd’s positive experience with the Ovation program. We remain committed to tailoring simple, safe and secure exit strategies for owners who have fulfilled their vacation goals.” With the introduction of Ovation by Wyndham in early 2015, WVO has received over 55,000 inquiries and helped more than 20,000 owners exit their ownership with peace of mind, and without any additional costs”.

“With its portfolio of customized exit options, Ovation by Wyndham acts as the first layer of defense against unscrupulous third-party exit and resale companies who may aim to mislead owners. The program is continually evolving to suit our owners’ needs, and we encourage owners to call Wyndham first if they are interested in exploring potential exit options”.

Best,

Lori

Irene also provided the following from a past press release:

Wyndham Vacation Ownership Wins ACE Innovator Award for Ovation by Wyndham

According to Wyndham’s Press Release

Program First of its Kind in the Industry to Provide Exit Path for Timeshare Owners

ORLANDO, Fla. (May 9, 2016)Wyndham Vacation Ownership (WVO), the world’s largest vacation ownership company and a member of the Wyndham Worldwide family of companies (NYSE: WYN), won the ACE Innovator Award, along with 12 other prestigious industry awards, at the annual American Resort Development Association (ARDA) Awards Gala at the Diplomat Resort & Spa in Hollywood, Florida on Wednesday, May 4, 2016.

The ACE Innovator Award recognizes the company’s development of a groundbreaking product, service or concept. In 2015, WVO became the first developer in timeshare history to launch a comprehensive, proactive, and uniquely positive approach to help longtime owners seeking to exit their timeshare. Ovation by Wyndham offers simple, safe and secure options for owners in situations where lifestyle or vacation preferences have changed. There are no fees, hidden costs or additional purchases required to participate in the program.

Irene´s comment:

“While we applaud Wyndham for leading the industry in an owner friendly timeshare exit program, we hope efforts emerge to boost the price of a timeshare’s secondary market value. In the US, an owner is fortunate if they are able to recoup 10% to 15% their initial investment. The problem can be devastating if an owner buys a timeshare and suffers a life crisis shortly after purchase. A few timeshare companies have virtually no secondary market”.

As you can see there is still a long way to go, one of the main points that keeps coming up in these articles from America is the lack of a secondary market. The same can be said in Europe, throughout all sales presentations consumers are told that they can always sell their timeshare if no longer required.  Or they are told the developer / resort will buy it back, as we know that is not the case.

Inside Timeshare leaves it to you the reader to make up your own minds, your comments on this subject are welcome.

If you require any information regarding this or any other article, or just need advice on any company you may be thinking of dealing with, contact Inside Timeshare. We will do our best to help you.

Link to original Wyndham article:
http://insidetimeshare.com/news-america-wyndham-launches-new-surrender-program/

 

Owners Data: A Battle for Control.

Inside Timeshare is publishing the following article from one of our readers. Edward has been following Inside Timeshare for some time and regularly contributes information he has found while researching his own timeshare problems. This piece was prompted by previous articles on Wyndham and also the article submitted by Greg Crist of the NTOA, in the latter article Greg spoke of the Senator who stopped a bill which would have prevented HOA members from having access to the members database, this was for contact purposes about the issues which would affect the owners. The industry was against this, after all they do not want owners to band together and becoming stronger through knowledge. (see pdf at the end).

guest-contributor

Here is Edward´s post:

My resorts Committee, has been trying to get the members database from Wimpen for nearly 2 years to no avail. Even the Spanish Data Protection Agency’s own 2009 consultation into the Data relationship between Administrator, Community of Owners and third parties concluded that the administrator was merely a user and custodian of the members database on behalf of the Community of Owners who it says are the true owner and data controller.

Wyndham

However, our efforts pale in comparison to Worldmark Resorts owners in the USA. As you probably know, Worldmark are part of Wyndham as are RCI.

Some years ago, Worldmark owners began a lengthy battle to gain access to the members database (register). Worldmark Resorts repeatedly refused to comply with successive California court orders to hand over the database to the members community. It went right up to the California Supreme Court who also ordered them to handover the database. Apparently, Wyndham are now sponsoring a bill in the California State Government that would in essence overturn the Court’s ruling.

Many years ago, Worldmark owners set up a very informative website and forum which is very scathing of Worldmark and Wyndham and details their battles which are still on-going

http://www.wmowners.com/forum/index.php?sid=f157827b2e092f5f1970da40bc056582.

Wyndham, I have read, consolidate all their groups’ members details into one database.

In 2008 and 2009, Wyndham’s database was hacked resulting in thousands of personal details being stolen, (which probably explains why, in 2010, I started to receive numerous suspicious telephone calls about my timeshare, which is information only Wimpen and RCI were party to and which both denied being the source of, but said it was a scam). The USA Federal Trade Commission investigated and found that Wyndham had very little in the way of security to their systems, their database wasn’t even encrypted.

http://scarincihollenbeck.com/law-firm-insights/litigation/cyber-security/wyndhams-data-breach-settlement-shakes-up-privacy-law/

I have also read that Wyndham have consolidated their timeshare owners points system with the RCI points system which some owners have claimed has diluted the value of their timeshare ownership.

Wyndham may have launched Ovation, their surrender programme, but as many Worldmark owners say ‘ Wyndham only do anything that benefits Wyndham’.

Personally, I would certainly be very wary of anything Wyndham do, in fact I am wary of anything timeshare related nowadays.

Diamond Resorts International

Another resort that has battled to get their members register is Poipu Point in Hawaii,

http://www.poipuowners.org/Home_Page.php.

The court papers makes very interesting reading

http://www.poipuowners.org/uploads/Lawsuit.pdf

as it sets out on pages 11 & 12, through CBS television’sUndercover Boss”, how DRI came about and their plans involving the acquisition/merger with Sunterra.

Thank you Edward, this will certainly get the debate going again.

discus

Data protection is a very serious matter, but when access to these members lists is required for a legitimate purpose, such as contacting fellow members about changes which will affect their ownership, surely bodies such as HOA and owners committees have a right to use them.

We know that there are some very unscrupulous people out there, from bogus resale, transfer and claims companies, but it must be remembered that the biggest source of data for these companies tends to be from disgruntled or ex-employees. It is not difficult to see the ease with which a disgruntled employee can obtain the data, it is then a valuable commodity and can earn them a small fortune.

This has been going on for many years, how many companies have been set up by ex-timeshare people, where did they obtain their data?

A recent manifestation of this problem has occurred concerning DRI members, they have been receiving text messages and calls from a new “claims” company. It is believed that they are ex-Diamond employees, even Diamond believe this to be true, they issued a warning letter recently to their members, Inside Timeshare checked on this and published the following article back in September.

http://insidetimeshare.com/diamond-owners-receive-text-messages/

Below is an extract from the Diamond letter:

“A number of ex-Diamond employees are claiming to have left the employment of Diamond when “it came to their attention that Diamond had mis-sold fractional points”, asserting that they can’t work for an unethical company. They are now offering a reclaim service, suggesting that they will secure a refund of the purchase price paid for points in Diamond Resorts European Collection Limited (DRECL) and the Diamond Resorts Fractional Owners Club”.

So is denying owners access a legitimate data protection concern from the industry, Greg Crist of NTOA said the following in the Redweek article. (Link follows the quote).

“When people need answers to questions about what’s happening at their resort, they deserve to get them,” said Greg Crist, CEO of the National Timeshare Owners Association, based in Florida. “I am sensitive to the fact that there are bad operators out there seeking to take advantage of consumers by obtaining board data records, but there are legitimate reasons why members should be able to circumvent their boards and communicate independently.”

http://www.redweek.com/resources/ask-redweek/timeshares-refuse-to-share-owner-lists

Inside Timeshare also published the following from Greg Crist on this subject in October:

http://insidetimeshare.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/More-from-Greg-Crist-at-the-NTOA.pdf

http://thetimesharecrusader.blogspot.co.uk/2016_10_01_archive.html

This is obviously an ongoing debate, which will see a polarising of views, that of the industry versus that of the owners. Owners want a say in how their clubs are run and work, the industry it seems want to control, there must be a way for them to work together and turn what has become a tarnished product into something better. Once again only time will tell.

Inside Timeshare would like to thank Edward, Greg and Irene for their contributions, Irene has been a great source for many links in this and previous articles, look out for more from across “The Great Lake”. 

News From America: Wyndham Launches New Surrender Program.

Carrying on with our theme of news from across the “Great Lake”, Irene Parker has again sent her article which will be of interest to timeshare owners in Europe, especially those who own in the USA.

This article focuses on a new initiative by one of the largest timeshare concerns in the USA, Wyndham, which is based in Parsippanny New Jersey. It seems the company is going to be leading the way in providing a more accessible relinquishment program for owners. This could also pave the way for the demise of those unscrupulous companies that offer relinquishment or “guaranteed deed-back” and resale scams, which many owners in Europe are familiar with. These scams cost timeshare owners all over the world thousands of dollars, pounds and euros in upfront fees, these fees are being charged to beleaguered timeshare owners who are unable to keep up with the rapidly rising maintenance fees and assessments.

Unfortunately a relinquishment or “voluntary surrender” program does not help those owners who have outstanding loans or finance agreements, usually having succumbed to high interest payments on these loans, typically 14% to 18%. Inside Timeshare has published articles on these loans and the predatory practices of UK bank lending.

If the Wyndham model proves to be successful, could it pave the way for other timeshare companies to copy, saving  the industry from the bad image of holding prisoner elderly owners and those who can no longer afford the maintenance fees. Only time will tell.

Wyndham Launches “Ovation” Timeshare Surrender Program

By Irene Parker, October 27, 2016

Wyndham Vacation Ownership has been among timeshare industry pioneers in providing owners with comprehensive information about reselling and helping them exit timeshare units they no longer want to use.

The company’s exit program differs from many competitors in its detail and helpfulness. Many timeshare companies do not offer well-articulated policies. A number of them make it difficult to resell timeshare properties. That is reflected in the high number of units that timeshare owners continue to relinquish because of age or an inability to carry maintenance fee costs.

Wyndham Worldwide has been operating for 50 years. The company’s well-established names include Club Wyndham, WorldMark and Shell Vacations. In addition to timeshares, Wyndham Worldwide Corporation offers lodging and vacation exchange and rentals through RCI.

The company’s timeshare exit program, Ovation, offers a number of options for relinquishing a Wyndham timeshare with no fees, hidden costs or additional purchases required to participate. That differs from a number of timeshare companies and also from transfer and cancellation companies.

“Our goal is to help owners transition to the next phase of their life and reach as many owners as possible, before they are contacted by fraudulent companies,” said media contact Lori Ford. “The program offers various options based on individual ownership, eligibility and circumstance and we continue to see a strong owner response, with over 47,000 owner inquiries since its introduction.”

The timeshare industry has improved its reputation, but is still struggling to overcome years of questionable practices by a number of major operators, and some companies continue to make it difficult for timeshare owners to relinquish their shares in properties. The industry also continues to include unsavory practices among operators and companies that provide supporting services. Among the major issues:

Transfer agents offering beleaguered timeshare owners “guaranteed deed-backs” at a cost averaging $3,500 to $7,000, fraudulent listing agents offering to list your timeshare for an upfront ad fee only to disappear, callers claiming to have someone interested in your timeshare, bogus timeshare “renters” claiming to represent the timeshare developer.

Wyndham Vacation Ownership even offers their members a “Scambusters Hotline” providing owners with informational scam reports and updates along with a hotline to call if an owner suspects suspicious activity or feels they are being targeted.

Wyndham’s first buyback program, known as “Pathways“, came under intense scrutiny in that it was accused of being a scheme designed to get owners to buy more points. The one-sided contract, signed only by the timeshare owner, promised an “opportunity” to sell a timeshare back to Wyndham, if the owner purchased an additional 20% of the points they already owned.

Clearly, the “cottage industry” of timeshare scams developed because or the lack of a secondary market. The industry in general has been reluctant to face the issue of unwanted timeshares. I asked Gregory Crist, President of the National Timeshare Owners Association (NTOA) why is there such a disparity of opinion when it comes to consumer reviews of timeshare companies and especially timeshare resale programs.

“Until the timeshare industry supports a robust secondary timeshare market, we will continue to see an increase in predatory timeshare exit companies clamoring to take thousands of dollars from timeshare owners to get them released from their timeshare obligations. Until now, it has been difficult to get anyone’s attention,” said Crist.

Voluntary surrender programs leave owners with nothing. While no one should expect a timeshare to be a lucrative investment, legitimate resale programs do allow an owner to recoup, at best, fifteen percent of an owner’s overall investment. At least a secondary market allows a nominal dollar amount back to the timeshare share owner in an age where affordable vacation options abound outside of timeshare.

https://www.clubwyndham.com/cw/discover/scambusters-wyndham.page

https://www.clubwyndham.com/cw/discover/ovationbywyndham.page

http://www.thestate.com/news/business/article13846319.html

http://www.ntoassoc.com/

Inside Timeshare would like to thank Irene Parker for her article, it is very enlightening and will show owners here in Europe that there are some companies out there who are at least making a sensible effort. Inside Timeshare has published articles on one company which is renowned for not letting people out of there contracts, or if it does charges a hefty price for doing so.

http://insidetimeshare.com/mcdonald-resorts-no-stranger-bad-press/

http://insidetimeshare.com/bbc-scotland-investigates-problems-timeshare-contracts/

If you have any questions about this or any other article,  contact Inside Timeshare and we will be pleased to help. If you require any information about any company you may be thinking of dealing with or just want to know how to find it, Contact us through the comments section, we will then contact you via personal email.