Browse Tag

RCI

6-pillars-with-text 1

A Customer Service Message

Customer service is the provision of service to customers before, during and after a purchase. The perception of success of such interactions is dependent on employees

“who can adjust themselves to the personality of the guest”.

Today we publish another article by Irene Parker, this is entitled Hug Your Haters! A Customer Service Message. It is a look at Jay Baer’s book of the same title, which will be available at most airport bookstores through September. Irene already has her copy, Forbes has an article reviewing the book written by Shep Hyken:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/shephyken/2016/02/20/love-your-customers-hug-your-haters/#6c2d2bfa1573

But first some other news.

It has been announced that RCI the timeshare exchange company,which is part of part of Wyndham Worldwide, is set to take over the Australian exchange company DAE, Dial An Exchange. This has been an independent exchange program for many years, it is popular for one simple reason, there are no annual membership fees. Owners only pay when they make an exchange, which does seem to be the fairest method, as you may pay a membership fee and never actually use it every year.

Obviously with the link to RCI, it may be that will benefit those who use DAE, as it should increase the number of resorts available to them. Many owners in the UK like the DAE system as they were rather disappointed with RCI and the annual fees on top of their ever increasing maintenance charges.

According to RCI, DAE will still be a stand alone company, with no interference from RCI, the questions is for how long?

Since the article Truth, What is Truth , was published last Thursday, Inside Timeshare has been receiving many more enquiries from confused Anfi members. It would appear that Anfi has stepped up its campaign to spread the falsehood that they are not losing cases at the Lower Courts or the Supreme Court, by contacting members and laying the seeds of doubt. What must be remembered is the simple fact these cases are public record and can easily be verified. Somehow Inside Timeshare gets the feeling that not is all well at Anfi, from our sources there may just be a rather important announcement about to be made. We will keep you informed as and when news becomes available.

Truth, What is Truth?

Next week in our Tuesday article we will be looking at the flurry of lawsuits being brought against timeshare attorneys in the US, Irene again gives the US, along with her own view on this subject. It does look as though the timeshare industry on both sides of the great lake are on the offensive.

So now to Irene’s latest contribution.

Hug Your Haters! A Customer Service Message

A timely message and a needed customer service handbook

catdog

http://www.jaybaer.com/hug-your-haters/

By Irene Parker

August 15, 2017

Hug Your Haters was written before the violence that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia over this past weekend. The event was planned by white supremacy demonstrators. I was trained by a financial planner from Trinidad. He shared with me this story about knocking on the door of a white man. When the man opened the door he took a hard look at my mentor and said, “I shoot black people.” My mentor responded, “I’m not black. I’m from Trinidad.” After a second hard look this white supremacist laughed and said, “You want a beer?”

No matter the color of skin, the amount of wealth you possess, or your determination to make a sale, people are people. Even kings interacted with peasants. Jay Baer’s book could not be timelier. Communication is the key, author Jay Baer asserts. Inside Timeshare agrees.

New York Times bestselling author Jay Baer is to be the keynote speaker at the Interval International Shared Ownership Conference to be held at the Miami Beach Eden Roc Hotel October 23 – 25. Mr. Baer has advised more than 700 companies including The United Nations and 32 Fortune 500 companies.

https://www.regonline.com/builder/site/Default.aspx?EventID=1951406

The title of Mr. Baer’s book, Hug Your Haters, is also the title of his keynote speech that he will deliver to developers, investment bankers, private equity firms and other capital investment firms.

Our Timeshare Advocates are hopeful, as the only response our 400 plus member supported Diamond Resort Advocacy Facebook group has ever received from Diamond was from one brave sales agent who joined the group. Basically, his conclusion was that we are irresponsible whiners unwilling to fulfill our obligations. He ultimately had to be removed for driving away already financially shattered members.

In preparation for Mr. Baer’s keynote address, I have invited him to join our Facebook hoping he may be our bridge to communication. He would at least be provided a microcosm of timeshare comments and complaints to study. I don’t know if I would call us Haters. I think seekers of accountability and transparency describe us better.

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

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

We are not alone. DRIP is a website launched by over 1,000 British members trying to find a way out of their timeshare contracts.

http://drip.enjin.com/

A Club Intrawest Owners Group Facebook has over 3,400 members

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

A recently launched Gold Key Diamond acquired resort Facebook

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

Acquired resorts are on a campaign to reach out to other members in an effort to convince owners not to give up their deed in exchange for non-deeded right to use points.

Eight hundred Bluegreen members call this Facebook Bluegreen Class Action

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

Wyndham lost a whistleblower lawsuit when a jury awarded former Wyndham sales agent Trish Williams $20 million. Ms. Williams mentions TAFT days – tell them any fxxx thing to sell points on slow sales days.

https://dolanlawfirm.com/2016/11/wyndham-vacation-whistleblower-verdict/

hater

I could go on, but clearly Mr. Baer has his work cut out for him.

The timeshare lobby organization ARDA will be quick to point out that 83% of 9,000,000 timeshare owners are happy with their timeshare. Mr. Baer I’m sure will be quick to point out that the 1.15 million who responded they are not happy with their timeshare should not be ignored, even on social media sites. Mr. Baer’s primary thesis is:

Haters are not your problem…..

Ignoring them is.

In his book, Mr. Baer goes on to say that choosing to stay silent speaks volumes. Not responding is a response that says “I don’t care about you.” He talks about how it is psychologically difficult to engage with Haters, especially when they shine a giant spotlight on their perception of your shortcomings.

It’s not all gloom and doom though, at least not for Disney owners. We published this article analyzing why Disney has so few Haters.

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

As far as us chalking us up as disgruntled grumblers that don’t know how to use our points properly, here is one of our Advocates offering his analysis, previously published as a stand-alone article, why the timeshare industry has so many Haters;

It appears the industry has long depended on “self-regulation”. It has not done a great job of that but there have always been just enough companies that seem to try and deliver a quality product and quality customer experience at the same time they balance trying to make a healthy profit.

I think of a brand like Disney first and foremost. Also while I know a company like Marriott has their critics, in all my years traveling and staying at their hotel and timeshare properties I always got the impression they were serious about fulfilling their fiduciary responsibilities and providing top shelf customer service and a quality customer experience. I am sure there are other good examples.

In the past, the actions of the bad eggs of the industry (the industry’s worst examples), the negative impact was always minimal and able to be managed before it metastasized. But the potential problem as I see it is that in the last decade it appears what may be described as large predatory financial engineering companies almost “posing” as timeshare companies have risen and aggressively worked every loophole and non-regulation to their own advantage and now are probably guilty of gross violations of their fiduciary responsibility to their customers / owners. These companies have created vast fortunes for a very small network of individuals at the top of the pyramid.

Ironically though, and looking at historical examples from other industries, it is these very companies likely to bring the whole industry into the national spotlight and to its knees eventually. Some of these appear to have walked to the edge of doing that already.

As these quasi financial engineering / timesharing companies become increasingly more brazen in chasing profits by any means possible, raising fees rapidly at the same time they are reducing owner benefits, due to their increased sheer size the public outcry will likely increase and just the odds of random probability suggests there will be a “Gotcha” moment or event that will bring increased scrutiny and increased legislation.

If the good timeshare companies try to ignore what the bad ones are doing, they may find someday that their systems and profits and share prices are negatively impacted by the future regulations forced on the industry from the egregious actions of the bad actors in their industry.

challenge

We will continue our discussion in a Part II Hug Your Haters article examining two of the eleven points Mr. Baer said customer service professionals will learn by reading Hug Your Haters.  

The two types of Haters and what they want from you when they complain.

Why you need to answer every complaint, in every channel, every time.

Finally, why am I so critical?

It all started when my husband and I attended a pathetically aggressive sales presentation, lied to in order to get us to attend. We had not been happy with availability so in no way were we going to purchase more vacation points. We make due but, like many others, we feel we were oversold on availability.

Next, I learned when we tried to sell our points, because our contract said we could, not one member of the 64 member Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association will accept a Diamond Resort listing, although they will accept virtually all major competitor listings.

http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

As I started publishing articles for TheStreet, Jim Cramer’s Mad Money Investment News Service and then Inside Timeshare, I began to hear from timeshare Haters the world over, including the Philippines and Australia. Families allege they were sold by deceit and bait and switch. To date I have heard from 114 families of which 101 would fall into the Hater category. The others were simply seeking how to go about relinquishing their timeshare.

You can Hug Your Haters all day long but if a timeshare company violates their trust and respect by siding with the sales agent over the customer when the customer knows what they were promised and what was not delivered, Hugs won’t help. Change will.

As our online information site Timeshare Advocacy Group ™ states,

Knowledge Speaks, Wisdom Listens (Jimi Hendrix)

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

This certainly looks a very interesting book and I personally will be looking out for a copy, thanks again to Irene for her insight into this subject, with part two being published next week. Maybe, just maybe, the industry will take note of this.

Over the next few weeks we have some very interesting articles in the pipeline, with one article giving the results of our Timeshare Advocacy Group and the results achieved so far.

If you have any comments on any article published or need any help and advice on any timeshare related matter, contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction. Inside Timeshare is committed to giving you the facts and not fake news.

letter from america

Friday’s Letter From America

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

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

Voting on Resolution 1

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

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

Voting on Resolution 2

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

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

Voting on Resolution 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Tina Timeshare Pinocchio Tale

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

pinocchio

By Irene Parker

June 9, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

A Timeshare Tale

bloke

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

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

#1 A timeshare is tax deductible

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#3 Wyndham has a buy-back program

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

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

My favorite is #5

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

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

#6 Your credit is Golden!!!

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

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

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

the end

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

Which side are you on?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

stop press 1

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

Lawsuit: Diamond Resorts ‘Harasses’ Timeshare Owners

 

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

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

 

weekend02

 

us-eu-coop

Working Together Across The Ocean.

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

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

The Timeshare Advocacy Group ™

butterfly

“Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens” Jimi Hendrix

By Irene Parker

June 5, 2017

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

More importantly, why are they necessary?

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

Timeshare members can contact Timeshare Advocacy Group ™ if they:

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

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

cartoon strip

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Arizona Republic, part of the USA Today Network

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

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

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

Leading these efforts:

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

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

It all started with DRIP

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

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

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

Monarch (DRI acquired) timeshare owners launched a website

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

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

Wyndham Whistleblowers

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

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

Two additional Wyndham Whistleblowers, reported by Scott Brinkmann

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

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

Diamond Resorts Owners Advocacy Group was launched February 2017

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

advocate 1

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

Club Intrawest Owners member sponsored Facebook 3,000 members

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

Gold Key Resorts Owners Forum member sponsored Facebook

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

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

The Bluegreen Corporation 1.5 out of 5 stars

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

Westgate Resorts 1 out of 5 stars

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

RCI 1.3 out of 5 stars

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

Shell Vacation Club 1.3 out of 5 stars

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

Hilton Grand Vacations 1.5 out of 5 stars

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

customer service

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

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

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

Line up

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

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

anfi ariel view

ANFI: Resale Vs On-site Purchase

Inside Timeshare has recently received many enquiries from readers regarding Anfi Resales, which have been private sales either through resale companies, ebay or advertised in newspapers. Would they be better buying those rather than direct from Anfi?

 

As we know, timeshare does not have a great resale value, which many owners who have paid upwards of £15,000 for a basic week have found out. With this also comes very hefty charges for maintenance, which tends to rise each and every year.

 

For those who have purchased privately for very low amounts they have found they do not qualify for any of the benefits which Anfi add on for those who purchase on-site at Anfi. These services such as the Anfi Vacation Club are included in the price when purchasing direct from Anfi, they are not free as many have been led to believe. It is also the case the annual fees are higher for these purchases than for the resale weeks, as these services will be included in the annual fees.

anfi-resale-pageWhat are these so-called benefits?

As a purchaser through Anfi Sales the following are part of the package:

  • Anfi Vacation Club Membership (this allows for internal exchanges)
  • Club and week exchanges (again internal exchanges)
  • RCI Worldwide Exchanges (You can join RCI privately and exchange through them)
  • Springfest 2 for 1 offers (very few and far between)
  • Bonus Weeks (available through RCI anyway)
  • Being able to bank or save weeks (Bank through RCI anyway)
  • Members week offers (never available)
  • Rental programme (only when available, very rare)
  • Anfi buy-back (only when available, very rare)
  • Discounts for on-site services (Restaurants, bars etc, prices are higher than off the resort anyway)

As you can see from the above, you are not actually getting anything for the higher price that you pay when purchasing direct.

Below are some examples of resale weeks advertised either privately or by resale companies.

These four are or have been posted on ebay and Timeshare Hypermarket, what needs to be remembered is that these prices are what the seller believes they can get, most of the time they will sell for a great deal less.
anfi-hyper-1

anfi-2-bed-ebay

This is taken from a Norwegian resale website, a penthouse for week 3, sleeping 6. The price at the current exchange rate is 14,000€ this would sell on-site for upwards of 45,000€

Again this is the price that the owner and the resale company have agreed they believe they can get.
anfi-penthouse-norwegian

These two are advertised on a German resale website, Anfi Beach Club would sell for upwards of  15,000€, Club Monte Anfi for more. Again the prices shown are what the resale company and owner believe they can get, they will more than likely sell for a lot less.
german-anfi-2

So to answer the question is yes you are better off with a resale week, you can join RCI directly and receive the benefits of exchanges through them, purchase the bonus weeks that RCI offer, usually at a better price than Anfi would offer.

As for the so-called discounts, try going off resort to places like Patalavaca and Arguineguin where there is a wider selection of restaurants and bars at much more reasonable prices.

Then when you eventually decide it is no longer for you, you will not be making such a loss as the person you purchased from.

Remember the cost of the timeshare from any resort will always be more than it is actually worth. They do after all have large overheads like the sales staff and marketing costs, these are the bulk of the price that you pay. So if you can pick up weeks for as little as 1500 € which means Anfi over prices the weeks by 90 % ….which is also the reason why the maintenance fees are so high.

 

christmas

What’s Right about Timeshare?

A Holiday Spirit Look at the Industry

By Charles Thomas and Irene Parker

December 19, 2016

car

In the Spirit of the Season, Charles Thomas and Irene Parker would like to thank all our readers. Charles is a former timeshare sales agent and I am a veteran timeshare owner. We each have our stories about timeshare to tell.

Charles:

We have both over the past few weeks written numerous articles about the woes timeshare owners have been facing, some have been out and out horror stories. The story of Mrs Price and MacDonald Resorts has featured prominently over the past few months, this has still not been concluded. Other stories have highlighted the minefield of resales or as they say in the States the secondary market, another aspect has been the bogus law firms and claims companies that prey on those who wish to get out of their timeshares. Another theme has been about the sales agents and the methods employed to secure “the sale”.

I have personally been involved in sales side of the industry, having worked for several companies in the past, I was aware of the pressure that many sales staff are under to get the sale. The misinformation they are forced to give, if they didn’t hit their targets, they lost their job. In some cases if they were in company accommodation that meant they were on the street and homeless, usually in a foreign country.

But it is not all doom and gloom, there are some owners who are very happy with what they have, for them it works well, a case in point are friends of mine, Kim and Andy. They very kindly wrote their story on their timeshare experience for publication. There is also a Facebook page called International Timeshare Appreciation Day, which is held on 1 November. (see links)

There are also some very good timeshare companies out there, who do sell with ethics and morals. They also put their members first, with excellent customer service. These are the ones we never hear about. Two in Europe are Hapimag of Switzerland, whose members are predominantly Swiss and German, the other, is one that you tend not to associate with timeshare, Butlins, who have their Blue Skies membership. In all the research I have done, I have never come across a single complaint about either of them. Maybe others need to change to their model.

http://insidetimeshare.com/happy-owners/

https://www.facebook.com/InternationalTimeshareAppreciationDay/?fref=ts

Irene’s story:  One day, in 1984, my fiancée told me he bought a timeshare. Little did he know it was owned by the Mafia.  Timeshare owners always receive notices of annual meetings, but shortly after his purchase, we received an invitation to Holiday Shore’s annual meeting encouraging us to attend because our deeded fixed week timeshare was scheduled to be auctioned off on Tuesday at 3:30 PM on the step of the Sheriff’s office.

It was the first and last timeshare annual meeting we ever attended. Holiday Shores is located in the Missouri Ozarks and was a popular vacation spot for the Mafia.

There was not enough room for all of us at the scheduled location, so we all moved to the church where we managed to get a seat in the rafters. The resort’s timeshare attorney dramatically rolled out a scroll that flew out about 20 feet as he explained the Bennett family of New York was putting a lien on the property as the construction company had not been paid by their cousins who owned the resort property.

Fortunately for us, Jim Marshall of Marshall Missouri was an owner and a state representative.

The story has a happy ending because, thanks to Mr. Marshall, our timeshare was taken over by the owners and the resort lived happily ever after. It’s still there.

The moral of the story is that owners can make a difference.

Timeshares are not all bad. Twice we exchanged our timeshare through RCI and did not return home because we bought a house at the exchange location. We moved to Hawaii because of that every year trip to our Maui Hill timeshare and my stumbling onto a job opening the first Edward Jones office on the Big Island called Hawaii.

After nine years in Hawaii, we exchanged our Port Elsewhere week in the Ozarks for Petoskey Michigan and bought a house while on vacation. It worked until we realized moving from Honolulu to northern Michigan wasn’t all that smart, but the place is really pretty in August. Tired of white out roads, we exchanged Port Elsewhere for Cave City, Kentucky at Diamond Caverns (no relation) at Mammoth Cave. Again we bought a house.

This prompts our kids to pause when we tell them we are going on vacation and ask, “Are you coming back?” We’ve become known as the Prodigal Parents.

We look forward to continue our battle fighting for timeshare reform; a better secondary market, less deceptive and less aggressive sales practices, but for now we wish you a

Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday Season.

A Christmas Present Complement to Disney from Timeshare Attorney Mike Finn

He’s never had a Disney timeshare client.

The End

children

 

Both Myself and Irene wish all our readers in Europe, The United States and beyond and very Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

 

colerado-seal-ag

Another US Attorney General Exposes Deceptive Tactics.

Timeshare is not having a good time right now, in Europe and especially Spain the industry is reeling from very costly litigation. This is costing resorts and developers a fortune in returning money for purchases made which have gone against the laws put in place to protect consumers.

In the United States the industry is also under fire, most recently a former sales agent has been awarded $20 million for unfair dismissal by Wyndham. She had been branded a “troublemaker” after she complained about unfair and dubious sales tactics being employed.

We have also seen the NY Attorney General close down the sales operation at The Manhattan Club, due to allegedly fraudulent sales practices involving a “bait and switch” scheme. Manhattan Club buyers learned there was a lack of availability for those who purchased memberships, while the general public could easily book online. A court battle that began in 2014 continues today.

The following article by Irene Parker explains the most recent news coming in from across the Great Lake.

Colorado Attorney General Scores a Goal for Timeshare Reform

By Irene Parker

December 12, 2016

keep-calm

All timeshare owners and buyers want is honesty and a fair price for their timeshare, along with reasonable maintenance fees and a legitimate secondary market. Now a third US Attorney General scores a goal for timeshare reform by exposing deceptive timeshare business practices.


There is something flawed if a product cannot be sold, if it is not sold same day. Even car shoppers are allowed to think about it, and many timeshare purchases cost as much or more than a luxury car. There are first day pricing incentives and consumers are told they cannot buy in the future.


According to Highlands Resorts’ sales manager Steve Abrahamson, named in the lawsuit, “In the eighteen months he worked for Highlands Resorts, not a single consumer returned after their sales presentation to make a purchase. In his fifteen years in the timeshare industry, Abrahamson never saw a consumer purchase a timeshare after leaving a sales presentation.”


http://www.businessden.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/5B3AF6808EF5C.pdf


Colorado Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman has sued Highlands Resorts at Christie Lodge in Avon, Colorado for deceptive trade practices in Denver County Court. The state is also suing sales manager Greg Penrod and twelve other defendants. Several were outbound telemarketers.


Sedona Pines Resort in Arizona was also named in the lawsuit. I spoke to a former Diamond sales agent. Diamond agents cannot disclose any company policies or procedures due to a “CNDA” sales agent agreement they are required to sign. It stands for “confidential non-disclosure agreement” discouraging Whistleblowers. Not all agents are dishonest, so the sales agent who realizes something very wrong and harmful is being done to consumers, wants to tell their story.

In this case, the former sales agent said Diamond Resort owners, desperate to be released from rising maintenance fees, went to presentations at nearby resorts hoping for alternatives. Some Pines brokers would inflate the price of the Pines program to make Diamond owners think they were getting something for their Diamond points or weeks as a trade-in. A dollar amount would be added onto the purchase price as a “trade-in” if the consumer purchased a Sedona Pines program.

The Colorado lawsuit provided an example of fake pricing. “A fake price sheet itemized costs totaling $25,224, which included $6,995 in RCI upgrade points. If the buyer purchased today, Highlands promised to pay the $6,995.  However, Highland did not pay the $6,995. They only paid $179 in RCI dues instead of the $6,995 for RCI points.”


Amy DiPierro is a reporter for BusinessDen. She writes:


According to the state, “Highlands Resorts and its owner, Telluride resident Todd Herrick, “intentionally deceived, misled, and financially injured consumers” using high pressure selling tactics. Highlands Resorts is one of a larger group of timeshare companies controlled by a resort called Sedona Pines in Arizona. On its website, Highlands Resorts says it operates one resort in Durango and two resorts in Arizona.   


The state, which is represented by the office of Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, is seeking payments of $325,000 from those four defendants and a permanent injunction that would stop them from, among other things, advertising timeshares without displaying fees and conditions. A spokesperson did not respond to a message seeking comment.

http://www.businessden.com/2016/12/07/ag-sues-timeshare-firm-for-deceptive-tactics/


Similar deceptive and misleading sales and marketing tactics are outlined in other lawsuits. Candace Czarny and two other former Hyatt sales agents filed a class action Whistleblower lawsuit against Hyatt timeshare. Candace is seeking Hyatt owners who feel they have been deceived by misleading and deceptive tactics.


http://insidetimeshare.com/whistleblowers-expose-timeshare-sales-tactics/


A jury awarded former Wyndham timeshare sales agent Trish Williams a $20 million Whistleblower award. Wyndham issued a statement saying the tactics used are not representative of their company policy, according to the NY Times.
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/25/business/my-soul-feels-taller-a-whistle-blowers-20-million-vindication.html?_r=1


The Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery III recovered $3 million for Festiva timeshare victims.  


https://www.tn.gov/attorneygeneral/news/38312


The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is in the second year of a Westgate timeshare investigation.

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/brinkmann-on-business/os-probe-westgate-resorts-tactics-20160318-story.html

It’s getting harder to believe these practices are not representative of timeshare.

 

whos-next  Who’s Next?

 

 


Part II of this article will examine the fourteen defendants charged with violating the “Do Not Call” list to offer vacation incentives they proclaim are valued at $1,900. The lawsuit claims these certificates cost the developer $40.

I personally received a call from Fort Lauderdale yesterday. When I mentioned I was on the DNC list, he apologized and proceeded with his pitch. This is outbound telemarketing, so there is no way to contact the person or company that called.

We’re up to three Attorney Generals who have sued the timeshare companies. Timeshare developers figure in the cost of owner lawsuits as part of their annual budget. They do not figure in the cost of an Attorney General suing the company.

In the case of Christie Lodge, the resort is open but the sales program is not operational.

get-involved

So the question that must be asked is when will the industry wake up and change how it operates, not just in the USA, but in Europe and the rest of the world?

Inside Timeshare once again thanks Irene for her contribution, without her efforts we would not be able to bring you the news from across the water, bringing consumers together in a cause that affects all timeshare owners. Honesty, integrity and fairness are the elements that are missing in this industry, it must be said that not all are guilty of this, there are some who do work by these principles, but it is those who don´t that give it a bad name and reputation.

If you have any questions or comment about this or any other article published, use the comment section to send us a message. If you have a story or information that you would like to share, Inside Timeshare would like to hear from you.

  weekend

Word Cloud with Data Protection related tags

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”. 

wyndham-plaza

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.

no availability

No Availability: Why?

One of the main complaints we hear about at Inside Timeshare and on various forums, is the lack of availability that floating weeks and points members encounter. So why is this?

 

Originally, timeshare was sold on a fixed week basis, with the owner being given a week number and apartment. This entitled the owner to return to their resort the same week each year and use the same apartment. It was this method of use which attracted many people to buy, it guaranteed the standard of accommodation and the holiday. For many this system was great, they returned the same time each year, getting to know other owners. For many who had young children this was an added bonus, they got to know other kids and over the years some very good friendships developed.

 

Over the years and speaking to these owners, they even arranged holidays at other resorts as a group. Using the RCI or Interval International exchange system, they would bank their weeks and book at other locations. They became in effect an extended family.

how-timeshare-points-systems-work-presentation-and-script-5-638

When the floating weeks and points systems were introduced, they were marketed as being more flexible. At first this was the case, although many remained as fixed week owners. The points system does not actually entitle you to anything other than right to use, you are no longer an owner at a resort but a member of the club which sells the points.

 

For example, Sunterra took over the management of a small resort in Mallorca called Cala de Mar. It is not a large resort, around 45 apartments, it had a large membership of fixed week owners who returned year after year. They got to know the staff and the staff remembered them when they returned. Sunterra tried to convert these owners into points members, but most resisted. For them, they purchased at this resort for one simple reason, they loved the size and friendliness of the place. They actually felt that they owned something.

cala de mar
Cala de Mar Mallorca

After Sunterra collapsed and Diamond took over, the resort was ditched. It was taken over by the ONA Group, many of the old fixed week owners are still there and return year after year.

 

Another aspect to the complaints of availability is the rental weeks that are also on offer. These are available over the internet through booking companies such as booking.com, tripadvisor, medresorts,net, Trivago and many more. Resorts also have their own websites and offer rentals, many for considerably less than the maintenance fees that members are charged, some even advertising 25 to 60% discounts.

bookingcom

These resorts are also booking out to the major tour operators such as TUI and Thomas Cook, again many at less than maintenance charges. Why is this happening?

 

Remember that most resorts are not owned by the companies that manage them, they own your membership of points, they collect your maintenance fees but you are their members not the resorts. They may only have so much inventory at this or that resort, the resorts themselves only get a fraction of the maintenance fees. In order to keep the resort afloat, they rent out the inventory not being used by the points club. So when you the points member tries to book, there is no availability at the resort, hence the booking window in many cases is a minimum of 12 months in advance. Anything after that, you may just be lucky. It is also the case that the points club has more members than it has inventory, so you can see where the the problems is, more people than accommodation available.

 

So why are you the member paying thousands for a membership which guarantees you nothing, costs you the earth every year in management fees, then you are unable to get rid of it. Locked into a contract which is no good to you?

 

Only you can answer this question.

 

Yes, these resorts are of a high standard, but would you not be better booking as a non member, paying for your holiday without the ever increasing maintenance. Then as we have seen recently at Garden Lago, the management company who you own the points with, sells their interest and you end up losing any of the member benefits when returning to the resort on the exchange system.

interval

Try searching the internet for the resorts by name which are in the RCI & II catalogue, you will be amazed at what is available. You will also be surprised at the cost, yes at certain times of year the prices may be high, but is this not also the case when using the high street travel agent? One thing to remember, even if the price for a week is more than your maintenance fees, the person booking as a non member has not paid around £10,000 for membership. I leave you to decide what is better value.

 

It must also be mentioned, this is the reason the Spanish Supreme Court has ruled that floating weeks and points have been declared illegal.

 

If you have any questions about this or any other timeshare matter, Inside Timeshare will try to answer. If we do not know, we will find out. Also if you want any information as to how you can get out of your membership, contact Inside Timeshare, there is a solution for you.

garden lago

Diamond Resorts Sell Garden Lago Interest.

Just recently it was announced that Diamond had sold its interest in the Garden Lago Resort, Alcudia Mallorca. The new management company that has taken over is the ONA Group, who also run the former Sunterra / Diamond resort Cala de Mar in Cala Egos and also the Cala Pi resort in Llucmajor.

logo_Onagrup

Diamond did not own the resort, they were purely the management company charged with operating it. This is the same for all the resorts that come under the Diamond Brand. Many of the original owners at Garden Lago purchased fixed weeks, then were converted to the points system under Sunterra and then Diamond. Under this system they are members of Diamond Resorts International and have no rights at Garden Lago.

 

So what does this mean for members?

 

While Diamond ran the resort, members had the right to use with full member benefits that Diamond offered. Now the only way to stay at this resort as a Diamond points member is to use the exchange programme, either through Interval International or RCI. Unfortunately this will not include the full Diamond member benefits.

 

For one family this has come as a rather big blow, their story was posted on Tripadvisor just recently. They state that they had been on holiday in Mallorca and attended a presentation at Garden Lago, and liked what they saw, they then purchased the Discover Diamond Package.

 

After visiting the resort on several occasions, they decided to purchase the full Diamond Points system, as they told the sales staff, it was on the basis that they only wanted to use Garden lago. They were not interested in other resorts that Diamond had to offer, Mallorca held some special holiday memories for them, and as stated before they loved the resort itself.

dri logo

Now that Diamond no longer has a presence on Mallorca and especially at Garden Lago, they believe that their contract with Diamond has been altered significantly. Unfortunately, this is the problem with the points system, members do not have any rights at the resort in which they made the purchase. So, the only way their points membership will get them the full benefits, is to use another resort managed by Diamond.

 

This is one example of why the Spanish Supreme Court declared the points system illegal, the other is that it is subject to availability, your holiday at a particular resort is not guaranteed.

 

For this family it will also now incur considerable expense, when it was managed by Diamond they would use the Diamond booking system. Now they will need to pay Interval International or RCI membership, including the exchange fees.

 

As reported elsewhere, Diamond have had a fall in their net income of around 28%, normally Diamond are buyers, it may be this fall that has prompted the sale. Could this be just the first, are there more planned? Are Diamond offloading some of their European Collection and is it linked with the acquisition by Apollo?

 

These questions may not be answered yet, but time will tell. As the news comes in Inside Timeshare will bring it to you.

 

If you have any questions about this or any timeshare matter, contact Inside Timeshare for free and impartial advice.

  • 1
  • 2