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It Works in Other Industries So Why Not In Timeshare?

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

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

Timeshare Advocacy Group ™

Secret Timeshare Shopper

secret shopper

By Karen Garello

June 22, 2017

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

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

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

But here’s what happened to me

head

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What can I do to stop others from being harmed?

speak up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

eye

By Irene Parker

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

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

The Law Office of Carrie M. Wilcox

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

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

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

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

shopper cartoon

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

 

 

Dialogue: The Way Forward!

Today Inside Timeshare publishes another article submitted by Irene Parker, with the end of the election in the USA, Irene looks at the divide in the nation and how this also equates to the divide in the timeshare world. In this article she looks at the great gap between owners and developers, using a video from Parker J. Palmer titled Stand in the Tragic Gap, showing how there are two sides to any controversial issue.

Again Irene calls on developers to join with owners to find a solution which will benefit both parties, it has been said before in previous articles, until both parties work together then there is little hope for this industry. There are many owners who love what they have, but there are also many who feel they have been let down, either with the “resale” or “secondary” market, or down to the problem of handing back when no longer being able to use either from illness, financial changes or just old age. This is also a problem for many owners in Europe, some developers have put in place exit strategies, some are fair, others are downright greedy with up to 4 years maintenance payments and only limited numbers being allowed to exit on a first come first served basis. In other words you need the luck of a lottery win.

Inside Timeshare hopes this article will explain the problem and how it can be solved, enjoy.

 

How Will the Outcome of the US Presidential Election Affect Timeshare?

c1By Irene Parker, November 9, 2016

Like the Clinton and Trump camps, timeshare owners and developers cannot heal until the two sides listen to each other. If we continue to

“Stand in the Tragic Gap”

Timeshare will continue to be a battlefield with timeshare owners at odds with timeshare developers. True and meaningful dialogue could heal an election or timeshare. Sometimes timeshare and elections overlap, as in the case of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi:

http://insidetimeshare.com/news-across-pond/

According to the Tragic Gap, creator Parker J. Palmer says there are two sides to any controversial issue. One side Parker Palmer calls “corrosive cynicism” – “greed is how this works, I take mine, run and forget these other people and their needs.” The other side is “irrelevant idealism”. Parker Palmer claims both sides cause a functional disconnect that takes us out of action.

Ironically, my name is Parker and the CEO of Diamond Resorts is David Palmer.

Take a listen:

http://www.couragerenewal.org/723/

Next consider:

Timeshare owners of the Diamond Resorts Grand Beach Resort, a 192-unit property in Orlando, Fla. … learned in a letter in September that their annual maintenance fee would rise 14.9 percent this year.

But here’s how the CEO, David Palmer, described it to investors in 2014, per a NY Times article written by Pulitzer winner Gretchen Morganson

“Anything that is put in the budget that gets expended on an annual basis, we get our 15 percent fee,” Mr. Palmer explained to investors at a September 2014 conference, according to a transcript. “That is basically a 100 percent profit business.”

Many remember the junk bond debacle and subprime mortgage issues that drove unsuspecting homeowners into foreclosure, while unscrupulous lenders like Drexel Burnham Lambert made billions.

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More News from Across the Pond

With the US Presidential election now coming to a close over the next week, Irene Parker, who collaborates with Inside Timeshare on matters which affect timeshare on both side of the Great Lake (or Pond as our American friends call it), has sent in her most recent article.

It very much focuses on the political game that is affecting timeshare in the US, showing how it splits into Republican and Democrat, as she explained, the industry is very much pro Republican, the Trump camp, the Democrats seem to be supported by the timeshare owners. We should not be surprised by this.

Irene has very often commented on the documentary “The Queen Of Versailles”, the wife of the owner of Westgate, David Siegel. It shows the 90,000sq ft property they have been building as their home. It is quite staggering, with a walk in wardrobe (sorry closet), bigger that most homes in Europe. Irene has in many writings dubbed herself “The Peasant of Venice” in contrast to The Queen. Have to admit Irene does have a great sense of humour. Irene claims it’s not humour if one studies Polish and Russian history and the need for peasant uprisings.

Irene opens her article on the New York Manhattan Club, when the Democratic New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman halted trading of timeshare. As you will see from her article, it is a very murky world indeed, the lines between timeshare and politics are blurred to say the least. Enjoy her article it reveals a lot.

Timeshare Battles Split Down Political Party Lines

October 26, 2016

By Irene Parker submitted to Orlando Sentinel

Democratic New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman made headlines taking on presidential candidate Donald Trump and the Trump Foundation. Mr. Schneiderman claimed the Foundation did not meet certain administrative requirements necessary to receive donations in New York.

In addition to challenging Trump, Mr. Schneiderman has also taken on another developer and billionaire, Bruce Eichner, and Eichner’s Manhattan Club timeshare. Mr. Schneiderman halted timeshare sales 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 New York Post unleashed an onslaught of criticisms against Mr. Schneiderman accusing him of picking his fights based on political motives.

Republican Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi created her own headlines when she accepted a $25,000 donation from Donald Trump while considering whether to participate in a Trump University investigation. Her investigation was dropped after receiving the donation.

There is an eerie similarity between Trump U and timeshare sales, illustrated in an extraordinary CNN interview between Trump U salesperson James Harris and CNN investigative reporter Drew Griffin. Not all timeshare sales agents are predatory, but complaints about overly aggressive sales tactics abound.

In the CNN interview, Harris is accused of exploiting the elderly by selling them classes averaging $34,000 and then “up selling” them to attend more classes. In rogue timeshare presentations, an average timeshare week costs $25,000 and after the initial purchase, owners are barraged to purchase additional points or weeks.

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