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Wyndham Worldwide

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this week’s Letter from America, today we welcome a new contributor David Althage with his Nightmare on Timeshare Street”  story. David is another in the long list of veterans who have experienced problems at the hands of timeshare sales agents. Once again a big thanks to Irene Parker for her introduction.

A Wyndham Timeshare Buyer, a Marine Veteran, Shares his Timeshare Experience

January 11, 2019

Introduction by Irene Parker

Marine Veteran David Althage is one of 90 veterans and active duty service members who feel they have been financially harmed by their decision to buy a timeshare. Many of the veterans are disabled. By publishing member accounts, we hope others will be made aware of the financial hardship that can result when a perpetual contract is signed, a contract accompanied by annual maintenance fees, with little to no secondary market.

We understand there are many who use and enjoy their timeshare. Many may have not been made aware of the difficulties that can arise when there is little to no secondary market.

A draft of today’s article was sent to Wyndham but the dispute was not resolved. We feel there should be better disclosure as to the lack of a viable secondary market. Timeshare companies list in their 10k annual reports a viable secondary market is a risk to their investors.   

By David Althage

I would like to share my Wyndham experience, hoping others will take the time to think about a decision that can easily become a financial albatross. I deeply regret our decision to buy the timeshare. They pressured us to a huge extent, but we didn’t realize this until much later. I feel we experienced elder abuse.

I am a veteran of the Marines. I served from 1964 to 1968 and ended up as a Corporal E4. I spent most of 1965 and 1966 in Vietnam and my specialty was machine gunner which I did on the ground and also as the door gunner on helicopters. I was wounded twice and I have also suffered from skin cancer, possible from Agent Orange. All of that seems a lifetime away as my wife and I have been settled for many years in Missouri. These days I repair mobile homes for work, and I keep going at this even though I am now 73. I do not have retirement or a pension. I only have social security.

My wife and I were in a Branson, Missouri mall when a woman at a kiosk told us she had some things to give away, but we would need to attend a 90 minute presentation. The 90 minute Wyndham presentation lasted over five hours. Over 5 hours!

The sales reps kept talking, stalling and feeding us more information. They talked so fast it was difficult to take it all in. There was a lot of paper. We started at 8:30 a.m. They did not tell us how much the timeshare would cost until about 12:30 p.m. We were tired, hungry. We kept asking how much longer it would take. The reps did not offer lunch nor would they allow us to leave to get lunch. Due to our medical issues, our heads were spinning, and my wife’s blood sugar was really dropping. She felt unwell. I suffer from macular degeneration and glaucoma, and I also need cataract surgery. I don’t see well. It was impossible to properly examine all the paperwork. And by the way, the original agent at the kiosk promised us show tickets on the Branson Belle, but it was sold out.

We are shocked at how hard this program is to use. Early in November 2017 we wanted to book a suite in Branson after Christmas in order to see a special show. We were surprised and totally disappointed when the booking center told us that we would have to book at least nine to ten months in advance. They had nothing available at any of their six Branson resorts. We don’t know our schedule that far ahead due to health issues and doctors’ appointments, etc. They did not tell us about having to book so far in advance at the sales meeting. We received a letter from Wyndham which stated,

“As part of an ongoing commitment to enable more owners to vacation where they want, when they want and how they want, in May we introduced updates to the CLUB WYNDHAM Plus Program Guidelines. These updates, made by the FairShare Vacation Owners Association Board, were introduced to help you own your vacation experience and get more out of your vacation.”

We really resent that Wyndham said we could vacation wherever and whenever we wanted. They didn’t give us the straight facts on how hard it is to book. I can only conclude that this statement was a lie.

We found out later that when you book a room and you have to cancel, you have to do it 17 days in advance of your reservation or you lose your points. This is an egregious way to treat anyone, let alone senior citizens! As a result of all this, the timeshare is not of much benefit, especially considering the price we pay.

Another point we wish to make is that the sales reps told us that by taking out visa cards through Barclays, and by making all our payments through these cards, the timeshare would “pay for itself” by generating income from points on purchases. They claimed that these points would then pay for our maintenance fees and our payments to Barclays as well. This is absolute nonsense! You can only pay for about 1% of the maintenance fee by charging, so a $2000 maintenance fee purchase would require $200,000 a year in charges!

One of the reps told us that if we decided we did not want the timeshare, we could easily sell it with no problem. By saying we could do this “with no problem” we took it that it would at least hold its value. Checking online, we were shocked to find out that these timeshares have almost no value at all. He misled us.

Sales agent Landon Anderson gave us his phone number and said to call him any time. He said, “If you ever have any problems, we will work with you.” We said we were going to Branson after Christmas to which he replied that he would take us out to dinner. We called and called, but there was no answer. We believe this number was a burner phone in a drawer somewhere.

Finally, the reps never gave us a hard copy of the contract. We specifically asked for this, but instead handed us a tablet saying that these days everything was electronic. As a result, we could not read the contract so I don’t even know if we could have rescinded in time. I called Wyndham and insisted that they send me a hard copy by mail. It took a long time to arrive. We have been unable to make the electronic device work, so for the longest time we had no idea what was on there.

It felt like they were only interested in making a sale.

This is my sorry Wyndham experience.

From Florida Trends

The world’s largest timeshare developer, Wyndham Destinations, got off to a promising start this summer as a standalone company. The Orlando-based business, established when Wyndham Worldwide split its hotel and timeshare divisions, announced in August that timeshare sales increased by 7% and earnings exceeded Wall Street expectations during its first quarter on its own. “It was an outstanding quarter,” Michael Brown, Wyndham Destinations’ president and CEO, said on the company’s earnings call with analysts.

There was a cloud over the results, however. During the call, Wyndham also revealed that the number of owners defaulting on their timeshare mortgages climbed during the second quarter, extending what has become a multiyear increase in defaults. The company says the rate of increase in its provision for loan losses has slowed to “under 5%” in the second half of 2018, but in the earnings call Brown said defaults remain “higher than we would like,” seconded by CFO Michael Hug, who added that “loan loss remains a central area of focus.”

Of the company’s nearly 900,000 owners, only 200,000 have loans. However, the company expects to set aside 21% of its gross sales to cover losses in 2018 — meaning it expects not to collect $21 of every $100 it’s loaned.

Wyndham blames much of the problem on secondary companies in the timeshare market — firms that resell timeshares, arrange for the transfer of ownership or help purchasers get out of their timeshare contracts.

https://www.floridatrend.com/article/25726/timeshare-tussle

We are no fans of exit companies, but the industry as a whole seems to show undue finger pointing at exit companies, rather than even consider there might be a problem in-house.   

Former Wyndham sales agent and whistleblower Trish Williams was awarded $20 million:

Wyndham’s sales goals for employees were impossible to meet if representatives adhered to the company’s policies and regulations governing timeshare sales, Robert Parker, a former sales executive, testified in depositions. When sales at the Canterbury lagged, he explained, something known as “TAFT days” came into play.

“TAFT is the acronym for ‘tell them any frigging thing,’” Mr. Parker testified. “In other words, it didn’t matter what you said. We need business. Today’s your day. Just tell them whatever you got to tell them. That’s what TAFT is.”

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

It may be a lofty goal, but we are hoping that by hearing the consumer’s side, a better relationship, and better corporate margins can be achieved, by addressing the problems rather than pretend the problems don’t exist. Inside Timeshare has listened to 659 mainly infuriated timeshare members.

Self-help groups we feel are not industry influenced:

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

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

Thank you to David for sharing his story, if you find after reading these articles that you have similar experiences and would like to share them with other, then use our contact page. We will then be in touch and welcome your contributions. It is only through your stories and “Nightmares on Timeshare Street” that the industry might, just might take notice, then we may see changes for the better.

Following on from the many articles that Inside Timeshare publishes about bogus law firms, claims companies, resale and exit companies, if you have been contacted or even been taken in by them, again use our contact page to get in touch. Your information can then be published to warn others, it is only through you the readers that these scam merchants can be outed and others prevented from falling victim.

As always do your homework before engaging with any company that has contacted you or that you have found either on the net or through adverts in various publications. Just because you see an advert in a prestigious paper or magazine, does not mean they are legitimate. Remember, the advertising department is there to sell advertising space, they make no checks on whether the company is genuine.

Have a great weekend and join us again next week.

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.

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/

 

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.

High Court Action and RCI: Update.

The RCI High Court Action is underway, the Financial Times published a story by Jane Croft outlining the history over the case. (see link below).

 

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/319c5804-1b7d-11e6-a7bc-ee846770ec15.html#axzz49Swb0kAw

edwincoe

As we previously stated this action is being conducted on behalf of Four RCI members by Edwin Coe LLP, another 483 members are also part of this case. They alledge that RCI has skimmed off weeks from the exchange inventory, thus depriving members the exchanges they had been promised when signing up to the RCI exchange system.

 

RCI which is part of the American Wyndham Worldwide hospitality company, has since it was founded in 1974 been the major timeshare exchange system. It allows timeshare owners to bank and exchange their resorts for others worldwide, thus increasing the number of locations owners can choose from.

 

We stated in a previous article http://insidetimeshare.com/rci-action-update/ this case follows one taken in the U.S. The members stated that they were unable to get the exchanges they requested or were promised when they joined the exchange group, they alledge that RCI had been renting out the weeks in the inventory to non members for profit. Members pay a fee to join and a yearly membership fee, they also pay for the exchanges, there is also a system of bonus weeks.

rcilogo

Bonus weeks are offered to members in order fill unused weeks in the inventory, these weeks are those that have not been booked, so are available to be used. Typically they will be offered as last minute deals, not unlike those offered by high street travel agents in order to clear remaining inventory. This in itself is good as it does allow the resorts to have a flow of guests as well as giving owners extra holidays.

 

The QC representing RCI Charles Graham, stated in his opening that the allegations of skimming were unfounded, because of the advantages of the “open exchange system”. RCI in a written statement stated that they were entitled to use members timeshares as they saw fit. Apparently this is due to a clause in the contract referred to as “ Permitted use”. Well I am not sure what this all means, so we will have to wait for the legal eagles to conclude their arguments.

 

If the members succeed in this case it may just open up the flood gate to more litigation, again this is another example of an industry being brought into disrepute. We have said it before, they only have themselves to blame, rather than look after the owners/members they seek only profit. We are not saying that making a profit is wrong, but at the expense of their own clients it does seem to be a tad unethical.

flood gate

Inside Timeshare will keep you up to date as the news comes in, so watch this space.

 

If you have any news or information about any company, or have had a problem and would like to share this with others, Inside Timeshare would like to hear from you. Contact us through the comments section and we will get back to you for further information. Inside Timeshare exists to keep you the owner’s informed and up to date. You will not get this information from your own timeshare companies, they want you to stay in the dark.