Welcome to this week’s Tuesday Slot, this week Irene Parker looks at the 2nd quarter of the year from The Timeshare Advocacy Group™, it clearly shows how this group has grown. This group is clearly making the industry very jittery, but as we have said before, “they only have themselves to blame”.
In tomorrows article we will be having a quick look at the latest news from the courts in Spain, there have certainly been some incredible results this week. So rather than give them here they deserve an article to themselves.
Now on with the Tuesday Slot.
The Timeshare Advocacy Group™
2nd Quarter Report
By Irene Parker
July 10, 2018
Timeshare Advocacy Group™ assisted 483 timeshare families as of June 30, 2018. TAG took root February of 2017. About a half dozen of us started a clearing house of information and as Inside Timeshare gained readership, more and more timeshare members reached out to us for assistance and advice. One of our Facebooks that began with 30 members February 2017 now proudly posts comments from 1570 members from 30 countries!
TAG received a total of 267 requests for assistance for all of 2017. Just through the first half of 2018, TAG received 228 requests from timeshare members, so we approached double the volume of complaints, just in the first six months of 2018. Timeshare members seek straight answers which our advocates provide free of charge from Australia to England and between.
All but a handful of our 483 families reported back to us that their complaint was dismissed with, “You signed a contract” or “We’re not responsible for what our sales agents say.” If this is the official position at some timeshare companies, we feel the consumer should be aware of this in order to make an informed decision as to whether a timeshare is right for you or your family.
Not one of the 483 families that reached out to us was aware that there is little to no secondary market for many timeshares. We encourage timeshare buyers to contact a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association before buying any timeshare. Licensed timeshare resale brokers, charging nothing to list a timeshare, work in all timeshares and can cover the spectrum of available choices helping you decide whether it is best to buy on the secondary market or direct from the timeshare developer. There are pros and cons for both. http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/
About half of the members reaching out to us are battling serious medical issues or hit one of life’s road bumps that made the timeshare unusable or unaffordable. Many are saddled with high interest rate loans and some with higher interest rate credit cards. Unlike your personal residence, it is difficult to get rid of a timeshare that has an outstanding loan. We have been contacted by senior after senior, facing foreclosure for the first time in their life, because of defaulting on a timeshare loan. Almost all have high credit scores and have rarely been late paying a bill. The foreclosure process can be devastating. Just knowing you are not alone can be a comfort. This is a difficult process for the young as well.
Our Military Team leader, John Collick, experienced his complaint dismissed with “We are not responsible for what our sales agents say,” As described in John’s Inside Timeshare’s July 3 article. John said he was told the timeshare he had owned for years was being acquired by the company he booked a stay with, told he needed to buy timeshare points from that company as the points would cost much more after his resort was acquired. According to John, this information was false.
“We’re not responsible for what our sales agents say,” seems somewhat of an admission that Section 5 of the FTC code has been violated. According to the Federal Trade Commission Section 5:
An act or practice is deceptive where
- a representation, omission, or practice misleads or is likely to mislead the consumer;
- a consumer’s interpretation of the representation, omission, or practice is considered reasonable under the circumstances;
- and the misleading representation, omission, or practice is material.
Our standard disclaimer is that we know there are millions who use their timeshares with no complaints. We are encouraged by some timeshare developers who seem sincerely interested in improving timeshare sales practices.
We are proud to have grown to 44 advocates, professionals bringing their skills and life experiences to the table to advocate on behalf of timeshare members seeking to address concerns about their membership. We have established seven teams. Although all our advocates are dedicated, it is understandable that once a dispute has been resolved, enthusiasm diminishes, especially if the member was required to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Over the past year, more core advocates have volunteered to stay with us for the long haul, as we continue to organize and improve operations. If you signed an NDA, it does not prevent you from joining our legislative outreach team, for example.
Leading our efforts:
- Reporting Team, functions as a quality circle management team
- Media Team Leader – Richard Sokolowski, real estate agent, Arizona
- Military Team Leader, John Collick, First Sergeant, USMC (Retired)
- Legislative Team Leader, Sheilah Brust, retired from the New York Governor’s Office of Employee Relations
- Scam Research: Deniece Vargas, California
- Technology Support (Open due to Team Leader signing an NDA)
- Foreclosure Support, Scotty Black, M.S. Criminal Justice
Probably the most common comment we at Inside Timeshare hear is, “At least I know I am not alone.” Proactive action, working with a volunteer towards timeshare resolution, relinquishment, refund, or even foreclosure, takes the problem from the unknown to the known.
We seek to provide timeshare members a way to proactively address membership concerns; to advocate for timeshare reform; to obtain greater disclosure from the company; to advocate for a viable secondary market; and to educate prospective buyers.
Consultants and behind-the-scenes advocates add an additional layer of advice and protection. One very important consideration is that many of those we have helped were on their way to the upfront “guaranteed to get you out of your timeshare” firms that sometimes prey on those already victimized. Not all are bad, but scams abound. From this perspective, the developer, the timeshare lobby, and TAG advocates are on the same side. This 15 page Department of Justice report listing timeshare fraud, jail terms and fines, says it all:
Thank you to all our Contributors and upcoming new Contributors. Contact Inside Timeshare if you, or someone you know, needs assistance or would like to share their timeshare story for the benefit of others.
“Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens” Jimi Hendrix
So that’s it for today, all it leaves us to say now is if you have been contacted by any company or found one on the internet and want to know if they are genuine and can be trusted to what they claim. Contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.