Welcome to The Tuesday Slot, today we welcome another new contribution from the Valdibieso Family, with their “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”. These features are becoming all too commonplace, so it does beg the question, When will the industry take note and change?
Our very own Irene Parker has reported that the Platinum Protestors, protesting out front of Diamond ResortsCypress Pointe Resort in Orlando over the weekend, especially on Sunday, had a steady stream of horn honks, thumb’s up, and members who talked about their experiences, and many who asked questions about their concerns. On Friday, May 17, they protested outside the Florida Timeshare Division. One person who works inside the state facility, who asked not to be identified, suggested they protest every Friday. Unfortunately, since the protestors live in NY and AZ, it would be difficult to commute. All in all, it was a major success. A full report will be presented in Friday’s Letter From America.
Don’t Buy a Timeshare Without Checking Good and Bad Reviews
By the Valdibieso Family
May 21, 2019
Our nightmare began after we purchased a Sapphire Resort timeshare in Las Vegas in October 2017. From the start, our timeshare experience has been one of anger and frustration.
We have joined efforts with Vanessa Hernandez who purchased a Sapphire timeshare the day of the Las Vegas mass murder. Her article is linked below. Vanessa was uncomfortable after signing her contract, so planned to review her contract that evening, but attended the concert that devastated her life. She could not even get out of bed for a long time due to the trauma. Even a horror like witnessing a mass murder did not move Starpoint Sapphire to cancel her contract, despite reported misrepresentations.
I found 221 Starpoint Sapphire complaints on file with the Better Business Bureau, in addition to a host of complaints on other complaints sites. Starpoint has an A+ BBB rating. The BBB basically assigns a rating on how efficiently a company handles complaints. As you can see, Starpoint Sapphire is quick to respond that you signed a contract so you’re stuck.
Vanessa and I have joined forces to get the word out to let others know the timeshare you buy is worthless if you need to sell it. Not only is it worthless, it is accompanied by rising maintenance fees. I know of no other product that holds the buyer hostage, making sure they stay vacationed or else.
Join our consumer protection efforts. If you bought a timeshare and are happy with it, we understand. Not all sales agents are deceptive. We intend, like so many other timeshare buyers who feel they experienced unfair and deceptive sales practices, to build our Facebook group and start a RedWeek and Timeshare Users Group thread.
Until the timeshare industry wakes up to the fact that they are financially destroying family after family by allowing unfair and deceptive sales practices, and restricting the secondary market to the extent you can’t dispose of it, consumers will be harmed. Publicly traded timeshare companies even warn their stock investors that a secondary market is a risk to THEM. What about us?
Our Timeshare Nightmare
Our Sapphire sales presentation dragged on for hours. To seal the deal they offered us a free trip to Hawaii or Cancun but said we had to sign quickly because they were only giving one free trip to our group.
After we signed a contract, something didn’t feel right. We decided to cancel the contract. When we talked to them about cancelling, we asked how the timeshare could be transferred to someone else and – boom! That’s when we found out about maintenance fees and all the fees that would be needed if we wanted to sell the timeshare. They also informed us that if we could not sell it, we did not have the right to cancel. None of this was mentioned in the presentation. A company representative suggested we put it on Craigslist and hung up. We have tried to contact Sapphire, to no avail. They could care less about misrepresentations.
We were told we would be allotted 5,000 points annually that would allow us to go anywhere. This was not the case. The Sapphire points are not good everywhere. They can only be used at certain places and then only thru RCI. This was crazy because I did not even sign up for RCI. When we attempted to reserve a stay, we were informed that our points would expire on July 10, 2018. We could roll them over, but we could only roll them over one time. The points eventually expired.
All the locations listed in a book that was given to us required over 5000 points. We were also informed we could purchase trips for only $269. That was not the case, because again, we could only book through RCI and they have different rules. This had not been explained.
The free trip to Hawaii turned out not to be free. The sales agent failed to mention all the fees that we would have to pay, or that we would have to fly out from a specific airport, one we did not have easy access to. We would have to pay for plane tickets to the required airport and back. The free trip to Hawaii was what eventually sold us. If we knew about the costs associated with the “free” trip, we would not have signed the contract.
We have never used our timeshare.
This has literally been one of the worst experiences we have ever had in terms of deception and aggressive sales tactics that seem geared to wear you down. They brainwashed us and have caused our marriage to fall apart due to the stress of this purchase.
Only false promises accompanied our purchase.
Excerpt from Vanessa’s Starpoint Sapphire Resort article
October 30, 2018
To be honest, I don’t remember as much as I’d like about the purchase of our Starpoint timeshare October 1 of last year. That night Rogelio and I went to the concert that flipped Vegas upside down. We hid and ran for our lives, hoping to make it out alive. Thankfully we did. We cut our trip short, so I didn’t look over the paperwork as I told myself I would. I couldn’t get out of bed or eat for a month.
I remember feeling pressured and pushed into buying the timeshare, which was why I told myself I needed to look over the paperwork as soon as I got home. The reasons I felt uncomfortable with my decision:
They said the timeshare was prime real estate,
I was not aware the credit check was being run,
They told me to wait 30 days before booking,
They promised a free trip (which never materialized).
If you would like to join Mari and Vanessa’s Advocacy Facebook, contact Inside Timeshare and we will put you in touch with two more timeshare regret consumers dedicated to warning the public about the negatives of timeshare, to counterbalance timeshare developers and lobbyists insisting few regret their purchase.
Self-help groups we feel are not industry influenced:
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.
That’s all for today, thank you to our latest contributors for their story, if you have a story that you would like to share, whether it be a “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” or a positive experience (which we would love to hear about just to make a change), use our contact page and get in touch.
Welcome to the start of another week in the world of timeshare, today we highlight more scams appearing especially in regards to Eze Group. Several readers have been contacting Inside Timeshare with more information which does look a little disturbing considering the amount of knowledge the callers have on the member’s information.
We begin with a text received on one of our regular reader’s mobile phone, the text has been sent from +44 7860 015136 which is a number operated by the O2 network. This number is obviously new as it has not shown up on any of the who calls me websites yet.
The text received offers “NO WIN NO FEE” claim to get money back paid to Eze Group:
“Did you join EZE GROUP ? Would you like your MONEY BACK ? EZE GROUP has closed down , START your NO WIN NO FEE CLAIM TODAY.Reply YES for more information.”
There is no indication as to any company name so at present, we have no idea who is behind it, but it is obvious that they do have “client” details including their mobile numbers. Once we have more details we shall publish them here.
There does not appear to be a website for this company but the email address is given as [email protected] which as we know is the free email provider Gmail, so it is not linked to any website.
Again the story is the same, the caller who is using the number 0203 745 1086 with two names being identified as Ruth Firth and Sarah Baker, is one that is very familiar to us, they state they are appointed by the courts to reimburse Eze Group (Regency Shores SL) client money which is being held by the courts. They also state that they have a “long standing relationship” with The Madrid High Court, Central Bank of Spain and the Portuguese Chamber of Commerce. Not bad considering the company is less than 6 months old!
Now all this sounds very good, but they do want an upfront fee of £725 to do the work for the client, just coincidentally this is the exactly the same amount which every other “scam” company is asking for. So along with the fact they all seem to have very good information as to the purchase and personal details of the clients, which leads us to believe they are either employees, ex-employees of Eze Group or they have purchased the data, it also looks as though they may all be working together to maximise the money they can scam.
As always, never believe what you are told in cold calls, texts or emails, question them as to how they have your information, get as many details of the company as possible, but never pay them a thing. If you need help in checking them out, use our contact page and we will point you in the right direction.
Remember no courts, either UK or Spanish will appoint or employ private companies or third parties to contact potential victims, they also do not have any funds held or seized from Eze Group.
Welcome to this week’s edition of Letter from America, following on from our previous articles on the timeshare bills put forward by Florida and Nevada, Attorney Mike Finn submits his thoughts on this subject with the introduction by Inside Timeshares very own Irene Parker.
But first, a reminder that today is the first day of the Platinum Protest in Orlando, even if you can’t make it, please enter your support for them on the Diamond Resorts Owners Advocacy page on Facebook. We hope to bring you a report from them next week.
Lawyers and Their Important Role in Consumer Protection
By Attorney Mike Finn
Why You Should Sign our Petition asking a lawmaker to sponsor a Bill in 2021 requiring that timeshare buyers be offered 24 hours to review a perpetual timeshare contract before signing.
Provide the timeshare consumer 24 hours to review, at least think about, their decision to sign a lifelong perpetual contract, with no secondary market, often without even having tried the product, and often not allowed access to the booking site until after the rescission period.
This offer could be waived if the buyer chooses, either due to the certainty that the buyer wants the product, or the need to sign because the vacation is ending soon.
This offer should not be buried in the electronic fine print. It should be a separate disclosure presented and signed before the sales presentation. The price per point offer would be required to be maintained for 24 hours.
What’s so unfair about that?
Introduction by Irene Parker
Never mind a lawyer! We’d settle for our mom, dad, son, or daughter!
Both the Florida and Nevada Bills referenced in Mike Finn’s article below, asking that timeshare exit providers provide buyers 24 hours to review their contract before signing, died in committee: Florida HB 2639 and Nevada SB 348 bill are dead
SENATE – Died in Innovation, Industry, and Technology
How do you separate the wheat from the chaff? There are legitimate lawyers and lawyers with questionable business practices. I have contacted a number of exit company providers to inquire about the volume of calls they received. Two of the major exit companies say they receive between 3,000 to 3,500 calls each month from timeshare buyers desperately seeking release from timeshares they were told would be easy to sell. Each company only accepts less than 200 callers as clients, as the member must meet specific criteria of unfair and deceptive sales practices.
“Add to that advantage the fact that the purchaser purchases on the same day they’ve been introduced to the product with no ability to consult with or review the multipage purchase contract with their own legal representative and you can begin to understand the owner/purchaser’s situation years later when they ultimately seek to terminate their arguably lifelong contractual obligations contained within their timeshare purchase contract.”
It’s hard to say anything about lawyers that haven’t already been said. They are both revered and reviled as staunch proponents and champions of justice or as avaricious opportunists. The profession is comprised of all types, from the most learned jurists to the slightly seamier side of humanity. We lawyers share the same spectrum of positive human qualities and negative frailties as the rest of our species.
The import of this article is less related to the issues of lawyers individually, but rather to the role of the attorney as consumer advocate within the legal system. I speak to the issue of what removing lawyers, or significantly diminishing their role to effectively represent their consumer clients, does to strengthen or weaken consumer protection in general, as a matter of national policy.
Currently, there is pending in at least two states with a significant timeshare presence, Nevada and Florida, House and Senate Bills sponsored by ARDA, the timeshare industry’s trade association. Ostensibly, per the statements made by ARDA’s political arm, ARDA-ROC (American Resort Development Assoc.-Resort Owners Coalition), the primary intent of these Bills is to enhance consumer protection. However, to some of us on the consumer side of the equation, we suspect there may be a darker, more industry serving purpose. These Bills seek to regulate two separate and quite distinct groups, lawyers and timeshare exit companies.
There can be no argument that some regulation is warranted, specifically in regard to the unlicensed and unregulated timeshare exit companies; however, this ‘shotgun style’ approach of lumping-in lawyers with this proposed legislation will if passed, create some chilling and decidedly consumer-unfriendly impacts on the timeshare consumer/owner.
To further distinguish these totally disparate entities, lawyers are already both licensed and extensively regulated by their respective State Bar Associations. Additionally, as lawyers, (and unlike exit companies) we are specifically trained and educated to handle matters involving contract disputes, as well as debtor/creditor rights issues and other relevant matters that may well arise in the course of a controversy. Without getting too far into the weeds, I think it’s fair to state that the pending State Bills are clearly designed to severely limit and restrict the involvement of both timeshare exit companies and, from my perspective, more importantly, lawyers, in terms of their ability to provide services to timeshare owners seeking third-party assistance in terminating or modifying their timeshare purchase contracts.
To summarize the owners’ plight, many owners didn’t realize that their purchase contracts did not include a way to terminate their contract when they could no longer utilize their timeshares because of life changes, like aging, job loss, divorce, death of a spouse, or other major life changing events. This issue wouldn’t be so troublesome if it were not for the fact that there exists little to no resale value or market for these timeshare interests, trapping owners who cannot continue to derive any benefit from their ownership, but remain legally bound by their purchase contract, subject to annual rising maintenance fees and other contractual liabilities.
The ‘timeshare exit’ industry sprang into existence to fill the market void created when the timeshare developers themselves were unwilling to offer owners relief from essentially ‘lifelong and perhaps beyond’ contracts. This exit industry includes lawyers who focus on consumer timeshare owner issues as part and parcel of their law practices, and exit companies, non-lawyers who claim industry knowledge and apparent ability to act on behalf of timeshare owners in their negotiations with timeshare developers or property owner associations.
The focus of this article will remain on the lawyer and not the exit company. It’s important to distinguish between these two different kinds of organizations and avoid comparing the two. They are completely and totally unlike and should not be combined or grouped together in these Bills. It’s impossible to make any logical form of comparison beyond stating that each seek to represent the consumer timeshare/owner in dealing with the respective owner’s timeshare situation. Combining the two and treating them as equals in proposed legislation is grossly inaccurate and inappropriate. It only adds to consumer confusion!
Attorneys have undergone extensive education and training and have prepared for and passed a state mandated Bar examination in order to prepare themselves for dealing with contested and controversial legal issues. Our legal system is by definition adversarial in nature. Justice involves a process by which parties on each side of a controversy present, through their selected legal representative, their respective position to an impartial determiner of the facts in order to produce a just outcome. Indeed, our very symbol of justice is a robed and blindfolded woman holding a scale aloft in her hand.
Each side, through its appointed legal representative, presents its best case to the referee, hearing officer, or judge and jury. At the end of the contest, the winning side, through presentation of evidence and persuasion, tipped the scales in its favor. This is our legal system, or at least the portion of it that decides controversies. Add to our justice system the requirement that each side starts off with a level playing field. Neither side has gained an unfair advantage prior to the contest commencement. As a condition of fundamental fairness, may the side with the most compelling case for justice win!
What can skewer the ‘level playing field’ aspect of the justice model, is if one of the players gets to the game before the other side, gaining a one-sided advantage. Arguably, that’s exactly what the Timeshare Developer has been able to do. Since the state requires the Developer to register and apply for a license to market timeshares within that particular state, the Developer has prepared its purchase contracts and other disclosure documentation and submitted them to the appropriate state agency well in advance of its initial sale. It’s probably fair to suggest that these purchase agreements were prepared by an able team of lawyers with the Developer’s best interests in mind. In fact, the only remaining task for the Developer’s sales team at the time of consumer purchase is to fill in the blanks on the preprinted purchase contract with the purchaser’s name and other pertinent information.
Add to that advantage the fact that the purchaser purchases on the same day they’ve been introduced to the product with no ability to consult with or review the multipage purchase contract with their own legal representative and you can begin to understand the owner/purchaser’s situation years later when they ultimately seek to terminate their arguably lifelong contractual obligations contained within their timeshare purchase contract.
Now that you can envision, from the consumer’s perspective, the un-level playing field that the consumer finds themselves on at termination time, and add to that the circumstances that would exist if the Timeshare Developers are successful in passing these new laws. These Bills, if passed, would further restrict the consumers’/owners’/members’ ability to seek justice within the legal system, if the lawyers’ ability to represent the consumer is constrained and restricted.
From where I sit, as lawyer representing timeshare owner/consumers, it appears that the timeshare industry is dissatisfied with its already existing unfair advantage over their consumer and still seeks to tilt the field further in their favor. My advice to them (not that I anticipate them appreciating any of it) is to show a kinder, gentler aspect to your loyal owners by either recognizing and permitting an easier contract termination, or, at minimum, not further attempting to restrict their right to effective legal representation as they seek relief from their onerous timeshare purchase contracts.
Thank you Mike and Irene for this week’s edition of Letter from America, these articles are certainly helping many timeshare owners see exactly what is going on in the murky world of timeshare.
If you have any views or comments on any article published then use our contact page we would love to hear from you. Do you have a story to tell, be it a positive one or a “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”, which you would like to share, then contact us and we will help you to submit an article.
Well, that is all for this week, remember the Platinum Protest and show your support, have a great weekend and join us again next week.
Over the past few years Inside Timeshare has been following the story of the Anfi Tauro Beach Project. This was the creation of a manmade beach along with the development of the land to build a commercial centre and hotels. As we know there has been much controversy over the project, with the Head of the Coastal Authority José María Hernández de León being sacked and charged. His trial has now begun.
The former head is being prosecuted for illegally authorising the creation of an artificial beach at Tauro. The project was being financed by Anfi, who saw this as their flagship project, it would also involve the illegal importation of sand from the Western Sahara, which is banned by International law as well as Spanish and European law.
On the first day of the trial, the charges are of prevarication and falsehood, which Hernández denies vehemently, stating he always proceeded within the law. The Environmental Prosecutor has called for a jail term of three and a half years.
This trial is set to open up a can of worms, especially if it turns out that Anfi had influenced the passing of the plans and the starting of the work without the correct permissions and licences.
The Mayor of Mogan Onalia Bueno was also being investigated for authorising the work to start before the permissions were signed, several months after the fact. That investigation is still underway.
We shall bring you the latest news on this trial as it emerges.
The calls are being made by a former sales agent Geert de Greef, in the call, he is offering the client the chance to take legal action through the courts against Silverpoint, the cost 15,000€, but he then drops the price to 10,000€.
Geert de Greef apparently is also sending out a POA (poder) without the agreement of the client. In the agreement all the client’s details including passport numbers are present, this only leads us to believe that he is working from the official client data held by Silverpoint. So does this mean that they are cooperating with Silverpoint or have the details been stolen?
This is something we leave you the reader to decide, whichever it is, it certainly is not ethical and may even be in breach of data protection laws due to the information that they are holding such as passport details.
If you have been contacted by Nordic Consulting and especially Geert de Greef, contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction, remember it may not be illegal to cold call but holding personal information without your knowledge or permission is.
The registered Director is named as Calle Guden Daniel Ernesto who incidentally is also the registered director of Litigation Services SL.
Once again they are targeting ILG / DWVC and Club Class members for a no win no fee claim to get them their money back. One small snag though, there is an upfront commission charge of 10%, so does this mean they already know how much the client “will” be getting back?
There is a website, registered on 14 November 2018 and set to expire on 14 November 2019, not really confidence building. The registrant is Litigation Services SL, so that does lead us to believe they are the same outfit.
It is more than likely that Jose Lara Cabello is not even aware that his registration number is being used, as there is no registered company called JLC Legal Services.
So once again we see another new “company” targeting people who had previously dealt with two companies which are no longer in existence, with the promise of getting them their money back. As these companies no longer exist it does make you wonder how they are going to get back the money paid?
As usual, the warning is very simple, before believing anything you are told in a cold call, do your homework. Check the companies out, if you don’t know how then use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will help you do the checks.
Another word of warning is the payment method, even if you use your credit card to make the payment, you will not be covered by Section 75 of the Credit Consumer Act 1974. The two payment methods are considered third-party companies, therefore no direct payment is made to the company offering the service and your card company will not reimburse you when the service is not delivered.
Today on The Tuesday Slot we welcome another new contributor Laura Crow with her very own “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”, with an introduction by Inside Timeshares very own Irene Parker. These stories are now becoming all too familiar on our pages, with new “Nightmares” being received on an almost daily basis. It seems that not a single day goes by without another email pleading for help, many of these are from seniors and veterans. We do have to ask when will the industry change the way it works?
It is now only a few days to go before the start of the Platinum Protests in Orlando, the dates are 17 to 19 May, see the link at the end of Laura’s article.
We are timeshare trapped!
By Laura Crow
Tuesday, May 14, 2019
Introduction by Irene Parker
Laura Crow was told the California Attorney General only acts when it is in the interest of the public? Why then, have Arizona, New York, Tennessee, Missouri and Wisconsin AGs, to name a few, launched investigations and negotiated settlements when they received a volume and pattern of timeshare complaints?
Timeshares rank second on the list of complaints to the state in Connecticut in 2018, according to the state Office of the Attorney General
Do you have a story idea? We want to hear from you! Fill out the complaint form on the NBC CT Responds page or call 844-303-RESP, (844) 303-7377. More #NBCCT Responds archive here.
Each state has a different protocol for filing a timeshare complaint. In California and Nevada, timeshare complaints must be filed with the state’s real estate division against a particular agent. Filers should also file a complaint against the principal broker over all the brokers in the state.
Those who feel they experienced unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices should also file complaints with the FTC and the FBI at IC3.gov. Inside Timeshare has received reports of unfair and deceptive sales practices from over 800 families. Many members report being financially and emotionally devastated, having believed false claims told to them by timeshare sales agents, like the common complaints voiced today by Laura Crow. Seniors suffer physical harm as many report loss of sleep, weight loss, and symptoms of, or a recurrence of, cardiac and blood pressure problems over the stress of their timeshare nightmare.
There has been no federal enforcement. Attorneys General who have launched investigations and negotiated settlements are appreciated, but investigations and settlements have been mere speed bumps along an enormous revenue stream.
One of the Wyndhamtestimonials by current and former employees Laura discovered:
“Liars liars pants on fire”
Former Employee – Timeshare Sales in Daytona Beach, FL
I worked at Wyndham Destinations full-time (More than a year)
Free coffee, nice view, some friendly co-workers, company parties were fun, decent discounts
The timeshare sales department is filled with a bunch of liars. New hires have to sit through specific training on what is and is not allowed to tell customers. You are in no way allowed to tell customers that the timeshares are a good investment, that points can be used to pay the management fees, or that the timeshares can be rented out during peak periods to give them a return on their money. ALL THESE THINGS ARE NOT ALLOWED, BUT TOP SALES PEOPLE SAY ALL THESE LINES AND EVEN MORE LIES TO MAKE SALES. The top sales team are all a bunch of vultures lying to people to make a living. Customers get beaten down during the process. I’ve seen documents forged and old terms given to customers to secure their signature. If you have a conscience, do not work there. If you like lying to people to make money and can obtain a real estate license and have a clean background, lying to people during a timeshare presentation is much more lucrative than lying to people on the phone. If this is the type of scummy person you choose to be, then Wyndham is a great fit. If you are a salesperson who grows a conscience, there are other jobs at Wyndham you can do, so you don’t need to just quit. Just try to transfer to a different department.
Laura Crow’s Nightmare on Timeshare Street
I am a California resident and have found other California residents online in the same leaky timeshare boat as me. We have all filed a complaint with the California Attorney General and were all told that the Attorney General can’t intervene on behalf of individuals. They only act when it is in the interest of the public. Well, how many members of the public does it take to get some kind of action?
After attending a Wyndham WorldMark presentation four years ago, we left believing we could travel anywhere, any time. Europe was the big selling point. The selling point for my husband was that we could make good money by renting out our timeshare. The timeshare would pay for itself! As many have reported, timeshares are worthless. In no way should timeshares be pitched as an income producing investment. I would advise you to run the other way if you ever encounter sales agents spouting such falsehoods.
We are trapped in a contract that has not delivered the financial gains or freedom our sales representatives assured us it would. Instead, it has turned into a financial burden. We are left with the constant stress of this hanging over us, waiting for the next hit to our credit report.
Wyndham and WorldMark could care less. I will send them a draft of this article, but safe to say they will say something like it didn’t matter what our sales agents said. That’s why the public needs to know a timeshare sales agent can get away with saying anything to make a sale. What product would you buy for $25,000 to $100,000 or more that becomes worthless a second after your contract rescission period ended, should you need to dispose of the product?
Our experiences with Wyndham are the same as so many other timeshare buyers, irrespective of the company. Instead of boring you with our Wyndham narrative, I will draw your attention to the lethargy and inaction on the part of regulatory authorities, authorities who are supposed to have our best interests at heart.
I understand that the BBB is not a government agency and has no power to enforce the law or compel a business to act ethically, but I wonder how it is possible for Wyndham to have such a volume of complaints (over 2000) and bad reviews, yet still maintain a C+ rating. About the time when I filed my BBB complaint, there was a warning from the BBB about a pattern of complaints concerning sales practices. That warning has mysteriously been taken down. How did that happen? My next step is to contact Alexis Castro at the Nevada BBB to find out.
It was the same story with the CDRE (California Division of Real Estate). Mr Aiu of the compliance division has been good enough to communicate with me but told me cases are judged on an individual basis, so no point mobilizing a group to achieve strength in numbers.
Hmm, where have we heard that before? The Catholic Church sex abuse scandal and #metoo comes to mind. This dismissal plays right into the hands of Wyndham. My complaint basically comes down to ‘he said, she said’ but ‘we said, he said’ is needed. Someone, somewhere, a regulator, a lawmaker, a media outlet; something needs to happen. If women followed Mr Aiu’s advice, we would still not be allowed to vote.
ARDA, The American Resort Development Association has been quoted as saying; “Timeshares are a highly regulated product.” Big timeshare paints a portrait of happy timeshare campers idling on the beach, but there are thousands of complaints to be found on the internet. Comments from current and former Wyndham employees, like the comment above and additional comments below, support my allegations. If you would like to test my thesis, compare the number and nature of complaints about a hotel brand, contrasted with the number of complaints directed against that same company’s timeshare brand.
There are state and federal laws prohibiting unfair and deceptive sales tactics, yet the timeshare industry is going strong. I read about lawsuits and AG cases against Wyndham, like the $20 million a jury awarded to former Wyndham sales agent and whistleblower Trish Williams. Even that has done little to stop unfair and deceptive sales. Wyndham and other companies pay out some money, toss in some media window-dressing dollars, and carry on like nothing happened.
I am in it to win it. I will be reaching out to the media, starting with NBC. I will continue to search out agencies that may intervene or advocate on my and other owners’ behalf. Until the FTC, the FBI, or more state AGs act, public awareness is our only safeguard. That is why I am writing this article. It is not acceptable for timeshare sales agents to lie, deceive, misrepresent and withhold information about their product in order to make a sale.
Here are more Glassdoor.com anonymous reviews by current and former Wyndham sales agents rating the company. Their comments support our allegations of deceptive sales practices.
Here are some reviews by salespeople at Wyndham. You are enabling this behaviour by
“If you have integrity – don’t even think to work here”
You are 100% on commission. The only way to sell is lying to customers, the quota is very high and management is very unprofessional. On an everyday basis, you will hear from current owners how disappointed they are with timeshare product – it makes very hard to sell a product that does not do any good for people.
“In House Sales”
The way to making real $ is if you are okay with lying to people, otherwise, you can make an average living 40K or so. The biggest issue is that upper management acts like they have blinders on, making employees sign statements that they will not say certain things, while direct managers teach the sales techniques that encourage embellishments! Really?
Nov 7, 2018
Current Employee – Outside Sales Representative in New Orleans, LA
I have been working at Wyndham Destinations full-time (Less than a year)
I can’t even think of one
Wyndham Destinations over promises and vastly under delivers on potential income – the possibility for large income prospects are there though minutely small. The fact is it’s very hard to even make a living wage. It’s timeshare sales so very very few leads are actually even viable. Additionally, management regularly and actively encourages sales reps to oversell what clients are actually buying, to mislead, misdirect and ultimately be dishonest with prospects and do anything to get the sale.
Aug 21, 2018
“Vacation Ownership Sales”
Former Employee – Inside Sales Representative in Atlantic City, NJ
I worked at Wyndham Destinations full-time (More than 3 years)
Some of the people that work there are nice.
Being trained to lie to clients to sell them points to travel. If you don’t lie, there is no way to make money. Taking advantage of older people and ripping off their retirement funds is not my idea of how to make a living. The worst thing is that management rewards the biggest liars by sending them off on a beautiful vacation and calls it “President’s Club”. If you ever meet a President’s Club sales rep, RUN! There is nothing they are about to tell you that is remotely close to being true.
Jun 30, 2018
May 11, 2018
“Vacation Ownership Sales”
Former Employee – Sales Associate in Clearwater, FL
I worked at Wyndham Destinations full-time (Less than a year)
Can make great friends among certain Co-workers, free meals, beautiful office space, earning potential is attainable if you possess the skill sets.
Favouritism from management, unethical sales process, you should not have to lie about what you’re selling if the product is as good as you say it is. Draw sucks
“Front Line Sales – Not for everyone”
Former Employee – Front Line Sales Representative in New Orleans, LA
I worked at Wyndham Destinations full-time
I genuinely liked most of the people I worked with.
Marketing can bring in some completely unqualified tours so when you work on straight commission, it can be extremely frustrating. Management’s take on it is complete oblivion if that marketer meets (and exceeds) their numbers. This job can be emotionally draining – especially when you talk to people about vacationing all day and then get little wiggle room to take your own time off (again, management will bend over … if you are selling). I never sacrificed my morals to make a sale but, unfortunately, I saw many people that did.
Former Employee – Vacation Sales Consultant in Clermont, FL
I worked at Wyndham Destinations (Less than a year)
Work life balance. nothing else is good about this job.
If you are heartless and enjoy lying to people including elders and single moms, then maybe you can do very well here.
Save the Date!
The Platinum Protest is this weekend May 17-19 in Orlando. Contact Inside Timeshare for more information. On May 17 protesters will meet outside the Florida timeshare division office.
Contact Inside Timeshare if you would like to join Laura Crow’s efforts. Here are some self-help groups we feel are not industry influenced. There are honest sales agents and many who use and enjoy their timeshare. That doesn’t mean sales agents who deliberately mislead should be allowed to continue unchecked, report after report confirms, especially in Florida and Nevada. Thank you, Laura Crow, as we welcome our newest active advocate for change.
We seek to provide timeshare members with 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.
Welcome to the start of another week in the world of timeshare, we begin today with yet another company that has sprung up in relation to the recent Eze Group court case. Again the same old story, appointed by the courts to get victims their money back, for a fee that is.
The company name is H&K Limited, apparently based in Walthamstow East London, however, there is a company registered at Company House by the name of HK Limited, but it was dissolved on 12 December 2017.
There does not seem to be any website and the email address they give is [email protected]
Again this is a free email address providers such as gmail, yahoo and hotmail, so it is not linked to any website.
The company directors were Abdul Haseeb and Yousaf Shah, Haseeb has no links to any other company but Shah was a director of another dissolved company called Helping the Children.
It may be that the persons behind the latest scam could just be using the company name, as when it is googled it does come up on the listings as a registered company. So unless you click on the link you would think that it is genuine.
Now as we have reported on another similar company A&K Advisory Limited, very similar name, the story is the same. Regency Shores, one of Eze Groups Tenerife based companies have recently lost in the High Court. Low and behold along comes H&K with the great news that money has been set aside and they have been appointed by the courts to pay it out to victims.
Problem is they need a £725 advanced fee to do so. No doubt the money will need to be paid by bank transfer to the “Escrow Account”, the only thing is the account will obviously in the name of a private individual.
As for Regency Shores, there has been no court action either in Tenerife or in the UK, even though they are under investigation. No charges have yet been brought.
Remember, no court will appoint, instruct or allow any private company or third party to contact any victim of fraud, this would be down to the investigating authorities before the trial ever takes place.
The recurring question from all enquiries Inside Timeshare has received on this matter is how have they got such accurate details, such as what was purchased, how much for, when purchased, full names, addresses along with home and mobile numbers?
The answer is very simple, these scams are either being setup and run by ex-employees who have stolen company records or they have been purchased from existing or ex-employees. I would actually suspect that these scams are being run by ex-employees, the reason, they seem to know the workings of the company very well.
So to recap, there is no money waiting or being held at court, courts do not use third party companies, payments are never paid to private individuals, emails should always be linked to company websites and never pay any money upfront especially by bank transfer.
If you have been contacted with a similar story by a company with another name, Inside Timeshare would like to hear from you. If you require any further information on how it may be possible for you to get something back by doing it yourself, use our contact page and we’ll get back to you.
Welcome to another edition of our Letter from America, this week we ask for your support to the protests planned for May 17th to 19th, this is another in a series of protest that disgruntled timeshare owners have staged. The protest centres on “Unfair and Deceptive Timeshare Sales Practices”, this is a subject of many of the complaints received and also of the many “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” articles we have published.
Following on from our Tuesday Slot and the lawsuit between Diamond & Aaronson here is an editorial by Timeshare Insider.
Inside Timeshare received Diamond Platinum member complaint #82 yesterday, yet another Diamond Platinum member alleging they were up-sold into insolvency, promising maintenance fee relief programs, or programs that would allow the ability to sell points, programs that do not exist.
Hence, Diamond Platinum Member 82 Protest in Orlando next Friday, May 17 to 19. You don’t have to be Platinum to join.
Save the Date! Our next Platinum 80 Protest is in Orlando
May 17 – 19 Two Locations:
Location 1: Friday May 17 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Florida Timeshare Share Division DBPR Office
400 West Robinson Street, Orlando
Location 2: Saturday Sunday May 18 and 19 – 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Near Disney World
535 S Apopka Vineland Road and Palm Parkway, Orlando
You don’t need to be Platinum to Join Us!
Protesting Unfair and Deceptive Timeshare Sales Practices
By Platinum Protest Organizers
Friday May 10, 2019
When we protested in March in Las Vegas, we protested on behalf of 70 Diamond ResortsPlatinum members alleging that they had been intentionally targeted for their loyalty and deliberately up-sold into insolvency. Since then we have grown to 81 Platinum members, many similar if not identical complaints. We believed in programs to pay maintenance fees that do not exist. Others say they were told if they purchased additional points, they would be able to sell points.
By their own admission, Florida’s Attorney General’s Office and the timeshare division, Department of Business and Professional Regulation(DBPR) will take no action unless a member can produce proof. Given Florida demands proof, Florida should change from a two-party state to a one-party state, meaning make it legal to record a timeshare sales presentation without the other person aware. Otherwise, how can there ever be proof? They don’t even let you take what sales agents scribble on paper.
There are many things that cannot be determined by reading a timeshare contract. One member reported that he was shown at a Virginia sales centre a “Special Sales Double Platinum” booking site, but if he had given up his deed he would no longer be able to book the weeks he had owned for years at the Silver loyalty level. He would not have found this out until after the rescission period, as members report not being allowed onto the booking site until after this period to cancel has passed.
His online Diamond account is a “Special Sales Double Platinum Account” (a descriptive term as there is no such thing as a Double Platinum loyalty level). It shows everything in the system and probably quite a bit more, but did not display what we would have access to using the proposed 15,000 points (for two weeks).
As reported at a Florida legislative workshop in Tallahassee March 12:
Victoria Butler, from the Florida Attorney General’s Department of Consumer Protection, reported a figure of 1,500 to 1,600 complaints in recent years, with about 50% involving senior citizens. She said the majority of complaints were in regard to the initial sales presentation.
Ms Butler stated that the Florida timeshare division engaged only 42 complaints, the majority concerning resale. This fits with our members reporting that all timeshare complaints they submitted, DBPR responded, “Verbal representations are difficult to prove.”
Diamond points sell for around $4 a point. Platinum members own a minimum of 50,000 points. By 2018 maintenance fees had increased to $8,631. Out of 81 Platinum complaints, 42 members report that they were told of maintenance fees relief programs that they later learned did not exist and 16 specifically report that they were told they could pay maintenance fees at $.30 per point.
Only Platinum loyalty level members can pay maintenance fees at $.04 per point. If a member turned in 50,000 points, redeemed at $.04 per point, it would mean they would be credited $2,000 towards a maintenance fee bill of $8,631 with no points left to travel. Members report that when they complain about being told they can turn in points to pay maintenance fees at $.30 per point, Diamond responds describing a legitimate 30/30 program that offers travel discounts. This program has nothing to do with paying maintenance fees at $.30 per point.
Platinum 81 Complaint Statistics:
Seniors: 54 out of 81 member complaints are seniors, 65%
21 out of 81 are Veterans, Active Duty Service Members, Law Enforcement, 20%
Other Reports of Unfair and Deceptive Practices
If you buy the additional points, you will be able to sell your points. Contact me when you want to sell points. When the member contacts the agent, the email or call goes to the VP who responds that there is no program to sell points.
If you purchase these additional points, you will be part of the Legacy program and your heirs will not be liable for the points.
We want consumers to Beware and Be Aware. Similar complaints have been directed against other timeshare developers and sales agents as well. Understand:
You may be browbeaten for hours by a tag team of three against two,
You can record in some states like Arizona and Nevada,
Most contracts are perpetual, and,
There is no secondary market.
Points may list a retail price of $9, but this does not mean points are worth $9. It has been widely reported timeshare points are worth nothing.
You don’t have to give up a deeded timeshare for any reason,
If you insist on 24 hours to review documents, you can still buy tomorrow.
Diamond members involved in the 2017 Arizona Attorney General’s investigation report that the Arizona AG’s office received over 900 complaints accusing Diamond of violating Arizona’s Consumer Protection laws. Diamond settled for $800,000 and was issued an Assurance of Discontinuance, essentially keeping Diamond under state supervision for six years.
We all actually liked Diamond Resorts and enjoyed using our points. We had built up trust over the years adding to our points. We feel 81 of a company’s highly loyal members, reporting similar to identical complaints, is proof. The fact that Diamond has dismissed us all as misunderstanding is telling. Bear in mind that we are only banding together as Platinum members. There are many similar to identical complaints reported by Silver, Gold, and lower level Valued members.
T-Shirts will be on Sale for $25 to help defray signage expenses.
Thank you Charles Thomas for being our Voice!
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.
If you are able to join them or are in the area, please go along and give them your support, for those of us unable to attend, we will be with you in Spirit. We also look forward to publishing your report on the protest.
That’s it for another week, the weekend is upon us and it is time to relax, have a great weekend and join us again next week.
Welcome to another edition of The Tuesday Slot, today Irene Parker reports on days 2 and 3 of the Diamond v Aaronson Law Firm trial, which ended 3 days earlier than expected with a settlement.
Yesterday Inside Timeshare published the article about the Modern Honolulu Hotel and the redundancy of workers, this has already prompted many comments from our readers. The one factor they all share is their disgust at the lack of compassion and sheer greed of Diamond Resorts. Well, this is a fact we are all too well aware of at Inside Timeshare, as our “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” stories have shown.
So now for Irene’s report on the trial that has kept our readers in suspense.
The lawsuit Diamond Resorts filed against Austin Aaronson resolved by settlement Thursday, May 2nd on day three of what had been anticipated to be a six-day trial.
The crux of the lawsuit seemed to focus on a man in a grey suit that appeared in a video on Austin Aaronson’s website alleging that Diamond misappropriated maintenance fees. Diamond Resorts owns 10 to 15% of outstanding points. Currently, there are over a billion points outstanding. Members own approximately 85% of the outstanding points. Mr Charles Meltz, attorney for Mr Aaronson, presented the following figures:
Member assessments budgeted: $141 million
Actual member assessments paid: $146 million
Developer assessments budgeted: $8.6 million
Actual developer assessments paid: $4.8 million
Plaintiff’s witnesses included Steven Wolf who testified that he conducted a forensic examination of 120 Diamond members who had stopped paying loans and maintenance fees. Diamond sells timeshare points as Collections. Diamond’s US Collection, Hawaii Collection and Diamond Resorts International Points were examined, in addition to an examination of maintenance fees and Club Fees that had not been collected.
Each group was broken down into three periods of time:
Period A consisted of the period of time from when a Diamond member had retained Austin Aaronson, going forward to July 31, 2018
Period B 30 days prior to retaining Mr Aaronson, and
Period C, the period of time beyond 30 days, prior to retaining Mr Aaronson.
For example, concerning the US Collection:
Period C beyond 30 days: $242,365,904 in uncollected funds
Period B 30 days prior to retaining Mr Aaronson: $295,455 in uncollected funds
Period A from the time Mr Aaronson was retained: $2,365,904
Total for the four groups in uncollected funds: $4,578,838
Judge Dalton asked if this amount had been reduced to summary judgment. It had not. He ruled that this amount was speculative.
Mr Wolf’s firm was paid $250,000 for the forensic analysis and $475 per hour to observe the trial from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 30 and May 1 through his testimony that continued through Thursday morning May 2.
Three former Diamond members testified as witnesses for the Plaintiff.
Witness 1 testified that buying additional points did not improve availability. He had purchased a total of 26,500 points. Diamond had sued witness 1 for $170,000, which included arbitration fees. The judgement against witness 1 was wiped clean in exchange for his testimony. Witness 1 confirmed that he was aware of Mr Aaronson’s website that stated the firm had leverage over Diamond resorts due to misappropriated maintenance fees and a breach of fiduciary duty.
Witness 2 testified on behalf of his mother about his contacting Aaronson Law Firm and that he was told Aaronson Law Firm had leverage over Diamond because Diamond was not handling maintenance fees correctly.
Witness 3 was role played, reading a prior deposition. The wife had testified at an earlier deposition. Her husband was retired Army, 100% disabled, exposed to Agent Orange. He suffers from PTSD. She testified that they went to a Branson sales centre and purchased 3,000 points for $16,030. They wanted to learn how to use the system but were told to come back within 90 days for an orientation. They attended an orientation in November 2015. At the orientation, they were told by Branson sales agent Kimberly that they had not purchased enough points. They ended up buying 27,000 additional points for $72,850 which they could not afford.
This brings to five, the number of Agent Orange disabled veterans harmed by their decision to purchase Diamond points:
A 100% disabled veteran, up-sold by a Diamond sales agent Inside Timeshare has received 21 complaints against. This veteran was issued a $170,000 1099 C after his loan was terminated. We pointed him in the right direction so his CPA could resolve the 1099.
A 100% disabled Agent Orange veteran earned a Purple Heart because he had been shot in Vietnam. His dispute has been resolved.
These veterans put their life on the line to protect me. I will do all I can to do my part to reform timeshare because of the 806 families who have contacted Inside Timeshare, 103 veterans and active duty service members. Five Agent Orange veterans so stressed because they purchased too many timeshare points are five Agent Orange disabled veterans too many.
Attorney Charles Meltz asked about the likelihood of someone age 88 meeting the obligations of a ten-year loan.
This comment follows recent publications describing how the Lusk family, nearly 90, were sold $150,000 worth of timeshare points, as reported by USA Today and Diane Burkhardt’s father sold $250,000 worth of Diamond points between the ages of 86 to 88, after Diamond refused to take back the timeshare that her father had purchased and paid for free and clear at age 85, reported by Consumer Affairs.
Inside Timeshare has heard from way too many seniors who purchased a timeshare from several developers. These seniors are stressed beyond words. Most have maintained a high credit score their entire life, now bracing for timeshare foreclosure. They signed off on high-interest rate loans and sometimes higher interest rate credit cards.
Attorneys Richard W. Epstein, Jeffrey A. Backman, and Olga M Vieira of Greenspoon Marder LLP are plaintiffs’ attorneys. Mr Aaronson is represented by Charles J. Meltz of Grower Ketcham, Eide, Telan & Meltz, P.A.
As reported by ABA Journal January 30, 2018:
Diamond Resorts had claimed Aaronson and his law firm solicited timeshare members in an advertising campaign that weaves a false narrative, causing timeshare members to stop contract payments and subjecting Diamond Resorts to baseless arbitration proceedings.
Aaronson had claimed his firm’s advertising was not false or misleading because it constituted opinion or puffery.
Mr Meltz, attorney for Aaronson, reported how Diamond maintenance fees had more than doubled from 2007 to 2015 from $.07 per point to $.145 per point and that there is no secondary market for Diamond points.
After Thursday’s lunch break, Judge Dalton would not allow Diamond’s next witness to testify. After a consultation, attorney Richard Epstein announced that they had reached a settlement. He then asked Judge Dalton to instruct me not to report details of the settlement. Judge Dalton kindly said to me that I could report that the lawsuit was resolved by settlement.
Two additional Plaintiff witnesses had testified. The first was Kathleen Wheeler, who serves on several Diamond Resort Boards. She is one of four asset managers. The second was Lisa Levere, VP of Operations and Financial Services. Both testified as to the audited care and attention taken to ensure maintenance fees are not misappropriated. Due to the settlement reached, the defence did not have an opportunity to call any of their witnesses to support their allegations that Diamond misappropriated maintenance fees. I was looking forward to hearing how witnesses called by the defence were to support their claims.
I was employed by CASA, Court Appointed Special Advocates for children in foster care. For three years I wrote court reports and edited our volunteers’ CASA reports. I attended all hearings and trials. I miss Family Court, so I have to admit I am a courthouse buff. Following are the trials remaining for the rest of 2019:
Westgate v. Mitchell Sussman, Esq. – 6:17-cv-1467 (MD FL)
July 1, 2019 trial before Judge Dalton (cross-MSJ’s pending)
OL v. RHA 17-cv-1542-Orl-31DCI (MD FL)
August 5, 2019 trial before Judge Presnell (cross-MSJ’s pending)
Wyn v. Totten Franqui Law Firm 9:18-cv-81055 (SD FL)
September 10, 2019 trial before Judge Middlebrooks
I will be there
We seek to provide timeshare members with 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.
Thank you, Irene, Inside Timeshare and our readers really appreciate you giving up your valuable time to attend the hearing and covering this story. One thing is certain, Inside Timeshare will continue to report on Diamond Resorts and any other timeshare company, we do this in the interest of our readers and all consumers. We make no apology about it and do not really care if it upsets the industry!
If you have any comments on this or any article published, please use our contact page, we welcome and value them.
Have you had a “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” if so, we would love to hear from you. If you would like your story to be shared with our readers lets us know and we will be happy to publish.
Welcome to the start of another week in the world of timeshare, unfortunately, we begin with bad news. It has been reported that around 78 employees have been given notice at the Modern Honolulu Hotel, a Diamond Resorts owned property.
The Modern Honolulu is a full-service hotel, purchased by Diamond Resorts in April 2018, it is also one of the 21 hotels and timeshares in the network of Diamond Resorts managed or affiliated properties internationally.
Diamond has expressed an interest in either partially or fully converting the hotel into timeshare use. They have also planned on reducing guest services such as daily room service, banquets, meetings and catering. It has also been reported they have not yet received any timeshare registration approval from the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs or any of the relevant permits required to build or renovate hotel rooms for timeshare use.
The layoffs will account for around 30% of the workforce, it will impact many departments such as housekeeping, banquets, pool, in-room dining, reservations and of course the bar, restaurant and kitchens. These workers are being represented by the trade union UNITE HERE Local 5.
According to Gemma Weinstein, President of Unite Here Local 5, “Timeshares have shown over and over again that they hurt Hawaii more than they help. They pay less than hotels, the work is harder, and they provide less jobs. They negatively affect the guests’ experience in Hawaii by charging exorbitant maintenance fees while cutting guest services. Companies like Diamond Resorts are bad for Hawaii.” She also pointed out that this is going to destroy the lives of 78 families.
One worker a housekeeper at the Modern Honolulu expressed her fears that this was going to hurt her family, she holds down three jobs to support them, but the job at the Modern is the only one that provides family medical coverage.
It is also noted that this decision comes very close after Diamond Resorts CEO Mike Flaskey informed Fox News that “his company is benefiting from the Trump administration’s tax cuts and deregulation.” It was also reported that Diamond Resorts in March “failed to issue paychecks to workers on time, resulting in workers incurring fees and penalties.”
Readers of Inside Timeshare are very familiar with the stories of the sales tactics of Diamond Resorts, with the incessant preying on the elderly and the many disabled service veterans we have highlighted. This is just another in the sorry tale of a company that seems to have no morals, just an insatiable appetite for money.
We will keep you updated as and when more information comes in, follow the links below for more on this story.