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September 2018

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this week’s Letter from America, it is not the article that was actually scheduled for today, but is a last minute replacement. The original will be published at a later date.

Tahoe Beach and Ski Resort HOA Election Results

Jake Bercu and Al Fong Declared the Winners!

By Irene Parker

September 28, 2018

Tahoe Beach and Ski Resort held their annual meeting and election for two board positions September 22, 2018. The two board members running for another three-year term were Alfred Fong and Jacob Bercu. Three other candidates were on the ballot.  

The results:

Jacob Bercu            2124
Javier Cervantes(withdrew) 39
Alfred Fong 2154
Timothy Dobbs 39
Pat Hanna 1929.5
Laurence McGill 1887

Typically, voting is private, but the math indicates that Diamond Resorts voted for Pat Hanna and Laurence McGill. One owner reported that Hanna and McGill both stated they were in contact with Jason Toste, vice president at Diamond and one of the three board members named in the Point at Poipu lawsuit. They said they wanted to work with Diamond Resorts. According to the owner reporting, this made owners suspicious, as the association has made numerous attempts to work with Diamond Resorts to resolve affiliation and operations issues, to no avail.

https://advantagevacation.com/the-point-at-poipu-angry-owners-file-lawsuit-against-diamond-resorts/

Diamond Resorts controls 23% of the inventory at Tahoe Beach and Ski Resort and, in the opinion of the member reporting, who wishes to remain anonymous, Diamond has had a difficult time following the rules of the association.

Another twist to all this is the revelation that a member of the board at Tahoe Beach and Ski is now running for the board at Lake Tahoe Vacation Resort, a Diamond property. This was not disclosed to the owners. When questioned about his motives for running for the Lake Tahoe Vacation Resort, he stated that he was interested in gaining useful information about Diamond Resorts.

The letter below is from an owner at Tahoe Beach and Ski Resort. The candidates supported by Diamond campaigned on the fact that Diamond is a new company with new management and that Diamond has changed their ways and we need to work with them. There have been many complaints about Diamond posted on various complaint sites and the Attorney General of Arizona has issued an Assurance of Discontinuance after receiving hundreds of complaints from Diamond members accusing the company of unfair and deceptive sales practices. Diamond did not admit wrongdoing. Based on the letter below and the daily posts on our member sponsored Diamond Advocacy group, we feel improvement in customer relations is warranted.

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

In addition to Jason Toste, Kathy Wheeler was a board member named in the Point at Poipu lawsuit. They are the authorized owner-representatives for Diamond Resorts at Tahoe Beach and Ski. Owners said they have had reports from other TBSC owners that Diamond sales agents and employees at Lake Tahoe Vacation Resort, Kaanapali Beach Resort and Historic Powhatan have been claiming for the last six years that:

  1. Diamond owns Tahoe Beach and Ski Resort,
  2. Diamond manages Tahoe Beach and Ski Resort,
  3. Diamond guests have full access to the private beach at Tahoe Beach and Ski Resort.

Owners also reported that Diamond Resorts also occasionally claims that when they take over Tahoe Beach and Ski Resort, owners will have to pay a large special assessment to renovate the resort, just as they are now doing at Tahoe Seasons Resort.

The owner’s letter:

Hello, Tahoe Beach and Ski Owners.

I do not believe Diamond is our friend, and I know many of you feel the same.

Gini and I were pricing a Safari Rose Sunset Cruise rather late the other evening.  A lady approached us and offered assistance. As we were setting up the cruise details, she asked if we would like a discounted price… sure! The key to the discount was to attend a Diamond Timeshare presentation. She asked if we were current timeshare owners and when we said Tahoe Beach and Ski, she looked us in the eye and said, “We want your beach. Diamond wants your beach!

This made us even more curious about what they had up their sleeves, so we agreed to attend their presentation. The next afternoon, we met with their salesperson Alejandro. When we affirmed our Tahoe Beach and Ski ownership & our lack of interest in Diamond membership, he made statements to the effect that:

  1. Diamond owns Tahoe Beach and Ski,
  2. Diamond manages the daily operations at Tahoe Beach and Ski Resort,
  3. It’s only a matter of time before DR takes over and totally renovates the resort.

He then asked what would I accept for my Tahoe Beach and Ski timeshare… $1,000, $5,000, or $10,000?  He then offered $10,000 credit on any Diamond program purchase in exchange for my current deeded timeshare.

Please help Al and Jake keep Diamond out of our resort.  I want my family to continue to enjoy this closely knit, small-town ownership community that we all love.

Comments from Irene Parker:

Congratulations to Jake and Al and to the efforts of many hoping to regain control of our vacations. It was suggested I throw my hat in the ring for Diamond’s US Collection election. I did this with the understanding that it is impossible to win, so agreed for the purpose of letting our voice be heard. We’re grateful to learn, at least at Tahoe Beach and Ski, a real owner really representing other owners can happen.

To me it would be simpler to have meaningful discussion as to our concerns about questionable sales and marketing practices, rather than engage in this nonsensical battle I call Timeshare Wars. Through our Diamond Advocacy Facebook, Inside Timeshare, and members who found us on the internet, we have heard from 531 Diamond members in the U.S., all but a handful reporting that they experienced unfair and deceptive sales practices. It is my belief Diamond has a product, but over promising and making false claims should not be a part of the selling equation. I feel “The customer is always wrong” because of the automatic; “You signed a contract” will be the downfall of this industry, as Diamond is not alone in the onslaught of member and owner complaints. Why can’t we just talk? I have always said that half a problem goes away when confronted.

If you have any views or comments on this or any other article published, then use our contact page and let us know, we welcome your views and insights.

That’s the end of another week, join us again next week for more insights into the world of timeshare, have a great weekend.

 

The Whistleblowers of European Timeshare

Most timeshare owners have over the years received cold calls, be they for resales, claims and the cheap holidays commonly known as flybuys. In many cases the caller has been met with verbal abuse, well not surprising considering the number of calls owners have had to put up with.

But have you ever thought that the person calling is not actually aware that they may be working for a “scam” outfit. Many of these call centers are based in Spain and the workers tend to be expats especially women just out to earn a living for their family. That is not to say that all callers are unaware of what they are doing, many are well aware that they are calling to “scam” people of their hard earned cash.

Inside Timeshare has recently received several emails from workers, not only from call centers but also from the sales people based in the resorts.

As for the sales representatives that have contacted Inside Timeshare, they also tell a very similar story, taking on the job to be able to live a life in the sun. One sales rep who emailed us explained how he applied for the job from the UK, he was unemployed and thought this would be just the right new start in life he wanted.

He travelled to Tenerife with the promise of three months free accomodation, then began training. At first he believed in the product he was selling, it was pitched very much like it is to the potential purchasers, a dream.

At first he was having trouble selling, he was then taken to one side by a very experienced rep and told how to make the sales and earn his commission, that was the only source of income as there was no basic pay. You don’t sell you don’t eat.

He took on board what he was told and began to embellish his pitch with the usual lies, “you are buying property, it will go up in value”, “it’s an investment”, well you know the rest. Eventually this rep was making lots of money and certainly living the dream.

So what changed his mind?

As he explained, he had an elderly couple on tour, using all his charm and the usual lies, he eventually sold them a pack of several weeks in a one bed apartments, all with the promise that they would receive a rental income for the weeks they didn’t use and a resale with a substantial profit after two years. All this was financed with a loan from Barclays Partner Finance, totaling around £50,000.

The following year he met the couple again while they were on holiday, the story they told him made him feel guilty. This couple had great difficulty in repaying the loan, they ended up having to remortgage their home in order to pay it off. This had brought them great financial difficulty and they asked for the timeshares to be sold.

He had the unenviable task of telling them that there was no call for what they had purchased, that the only way was to upgrade, which they could not afford to do. Again the Barclays Partner Finance loan was offered. The couple were in tears, they could not afford to take on another, they were now lumbered with timeshares they did not want and were also in a considerable amount of debt.

There was absolutely nothing he could do for them, guilt took hold as they reminded him of his own grandparents. He realised he had been used by the timeshare company to make them unlimited amounts of money. Subsequently he handed in his notice, luckily he had not fallen into the usual trap of spending his money on drink and drugs so had a fairly large amount saved up. He eventually found a job managing a bar and continues to do so although not in Tenerife.

The company he worked for was none other than Silverpoint.

Inside Timeshare has heard many stories such as this, it does go to show that there are some people who have worked in the timeshare industry who do have a conscience and some morals.

Have you had an experience such as these, if so contact Inside Timeshare and let us tell your story.

The Tuesday Slot

Welcome to the Tuesday Slot, this week we have another consumers “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”, this time involving the timeshare company Westgate.

Over the past few days Inside Timeshare has been receiving many emails from Silverpoint clients seeking advice, we have also received an email from an ex-telemarketer of Signallia Marketing, which sheds a lot of light on what they are up to. We will be publishing an article on this subject tomorrow, but now on with this weeks Tuesday Slot.

A Westgate buyer’s experience

By the Dashiell’s

Westgate owners Jackie and David Siegle’s 90,000 square foot home

The plans for the American Versailles, a 90,000-square-foot behemoth near Orlando, FL, seemed to have one overarching goal: to make the French original look shabby by comparison. Did Marie Antoinette have 10 kitchens, an ice skating rink, and a 5,000-square-foot closet?

https://www.realtor.com/news/trends/queen-of-versailles-q-and-a/

The Dashiell’s Westgate Experience

September 25, 2018

When I purchased a Westgate Lakes timeshare two years ago, the salesman told us about great financial benefits. We don’t have money to throw away, but it sounded like a good investment. The sales rep kept telling us over and over how the timeshare would “pay for itself” by generating rental income while also paying for maintenance fees and loan payments. He mentioned that we could write it off on our taxes and also said I could refinance the timeshare at my personal bank to get a lower interest rate. We thought we had security and low risk, especially since he said the timeshare could easily be resold.

After the presentation, our sales rep didn’t give us time to read the long contract. It would have taken all day if he had. He told us what was in the contract and pointed out where to sign and initial. He mailed us our document package with our contract and everything in it, AFTER the contract rescission period had passed! After receiving the contract, we learned that everything told to us during the sales presentation contradicted what was in the contract! We have tried to make the best of it, but it’s been two years now without making a dime on our “investment” and we could not refinance or get tax breaks.

We tried calling Westgate to give it back but they said I would have to find a buyer myself. There is no rental program. There is no resale program. The program is hard to use and we are done with it.

Another reason I bought was to be able to travel with my family at an affordable price. Our rep told me that I would be able to exchange property locations at any time and go anywhere if I had Interval International and all the travel extras for free or very cheap. In reality, properties were ALWAYS booked. I was told I should book 11 months out to reserve my stay. In this day and age of Airbnb and Expedia, that is just not realistic or flexible.

I’ve read other owners’ testimonies. They all seem to share our story. We feel the way the product was sold to us was unfair and deceptive. It’s bad enough that people can’t get rid of a timeshare, it’s yours for life, but promising rental income and tax breaks that do not exist seems criminal.

After we wrote Westgate a letter of complaint, Westgate spent months informing us by email that they were looking into our contract. They did not reply until we filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. Westgate said that they had replied to us by letter (which they hadn’t), explaining that ‘timeshare real estate sales are highly regulated,’ pointing to the AOR document with my initials.

Westgate said that it ‘absolutely holds its employees responsible for the things they do and say, however, supporting documentation is required.’ What documentation would there be – a letter from the rep with his signature confessing his misrepresentations? Needless to say the BBB closed our case swiftly and we are now hoping that the Attorney General will help us. If the Attorney General won’t help, that means the sales reps can say anything to make a sale and get away with it. I feel this is criminal.

I have no hope or faith that Westgate will respond to us. I do wonder what the point of the Better Business Bureau is, if they regularly side with Westgate when there is so much precedent on their own forum with so many Westgate buyers describing deception and misrepresentations.

Thank you to the Dashiell’s for sharing their experience. Contact Inside Timeshare if you have a timeshare experience to share. When sold honestly, a timeshare can be of great benefit to a family. Families, who feel they bought a timeshare based on inaccurate information, letting their voice be heard, may save another family from making a timeshare decision they will live to regret. 

      

If you have a similar story and want to share it it others, contact Inside Timeshare using our contact page and we will get back to you.

Have you had a call from a company promising you the earth, want to know if they and what they say is genuine?

Have you found a company on the internet that claims they can get you out of your timeshare and get your money back?

Not sure how to check if they are genuine and will actually deliver what they say, then contact us and we will point you in the right direction.