Welcome to the last Letter from America of 2018, we hope that you all had a very good Christmas and are looking forward to the New Year. For this last Letter from America, Irene Parker had to make a last minute change, once again a timeshare company responded before publication.
The Satisfaction of a Dispute Resolved
By Irene Parker
December 28, 2018
The article originally scheduled for today was pulled because the dispute was resolved. The timeshare company listened to a well written complaint and followed the above circle of resolution.
Like most of the timeshare members reaching out to Inside Timeshare, the family featured in the original article is struggling with a medical crisis. I spent this Christmas in Houston at the MD Anderson cancer center dealing with our own family crisis. As our family begins our stages of grief, I thought about all the timeshare families that we have talked to over the last two years that have experienced the same. I can’t imagine receiving debt collection calls in the middle of our personal medical crisis. Making matters worse, all but a handful of the 646 families that have contacted us describe unfair and deceptive sales practices.
According to cancer.gov, approximately 38.4% of men and women will be diagnosed with cancer at some point during their lifetimes (based on 2013-2015 data). I estimate about 60% of our readers have experienced some form of debilitating illness. This is when they learn the timeshare they were told would be easy to sell, is not. Often there is a loan outstanding, so a voluntary surrender program is not an option. https://www.cancer.gov/
I will never forget the 100% disabled Agent Orange veteran who was up-sold into an unnecessary loan. The sales agent was aware this double Purple Heart veteran had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Due to the circumstances, there was no question he experienced unfair and deceptive sales practices. He contacted me six times the last month of his life. His wife contacted me with just hours left to live because the credit card company was hounding them for the down payment. The timeshare company did resolve the dispute, but how unfair this decorated veteran had to spend his last days battling his timeshare company.
A recent caller was told she should pay an exit company $6,000 because she would be responsible for her father’s timeshare after her father’s passing. This was not true. In the case of this member, the company offers a voluntary surrender program and would have easily taken back the timeshare. Their contract even states heirs are not responsible for the timeshare.
Contact Inside Timeshare if you receive a call from someone employing scare tactics to get you to sign up with their exit company or give up your deeded timeshare.
How Timeshare Companies have dealt with complaints:
According to all but a handful of our readers, timeshare companies have responded to their complaints with:
- We are not responsible for what our sales agents say,
- You signed a contract,
- It sounds like he said, she said,
- You have no proof,
- If this was important to you, you should have asked for it to have been added to the contract,
- All that matters is what is in the contract.
How complaints should be dealt with according to thebalancesmallbusiness:
No one likes hearing complaints, and many of us have developed a reflex shrug, saying, “You can’t please all the people all the time”. Maybe not, but if you give the complaint your attention, you may be able to please this one person this one time – and position your business to reap the benefits of good customer service. Properly dealt with, complaints can become opportunities. They give you the chance to discover issues and correct them, thereby improving your customer service. Market research has found that customers who have complained about a product or service and had that complaint successfully dealt with are 70 percent likely to order from the vendor again.
Sun Trust Bank offers these words of hope and encouragement
“Now, if you were deceived or otherwise legally abused in the purchase, you can file a complaint against the seller. Each state has a different process so you’ll have to contact your state’s attorney general to determine the jurisdiction. Have a narrative of your complaint and a copy of your contract when filing. The agency will contact you if it finds a valid violation of real estate statutes (or sometimes banking statutes), especially if it involves deceptive sales practices. Collectors must legally back off in such under-dispute cases, though many don’t.”
“By the way, consumer complaints about abusive debt collectors have nearly tripled in less than a decade, according to the Federal Trade Commission. They’re exceeded only by identity-theft cases, says the FTC, which has sued about 200 collection companies since 2010. Many have been banned from doing business.”
We are primarily members helping members, providing straight answers on how to file regulatory and, if necessary, law enforcement complaints. It is our hope lawmakers and regulators will take note of our efforts to stop the financial harm caused by timeshare sales agents and companies that hide behind the oral representation clause.
A significant percentage of our readers are in their 60s and 70s, some in their 80s, with high US credit scores around 800, suddenly faced with timeshare foreclosure. About a third is younger. The youngest was 19 and pregnant when she signed a perpetual timeshare contract after a six hour presentation.
Contact Inside Timeshare or one of the following self-help groups if you have a concern about your timeshare.
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.
So that’s it for 2018, it has certainly been a roller coaster year, so many complaints, many of them veterans, many have been resolved, to the timeshare companies that did take notice, well done and thank you. All we can hope for is that 2019 will see many more start to change their ways.
From Inside Timeshare, we wish you all a happy and prosperous New Year.