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August 2019

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this weeks edition of our Letter from America, today we welcome a new contributor, David M, with his “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” experience with his purchase of Carriage Hills Resort. The introduction is by our very own Irene Parker. This is the second article in a series highlighting the problems received by Inside Timeshare from some very concerned and in some cases elderly owners. So far we have received around 124 emails all telling a very similar story. The question is how do these timeshare operators get away with this despicable behaviour? Well, the answer to that is SIMPLE GREED!

As we were about to publish we received a response on behalf of Carriage Owner David from the CanadianVOA. It is their intention to investigate David’s complaint. It is our hope this horrific timeshare tragedy can be resolved, and that the burdensome plight of all Carriage Resorts owners, taken to court for past due maintenance fees, can be resolved for the betterment of all

The Tragedy for Wyndham’s Carriage Hills Resorts Owners, their

Children and Grandchildren held Timeshare Hostage

By David M, a Carriage Hills Owner

August 23, 2019

Introduction by Irene Parker

Over 1,000 families have contacted me through Inside Timeshare, expressing their frustration over predatory, unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices. Foreclosure is demoralizing, especially for seniors in their 60s, 70s and 80s with high credit scores. By far, Wyndham’s Carriage Hills and Carriage Ridge delinquency policy, taking owners and their heirs to court over past due maintenance fees, surpasses any timeshare tragedy we have encountered thus far. Buyers report being told the timeshare was like real estate, therefore easy to sell.

Imagine what would happen to the primary housing market, if we learned the house we live in could not be sold. Especially a house we were told we had to buy the same day we looked at it, not allowed even 24 hours to consider a major purchase. Some timeshares cost as much as a primary residence. 

Last Friday we published a follow-up article to an article I wrote about Legacy Resort owners not being allowed out of fully paid for timeshares. Legacy resorts are single-site timeshares. One of the Legacy owners mentioned in the article is Simon, a Canadian resident who purchased at Wyndham’s Carriage Hills resort in Ontario. After the article was published, I received over 124 emails from other Wyndham Carriage Hills and Carriage Ridge owners, astonished by Wyndham and Carriage Resorts draconian policy of taking owners delinquent on maintenance fees to court, suing not only ageing parents but their children and grandchildren as well.

https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-63/

Inside Timeshare prides itself on being the voice for the voiceless, competing against timeshare lobbyists and developers who proclaim there are no problems with timeshare today. On Tuesday we published the first 30 of over 124 Wyndham Carriage Hills and Carriage Ridge complaints.

https://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-44/

Today, Carriage owner David presents his story describing anger and grief, protesting unfair debt collection practices. I don’t understand Canadian estate law, but in the U.S., rarely is an heir required to take on the burden of a parent’s unwanted timeshare. I’m not an estate planning lawyer, but I found this RedWeek post from a practising estates lawyer:

To all those inquiring about your heirs being saddled with this albatross: I have been a practising estates lawyer in NY for nearly 50 years. The information given to you by Laura (I believe her name was) was basically correct: your beneficiary cannot be “forced” to inherit (and therefore have to pay for maintenance etc.) for the timeshare. The legal route is to execute a disclaimer within 9 months after death, and make sure that you do NOT accept the timeshare by using it or otherwise indicating acceptance (e.g., trying to sell it as if you own it). However, each state has its own laws as to how one disclaims. ……Note though: the (resort) can then also disclaim it, so there are some further fine points legal steps that must be implemented in your Will or trust to deal with that possibility. But most definitely your heirs are NOT bound to accept the timeshare and make the payments if a proper disclaimer strategy is included in your estate planning documents.

Steven W on May 02, 2017 06:01 PM.

The Heir Scare published Halloween 2018

https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-27/

Our Wyndham Carriage Hills Experience by David M

Our nightmare was and continues to be just that. We purchased one week in the early 2000s and we were told, like so many others, resale would be no problem. We were forced to buy a second unit because they said things were changing, and if we didn’t have two weeks, we wouldn’t be able to exchange into other resorts. We later learned this was not true.  

Five or six years ago our daughter came into financial ruin after a divorce. She had two young children. We had no choice but to support her. This went on for years and nearly ruined us. I spoke to the then president of our HOA to find out the consequences of not paying maintenance fees. I was told calls from Shell Collections would occur. Next, our files would be sent to outside collections, followed by foreclosure. They said the process would take about eight months. We also called Shell Vacation Club as they had acquired Carriage Hills. All said this would be the process followed.

After a great deal of thought and worry, we had no choice but to become delinquent and have our credit rating ruined. All the processes described by the Carriage Hill’s Association President and managers from Shell were followed. We received numerous calls. Everyone understood our financial issues. I returned every call I received. After seven months we received letters from the outside collection company saying that because of no payment arrangements, the files would be closed and sent to foreclosure. I have those letters in my notes and file. 

We never heard anything for 14 months – no calls, no letters. Then, all of a sudden, after 14 months, we received a notice threatening court saying we owed 10,000 in fees and penalties. 

We were devastated, to say the least. I called SVC managers and everyone I could think of. I was told that never, never, never, would there be hard collections, court proceeding, no garnish of wages, just foreclosure. This is what I had been told, but no. Carriage Hills changed their bylaws after we believed our accounts had been closed. We had lived believing it was over for almost two years. We couldn’t afford maintenance fees, let alone courts costs, so we had no choice but to try to come up with the money. We called Wyndham Ovations (voluntary surrender program), but were told Carriage Hills and Carriage Ridge did not qualify for voluntary surrender. They could not say why. 

I sent two emails with copies of all my conversations with everyone I spoke to – Wyndham’s president, and Carriage Hill’s president, stressing fairness principles being broken. No one cared. The Wyndham president never even acknowledged my emails.

The perpetuities issue, given there is no secondary market, is ruining ageing owners who were told resale would not be an issue. Does Wyndham and Carriage Hill truly believe ruining everyone’s retirement years with worry and creating nightmares for executors trying to close the estates of Shell Owners, is the way to treat people?!  

In addition to all this heartache, my wife, 74 years old, fell two years ago and broke her pelvis. She is learning to walk again. She uses a cane, can’t walk any distance, can’t carry anything while she walks, and certainly can’t travel any distance without great agony. 

All Wyndham and Carriage have to do are to take back the ones who need out, resell, and make a bunch of new cash, but no, messing with old people’s lives seems to be their goal.

Again, I have notes from every person I spoke to since we decided to not to pay fees, as well as letters from collections saying files would be closed.

I have so much more to include but I have been trying to keep it short.

David M

Ontario

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.

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/everything-about-timeshares-wayne-c-robinson/1129749757?ean=2940161600962

Free at Last Facebook Straight-A Guide

https://www.facebook.com/groups/623703881470577/?ref=share

Free at Last Timeshare Support Course offered by Straight-A-Guide

https://www.udprep.info/june

Bluegreen Facebook

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

Wyndham Facebook

New: https://www.facebook.com/groups/376743609795740/  

Sapphire Starpoint New: https://www.facebook.com/login/?next=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fgroups%2F292083584642570%2F%3Fref%3Dshare

Diamond Resort Facebook

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

Gold Key Facebook

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

Inside Timeshare Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/groups/2213231165610648/

Thank you David for your contribution and also a very big thank you to Irene, who although on vacation has continued to work on these articles and answering questions from those who have contacted Inside Timeshare.

What is so sad is that timeshare is suppossed to provide memorable experiences and wonderful holidays, but all we seem to be finding is that it is turning into nothing more than a “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”.

Have a great weekend and join us again next week.

Viking Real Estate & Nordic Consulting

Over the past few months Inside Timeshare has been receiving many enquiries about two companies based in Tenerife and operated by names well known to Silverpoint clients. We refer to the Farhoud Brothers, along with their respective companies, Viking Real Estates & Consultants and Nordic Consulting Canary Islands. One thing that is common to all the enquiries is that the clients were originally sold their “timeshare products” by the Farhoud Brothers or ex-Silverpoint salesman who now work for them. So what are they now offering their “old clients”?

Firstly let’s look at Viking Real Estates & Consultants, this company was founded by Mike Farhoud around one year ago and is based at C.C. Palm Beach Local 19 Avda Rafael Puig LLuvina 38660 Playa de las Americas Tenerife. According to the website they have the CIF number B76689603.

Mike Farhoud

When checking company records originally, that CIF number brought up the record for a company called Tuscan Garden SL, located at a different address, but the Administrator is one Mike Farhoud. So it looked like he was using another company to operate Viking Real Estates, although recent checks do now show the record for Tuscan Garden SL has now been amended through a change of company name to Viking Real Estates & Consultant.

No problem there, but it is when you look at the sector the company is registered to operate in is where it gets interesting. According to the records, the sector of trade is Restaurants and Food Stalls, nothing to do with Real Estate or even timeshare claims.


Surely, when a company is formed and its purpose is registered in a particular sector, it should be working in that sector, not doing something which it is not registered as doing. The question is, why is the original purpose of the company still restaurants and food stalls yet not being changed to the purpose now, real estate and timeshare claims, is there something to hide?

Let us now move on to Nordic Consulting Canary Islands SL, this company was registered on 17 October 2018, so is only just under one year old. The registered administrator is Ali Farhoud, another ex-Silverpoint salesman, who is now contacting Silverpoint clients with the promise of the return of double their money and cancellation of contracts. All for products he originally sold with his brother Alex Farhoud who is one of Nordics consultants.

Ali Farhoud

One email we have received tells us the clients story, it begins in October 2017,

“when we received a letter under the door from Alex Farhoud (at that time he was working for Silverpoint), that he wanted to see us the next day”.

The purpose to sell them an apartment, or so they thought. What they had actually purchased was the “Company Participation Scheme”.

At the Silverpoint office, Alex probed the couple about their finances and told them he thought there would be no problem for them to afford the purchase. They looked at two apartments and decided on the one being refurbished.

Going back to the office with Alex, he explained all the possibilities open to them, that they would receive 4.5% interest until they were given the title deed, this could take around 3 years before it was ready. But once they received the deed the apartment would be rented out for them with a return of 47.5% of the rental income. Doesn’t sound too bad really!

The cost was over 240,000€, no cooling off period and a down payment of around 5,000€ with the balance to be paid as soon as possible. This was paid within a couple of months.

The next part of the story is where it now gets interesting, in around May 2018 Alex contacts the clients and informs them that Silverpoint was facing “financial problems” but there was a solution.

Alex Farhoud

If they paid Alex 10,000€ he would help to get their money out, they duly paid. They were also told that if Silverpoint called:

“We must not say that he (Alex) called us, but we called him”.

This couple then became very suspicious indeed, well I think most of us would with a response like that.

It must also be pointed out that the 4.5% they were to receive for 2017 due in 2018 was not forthcoming, they eventually received it at the end of 2018 after a lot of pressure on their part.

At the end of 2018, they received another call from Alex who told them:

“That they would not be getting the title deed because what they bought was (hidden?) TIMESHARE”.

But low and behold there was a great solution in the wings, Alex’s brother Ali could help them to get all their money back double plus all expenses. All they needed to do was pay over 29,000€ to Nordic Consulting, Ali’s company and all would be well.

Needless to say, the couple’s suspicions were again aroused,

“first Alex sells to us” (this “dodgy” product), “then his brother Ali will help us to get back our money”.

Well, this couple did not fall for it, they are now waiting for their court dates to be announced being represented by an experienced law firm in this field.

It must also be noted that both companies are using court documents especially the Supreme Court Rulings giving the impression that they are theirs, having seen the documents and made the relevant checks they belong to another law firm. This law firm is also the only one to have had any rulings from the Supreme Court.

This story based on email testimony is just one of around eleven received so far.

After much research in the Spanish Courts Inside Timeshare has not yet found any cases related to these companies in either the High Court or the Supreme Court. So the question is do they actually have any cases and doing what they have been promising their clients?

Do you want to know where you stand legally with any timeshare product purchased in Spain, if so use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will point you in the right direction.

The Tuesday Slot

Welcome to another edition of The Tuesday Slot, following on from last Friday’s Letter from America on Wyndham’s Canadian Resorts Carriage Hills and Carriage Ridge, Irene Parker highlights the first 30 complaints received by Inside Timeshare. So far we have received 110 which we expect to rise as more and more owners find these articles, one thing is certain they are all telling a very familiar story, deceptive practices by the sales agents.

Wyndham’s Canadian Carriage Hills and Carriage Ridge Unfair and Deceptive Business Practices

An Open Letter to:

Jason Gamel, Wyndham Sr. VP, Legal, and ARDA President  

By Irene Parker and 30 of 110 + Carriage Resorts Victims of Unfair Practices

August 20, 2019

After publishing our August 8 article challenging ARDA’s Coalition for Responsible Exit program, I reached out to a Canadian friend asking about Canadian Legacy owner Simon D’s Carriage Resort complaint. The article described six out of eight fully paid Legacy owners not allowed out of their contracts. A seventh, homebound, contacted us, so seven resorts out of nine single-site resorts in the U.S. are not being allowed voluntary surrenders. Lawmakers are not hearing the whole story. Shockingly, in the case of Wyndham’s Carriage Resorts, owners are required to pay maintenance fees or be sued.  

While the Canadian Consumer Product Safety Act may seem more geared towards manufacturing, those who take the time to read 110 reports of those held hostage in a timeshare trap, will understand Wyndham and Carriage’s draconian and predatory policies can cause adverse health effects too. Seniors in their 70s and 80s, and even their heirs if deceased are being sued for maintenance fees. These fully-paid owners have watched their maintenance fees double over the years, while their income in retirement decreased.  

Carriage Resorts may be domiciled in Canada, but U.S. based Wyndham acquired Carriage Resorts from Shell Vacation Club several years ago. Despite Wyndham promoting their Ovations voluntary surrender program, Carriage owners are held in a predatory grip even when they can no longer travel. 

Please take the time to read through over 110 complaints submitted by Carriage Resorts owners, beginning with complaints 1 through 30. Reports 31 thru 60 we will publish Friday. Timeshare buyers were routinely told their timeshare would be easy to sell because the timeshare is real estate.

August 8 article:  

ARDA”s Coalition for Responsible Exit Fails Legacy Owners

https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-62/

August 16 article:

Simon’s complaint prompts “Two Carriage Resort Owners Describe Unfair Practices” https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-63/

Mr. Kenneth McKelvey, founder of Defender Resorts and Chairman of the timeshare PAC ARDA ROC, testified at a legislative workshop held in Tallahassee Florida March 12, 2019, that attorneys and timeshare exit providers are not needed.

“Most of the developers I know, and certainly most of the timeshare managers I know, and I managed timeshare properties for thirty years… every single resort had a dissolution policy, every single one! There was a way to get out. You had to come to your management company, and based on what the board of directors instructed us to do in the terms if they had to pay a fee or if they had to be current, whatever those situations were, we did not have one that did not have a dissolution policy and a hardship policy …”

ARDA’s position is that the problem of the lack of a secondary market has been solved. A quote from an ARDA lobbyist:

“Their value comes from using it,” the timeshare industry’s top lobbyist told ConsumerAffairs in January, admitting that points have no resale value while claiming that consumers don’t mind this because the value comes from the experience.

The first 30 of 80 complaints:

Any delinquent owners are being sued for unpaid maintenance fees. Many of the aged owners are finding themselves in a real bind with health problems and limited from travelling anymore. The last thing they need is to be sued. Don and JoAnne  

Over the last 10 years, we have approached and been approached by several companies offering to transfer our units. We have probably lost about $30,000 trying to exit. Colin and Mimi

While Wyndham’s CEO Michael Brown is bragging about putting $1 Billion into expanding their timeshare business. If that is not the epitome of corporate greed, I don’t know what is! Cheryl

I wrote and told them they were heartless.  I have to take my blood pressure daily and my Family Physician asked why it fluctuates so much, as high as 160/80 recently, I told him the financial burden this timeshare is and the nightmare it has become. He has warned me the next stroke might be fatal. This timeshare is like having a noose around my neck. No one in my family wants it.  Jeanne

#1 Doug M

Twenty plus years ago we bought into what seemed to be an exciting package of vacation opportunities. Through the years, our maintenance fees kept climbing and climbing. Now our fees have climbed so high it’s no longer a viable option as they (Shell and Wyndham) have adjusted and changed the rules giving us less and less time with our timeshare. 

I am now retired with failing health. I just had open heart surgery and my kidneys have stopped working. I’m on home dialysis.  With this, my wife and I have lost the desire to travel. I can no longer swim or use many of the facilities. It is almost impossible to sell.  It seems I have to pay someone to take it. Thank you for representing our views.

#2 Greg and Christiana

Hi Irene,

My wife and I have been owners at Carriage Hills Owner since 1999 and have enjoyed many vacations that we shared with friends and family. A few years ago we moved to British Columbia. We can no longer use the resort with any frequency so looked into selling. Much to my surprise, I came to the realization that there are zero markets for these timeshares. There are 100s listed for sale! Some are even willing to pay a lawyer’s fees for the transfer and others offer a year or more paid maintenance fees. People are willing to walk away from their investment, in my case, around $17,000. We are willing to pay lawyer’s fees and also pay a few thousand in maintenance fees just to walk away. Very few owners have been able to get out of this. I have spoken to the Board of Directors, people at Shell Resorts and Wyndham without any solution.

This desperation has fueled scam agencies that are willing to take our money with false promises that they can get rid of it. People are getting scammed out of $1,000s of dollars.

It seems that no one is willing or able to help owners. Couple this with the rising maintenance fees and, to my horror, the knowledge that our Board, overseen by Wyndham, is actively suing elderly owners in arrears on fees who cannot use the resort due to health or sell due to no market. They can’t give it back to Wyndham because they don’t want it.

Please, we need help. This is a major crisis just waiting to explode.

Sincerely,

Greg and Christina

#3 Stefan J

I have been a Carriage Resorts owner for 20+ years. We converted our weeks to points a few years ago. At first, the annual fees were quite reasonable. We used the weeks yearly as our boys grew up. I have divorced and can’t use the points anymore. I am 68 years old and about to retire. The maintenance fees are $1,500 a year. It seems impossible to exit. I don’t want my boys (who did not even sign the contract!) to worry about this liability. I don’t mind spending some $$ to get out but I have heard all exit companies are scams.

#4 Lori and Roy

My husband and I bought our timeshare at the beginning of our relationship seeing it as a great investment. Our situations changed when I went back to school and became a teacher.  I now do not travel very much as I don’t enjoy travelling on the March or Christmas break. I need that downtime for sanity. We were also given my uncle’s timeshare so we now own two.

Last year we were in arrears.  I called the resort to ask about selling. In the past, at Carriage timeshare presentations, we were offered timeshares that were ‘returned’ so I assumed they would help me get rid of the timeshare.

I do not have the money to travel or pay my dues. Wyndham and Carriage have made it impossible. That just seems crazy.  “We have a great option for you, but you cannot know what it is or how much it costs unless you spend some money to come and hear us tell you about it.” I am not spending more money. That is insane.

I followed all of the information on their site about resale but did not find any help. Lots of organizations offered to help if I gave them a couple of thousand dollars upfront – really?! I have listed everywhere and tried to give it away and I still can’t get rid of it. I have no idea what to do.  I borrowed the money to pay off the dues for this year, but still have not paid that loan back. By the time I do, the next dues will be due!

#5 Mel and Anth

Good afternoon Irene!

My husband and I own at Carriage Hills. We bought an every other week (red) November 2000. While we did have some really nice vacations we haven’t been happy with our exchanges in close to a decade. We’ve listed it with timeshare exit sales companies and lost money. We’ve purchased another timeshare with the promise (in writing) that they would take Carriage Hills off our hands. Later we found out that Carriage Hills could not be sold to a Corporation and we were still on the hook and now we have another timeshare to boot!

We’re frustrated and at a loss. We thought about walking away but learned that it affects the rest of the owners and our credit, so we know that’s not an option. We reluctantly pay our dues and exchange for a place that is worth far less.

We dread the idea of passing this burden onto anyone else. If it wasn’t a lifetime (and beyond) deed, it may be worth owning, but as a lifetime deed, it’s a curse.

Thank you for listening. I pray that you’re able to help us all find a way out.

Melissa

#6 Don BG

We bought a timeshare from Carriage Hills. We have a liability, not an assist.  We can’t give the timeshare away or sell it because Wyndham will not approve any transfers.  It is taking up to six months to make a decision. No other business in the world is this slow.  As we age we would like to get rid of this liability we paid big bucks for. Wyndham could resell but instead insists on sending collection agencies to older people who no longer use the resort or can afford it, yet they rent it out to non-owners telling us that it is all sold out. 

In the US some resorts take back timeshares or resell. We just get grief.  I buy a car and yes I take a loss when I resell it but I can still resell. A timeshare is worth nothing the moment you buy it because no one wants to deal with these crooks.  How this is allowed to happen in Canada is beyond me. Where are the people who will stop this evil? 

Any help you can give is greatly appreciated. 

#7 Lillian

Hello Irene – my husband and I own at Carriage Hills and at Carriage Ridge.  We had the opportunity to use the facilities from time to time but that has changed since we now live in Prince Edward Island, a 19-hour drive.

What I am learning is frightening.

When we bought in 2001 we were assured that when we no longer were able to use our timeshare, there would be no problem – the company would purchase the unit back from us at fair market price – which was predicted to skyrocket – and we would have had all the travels we wanted in the interim.

Exchanging is getting more difficult.

The maintenance fees have skyrocketed to the point where it is cheaper to stay in a hotel or Airbnb. Communication from the resort has been spotty at best and basically non -existent from Wyndham.  

We would feel much more comfortable not to have to worry about our children, upon our death, being responsible for our purchase made so many years ago, sold to us as being a wise, wonderful investment.  

It does not feel like an investment with the maintenance fees that are now well over $1,000 per year plus additional SVC/RCI required membership.  We set aside money every month so we aren’t hit with the huge maintenance payments due in November – just short of Christmas.  

I believe the timeshare owners are entitled to an exit strategy as a first step in making the situation not so worrisome for owners who want to move on or whose travelling days are over.

Thank you.

Lillian L

#8 Leslie W

Good Day Irene

We purchased our unit back in 2000 and have had some nice vacations.

We were advised by the salesperson that this was just like investing in real estate. We could sell our unit at any time (and the implication was that it would be at a profit).

With escalating Maintenance Fees and changes in life conditions, we no longer wish to own this. None of our children would be interested in it, nor could they afford it.

I have had many sleepless nights trying to figure out how we can get out of this. I and many others are willing to WALK AWAY. We certainly DO NOT want to burden our heirs with this ridiculous responsibility. I only hope we can find a resolution.

Best Regards,

Leslie W

#9 June R

Hello Irene. I want to support your advocating for a timeshare exit plan.  I have been a deeded owner since 2002. I enjoyed my experiences but I am significantly older and my circumstances won’t enable me to continue paying maintenance fees into infinity. I have paid my fees every year without fail.

Thank you.

#10 Bill S 

I have two deeds. I would like to get rid of one of my years.

#11Natasha C

My husband (at the time) and I purchased our first deed at Carriage Hills back in the late 90’s. We were told it was an investment that could be willed, resold or deeded back if we no longer wanted or needed it. 

After a couple of years, we received a call to come to the resort for a sales presentation of the points program.  We attended with the idea of selling it back because we were under the impression we could. Our maintenance fees increased yearly. 

In 2011 we had our first child. Our priorities changed. I started to feel that we should consider deeding it back. We divorced in 2019. I am now desperately trying to get out of my deed.

I called Wyndham when I learned of the Ovation Program. I was informed by the Representative that Wyndham was not taking back Carriage Hill deeds but I could look at posting the deed for sale as a listing on Kijiji or our Carriage Hills Home Owners Association Website. The majority of the postings were for $1. I was gobsmacked with the sudden reality of my situation.

I believe that Wyndham must be renting Carriage Hills units out on various external travel websites and at a fraction of the cost, it would be for me to list to rent or sell my unit.  I also now start to question that if my timeshare is not-for-profit but owned and managed by Wyndham, is that not a conflict of interest? 

I’ve tried reading and understanding the Time Share Agreement and other contracts that hold me bound in perpetuity to this fractional ownership but that honestly make my eyes crossed.  Delinquent accounts are taken to court and then not only have to pay the fee but also the costs to have the litigation due to delinquency. I’m considering bankruptcy but being self- supported and with an 8-year-old daughter, I simply do not want to go that route. Some members have written local MPs but it seems to go nowhere.

I’m thankful that I’ve found an ear to listen to my situation.  This timeshare is literally the first thing on my mind when I wake and the last thing on my mind before I go to sleep.  I feel ill that I’ll need to go another $1300 in debt just before Christmas so I don’t get myself in “trouble” with Wyndham. The hardest part is that I know they are a huge entity and could take my deed back and benefit from it more than the trouble it causes me.

Thank you for your time,

#12 Natalyn

What do we need to do?

#13 Irene B

Hello Irene, My Carriage Hills Deed I purchased in May 2002.  I was so very proud of this purchase, but now very upset, sad and anxious. I don’t know what I own, except a piece of junk no one wants. I wanted to sell as my life has changed as is the case with many. In the past year, I have seen people giving them away or paying to give them away. Our maintenance fees have increased from $568 to $1368.  

I’m worried for my daughter who has to take on this burden. I feel I was very misled by the sales team back in 2002. So much has changed and not for the better. I just want help to exit my timeshare.  This is creating lots of anxiety for me.  

Irene B

#14 Anne C

Dear Irene

The Carriage Hills/Ridge exit situation for our family is terrible. My husband suddenly became extremely ill in 2005 and has been living in a nursing home ever since.

The purpose of purchasing the 3 timeshares was mainly for vacations in retirement. Now that we are senior citizens, we are unable to fulfil this dream because he is unable to travel. He was unable to work from the time he was age 60. We could not save money for retirement. Once he got sick we had to pay the nursing home fees in addition to my living expenses. Therefore we cannot afford the maintenance fees which have increased drastically. We need to exit from the timeshares immediately to avoid having to pay maintenance fees.

Is there a way to give away the timeshares and not have to pay any more fees?

Sincerely,

Anne C

#15 Sharon H

Hi Irene,

I read your article on the non-existent exit strategies at our resort. We bought into Carriage Hills over 20 years ago. We were told that as deeded owners, the property would increase in value as we would OWN the property. We paid our maintenance fees but rarely used it.

My husband has been diagnosed with cancer and we are just realizing there is no way to get out of this mess. Our children don’t want anything to do with it but they will be saddled with the payments. How can this be? I thought that when we died, that would be the end of it. I am worried about the future and how I will manage the maintenance fees, especially for something we don’t use. I have tried to rent it out at prime time but was unable to do so.

Thank you so much for raising this issue. There has to be a solution out there. How can the law allow you to own something in perpetuity (with no secondary market)??

Sharon H

#16 Liz A

I bought at SVC Carriage Ridge in 2003 when I was close to retirement & able to travel. Now I am 77 years old, single, disabled – cane, walker, wheelchair in airports, on pension.  I know that EXIT is a must in the next 5 years. 

Systematically, unit value has been eroded.  Terms have been changed without consultation or notification. Access to available exchanges has been poorly served by SVC web & RCI & II.  Calling to book always involved up-selling. Stays at resorts often involved “updates” & the agents clearly are trained to focus on SALES & Up-Selling. My experience at Wyndham Panama City reached a new LOW – check-in delayed & parking tag withheld until we agreed to attend when we clearly stated that we would NOT buy anything new.

In addition, Wyndham competes with Owners underselling rental opportunities on the open market because they have marketing access; pockets revenues and bypasses accounting for local revenues & is not held accountable by our Boards.  They avoided “late payment” fees when maintenance fees on the units they hold missed the payment deadline – paid a single $100 late fee when they should have paid $100/unit. The By-law has been changed to % late fee which harms all the other owners.  Their reps at AGM glibly stated that “if there was money to be made they would have maintained the Sales Office.”  

The Ovation (exit) available to other owner groups has been withheld to CR & CH Owners.  They bought back defaulted deeds at the time of the purchase of SVC to increase their holdings from 4% to 10% & assure “control” AND they (in theory) claim “developer” 4x voting power although they claim they do not exercise that option.  How can a secondary owner claim developer: status when all developer units had been sold? It seems they may have been selling points & other locations memberships from our sales centre and closed quickly – No notice to local members. 

* SVC (Shell) abandoned owners at CR & CH to Wyndham’s cavalier attitude & exploitation of OUR resorts.  Yes, they bring management expertise, but they have used their access to line their own pockets; they do not serve local Owner Member interests. 

Our local Boards have taken the position that they only “manage” the resorts on behalf of Member-Owners.  They have done very little to defend Owner interests in relation to the parent companies – SVC & now Wyndham.  Customer/Owner Services is a farce; all the reps are Wyndham employees defending Wyndham interests.

#17 Julie S

Owner, Purchased: July 2004, Mortgage:  $14,931.00 at 13.65% interest is paid in full 

My complaints are numerous.  The inept team at Carriage Hills couldn’t coordinate anything with Shell Vacations Club for years. The last time we used ours was 2010 because it was no longer worth it. We started to sell it back but got vague messages about lawyers’ fees etc., and more invitations to come to sales presentations.  We were warned by others it was another sales pitch.  

We’ve been “upgraded” to Interval but could never book anything. The cost to work through RCI was more than $200 Canadian, making it more costly.  My husband called the office and spoke to someone about the Ovation program – Carriage Hills was not invited to participate.)

The original Purchase was to include a yearly fee of $619 for Annual Basic charge due to the association.  Yearly fees are up close to $2000 with both “membership” and “maintenance”.  

I looked on websites to book our White Week:

Expedia: Dec 7 – Dec 14, 2019 

Studio / no kitchen:  $105 per night / $735 week (1250 points)

One Bedroom w kitchen:  $153 / $1073 (2300 points)

Two-Bedroom w kitchen: $206 / $1443 (3550 points)

If I didn’t have a $15K investment in Carriage Ridge, I could spend only $1443 Canadian for a 2 bedroom instead of just shy of $2000 each year. There are many parts to why this doesn’t work but it boils down to an “investment” that costs us more per year than someone who didn’t invest.  

This was bought with the idea that it could be traded for a vacation anywhere at a great price.  The $619 per year “Membership Fee” was going to allow a trade to the equivalent of a two-bedroom in Hawaii.

We haven’t pursued selling after learning how many want to sell. 

Thanks for listening.

#18 Don A

Hi Irene,

My wife and I own at the Carriage Hills and Carriage Ridge Resorts near Barrie, Ontario for about 20 years. We have enjoyed our ownership and travelled to many destinations but we are now both seniors. I am 74 and my wife is 67.  

When we purchased we were told that these resorts were special in that we would have titled deeds and as such, they could be passed on to our children or could be sold for a profit since they would surely appreciate in value.

Our children have no interest in them.  There was a sales office on-site up until about 3 years ago. Apparently, these units have no value to Wyndham so we are stuck. Most units are being sold for as little as $1.00. Our maintenance fees have increased by about $1,000. Delinquent owners are being sued for unpaid maintenance fees. Many of the aged owners are finding themselves in a real bind with health problems. The last thing they need is to be sued. 

Wyndham had an Ovation program available to owners of the US timeshare properties, but we seem to not be eligible. We are hopeful that you can bring attention to this dilemma, and that a resolution can be found. Thank you so much for taking up the cause to right this wrong. 

Respectfully yours,

Don and Jo-Anne A

#19 Colin and Mimi S

Hello Irene,

My wife Mimi and I have been owners at Carriage Hills for about 15 to 20 years. We have never been satisfied with it because we were given incorrect information when we joined and despite many efforts have never been able to exit.

Over the last 10 years, we have approached and been approached by several companies offering to transfer our units. We have probably lost about $30,000 trying to exit.  Carriage Hills management has been unhelpful, even when we showed letters about the miss-information we were given when we first signed up.

We are retiring next year and the exorbitant maintenance fees are just too much.

Hopefully, this can be of help to you and to us.

Thank you so much,

Colin and Mimi

#20 Cheryl C

Good afternoon,

Thank you for hearing our voices! I am a 20+ year owner. We enjoy, use and can afford our timeshare. Over the years the fees rose way more than we wanted and exchanging got harder.

For the first time ever, I attended an AGM in 2017. WOW! What an eye-opener! I had no idea that Wyndham had so much power and we had so little.  Wyndham closing the sales office rang some alarm bells as well as owners selling (giving) away for free.

As we became more informed about our situation, I became desperate to find a way out for myself, but especially the elderly owners, those who’ve become sick and those who’ve had financial hardships. It was apparent that not only was it near impossible to give these away but that many owners were falling prey to exit teams who essentially stole their money.

Our Board of Directors has very little power as the cards are stacked in Wyndham’s favour. That situation only seems to get worse every AM as they put their 10% concentrated vote on the candidate of their choice while we scatter our votes among candidates.

Last AGM we were proudly told that we regained our Gold Crown Status with RCI and the next representative from SVC said there is “no market for CH/CR and if there was they’d be selling!”

The attached article is about an 80-year-old couple from Wainfleet, ON. It is almost unbelievable, but this is one of many, many sad stories. We are all in a scheme that means if one owner doesn’t pay, we all foot their bill so we have no option but to send owners to collections for something they cannot use or sell while Wyndham’s CEO Michael Brown brags about putting $1 Billion into expansion. If that is not the epitome of corporate greed, I don’t know what is!

We have pleaded for Ovation but are told it is not available. They referred us to Fidelity (which does not take an upfront fee), but they haven’t sold one of our units in years. 

We are desperate and angry and need a solution. 

#21 Laura F

Hi Irene,

There needs to be an exit available as circumstances change. There should be some method to sell or turn back the property. We were not advised of this.

How I can support efforts to address this issue?

Regards

#22 Jeanne B

My husband and I bought October 2003 for just over $13,000 at Carriage Ridge. At a meeting, the sales team was excited to tell us that if we bought an opposite year for another $13,000+ we could automatically become Shell Vacation Owners and could change from weeks to points. For ten years it was great even though maintenance fees increased as well as Shell membership yearly fees and exchange fees. We all get older and there comes a time to retire and live on pensions. In the last 15 years, Maintenance Fees have doubled to about $1,200 a year. 

I suffered a Thalamic Stroke over two years ago. I am in constant pain on my right side and my blood pressure has been as high as 195/100. My memory has been greatly affected, from spelling, completing tasks, anxiety, depression, etc. I had to leave work. The only income I have is CPP Disability and my husband is on CPP and OAS.

I contacted Wyndham about Ovation. I was passed from one person to the next. Finally, I was told that our Board of Directors does not allow us to use this program. Our Board of Directors denied it and said that it was Wyndham’s decision. I don’t know who to believe. This year someone was interested in buying my timeshare. The buyer wanted to join Shell Vacation and have points instead of weeks but that is no longer an option.   

I have been communicating for 8 months now with Wyndham Staff at Carriage Ridge as well as our Board of Directors. I told them I really can’t afford to pay the maintenance fee. I was told I would be sued. The fees were $1,325.11 and it was not in my budget. I wasn’t able to pay. I received a letter from Derek Beaudoin, Canadian ICR Ltd, a collection agency. Finally, I saved up enough money to pay it and was hit with an additional fee. I asked if this could be waived this was the reply I received from Derek.

Mrs. Boisvenue,

The resort has received your e-mail (below) and forwarded it to us to respond.  The Home Owners Association will not be waiving any of the remaining balance, $341.26.

Please be aware your arrears continue to accrue interest at $0.28/day.

I wrote again explaining my health and financial situation and this is the email I received from Nanci Shepard, Chairman of our Board of Directors on February 22, 2019,

Hi Jeannie,

After lengthy discussion with my fellow board members, we have unanimously decided to NOT waive your late fees. We are very sorry for your health and personal issues but as you state you have been an owner for 15 years so you are well aware that we put these policies in place for a reason. 

We are responsible to make sure the resort runs to above industry standard and we count on every owner to pay their maintenance fees in a timely manner in order for us to do just that.

There will be no further discussions on this matter and we will wait until Derek advises us you are paid and back in good standing.

Nanci 

I wrote and told them they were heartless.  I have to take my blood pressure daily and my Family Physician asked why it fluctuates so much, as high as 160/80 recently, I told him the financial burden this timeshare is and the nightmare it has become. He has warned me the next stroke might be fatal.

This timeshare is like having a noose around my neck. No one in my family wants it. My adopted son suffers from mental illness and lives on ODSP so he can never afford this.

To sum this up, there is no longer a sales office, our maintenance fees more than double in 15 years, late fees 30% in my case, suing delinquent owners, there is no Ovation program, non-owners pay less, rules change without our knowledge, we pay the Wyndham staff, they make it hard to sell, our kids are being forced to inherit a timeshare, ownership/leadership changed, NOOSE AROUND MY NECK.

#23 Trish M

Good evening

I like many others have been an owner at both Carriage Hills and Ridge for 20 plus years. 

The stories we started to hear about people desperate to get out of their timeshare were heartbreaking – the elderly, the sick, the unemployed. And we as owners were suing them for their maintenance fees through the office.

The rates have soared, we paid a huge investment in the beginning and continue to pay maintenance fees – there just isn’t any value in it anymore. Anyone can book off the street while we pay for the upkeep!!  Those who cannot afford the fees are being sued!! It is atrocious in my opinion. Our children do not want it left to them. What young person could afford it?

Many thanks!

#24 Jeff M

Hi Irene 

My wife and I purchased our timeshare in 2008 at 24 and 23 years old. We were basically sold on the premise that we could “get out of it” at any moment. We are stuck paying over 1000 $ annually for something that has no value. This has been the worst financial decision we have made in our lives.

Thank you,

Jeff M

#25 Wenda M

My husband and I purchased at Carriage Hills Resort in January 2000. We were told that we could sell the units when it became the time that we could no longer utilize it. Now as we age and have developed health issues our travel time has been curtailed. We need a viable exit plan. Our costs of annual maintenance fees and membership fee in 2018-19 amounts to almost $5600. This is not sustainable. No way is our son interested in inheriting our mistake. Our debit is ours not his and he is not on the deed.  

We need an EXIT – not just words but an actual plan. 

Wenda M

#26 Sue R

Hello

We own 6 deeds at Carriage Ridge and Carriage Hills Resorts. We purchased our units so that we could travel when retired. We use our points well, able to vacation about 10 weeks a year!  Our maintenance fees for both the Ridge and Hills are approximately 8,000.00 yearly, plus our SVC club fees at approximately 800.00. Now, knowing we may never be able to “get out” makes our stomachs turn! Never, ever, did we think our children could end up carrying our burden! We are not ready to sell but want to know how we can eventually get out of our commitments without having to go bankrupt. 

We would appreciate an acknowledgement that you received our email. Thank you.

Sincerely

Sue R

#27 Tom K

To be provided

#28 Ana N

Good Evening, 

I, too, am a long-time owner (15+ yrs) who was swindled into this so-called investment. We were sold this timeshare that was supposed to be something that could give joy to our family. Instead, it has caused us grief and stress when maintenance fees have doubled. This is not something that we would like our children to inherit and they have made it clear that they don’t want it.  

In addition, it is not something that I can continuously sustain with my husband who was diagnosed with advanced-stage cancer last year and has been in treatment since.

It seems impossible to sell or even give away.  I’ve been looking into selling or disposing of these and reached out to a member of the board who did not even bother responding to me.

We need a solution.  We need an exit plan.  We need help.

Thank you.

Ana N

#29 Jill M

Irene, I am writing to you with regard to my ‘ownership’ at Carriage Hills. I recently purchased resale time – what a horrible mistake! Not only was I completely misinformed by the seller and lawyer, but Wyndham provided zero information or assistance. My greatest concerns are the heavily increasing maintenance fees and the lack of an exit plan. I cannot and will not pass this disaster on to my executors or trustees.

If there is anything that can be done to assist the owners, we need to know now. Ownership falling into default is only going to continue to harm those of us that can’t get rid of our shares.

Thank you for your time,

Jill

#30 Rocky P

Hello Irene, my wife and I purchased a timeshare 20 years ago at Carriage Ridge thorough Shell Vacation Club. Over the years we have had great use but over the last few years have not been able to use it for financial reasons. We are both almost 70 with no pensions. We contacted the new owners Wyndham regarding an exit and we’re told of the Ovation program but have since found out that we are not eligible. We are also told that our children will inherit this increasing debt. This just can’t be right we can’t even give it away. We are lost at to what we can do. 

Anthony and MaryAnn P

In America, parents were paying $600 for an Epi-pen, a life-saving device for children who experience acute asthma. Public outcry resulted in a $200 generic version almost overnight. The draconian policy Carriage Resorts has imposed on loyal customers, who faithfully paid maintenance fees for decades, suing seniors experiencing the stress that comes with ageing, is predatory and unfair. Who would not agree with my statement? Let’s hope lawmakers come to this realization.

Thank you to Carriage owners for speaking up and speaking out. Inside Timeshare will do all in our power to keep this out front to support advocacy efforts.

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.

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/everything-about-timeshares-wayne-c-robinson/1129749757?ean=2940161600962

Free at Last Facebook Straight-A Guide

https://www.facebook.com/groups/623703881470577/?ref=share

Free at Last Timeshare Support Course offered by Straight-A-Guide

https://www.udprep.info/june

Bluegreen Facebook

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

Wyndham Facebook

New: https://www.facebook.com/groups/376743609795740/  

Sapphire Starpoint New: https://www.facebook.com/login/?next=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fgroups%2F292083584642570%2F%3Fref%3Dshare

Diamond Resort Facebook

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

Gold Key Facebook

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

Inside Timeshare Facebook Group

https://www.facebook.com/groups/2213231165610648/

Thank you Irene, once again we witness disgusting practices by sales agents and the timeshare company fails to recognise that they have a severe problem. It is not just the deceptive practices it is also the age of many of these victims, as we have seen in many cases highlighted by our US colleagues as well as with many of the clients of Silverpoint’s “investments and company participation schemes” this can be clearly defined as “Elder Abuse”. If the timeshare companies are unable to change their practices then is it not time that the law is changed to force them to improve and protect consumers, especially the elderly.

If you have a timeshare problem and would like to know what options are open to you, then use our contact page and get in touch, Inside Timeshare will point you in the right direction.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to another edition of our Letter from America, this week Irene Parker explores the problems surrounding some Canadian Timeshare owners at Resorts taken over by Wyndham. The article also looks at how Quebec is leading the way to protect consumers in Canada. Much of the legislation is very similar to that instituted in Spain, which as we already know has the strongest timeshare laws in favour of consumers in Europe. It does look as though lawmakers in other countries are looking at and using the Spanish model in their bid to protect consumers, this can only be for the best as the industry has failed miserably in this area.

The Hypocrisy of ARDA’s Coalition for Responsible Exit and Wyndham’s Ovation Program for Carriage Resorts Owners

Wyndham’s Carriage Hills and Carriage Ridge Canadian Resorts

By Irene Parker

August 16, 2019

A follow-up to Legacy Resort owners’ lack of a responsible exit

https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-62/

It’s been over a year since Quebec passed a law in June of 2018 challenging the perpetual nature of non-deeded timeshare contracts. It is hoped Quebec’s model legislation will be expanded to include other Canadian provinces. The law does not apply to deeded intervals, which are considered real property in Canada.

Legislative Revision to Quebec Timeshares 

A contract related to timeshare accommodation rights is considered a service contract. You may resiliate your contract for other reasons, and you have other rights and recourses (187.13). The verb resiliation means “To draw back from a contract.” Cambridge dictionary (de résilier un contrat cancelling, termination)

Carriage’s draconian policy surpasses anything I have encountered in America. Wyndham acquired Carriage Resorts from Shell Vacation Club several years ago. Carriage Resorts lack of an exit policy is even more disturbing, considering the new president of the timeshare lobby ARDA, is Jason Gamel, Senior VP, Legal at Wyndham. ARDA’s position is that the problem of the lack of a secondary market has been solved by programs like Wyndham’s voluntary surrender program Ovations, and ARDA’s Coalition for Responsible Exit. A quote from an ARDA lobbyist:

“Their value comes from using it,” the timeshare industry’s top lobbyist told ConsumerAffairs in January, admitting that points have no resale value while claiming that consumers don’t mind this because the value comes from the experience.

A RedWeek post from a Carriage Resort owner found on the internet (unedited):

I was duped into a gifted timeshare from my father. The story is sad…he is retired and was desperate to get out as he lost most of his retirement money in 2007. So he misleads my husband and I. I contacted Ovation to take the deed back from Carriage Hills resort in Canada and they said NO. Referred to Fidelity who advised THEY HAVE NOT SOLD a Carriage Hills unit IN YEARS! 31 units are listed on Carriage Hills website for $1. Many owners are offering $400 gift certificates. Wyndham is the ring-leader. They should offer Ovation.

https://www.redweek.com/forums/messages?thread_id=20770&page=last

As reported by a Carriage Resort member to another Carriage member:   

By coincidence, I own at Carriage Hills which is the “sister” resort to Carriage Ridge (Simon’s resort) north of Toronto. Both these resorts are deeded timeshares (not points) and unless Wyndham changed their policy and allowed Ovations to take back Carriage deeds, the owners at both these resorts are “stuck” and obliged to pay their fees unless they manage to sell.

The board of Carriage Hills (and I believe Carriage Ridge as well) takes delinquent owners to court to oblige them to pay through a court ruling. The only way out currently is to sell. They are even taking “delinquent” heirs to court for payment of the late fees and say they have been successful. Simon will not be “foreclosed” – they don’t take back any timeshares at all. The owners’ associations at both timeshares cannot “own” any units and Wyndham is uncooperative. 

Wyndham took over these resorts from Shell Vacation Club several years ago and at that time also closed the sales office because they alleged they could not sell the units. Since that time they also have stopped taking back units from owners wanting out. This is a Facebook group which could be helpful (https://m.facebook.com/groups/152117225452689) for Ridge and Hills owners. They discuss “exit” strategies and appeals to the board to find a solution for owners who want to exit, amongst other topics. 

Unfortunately, I don’t have a good answer for you – at Embarc, because it is points and we are members who own no “real estate”, and because Diamond still takes back points to resell, a member has the choice of 1) Selling at around $10 per point (a fraction of the purchase price), 2) asking Diamond to take back the points or, 3) If they refuse, simply not pay one’s fees and points will be eventually forfeited. 

Carriage Hills/Ridge has no such choices – right now, the only thing one can do is attempt to sell to someone else – on Redweek.com, tug2.com or local Kijiji pages. I myself have listed my unit on the Carriage Hills website and am attempting to sell… There doesn’t however, appear to be a similar website for Carriage Ridge owners. 

Excerpt of email to Irene Parker at Inside Timeshare from Simon

August 5, 2019

I reached out to Ovations as you suggested. Wyndham Ovations will not accept our Carriage Ridge Resort in Canada. We purchased this floating week timeshare May 2004 for approximately $13,750. We were told at purchase there would be no problem reselling the timeshare. 

I will be contacting the Canadian Vacation Ownership Association as you suggested. They should know that many Canadians are being harmed. http://www.canadianvoa.org/ 

Simon D

Quebec Bill 178

Under Quebec Bill 178, a service contract can be cancelled under liberal conditions if the purchaser is not getting the benefits of ownership due to medical conditions, availability, or a host of other reasons.  

Introduced 18 April 2018 Quebec National Assembly

Passed 6 June 2018

Excerpt from the bill: “You may resiliate your contract for other reasons, and you have other rights and recourses.”

187.13 A contract relating to timeshare accommodation rights is deemed to be a service contract

http://www.assnat.qc.ca/en/travaux-parlementaires/projets-loi/projet-loi-178-41-1.html

Quebec’s consumer protection act is not the first time Canada has ruled on the definition of a timeshare. According to a 2017 ruling, the Canadian Court of Appeals defined a timeshare more like a country club than real property.

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-canada/

Spain ended perpetual timeshare contracts.

Spain was the first country to rule that perpetual timeshare contracts are illegal. In Spain timeshare contracts purchased in perpetuity, floating weeks, and points-based timeshares have been deemed unlawful by the Supreme Court.

I attended a Florida legislative workshop in Tallahassee March 12 of this year. Hearing lobbyists explain responsible exits and hardship departments, I learned of two parallel timeshare universes – what lobbyists and developers portray to lawmakers – and what over 900 families report is really happening.

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.

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/everything-about-timeshares-wayne-c-robinson/1129749757?ean=2940161600962

Free at Last Facebook Straight-A Guide

https://www.facebook.com/groups/623703881470577/?ref=share

Free at Last Timeshare Support Course offered by Straight-A-Guide

https://www.udprep.info/june

Bluegreen Facebook

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

Wyndham Facebook

New: https://www.facebook.com/groups/376743609795740/  

Sapphire Starpoint New: https://www.facebook.com/login/?next=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fgroups%2F292083584642570%2F%3Fref%3Dshare

Diamond Resort Facebook

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

Gold Key Facebook

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

Inside Timeshare Facebook Group

https://www.facebook.com/groups/2213231165610648/

Thank you Irene, one thing this article does show is at least some lawmakers are taking an active interest in curbing the excesses of the timeshare industry and giving them some rights under law. I don’t know of any other industry where the consumer has no protection with the laws in favour of the industry, this must change and we are slowly seeing that happen.

Inside Timeshare would also like to apologise for the lack of articles over the past few weeks, August is usually rather quiet so Inside Timeshare has taken the time to have a well earned rest. All will be back to normal in the next week or so.

Have a great weekend.

The Tuesday Slot

Welcome to the latest edition of The Tuesday Slot, as we know Irene Parker has received a subpoena to disclose emails and other documents which she lists in the article. This is a blatant attempt by Diamond Resorts to attack a volunteer who works hard to help others resolve their timeshare disputes, as we all know Irene receives no payment whatsoever for the work she does, neither do any of the other volunteers who have stepped forward to take some of the pressure away from Irene. Please support Irene in whatever way you can.

One thing that Inside Timeshare finds very sad with all this is that a company wants to subpoena one of their own customers, especially to silence one that refused to sign a non-disclosure agreement.

The Subpoena Diamond Resorts sent to me, a volunteer

By Irene Parker

August 9, 2019

Instead of Diamond Resorts, and other developers, acknowledging that they may have a few bad apples, the timeshare lobby ARDA, in cooperation with several developers, has raised $50 million to crush timeshare exit companies, legitimate law firms providing timeshare relief services, and my 81-year-old husband and me.

The Orlando Sentinel supporting Diamond Resorts:

https://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/os-bz-timeshare-castle-diamond-20190719-3zvqhr46yjcnplwm33fyhgm3iy-story.html

HotelBusiness supporting the consumer:

To The Editor:

As a hotel owner and operator, and as an attorney who has represented hotel owners and operators since 1988, I am a regular reader of your publication. At the end of the Mike Flaskey opinion piece, [which appeared in the July 15 issue], you requested comments.

While Mr. Flaskey provides helpful advice for avoiding scams, he and ARDA have chosen to ignore the underlying problem. People wouldn’t become prey for scammers if the companies selling timeshares provided them with a reasonable means of exiting.

There are many reasons people want to sell or otherwise exit; it could be age, changed financial circumstances, changed family circumstances, or simply dissatisfaction with the product that was represented at the time of the high-pressure sales pitch.

(Inside Timeshare article – Six out of eight Legacy Resorts owners have no exit, even for those over the age of 80. A seventh contacted me just before publication, over 80 and disabled, unable to travel.)  https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-62/

For Mr. Flaskey to end his opinion piece with the claim, “When people invest in vacations, they invest in happiness and a lifetime of memories,” is to be disingenuous. If timeshare ownership is as picture-perfect as he portrays it, people wouldn’t be getting scammed; people are getting scammed because of their desperation over the inability to find a means to sell or exit their timeshare. – Bill Bowen

I work over 40 volunteer hours per week providing straight answers to about 35 callers per week. I have never been compensated and I have nothing whatsoever to do with a lawsuit Diamond Resorts filed against a Florida law firm. Diamond attempted to subpoena the documents listed below.

This is evidence of extreme retaliation because I listened and responded to over 700 Diamond Resort members as they reported unfair and deceptive sales practices. In 2016 and 2017, the Arizona Attorney General’s investigators listened to over 900 complaints from Diamond members, according to what an investigator told one of our member-sponsored Diamond Facebook members.  

At last year’s Whistleblower Summit and Film Festival held in Washington D.C., I learned that I am a whistleblower. Most whistleblowers are employees, offered some protection thanks to whistleblower laws. At this year’s Summit, I learned laws protecting whistleblowers often fall short. As an individual, I have no protections, save my readers and supporting members of the legal community.

On Tuesday Charles published my highlights from the 8th Annual Whistleblower Summit & Film Festival held the last week of July. My panel discussed ethics and resiliency after retaliation. https://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-42/

There is no question in my mind Diamond’s intentions are to file a SLAPP lawsuit against me. I am guilty of four of the six points below. According to ACLU Ohio:

A large, well-funded organization may be SLAPPed, but more often, individuals with fewer resources are the victims of SLAPP suits.

Examples of Actions Which Have Resulted in SLAPPs: 2

  • Writing letters to the editor
  • Circulating flyers or petitions
  • Participating in a demonstration
  • Filing complaints with a government agency
  • Commenting at public hearings
  • Filing legal claims or lawsuits
https://www.acluohio.org/slapped/what-is-a-slapp-suit

This example of retaliation goes beyond the call of Pro Bono legal representation so I will be launching a GoFundMe as soon as I receive the narrower in scope subpoena. I have already received a multitude of pledges of support.

Subpoena directed to: Irene Parker who is not a party, to produce the items listed at the time and place specified in the attached Subpoena.

DATED this 10th day of July 2019.

Filing # 92298657 E-Filed 07/10/2019 09:16:51 AM

YOU ARE NOTIFIED that after ten (10) days from the date of service of this notice, if service is by facsimile or hand delivery, or fifteen (15) days from the date of service, if service is by mail, and if no objection is received from any party, the undersigned will issue or apply to the Clerk of this Court for issuance of the attached Subpoena directed to: Irene Parker who is not a party, to produce the items listed at the time and place specified in the attached Subpoena.

Brandon T. Crossland, Esq. Fla. Bar No. 0021542 Primary email: [email protected] Secondary email: [email protected] [email protected] Christa C. Turner, Esq. Fla Bar No. 0076627 Primary email: [email protected] Secondary email: [email protected] BAKER & HOSTETLER LLP SunTrust Center, Suite 2300 200 South Orange Avenue Post Office Box 112 (32802) Orlando, Florida 32801 Telephone: 407.649.4000 Telecopier: 407.841.016 8 Attorneys for Plaintiff

CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE

I hereby certify that on July 10, 2019, I electronically filed the foregoing document with the Clerk of the Court by using the Florida Courts E-Filing Portal, which will send a Notice of Electronic

DEFINITIONS AND INSTRUCTIONS

1. The term “document” or “documents” refers to any printed, written, taped, recorded, graphic, electronic, computer materials, or other tangible or intangible matter, from whatever source, however produced or reproduced, whether in draft or otherwise, whether sent or received, or neither, which contains information or from which information can be obtained and which is in Your possession, custody or control, including, but not limited to, the original, a copy (if the original is not available), and all non-identical copies (whether different from the original because of notes made on or attached to such copy or otherwise) of any and all writings, correspondence, letters, telegrams, cables, telexes, facsimiles, emails, text messages, contracts, proposals, agreements, minutes, acknowledgments, notes, memoranda, analyses, projections, work papers, books, forecasts or appraisals, papers, records, reports, diaries, statements, questionnaires, schedules, computer programs or data, books of account, calendars, graphs, charts, transcripts, tapes, or recordings, photographs, pictures or film, ledgers, registers, work sheets, summaries, digests, financial statements, pictures, videos, audio recordings, and all other information where data, records or compilations can be obtained, including all underlying, supporting or preparatory material now in Your possession, custody or control. The term “document” or “documents” specifically includes documents kept by individuals in their desks, at home or elsewhere.

2. The term “computer materials” shall mean any and all files from any personal computer, notebook or laptop computer, file server, minicomputer, main-frame computer, or other storage device, including, but not limited to, hard drive disk drives or backup or retrieved electronic information, including, but not limited to email. All relevant files that are still on the storage media, but are identified as “erased but recoverable,” are to be included.

3. The term “copy” when used in reference to a document means any color, or black or white facsimile reproduction of a document, regardless of whether the facsimile reproduction is made by means of carbon papers, pressure-sensitive paper, xerography or other means or process.

4. The term “communication” or “communicate” means any writing, or oral conversation, including, but not limited to, telephone conversations and meetings, letters, emails, text messages, emails, telegraphic and telex communications, and includes all information

relating to all oral communications and “documents” ( as hereinabove defined), whether or not any such document, or the information contained therein, was transmitted by its author to any

other person.

5. The term “person” means any natural person, any employer, any business entity (whether a corporation, partnership, or other business association), any government or political

subdivision thereof, or governmental body, commission board, agency, bureau or department.

6. “Lawsuit” means the lawsuit filed by DRC against Finn Law Group, P.C., Finn Law Group, P.A., and Michael Finn in the Circuit Court in and for Orange County, Florida and

bearing Case No. 2017-CA-006199-O.

7. “You”, “Your”, and “Parker” means Irene Parker and your agents, representatives, directors, officers, members, employees, attorneys, accountants, predecessors, successors, assignors or assignees, and anyone else acting on its behalf or subject to your control.

8. “DRC” means Diamond Resorts Corporation and its agents, representatives, directors, officers, members, employees, attorneys, accountants, predecessors, successors, assignors or assignees, and anyone else acting on its behalf or subject to its control.

49. “Finn” means Finn Law Group, P.C., Finn Law Group, P.A., and Michael Finn and their agents, representatives, directors, officers, members, employees, attorneys, accountants, predecessors, successors, assignors or assignees, and anyone else acting on their behalf or subject to his control.

10. “Diamond Customers” means any individual(s) and/or entity that purchased, owns and/or holds a Vacation Ownership Timeshare Interest with Diamond Resorts Corporation, or

one of its separately named and operated affiliates, parents, or subsidiaries.

11. To the extent that You consider any of the following requests objectionable, respond to so much of each Request and part thereof, as is not objectionable in Your view and separately state that part of each Request as to which you raise objection and each ground for

such objection.

12. If You object to the identification of any document on the basis of attorney/client or work product privilege, identify the privilege claimed as well as each document for which such privilege is claimed, together with the following information with respect to each such document: a. Date; b. Sender; c. Addressee; d. Subject;

e. The basis on which the privilege is claimed; and f. The names of persons to who copies of any part of the document were furnished, together with an identification of their employer and their job titles.

13. You shall produce the documents requested herein as they are kept in the usual course of business or You shall organize and label them to correspond with the categories in the request.

SCHEDULE “A”

1. Produce any and all contracts, agreements or any other arrangements between you and Finn.

2. Produce any and all contracts, agreements or any other arrangements between you and Finn regarding Diamond Customers.

3. Produce any and all engagement agreements between you and Finn wherein Finn agrees to provide you with legal services.

4. Produce any and all invoices, bills, or other requests for payment from Finn to you since January 1, 2015.

5. Produce any and all documents, checks, or bank statements evidencing any payment from you to Finn since January 1, 2015.

6. Produce any and all documents, checks, or bank statements evidencing any payment from Finn to you, whether direct or indirect, since January 1, 2015.

7. Produce any and all communications and emails between you and Finn regarding Diamond Customers from January 1, 2015, through December 31, 2018.

8. Produce any and all communications and emails between you and Finn regarding Finn’s solicitation of, a referral to Finn by you, or Finn’s potential representation of Diamond Customers from January 1, 2015, through December 31, 2018.

9. Produce any and all communications and emails between you and any Diamond Customers from January 1, 2015, through December 31, 2018.

10. Produce a list of Diamond Customers that were referred by you to Finn from January 1, 2015 through December 31, 2018.

11. Excluding communications where you were requesting that Finn provide you with legal advice regarding articles, blogs, or social media posts that you have written, produce any and all communications and emails between you and Finn that relate to DRC, timeshare, or timeshare owners from March 1, 2015, to December 31, 2018.

12. Produce any and all communications and emails between you and Finn regarding the Lawsuit.

13. Produce all blogs, articles, editorials, commentaries, exposes, FaceBook posts, or other social media content written, in full or in part, by you from January 1, 2015, through the date of the Subpoena.

14. Produce any and all communications and emails between you and Inside Timeshare regarding Diamond Customers from March 1, 2015, through December 31, 2018.

15. Produce any and all communications between you and Greg Christ regarding DRC, timeshare, or timeshare owners from March 1, 2015, through December 31, 2018.

4826-7592-6394.1

Page 7

Our Diamond Member-Sponsored Facebook has over 3,400 members.

We seek to provide Diamond Resort 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.

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

What the Diamond Resort Owners Advocacy Facebook is not: 

If members join our Facebook only to express displeasure, they are better served by posting on Trip Advisor. While venting may make a person feel better, ranting on a complaint site will do nothing to change what we feel are unfair and deceptive business practices, as defined by the FTC and the FBI.

Timeshare Accountability Group™

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

Timeshare Advocacy Group™ was launched by a small group of advocates concerned about the volume of timeshare complaints found on the internet directed against Wyndham, Bluegreen, Diamond Resorts, Westgate, Vacation Village and a few others. Disney Vacation Club has almost no complaints. Hilton and Marriott have few complaints.  

We hope the lessons learned by consumers who purchased a timeshare product they did not understand will reach the general public so prospective timeshare buyers know what questions to ask before buying or upgrading a timeshare.

We hope the lessons learned by consumers who purchased a timeshare product they did not understand will reach the general public so prospective timeshare buyers know what questions to ask before buying or upgrading a timeshare.

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-16/

TAG has also received Sell My Timeshare Now complaints. It has been widely reported Diamond points have no resale value, yet SMTN charges already financially distressed members $1499 to $1699 for ads to list points.  

http://insidetimeshare.com/tuesday-slot-irene-5/

We don’t mind if industry insiders or Diamond employees join our Facebook as long as they are respectful. In fact, we encourage this hoping they will confront the serious problems we have uncovered.

Other Member-Sponsored Facebook pages and resources

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/everything-about-timeshares-wayne-c-robinson/1129749757?ean=2940161600962

Free at Last Facebook Straight-A Guide

https://www.facebook.com/groups/623703881470577/?ref=share

Free at Last Timeshare Support Course offered by Straight-A-Guide

https://www.udprep.info/june

Bluegreen Facebook

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

Wyndham Facebook

New:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/376743609795740/

Sapphire Starpoint New: https://www.facebook.com/login/?next=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fgroups%2F292083584642570%2F%3Fref%3Dshare

Diamond Resort Facebook

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

Gold Key Facebook

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

Inside Timeshare Facebook Group

https://www.facebook.com/groups/2213231165610648/

Thank you Irene, I am sure that once you launch the GoFundMe campaign many of our readers will be donating. What Inside Timeshare will say is this, Irene has worked tirelessly giving up her free time for this cause, please show your support and make a pledge now. Use our contact page and show your support.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this week’s edition of Letter from America, but first some breaking news from Tenerife. As we already know several companies owned and operated by Mark Rowe, are under investigation in the UK by the Regional Organised Crime Unit, Somerset & Avon Police following raids in the UK and Tenerife. We also know that his company ABC Lawyers Ltd is also in liquidation, now Inside Timeshare has heard that the authorities in Tenerife have now raided his offices in Fanabe. One of the companies based there is Timeshare.Lawyer under the umbrella of Advanced Business Consultants Legal SL. It certainly looks like time is running out for Mark Rowe.

Now for today’s Letter from America, this is not the article we had scheduled as we have delayed publishing the subpoena Diamond Resorts attempted to issue Irene until Tuesday. As you will read in today’s article, Howard Nusbaum, the former president of ARDA, is also a former senior partner at Baker Hostetler, Diamond’s outside counsel in their case against a Florida law firm. This gave us pause. Irene will be doing a little more digging as this adds support to our belief this subpoena is a less than subtle form of harassment. Today’s article offers proof that there is no responsible exit for many fully paid timeshare owners.  Baker Hostetler explains why.

When ARDA’s Coalition for Responsible Timeshare Exit Fails:

What Happens Next?

Six out of Eight Legacy Resorts have no Responsible Exit, according to eight “Free at Last” participants, reporting what happened when they sought a responsible exit

August 9, 2019

This is the first of four articles summarizing 21 timeshare members piloting the Free at Last Online Timeshare Support Course, sponsored by the nonprofit Straight-A Guide. The next three articles will report on Travel Clubs, timeshares purchased in foreign countries, and point-based timeshares.

I direct callers seeking timeshare release to reach out first to ARDA’s Coalition for Responsible Exit, or to the timeshare company if the timeshare company does not participate in ARDA’s responsible exit coalition.

Straight-A Guide helps 100,000 prisoners a year transition back to society through self-advocacy. Their customers are prisons. Our Free at Last participants learn how to self-advocate.

Legacy Resorts are single-site, older resorts. Of our eight Legacy owner participants, so far only two were able to work with their resort to take back their unwanted timeshare. One owner was able to deed back to Colorado River Adventures and one owner was able to deed back to Festiva.

There is no responsible exit for Legacy Resorts owners at Eagle Crest, Broadway Plantation, Lehigh Resort Club, and Wyndham Carriage Ridge in Canada, The Seasons in Vermont, or Bellavista. Six out of the eight Legacy resorts have no responsible exit! The only choice for these owners is foreclosure if the resorts will not provide a responsible exit. Three of the owners are over 80 years old and have been paying maintenance fees for decades, two only using the timeshare once or twice over the decades. 

Mr. Kenneth McKelvey, founder of Defender Resorts and Chairman of the timeshare PAC ARDA ROC, testified at a legislative workshop held in Tallahassee Florida March 12, 2019, that attorneys and timeshare exit providers are not needed. He made these comments at the Florida legislative workshop:

“Most of the developers I know, and certainly most of the timeshare managers I know, and I managed timeshare properties for thirty years… every single resort had a dissolution policy, every single one! There was a way to get out. You had to come to your management company, and based on what the board of directors instructed us to do in the terms if they had to pay a fee or if they had to be current, whatever those situations were, we did not have one that did not have a dissolution policy and a hardship policy …”

We hear from many seniors forced to endure the demeaning foreclosure process, despite maintaining a high credit score their whole life. Lately, there have been complaints from millennial buyers, as the industry is targeting that demographic. Some seniors tell me they don’t care anymore about a drop in their credit score as they are set, but those in their 30s see their credit score ruined along with their chances to buy a home. The foreclosure process can be overwhelming without support.  

The industry calls the vehicle used when a timeshare contract is transferred to fictitious individuals or a fictitious LLC a “Viking Ship,” so-named because Vikings used to stack their dead on a ship, set it on fire, and send it out to sea.

ARDA and the law firm Baker Hostetler published these comments about Legacy Resorts:  

COVER STORY • Many legacy timeshare resorts are struggling to survive: why?

Vacation Ownership WORLD contacted some of vacation ownership’s leading figures, as well as experts on the subject, and asked them about a much-discussed matter within the industry: why are so many legacy timeshare resorts having such a tough time and what can be done about it? Many of these resorts are failing due to an assortment of problems that include: a lack of professional management; a lack of adequate reserves; a resistance by the HOA board of directors to impose an adequate assessment for operating expenses; an underperforming or non-existent external exchange relationship; an aging owner base that no longer uses the resort or that wants to exit ownership but is generally unable to; and, diminishing resort maintenance standards. ARDA President and CEO Howard Nusbaum and senior partner in the Orlando office of Baker & Hostetler and ARDA treasurer and Board member Rob Webb offer their viewpoints on this issue. This is the first of a two-part story; the second article on the subject will appear in the next issue.

https://www.bakerlaw.com/files/uploads/Documents/News/Articles/BUSINESS/2014/January2014VacationOwnershipWorldWebbArticle.pdf

A quote from an ARDA lobbyist:

“Their value comes from using it,” the timeshare industry’s top lobbyist told ConsumerAffairs in January, admitting that points have no resale value, while claiming that consumers don’t mind this because the value comes from the experience.

Based on complaints from over 900 families, this lobbyist is out of touch with reality. Just two exit companies I spoke with received 3,000 to 3,500 calls per month from desperate timeshare members seeking release.

Legacy Owner reports by Free at Last participants 

#1 Unresolved – Robert Kennedy is 81 years old. He seeks release from Eagle Crest in Oregon. In 2017 I published an article in which I interviewed an Eagle Crest collection agent. The interview was in regard to problems Eagle Crest owners experienced when they contacted a fraudulent timeshare transfer company. It’s no wonder Eagle Crest owners are going through this.

At age 81, I have a credit score of 819 but now must face a foreclosure.  At our age, we no longer are able to travel as we once could. We will not continue to pay maintenance fees for something we no longer want or need.

Robert sent his request for release to the following individuals:

To: Jerry E Andres, CEO Eagle Crest

https://www.bbb.org/us/or/redmond/profile/resort/eagle-crest-resort-1296-50002619

Jason Gamel, ARDA President

[email protected]

Ken McKelvey, CPA, ARDA ROC President

[email protected]

https://www.defenderresorts.com/contact-us/

Greg Crist, Association of Vacation Owners

[email protected]

Mr. Andres

After Eagle Crest said they would not help me, I contacted Irene Parker at Inside Timeshare. Ms. Parker told me to contact ARDA’s Responsible Exit program.  I went to ARDA’s Responsible Exit Website, but Eagle Crest does not participate. We purchased a floating week 33 years ago and have faithfully paid maintenance fees for 33 years.  https://responsibleexit.com/

I would like to ask Mr. Andres why Eagle Crest does not have a responsible exit program. I have grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren. As a result of my experience, they have learned not to get involved with timeshare. 

I contacted members of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association. They said they were not interested in helping us.  Others need to be warned about the dangers of becoming involved with timeshare.

Robert Kennedy

#2 Unresolved Simon D, Canada

Carriage Ridge Wyndham 

To Irene Parker at Inside Timeshare

August 5, 2019

I reached out to Ovations as you suggested. Wyndham Ovations will not accept our Carriage Ridge Resort in Canada. We purchased this floating week timeshare May 2004 for approximately $13,750. We have no loan.

We were told at purchase there would be no problem reselling the timeshare. Ovations will not take it back so isn’t it false advertising to say that they have a program for fully paid members when they don’t? I tried selling the timeshare. No one wants it. Availability has been an issue.

Why are consumers put in the position of being held hostage with no choice but to foreclose? Who, understanding that buying a timeshare is something you can’t get out of unless foreclosed, would buy one?  Especially when the buyer is told, like we were, it would be easy to sell.

I will no longer pay maintenance fees. I will be contacting the Canadian Vacation Ownership Association as you suggested. They should know that many Canadians are being harmed and Wyndham should not falsely advertise that the problem of no secondary market for timeshares has been solved. It’s not true. Thank you for the websites you provided. At least I know others are experiencing the same.  

http://www.canadianvoa.org/

https://www.shellhospitality.com/hotels/carriage-ridge-resort-and-carriage-hills-resort

https://www.myclubwyndham.com/mycw/happening/news/ovation-by-wyndham.page?

This comment was posted on RedWeek:

I was duped into a gifted timeshare from my father. The story is sad…he is retired and was desperate to get out as he lost most of his retirement money in 2007. So he misleads my husband and I. I contacted Ovation to take the deed back from Carriage Hills resort in Canada and they said NO. Referred to Fidelity who advised THEY HAVE NOT SOLD a Carriage Hills unit IN YEARS! 31 units are listed on Carriage Hills website for $1. Many owners are offering $400 gift certificates. Wyndham is the ring-leader. They should offer Ovation. https://www.redweek.com/forums/messages?thread_id=20770&page=last

#3 unresolved – a Medical Doctor

We purchased a Broadway Plantation timeshare in Myrtle Beach, a floating week, a long time ago for about $17,000. I have never used it. I have paid maintenance fees for many years. We were told the timeshare would be easy to sell.

I reached out to ARDA as they say timeshare now has a Responsible Exit program. When I contacted Broadway Plantation they said they do not take back timeshares. If there is a responsible exit, why doesn’t Broadway Plantation have one?

I feel defrauded, cheated and abused by the timeshare industry. Having an every other year timeshare for a single week has been a waste of money.  When I tried to use it, there was no availability. I have no intention of ever paying you any more money. I am 70 years old.   

#4 Unresolved S E

July 20, 2019

I am helping my father. He is age 83. Bellavista was purchased six or seven years ago. We are current with maintenance fees, no loan. He was delinquent with maintenance fees, he settled for about half what he owed..

#5 Inez

At age 87, I have been paying maintenance fees since 1991. I only used the timeshare a couple of times. We purchased Lehigh Resorts in 1991 in Florida. We have no loan. I’ve only used it twice since 1991. When I first bought it the maintenance fees were $300. Now they are $670. They said they would not take it back.

#6 Melissa

I purchased a timeshare a long time ago at The Seasons in Vermont. They will not take back the timeshare. I have filed a complaint with the Vermont Attorney General.

Melissa was provided with the following in writing at the time of purchase, statements in printed literature and in an email Melissa received from a Sugarbush manager dismissing her complaint:

  1. Our current owners are renting for premium dollars and receiving a very high rate of return on their investment, because of supply and demand. 
  2. If you rent your unit for less than 15 days/year, the rental income will not be includible in income–thus the income is tax-free and you would still be able to deduct your interest payments.
  3. The timeshare won’t be difficult to resell due to the lack of accommodations in the Sugarbush area (supply and demand). 
  4. Don’t listen to family & friends because it is an investment and a guarantee that we would take a vacation every year.

In addition to our 21 Free at Last participants, Inside Timeshare has received many complaints from Americano ARC owners. They are required to spend $5,000 to $6,000 for an RCI points-based Travel Club called Freedom 365 in order to be released from their timeshare they bought decades ago. We will address their concerns on Friday when we look into Travel Clubs.

I have grouped our 21 callers into the following groups:

  1. (7)Legacy resorts (pre-dating points),
  2. (5)Travel Clubs,
  3. (2)Timeshares bought in foreign countries,
  4. (7)Points-based timeshare 

Please Sign this Petition to Reform Timeshare:

https://www.change.org/p/state-legislators-in-arizona-florida-and-nevada-demand-reform-of-the-timeshare-industry-s-unfair-and-deceptive-practices

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.

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/everything-about-timeshares-wayne-c-robinson/1129749757?ean=2940161600962

Free at Last Facebook Straight-A Guide

https://www.facebook.com/groups/623703881470577/?ref=share

Free at Last Timeshare Support Course offered by Straight-A-Guide

https://www.udprep.info/june

Bluegreen Facebook

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

Wyndham Facebook

New: https://www.facebook.com/groups/376743609795740/ 

Sapphire Starpoint New: https://www.facebook.com/login/?next=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fgroups%2F292083584642570%2F%3Fref%3Dshare

Diamond Resort Facebook

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

Gold Key Facebook

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

Inside Timeshare Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/groups/2213231165610648/?ref=bookmarks

Well, that is all for this week, as you will have noticed Inside Timeshare has been a little sparse this week, August tends to be rather quiet as it is the main holiday month, very little news coming from the courts and elsewhere. But keep on checking, we never know when another story will break and as it does we will bring you the news right here.

Have a Great Weekend and join us again next week.

The Tuesday Slot

Welcome to this edition of The Tuesday Slot, this week Irene Parker reports on the Annual Whistleblowers Summit held in Washington DC last week. Irene, as we all know, has been working tirelessly on behalf of many owners who have contacted Inside Timeshare for help. Irene does this work free of any charge and has never received any payment for the advice or help she has given. Inside Timeshare has been working with Irene for around 4 years now publishing the many articles she has submitted, no payment has ever been made in regards to this. Inside Timeshare publishes articles from many contributors who just want to get their story and views to others, no one has ever been paid to submit an article that we publish.

Highlights from the 8th Annual Whistleblower Summit

Resiliency after Retaliation

Why the Need for a $200,000 GoFundMe  

From left: Ethics and Resiliency panel members Richard Hill, MD, Maureen Elias, Vietnam Veterans of America, Jackie Garrick, Whistleblowers of America, and me  

By Irene Parker

August 6, 2019

The 8th Annual Whistleblower Summit & Film Festival was held last week in Washington D.C. Our panel pictured above was well attended. We discussed resiliency after retaliation as a quality necessary for those who discover and report fraud, waste or abuse.

Prominent whistleblowers like Sharron Watkins and Eugene Ross spoke at our luncheon. Ms. Watkins exposed Enron, and Eugene Ross exposed fraud at Bear Stearns. “Every fraud victim’s best friend is a whistleblower,” stated Mr. Ross. Despite the efforts of Mr. Ross that resulted in the recovery of millions of dollars for investors, he was forced to declare bankruptcy. Mr. Ross was critical of mandatory arbitration and industry self-regulation. My peers are critical of the timeshare industry’s self-regulation and forced arbitration.  

Other Summit Highlights

July 30 is “National Whistleblower Appreciation Day”

Michael McCray is a federal whistleblower who disclosed over $40 Million in waste, fraud and abuse at the U.S. Department of Agriculture:

“A whistleblower often doesn’t know they are a whistleblower until they are in the middle of their whistleblowing.” 

Consumers don’t wake up in a morning and think they will buy a timeshare today. Whistleblowers don’t initiate their efforts thinking they will be a whistleblower. They see wrong and make a vow to make it right. By the time the whistleblower is made aware that they are a whistleblower, they have reached their point of no return.

Others spoke of how a whistleblower cannot live in peace if they see wrong and don’t try to right it. “They will be haunted the rest of their life. It will be like a cancer in their soul,” said Tim Mak, NPR national security and politics reporter.  

Timeshare fraud is orchestrated and sophisticated. Honest sales agents and managers are as alarmed as the more than 900 timeshare members who have reached out to Inside Timeshare and to me to report unfair and deceptive sales practices. About half of the members report that they had been scammed by a fraudulent exit company.  

My resiliency and motivation comes from their voices turned empowered.  I am motivated by 119 veterans and active duty service members who sacrificed their health and life to protect even those who seek to do them harm, especially two-time Purple Heart recipient Leo Gomez. Leo spent the last 30 days of his life battling pancreatic cancer and his timeshare company. His last words to me were, “I want my story told.”

The first family to reach out to me in 2016 was a Hispanic family. They attended a Diamond Resorts timeshare presentation because they were struggling to make loan and maintenance fee payments. They said they were told of a maintenance fee relief program, but no such program existed. Fortunately, they did not buy additional points. https://insidetimeshare.com/irene-parker-write-barclay-card-usa/

I contacted Diamond’s attorney on their behalf. He arranged a relinquishment, but the family is probably still paying off a $33,000 home equity loan. I liked this attorney. He worked with me to resolve my dispute. I was offered our money back but refused to sign a non-disclosure agreement. I had been writing articles as a contributor for TheStreet, Jim Cramer of Mad Money’s investment news service. I could not sign because I wrote articles about several timeshare companies.   

Since Inside Timeshare published my first article about a timeshare family in distress, October of 2016, the complaints about maintenance fee relief programs have not stopped. Expecting retaliation, I prepared a 180-page report of 101 just Platinum Diamond members who have complained about maintenance fee relief programs they learned did not exist. Platinum maintenance fees in 2018 were $8,631 for 50,000 points. Points can only be turned in to pay maintenance fees at $.04 per point, contributing only $2,000 towards the 2018 $8,631 maintenance fee.  

Back then maybe one or two families a week would reach out to me. Now three to five calls or contacts a day are not unusual.  A team of volunteers lends their support by answering questions that arise when filing regulatory and law enforcement complaints. My resiliency and strength also comes from our volunteers and members digging in to fight. All are whistleblowers.    

Whistleblower Summit panel member Dr. Matthew Fogg

https://www.whistleblowers.org/members/dr-matthew-fogg/

In 1998, Dr. Matthew Fogg, Chief Inspector U.S. Marshal, retired, won a landmark $4-million jury award, promotion to Chief Deputy US Marshal, and a finding that the US Marshals Service nationwide was operating a racially hostile environment for all African American Deputy US Marshals.

“After my training, at the duty station, I was told ‘Forget what you learned. This is how we do things.”

We have heard this from timeshare sales agents and managers also alarmed over deceptive practices that are endorsed and encouraged.

Why the need for a $200,000 GoFundMe

Diamond Resorts demanded so many documents from me, it would be humanly impossible for one individual, working from the corner of her living room, to produce. Diamond has not sued me. They sued a law firm in 2015 over a matter I had nothing to do with. Diamond’s demands include emails from their customers who have reached out to me through our member-sponsored Facebook page and Inside Timeshare.

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

I have repeatedly asked attorney after attorney if I am doing something wrong by listening to member complaints in an effort to gather data documenting multiple complaints made against the same agents. They have assured me I am doing nothing wrong. It appears a judge or jury will ultimately decide. On Friday Charles will publish the list of Diamond’s demand. This demand for documents follows a six-hour deposition, pertaining to the same lawsuit.  

Like others on our 3,400 Diamond member-sponsored Facebook, I referred to this law firm when a member requested an attorney, or I was asked a legal question I am not qualified to answer. Our Facebook Files now provides a list of six law firms we respect.

Four attorneys have been assisting me without charge. It’s time for them to be paid. They filed a motion on my behalf that narrowed the scope of Diamond’s demands, but the task I expect will still be formidable and beyond the call of pro bono. I have retained my neighbour who worked as a former legal assistant to help me with the task. 

A portion of my $200,000 GoFundMe will be earmarked for a purpose suggested by a person of influence I met in Washington D.C. this past week. This person was referred to me by another person of influence whose family has been harmed because of points they say they purchased for a reason that does not exist.  

I will not launch the $200,000 GoFundMe me until I receive the narrower in scope subpoena. In the meantime, I seek pledges of support. Groundwork is being laid for our strategic and tactical plan following the advice of our person of influence. I am not at liberty to publish details but contact Inside Timeshare if you would like to learn more.

Some causes require a sacrificial lamb.

I doubt there are many that know Mark Twain considered his book Personal Reflections of Joan of Arc his finest work. He spent twelve years researching this child of a French peasant family:

I like Joan of Arc best of all my books, and it is the best; I know it perfectly well. And besides, it furnished me seven times the pleasure afforded me by any of the others; twelve years of preparation, and two years of writing. The others needed no preparation and got none.

— Mark Twain

Personal Reflections of Joan of Arc should be required reading for any peasant attempting to hold the powerful accountable. I’m no virgin and I’m no saint, but like Joan, I may be burned at stakes for my efforts. Had Joan been told of this likely conclusion to her advocacy efforts, I’m confident Joan, like me, would have replied, “D’accord.”

Whistleblowers at the Summit convinced me this comes with the territory.  

We seek to provide Diamond 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.

Diamond Resort Facebook

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

Gold Key Facebook

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/everything-about-timeshares-wayne-c-robinson/1129749757?ean=2940161600962

Free at Last Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/groups/623703881470577/?ref=share

Free at Last Timeshare Support Course offered by Straight-A-Guide

https://www.udprep.info/june

Bluegreen Facebook

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

Wyndham Facebook

New: https://www.facebook.com/groups/376743609795740/  

Sapphire Starpoint New: 

https://www.facebook.com/login/?next=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fgroups%2F292083584642570%2F%3Fref%3Dshare

Inside Timeshare Facebook Group

https://www.facebook.com/groups/2213231165610648/

Thank you, Irene, it is obvious from your report that you have made some significant contacts while at the summit and one thing is very certain, everyone must work together if we are going to see any change.

On the point of the GoFundMe campaign which Irene will shortly launch, please use our facebook pages or the Inside Timeshare contact page to pledge your support. Irene has helped so many it is now time for her to receive our support. Thank you all.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to another edition of our regular Letter from America, today we welcome another contribution from our very own Secret Shopper Coordinator Pete Gibbes. In his article, he explores and gives his insights into Apollo Global Management and the buyout of Diamond Resorts in 2016. Inside Timeshare ran a series of articles on this subject at the time but Pete has a better understanding of this and explains it in a very simple and easy manner.

A Tiger can Change his Diet – from Junk Bonds to Timeshares

A junk bond has some value, but Diamond points have no resale value 

New York-based Apollo was founded by veterans of junk-bond pioneer Drexel Burnham Lambert. The firm is known for its willingness to make aggressive, sometimes contrarian, bets. April 20, 2018

https://www.wsj.com/articles/apollo-plans-to-take-diamond-resorts-public-1524222000

By a Pete Gibbes, MBA, CFA

August 2, 2019

Over a year ago, I filed a complaint against a Diamond Resort sales agent. Buying Diamond points has caused our family considerable anguish. We have lost about $60,000 we can’t afford to lose. The public must be made aware that anything a timeshare sales agent says must be verified to be believed.

https://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-23/

I have 20 years’ experience in the investment industry. I worked as a portfolio manager for a firm that caters to high net worth individuals, foundations, endowments and retirement plans. The firm I worked for currently has $2.9 billion under management. I have an MBA, a CFP (inactive) and a CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst).

Thinking about how timeshare has evolved from a hard asset to ethereal points, I wondered why Apollo Global Management, the third-largest equity firm, would be so interested in timeshare. Venture capital is typically associated with fast-growing companies and start-ups, like high tech or biotechnology, rather than a mature industry like timeshare. Apollo acquired Diamond in 2016.

One need not look for the answer any further than Wikipedia. History provides the answer. Apollo’s predecessor company was Drexel Burnham Lambert. DBL filed for bankruptcy in the 80s after incurring a $650 million fine over a junk bond scandal that sent Michael Milken to jail for securities fraud. Apollo probably isn’t allowed to deal in junk bonds anymore.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_Global_Management

Apollo simply reinvented their lending by switching to timeshare. Timeshares provide an even better return (to private equity and stock investors) due to the fact Diamond points are worth nothing on resale. A junk bond is a lower-rated bond, and, like a sub-prime mortgage, has some value. When Diamond takes points back, the turnaround to resell is quick since foreclosure is non-judicial. It takes less time to foreclose on points than it would on a hard asset like a house or a fixed week timeshare that is defined as real estate. Diamond points are not deeded.

After taking Diamond private in 2016, an Initial Public Offering was planned for 2018. For some reason, the IPO did not materialize. The IPO was expected to generate over a billion dollars of profit for Apollo.

From the Wall Street Journal:

By Maureen Farrell (from the article linked above)

Updated April 20, 2018 10:11 a.m. ET

Private-equity firm Apollo Global Management APO -0.58% LLC is preparing to take Diamond Resorts public in the coming months, according to people familiar with the process.

The timeshare resort company has filed confidentially with the Securities and Exchange Commission and is expected to start trading in June or July (2018), these people said. Apollo could seek a valuation for Diamond Resorts of around $4 billion and aim to raise in excess of $500 million in the offering, though price expectations are moving around, according to people familiar with the process.

If Apollo moves forward with a listing this summer, it would come less than two years after the firm closed its $2.2 billion purchase of Diamond Resorts in September 2016. That would mark the latest quick move by Apollo to put one of its recently purchased companies back into public markets.

Our oral representations:

The only proof we have is the “S3” and “G2” our Virginia sales agent noted on the illustration below. We owned 11,500 Diamond points prior to our downfall. Mark said that if we became ‘Silver’ Loyalty members at 15,000 points, we would have the OPTION to SELL 15,000 points back to Diamond after three years (December 2019) for an estimated $108,000. If we increased our points up to ‘Gold’ loyalty level, we would be able to exercise this type of option after two years. Mark wrote $108,000 on a separate piece of paper.

Diamond’s Clarity™ Promise

While other companies make promises, we deliver. This is Diamond RESPECT:

Transparency

  • We will provide clear, concise and consistent information at our presentations so you can easily decide whether committing to vacation ownership is the right decision for you and your family.

I was sceptical when Mark presented this because I had not heard of a buy-back program. I asked Mark, “How in the world can Diamond offer to buy back our points for more than the total amount of all shares purchased? “Oh, it’s because Diamond makes a lot of profit on points sold to you, as well as maintenance fees over the years. Plus, they can recycle the points,” Mark explained. This made sense. Mark explained the program in astonishing detail.  

While we are stuck, both disabled, with points we bought to make a small profit, Apollo will rake in over $1 billion if the IPO comes to fruition.

In summary

A timeshare sales agent can earn over $2 million a year selling timeshare points that have no value on the secondary market. If deceived, a timeshare company can dismiss oral misrepresentations with “You signed a contract” or “We are not responsible for what sales agents say.” Some state regulators second the dismissal. This equates to no regulation. The buyer is stuck with a perpetual contract and no secondary market. A viable secondary market is mentioned as a risk to stock investors.  

What can we do? Continue to reach out to lawmakers, the media, regulators, hoping someone, someday, will shed light on the unfairness of the oral representation clause. 

Join our efforts to promote our clear, concise message.

A buyer cannot rely on a word a timeshare sales agent says

Without recording the sales presentation, you have no proof. This assures sales agents that they can continue without reprisal. 

Our Diamond self-advocacy Facebook, launched by an economics professor, has over 3,300 members.

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

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.

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/everything-about-timeshares-wayne-c-robinson/1129749757?ean=2940161600962

Free at Last Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/groups/623703881470577/?ref=share

Free at Last Timeshare Support Course offered by Straight-A-Guide

https://www.udprep.info/june

Bluegreen Facebook

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

Wyndham Facebook

New: https://www.facebook.com/groups/376743609795740/  

Sapphire Starpoint New: https://www.facebook.com/login/?next=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fgroups%2F292083584642570%2F%3Fref%3Dshare

Gold Key Facebook

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

Inside Timeshare Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/groups/2213231165610648/

Related article:

“On June 26, 2016, the Diamond Resorts board voted in favor of the company’s sale to Apollo. But Cloobeck abstained from that vote. In not one, but two board meetings, Cloobeck said that he was abstaining because mismanagement of Diamond Resorts had negatively affected the sale price and it was therefore not the right time to sell the company.

Diamond failed to inform the stockholders of the reason for Cloobeck’s abstention:

https://www.diamondresortswatch.org/apolloreport/?fbclid=IwAR2KkrjqipLB2htnjo208yzsfyvwO6OrsB-r4AbB616IIhMhvbZoritZzeg

Highlight the link above right click and select go to.

Thank you Pete for all your hard work on behalf of all our US readers including the coordinating of the Secret Shopper program.

If you would like any information on becoming a Secret Shopper contact Inside Timeshare using our contact page and we will pas it on to Pete. This is a very important program as it helps to spread the word and warn others of what to be aware of and how to avoid the pitfalls of “UPDATE MEETING”.

Have a great weekend and join us again next week.