Browse Month

August 2019

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this weeks edition of our Letter from America, today Inside Timeshare highlights another Wyndham Carriage HillsNightmare on Timeshare Street” story. Carriage Owner Jeannie is not the only senior suffering severe hardship, held hostage in an eternal timeshare contract. Wyndham’s Carriage Resorts even holds heirs that did not sign the contract liable for their parent’s timeshare. Timeshare owners worldwide were told timeshares are easy to sell since they are deeded real estate. Given this false promise, holding seniors hostage is not only unfair and deceptive, it is also cruel. Wyndham can certainly afford to treat these owners fairly. Stock investors surely cannot feel good about tactics employed to please Wall Street. Canada is not only America’s neighbour, but Canada is also part of North America.  

PARSIPPANY, N.J., February 13, 2019Wyndham Hotels & Resorts (NYSE: WH) today announced results for the three months and year ended December 31, 2018. Highlights include:

  • Revenues increased 69% compared with fourth-quarter 2017, to $527 million.
  • Net income was $43 million for the quarter; adjusted net income was $57 million, a 50% increase over the prior-year quarter.

The Tragedy of Wyndham’s Carriage Hills and Carriage Ridge Resort

A NOOSE AROUND MY NECK!

By Jeannie, a Carriage Owner

Ending comments by Irene: My two favorite timeshares!

August 30, 2019

Dear Irene,

Please forward my letter to CVOA, the Canadian timeshare advocates, and to Mr. Jason Gamel, Senior Vice President of Legal at Wyndham, due to our medical hardship. The harm that Wyndham and Carriage Resorts are causing families is unforgivable, especially for those of us experiencing medical hardships. To think we are treated as such, just because we happened to purchase a Wyndham timeshare in Canada, is appalling. 

I want to share how desperate my husband and I have been to get rid of our Carriage Ridge timeshare. Purchasing Carriage Ridge led to many unwise decisions that took place before and after my stroke in our attempt to get out from underneath this impossible financial burden. We bought at Carriage Ridge in October of 2003 for $13,326. We should have cancelled the contract the day after we signed, but we were dealing with my husband’s heart condition. My husband was admitted to the hospital with Cardiomyopathy Stage 4, just after we agreed to purchase.

On December 26, 2004, we used Carriage facilities to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. We attended a meeting where we were introduced to Shell Vacation Club. We paid $13,620 to convert to points.

By 2014, I was desperate to exit the timeshare. In January of 2014, I paid a timeshare exit company $1,198 in the U.S. to help us. I cannot be specific with the name, as eventually, they refunded my money after I complained to the U.S. Better Business Bureau.

On October 15, 2016, I suffered a Thalamic Stroke. 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 in July 2017. Now the only income I have is CPP Disability and my husband is on CPP and OAS.

In October 2017 I went to a Sheraton Flex Vacation presentation. I was assured that I would be better off getting rid of Carriage Ridge by buying into Flex Timeshare. They told me about Wyndham’s Ovation program and gave me papers explaining how to apply. I gave Flex Vacation a deposit of $1,147.50 U.S.

As soon as we arrived home, we had no peace about this purchase. My husband was experiencing pain which required a hernia operation. We wrote immediately to both our sales reps and to the head office asking to terminate the sale. I was a few days late. They refused. The sales team didn’t explain all the fees, and they were not educated about Wyndham’s Ovation program not being available to Canadians.

I wrote to the Better Business Bureau about Flex Vacation, to no avail. Sheraton Flex Vacation then offered a way out, so six months later I completed the paperwork. I had a lawyer in Canada witness our signature, but Sheraton said I needed to go to the U.S. Consulate or to a U.S. lawyer to have them witness my signature. How ridiculous. I had been out enough money. I continued to receive monthly invoices, threatening letters and phone calls. That stopped after they foreclosed. It took from November 2017 to March 2019 to end that nightmare. They were liars or uninformed about Ovations.

Okay, so still desperate to be rid of my Carriage Ridge timeshare, I went to Mexico in February 2018 and ended up buying into a Vacation Plan that would require only paying maintenance fees when we used their facilities. I’m not at liberty to say which company, as they returned half our money, after I complained on Facebook and other places. Part of the issue was that they had put me in touch with TRM, assuring me of the sale of Carriage Ridge. I even received the paperwork. I contacted Carriage Ridge for my deeds and explained what was happening, only to be informed the sale wouldn’t be granted by our Board of Directors/Wyndham Club, as it was a company buying, not a person. How discouraging. 

Bottom line: DON’T TRUST ANYONE WHO SAYS THEY CAN SELL CARRIAGE HILLS/RIDGE.

I contacted the Wyndham staff at Carriage Ridge, as well as our Board of Directors saying we are not able to continue paying the increased fees. I was told I will be sued if I stop paying. I received a letter from Derek Beaudoin, Canadian ICR Ltd, a collection agency. Finally, I paid $1,325.11 and was hit with an additional fee. I asked if this could be waived. This was the reply I received from Derek.

Mrs. B,

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. Below is the email I received from Nanci Shepard, Chairman of our Board of Directors on February 22, 2019. The least Nanci could have done was not say they were very sorry for my health. If they were sorry they would not continue this financial elder abuse, especially since buyers were told they were buying deeded real estate, so no problem selling. 

Hi Jeannie,

After a 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. My family physician asked why it fluctuates so much, as high as 160/80 recently. I told him it was because of the financial burden and nightmare this timeshare 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.

Wyndham and our Board of Directors have really messed us up.

We believed false promises. Ongoing yearly increases for Maintenance Fees, Member Fees, Exchange fees, on top of our original investment, have really added up throughout the years. We were never told how much we would be out of pocket. We were told we owned Gold weeks, and if I return to weeks, it would be Red (whatever that means). I haven’t been able to book around our December 28 wedding anniversary the last couple of years through Shell Vacation Club. For the first time ever, I didn’t pay our Shell Vacation Club fees, so had to pay late fees. Membership fees don’t cover much.  

There have been so many changes that our heads are spinning. To sum this up, there is no longer a sales office, our maintenance fees more than doubled in 15 years, late fees 30% in my case, suing delinquent owners, there is no Ovation program, non-owners pay less to rent units, 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, and leadership changed. NOOSE AROUND MY NECK.

Wyndham should offer all of us that need out release if we have no mortgage. We want out. I don’t want my executor having to deal with this when I pass away.

Sincerely,

Jeannie B

Comments by Irene

Thank you to Jeannie for her story. Jeannie is one of 127 Carriage Hills and Carriage Ridge owners to reach out to Inside Timeshare, expressing alarm over unreasonable and irresponsible corporate behaviour. It is our hope Wyndham and Carriage will work with these owners to salvage a resort that by all accounts could be a nice place. 

My husband and I just returned from a timeshare we purchased in 1983. Maui Hill at Maui Lea has a resale department. Hoping to get a better price, I listed it with Tom Tubbs at Island Consulting Realty, a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association. LTRBA members charge nothing upfront to sell timeshares that are blessed with a glimmer of a resale market. Our daughter expressed alarm, explaining that having moved so often, Maui Hill offered the only stability in her life. She graciously gave us this past week in appreciation.

We also purchased at a timeshare at Osage Beach in the Missouri Ozarks in 1984. I called Port Elsewhere and talked to the manager I had gotten to know over the years about taking the timeshare back. We are getting up in age as well. She responded, “Yeah, we had a board meeting. We decided we can’t hold hostage, loyal owners who have faithfully paid maintenance fees for decades. I’ll send you something to sign.” It was one page. We are out after warehousing decades of wonderful Ozark memories. To avoid a special assessment one year, owners donated vacuum cleaners.


Port Elsewhere

The Wyndham Carriage debacle should not be unsolvable.  

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/  

Wyndham Carriage Resorts Facebook

https://m.facebook.com/groups/152117225452689

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 Jeannie for your contibution and also thanks to Irene for your ending comments. These stories are becoming all to commonplace, not just for Wyndham but many other timeshare companies. The perpetual contracts being referred to are illegal in Spain, contracts must be no longer than 50 years in duration and even if the members pass away their children are not obliged to take them over. Spain recognised that it would be inherently unfair to burden the children with a contract which they had no part in signing.

If you have a story of your own and would like to share this with others, then Inside Timeshare would like to hear from you. Use our contact page and get in touch.

Have a great weekend and join us again next week.

SG Abogados Another Fake Law Firm from Tenerife

Yesterday we published a warning about a new “FAKE” law firm operating out of Tenerife, today we continue with this story and give you the timeshare owner or their “target” more information. We have now managed to identify a further two of the “lawyers” which they have shown on their website, you will be very surprised to learn who one of them really is!

SG Abogados is another incarnation of the family of “FAKE” law firms that we have identified over the past 3 years, Inside Timeshare, has nicknamed them the Litigious Abogados Family after one of the first which was highlighted. The total number of “fake” law firms and Procurators now stands at over 87. (see link below)

https://insidetimeshare.com/litigious-abogados-family-new-names-added/

All have the same thing in common, the websites have always been almost identical in layout but the text has always been the same, the home page always starts with the exact day and date the “firm” was founded, yet all websites had only recently been registered. They also show images of “their” lawyers which in most cases have been identified as lawyers from as far afield as Australia. Although one of the best finds was the image of Agustin Bigote Pringata who actually turned out to be Azerbaijan Ambassador to Argentina Rashad Aslanov handing his credentials to the President of Argentina who had been cropped from the image used. (See link below)

https://insidetimeshare.com/more-photographs-identified/

The website https://sg-abogados.org/ was registered on 19 July 2019, and at first sight, it does look as though it may just be a genuine law firm. It explains their “expertise” in various fields of law from contracts, property criminal to name just a few.

The contact page begins with

“We take your privacy seriously, and will only use personal information that you supply to us in accordance with:- The General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).”

Well, that is very reassuring considering this lot are only interested in getting your money and disappearing.

Now on with the photographs they are using on the website to show who their lawyers are.

The first is the founder of the law firm, Ernesto Lamangra Sorpeney, this is the S in the firm’s name, yesterday we identified him as  José Antonio Olaechea who is the managing partner of the law firm Estudio Olaechea of Lima Peru.

The second to be identified is Raul Degelis Grinudos the G in the firm’s name, he is in fact Rafael Caldera, the 39th President of Venezuela who passed away in 2009.

https://www.wikizero.com/en/Presidents_of_Venezuela

The third to be identified is Emilio Goya Zerramu, he is actually David Pacheco, another lawyer of the law firm Estudio Olaecha of Lima Peru.

http://www.esola.com.pe/abogados_en_main.php#

The other two lawyers not identified yet are Francisco Daliber Tiontela and Manuel Jalvo Liorenta and then the young lady again not yet identified who is probably your contact person Carlota Rahita Ampalada. As with all the past incarnations, all the names do appear to be made up as they are not really recognisable as Spanish. 

Now on with the scenario of the sting.

If the past incarnations are anything to go by they will be using “FAKE” court documents, “FAKE” Procurators and even more “FAKE” promises. They will be explaining that your timeshare company is due in court within the next few weeks and that as you have a claim you can be part of the case, for a fee off course!

As before they claim it will be on a no win no fee basis, but then you will have to pay the “FAKE” procurator a fee to lodge the case with the court. After a few weeks, you will probably receive a letter from SG Abogados explaining that the “Director” of your timeshare company pleaded guilty and the court has awarded you a substantial sum of money. This will be backed up by a “FAKE” court document (in Spanish).

Now comes the second part of the sting, to get this money released from the court there will be taxes to pay, you will be given an account to transfer the money into, usually in the name of a private individual and not a company. It may very well be the procurator that you paid the fee to.

If the past formula is going to be followed, you will then receive an envelope which will be open, inside will be a letter with details on the attached cheque. Problem is there is no cheque, there is a staple in one corner with a small piece of paper, it looks as though someone has stolen it.

Next part is that another company contacts you and says that the cheque was cashed by a gang of foreign criminals, this company has also been appointed by the court to recover the money, but again to do this a fee needs to be paid. Well we know what will happen next, you will never hear from them again and you have lost a lot of money.

So if you receive a call from SG Abogados telling you the great news that your timeshare company is in court just tell them where to go and hang up, do not under any circumstances pay them any money as you will only lose it.

If you have already been taken in by this gang of despicable criminals contact Inside Timeshare and let us know what happened, it will help us to warn others.

Consumer Warning: SG Abogados Tenerife

Today Inside Timeshare has received an enquiry from a concerned timeshare owner who was contacted by SG Abogados. They have told him that he has a claim and that they will represent him on a no win no fee basis. This looks like another incarnation of the fake law firms Inside Timeshare has dubbed Litigious Abogados family.

The website is:

https://sg-abogados.org/

This was registered on 19 July 2019 and is set to expire on 19 July 2020, so only registered for one year. The registrant is hidden by privacy protection, so it is not possible to find out who is behind the website.

According to the Home page, the law firm was instituted on Thursday 4th March 1993 by Ernesto Lamangra Sorpeney, it shows the CIF number A33572896 which does not show up on any searches so is fake.

The address they give is Edificio Elvira, Callejon Del Combate 4, 38002 Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

Telephone Number 0800 8620751

Email: [email protected]

The photograph of Ernesto Lamangra Sorpeney has been identified as José Antonio Olaechea who is the managing partner of the law firm

Estudio Olaechea, Bernardo Monteagudo 201, San Isidro, Lima, 27 Peru

This can be found at the following link

https://www.lexmundi.com/assnfe/cv.asp?ID=4551

A full report will be published tomorrow with pictures of all the “lawyers” shown on the website, which we hope to be able to identify to the original people whose images have been used.

Needless to say, do not engage with this “FAKE LAW FIRM” and always do your homework before engaging with any company.