Inside Timeshare has recently received many enquiries from readers regarding Anfi Resales, which have been private sales either through resale companies, ebay or advertised in newspapers. Would they be better buying those rather than direct from Anfi?
As we know, timeshare does not have a great resale value, which many owners who have paid upwards of £15,000 for a basic week have found out. With this also comes very hefty charges for maintenance, which tends to rise each and every year.
For those who have purchased privately for very low amounts they have found they do not qualify for any of the benefits which Anfi add on for those who purchase on-site at Anfi. These services such as the Anfi Vacation Club are included in the price when purchasing direct from Anfi, they are not free as many have been led to believe. It is also the case the annual fees are higher for these purchases than for the resale weeks, as these services will be included in the annual fees.
What are these so-called benefits?
As a purchaser through Anfi Sales the following are part of the package:
Anfi Vacation Club Membership (this allows for internal exchanges)
Club and week exchanges (again internal exchanges)
RCI Worldwide Exchanges (You can join RCI privately and exchange through them)
Springfest 2 for 1 offers (very few and far between)
Bonus Weeks (available through RCI anyway)
Being able to bank or save weeks (Bank through RCI anyway)
Members week offers (never available)
Rental programme (only when available, very rare)
Anfi buy-back (only when available, very rare)
Discounts for on-site services (Restaurants, bars etc, prices are higher than off the resort anyway)
As you can see from the above, you are not actually getting anything for the higher price that you pay when purchasing direct.
Below are some examples of resale weeks advertised either privately or by resale companies.
These four are or have been posted on ebay and Timeshare Hypermarket, what needs to be remembered is that these prices are what the seller believes they can get, most of the time they will sell for a great deal less.
This is taken from a Norwegian resale website, a penthouse for week 3, sleeping 6. The price at the current exchange rate is 14,000€ this would sell on-site for upwards of 45,000€
Again this is the price that the owner and the resale company have agreed they believe they can get.
These two are advertised on a German resale website, Anfi Beach Club would sell for upwards of 15,000€, Club Monte Anfi for more. Again the prices shown are what the resale company and owner believe they can get, they will more than likely sell for a lot less.
So to answer the question is yes you are better off with a resale week, you can join RCI directly and receive the benefits of exchanges through them, purchase the bonus weeks that RCI offer, usually at a better price than Anfi would offer.
As for the so-called discounts, try going off resort to places like Patalavaca and Arguineguin where there is a wider selection of restaurants and bars at much more reasonable prices.
Then when you eventually decide it is no longer for you, you will not be making such a loss as the person you purchased from.
Remember the cost of the timeshare from any resort will always be more than it is actually worth. They do after all have large overheads like the sales staff and marketing costs, these are the bulk of the price that you pay. So if you can pick up weeks for as little as 1500 € which means Anfi over prices the weeks by 90 % ….which is also the reason why the maintenance fees are so high.
On Thursday 18 July 2019 in Duisburg Germany the Annual General Meeting of the IFA Group, which is a publicly owned company and listed on the stock exchange was held. IFA Group which also includes since 2016 via IFA Canarias SL and Anfi Invest AS owns a 50% stake in the Anfi Group which they purchased from the Lyng family for 41.3 million Euros in September 2016.
After a capital increase which is intended along with other things to acquire the remaining 50% share of Anfi, the company has a balance sheet totalling 467 million Euros, it is also now 76% owned by Lopesan Touristik SA of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. The operating results after adjustment were only €7.4 million before tax due to various special items. With a positive contribution by IFA Canarias SL of €3.8 million including Anfi with € 2.4 million.
Although Anfi is jointly owned with a 50/50 split between IFA and the Cazorla Group, IFA actually has no say in the company as Cazorla has the “Golden Share”. Giving them total control, this is how it looks:
Grupo Santana Cazorla SL has a double vote on all the key decisions, with IFA only having 33% of the voting rights on these decisions. After the acquisition of the Lyng share, it became apparent that IFA is unable to actively participate in any financial and business policy decisions due to company-contractual agreements. Grupo Sanatana Cazorla SL, in fact, excludes IFA any participation in all business decisions, even important business meetings are held and conducted without IFA. But even so, IFA was able to acquire the balance sheets of the Anfi Group.
IFA has basically confirmed that it is being kept more or less in the dark and have no idea what is going on inside Anfi. This does look like Anfi is holding back very important information regarding their position from its own shareholders, this is definitely no way for a company to operate.
During the Annual General Meeting in Duisberg, the most interesting part was the questions and answer sessions. Unfortunately, these are not required to be published unlike the report of the AGM which should be published in around 1 month.
Due to the presence of Anfi insiders (including Inside Timeshares source), the IFA board was totally overwhelmed with questions concerning almost all the problems of Anfi. There was nothing left out and of particular importance were the questions regarding the solvency and the wave of complaints. Our source has limited these to only a few concrete statements:
By 31 December 2018 there were around 1,000 complaints at court;
The complaints would only lead to a deferred resale of withdrawn weeks;
In all cases Anfi claims it looks for agreement out of court;
Anfi has formed a €15.5 million risk reserve for that eventuality, (does this mean that IFA also has to contribute the same amount?);
IFA sees Anfi as solvent with some bearable risk;
A full takeover of Anfi is planned within the next 5 years:
There are also negotiations with the Mogan Community about a hotel in Tauro;
What we also know about this “partnership” is that IFA claims they were not aware of the “Cazorla Golden Share” until after they purchased the 50% from Ragnar Lyng. It was also confirmed by IFA that they have very limited access to the running of the business and information. This poses a very important question, as IFA is a multinational public company spending millions on this purchase, is it conceivable that they did not perform due diligence before committing to the purchase?
It has also transpired that IFA was also unaware of an article published in La Provincia in March 2019 that Anfi was employing delaying tactics with payouts ordered by the courts. Inside Timeshare found out after consulting CLA that there is €57,800,000 worth of claims. This now begs the question if IFA matches the 15.5 million set aside by Anfi bringing the total to €31 million, who will cover the rather large shortfall?
One thing is for sure, IFA is a very valuable company, they have recently spent $481 million on their new resort in the Dominican Republic, The Lopesan Costa Bávaro Resort, Spa & Casino which is a luxury 5-star hotel.
So even with the Cazorla’s transferring funds between accounts to delay court-ordered payouts, IFA is in a very good position to cover these costs. For claimants this means only one thing, claim payouts will be 100% guaranteed.
It must also be pointed out that the number and value of claims set for the court is only the tip of the iceberg, this may yet rise significantly, especially with Anfi attempting to force members into new contracts. We have already seen two attempts with very little response from the membership.
There are many other questions which need answering but the one that comes up though enquiries to Inside Timeshare most often is if IFA does take full control of Anfi, where does this leave the members, will IFA continue with the “timeshare model”?
The answer that question still eludes everyone.
The one thing that is certain with the IFA revelations and this is great news for clients of CLA with cases in court is that they will now get paid when the court orders the return of their money.
In a letter to members of Anfi, the CEO Jose Luis Trujillo, looks like he is getting desperate. In this letter he states several “facts” which if you have been following the story of the legal battles involving this company, will find rather hard to believe.
He rambles on about the sales activities of some law firms, none have been named, that they are being aggressive, as if the Anfi sales techniques are not aggressive. That members want Anfi to help them get out of court cases instigated by these law firms.
Well, hang on here, if those people didn’t want to sign up for legal action, why did they, surely they were not subject to the same techniques used on timeshare presentations?
Also, unlike a timeshare, clients are employing the services of the lawyers, and as such can withdraw at any time.
He states in one paragraph, “We are sorry that these law firms have been harassing you”, as if in timeshare, clients are never harassed to continually upgrade.
He goes on to state that in addition to “aggressive” sales methods, prospective clients are not being told the truth. Wow, that is the pot calling the kettle black! Anfi not losing cases, so where has all this news come from that they have lost?
As for not trying to fool anyone, what about all the promises made when on the sales presentation, promises which never materialised, promises which clients subsequently found out where false? A typical one heard so often from many readers is the “promise that Anfi would buy back your week at the price you paid, when you no longer need it”! No what they then do is place it on the resale market for a pittance.
As for the Supreme Court stating “Anfi acted in good faith when selling perpetuity contracts”, somehow this does not seem possible as this court has continually enforced Article 3. On Duration which clearly states that the contract should be no longer than 50 years. So why would the court declare “acting in good faith” when law 42/98, which they are upholding says different?
This once again reiterates Anfi’s belief that those learned Judges at the Supreme Court misinterpreted that very law! It is quite clear 50 years is the maximum duration, so how could that be misinterpreted?
If this was the case, why is Anfi holding a Special General Meeting on 23 June with a ballot to change contracts to comply? Does this statement by the CEO mean the opposite?
As for the legal fees going up, according to our sources this is a fabrication. From what we have been told by lawyers and clients, the fees paid at the start have never gone up, no matter how long the case lasts. In fact, one only need to ask Mrs Tove Grimsbo, whose case took many years and was the first Supreme Court ruling.
Another point is that clients only have to attend court if Anfi demand it, that said it is their right to do so. But what is the reason behind that? Simple, to prolong the case, to cause disruption and stress to the claimant, all in the hope they will withdraw.
Another “scare tactic” is Anfi state once again that the Supreme Court has accepted the principle that any client whose contract is declared null & void should compensate Anfi for the holidays they have taken over the years of membership. We at Inside Timeshare have never heard of this from the Supreme Court, so show us the written proof from the Supreme Court.
The whole letter is a deception from a CEO whose company is losing millions of Euros for past transgressions of the law. An attempt to divert attention from the known facts that they are losing, the fact that since the very first Supreme Court Ruling in March 2015, they have had a massive 34 made against them! As far as we are aware not one Supreme Court ruling has gone in their favour.
At the end of the day it is your choice, take legal action or not, keep your timeshare or not, it is more of a choice than when you were first coerced into purchasing!
Just read the many article about Anfi published here, they give you the full story from over the years, right up to the debacle that is Tauro Beach!
Inside Timeshare leaves it to you the reader to decide who is actually telling the truth.
Right click the following images and open in new tab for enlarged copy.
Over the past week Inside Timeshare has been highlighting the Anfi Group project at Tauro Beach, the fact that an investigation is underway into serious flaws in the licences and permissions granted to Anfi. Also the fact that homes have been subject to flooding because the natural defences of the original beach have been removed, changing the dynamics of the tides and currents, and the question of who is going to pay.
On top of all this, Canarian Legal Alliance has just announced the 18th Supreme Court ruling, this will be the 17th against Anfi. Once again the court has ruled in favour of the client awarding them over 45,000€ plus interest and legal fees.
The court has reiterated their previous ruling that contracts in perpetuity (over 50 years) are illegal, that floating weeks and the taking of deposits also makes the contracts null & void. Yet we still see Anfi claiming their contracts are legal, they can not seem to acknowledge the fact the Supreme Court has ruled, they still believe the court has got it wrong.
Back in March 2016 Anfi issued a statement to their members, also backed up by the RDO, in it they reaffirm their belief the Supreme Court has got it wrong. They also go on to say that when a member takes legal action and wins, they will also have to pay for the holidays they have already taken. (I thought they had already paid with the maintenance fees). (see pdf) Anfi state they will use the Spanish Civil Code in order to enforce payment. (see post http://insidetimeshare.com/rdo-trying-scare-anfi-timeshare-owners/) Again it appears Anfi are trying to scare people from taking legal action, when the clients have the legal right to have their contracts cancelled and be reimbursed for being sold illegally. They have also resorted to emailing clients using out of date accusations from Mindtimeshare. This is obviously an act of desperation, they know they are in trouble not just because of the 17 Supreme Court rulings against them, but also with the recent developments over their Tauro Beach project being investigated.
So far nothing has been heard from Anfi regarding the problems at Tauro Beach, no statements have been seen in the press or anything online. Considering they are the ones building the beach and therefore responsible for these events, not even a whisper or any contact with those affected has been seen or heard. Surely any company would have made some kind of statement, even just to say they would look into it.
For those who still believe that their timeshares are worth something, think again. This was sent to Inside Timeshare and apparently comes from Anfi del Mar Friends, it is an advert for a timeshare up for sale and it reads:
“Hi folks, if anyone out there is interested in buying a week, I have week ** anfi puerto, one bed with saturday changeover in room ***. Would take £1000 ovno. Also on sale in house at Anfi. It’s a cheap buy for anyone interested”
Well apparently over 5200 have seen it and it still hasn´t gone! I wonder why? Could it be the reputation timeshare has or is it just Anfi? Or is it the ongoing costs, after all the maintenance fees are not cheap, and we did notice there was no mention in the add of the cost. This added to the facts published in previous articles regarding the beach and the court rulings does make it look as though the future for Anfi is likely to be rather bleak!
If you have any questions regarding anything in this or any previous article contact Inside Timeshare, we will try to answer them and if we do not know the answer we will find out. If you have anything you would like to share, Inside Timeshare would love to hear from you. Need information on any company you may be thinking of using but don´t know where to look we may be able to help.
Following on from yesterdays article on the new website Anfi-Illegal-Contracts, it has now come to our attention that emails are now being received by Anfi owners. These are unsolicited emails and are in breach of the current Data Protection Regulations. Inside Timeshare would like to ask any Anfi owner who has received one of these emails to contact us and give us whatever information you have. This way we can publish further warnings.
Now to go on with our “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” stories.
126 Wyndham Carriage Hills and Carriage Ridge Resorts Owners Report Unfair and Deceptive Business Practices
The only responsible exit is to die childless?
“The knowledge that these timeshares are to be burdens to our children after death is just beyond words. What a hellish thing to get stuck with after you have said your goodbyes to your parents. The children of today are not like ‘’us’’’…… busy lives with not the greatest of jobs if you can’t afford a house or even save for a house.” Rit
“Without question, the stress of the timeshares has been a catalyst for her (grandmother’s) emotional and mental state. In regular conversations with family, she shares her worry about being able to afford the fees, and in more recent months, what will happen to them when she and Gary have passed on.” Stephanie
“I have been responsible with my timeshare and feel now Wyndham should be responsible on their end. The resort is beautiful, but if Wyndham cannot figure a way to take back intervals people do not want or cannot afford, and resell them, then they need to take the option of selling the whole resort. Quit putting guns to people’s head who can no longer afford their Wyndham Timeshare.” Rebecca
“My grandmother, 75, has her story in this 31-60. Today she attempted suicide for the second time this month. She is once again in hospital. This weighs so heavy on my heart.”
By Irene Parker and Carriage Owners 31 thru 60 of 126 (continued)
August 27, 2019
False and deceptive advertising: There is no secondary market for Carriage Resorts timeshares, due to what owners feel is an onerous and predatory business practice. In the U.S. and Canada, timeshare buyers were routinely told timeshares are easy to sell, as they were buying deeded real estate. Who would buy a timeshare that pursues even heirs for delinquent maintenance fees, despite heirs not having signed the contract?
Our first articlethat prompted 126 emailed responses described Legacy timeshare owners not allowed a responsible exit. Six out of eight Legacy Resort owners reported that they had no responsible timeshare exit. One of the eight owners was Simon, who purchased a Wyndham Carriage Resort. https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-64/
Article 2: I reached out to a Canadian friend who, by coincidence, owned at Carriage. I was informed that Carriage Hills and Carriage Ridge owners are taken to court for past due maintenance fees. The elderly, often suffering medical hardship, are sued, and if deceased, their heirs are responsible for maintenance fees. https://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-44/
Article 3: Carriage Hill owner David reports a violation of trust; in that, he was assured his timeshare would be foreclosed. David followed all instructions and received notification he had been foreclosed. Fourteen months later, David has learned he is being pursued for $10,000 in past due maintenance fees.
Article drafts were sent to Wyndham media, and Mr. Jason Gamel, Sr. VP Legal at Wyndham, and president of ARDA. Mr. Gamel testified at a Florida legislative workshop on March 12, 2019, that exit companies are not needed because Wyndham has a hardship department. A draft was also sent to Canadian Vacation Owners Association (CVOA). CVOA did respond and have said they will look into this.
(CVOA) Mission Statement
To promote high standards of ethical conduct and professionalism throughout the industry.
To assist in resolving consumer complaints that involve CVOA Members.
To consult with all levels of the Canadian Government to ensure fair and equitable operational, taxation and industry advancement policies that govern both our Members and consumers.
To work on behalf of CVOA Members to promote a better understanding of Vacation Ownership by the public, the media and governments;
To encourage the beneficial expansion of the Vacation Ownership industry.
Thank you for taking an interest in the owners of the Carriage Hills and Carriage Ridge timeshares. My husband and I bought Carriage Hills about 20 years ago when we had two young children and could use our timeshare or easily exchange with RCI.
The resort was taken over by Wyndham. We were encouraged to switch to points, but our exchange company changed, making it almost impossible to exchange. When we attended a session at Carriage Hills to ‘help’ us use our points more effectively, we were basically told that we should pay $16,000 to upgrade to a higher level of service. That was a no go for us!
We realize that we cannot sell our units or even give them away. We did not want our children to be burdened after our death. Apparently, the timeshare becomes part of our estate and our heirs cannot decline to take the timeshare!
We were promised upon purchase that this investment would increase in value.
About a year and a half ago, we were contacted by a Canadian exit company. We attended an information session (I’m not using their name…but their office is in Collingwood). They agreed to take over our two timeshares within one year, for a considerable sum upfront, for their online holiday rental company (Travel Club). There was a money-back guarantee. While we were concerned about the upfront fees, we agreed to use their services. Even before the year was up, they said they could not get us out of our timeshare. They passed us on to an American company who wanted more money. We were told to write letters to Wyndham.
We did not use the American company and told the Canadian company we wanted our money back, as they had not fulfilled their part of the contract. They ignored us. A lawyer is involved. So, we are back to paying fees, trying to find ways to use our points.
Thank you for taking an interest in this situation.
#32 Rebecca R
Dear Ms. Parker,
I own at both Carriage Hill and Carriage Ridge Resort. I originally purchased Carriage Hill in 2010. In 2012 the sales staff offered a program to switch to points, which I paid for. If I try to sell the timeshare, which is virtually impossible, the points switch back to a deeded week. I was unaware of that. Rising maintenance fees and other fees make selling almost impossible. Maintenance fees in 2010 went up from $844 per year to $1,352, per interval. There is also a club fee of around $400 per year.
I have contacted Wyndham regarding their exit strategy. I do not wish to own this forever and do not want to will it or gift it to a family member. Owners at Carriage Resorts do not qualify for Wyndham’s Ovation program. This is a shame.
I have enjoyed Carriage Resorts and exchanging for other resorts, but exchange fees also keep going up. I have stayed at some nice resorts in the US, but think some of these exchanges could have been rented cheaper than what I am paying in yearly fees.
I have three children. They would never be able to afford these fees. I am starting to find it a burden myself.
When you have children with schizophrenia and learning disabilities, things get very expensive and I worry that this timeshare will be forced on them and forced on me, as years go on. This will truly be unfair and unrealistic for them and for me. I will fight tooth and nail before I allow this to happen to my children.
I have been responsible with my timeshare and feel now Wyndham should be responsible on their end.
The resort is beautiful, but if Wyndham cannot figure a way to take back intervals people do not want or cannot afford, and resell them, then they need to take the option of selling the whole resort. Quit putting guns to people’s head who can no longer afford the timeshare.
There are many options that could be looked at:
Let people out after 15, 20 or 30 years, even if there is some kind of reasonable fee to do this. Don’t hold them forever! That is not doable.
Seriously reach out to people that own, and I mean make a huge effort, to get a vote from people to sell the whole resort if that is what it takes.
The area where the resort is located is becoming popular. It’s a nice area. I repeat, do something to resell the units of people who want out or sell the resort. Good gracious, get creative!
Doing nothing or suing people is not sustainable and gives Wyndham and the resort a bad name. It puts extreme stress on people who cannot afford it. At some point, I would like to exit and not burden my family. Wyndham needs to take some necessary steps.
I would also like to see some legislation put in place that better protects the consumer. This is so, so important for the timeshare industry.
#33 Linda B
We too have been trying to exit our timeshare. I have been taken in twice by companies claiming to be able to re-sell our timeshare. Wyndham says we need to find our own buyer. We have used and enjoyed it regularly, but age has caught up with us. We can no longer spend as we used to. Our children are adamant about not inheriting this burden, yet there is no way out. People who might be interested in purchasing bow out when they hear the fees. It is discouraging to hear that others can get rooms cheaper using Expedia than what members pay.
We worry about delinquency rates climbing. This is not sustainable. We need help to convince our Board, SVC, and Wyndham that members need to be able to surrender deeds back when the time comes.
#34 Suzanne T
We have owned our CH timeshare for many years and have looked into getting out. When we investigated, we saw that many people were giving away their timeshares for $1 or had them listed on various sites for months. Very few were able to sell even for $1. Our maintenance fees are over $1000 yearly. It is getting harder to pay these fees now that we are retired. RCI exchange fees keep going up as well.
We contacted our attorney here in Michigan. He informed us that not only would it be a problem for us if we stopped paying our maintenance fees, but that our children will inherit this headache once we die!! This is insane! Please help us share this information with the public to help convince Wyndham to give us a “true” exit strategy!
Fred and Suzanne T
#35 Adele C
Hello Ms. Parker,
We were given this timeshare in 2014. We only paid lawyer’s fees. As we have small children, we thought it was a great idea. After two visits, we decided that Carriage Hills was not ideal for us. With much difficulty, we managed to exchange our week via RCI. Owning weeks, not points, made exchanging our timeshare nearly impossible.
This year we attempted to sublet our week but were unable to find an interested party for March break OR for the first week of July (which coincided with a nearby Rolling Stones concert). We ended up grudgingly using the week ourselves. We found the staff unfriendly and the resort in dire need of upkeep.
We sat through a timeshare presentation but were not interested in spending thousands of dollars to switch to points, which they touted as superior in flexibility and convenience. The annual maintenance fee is an obligation we no longer wish to continue. When we spoke to the Carriage Hills staff about giving our share back, they informed us that there was no mechanism to release us from this obligation. Considering there are dozens of listings on the owner’s association web site, people trying to give away their timeshares, I don’t see a feasible exit. We don’t want this to affect our credit rating. As a young family, this could have a major impact.
#36 Ehab J
I have been an owner at Carriage Hills since 2002. I am shocked at what I am witnessing:
1. There is no exit plan. We thought this was an asset. How can this be legal? Why, as owners, can we not change this? What owner in their right mind would not want an exit plan? It doesn’t make any sense.
2. Communication from Wyndham is abysmal, to say the least. I have contacted Wyndham numerous times over the last few years asking them why I don’t get any email updates. Their response is always the same: I am on a “do not contact” list. How could I possibly be on a “do not contact” list when I never requested to be on one? And why can’t they just remove me off the do not contact list? Once again, it makes no sense.
3. Maintenance fees keep going up to a ridiculous amount. How much further will they go up? My timeshare has become of less value (it’s beyond worthless). The public can rent for less than what I pay in maintenance fees. This is simply theft in my opinion.
Given the above, this timeshare is not sustainable. So my question is: What happens now?
How can the biggest timeshare company in the world allow this? How can they treat owners like us with such disrespect, lack of communication and transparency, holding us hostage?
Shame on them
#37 Cindy B
Thank you for taking the time to listen to our sad dilemmas. My late husband and I bought at Carriage Hills over 20 years ago. We enjoyed the resort for many years until our maintenance fees increased at an alarming rate. My late husband took care of the timeshare. Now I am left to pick up the pieces. I am finding out that our vacation spot is worth absolutely nothing. As a widow, this was a devastating blow. Wyndham closed its sales office. Carriage Hills resort owners are trying to give away their timeshares, some with huge incentives.
Wyndham offered an exit program for some, but it seems Wyndham has left us out in the cold. After reading how they are sending collections after seniors, it is so sad. Something has to be done. We are an ageing population and will find ourselves in the same situation.
Thank you and appreciate anything that can be done to raise awareness.
#38 Pat S
My husband and I bought a red week Carriage Hills timeshare in 1999.
We were told at the time we were buying a piece of real estate which would increase in value.
We soon found out when we tried to sell it that this was untrue. It has no resale value.
Last year my husband passed away and I contacted Wyndham to find out if they would please take back the timeshare as I no longer have the income to keep paying maintenance fees. I was told they are not taking any deeds back and my only way out was to sell the timeshare. I told them we tried several times to sell but we’re unable to do so.
I was told there was nothing Wyndham could do.
Thank you for taking an interest in our problem.
#39 Chuck L
My wife and I own 1 week of timeshare at the Hills and 3 weeks at the Ridge. When we purchased at Carriage Hills in 2007, annual maintenance fee was $668. Last year (2018) the annual maintenance fee was $1351. That means the annual fee has more than doubled in 11 years. The 3 weeks at the Ridge were purchased in 2008. Annual maintenance fee at the time was $759 and in 2018 was $1325, slightly less than double in the 10 year period.
When we purchased, we were led to believe that we could enjoy the benefits of the ownership and should we choose to do differently years later, we would be able to sell the timeshare.
The ability to sell appears to be nil, and worse, many owners are now trapped into paying increasing annual maintenance fees as their ability to pay those fees become more difficult as they age. Wyndham represents that they have a way out for owners through their Ovation program, but Carriage Hills and Ridge owners are unable to access this program.
In my case, my wife was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s in 2013, and she now requires 24-hour care. I am her caregiver.
The ability to sell our ownership, or even give it away appears to be non-existent. I believe that Wyndham has created a situation that traps owners for their own benefit. There is no reasonable way out, so I have no choice but to continue to pay the ever-increasing annual maintenance fees.
I hope this helps you understand the difficult situation I find myself in, as well as many other Hills and Ridge owners.
Thanks for taking the time to look into our predicament.
Charles (Chuck) L
I’m an owner of the above-mentioned resort since 2000,
I’m interested to find a way to sell the timeshare.
#41 Ali N
We would like to add our voices loud and clear to the exit movement … I sincerely believe the sales tactics were not fair for they were loaded with empty promises. Try booking an overseas vacation, it never materializes. It’s always been cheaper and convenient with other providers. My whole family of 5 is currently touring the UK. Try booking a 2-night stay in Paris France….. It’s outrageously difficult and damn expensive. We want out! We own 2 “deeds”
#42 Marg M
Brandi Hope at Wyndham Carriage Hills and Carriage Resorts is our Administrative Assistant. We were instructed to send our first document for transfer approval to her. I can honestly say she is wonderful and got back to me in a timely manner.
Good morning Irene
My husband David and I have been owners at Carriage Hills since approximately 1998. We were promised that we could sell it without a problem and that it would go up in value (we realize things can go down but not to $0!).
We were told by our salesperson that they would be building a gondola from Carriage Hills to get to Horseshoe, but this never materialized. There is no exit option via the Ovation programme that Wyndham touts.
When we try to contact our committee or Wyndham about exiting, the responses are always negative. They suggest we get in touch with an exit company. They want an extortionate amount of money upfront.
From stories we have heard they are pretty much a scam. As we get older we can no longer afford escalating maintenance fees. Our children do not want to inherit this burden. We desperately need an exit.
As people default on maintenance fees, they are taken to claims court and apparently money is recouped, BUT part of our maintenance fees is supposedly paying towards the defaulters’ maintenance fees. I have asked if this is true. If so, then why are we still paying towards that and why have we not been reimbursed or our maintenance fees reduced as fees are recouped?
We actually have a person interested in taking over our week, after advertising for years. We are going to pay the $1500 lawyer’s fee and give the buyer a gift card. After I contacted the lawyer, I find I don’t even have the correct paperwork to do this. Until I do, they won’t even take on the sale. I have contacted Brandi at the resort to get the needed paperwork. She said she would have part of it forwarded to the lawyer, but the original contract has to come from corporate in Florida. I am currently trying to find a number to contact. This is proving very difficult as no one seems to be able to help.
Sorry for the long-winded. I understand you have been looking into the timeshare industry. We thank you for that; finally, someone is trying to help us.
Margaret and David M
#43 Lynn H
We own at Carriage Ridge resorts. We are desperate for an exit strategy. We try to use our time every year but it is not easy. We no longer ski as we are getting older and our kids are not interested in using the resort.
We are one of the lucky ones, I say loosely, as we were able to find a buyer for a couple of weeks we owned. By saying buyer I mean “We gave them our paid-up 2019 weeks and also paid the lawyer fees,” so to transfer over these weeks cost us $4,150.22.
Our buyer wanted to buy our points.
Since Wyndham reverts points back to weeks when you sell, our buyer decided they wouldn’t take one of our weeks.
Now we have a white week left. We will never be able to find a buyer. It’s only good for booking during 10 off-season weeks of the year. The only way we will be able to get out is through an exit program.
Personally, I think that there may be some buyers out there, but Wyndham’s policies make it difficult. Renters (through Expedia) get a much better deal. We need an Ovations program.
Thank you for your interest!
Lynn and Brian H
#44 Stephanie C
Thank you for taking up this cause. I write to you on behalf of my grandparents. I have been working with my grandmother to handle this timeshare for the last few years.
Sandra and Gary have been owners at Carriage Hills & Carriage Ridge since the 90’s, and are of the Elite designation. The initial purchase was made with the intent to travel, as YRDSB teachers with summers off. The location of CH and CR was convenient, bringing friends, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Value was found in the timeshare, based on the information provided by the sales representatives.
Initially, annual fees were approximately $ 650 per unit, but 2019 fees were approximately $1500 per unit. Despite this substantial increase, there has been little to no change or improvement to CH and CR. This fee is not affordable.
In 2014 the determination was made that Gary would require more comprehensive care, and was relocated to a 24-hour care unit in a nursing home. He is wheelchair-bound and requires assistance with bathing, eating, washroom & mobility concerns. At the onset, his health deteriorated quickly and continues on that path. He communicates verbally, but he is unable to make decisions or advocate for himself.
Gary was the breadwinner, being a pensioned teacher, he supported the household. When he was moved to 24-hour care, his insurance only covered a portion. Sandra resides in their home with an adult son, who is not employed. There is nothing frivolous about her life, and her joy comes in the form of making beautiful, handmade quilts.
Sandra has long struggled with depression. In the last 4 years, there has been deterioration in her health. She sees Gary once a week. On June 30 2019, they reached 53 years married. Imagine being married for 53 years, and then having so much stress that you can’t make it out to visit.
Without question, the stress of the timeshares has been a catalyst for her emotional and mental state. In regular conversations with family, she shares her worry about being able to afford the fees, and in more recent months what will happen them when she and Gary have passed on.
They are not able to use the timeshares. Gary has no ability to travel and Sandra cannot travel alone, or long distances. She is able to get up once and a while to CH to use the pool with a friend. Shell Vacation has an online portal, but at 75 years old Sandra is not internet savvy and relies on the help of family to do simple things with the timeshare.
There is no way out of the timeshare, the fee to sell to another is substantial, the lawyer’s fees even higher. Couple this timeshare with the cuts to health and social programs that Ontario is seeing. It is really a crisis.
Sandra’s wish is to be able to sell back or return the timeshares to Wyndham… even to transfer to a relative is a 1500$ fee and 1500$ x 5 is exorbitant. Her wish is to stop worrying about choosing these fees over her needs. She found hope in the exit program Wyndham offers, only to learn that they are not extended to CH and CR owners.
As of today, Saturday, Aug 17, my grandmother is arriving shortly at my home as she cannot be left alone. She spent the last 8 days in the hospital due to a change in medication and a depression spell. An exit strategy would be life-changing for her.
#45 Rita D
I owned at Carriage. Hills and Carriage Ridge for 20 years, but have not stayed at the
Resort much. I used it for exchange. The time has come to EXIT.
Many owners wish for a smooth exit. Maintenance and exchange fees are high. Being on pension and not getting any younger. Soon there will be no travelling. In fact, it has already begun with my husband needing surgery soon.
The knowledge that these timeshares are to be burdens to our children after death is just
beyond words. What a hellish thing to get stuck with after you have said your goodbyes to your parents. The children of today are not like ‘’us’’’…… busy lives with not the greatest of jobs if you can’t afford a house or even save for a house.
Our generation has this BURDEN because of pushy misleading salespeople.
I don’t want the next generation to suffer and HATE their parents for their unfortunate mistake.
We, owners, are praying for an EXIT solution. We are very frustrated that there is NO answer or help.
Thank you for your interest in reading the Emails.
#46 David M
Our nightmare was and continues to be just that. We purchased one week in the early 2000s and we were told like others that 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 – lies, lies and more lies.
Five/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 actually spoke to the President of our HOA at the time to find out the consequences of not paying maintenance fees. I was told calls from Shell Collections would occur, then files sent to outside collections, then foreclosure after no payment and after about eight months. We also called SVC. They said the same process would be followed.
After a great deal of thought and worry, we had no choice but to become delinquent ruining our credit rating. All the processes told to us by the Carriage Hills 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 and that we owed 10,000.00 in fees and penalties.
We were devastated, to say the least. I called SVC managers and everyone I could. I was told that never, never, never, and absolutely no hard collections, no court, 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. Our credit rating was ruined and 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 Ovation and were told Carriage Hills and Ridge did not qualify for voluntary surrender, but they could not say why.
I have sent two emails with copies of all my conversations with everyone I spoke to – Wyndham President, Carriage Hills 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 Hills truly believe ruining everyone’s retirement years with worry 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 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.
#47 Marg K
We have been owners at Carriage Hills Timeshare since our purchase in 1999. I don’t believe I need to recount the process used to reel us in as it is no different than everyone else. Free weekend but spent in the grip of charming, fast-talking and manipulative salesmen. They talked nonstop during the signing process, skimming over the contract in summary fashion, asking for initials at critical statements, and was done over a fancy breakfast with no opportunity to take it away to review, as we had to check out by 10:00. Never did they state this ownership was a life sentence for us and our children and grandchildren.
We were told of the advantage of deeded ownership is the ability to sell, and like real estate, would only increase in value.
In the fall of 2017, we were desperate to unload this timeshare. We fell prey to the second layer of deceit and spent at least $8,000 in a tiered resale scheme with Genesky, Cyria who supposedly worked with Timeshare Exit in the US to sell back our unit. They said they had great success in doing this for Carriage Hills units, as they were hot on the market, given the strength of the US dollar. We got a few emails, excuses of people who had left, and a new caseworker assigned to one that claimed a key person to our case had died.
We are seniors on fixed incomes who have also found ourselves sadly in a late-life divorce.
Our children are not in a position to assume this ownership and unless one of them signs off to take it, the last surviving spouse’s estate can’t be settled and costs will continue to accrue.
Wyndham is not running this resort as a timeshare, but bleeding us to pay for their investment and vacation club. They have bullied us in board elections and even if we got more members voting, they would exercise their ability to have more voting power. We will never win.
They have shut us out of a voice on site to advertise units. And why, unless for self-serving reasons? They do this while plastering their posters everywhere. Wyndham knows that as individuals, we can’t fight them and win, nor do we have the financial resources. If they have been so callous in dealing with senior hardship cases, you are already aware we have no hope.
I don’t know what you can do to help us, but it does appear other provinces and counties have recognized this is a serious issue – taking advantage of seniors and vulnerable others of all ages, with no exit plan to ever escape and yes, we feel in prison.
Feel free to contact me if you want and thanks for highlighting our resort and sad situation.
#48 Heather T
We purchased back in 2000. It was a foolish decision. Our plans were to exchange and use it for our honeymoon, somewhere tropical. We quickly found out that it wasn’t quite as valuable as was indicated and booked something else through a travel agent. Well, you can’t go back in time. Today we are more financially stable and we do enjoy our time at Carriage Hills and exchanges through RCI.
Our concern is when we get older or pass on, this will need to go to someone and we have no choice. Yes, we are using it trying to make the best of it, but we don’t want to put that on someone else, especially not our kids.
I see stories of people who need out and feel so bad for them, but also realize we will be there sooner than we think. We need a viable exit plan or even a rental system so people can make their fees back so won’t need to default.
That’s all, thanks for your time!
#49 A & Mellissa S
I am a fairly new owner. My husband and I purchased a resale week just last year. Now if I had known how owners were being treated by Wyndham, I would have never purchased. We live close to the resort and bought there so that we could use the facilities regularly for day use, as well as enjoying our allotted time.
We did not know how high the maintenance fees would be or that we could stay cheaper without being owners. We are a young family and look forward to using our time. But what happens when we can’t use this anymore? We can’t burden our kids with this. There needs to be a fair exit. I worry how we will pay maintenance fees if they continue to rise at such an alarming rate.
I know other families who would love to purchase for the same reasons my husband and I have… but I won’t allow my friends or family to be suckered into this until there is a safe way to get out and some kinda cap on the rising cost.
Thank you for your time and hoping all will be heard.
#50 Linda D
We wish to add our voices to the many other owners who are looking for an exit strategy. We have owned since 2002. We believed the sales pitch and purchased another biyearly week to convert to Shells Vacations in 2003.
The ramifications of “in perpetuity” were not explained.
We were told this timeshare was an investment and an asset that COULD be passed to our heirs, not forced upon them.
To be fair, we have actually used and continue to use the timeshare to exchange and obtain prepaid debit cards. We are, however, getting older and our travelling style has changed over the years. This timeshare really no longer works for us.
We have made the foolish mistake of paying Secondary Ownership upfront to “sell” our timeshare to no avail. They called the fee an advertising fee. This company also called to offer us an exit if we would pay thousands of more dollars for them to facilitate an exit which fortunately we did not fall for.
I have no idea if any other people have had any success with this strategy. We also attempted to use Wyndham Ovations program but were told our resort was ineligible because it was an affiliate. Our attempts to sell or give away have not been successful.
We do believe that one should live up to their financial commitments, but we also believe that people who can no longer travel for health reasons, age, and changed financial circumstances, should have a viable strategy.
There are way too many stories of owners being prosecuted over unpaid maintenance fees. In some cases, the lawsuit may be justified, however, in many, many cases people are elderly, in frail health and have limited financial resources. These people should have a case for an exit for compassionate reasons.
As seniors, we now live on a fixed income and the ever-increasing maintenance fees are becoming a burden. As we age we will not be able to travel as we currently do. We do not wish to find ourselves in the position of being unable to use the timeshare but still having to pay the maintenance fees. More disturbing though, is that we can’t seem to even give these timeshares away. Our children have no interest in them.
Suing heirs is a completely unacceptable practice since they had no say in the original purchase.
We would be happy to give our timeshare away or have the options such as a deed back program or the ability to let it go into foreclosure. We just want out!
George and Linda D
#51 Arlene S
I own an every other year white week at each of these resorts, purchased when it was still under Shell Vacations. We bought these properties because they were close to home and easily accessible to take the grandkids skiing.
Three years ago my husband died, and since I cannot drive, it became a problem to get to the resort. I was coerced into converting to points when I bought the Ridge week.
I decided to exchange to other Shell properties. To date I have made two trips to Kona with family, mostly just to use the points I paid for. I enjoyed both vacations but believe I could have found cheaper accommodations booking online.
When we made our original purchase, the maintenance fee was about $500 per year and easily affordable. It has now tripled. In addition, we also have to pay a membership fee to RCI even though it is doubtful we would ever exchange.
We bought from Shell Vacations Club, not Wyndham, and their properties are the ones I wish to visit. For now, I have no major complaints with our timeshare, but I foresee problems soon. I am approaching 80 and not as mobile as I once was. I was considering naming my daughter as a co-owner but am having second thoughts, considering the problems other owners are having disposing of their obligations. I calculate I have spent about $100,000 in capital costs and maintenance fees. Surely the property should have some value. I am sure if Wyndham decided to sell off these properties, located in a prime vacation area, and well maintained by the fees paid by the owners, they would make a huge profit.
Timeshare properties were once a good idea, but with all the options available now, such as Airbnb, Expedia, Trivago, to name a few, they are no longer a good investment. The sales pitch when we bought was since this was a deeded property, we could always sell. From the complaints, I realize that I would have to pay to have someone take it off my hands. I hope that with all the owners banding together and with some legal intervention, we can force Wyndham to honour our legal deeds and provide an exit strategy when I can no longer use this property.
#52 Cindy L
My husband and I have been owners at CH/CR for many years. We have not used the CH/CR location in many years but have exchanged our timeshare thru RCI.
We have many concerns with the CH/CR timeshare as we age and eventually will not be able to use it. We do not want to burden our children with maintenance fees on a timeshare they will not use. We are very concerned about the dollars in arrears due to timeshare owners not being able to pay the escalating maintenance fees for various reasons. Lastly, we are concerned about the lack of an exit strategy. These issues need to be addressed and solutions in place sooner rather than later. Owners are not getting younger and can’t seem to give away their timeshare, let alone sell.
Thank you for your time.
Cindy and Jeff L
#53 Pamela R
Hello Irene and thank you for taking the time to hear our stories.
My husband and I purchased every other year at carriage hills around 2000. A few years later we purchased Carriage Ridge every other year in order to enter the points system.
My husband has multiple sclerosis and has become wheelchair-bound. He doesn’t accompany me on my timeshare trips anymore, but my mom does. The future for me is that my mom is ageing and my husband can’t be left by himself, so I hire people to come in. It won’t be long before we will want to exit.
It worked for us for 19 years so why can’t it work for someone else? Maintenance fees and the ability to get good rental rates and the threat of forever with no exit – that’s why. Please help us to make Wyndham aware that their product must be appealing. Help us make them realize they need to revamp the product to bring in new owners through resale and added perks etc.
Thank you ahead of time for your interest and help.
#54 Desiree S
Please add my name to the list of people looking for an exit. I bought many years ago when my children were young. I was divorced with 3 kids. I started with the bi-annual contract for a relatively small amount of points. Over the years I added more points and therefore more contracts. Maintenance fees have steadily increased. I don’t understand why my first contract, which doesn’t have as many points, has a Maintenance Fee as expensive as the others. With these price increases, it’s become exceedingly difficult to keep up payments. I have also heard about people being taken to court if they default on their maintenance fees. In fact, I think I know the paralegal who is handling this, just coincidentally. I’m trying to use my points as much as possible but I most definitely want to have an exit strategy.
#55 Adam P
My wife and I are in our early 40’s and have owned at Ridge since before Shell bought the resort. We’ve never been a part of Shell Vacation Club, and have always either used it or exchanged through RCI. We love going up, and do make great use of our ownership, but the ever-increasing maintenance fees, ageing ownership, and Wyndham’s apparent lack of desire to keep the resort functioning as a timeshare make it increasingly important that there be a viable exit, so that we can get owners in that actually can and want to use the resort.
Without a way for that to happen, what happened with the Lodges at Horseshoe Resort will happen with Ridge and Hills (rising maintenance causes defaults, which raises maintenance fees, repeat till resort dies. That’s an oversimplification, but not unique)
We don’t want out now, but we will eventually. I don’t want our daughter or our estate to have to deal with all this if something were to happen to us.
#56 Josh J
I bought two weeks at Carriage Hills 16 years ago and I wish to sell. The fact that there is no exit strategy is beyond comprehension. My financial situation has changed dramatically and I need an exit strategy. I would have never purchased this timeshare had I known this.
Thanking you in advance,
#57 Anne & John G
In March 1998 my husband John and I purchased a weektimeshare at Carriage Hills. In October 2010, in order to have our weeks changed to points, we also purchased an every odd year ownership with Shell Vacations Club. We took early retirement in 2008 and unfortunately, our pensions are now almost depleted. We are going to have to sell our house, pay off the mortgage and use the balance to cover us for the rest of our lives.
Obviously, we are looking at ways to save money. When we bought, we were given the impression that we would be able to sell the timeshares and make a profit. Now we can’t give them away. It has been suggested to sell/give to a friend. I cannot in good conscience do that! Although we have enjoyed having the timeshares over the years it is essential to get an exit.
Ann & John G
#58 Charles H
You don’t know me nor I you. My story goes, I was only a very young man, 19 years old I believe, and I went away with my then-girlfriend. They convinced me to buy this luxurious vacation. Now I didn’t have a lot of money then so it was clear it would have been a struggle for me to pay, but here we are. Obviously, I was qualified and able to pay for my timeshare. Years went by and by now the ex and I have split. We try and split our weeks Monday to Thursday and Friday – Sunday, basically? But we’ve been trying to sell this timeshare for over 7 years to no prevail. We paid an online company to market and sell and still no buyers. I’m convinced I’ll be paying for this for the rest of my life
Please help. I owe nothing as I paid for my timeshare in full, why on earth can I not get OUT!!!!!
#59 Lois B
I am an owner for 19 years. I now live at the Resort area so use it all the time. The fees are too high and with our current set up, fees will only go higher as owners sell or try to sell. It is hard to sell to others, due to the locked-in financial setup. We will go the way of the timeshare at Horseshoe Resort…owners forced out or paying exorbitantly to stay (Now turned into condos selling for $450 000 to high $500 000 and almost all sold out). They have lots of value now and selling well, located three minutes from Carriage Hills.
We need an exit option and we need it ASAP.
I never voted on taking people to court, but I also do not want to pay their fees from my pocket. We need a creative win-win situation. Our CARRIAGE Hills Resort is valuable and on prime land in a great recreational destination area. We are on a gem.
Thank you for what you do.
#60 Karen D
Thanks for your interest in our stories!
We bought in the ’90s and have many fond memories with our two daughters of trips to Carriage Hills and Ridge and at traded locations. First grandchild coming soon and can’t wait to have a grandparent week there every year with grandchildren for probably 15 more years!
But then…..who knows what position this beautiful place will be in!
I’m not proud to be part of a group that is treating our older generation so poorly. And it needs to change quickly. Yet there really is no interest in change, just profit.
I feel sure Owner unification will help the owners and the corporation find common interests and agreeable solutions that all can live with. Technology can be used to get a lot of owners and their authorized representatives (beneficiaries) together-physically and remotely, and find solutions.
I really hope you are able to help in any way.
Bernard and Karen D
How can any company in good conscience operate in this fashion? Thank you to Carriage Owners who responded to Simon’s original complaint reported August 8 and August 16.
Who would ever buy a timeshare if they understood the perpetual contract had no secondary market, holding heirs who did not agree or sign a contract responsible? At least CVOA is listening, and according to their mission statement, will see the futility in this stay vacationed or else demand.
We seek to provide timeshare members with a way to proactively address membership concerns; to advocate for timeshare reform; to obtain greater disclosure from the company; to advocate for a viable secondary market, and to educate prospective buyers.
Thank you Irene and thank you to all who have contacted Inside Timeshare with their “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” stories. We will continue to highlight these and hopefully the industry will eventually take notice and change the way they work, Inside Timeshare knows this is a long shot, but remember that coming together makes everyone stronger.
Welcome to another edition of The Tuesday Slot, this week we welcome back Shielah Brust with her article on Unfair and Deceptive Sales Practices. It is in response to the industry’s claim that timeshare members are being subjected to “Deceptive Timeshare Exit Practices”, yet we at Inside Timeshare receive many complaints on this subject by the industry’s very own sales agents. If Michael Flaskey wants these exit companies to be regulated then the industry should also take a very close look at itself. We do agree that there are some unscrupulous “Exit” companies, but at the end who is actually to blame for their creation in the first place?
To: Michael Flaskey, Diamond Resorts CEO
The Unfair in Unfair and Deceptive Sales Practices
Timeshare Exit Companies have little to fear if they are to be regulated like Florida timeshare
“The long term strategy is, if there are (exit) companies out there that really are legitimate, which we haven’t seen yet,” Flaskey said, “then they need to be regulated the same way our (timeshare) industry is regulated.”
Testimony from the Florida Legislative Workshop March 2019
Victoria Butler, from the Florida Attorney General’s Department of Consumer Protection, reported a figure of 1,500 to 1,600 timeshare complaints in recent years, with about 50% involving senior citizens. She said the majority of complaints were in regard to the initial sales presentation. Ms. Butler stated that the Florida timeshare division, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR), engaged only 42 complaints, the majority concerning resale.
By Shielah Brust
Tuesday, July 30, 2019
I am writing in response to the article linked above written by Chabeli Herrerra of the Orlando Sentinel. In the article, Mr. Flaskey expresses his concern over timeshare members experiencing deceptive timeshare exit sale practices. Based on Diamond Resortscomplaints reported by many members of our self-advocacy group, and dismissals received from DBPR, there is little to no timeshare regulation in Florida. DBPR backs up Diamond’s“You signed a contract” defence with “Verbal representations are hard to prove.”
While many Diamond members have had disputes resolved, the process requires endless rebuttals and often regulatory and law enforcement filings. In addition, we have sent more than 200 complaints to the timeshare lobby ARDAand ARDA ROC. Mr. Flaskey sits on ARDA’s Board of Directors.
To take the “un” out of “unfair” timeshare buyers should be allowed to record the sales session. I am one of 101 Diamond Platinum members who have reported unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices. In our case, we even have our “pencil pitch” that proves we were pitched a nonexistent maintenance fee relief program. One need not read any further than $8631 – $8631 = no maintenance fees. My DBPR investigator, when she first saw my proof, said, “I can’t believe they let you walk out with that paperwork!” Our 2017 “pencil pitch”:
Three complaints and one lawsuit have been filed against Brad L, a sales agent at Daytona Beach Regency. Only the most recent of the four complaints resolved. A VIP at Diamond corporate told us in 2018 that they agreed Brad L’s explanation was confusing. As a result, they said they changed the way agents present the program. However, a year later, in 2019, the fourth complaining member produced a “pencil pitch” identical to ours. Only the numbers vary.
In 2017, Brad L told us to “wait a few months before turning in points to pay maintenance fees because the website (member page) was being rebuilt so that the member would be able to view a split-screen showing promised double points.” Two years later, in 2019, Brad told complainant #4 to wait a few months before checking because the website was being rebuilt.
Also unfair is the recording of the QA closing session. The recording is routinely used against the member. Complaints are dismissed because the buyer did not ask questions in regard to what they were promised.
Members often report how they were coached on how to “pass” QA. The member believed the sales agent so did not ask questions. A member can only access the recording by subpoena, meaning the member must retain a lawyer in order to view it.
This recording of the QA session was sold to the Arizona Attorney General as “enhanced training” after the Arizona Attorney General issued an Assurance of Discontinuance. Their office received hundreds of complaints during 2016 and 2017. From the AOD:
“Diamond shall enhance its programs, policies and training and continue to instruct and train its Vacation Counselors and Sales Managers to comply with the ACFA (Arizona Consumer Fraud Act). Diamond shall advise all Vacation Counselors and Sales Managers that they may not:
Sales agents should not deviate from sales material
Sales agents should not make oral representations at the point of sale inconsistent with the Purchase document.
Since 1994, we have spent over $200,000 on Diamond points, not including maintenance fees. We have been fighting Diamond for over 18 months. Of the 101 Platinum member complaints, approximately half are about members purchasing additional points based on overstated maintenance fee relief programs and the rest the ability to sell points. Diamond points are worthless on resale, and the only program to be relieved of maintenance fees would relieve only $2,000 towards an $8600 maintenance fee, and the member is charged $100 to do so.
Mr. Flaskey, consider believing your highest loyalty customers over sales agents that have had multiple complaints filed against them.
Allow buyers to record the sales session. Why would you not allow this?
Florida needs to become a one-party state so the buyer can legally record an in-person presentation if Diamond will not allow the sales session recorded.
Allow a 24 hour “cooling off” period so buyers can breathe before signing a perpetual contract, easily sold by deceit, accompanied by annual maintenance fees, and no secondary market.
Diamond’s lawyers twisted our written proof to mean what they wanted it to mean and twisted our words to mean what they wanted our words to mean. After Diamond allowed Brad L to answer the complaint his way, DBPR closed my case.
A letter of denial from Julia Russell, Consumer Legal Affairs Paralegal, and Russell Burke, Diamond in-house counsel, corporate headquarters, stated it was their understanding I refused to meet with the DBPR in person. I sent them the email requesting a meeting. I informed DBPR I would be in Orlando on May 16, 2019, and would bring boxes of emails, texts and other information.
I offered to meet with the DBPR reviewers. I told them I would be in Orlando. When I went to their office on May 16, 2019, their door was locked and a security sign was posted on the door.
Hard-working people who had been loyal Diamond members for years now devote a considerable amount of time reaching out to lawmakers, the media, and regulators asking the government to take a hard look at the way timeshare companies are destroying many families financially, mentally, and even physically. I will continue to fight to help others and file complaints with governmental and law enforcement agencies. Here’ how to file with the FTC and the FBI:
We advise members to send complaints to ARDA President Jason Gamel, also Sr. Legal VP for Wyndham, ARDA ROC, Apollo Global Management, Diamond Resorts CEO Michael Flaskey, Ashley Moody, Florida Attorney General, and Barclay’s Bank, if a credit card was involved.
Florida’s Department of Business Practice and Regulation (DBPR) response to our complaint after I asked why the Arizona Attorney General launched an investigation based on a volume and pattern of complaints:
As you are aware, alleged verbal misrepresentations are very difficult to prove in light of the written documents and disclosures. In terms of evidence, we rely on these documents to prove or disprove the allegations. The actions taken by other state agencies are not evidence of the alleged misrepresentations related to the sales transactions conducted in Florida. Based on our review, it did not appear that the information provided to you by the sales agents were false and misleading. Lack of clarity could be an issue but that in itself cannot be considered a violation. We are not sure if the sales agent had voluntarily provided the hand-written notes or you had kept them on your own. If there are discrepancies between the notes and what was actually received in terms of points, we will address that issue.
Brad said we paid $8,631 in maintenance fees for 50,000 points in 2017. Following Brad’s logic, we could eliminate $8,000 of the increased $11,252 maintenance fee (due to the purchase of 15,000 additional points), by taking advantage of this new program. From Brad’s notes:
65,000 own $8,631 current maintenance fees before 15,000
65,000 given2,621 maintenance fees on the new 15,000
130,000 points $11,252 Total maintenance fees with new 15,000
50,000 if used8,000 Less reimbursement check
80,000 left $3,252 Maintenance fees still owed
x $.10 reimbursed
EXCEPT THERE WAS NO 65,000 POINTS GIVEN!
Diamond’s Clarity™ promise launched after Mark Brnovich, Arizona Attorney General, issued an Assurance of Discontinuance:
The CLARITY Promise:
With this clear, concise and consistent information, consumers can easily determine whether the Diamond Resorts hospitality experience is the right decision for them and their families.
On April 5, 2018, we received a call from a DRI Hospitality agent. They found no wrongdoing. This is part of what she said to us.
I definitely agree that your confusion of that process is warranted. I have spoken to our legal team and sales team and we agree the double point explanation is definitely something that could have been misconstrued or seen as confusing by members or purchasers.
We have made changes to the way that information is given at the time of sale but we have to say the stance we take on this is: because there may have been some confusion on how you may use those points to create savings for yourself doesn’t make the explanation illegal.
According to the Federal Trade Commission Section 5
An act or practice is deceptive where
a representation, omission, or practise misleads or is likely to mislead the consumer;
a consumer’s interpretation of the representation, omission, or practice is considered reasonable under the circumstances; and
the misleading representation, omission, or practise is material.
I hope Ms. Herrerra will write a story for the people’s side.
Sincerely, Sheilah Brust, a Diamond Platinum member in foreclosure
Pictured from left: Anna and Diamond Platinum members Cindy, Patty and Sheilah
We seek to provide timeshare members with a way to proactively address membership concerns; to advocate for timeshare reform; to obtain greater disclosure from the company; to advocate for a viable secondary market, and to educate prospective buyers.
Thank you Shielah for a very interesting article and for taking the time to write it, you have certainly made some very interesting points. Inside Timeshare will continue to publish the concerns of these practices by the timeshare industry as well as exit and resale companies who use these same techniques.
Tomorrow Inside Timeshare will be publishing more on the Anfi story regarding the intervention of the Provincial Prosecutors Office, we will be publishing a news item aired by TVE 1 News which is Spanish National Television. It includes an interview with the Canarian Legal Alliance Lawyer Eva Gutiérrez.
Welcome to The Tuesday Slot, this week Irene Parker asks the question Wait! What Timeshare Regulations? But first, we have an update on the last 2 weeks of court cases in Spain, these figures came in late Friday afternoon, just a little too late to include in Friday’s Letter from America.
In total, Canarian Legal Alliance has received 38 sentences by various courts in Spain, these have been against 3 of the major players in European timeshare and are broken down as follows.
2 Court of First Instance against Silverpoint in Tenerife
1 Court of First Instance against Club La Costa in Fuengirola, Malaga
In one of the High Court sentences against Anfi, they were also ordered to repay the client the in-house finance including interest, this may just be good news for others who purchased their timeshare using in-house finance. It certainly sets a precedent.
The total amount which will be returned to the clients is an incredible 1,310,533.00 €, plus in most of the cases the return of legal fees and legal interest. All contracts were also declared null and void leaving them all timeshare free.
At least in Spain, there are regulations that protect consumers, so now on with our Tuesday article with Irene.
I enjoyed reading Are Timeshares Worth the Money in the Long Run?published by Women Who Money. I agree with the author’s major points, except “regulations being in place to protect timeshare consumers.” Having heard from timeshare members about how easy it is for a timeshare sales agent to dodge a contract rescission period, I wonder if there is any foolproof way to prevent being scammed. Some things, like actual availability, cannot be discerned by reading the contract. My contract said, “You can sell your points. We will not assist you.” The part about no buyers was left out. I was duped by reading the contract.
House, Senate and Assembly Bills are flying across the country. The timeshare PAC ARDA ROC was successful in extracting consumer protection measures out of Arizona HB 2639, as reported by The Courier Daily.
“They’ve got a lobbying presence here and around the country,” added Amanda Rusing who lobbies for the office, “It was very disappointing to have to remove all of the stronger, pro-consumer provisions.”
Timeshare members “voluntarily” contribute approximately $5 million annually to ARDA ROC via maintenance fee invoices. ROC stands for Resort Owners Coalition. Why would any organization oppose offering a buyer 24 hours before signing a perpetual contract with no secondary market? Buyers are told that they have to buy the same day.
We are asking legislation be proposed that would allow the timeshare member 24 hours to review a contract before signing. We understand a member may not want 24 hours to review, so this offer could be waived. This offer should not be buried in the tap, tap, tap, electronic fine print. Members often report being held under duress for up to eight hours by a tag team of agents. Some sales centers take your driver’s license and credit card and won’t give them back.
ARDA ROC introduced legislation in Nevada and Florida that would require those contracting with timeshare exit service providers be given 24 hours to review a timeshare exit service provider contract. This was proposed because they care about their members experiencing deceptive sales practices? Give me a break.
We would think it silly if a bill was proposed requiring those who seek to buy a car be allowed 24 hours before signing a contract. Typically when buying a car, you shop, and a tag team of agents doesn’t gang up on you for hours.
A synopsis of recent Florida, Arizona and Nevada legislation:
Timeshares are regulated by states. Since timeshare buyers typically buy a timeshare in a state other than their state of residence, lawmakers have little incentive to react to non-constituents. Lawmakers need to listen to those who bought a timeshare in their state, not just those who reside in their state.
I found the Woman Who Money article, “Are Timeshares Worth the Money in the Long Run?” on Lisa Ann Schreier’s Timeshare Crusader blog. Having worked in the industry for years, Lisa’s knowledge brings a lot to the table. Lisa is the author of Timeshare Vacations for Dummies.
From Women Who Money
Regulations now exist to help protect consumers from high-pressure sales tactics. If you buy a timeshare and quickly regret it, you may have options for getting out of the signed contract.
Timeshare expert and author of Timeshare Vacations for Dummies
“While it is true that each state has a legally mandated rescission period, the fact of the matter is that 99% of purchasers will not read the contract within that time frame. The days of relying on the salesperson for good, solid information are over. Consumers must go into these timeshare sales pitches armed with a litany of questions and be prepared to walk out without purchasing anything if they don’t receive answers that can be pointed out within the contract.”
My husband and I used and enjoyed our timeshare for 25 years with no complaints, questions or Facebook posts. The points-based product does offer greater flexibility. We’re not saying timeshares aren’t good for many, and we know there are many honest sales agents, but I am convinced after hearing from over 800 timeshare members, current and former sales agents, managers and even an executive or two, “pitching heat” is on the upswing.
Timeshare buyers should record their timeshare sales sessions in one-party states where legal. Florida is a two-party state, so you cannot legally record without the other person aware. How is a victim supposed to obtain proof? All our readers’ Florida and Nevada timeshare complaints sent to the Nevada Real Estate Division and Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation were dismissed with “You have no proof.” I would recommend not buying a timeshare in a two-party state.
One of our Supporters, Sheila Brust, has her “Pencil Pitch” denoting the following figures, with an arrow and “save” written alongside:
According to Sheilah, the three-page pencil pitch describes how she would be able to cover all her maintenance fees through point usage. A second and third buyer bought from the same sales agent. The Florida DBPR reviewer told Sheilah that she did not understand the program either until she spoke with the company’s attorney. What chance does the average consumer have if a Florida timeshare reviewer, who has reviewed hundreds, if not thousands of timeshare contracts, did not understand the program until she spoke with the company’s attorney?
As far as proof, 83 Platinum members, who don’t know each other, reported similar to identical complaints, often against repeat offender sales agents. I’m told that constitutes proof as it is a good faith investigation and a reasonable conclusion. We have prepared a 130-page summary which is available upon request if a lawmaker or regulator is interested. We can hope.
We are working on a petition. If you would like to become more involved with our efforts, contact Inside Timeshare. Of the 805 timeshare members who have contacted us, 103 are veterans and active duty services members.
We seek to provide timeshare members with a way to proactively address membership concerns; to advocate for timeshare reform; to obtain greater disclosure from the company; to advocate for a viable secondary market and to educate prospective buyers.
Thank you, Irene, and also Lisa Ann Schreier for your contribution, if you have any comments or views on any article published, please use our contact page, we would love to hear from you.
If you have been contacted by any company with regards to resale, relinquishment or a claim and you are unsure if they are genuine, again use our contact page and let us know. We will point you in the right direction. Remember, doing your homework will save you in the end from losing your money.
Welcome to this weeks Letter from America, today Irene Parker sets out instructions on how to file complaints with the FBI and the FTC (Federal Trade Commission). Unfortunately, many of the requests for help Inside Timeshare receives fall into the category of fraud, yet the industry still does not recognise that they need to change.
Before we start a bit of news from the Spanish Courts.
The lawyers from Canarian Legal Alliance have been at it again this week with a resounding 25 sentences issued against timeshare companies.
These have been broken down as 3 issued from the High Court and 22 from the Court of First Instance. With Anfi receiving 24 judgements against them and Club La Costa receiving 1. The Club la Costa case was heard at the court of First Instance in Fuengirola, Malaga and is the very first case to involve one of CLA’s Spanish clients. (Click on the PDF below for the court sentence).
The other cases were clients from the UK and Scandinavia, with most receiving double the deposits paid and the return of legal fees, all contract were also declared null and void.
The total amount awarded in all these cases is a staggering 828,329€. So congratulations to the clients and also the entire legal team at Canarian Legal Alliance.
Now for our Letter from America.
Timeshare Accountability Group™
FBI and FTC Filing Instructions and Talking Points
April 26, 2019
By Irene Parker
When timeshare members feel they have experienced unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices, the member should first reach out to their resort in an attempt to resolve the dispute. If informed, “You signed a contract” or “We are not responsible for what our sales agents say,” file a Better Business Bureaucomplaint and file a complaint with the Attorney General from the state where you signed a contract.
Unfortunately, some timeshare complaints meet the FBI definition of white-collar crime. If the complaint is of a nature that meets the following description, file with the FBI at IC3.gov or file orally by contacting an FBI field office.
# 1 IC3.gov
Timeshare fraud falls under White Collar Crime/Mortgage Fraud/Financial Institution Fraud/Fraud for Profit. click on the link below to read about mortgage fraud. The general definition of white-collar crime is “deceit, concealment, violation of trust, and bait and switch.”
Fraud for profit: Those who commit this type of mortgage fraud are often industry insiders using their specialized knowledge or authority to commit or facilitate the fraud. Current investigations and widespread reporting indicate a high percentage of mortgage fraud involves collusion by industry insiders, such as bank officers, appraisers, mortgage brokers, attorneys, loan originators, and other professionals engaged in the industry.
Fraud for profit aims not to secure housing, but rather to misuse the mortgage lending process to steal cash and equity from lenders or homeowners.
To file a complaint with the FBI, select IC3.gov from the three choices available. It’s confusing because IC stands for Internet Crime, but it doesn’t have to be about internet crime. That’s just the name of the portal. You can file a complaint on behalf of someone else. At the end of the form it will ask if you are filing on someone else’s behalf.
Some of the information that the IC3.gov online form asks for is not necessary – fields like routing numbers, bank addresses. Don’t worry about having all that information. They are not required fields. Victim bank is the bank from where you made payments or the credit card company. Subject bank is where you send your payments.
If you receive additional information after filing an original complaint, there is a handy box to check that asks, “Is this an update to a prior report?” Start the complaint over, but check that box to add the new information.
Step #2 File an oral FBI report 24/7
You can also file orally by contacting an FBI field office. Contact the field office where you signed a contract. Members have reported some agents have spent one or two hours on the phone with them. One member met with her FBI agent!
When you call the field office, select “Submit a Tip” then wait for the white-collar crime prompt. One person ended up in the wrong pew of the right church told they had to have lost a million dollars or more to file a complaint. That’s not true.
Members report the FBI has been responsive, but the FBI agent needs to be convinced getting a lawyer will do nothing to stop the problem of timeshare fraud for profit. Timeshare companies have armies of lawyers and they can drag a proceeding on forever until the member is broke. It is an understatement to say timeshare attorneys don’t look favourably on the arbitration process.
Whether filing at IC3.gov or orally, you can provide the name and phone number of other victims, especially if you are aware of similar complaints. That way the FBI can look up other reports directed against the same repeat offender sales agent.
Sheila Brust’s article, “Just the Facts, Ma’am” is about her experience reaching out to the FBI. Sheilah worked for New York Governor’s Office of Employee Relations. The FBI advised Sheila to file with the Secret Service because her allegation also involved credit card fraud.
Don’t expect to hear back from the FBI. They don’t work like that. That doesn’t mean they are not listening. It takes volumes of complaints and a pattern of complaints to launch any investigation, whether with the FBI or with an Attorney General.
Filing your own complaint requires dedication and perseverance. Resolutions can be accomplished, empowered with information the member needs to take matters into their own hands. Thinking beyond their own dilemma, members can become one of our volunteer Supporters to help others.
Our Complaint Instructions were revised by a millennial timeshare buyer who followed our complaint instructions to resolve her dispute.
How to File a Complaint revised January 25, 2019
Timeshare member complaints tend to start out convoluted and confusing. We suggest having a friend or neighbor, not familiar with timeshare, read your complaint to see if it makes sense. Provide examples. Expect to be denied. Read the reason for dismissal and respond with a rebuttal.
Saying things like “I can’t afford this” is useless. You can’t go to your home mortgage lender and say “I can’t afford my home mortgage” and expect them to take your house back. You signed a legally binding contract. If there was no deception, you are bound by the contract, although it’s possible to request a contract cancellation due to medical or financial hardship.
We refer to a lawyer about one in ten times when all else fails, or the member does not have the time or energy to follow our process, which is admittedly timeshare consuming. A list of reputable law firms is provided upon request.
You must inform the FBI agent why you experienced unfair and deceptive sales practices. The agent you speak with may know nothing about timeshare basics. Explain the contract is perpetual, there is no secondary market, and when members complain, the company often hides behind the oral representation clause.
Your mission is to convince the FBI that this is not about only a few complaints. This article “Timeshare Foreclosure Explained to Lenders” lists just a few of the Attorneys General investigations and lawsuits, and the St. Louis Better Business Bureau reporttells consumers what to watch out for:
When a member complains, they are shown their initials on the fine print,
Retaining an attorney will not stop unfair and deceptive business practices,
Litigation is time-consuming and expensive,
Arbitration is widely known to be pro-industry. If you lose you can end up paying the resort’s arbitration fees. The resort hires the arbitrators.
The CFPB has been rendered ineffective. Even in the CFPB heyday members could not file a complaint because the borrower often doesn’t even know the name of their lender. You had to select a financial institution from the dropdown menu and timeshare companies are not a choice.
Some state AGs turn a blind eye. At a Florida legislative workshop in Tallahassee March 12 of this year, the spokesperson for the Florida AG reported their office received 1,600 annual timeshare complaints in 2017 and 2018, mostly about the initial sales presentation, 50% seniors, of which the AG engaged only 42 of the complaints, mostly about resales. This spells no enforcement. The Nevada Real Estate Division responded to all our readers with a “You have no proof letter.”
Timeshare members give the ARDA ROC Political Action Committee approximately $5 million dollars annually, often “Opt-Out” donations. We have heard from over 800 timeshare members. Not one could tell us what ARDA ROC even stands for. ARDA ROC vigorously opposed recent proposed pro-consumer changes in Arizona.
Let us know if you are active duty military, law enforcement, a government worker or a veteran, as we are supported by WhistleBlowers of America. They added timeshare fraud to their March 14, 2018 report before the Committees on Veterans’ Affairs (the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has since been all but dismantled and we changed our name from TS Advocacy to Timeshare Accountability Group):
601 Pennsylvania Ave, South Tower, Suite 900 Washington, DC 20004
Ms. Jacqueline Garrick, LCSW-C
Whistleblowers of America
Committees on Veterans’ Affairs
U.S. House of Representatives
March 14, 2018
House and Senate Committee Members:
Whistleblowers of America (WoA) was incorporated in 2017, as a newly focused nonprofit service organization providing peer support to whistleblowers, so we are honored to be able to share our concerns with you today. The majority of our contacts are with Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) employees or veterans who have identified waste, fraud, and abuse, medical errors, denials of care or benefits, discrimination, harassment or bullying. For doing so, they have suffered reprisal and retaliation. From the report:
Fraud and Scams Against Veterans:
Although WoA recognizes that it is not inherent within the VA mission to protect veterans from fraud and scams that could cost them their benefits, it suggests that it could be assistive in educating veterans against these unscrupulous tactics. For example, WoA has had multiple complaints from veterans related to timeshare deceit and bait and switch tactics, which are defined by the FBI as fraud for profit. Often elderly veterans are mentioned as being targeted by the Timeshare Advocacy Group, TM which fights for active duty and retired military who fear losing their security clearance, career, homes or other assets. Foreclosures and financial distress because of these misrepresented investments are happening every day to elderly disabled veterans and their families. In the past, VA has cooperated with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) over mortgage and other loan scams that caused financial hardships for veterans. Home loans and timeshare loans are identical as both are reported as foreclosures. WoA asks that Congress consider a role for the VBA Employment and Economic Initiative (EEI) could play in cooperation with CFPB to educate and protect veterans from unscrupulous financial predators and fraudulent practices.
Consider a donation to Whistleblowers of America if you have been helped by Timeshare Accountability Group™
It’s remarkable that a timeshare member must go through this many stressful hoops concerning a product that was sold to be stress reducing. If you have skills that could help others, consider becoming a Supporter. Contact TAG.
3Rs or F of Timeshare
The Timeshare Tax Trap, February 26, 2019
Arizona HB 2639, March 1, 2019
Arizona HB 2639, March 5, 2019
Florida HB 435, March 15, 2019
Florida HB 435, March 19, 2019
Nevada SB, March 22, 2019
Arbitration October 24 2017
Member self-help groups
We seek to provide timeshare members a way to proactively address membership concerns; to advocate for timeshare reform; to obtain greater disclosure from the company; to advocate for a viable secondary market; and to educate prospective buyers.
Thank you Irene, this information should prove a great help to many of our readers, it is just a shame that we have to resort to this type of action. One day the industry may just realise that it is through their own greed that they are on the receiving end of so many complaints.
Once again the weekend is upon us, whatever you are doing and wherever you are, have a great weekend and join us next week for news and information on the murky world of timeshare.
Welcome to this week’s Letter from America, todayIrene Parker gives her account on the workshop she attended at the Florida House of Representatives, regarding the Florida House Bill 435. As Sunday is St Patrick’s Day for all of our Irish friends, we couldn’t resist using the definition of Blarney in the opening graphic. After watching the recording of the Workshop, it seemed apt to use it, once you watch it for yourselves, you will understand why.
Before we go to Irene’s report some very brief news on the legal front in Spain.
In Tenerife, Silverpoint have been subject to a “cash” embargo, this is a result of a case brought by Canarian Legal Alliance for an execution of sentence on a recent case. Their senior lawyer Eva Gutierrez brought the order to the court to force Silverpoint to lodge the awarded amount with the court. This was done to ensure swift payment of the funds to the client, who will now receive 27,047.11€ plus legal fees and all legal interest.
CLA are now using this enforcement action as soon as the sentence is issued by the court. This stops any delaying tactics by the timeshare companies in making payment. It seems to be working very well.
It has also been published that the Fiscal Prosecutor in Gran Canaria, is looking into the accounts of Anfi Resorts and Anfi Sales, for the possible illegal movement of money to various accounts in order to delay the payment of funds to clients who have won cases against them.
For the Fiscal Prosecutor to be involved in this, shows that it is a serious matter, the full story can be read at the link below. Although it is in Spanish, use google and use the translate page feature.
Business and Profession Workshop held in Tallahassee March 12
Florida House Bill 435
Does it restrict the rights of citizens to retain legal counsel?
By Irene Parker
March 15, 2019
Inside Timeshare has received many complaints about timeshare exit companies, in addition to reports from timeshare buyers describing unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices. Critics of Florida HB 435 feel if passed this bill would restrict the ability of timeshare buyers to seek legal counsel.
Due to disclosures, we will not publish the link to the recording of the Florida HB 435 workshop held March 12, but the recording can be easily found at https://thefloridachannel.org/. Search the workshop by entering 3/12/19 Business and Professions Committee. The first 1 ½ hours is about beer and spirits distribution. The timeshare workshop can be found by fast-forwarding to the session’s last hour.
A panel composed of exit company attorneys and industry attorneys answered questions from Florida state representatives, who clearly seemed on top of the issues. Panel members included:
Jason Gamel, Sr. Vice President, Legal at Wyndham Vacation Resorts, Inc.
Shannon Zetrouer, Outside Counsel, Reed Hein and Associates
Tiffany Kimble, Director of Underwriting, First American Title’s Vacation Ownership Services Division
Wayne Halper, Esq., in-house counsel Wesley Financial Group, LLC
K.L. “Ken” McKelvey, CPA, ARDA ROC Chairman
Boyd McAdams, from the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR), shed light on the number of consumer complaints filed in the last few years. Previously, our figures reported 2,360 timeshare complaints filed from April 2012 to April 2014. DBPR only acted on 110 of those complaints.
The approximate figures of timeshare related complaints, as I understood the figures, are:
2016 1200 complaints 600 reported misleading information
2017 1300 complaints 700 misleading information
2018 1300 complaints 700 misleading information
2019 700 complaints 300 misleading information
Victoria Butler, from the Florida Attorney General’s Department of Consumer Protection, reported a figure of 1,500 to 1,600 complaints in recent years, with about 50% involving senior citizens. She said the majority of complaints were in regard to the initial sales presentation.
Ms. Butler stated that the Florida timeshare division engaged only 42 complaints, the majority concerning resale. This fits with our members reporting that all timeshare complaints they submitted, DBPR responded, “Verbal representations are difficult to prove.”
Consumer attorneys matched the strength of industry attorneys. I would like to point out and dispute a few of the comments made by panel members Wyndhamattorney Jason Gamel and ARDA ROC spokesperson Ken McKelvey.
Reid Hein’s legal counsel, Shannon Zetrouer, described how a buyer, typically held for hours in a high pressure timeshare sales presentation, signs a perpetual contract, often reporting that they were given misleading information.
Ms. Zetrouer argued that Florida HB 435 would infringe on a consumer’s right to seek other legal services, such as bankruptcy, foreclosure, or estate planning advice. She feels the bill, as currently worded, is overreaching in that it would affect timeshare buyers across the nation if they purchased in Florida. “I specifically have concerns about House Bill 435. First, I think it will actually have a negative impact on consumers…It seems to infringe on the right of contracts and the right of companies to contract with consumers for relief that they [the consumers] are clearly seeking. Otherwise this industry wouldn’t exist,” said Zetrouer. “Simply put, if going to developers was an option for these consumers, then there would be no third party industry,” she added.
Mr. Gamel spoke of the 2012 Transfer Act that addressed disclosure, rescission, escrow and prohibited acts.
Ms. Kimball addressed the problems associated with fraudulent transfers.
Wayne Halper, Esq. described the criteria required to become a client of Wesley Financial Group, LLC. Wesley Financial receives 3,000 to 3,500 calls per week from timeshare buyers seeking relief from timeshare contracts. Of those initial contracts, only 150 to 200 per week are accepted as clients, because they must meet the criteria for fraud. Similar to the complaints Inside Timeshare receives, 100% of Wesley clients report being told the timeshare is an investment and will increase in value and 91% report the ability to rent will offset maintenance fees and provide an income stream in retirement.
Mr. Halper echoed Ms. Zetrouer’s comments, in that 99% of timeshares sold in America have a presence in Florida, and the bill as written would eliminate the right of timeshare members to seek the services of those offering exit services. Later in the discussion, Mr. Halper pointed out that being released from a timeshare contract can take up to three years. He felt it would be unfair to expect a provider not be allowed to charge for services performed until after proof of exit has been provided, proof not always provided.
ARDA ROC Chairman K. L. McKelvey said ARDA ROC represents 1.8 million Timeshare Owners. I have asked 742 families who have reached out to me, feeling they experienced unfair and deceptive sales practices, if they even knew what ARDA ROC stands for. Not one member could answer, yet collectively timeshare members give ARDA ROC approximately $5 million a year, often “opt-out” contributions.
Mr. McKelvey described ARDA’sResponsible Exit Industry Coalition. For my timeshare, this is nothing more than media spin. I surveyed all 64 members of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association. Of the 64 members, 22 members responded, saying they would not accept a listing for my timeshare company, feeling restrictions the company places on points purchased on the secondary market excessive.
In response to a question asked by Representative Randy Fine (R), asking the percentage of Wyndham’s marketing costs; Mr. Gamel thought 30 to 40%.
Let’s compare this scenario to the primary housing market. The timeshare buyer sits across from a real estate agent in most states. There is an understandable assumption a buyer would think they have the same rights as a primary housing market buyer.
What would happen to the primary housing market if:
The Buyer paid 30 to 40% upfront in commissions,
The Buyer is demanded to buy the house the same day,
The Buyer learns licensed brokers won’t accept a listing to sell their home should they need to sell.
Committee member Representative Michael Gottlieb asked about “Adhesion” – meaning a timeshare contract cannot be changed, so why should someone need to talk to a lawyer before signing a contract, because you can’t change the contract anyway. The reason is because buyers are exhausted after an hours long high pressure sales session, signing a perpetual contract without being allowed adequate time to review copious and complicated documents. Not only attorneys, buyers are discouraged from seeking advice from a mom, dad, son or daughter. Sales agents are trained on how to defer this request, according to numerous current and former sales agents. Not being allowed 24 hours to think about a perpetual purchase, spending anywhere from $20,000 to $150,000 highlights the unfair in unfair and deceptive practices.
There have been many Attorneys General investigations and lawsuits concerning unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices. Former Wyndham sales agent and whistleblower Trish Williams was awarded $20 million after reporting deceptive sales practices, and a recent Florida whistleblower lawsuit was filed November 2018 on behalf of ten former Wyndham sales agents and employees, working at Wyndham’s Florida Clearwater Beach Resort. Buyers need to beware of potential deceptive timeshare sales practices.
Buyers sign perpetual timeshare contracts accompanied by rising maintenance fees. Often existing members are sold additional points, promised maintenance fee relief programs that do not exist. The lack of a viable secondary market exacerbates the problem. Wyndham lists a viable secondary market as a risk to their stock market investors in their 10k reports.
Clearly, as Committee Chairwoman Heather Fitzenhagen stated, timeshare is a thorny issue. Let’s hope actual member voices can be heard in future sessions.
On Tuesday, our reader data can easily address concerns expressed by Mr. McKelvey and Mr. Gamel:
We seek to provide timeshare members a way to proactively address membership concerns; to advocate for timeshare reform; to obtain greater disclosure from the company; to advocate for a viable secondary market; and to educate prospective buyers.
Contact Inside Timeshare to let your voice be heard.
Inside Timeshare did have trouble locating the recording mentioned in paragraph two of Irene’s report, so Inside timeshare has provided a direct link to it in order to assist readers, the relevant part starts at approx 1:45:50
Welcome to another Tuesday Slot, this week we publish Part 2 of Manifesto, by another Industry Insider, with the introduction by Inside Timeshares very own Irene Parker.
At the end of last week we received some news from the courts in Gran Canaria, first was the news that the Enforcement / Embargo Team of Canarian Legal Alliance had once again secured a payout for one of their clients. Anfi Del Mar were ordered to deposit with the courts the sum of 49,226.57€ which is a few thousand more than they originally paid. They also received back their legal fees and legal interest along with the contract being declared null and void.
Then it was announced that the Courts of San Bartelomé de Tirajana had declared another 8 Anfi contracts null and void, with a total claim amount of over 400,000€. So some very happy clients indeed.
Now on with our Tuesday Slot.
Another Industry Insider Responds to Manifesto
Manifesto Part I:
Manifesto Part II upcoming: Ourauthor hopes to, “draw public comment for a new Business Proposal to remedy and resolve the issues.”
Introduction by Irene Parker
February 19, 2019
As we learned in Manifesto Part I, considerable effort went into restricting the secondary market. One developer will not allow participation in the company’s voluntary deed-back program if the timeshare points were purchased on the secondary market. The goal is to get and keep the timeshare points in house employing any means possible.
As documented in Manifesto Part I, publicly traded timeshare companies list a viable secondary market as a risk to (their) investors. As baby boomers especially are learning about this timeshare hostage scenario, some families are financially devastated. They are left with no choice but to foreclose. Of the 702families that have reached out to us, 98 are active duty service members or veterans, several disabled. The vast majority have high credit scores. Having to withstand the intimidation and humiliation of foreclosure can be overwhelming, especially for seniors having spent a lifetime paying bills on time.
A Second Insider responds to Manifesto in today’s article. Insider analysis allows timeshare members and owners a glimpse into what goes on behind Wall Street’s timeshare scenes. Wall Street has made light of the well-orchestrated restricted secondary market. It’s just a loan loss provision number. I wish they could spend a day on the front lines listening to family after family explain how they were driven into timeshare insolvency, alleging unfair and deceptive sales practices, a few even to the point of bankruptcy. Most complain they bought additional points promised maintenance fee relief or the ability to sell points that was not forthcoming.
Following are comments from Industry Insider #2 to Manifesto, with responses from Industry Insider #1 (our Manifesto author) interspersed:
Commenter: I appreciate the well-formed Manifesto published last Tuesday, but would like to add some key points. A very important group of companies and individuals played a significant role in helping the timeshare ownership industry evolve/shift into the (points based) industry. The distinction being; now there are very few owners with “real property rights” as the majority of people own a beneficial interest in a club in the form of “crypto-currency” or points.
Anonymous responds; In Wall Street parlance; the Timeshare industry monetized utilizing a derivative – a very smart move. The term “luft” comes to mind. Luft is the German word for “air”. We’ve termed this derivative an RTU or “Termed Length” – Right to Use contract. Right to use timeshare contracts are the most popular forms of vacation ownership sold today. However, right to use (RTU) timeshare, and their agreements, operate differently from traditional deed ownership. Right to use timeshare is exactly as it sounds—you purchase the right to use the timeshare during the period on which you agreed. Unlike deeded timeshare contracts, you do not actually own any part of the property. Instead of a deed or title, you are bound to the timeshare by the terms of your contract. Right to Use contracts often takes the form of a club membership.
The right to use may be lost with the demise of the controlling company, because a right to use purchaser’s contract is usually only good with the current owner, and if that owner sells the property, the contract holder could be out of luck depending on the structure of the contract, and/or current laws in foreign venues. A more important question is; how many points can a (resort) issue to new buyers as 100% of the points are “derived” from the (resorts) land trust ownership of the original deeds? Secondary purchasers of RTU/Points have reported that many (resorts) strip owners’ privileges, access, exchanges and other perks of ownership to discourage and deter secondary market purchases.
This question begins to examine why Club /RTU owners often find that they cannot successfully book accommodations or exchanges unless they plan far in advance (24 months + prior). Because the points/RTU contracts are basically selling ‘air’, the resorts sell many multiples of Points /RTU’s than could ever be accommodated at any given time. As we can see, this Club /Points/ RTU method allows the (Resorts) to sell an infinite number of points when compared to the prior physical simple-deeds.
Commenter: The industry, which upgrades up to 70% of its existing owner base, misleads owners into trading in their deeded intervals for some expansion use of a multi-site developer under the guise of convenience. This opportunity was something that was already afforded to them by the exchange companies.
Anonymous responds; Indeed, the industry quickly saw the future in selling air and swapped out owner’s valuable real estate property deeds for RTU contracts.
Commenter: The industry, already renting some 11M nights and adding 2+Billion in rental revenues (mostly to non-owners), could only be achieved by taking away the “sticks & bricks” of ownership.
Anonymous responds; Thus, creating extreme amounts of actual real inventory that could be rented out without benefitting RTU /Points Owners. Simultaneously, major resorts banned aggregations or collections of Points that could be used for business ventures; I.e. renting the points out.
Commenter: To accelerate this effort of transition, a modernization of laws needed to be created. This started in 2012 when ARDA drafted a sponsored a bill known as the “Timeshare Resale Accountability Act”. What few knew then was that the secondary market was collapsing right along with the primary market in the “Great Recession” – Timeshare developers began stripping various benefits of owners, selling into the secondary market, and imposed great “use” restrictions on those who acquired timeshares in the secondary market (like on eBay or through another resale channel).
As the economy began to improve and timeshare sales rebounded, a new subset of companies emerged. Those companies were called *Trade-in/Transfer groups and many of them worked on the same tables alongside of the teams of resort reps waiting to help those existing owners getting into an upgraded and competitive timeshare program.
Anonymous comments – These were the earliest aggregators working in contact with the developers who were filling their land trusts with the deeds as owners got part exchanged or traded into upgrading for RTUs.
Commenter: What to do with these competitive intervals? Most of these companies ultimately failed as a result of a suppressive business model that was never shared with owners regarding how this created the nominal value factor which some even call negative value. Examples of companies: (Fireside Registry – Catalyst – SumDay Vacations – ALL ARDA members, assisting to provide inventory recovery/aggregator services for resort developers. Each acquired inventory for literally a penny to five cents a point, or sometimes at no cost.
Further, the writer suggests that attorneys are not effective and cannot make the resorts release their owners. This is simply untrue. There are thousands of owner/members who have successfully used attorneys to negotiate a release or litigate for return of monies paid and further, many multi-plaintiff or class actions in which resorts have paid multiple millions back to owners. These all were settled out of court and protected by settlement agreements that have confidentiality clauses and/or have been sealed by the courts, designed to protect developer secrets and activities of unclean hands, they simply do not want owners to know about.
Anonymous Comments – Attorneys that were early were certainly very effective.
The industry richly deserves its worst courtroom defeats. Many large defeats were on the basis of sales misrepresentation, contract misrepresentation, fraud in the inducement, fraudulent credit card/credit line applications and many other examples too numerous to mention.
Most effective examples are when the attorney/client relationship is limited to one timeshare case. Thousands of people have been willed unwanted timeshares as beneficiaries and literally 100% of these get redeemed with no issues and nominal fees. In 2008/09/10 owners who went bankrupt got redeemed without any issues, their personal credit was already damaged. The resorts could not use the leverage of personal negative credit reporting to force payment so “attorneys of merit” handled all of that work, therefore “yes” attorneys of merit are effective in dealing with unwanted timeshare assets.
Sadly, not all Attorneys are cut from the same cloth. Attorneys working on behalf of TPE’s represent a type of faux-Legal Mill. Rarely do attorneys working with TPE’s ever meet, counsel, or in fact speak to the customers. In fact, attorneys working in conjunction with TPE’s seem to be ineffective, due mostly to the overall felonious strategy.
Commenter: Finally, timeshare developers are finding it harder and harder to conduct business around the world *(UK, Spain, South Africa, Canada, others) except here in the United States where powerful lobbyists have used timeshare owners monies thru voluntary contributions to ARDA-ROC, Orange Lake Resort Alliance and other funds from developers to ensure passage of laws that protect the industry from angry consumers who unfairly have not been told the truth about their lifetime vacation ownership purchases.
Anonymous Comments – These lobbying attempts indubitably and with little doubt demonstrate how the industry desperately clings to its massive residual cash-cow after decades of selling a clearly worthless, illiquid luxury product to giddy, undefended, vacation minded, innocent members of the public.
Thank you to both our Insiders. We would appreciate input from the industry, but to my knowledge have refused to admit the secondary market is a problem and that there are thousands, if not millions who have wanted or want to be rid of their timeshare. There are some developers who have responded when we have sent an article for comment. We appreciate developers who will at least respond after members report being financially harmed by unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices. We hope more dialogue ensues.
Thank you Irene for your introduction and for editing the article, we would also like to thank both our Industry Insiders for their contributions, no doubt we shall receive many more from them.
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If you have a timeshare issue that you would need help with or want to know what you can do, again contact Inside Timeshare, we are here to help and guide you.