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Arizona Attorney General’s “Assurance of Discontinuance”

In today’s article from Irene Parker, we take another look at the Arizona Attorney General’s settlement with Diamond Resorts. It is a simplified version on the 37 page  “Assurance of Discontinuance”, It also goes on to explain who is eligible for thesettlement and gives details on how to claim. It also include the date of the deadline.

This article is a prelude to one that will be published later on “Consumer Protection Week” which is starts on 5 March and ends on 11 March. So watch this space.

An Arizona Attorney General’s “Assurance of Discontinuance”

Is the AOD a Blueprint for the Timeshare Industry?

March 5 – 11 is Consumer Protection Week

By Irene Parker – March 1, 2017

objectives

The following Facebook groups are reaching out to those eligible for Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s $800,000 Settlement with Diamond Resorts. Given the success of the Diamond Resorts Owners Advocate Facebook, assisting Diamond owners who face legitimate concerns, other Advocates have come forward to launch a Timeshare Advocacy Group Facebook available to all timeshare owners.

These groups go beyond helpful posts to actually intervene and assist those unaccustomed to interacting with governmental regulatory agencies and loss mitigation departments. Most are owners struggling under the burden of maintenance fees they can no longer afford.

In 2010, the board of Diamond’s PVC (Premier Vacation Club) amended the Membership Plan to allow an increase to a maximum of inflation plus 25% per year from the original maximum of inflation plus 10% per year.

Diamond’s US Collection has capped Maintenance Fees increases to 25% per year. A15000 point example and history of Maintenance Fee increases provided in the Assurance of Discontinuance:

$1,214 – 2007

$1,348.50 – 2008

$1,686 – 2009

$1,850 – 2010

$1,923.50 – 2011

$2,018.50 – 2012

$2,045.50 – 2013

$2,330 – 2014

$2,404.70 – 2015

Buyers sign a perpetual contract with virtually no secondary market.

Sales are made same day without being allowed sufficient time to comparison shop, as one would if buying a car or house. Certainly the expense and upkeep of a timeshare is equivalent to that of a major purchase.

Owners facing legitimate timeshare issues should consult the following:

Timeshare Advocacy Group

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

A Diamond Resorts Owners Advocacy Facebook was launched for Diamond Members with legitimate concerns so they can seek help without fear of censor.

Diamond Resorts Owners Advocacy Facebook

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

Both Facebook groups provide updates on legal and legislative issues.

arizona-ag-seal

A time sensitive issue concerns Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s issuance of an “Assurance of Discontinuance” due to the complaint filing period which ends the end of April.

Not everyone wishes to wade through a 37 page “Assurance of Discontinuance” (AOD) so we have generalized and summarized the key points. To the best of our knowledge, this Assurance of Discontinuance is the first document of its kind to offer a prospective blueprint for timeshare as a whole. In an effort to promote timeshare reform, we encourage ARDA, lawmakers, and timeshare developers to make this a blueprint for the industry.

The actual Arizona Attorney General press release, link to filing a complaint and link to the Assurance of Discontinuance:

https://www.azag.gov/press-release/attorney-general-brnovich-announces-800000-settlement-diamond-resorts

Who is Eligible for the Arizona Settlement?

A Consumer who files a written complaint against Diamond Resorts with the Arizona Attorney General, another law enforcement agency, the Better Business Bureau, or the Arizona Department of Real Estate after January 1, 2009 that is received by the Attorney General’s Office prior to the Effective Date or during the Filing Period. The Filing Period is expected to end by the end of April.

The provisions of the AOD are limited to Consumers who did business with Diamond at Sales Centers in Arizona and with Arizona-domiciled Consumers who attend Sales Presentation with Diamond outside of Arizona.

Our Blueprint Proposal

Meeting chart

A Quality Assurance Program – Independent from Sales and Marketing

Timeshare sales agents may not deviate from Sales Materials;

Timeshare sales agents may not make oral representation at the point of sale inconsistent with purchase documents:

  • Pertaining to the use of Points to book travel arrangements such as flights, rental cars, or cruises claiming such arrangements are comparatively lower in cost than if the Consumer would spend cash for the same travel arrangements, unless such representations are accurate; 
  • Claim a non-deeded timeshare interest such as Points is a deeded property or may be considered an investment in real property;
  • Claim Points appreciate in value;
  • Claim Points may be used to pay Maintenance Fees or that Maintenance Fees will be reduced by the purchase of additional Points, unless such representations are accurate;
  • Claim Consumers may rent out Points for cash through online or print advertising to the general public unless such representations are true;
  • Claim the company will buy back Consumer’s Memberships unless the company offers a buy-back program;
  • Claim there is a secondary market for the sale of Points, and that such secondary market has a certain level of sales volume, or provides Consumers with the ability to re-sell Points, unless such representations are accurate.
  • Represent to Consumers that the sales agent would assist them with selling their Membership, unless a resale program exists.
  • Claim Consumers will be able to obtain a loan from a private lender to refinance a loan.
  • Claim interest paid on a points based product is tax deductible unless such representations are accurate. Vacation membership products are not considered “qualified home” according to IRS Publication 936.
  • Provide any information that may be construed as tax advice;
  • Represent to Consumers that Sales Presentations typically last 90 to 120 minutes if the norm is several hours.
  • Call a sales presentation an “informational meeting” to learn about changes to a resort if such meeting includes a Sales Presentations for the purpose of upgrading or up selling the consumer.
  • Overstate availability

What happens to the sales counselor when they do not adhere to the above?

How will Consumers know if sales agents violating the above declarations are reprimanded, suspended or terminated?

This can only be accomplished by forming viable and vibrant consumer groups reaching out to other owners. One such Diamond Owner sponsored Facebook was formed by the original owners of Club Intrawest acquired by Diamond, now known as Embarc.

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

How do Diamond owners get released from their timeshare contract?

What is the “Relinquishment Program” and is it different from Transitions?

“Transitions” is Diamond’s relinquishment program publicly announced by Diamond on May 4, 2016. Unlike the AOD “Relinquishment Remedy Program”, Diamond’s Transitions or Relinquishment Program is offered, on a case by case basis, at Diamond’s discretion and does not constitute an obligation under the AOD.

writing thoughts

Preparing a narration for a governmental agency or a timeshare loss mitigation department is difficult for some, especially if English is the Member’s second language. We’re here at Inside Timeshare and all owner groups to listen, educate, disseminate and advocate. Contact us!

Whether you are in Europe or the US, Inside Timeshare and our associates at the various facebook groups, would love to hear from you. It is only with your experiences are we able to inform others that there is help and hope.

Timeshare could be a great product, but we need to let the industry know that it has to change, by putting the members first. We call on the industry to listen and learn from your concerns, work with us to make the change.

 

The Tuesday Slot: Arizona House Bill 2639

Welcome to The Tuesday Slot, this week Irene Parker continues our articles on the Arizona House Bill 2639, with a contribution from Fran D, a Registered Nurse.

ARDA Timeshare Lobbyist Don Isaacson Opposes Arizona House Bill 2639 – A Bill to Safeguard Timeshare Buyers

ARIZONA TIMESHARE BILL PASSES OUT OF HOUSE COMMITTEE

By Irene Parker and registered nurse, Fran D

March 5, 2019

Arizona has proposed a timeshare bill to protect timeshare buyers, but this bill is being contested by timeshare lobbyists. If Arizona HB2639 passes, it would help to protect consumers from fraud and deceptive sales practices by allowing a 14 day rescission period, among other safeguards. Fran, an Arizona resident, hopes that by sharing her timeshare experience that took place in Sedona, Arizona, and Maui, Hawaii, it will help lawmakers understand what buyers face when purchasing a product improperly presented.    

Timeshare members pay $5 million in annual “voluntary” donations to ARDA ROC. ARDA is the American Resort Development Association and ROC is Resort Owners’ Coalition. Out of 717 timeshare families who have reached out to Inside Timeshare, not one member could tell me what ARDA ROC stands for.

Timeshares have little to no secondary market. ARDA ROC has launched 8 Tips to Navigate the Resale Market. I contacted 22 licensed brokers. Not one would accept a listing for my timeshare points, feeling the restrictions placed on the use of secondary points too restrictive. For the members of my timeshare company, there is no resale market. http://www.ardaroc.org/timeshare-resales-resource-center.aspx

Many of the families affected by the lack of a secondary market for timeshares have been financially devastated. The majority of our readers have reported unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices.

ARDA – Is this is our voice?

According to ARDA lobbyist Don Isaacson:

But the bottom line, said (ARDA lobbyist) Isaacson, is that the state should not step in to protect people who didn’t bother to understand the nature of the deal.

“You read the documents,” said Isaacson. “And unless there is fraud, you are bound to that particular purchase.”

Anyway, Isaacson argued that too much is being made of the issue. He said the 250 complaints a year to the Attorney General’s Office pale in comparison to the 600,000 timeshare units owned in Arizona.

















What Mr. Isaacson doesn’t understand, is that members are bound by the contract, despite fraud, with the vast majority of complaints alleging deception dismissed with “You signed a contract.” It’s not that buyers don’t understand the product. It’s that they understand the product as it is so often deceptively presented. Three major timeshare companies have received, respectively, over 2,000, 1,000 and 800 Better Business Bureau complaints over the last three years.

When buyers complain, they are typically told they signed a contract. How many people buy cars and houses without relying on reading every word of a contract, relying on the ethics of the real estate or automotive broker? It is only in timeshare that the oral representation clause is so abused and so overused. The industry itself calls deceptive practices “pitching heat,” a term unique to timeshare sales.

There are many ways to deceive, such as:

“This is a new program, so don’t say anything because I could get fired.”

Access to booking is not allowed until after the rescission period, so reading the contract would not help.

Wait until you make a few payments before refinancing – when banks don’t finance timeshares.

Fran’s complaint, recently sent to the Arizona and Hawaii Attorneys General, was dismissed by the company, responding that there were no misrepresentations. You be the judge. She will file complaints with the BBB, the FTC, the FBI at IC3.gov and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Fran hopes ARDA lobbyist Don Isaacson reads her complaint. She will be reaching out to the following Arizona representatives involved with the bill:

Excerpts from the complaint Fran filed with the Arizona and Hawaii AG offices:

  • We purchased 8500 points in Sedona Arizona April 24, 2017.
  • Purchase price: $29,955.00
  • Down payment: $6,150.00
  • Amount financed $23,805.00

Sales agent Eric told us that we were buying points at a low rate, less than $ 4 per point, and that “at this price the point value can only go up.” We could sell some points at a profit and keep the original base points for travel. Ultimately getting our entire purchase for free, he called it a “401-V”.  He said he would lock the price for one year in case we decided to get more points later to utilize our “401-V”. We have since learned Diamond points are virtually worthless on resale.

The forms were long and extensive. We asked for time to review the documents but were pressured into signing “today” or not get the price per point offered.  After seven hours, my husband got upset and left. Eric followed us to our room insisting that we sign. We thought that Eric must be telling the truth, because if he wasn’t, there would be some sort of regulation. We incorrectly put our faith in Eric.     

We were referred to ARDA. ARDA’s advice leads members to scams, as licensed brokers will not even accept a listing for Diamond points, feeling the restrictions Diamond places on the use of secondary points excessive.

Virginia Beach, August 2017

The sales agents in Virginia were also very high pressure. They told us what we bought in Arizona was not worth it for us and that we had to purchase another 8500 points in order to keep the price of less than $4 per point.  The agent said that after that day the price would be higher. We did not buy. Being deceived into attending the presentation, under the guise that we were getting an education toward our membership was unfair and deceptive. The insistence that we had not purchased enough points made us so angry we did not buy.      

Maui, Hawaii, February 12, 2018

We purchased an additional 5,000 points and switched our US Collection points to the Hawaii Collection to total 13,500 Hawaii Collection points.

  • Purchase price $56,510.00
  • Down payment of $2,731
  • Amount financed $47,713.00

We met with sales agent Sequan R. This again ended up being a hard sell when we told him that we were expecting more of an educational meeting. He said he would give us all the education we need as he had left the company to give independent conferences to teach people how to maximize and exit a timeshare through “Timeshare Confidential Seminars,” but said Diamond hired him back to the sell side of the industry. We were again told “You can’t travel to where you want to go with what you have.” We have since learned that 8500 points were enough points to meet our needs.

Sequan told us we could use a program called Club Combinations at least six times a year to rent out to generate income that would offset the cost of our mortgage. Sequan also told us that we are lucky that the agent in AZ locked in the price because points have already gone up to $8.00 per point so we could already sell points and double our money.  Sequan said that many more high income level people are coming into this resort for the investment which is why the company started the rental program. He said at that income level people want to see a good return on their investment. I told Sequan I did not have time to spend on rentals because I work a lot of hours. Sequan said that the company would appoint someone to help us so we could start to offset our cost right away. I asked Sequan what if they don’t help us. He gave us his cell number and said to call him if that happens. We called Sequan but there was no person by that name.

Later we called and asked how to rent out our club combinations listings.  We were told there was no such program. There was no such thing as a rental program or selling of points for a profit.

Most buyers are on vacation without funds available for a large purchase, so end up signing off on high interest rate loans.  We went into debt to invest in Diamond’s timeshare points.

We had hoped for great vacations and the ability to sell some points for profit as had been explained.  Diamond’s motto “Stay Vacationed” for us means being held hostage. This vacation nightmare has become a major stress in our lives. Filing regulatory complaints is like having a part time job. I am a registered nurse and have spent many years working hard. My husband has worked hard for 40 years. We trusted the timeshare salespeople as we would trust any real estate broker, relying on the ethics of the real estate industry. It was a mistake.

Please do whatever you can to pass this bill and not allow ARDA, a paid lobbyist, to change your minds!

Thank you to Fran for sharing her timeshare experience. Inside Timeshare sent a draft of this article to ARDA. They did not respond. Of the 717 families who have reached out to us reporting unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices, 99 are veterans and active duty service members. Several of the veterans are disabled, five Agent Orange disabled.

Proposed Florida HB 435, in which developers are worried about members deceived by timeshare exit companies, is supported by ARDA. A recent Florida whistleblower lawsuit was filed on behalf of ten former Wyndham sales agents. The actions of deceptive sales agents also harm honest timeshare sales agents.

IMPORTANT LINKS CONCERNING ARIZONA HOUSE BILL 2639

Press Release: http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-43/

To Track Arizona HB2639: Trackbill.com

https://trackbill.com/search/#/direction=desc&page=1&sort=relevancy&tracked&upcoming_hearings&type=bills&state=all&session&query=AZ%20-%20HB2639%20timeshare

Proposed HB Bill 2639

https://www.azleg.gov/legtext/54leg/1R/bills/HB2639P.pdf

Request to Speak for Arizona Residents

https://www.cebv.us/rts.html?fbclid=IwAR2784DcGDTFFg0hoQKi_WPJvhNaz7bvoPylIqRLxoBSStSdlH8Z3qGGD_o

The “Kill Bill” Guide – How it Works

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Y4w31DQFznxoTDZDru86qzDoku3wuHaW/view

Coalition to Reform Timeshare









Preparing a narration for a governmental agency or a timeshare loss mitigation department is difficult for some due to age related issues or language barriers. We’re here at Inside Timeshare, along with our Supporters, to listen and educate. Contact us or one of these self-help groups we feel are not industry influenced if you experienced unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices.  

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.

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

https://everythingabouttimeshares.com/consider-exchange-options/

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

https://www.facebook.com/groups/465692163568779/

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

Thank you Irene and Fran, it is now down to you the readers to do your bit and make your voices heard, this bill is to protect you the consumer, do not let the industry that has walked over you for years do it again.

In Spain, the law is on the side of the consumer, the industry is being taken to the cleaners after years of predatory selling, with many other European Countries with timeshare resorts looking to follow Spain’s lead. This is a result of the European Union issuing several directives on what timeshare is and how it should and should not be sold, which each state having to place this into their own laws, Spain was by far the strongest in its implementation. It took many years to get to this stage, but at least the consumer has the full protection of the law.

LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD!

Attorneys General and Timeshare under Trump

Today’s article just happens to coincide with a rather important day in the USA, it is the inauguration of Donald Trump as President of the United States of America, so what has this to do with timeshare?

Well it is actually quite simple for those in Scotland, back in 2008 there were some very heated debates over Mr Trump’s plan to build an 18 hole golf course and resort in Balmedie Aberdeenshire. This met with considerable resistance from the local people, but eventually Trump won through.

The original plan was to build a 450-room hotel, a second golf course, 500 luxury homes and 900 timeshare apartments along with a second 18 hole golf course. In a recent article in The Guardian newspaper these plans now intend to double the number of homes and timeshare apartments.

According to The Independent Newspaper there appears to be a conflict of interest, although Mr Trump or should we say President Trump, has stated that his company will do “no new foreign deals” during his presidency. But as The Independent puts it he has left this “new” and “deals” open to interpretation.

The Independent article goes even further, it also brings in the fact this proposed expansion coincides with the need for the UK to negotiate a trade deal with the US after the Brexit vote. As The Independent puts it “who would deny a permit to the President of the United States?”

Well, we in the UK and especially those people in Aberdeenshire will just have to wait and see.

In Irene Parker´s article she explains the US side to the question what will happen under the Trump Presidency and the effect to owners.

Links to the Independent and The Guardian articles.

https://www.google.es/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=/amp/www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/donald-trump-organization-golf-links-resort-scotland-aberdeen-conflict-interest-a7534596.html%253Famp&ved=0ahUKEwjEiL656M7RAhUGQBQKHVZkDe8QFghQMAY&usg=AFQjCNEGkuZV4A3k8BIvt65PzkVLNLQbHQ&sig2=oX4Sg73mYZ_Gfsi1hw9UJw

https://www.google.es/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/dec/22/planners-reject-donald-trump-revised-plans-scottish-golf-resort&ved=0ahUKEwjSkM6q6c7RAhWCxRQKHVVfCfEQFghZMAc&usg=AFQjCNGSyvxRBMaAVBigvOxsbSyrpCkAKQ&sig2=sSbmK7N4TgzLUVG1YI-PHQ

Attorneys General and Timeshare under Trump

By Irene Parker

January 17, 2017

Presidetial seal

There are a couple of movements under way in America, so why should Timeshare be different? Timeshare owners who have been victimized by rogue sales agents are as far apart from the actions of timeshare developers and lobbyists as Trump is from Bernie. Through covert action, timeshare owners have circumvented laws developers supported to jokingly protect our privacy, and began to contact each other. What we have learned from each other’s experiences is shocking.  

http://www.redweek.com/resources/ask-redweek/timeshares-refuse-to-share-owner-lists

Four Attorneys General have taken action to protect timeshare consumers and prospective buyers.  Noticeably absent from this list is Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, considering Florida is a timeshare mecca center. The timeshare developer lobby organization ARDA will be quick to point out Bondi’s effort to shut down fraudulent timeshare resale scams – vibrant due to little or no secondary market for owners seeking to sell their timeshare. Bondi explains on a FOX Bob Massi Property Man segment:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6bZDA6pL0o

Resale scam artists are like squirrels. Take out two and four more will arise tomorrow. I received two calls just this week. Of course shutting down 41 fraudulent resellers is a good thing, but did this just clear out the clutter for developers to have a clear path to “legitimate” transfer agents.

When a timeshare company refuses a request to surrender a timeshare contract, never fear! The beleaguered owner can go to a transfer agency with good names but questionable business practices like Redemption and Release and Resort Release. For sometimes as much as $5000 or more, transfer agents will offer a guaranteed “deed-back”, if legitimate, then bundle 25 to 50 contracts and sell back to the developer. Sound similar to the sub-prime mortgage business? It is.

On the other side of the FOX Celebrity fence are Dave Ramsey and Laura Ingraham endorsing Resort Release. In a FOX news interview Dave Ramsey said timeshare has a 98% dissatisfaction rate.

Lisa Ann Schreier, author of Timeshare for Dummies, offers her opinion in her Open Letter to Dave Ramsey and Laura Ingraham:

http://thetimesharecrusader.blogspot.com/2016/11/an-open-letter-to-dave-ramsey-and-laura.html

lecturnSo what does this have to do with Politics?

Pam Bondi made headlines with her handling of the Trump University investigation after asking and receiving a $25,000 donation.

Trump U victims are eerily similar to timeshare victims. CNN reporter Drew Griffin interviews top Trump U sales agent Dave Harris:

https://www.rawstory.com/2016/07/cnn-reporter-hammers-trump-u-instructor-is-that-called-ripping-off-an-old-couple/

There has been a noticeable shift in lobby efforts. Extravagant events designed to curry favor for legislative efforts used to be directed towards politicians and lawmakers. That’s changed. More and more, campaign contributions, lobby sponsored conferences and events are aimed at Attorneys General like Pam Bondi, as pictured, and reported by the New York Times:

https://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/29/us/lobbyists-bearing-gifts-pursue-attorneys-general.html

However, efforts to influence politicians have not gone unrewarded. Timeshare owners and advocates were outraged over timeshare laws passed in 2015 making it more difficult for timeshare owners to be released from contracts.

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/taking-names-scott-maxwell/os-gov-rick-scott-signs-bad-timeshare-law-20150617-post.html

Attorneys General working for us:

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich issued an Assurance of Discontinuance following a probe of Diamond Resorts. A settlement of $800,000 has been awarded for restitution:

https://www.azag.gov/press-release/attorney-general-brnovich-announces-800000-settlement-diamond-resorts

Other Attorneys General have come down on the side of timeshare owners, including:

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman, as reported by Business Den reporter Amy DiPierro, concerning Highlands Resorts in Colorado and Sedona Pines in Arizona:

http://insidetimeshare.com/another-us-attorney-general-exposes-deceptive-tactics/

New York Attorney General Eric Schneidermann halted sales at The Manhattan Club in 2014 and is still engaged in an ongoing legal battle:

http://insidetimeshare.com/news-across-pond/

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery III settled with Festiva timeshare for $3 million:

https://www.tn.gov/attorneygeneral/news/38312

Alongside AGs, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau conducts an ongoing investigation of Westgate timeshare as reported by Matthew Zeitlin at BuzzFeed:

https://www.buzzfeed.com/matthewzeitlin/financial-regulators-are-looking-into-americas-largest-times?utm_term=.dwoQKVw3QQ#.doJ0ka1K00

Diamond Resorts default rate is the highest in the industry. The rate has increased to 19% over 13% from the prior year, according to National Mortgage News. Diamond credits this to lawyers targeting owners. I like to think of it being caused by owners talking to other owners.

http://www.nationalmortgagenews.com/news/secondary/newly-private-diamond-resorts-tests-securitization-market-1090005-1.html

So what side of the political fence stands the timeshare developer? Pictured to the left of our new President, the King of Versailles and owner of Westgate timeshare David Siegel:

Trump

Thank you to Inside Timeshare for providing a forum that now reaches from England to Australia and to our Diamond member sponsored Facebook page:

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

Globe flags

Inside Timeshare hope that this article has explained to our European readers the problems that US timeshare owners face, and what it may mean to them in the future. Your comments to this article are more than welcome.

If you have any questions about any company that you may be thinking of dealing with or have been contacted by, contact Inside Timeshare and we will find the answers for you.

 

Another US Attorney General Exposes Deceptive Tactics.

Timeshare is not having a good time right now, in Europe and especially Spain the industry is reeling from very costly litigation. This is costing resorts and developers a fortune in returning money for purchases made which have gone against the laws put in place to protect consumers.

In the United States the industry is also under fire, most recently a former sales agent has been awarded $20 million for unfair dismissal by Wyndham. She had been branded a “troublemaker” after she complained about unfair and dubious sales tactics being employed.

We have also seen the NY Attorney General close down the sales operation at The Manhattan Club, due to allegedly fraudulent sales practices involving a “bait and switch” scheme. Manhattan Club buyers learned there was a lack of availability for those who purchased memberships, while the general public could easily book online. A court battle that began in 2014 continues today.

The following article by Irene Parker explains the most recent news coming in from across the Great Lake.

Colorado Attorney General Scores a Goal for Timeshare Reform

By Irene Parker

December 12, 2016

keep-calm

All timeshare owners and buyers want is honesty and a fair price for their timeshare, along with reasonable maintenance fees and a legitimate secondary market. Now a third US Attorney General scores a goal for timeshare reform by exposing deceptive timeshare business practices.


There is something flawed if a product cannot be sold, if it is not sold same day. Even car shoppers are allowed to think about it, and many timeshare purchases cost as much or more than a luxury car. There are first day pricing incentives and consumers are told they cannot buy in the future.


According to Highlands Resorts’ sales manager Steve Abrahamson, named in the lawsuit, “In the eighteen months he worked for Highlands Resorts, not a single consumer returned after their sales presentation to make a purchase. In his fifteen years in the timeshare industry, Abrahamson never saw a consumer purchase a timeshare after leaving a sales presentation.”


http://www.businessden.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/5B3AF6808EF5C.pdf


Colorado Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman has sued Highlands Resorts at Christie Lodge in Avon, Colorado for deceptive trade practices in Denver County Court. The state is also suing sales manager Greg Penrod and twelve other defendants. Several were outbound telemarketers.


Sedona Pines Resort in Arizona was also named in the lawsuit. I spoke to a former Diamond sales agent. Diamond agents cannot disclose any company policies or procedures due to a “CNDA” sales agent agreement they are required to sign. It stands for “confidential non-disclosure agreement” discouraging Whistleblowers. Not all agents are dishonest, so the sales agent who realizes something very wrong and harmful is being done to consumers, wants to tell their story.

In this case, the former sales agent said Diamond Resort owners, desperate to be released from rising maintenance fees, went to presentations at nearby resorts hoping for alternatives. Some Pines brokers would inflate the price of the Pines program to make Diamond owners think they were getting something for their Diamond points or weeks as a trade-in. A dollar amount would be added onto the purchase price as a “trade-in” if the consumer purchased a Sedona Pines program.

The Colorado lawsuit provided an example of fake pricing. “A fake price sheet itemized costs totaling $25,224, which included $6,995 in RCI upgrade points. If the buyer purchased today, Highlands promised to pay the $6,995.  However, Highland did not pay the $6,995. They only paid $179 in RCI dues instead of the $6,995 for RCI points.”


Amy DiPierro is a reporter for BusinessDen. She writes:


According to the state, “Highlands Resorts and its owner, Telluride resident Todd Herrick, “intentionally deceived, misled, and financially injured consumers” using high pressure selling tactics. Highlands Resorts is one of a larger group of timeshare companies controlled by a resort called Sedona Pines in Arizona. On its website, Highlands Resorts says it operates one resort in Durango and two resorts in Arizona.   


The state, which is represented by the office of Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, is seeking payments of $325,000 from those four defendants and a permanent injunction that would stop them from, among other things, advertising timeshares without displaying fees and conditions. A spokesperson did not respond to a message seeking comment.

http://www.businessden.com/2016/12/07/ag-sues-timeshare-firm-for-deceptive-tactics/


Similar deceptive and misleading sales and marketing tactics are outlined in other lawsuits. Candace Czarny and two other former Hyatt sales agents filed a class action Whistleblower lawsuit against Hyatt timeshare. Candace is seeking Hyatt owners who feel they have been deceived by misleading and deceptive tactics.


http://insidetimeshare.com/whistleblowers-expose-timeshare-sales-tactics/


A jury awarded former Wyndham timeshare sales agent Trish Williams a $20 million Whistleblower award. Wyndham issued a statement saying the tactics used are not representative of their company policy, according to the NY Times.
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/25/business/my-soul-feels-taller-a-whistle-blowers-20-million-vindication.html?_r=1


The Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery III recovered $3 million for Festiva timeshare victims.  


https://www.tn.gov/attorneygeneral/news/38312


The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is in the second year of a Westgate timeshare investigation.

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/brinkmann-on-business/os-probe-westgate-resorts-tactics-20160318-story.html

It’s getting harder to believe these practices are not representative of timeshare.

 

whos-next  Who’s Next?

 

 


Part II of this article will examine the fourteen defendants charged with violating the “Do Not Call” list to offer vacation incentives they proclaim are valued at $1,900. The lawsuit claims these certificates cost the developer $40.

I personally received a call from Fort Lauderdale yesterday. When I mentioned I was on the DNC list, he apologized and proceeded with his pitch. This is outbound telemarketing, so there is no way to contact the person or company that called.

We’re up to three Attorney Generals who have sued the timeshare companies. Timeshare developers figure in the cost of owner lawsuits as part of their annual budget. They do not figure in the cost of an Attorney General suing the company.

In the case of Christie Lodge, the resort is open but the sales program is not operational.

get-involved

So the question that must be asked is when will the industry wake up and change how it operates, not just in the USA, but in Europe and the rest of the world?

Inside Timeshare once again thanks Irene for her contribution, without her efforts we would not be able to bring you the news from across the water, bringing consumers together in a cause that affects all timeshare owners. Honesty, integrity and fairness are the elements that are missing in this industry, it must be said that not all are guilty of this, there are some who do work by these principles, but it is those who don´t that give it a bad name and reputation.

If you have any questions or comment about this or any other article published, use the comment section to send us a message. If you have a story or information that you would like to share, Inside Timeshare would like to hear from you.

  weekend

The Tuesday Slot

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

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

The Subpoena Diamond Resorts sent to me, a volunteer

By Irene Parker

August 9, 2019

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

The Orlando Sentinel supporting Diamond Resorts:

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

HotelBusiness supporting the consumer:

To The Editor:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Examples of Actions Which Have Resulted in SLAPPs: 2

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

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

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

DATED this 10th day of July 2019.

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

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

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

CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE

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

DEFINITIONS AND INSTRUCTIONS

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

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

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

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

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

other person.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

such objection.

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

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

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

SCHEDULE “A”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4826-7592-6394.1

Page 7

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

We seek to provide Diamond Resort members with a way to proactively address membership concerns; to advocate for timeshare reform; to obtain greater disclosure from the company; to advocate for a viable secondary market, and to educate prospective buyers.

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

What the Diamond Resort Owners Advocacy Facebook is not: 

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

Timeshare Accountability Group™

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Member-Sponsored Facebook pages and resources

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

Free at Last Facebook Straight-A Guide

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

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

https://www.udprep.info/june

Bluegreen Facebook

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

Wyndham Facebook

New:

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

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

Diamond Resort Facebook

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

Gold Key Facebook

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

Inside Timeshare Facebook Group

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

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

The Tuesday Slot

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.”

                                                             Michael Flaskey, Diamond Resorts CEO

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

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 Resorts complaints 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 ARDA and 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:

IV Assurances

“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:

  1. Sales agents should not deviate from sales material
  2. Sales agents should not make oral representations at the point of sale inconsistent with the Purchase document.

https://www.azag.gov/press-release/attorney-general-brnovich-announces-800000-settlement-diamond-resorts

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:

https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-47/

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’s explanation:

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 given               2,621 maintenance fees on the new 15,000

130,000 points           $11,252 Total maintenance fees with new 15,000

  50,000 if used           8,000 Less reimbursement check

  80,000 left                  $3,252 Maintenance fees still owed        

x $.10 reimbursed

EXCEPT THERE WAS NO 65,000 POINTS GIVEN!

$8,000

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.

https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20170123005839/en/Diamond-Resorts-Launches-New-National-Customer-Service

Diamond’s Response:

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.

https://www.federalreserve.gov/boarddocs/supmanual/cch/ftca.pdf

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.

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

https://everythingabouttimeshares.com/consider-exchange-options/

Free at Last Facebook

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

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

https://www.udprep.info/june

Bluegreen Facebook

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

Wyndham Facebook

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

Sapphire Starpoint New: 

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

Diamond Resort Facebook

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

Gold Key Facebook

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

Inside Timeshare Facebook Group

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

Thank you 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.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this week’s Letter from America, today Patty Boyak who has been attending court on behalf of Inside Timeshare reports on the verdict in the trial between Candace Czarny and Hyatt for unfair dismissal. Unfortunately, it is not the result that we had all hoped for. We then go on to report on seven more complaints against a Diamond Resorts sales agent in Las Vegas and five against another Diamond sales agent in California. These complaints are becoming all too frequent with Inside Timeshare receiving them almost on a daily basis, yet the timeshare companies do nothing and continue to allow their sales agents to behave in this despicable manner.

Now on with Patty’s report.

Former Hyatt Timeshare Sales Executive Candace Czarny v Hyatt Residential Marketing Corporation and Kent and Allison R. Drysdale

CASE NO.  CV2013-006230

Jury Trial Verdict

Seven complaints against our Diamond Resorts Las Vegas sales agent and five complaints against our California agent 

By Patty Boyak

July 19, 2019

In the trial of Candace Czarny v Hyatt and Kent and Allison Drysdale, the jury ruled in favour of Hyatt. While the verdict was a profound disappointment for Candace, when God closes one door he often opens another.

In 1991 Anita Hill got dragged through the muck of Senate hearings after accusing U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment. She didn’t want to go public, but knew in her heart she needed to speak out about actions she felt were inappropriate for a Supreme Court justice nominee. A movie was made about her humiliating ordeal. At the end of the movie, the wrap-up listed the positive consequences because of her efforts. Nationwide revisions to antiquated sexual harassment policies and procedures ensued.

To be honest, having listened to a week of testimony, I felt Candace had at best a 50/50 chance. She had only worked in the timeshare industry for 17 months. However, Candace scored a major victory in court for timeshare members, assisted by other witnesses, and Hyatt’s attorneys provided landmark evidence or lack of:

THERE IS NO LETTER!  

The reason this is so important is that so many timeshare complaints begin with, “They said I should have gotten a letter.” This statement is reported by many Diamond members, including a disabled veteran who caught deception on a recording. Understandably, his dispute was quickly resolved. We experienced the same agent but were told another member’s complaints had no bearing on our complaint.

If you listen to the recording, most would conclude this agent should have been fired. Instead, he introduced himself to us a year later as a Platinum Counselor, and just a few weeks ago, our group received complaint #7 against this agent.

Defendant Kent Drysdale was Hyatt’s Director of Training, but some of the deceptive practices described in Candace’s lawsuit (like the letter), were the same practices members complained about during the Arizona Attorney General’s investigation of Diamond Resorts in 2016. Mr Drysdale was the Director of Training for Diamond prior to being recruited by Hyatt. Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich issued an Assurance of Discontinuance against Diamond Resorts after the AG’s office received hundreds of complaints from Diamond members.

A “deceptive price freeze” demands the member buy points the same day or loose special pricing. In the case of the veteran who recorded our Diamond sales agent, not only had the veteran repeatedly asked for his driver’s license and credit card back over two hours of a five hour ordeal, he was told that because he “didn’t get the letter” he was not grandfathered in for a special price after Apollo Global Management had acquired Diamond. Alaa stated this meant they would have to pay enormous maintenance fees over the next ten years unless they purchased additional points. As this dispute quickly resolved, we will not identify the buyers or link the article published about their dispute.  

Thank you, Candace!  

Those of us whose families have been harmed by timeshare sales agents, now have proof of deceptive and unfair practices because Hyatt’s attorney could not produce the letter. One of the members of the jury had asked where it was. There were 200 exhibits. Two letters hastily produced at trial, but neither had anything to do with a prior letter the member was supposed to have received.    

I would like to share our Diamond Resorts experience so consumers may understand how the decked is stacked against the consumer. Of the 913 complaints our advocacy group has received, 115 are veterans and active duty service members. My husband is a Navy veteran.

Our Timeshare Accountability Group™  members share experiences in an effort to expose timeshare sales agents that have had multiple complaints filed against them. Including the veteran and our family, a total of seven complaints have been received, directed against Las Vegas sales agent Alaa C, and five complaints against California agent Trevor W. We purchased from both agents!

I have asked Inside Timeshare to publish our complaint submitted to the California and Nevada Real Estate Divisions hoping to reach lawmakers who, in recent Arizona legislation, bent to the will of ARDA lobbyists. ARDA’s position is that a state should not take responsibility for those who did not bother to understand the product and Arizona Senator Michelle Ugenti-Rita was quoted, “These people are adults. There was a meeting of the minds and they signed a contract. They should take responsibility.”

I’d like for ARDA lobbyists and lawmakers to read five complaints against the California agent in today’s article, and the seven complaints against Nevada agent Alaa C (to be published next Tuesday) to understand the kinds of minds that meet.            

Five complaints against California Diamond sales agent Trevor W and Principal Broker Peter M

Trevor W complaint #1 A Senior in her mid-70s

Trevor W complaint #2 Brandon and Patty Boyak

Trevor W complaint #3 A Navy veteran

Trevor W complaint #4 Reported complaint but did not buy

Trevor W complaint #5 A senior age 75, resolved 

Trevor complaint #1 Platinum Member #80 of 101, age 75

April 10, 2019

My mother lost her entire retirement annuity of $350,000, plus maintenance fees are $20,000 so almost $400,000. She was switched back and forth five times over six transactions.  (Highlighted in red are agents Inside Timeshare received multiple complaints against):   

Everything was okay until May 2015 when Rick C transferred her points to the US from Hawaii, which cost $42,000. September 2015 she was switched back to HI by Paul M for $33,000. April 2016 HI points were switched back to the US at Mystic Dunes in Orlando, by Angelica S. In March 2017 she was switched back to HI by Ras for $38,000. November 2017 Palm Canyon Resort $80,000 bought points from Trevor W. October 2018 Billie B and Fred K transferred points back to the US telling her she would be able to pay maintenance fees costing $45,000. In Hawaii, one of the brokers said he has a broker who could help her rent points (which is not allowed for-profit) to get her money back and in the future, her points could be sold back to Diamond. 

She did not buy a second time March 2019 from Paul M. Paul said she should switch back to HI because there was going to be a huge Special Assessment in the US if she didn’t switch back to Hawaii for $63,000. She ended up with 100,000 US Collection points and $17,000 in annual maintenance fees

Trevor complaint #2 Platinum Member #28 of 191

July 6, 2019

Brandon and Patty Boyak

Our complaint is against CA Diamond Resorts sales Agent Trevor W.  

We purchased 17,500 points October 21, 2017, from Trevor at Palm Canyon Resort in Palm Springs, CA for $72,850.

Consumers need to know there is nothing to prevent timeshare fraud without a recording because proof is required. I spoke to attorneys to ask what constituents proof. I was told a pattern of complaints serves as a form of proof.  This is why we are gathering complaints.    

Peter M, Principal Broker California  

Trevor W said if we became Platinum “members” as opposed to “owners” we would be eligible for a program to sell points back to DRI at $0.30 per point. He explained this as a buyback program available only to Platinum members. We had never heard the term “member” before.  Trevor explained that by becoming a member we would lock in our maintenance fees, preventing them from increasing at alarming rates over the coming years. There is no such thing as member or owner points.

We never attempted to sell points back at $.30 because we missed the window period. Trevor explained that we had to turn in points by November 30 and we had to have 20% of our loan paid to be eligible for the maintenance fee buyback program. In no way would we have 20% of the loan paid in such a short time. This avoided the rescission period.  We were already aware of a travel discount program called 30/30. We did not know at the time only Platinum members can pay maintenance fees at $.04 per point, a worthless benefit because 50,000 points turned in at $.04 a point would cover only $2,000 towards an $8,631 maintenance fee bill (in 2018).

Trevor explained that as soon as a buyer makes an initial purchase of Diamond points, they become an owner.  Any new purchaser is considered an owner, but once we became Platinum we would become a Diamond member. He reminded us that we were considered “owners” because of our past Monarch affiliation.

We had five contracts prior to this meeting. This would finally give us true Platinum Member status with DRI.  The contracts were not wrapped.

Trevor Complaint #3 #78 of 101

A Navy veteran (retired), age 69

April 5, 2019

To: Michael Flaskey, CEO

Maria Kalber

ARDA

ARDA ROC

Barclay’s Bank

January 28, 2018

Points purchased: 1,500

We attended a presentation at a hotel on January 28, 2018.  Mr R. He said it would be better if we were to upgrade to Platinum because then we would be able to use our points to pay maintenance fees. I explained that we did not have the resources to upgrade. After several hours we agreed.

September 4, 2018, NV

Points purchased: 16,000

Sales Agent: Mr J Trevor W

Manager: Mr Matthew G

Purchase price: $48,000

September 4, 2018, we met with Trevor W. Mr W went over our account and stated that we were only a temporary platinum member and that we could not use our points towards maintenance fees.

I recall being told several times that if we were to upgrade to Platinum it would be an investment that we could pass to our children. He said if our children did not want the timeshare in the future they would be able to say that they did not want it or that they could sell points to pay maintenance fees.

Mr W asked us how we were able to purchase our existing points at such a low price because the price for points now was much higher.  He left to talk to his manager and came back stating that they would honour the low point price but if we waited the price would be substantially higher, somewhere in the range of 9 dollars and that they would increase soon in the future.  It was again mentioned that we would be able to use our points to pay maintenance fees by selling points. He said we would be able to sell our timeshare points outright in the future, but not at the present time.

Mr W said he would assist me in using Barclay Card points and Platinum exchanged points to pay maintenance fees. Mr W gave me his cell phone number and told me to call him towards the end of the year and he would assist me with the process.  Mr W never returned calls. After contacting customer service I found out that the point conversion was so small it would not make a dent in the liability. I did not find this out until I was billed for maintenance fees and attempted to pay the fees via points.   

 I have learned members are not required to attend presentations unless accepting a promotion. This also is deceptive to be told an update is required when it is not. Diamond points are worthless on resale. 

A senior, age 73, who did not buy from Trevor  

Trevor Complaint #4 Platinum member #85 out of 101

At Palm Canyon CA Trevor showed me a graph of maintenance fees showing maintenance fees increasing. Trevor had said that the way my contract with Al C had been written, my maintenance fees were at a higher rate of increase. Al had told me my maintenance fees would be at the lower rate of increase, but Trevor explained that because of how C wrote the contract I was at the higher level because C wrote the contract as an owner contract and not a member contract. He explained that there is a difference between members and owners in terms of how much you pay in maintenance fees. However, I bought non-deeded Diamond points from Al, so what he sold me was a membership. He said C made more money selling owner points.

Trevor waived the maintenance fee graph in front of me and said, “I know you are telling me the truth because there would be a signature acknowledging receipt in your file”. I asked Trevor for a copy of the contract history he was reviewing, but he said he could not give this to me. Trevor said the only way to fix the problem C caused was to buy more points for $125,000. Had I believed Trevor’s nonsense about buying ownership and not membership points, I would have been driven deeper into debt. I would be another Platinum member-driven into foreclosure.

Trevor also presented the misrepresentation about heirs saying that my heirs would be responsible if I did not buy an additional 75,000 points for $125,000.

Trevor, and a second agent, Brad G, said I could get out of the owner status and go to “member status” if I made the purchase.  Trevor assured me if I bought the points, I would then have the lowest maintenance fees. He told me I would need to do this to take care of the mess C had created.

Trevor and Brad acknowledged that “middle easterners at Cancun” in Las Vegas often made these mistakes. They thought Al was one who had put another person in a bad situation, but they would call Mike B to see if they could help me. Trevor agreed that Al had sold me a bait and switch.  Trevor and Brad also stated that Al had sold me 7000 more points than I needed to reach platinum status.

In the end, I did not feel that I could trust Trevor. I asked Trevor for a copy of his proposal that he had written down so I could talk to my financial advisor. He would not give it to me. I said I had to talk to my family because they had been waiting for hours. My friend and daughter-in-law returned with me and said that I was not going to sign anything. Trevor got nasty and said, “I resent you coming in here at the last minute giving advice.”

I also was told that unless I bought the new points from Trevor I could not sell my points.  If I did buy the points from them, Diamond would give me a list of members to whom I may sell. Diamond points are worthless on resale.

Besides ruining my afternoon with my family for my grandson’s birthday, I was a mental wreck.  When I returned, I told the two men that I didn’t have enough funds to make the purchase. I asked for more time so I could talk to my financial advisor who was not available by phone.  Trevor denied that request. He said I had to sign right then. He said if I signed I had 7 days in CA to cancel the contract. 

Trevor Complaint #5

A senior, age 70, Diamond Platinum member #90 of 101

June 5, 2019

To Michael Flaskey, CEO

Hospitality

Barclay’s President’s office

ARDA ROC

California Real Estate Division

Peter M

Trevor W

On 4/22/19 in Palm Desert, I went to an “Owner Update” with Platinum specialist Trevor W.  I had previously been assured that since I already owned 90,500 points, I was well in excess of the 50,000 points needed to be Platinum. I am 70 years old and have no children. The timespan and need for points are limited. Trevor launched into an explanation of why I had to buy additional “membership” points because the prior Hawaii sales agent had fraudulently, or at least mistakenly, sold me “owner” points due to inadequate training.  

I explained to Platinum specialist Trevor W that my only goal was to find a way to SELL my points, and also to make absolutely sure that Diamond could NOT attach my estate because my heirs did not want the points. 

Trevor explained that my points were essentially worthless, that there was no market for them because of the type of ownership category I held. He explained that the points that I owned, on the secondary market, would have none of the myriads of benefits like travel reimbursement for air and hotel, or access to other features. The buyer could only access specific Diamond-owned properties. 

The Hawaii sales agent said that Hawaii points were the premium to own and in huge demand by buyers. They explained that Hawaii points have a limited supply, so I could use them and then easily sell them. In fact, they said Diamond itself would likely buy them back because they were running out of property in the tight Maui market. 

Trevor pretended to be disappointed that I was sold a pack of lies, and implied that the Diamond rep knew the Hawaii points had no resale value. He said the rep should have disclosed this fact about worthless “ownership” points, worthless even when sold in Hawaii. I was really discouraged. Trevor posed as my friend, sorry to have to explain this to me.

Trevor offered a solution. Apollo owned Diamond, and Apollo was going public in the next couple of months. He said Apollo wanted Diamond to be clean as a whistle to have a stellar rating and reputation. Many owners had complained about not being able to resell, so Apollo had created a new class of ownership called “membership” which entitles a future buyer to all the Platinum benefits of my points. The maintenance fees for “owners” were going to skyrocket, compounding every year. He showed me a horrifying chart showing maintenance fees growing to a million dollars in aggregate over 20 years.  But the “membership” category would be capped. This would result in huge savings over time.

Trevor said the terms of the public offering SEC filing by Apollo mandated that points had to be sold at a base rate of slightly over $11/point. No more bargaining. Trevor said there were scores of Platinum buyers clamouring to buy points, as they would not want to pay the new rate, creating a hot market to sell points to those who had previously purchased “ownership” points like I had been mistakenly sold. Trevor said he would give me a list of buyers with their emails once Apollo went public. Of course, it would be up to me to make a private party agreement.  We had an elaborate discussion about what my average cost per point would be – about $4.50. 

Trevor said he had recently purchased points, knowing he could sell them back at a profit. Being leery, I said I wanted to see his purchase contract, which he said was at home, so on speakerphone, he called his wife to ask her to fax it.  She answered, such a sweet voice, and said she was at the market, but would send it as soon as she got home. So we took a break, as we’d been talking for hours. The break stretched to an hour. When we reconvened Trevor showed me his purchase contract. It must have taken an hour to make the mock purchase contract, backdate it, and have it faxed.

The hook was lowered.  I would be required to buy 25,000 points at $112,500 in order for Diamond to convert all my “ownership” points to “membership” points.  I was shocked at the dollar amount. It was like betting on the come, but it seemed the only way out. In about 2 months, Apollo would go public and Trevor would give me a list of eager existing Platinum owner-buyers. As I stalled, exhausted and discouraged, Sales Manager, Bradley reassured me.

I signed the purchase contract with misgivings, and explained to the contract/quality control guy (who said he was there to protect me from any misleading sales practices), that I was forced to buy points in order to be able to sell points in the near future and at least break even.  He didn’t blink an eye, which was reassuring. 

During this process, a loved one was rapidly sinking into dementia/Alzheimer.  

Members and current and former timeshare sales agents like Candace can help by joining forces with others seeking to reform timeshare. Sign this petition for reform to let your voice be heard, and join one of these self-help groups.

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

We seek to provide timeshare members with a way to proactively address membership concerns; to advocate for timeshare reform; to obtain greater disclosure from the company; to advocate for a viable secondary market, and to educate prospective buyers.

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

https://everythingabouttimeshares.com/consider-exchange-options/

Free at Last Facebook

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

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

https://www.udprep.info/june

Bluegreen Facebook

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

Wyndham Facebook

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

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

Diamond Resort Facebook

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

Gold Key Facebook

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

Inside Timeshare Facebook Group

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

Once again thank you Patty for taking the time to attend the trial and submitting your report, itjust unfortunate that it was not the result that Inside Timeshare and our readers had hoped for. We must also give Candace a very big thank you for having the courage to take on the big boys, we all hope that you will now move on and rebuild your life.

If you have any comments or views on this or any other article published, please do use our contact page and let us know.

That is it for this week, have a great weekend and join us again next week.

The Tuesday Slot

Welcome to this weeks Tuesday Slot, today Patty Boyak reports on the trial highlighted in Friday’s Letter from America on 5 July between Candace Czarny and Hyatt. The case centres around the wrongful termination of Candace after being forced to use “unfair and deceptive sales practices”.  Branded a whistleblower she found it difficult to find new employment, but she has worked hard to rebuild her life and Inside Timeshare is proud to share her story, after all, that is what these pages are about, to give you the reader a glimpse into the world of timeshare and all that is dirty about it.

Part II Continuation of Whistleblower Wrongful Termination Trial

Candace Czarny v Hyatt and Kent and Allison Drysdale

Part I: The Trial

CASE NO.  CV2013-006230

https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-57/

By Patty Boyak

July 16, 2019

I learned a lot this week attending the jury trial of Candace Czarny v Hyatt and Kent and Allison Drysdale that began last week in Maricopa County, Arizona, Superior Court. An Arizona resident myself, I took this opportunity to observe the trial proceedings to better understand the inner workings of timeshare today.    

Candace worked for Hyatt in Sedona, Arizona from November 2011 to June of 2012. She previously worked at Diamond Resorts but left Diamond concerned about what she considered to be questionable business practices. Hired by Hyatt to sell timeshare, Candace alleges in her lawsuit that she was forced to employ unfair and deceptive sales practices or face termination. Hyatt did terminate Candace.

Sedona is a small town, so Candace had difficulty finding work after her termination. She moved to Phoenix. Candace had lived in Sedona for 25 years.

Hyatt’s attorney, Mr Kraig J. Marton, challenged the reasons why Candace had remained unemployed since her termination, insinuating that Candace had not tried very hard to get a job, even after moving to Phoenix.

I reached out to Candace outside of the trial. I had not attended Candace’s testimony in which she explained the difficulty she experienced when she sought employment. Candace said that potential employers were turned off because of her whistleblower stigma. Candace generated income from her rental property and worked on re-stablishing a business she had been involved with previously. She has been generating income from that business since 2017. Prior to that time, she had been paying off debt to re-establish her business.

Candace said in Phoenix, she has been living in a 10 x 10 rented room with a view of a block wall, after living in a beautiful home in Sedona with views of the Red Rocks. Candace said she mitigated her damages by scaling back, but she has not sat around idle since her termination.  

Mr Marton continued to examine Candace’s work history. Candace responded that the reason she did not apply for other timeshare positions is because she did not want to find herself put in another position in which she would be instructed to employ unfair and deceptive sales practices. She felt the obligation of anyone holding a real estate license is to uphold the principles of integrity that holders of a real estate license should abide by. 

Working under the conditions Candace described took an emotional toll. A witness for the Plaintiff, Jackie Garrick, who is an expert in Workplace Traumatic Stress and post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD), described psychological abuse as a “serious injury” justifying a diagnosis of PTSD. Ms Garrick explained that PTSD can be experienced by anyone, not just soldiers who witness harm against others and suffer a moral injury because it violates their sense of ethics. She compared whistleblower retaliation to domestic abuse in which one spouse manipulates, humiliates, isolates, and bullies another spouse. Defence attorney Mr Marton tried to minimize PTSD as if it only related to combat stress, ignoring all research on emotional abuse and identity disruption.      

Candace’s attorney, Joshua Carden, next called Larry Stokes as a witness for Candace. Mr Stokes is an economist. He testified as to Candace’s loss of income. He calculated her annual wages as follows: 

Loss wages from 8/2012 to 7/2019

$449,186 in back pay

$168,709 in loss front pay

$54,756 in interest on back pay

Grand Total:  $672,651  

Former Hyatt Sales Executive Mark Schmidt, also a witness for the Plaintiff, testified on July 9. Mark had worked as a timeshare sales agent for 15 years. Candace and Mark’s employment overlapped for a period of about two months, prior to Candace’s termination. On cross-examination, Mr Schmidt was asked about his relationship with Candace. He stated they were friendly coworkers. They were asked about emails they had exchanged as to the possibility of an age discrimination lawsuit against Hyatt

Mr Schmidt had also been terminated from Hyatt for being a “bad fit” and for poor performance. Mr Schmidt responded that he had worked three tenures at Hyatt and generated $130,000 in sales the last six working days of a March month. An “eligible for re-hire” letter was placed in his personnel file. Mark said the reason for his short work tenures was because he would leave the company if a bad sales manager was hired and wait it out until the sales manager was fired or left the company.  

Like Candace, Mr Schmidt testified that he had been terminated because he refused to give false statements to potential buyers. He stated that Kent Drysdale in 2012 instructed agents to sell “First Day Incentives” that were deceptive. Agents would threaten potential buyers, telling them that if they did not buy that day, in the future they would have to purchase a two-week timeshare vs only a one-week timeshare. It was not true that buyers could not buy a one-week timeshare in the future.

What Letter?

One fraudulent practice was that Mr Drysdale trained his sales agents to tell existing Hyatt clients that there was a letter sent to the existing member advising them of an advantageous price, but the letter, in fact, did not exist. According to Mr Schmidt, Mr Drysdale instructed the agents to tell the existing member that they would check their file to see if the letter was there. One of the jurors asked if they could see the letter. Hyatt’s attorney seemed to scramble to produce the letter. What was produced, Mr Schmidt said, was a completely unrelated document. It was an Upgrade Document Declaration. This document was discredited because it pertained to the surrendering of points after a member upgraded. Mr Schmidt added that if the letter existed, Hyatt would have produced it during discovery. 

Oh boy, have I heard this “Did you get the letter?” before. I am a member of a 3,300 timeshare member-sponsored Facebook. Many complaints begin, “They said we should have gotten a letter!” If the letter is fictitious, this is unfair and deceptive.    

Mr Schmidt stated that Mr Drysdale used to be the Director of Training for Diamond Resorts. He brought up the Assurance of Discontinuance (AOD) and the $800,000 fine issued by Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich after their office received hundreds of complaints from Diamond members. Mr Drysdale had been employed by Diamond Resorts during the period in which the Arizona Attorney General’s office received so many complaints.

In addition to the Arizona complaints, I was aware of former Diamond top sales agent Mary Bowling’s allegations, describing how a deceptive price freeze was employed by Diamond sales agents in Hawaii:

Mary Bowling sued Diamond Resorts, not because of deceptive sales, but because she was terminated when no one else was. She applied for FMLA 2-12-16 and was terminated 2-15-16. 

Case 1:17-cv-00562-DKW-RLP filed in Hawaii District Court

Page 10 of complaint

#43 Owners Update is deceptive because it is to sell points.

#44 Customer is told the current “list price” but the agent has to see someone else.

#48 the sales agent has the customer sign a form indicating they were updated and the agent has to have the manager sign off.

#49 the sales manager has reviewed all prior customer contracts and the manager falsely states the customer was given a “price freeze” but none exists.

#50 because of the “price freeze” only today can the customer buy for the discounted price.

#51 the price given is the real price planned from the outset.

#52 the “price freeze” never existed because (a) The special deal available to this customer only is available to anyone and (b) Urgent to buy only for today

#54 this is lucky news for the customer – brand new information!

#55 the sales agent waits for the customer to “step in”

At one point, Candace had provided an example of an observed deceptive sale: “Say the property is $35,000, but the Director of Sales would say that there had been a default, so we got this new inventory we can get you for $29,500. However, $29,500 had been the intended price all along.” Mark Schmidt explained that the difference between a primary residence negotiation and timeshare, is anyone selling a primary residence doesn’t start with their bottom line price requirement, then issue threats and false consequences if the interested party doesn’t buy at the bottom price that day – or will not be able to buy the house the next day at the low price.

Mr Schmidt further testified that price sheet packages were manufactured by Mr Drysdale: a two weeks package and the standard one week package. Mr Schmidt stated that Mr Drysdale would change the prices at will.

Mr Schmidt was asked to describe Mr Drysdale as Director of Sales.  He said Mr Drysdale was aggressive and physical. He witnessed Mr Drysdale giving a body check to Joey, another sales agent. Mark stated he addressed his concerns with Human Resources regarding Kent’s behaviour that included CIA like intimidation tactics and deceptive practices. He said Mr Drysdale was enthusiastic about the practices and procedures described in the CIA Manual on Human Manipulation.

Next a witness for Hyatt, Theodore “Ted” was called. Ted was the former Director of Sales during Candace and Mark’s tenure. He had hired Candace and supervised Kent Drysdale. Ted said Candace had little sales experience but was hired anyway due to tough hiring times during the years 2010 to 2011. He described Candace as someone who didn’t want to listen and stated that her personality wasn’t “fun” or personable.  He claimed he tried to help her but concluded she was not “coachable” as she did not like to take his advice. He stated she had low performance. 

July 10

Candace returned to the witness stand. In earlier testimony, it was described how Hyatt employee Shelley instructed Candace to create a “First Visit Incentive” document. This document was reviewed by the potential buyer, but never given to a buyer.  

Candace testified that another agent, Scot Steward, did not have a real estate license on file, but was allowed to give tours and transact sales. Mr Steward had been hired by Shelley or Mr Drysdale. Candace took handwritten notes of observed sales and the line rotation, meaning who was up next to meet a potential client. Her notes showed that Mr Steward made a sale, but that Mr Drysdale had limited the number of tours Candace was given, a practice used against an agent who did not play by the rules. There are 3 types of tours: 1) An owner 2) Owns a timeshare other than Hyatt 3) Not a timeshare owner. Candace stated that AM tours always went to the agents on the top of the list (Top Selling Agents).

On Friday I will continue with what happened next. All in all, it was a fascinating experience, and I have a much better understanding of how easy it was to dupe our family. My husband and I experienced deceptive timeshare sales practices. We have joined forces with other timeshare buyers alarmed at the rise in such practices. Deceptive practices seem to be employed industry-wide by some sales agents and managers. That’s my opinion, but the only opinion that counts are the opinions of the nine members of the jury. Join a self-advocacy group if you would like to join our timeshare consumer protection efforts. 

Please sign our petition to reform timeshare:   

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

Candace Czarny has joined our list of just a few of the recent Attorneys General investigations and lawsuits. We’re not making this up.

The NY Attorney General investigation into the Manhattan Club resulted in a $6.5 million settlement. https://www.amny.com/real-estate/the-manhattan-club-settlement-includes-6-5-million-in-restitution-ag-says-1.14048559

Colorado Attorney General sued Highlands Resort, Sedona Pines and twelve other defendants for deceptive trade practices. https://businessden.com/2016/12/07/ag-sues-timeshare-firm-for-deceptive-tactics/

Missourians sometimes are targeted by real estate developers and resort communities to buy vacation timeshares. https://ago.mo.gov/civil-division/consumer/consumer-topics/vacation-timeshares

Arizona Attorney General received hundreds of complaints against Diamond Resorts, fined the company $800,000 and issued an Assurance of Discontinuance. https://azag.gov/press-release/attorney-general-brnovich-announces-800000-settlement-diamond-resorts

Tennessee Attorney General announced a $3 million settlement with Festiva, a network of vacation and timeshare companies, for alleged violations of the federal Telemarketing Act, federal Telemarketing Sales Rule, and the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act. https://www.tn.gov/attorneygeneral/news/2016/2/24/pr16-04.html

Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen says his office received 58 timeshare complaints in 2018, including concerns about pressure sales tactics, exorbitant fees, and difficulty reselling. https://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/local/Timeshare-Troubles–What-To-Do-Before-You-Buy-and-Sell-504017151.html

A Florida Whistleblower lawsuit was filed on behalf of ten former Wyndham employees, including eight former sales agents. Plaintiffs allege that they objected to and refused to participate in illegal sales practices.  https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-42/

Former Wyndham sales agent Trish Williams, a jury awarded an initial $20 million. https://dolanlawfirm.com/2016/11/wyndham-timeshare-whistleblower-lawsuit/

Candace Czarny v Hyatt and Kent and Allison Drysdale – Former Hyatt timeshare Sales Executives alleged that they were instructed to make certain false statements and omit certain facts when communicating to Hyatt owners and potential clientele in order to make more sales. https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-57/

We seek to provide timeshare members with a way to proactively address membership concerns; to advocate for timeshare reform; to obtain greater disclosure from the company; to advocate for a viable secondary market, and to educate prospective buyers.

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

https://everythingabouttimeshares.com/consider-exchange-options/

Free at Last Facebook

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

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

https://www.udprep.info/june

Bluegreen Facebook

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

Wyndham Facebook

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

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

Diamond Resort Facebook

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

Gold Key Facebook

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

Inside Timeshare Facebook Group

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

Thank you, Patty, for taking the time to attend the trial and prepare this very interesting report, I am sure that all our readers are rooting for Candace, it is time that justice was done.

If you have any views or comments you would like to share please use our contact page and get in touch.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to another Letter from America, this week we welcome another new contributor Diane Smith with an introduction by our very own Irene Parker. This article looks at Bluegreen and their suggestion that Diane donates her points to one of four selected charities. Have we not heard of a scheme like this before?

Bluegreen offers new Pilot Program to Donate Points to Charities 

Diane Smith Responds to “Who’s the Fish?”

Bass Pro Lawsuit v Bluegreen

https://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-38/

July 10, 2019

By Diane Smith

Introductory comments by Irene Parker

I was alarmed when Diane reported that Bluegreen suggested she donate her 5,000 points to one of four select charities. Charities don’t need the liability of a perpetual contract and ongoing maintenance fees. After learning one of the charities was founded by the co-founder of RCI, and other timeshare executives are members of the 18 member Board of Directors, I reached out to industry insiders, puzzled.  

Christel DeHaan, Founder and Chairman of the Board

Co-Founded and sold RCI for $825 million

https://www.forbes.com/profile/christel-dehaan/?fbclid=IwAR3Qn-QE_uDsHYPVo0b9yuh3qb4Y4opDRT7zAiC0wk97D_n0H19_bD7re7k#6d7903079fd0

https://christelhouse.org/our-people/

Olivier Chavy, President, RCI Exchanges

Gordon S. Gurnik Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Hilton Grand Vacations

Don Harrill, Vice Chairman of Board of Directors, Orange Lake

According to an industry source, who wishes to remain anonymous, the charities will not be liable for maintenance fees or the perpetual contract. If Diane were to donate her 5,000 Bluegreen points, it would prompt a paper transaction known throughout the industry as a “Press and Clean” that will ultimately transfer the points back to Bluegreen. While transferring timeshares is perfectly legal, legal point laundering does not solve the problem when timeshare buyers experience unfair and deceptive sales practices.  

If my source is correct, in this scheme, Bluegreen controls who gets referred to the charity, so you can’t just call up one of the charities and ask them to take your Bluegreen points. Bluegreen benefits because they are not as bothered by calls from people wanting to get rid of their points, as they can refer the member to the charities if there is no loan outstanding.

It is ironic Christel House works with those in poverty, considering Inside Timeshare has heard from 894 timeshare members and more than a few driven into poverty because of unfair and deceptive sales practices that are accompanied by rising maintenance fees and no secondary market.

So why is being allowed to donate timeshare points to a charity, not a good idea? When sold by deceit, the charity becomes a link in the progression described by one former sales agent as a hamster wheel: deceive, force insolvency, take-back, resell – with the charity brokering the points back to the timeshare company.

We hope this isn’t the timeshare lobby ARDA’s idea of a Responsible Exit.

ARDA’s Coalition for Responsible Exit

https://responsibleexit.com/

Diane’s Response to “Who’s the Fish?”

I read Inside Timeshare’s article about the lawsuit filed on behalf of nearly 36 Bluegreen plaintiffs against Bass Pro Shops and Bluegreen with great interest after I received Bluegreen’s response to my complaint. My reports of deception are similar to identical to those listed in the lawsuit complaint.

My concerns were not even addressed. Instead, I received an email suggesting I donate our points to a charity. Given an attorney I contacted was going to charge me $5,000 to get us out of this financial trap, I questioned why a nonprofit would want to accept timeshares.  

Bluegreen responded to my complaint saying that they have no provision to take back a timeshare (even when deceived?), but I could contact one of four selected charities to donate our 5,000 points. The four select charities are listed below. While I applaud any assistance is to a charity, I don’t feel this is appropriate. 

Our family purchased our points in 2011 after we had endured the Joplin, Missouri EF5 tornado that killed approximately 160 people. My father broke his back and ribs, his home was destroyed, and we endured over $40,000 in damages to our home. Shortly after the tornado, we took a trip to Branson to get away for a breather. At Bass Pro Shops we were approached by a Bluegreen representative. The resulting consequences I would describe as a financial tornado.

In the lawsuit Bass Pro Shops filed against Bluegreen, they were concerned about commissions they had not been paid. Bass Pro Shops will be rewarded $40 million, but there is little concern as to the deception described by Plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed on behalf of Bluegreen members. In the lawsuit complaint, Bass Pro Shops mentioned aggressive sales practices that were offensive to their customers, but I’m sure the reason for the lawsuit was to sue for commissions. It’s all about the money with timeshares – our money.

We experienced the following:

  1. The meeting promised to last no more than an hour, lasted for hours,
  2. They explained how we would save money on vacations by buying points. In actuality, most of the places we attempted to book were either not available when we were able to use them, or we couldn’t book them at the time we wanted to book (not in the booking window). We have never been able to vacation anywhere using Bluegreen points but Branson, except for one Florida trip.
  3. We were told we were not buying a timeshare! They provided us with a “deed” explaining that we were purchasing real estate.
  4.  We were told we could sell Bluegreen points at any time and that points would appreciate in value like our home. There is no resale value as evidenced by their suggestion we donate points to a charity.
  5. A credit card was opened to make the purchase and we were advised to transfer the purchase price to a home equity loan.
  6. They explained the benefit of being able to transfer the points to our heirs. We now know what is passed down is a financial liability.

The few trips we did take were a disappointment due to high-pressure sales tactics that made us feel like we could not leave unless we purchased additional points. We have no desire to stay at another Branson property due to our last stay when we experienced soft spots on the bathroom floors, roaches, and the same furniture as 2011. The pool looked nasty, cloudy and full of algae. 

Bluegreen responded to our concerns as follows:

We are sorry to hear that you wish to cancel your ownership. Unfortunately, there are no provisions for you to cancel your contract at this time.

However, we would like to offer you the opportunity to participate in a pilot program we have developed to assist owners like you who have no outstanding loan but would like to separate from the Bluegreen Vacation Club. The program is outlined below:

1.     Donate your timeshare interest benefiting a charitable organization. Please see the attached document regarding worthy organizations.

2.     You will be provided with a donation letter from the charity based on the current third party comparable selling price. With respect to your ownership, this is estimated to be $745. Please note that this letter does not represent proper documentation to support a deduction on your tax return nor is it a substitution for any third-party valuation that may be required by the IRS. We recommend that you consult with a tax advisor regarding requirements for claiming non-cash charitable donations.

3.     You will have the option to utilize one-year’s allotment of (5,000) Vacation Points for up to two years (at no cost to you).

4.     You will be released from any future obligations to the Bluegreen Vacation Club.

Charitable Giving Program – Donation Options 

Junior Achievement of South Florida (JA)

SOS Children’s Villages – Florida is a foster care neighbourhood in Coconut Creek.

Christel House Some things should be handed down from one generation to the next. A life of poverty isn’t one of them.

JDRF is the leading global research organization accelerating medical breakthroughs to cure, prevent and treat Type 1 Diabetes (T1D).

I imagine waves of baby boomers, with children and grandchildren, have experienced the same. We will teach the next generations to avoid timeshares and travel clubs. The existence of unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices is apparent. See the lawsuits and Attorneys General investigations below.  

Thank you to Diane for informing us of this remarkable timeshare development. Our readers are not just a disgruntled few:

The NY Attorney General investigation into the Manhattan Club resulted in a $6.5 million settlement. https://www.amny.com/real-estate/the-manhattan-club-settlement-includes-6-5-million-in-restitution-ag-says-1.14048559

Colorado Attorney General sued Highlands Resort, Sedona Pines and twelve other defendants for deceptive trade practices. https://businessden.com/2016/12/07/ag-sues-timeshare-firm-for-deceptive-tactics/

Missourians sometimes are targeted by real estate developers and resort communities to buy vacation timeshares. https://ago.mo.gov/civil-division/consumer/consumer-topics/vacation-timeshares

Arizona Attorney General received hundreds of complaints against Diamond Resorts, fined the company $800,000 and issued an Assurance of Discontinuance. https://azag.gov/press-release/attorney-general-brnovich-announces-800000-settlement-diamond-resorts

Tennessee Attorney General announced a $3 million settlement with Festiva, a network of vacation and timeshare companies, for alleged violations of the federal Telemarketing Act, federal Telemarketing Sales Rule, and the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act. https://www.tn.gov/attorneygeneral/news/2016/2/24/pr16-04.html

Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen says his office received 58 timeshare complaints in 2018, including concerns about pressure sales tactics, exorbitant fees, and difficulty reselling. https://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/local/Timeshare-Troubles–What-To-Do-Before-You-Buy-and-Sell-504017151.html

A Florida Whistleblower lawsuit filed on behalf of ten former Wyndham employees, including eight former sales agents. Plaintiffs allege that they objected to and refused to participate in illegal timeshare sales practices.  https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-42/

Former Wyndham sales agent Trish Williams, a jury awarded an initial $20 million. https://dolanlawfirm.com/2016/11/wyndham-timeshare-whistleblower-lawsuit/

Candace Czarny v Hyatt and Kent and Allison Drysdale – Former Hyatt timeshare sales allege that they were instructed to make certain false statements and omit certain facts when communicating to Hyatt owners and potential clientele in order to make more sales. https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-57/

Petition to Reform Timeshare:

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

We seek to provide timeshare members with a way to proactively address membership concerns; to advocate for timeshare reform; to obtain greater disclosure from the company; to advocate for a viable secondary market, and to educate prospective buyers.

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

https://everythingabouttimeshares.com/consider-exchange-options/

Free at Last Facebook

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

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

https://www.udprep.info/june

Bluegreen Facebook

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

Wyndham Facebook

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

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

Diamond Resort Facebook

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

Gold Key Facebook

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

Inside Timeshare Facebook 

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

Thank you Diane and Irene, this certainly looks like one of those schemes which only benefits the timeshare company, if you have any views, comments or questions on this article please use our contact page and get in touch.

That is all for this week, we hope that you all have a great weekend and join us again next week.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this week’s edition of Letter from America, today Irene Parker reports on the start of the jury trial between Candace Czarny v Hyatt Residential Marketing Corporation. Irene first published news of the pending legal action back in 2017, so this has been a long wait. We hope to bring you news of the result in a later edition.

Former Hyatt Timeshare Sales Executive Candace Czarny v Hyatt Residential Marketing Corporation and Kent and Allison R. Drysdale

CASE NO.  CV2013-006230

By Irene Parker

July 5, 2019

The jury trial of former Hyatt Sales Executive Candace Czarny v Hyatt Residential Marketing Corporation, a Florida corporation, and Kent and Allison R. Drysdale began this week. The trial is expected to last seven days. The Joshua Carden Law Firm, P.C. filed on July 6, 2019, a second amended complaint on behalf of plaintiff Candace Czarny, in Maricopa County, Arizona Superior Court.

The lawsuit is a wrongful termination lawsuit. It is unlawful for an employer to retaliate against any employee because the employee refuses to participate in and/or properly disclosed illegal activities, according to Arizona statutes, including “fraud, false pretense, false promise, misrepresentation, or concealment, suppression or omission, in connection with the sale or advertisement of any merchandise whether or not any person has in fact been misled, deceived or damaged thereby….” 

The lawsuit alleges Hyatt defendants fired Candace after she refused to commit such acts or omissions that would violate Arizona statutes. Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

Candace was employed by Hyatt on or about January 1, 2011, as a Sales Executive at Hyatt’s Piñion Pointe timeshare resort in Sedona, Arizona. Defendant Kent Drysdale was her supervisor. Candace alleges she was instructed by Drysdale to make certain false statements and omissions when communicating to Hyatt timeshare owners and potential clients in order to make sales. 

Inside Timeshare has heard from 887 families. The majority have reported unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices. Some just can’t afford the timeshare and didn’t know when they purchased there was no secondary market. If they have a loan outstanding, the only option may be foreclosure, especially if there is no evidence of deception. Most complaints are dismissed with, “You signed a contract.” General allegations from this lawsuit, that are similar or identical to our readers’ complaints, include: 

·        9. (a) Owners were told that if they did not add to their portfolio on the day of their tour they would give up rights to upgrade in the future and would forfeit special pricing.

·        9. (i) Owners were told that Hyatt would leave two agents on the property that would resell their ownership for them in the future and implied that they would be getting a minimum of original purchase price.

·        12. Some potential buyers that had paid cash or lived in a more expensive zip code (referred to as PG or Preferred Guests) were given prices that were inflated more than other potential buyers, that had either never made a payment, had financed a payment or lived in a less desirable zip code. Plaintiff and other Sales Executives were instructed, at various times, to mislead PG clients into believing they were getting special consideration when in fact they were not.

·        20. Plaintiff and other Sales Executives were instructed to bring a manager to the table when attempting to close deals, so that the manager could make certain false statements and omit certain facts when communicating to potential clients. False statements made by Drysdale and other Hyatt managers include:

a. Telling owners that they had given up their rights to upgrade, looked in their files, and if not finding the disclosure, would say that he might be able to get corporate to allow them to upgrade if they would write a letter supporting their request. He would then tell them that if they did not purchase that day they would forfeit their right in the future.

b. Telling owners that Hyatt had sent a letter to them telling them to upgrade or sign off on the ability to do so in the future. He told owners that this letter stated that Hyatt would deny an upgrade in the future.

c. Telling owners that unless they owned a “platinum” or “diamond” week they would not be able to access new Hyatt timeshare properties.

I have heard many accounts from former sales agents, of a manager’s ability to “starve out” an agent who was not a team player, meaning the sales agent refused to employ unfair and deceptive practices.  It is known, prior to a tour, who is likely to buy and who is likely not to buy. The lawsuit alleges such actions were taken against Candace. In addition, Candace alleges manager Drysdale would only allow agents of his choosing special incentives to offer potential clients and he would refuse to release certain more desirable inventory to sales agents who did not play by his rules.  

Candace was terminated despite high overall job ratings, but others who had performance numbers similar to Candace were not terminated. Upon information and belief, such Sales Executives had either not announced opposition to Drysdale’s sales methods and tactics, or had expressly agreed to cooperate with them.  

It’s a modern day David & Goliath story. Timeshare companies employ armies of attorneys in their effort to suppress the seedy side of timeshare. While many owners use and enjoy their timeshare year after year, others, as our readers have reported, fall into deceptive and fraudulent sales presentations, ending up with a vacation dream that turns into a financial trap.

Some lawmakers have sided with the timeshare consumer in an effort to expose selling strategies that incorporate psychological manipulation, omissions, deceptions, and fraud. Others blame the victim, maintaining the “You signed a contract” mantra.

Candace Czarny is a former Hyatt and Diamond Resorts sales agent. While at Hyatt, Candace said was advised by management to order a copy of the CIA Guide to Interrogation and Human Manipulation. According to numerous Attorneys General investigations and lawsuits, some timeshare companies employ strategies designed to intimidate and confuse hardworking consumers worldwide in order to generate profits and earn wildly inflated commissions and compensation. Honest sales agents, previously able to earn a good living, find themselves subtly maneuvered out of this new, more sinister timeshare business.  

According to Candace, “It was only after working in the industry as a sales agent that I came to see and understand the complicated strategy of greed from the inside. Like Trish Williams, awarded $20 million in a Wyndham Whistleblower case, I am one of the individuals not willing to be a pawn perpetuating a scam against hard working people trying to create a happy life for their families.”

The lawsuit began six years ago with three plaintiffs, former Hyatt sales agents. One plaintiff settled, but the other’s case did not move forward.

Some timeshare companies hide behind carefully and strategically worded contracts intended to shield them from responsibility and litigation. Arbitration is private and binding. If you lose, you may be ordered to pay arbitration fees. Timeshare attorneys I have asked about arbitration feel arbitration is a kangaroo court.

This leaves the timeshare member, sold by unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices, feeling hopeless and angry, with no recourse. Timeshare companies rely on the burdened member not being able to withstand a costly and lengthy legal battle. If the member resolves a dispute, they are often required to sign a non-disclosure agreement, agreeing not to say anything disparaging about the company, another effort to silence and isolate victims. I was offered my money back in 2016 for the purchase of additional points in response to my complaint. I refused to sign the NDA.

Social Media is here to stay. Members sharing reports of deceit with other members have created a clearinghouse of information and a means to track complaints against timeshare sales with repeated complaints against them.

While New York, Missouri, Colorado, Tennessee and Arizona Attorneys General have made some progress protecting consumers, more needs to be done. There has been a notable lack of concern from some state and federal regulatory agencies.

Lawmakers responding with “Well, they signed a contract” have no concept of the depth of deception some timeshare agents employ to sell points. Many things, like promised availability, cannot be determined by reading the contract, and state contract rescission periods can be artfully dodged.  

Based on the timeshare lobby ARDA’s estimates, there are over 9,500,000 timeshare units in the United States.  To give you an idea of how profound this corporate culture of greed is and how the courage and bravery of single individuals are making a difference in the name of what is right, listed below are just some of the settlements, judgements and lawsuits against these timeshare giants.

Members can do their part by joining forces with others seeking to reform timeshare. Sign this petition to let your voice be heard, and join one of these self-help groups. If none are appropriate, start one!

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

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

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.

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

https://everythingabouttimeshares.com/consider-exchange-options/

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

https://www.udprep.info/june

Bluegreen Facebook

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

Wyndham Facebook

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

Sapphire Starpoint New: 

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

Diamond Resort Facebook

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

Gold Key Facebook

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

Inside Timeshare Facebook Group

https://www.facebook.com/groups/2213231165610648/?source_id=1677690672490888

Have a safe 4th of July weekend.

That is it for this week, Inside Timeshare would like to thank Irene for all her hard work in preparing these articles, all the volunteers of the Advocacy Group and of course all our Secret Shoppers, who we hope will be bringing us another of their wonderful reports very soon.

It just leaves Inside Timeshare to wish all our American readers a very Happy 4th July Weekend, join us again next week for more revelations on the murky world of timeshare.