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Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome this week’s edition of Letter from America, in fact, it is a Letter from Canada as we welcome a new contributor Stephanie, with her Grandparents “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” story with Wyndham Carriage Hills and Carriage Ridge Resorts. The title of this story is “Why is this not Elder Abuse?” Inside Timeshare has published many articles on this subject yet we still receive many reports from concerned members and their families, so why are the timeshare companies not taking any notice?

The Carriage Hills and Carriage Ridge annual meetings are October 21 and October 22. While an exit strategy will be discussed at the meetings, any HOA board should be able to allow an exit on severe medical and financial hardship, especially given the severity of Gary and Sandra’s situation. Of note is the marketing flyer presented at time of purchase to Carriage buyers stating, “Freeze the cost of vacations.”

Please remember to donate to the Irene Parker GoFundMe campaign to raise $25,000 for legal fees, in just two weeks over $8,000 has already been raised so thank you to all those who have already contributed.

https://www.gofundme.com/f/irene-parker-diamond-resort-legal-defense-fund?fbclid=IwAR1wj_cAkvvWXcUHXrC1zkDJtSZrlx9j_3RJKE5L7J0bUW7SM1rSwCFvFHY

Why is this not Elder Abuse?

Wyndham Carriage Hills and Carriage Ridge Resort

Grandparents Gary and Sandra Held Timeshare Hostage

By Stephanie

October 11, 2019

My grandparents Sandra and Gary have been owners at Carriage Hills & Carriage Ridge since the 90’s. In 2014 the determination was made that Gary would require more comprehensive care. He was relocated to a 24-hour care unit in a nursing home. He is wheelchair-bound and requires assistance with bathing, eating, washroom & mobility concerns. At the onset, his health deteriorated quickly and continues on that path. He communicates verbally, but he is unable to make decisions or advocate for himself.

Note from Irene

Mr. Jason Gamel is currently the president of the timeshare lobby ARDA.

He testified at a Florida legislative workshop March 12, 2019:

Wyndham Sr. VP Legal Jason Gamel provided testimony at the Florida HB 435 Workshop held in Tallahassee March 12. In response to Representative Newton’s question about Wyndham’s dissolution policies. Mr. Gamel explained that there was no need for owners to contract with an exit service provider because members seeking a loan cancellation due to hardship can apply for a hardship release through Wyndham.

https://insidetimeshare.com/http-insidetimeshare-com-p5261/

ARDA’s Coalition for Responsible Exit

Of 16 boxes pictured on the website, four are Wyndham

1) Club Wyndham 2) Margaritaville Vacation Club by Wyndham

3) Shell Vacations Club (acquired by Wyndham) 4) Worldmark by Wyndham

https://responsibleexit.com/#getting-started

Gary and Sandra

My grandparents, YRDSB teachers with summers off, purchased their Carriage timeshares with the intent to travel. The location of Carriage Hills and Carriage Resorts was convenient. Initially, the value was found in the timeshare. Annual fees were $650 per unit, but by 2019 fees rose to approximately $1500 per unit. This maintenance fee is no longer affordable.

Gary was the breadwinner of the family. Being a pensioned teacher, he supported the household. When he was moved to a 24-hour care facility, his insurance only covered a portion. His pension had to cover the remaining nursing home expense. What remains in his pension goes to Sandra, who does not receive a pension. Sandra is a retired substitute teacher. Sandra resides in their home with an adult son, who is not employed. She is expected to pay for their home, bills, and Carriage maintenance expenses in addition to food, medication, personal needs. There is nothing frivolous about her life. Her joy comes in the form of making beautiful, handmade quilts.

Sandra has long struggled with depression, which until recently had been managed by lifestyle and medication. However, in the last four years, there has been deterioration in her health, and in August 2018 she spent a week in the hospital after an episode.

On June 30, 2019, they reached 53 years married. Sandra sees Gary once a week, but leaving the house even for routine tasks is not easy. Imagine being married for 53 years, and then having so much stress that you can’t make it out to visit your husband. Sandra recently spent eight days in the hospital due to a change in medication and a depression spell. A Carriage Hills and Carriage Resorts exit strategy would be life-changing for her. 

Not offering a voluntary surrender program to Canadians is unfair enough, but will Wyndham not even consider a medical and financial hardship release for a fully paid for timeshare member? Without question, the stress of this timeshare has been a catalyst for Sandra’s emotional and mental state. In regular conversations with family, she shares her worry about being able to afford the fees, and in more recent months, what is going to happen when she and Gary have passed on. She worries about the maintenance fees passed on to my children and me.

Sandra was not the person in the marriage who handled the finances or day to day needs. Gary has a very small life insurance plan and Sandra has no life insurance. She cancelled her insurance plan as it was too much to carry financially. 

Obviously, they are not able to use the timeshare. Gary has no ability to travel and Sandra cannot travel alone or long distances. She is able to get up once in a while to Carriage Hill to use the pool with a friend. Shell Vacation has a portal for online, but at 75 years old, Sandra is not internet savvy. She relies on the help of family to do simple things with the timeshare.

There is no way out of this timeshare. In the unlikely event, a buyer is found, the fee to sell to another is substantial and the lawyers’ fees even higher. Sandra’s wish is to be able to sell back or return the timeshares to Wyndham… even to transfer to a relative is a 1500$ fee and 1500$ x 5 contracts totalling $7,500 is exorbitant. Her wish is to stop worrying about choosing these fees over her needs. She found hope in the Ovation Program offer, only to learn that Wyndham is not offering a responsible exit to Carriage Hills and Carriage Ridge owners. Couple this with the cuts to health and social programs Ontario is experiencing. It is a crisis.

Why is this not elder abuse? 

Carriage Marketing Flyer stated: “Freeze cost of future vacations” 

Prior Carriage Hills and Carriage Ridge reports: 

Carriage Owners 115 – 128

https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-67/

Carriage Owners 91 – 114

https://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-47/

Carriage Owners 61 – 90

https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-66/

Elizabeth’s Analysis

https://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-46/

Jeannie’s Medical Hardship Dismissed

https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-65/

Carriage Owners 31 – 60

https://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-45/

David’s Medical and Financial Hardship Dismissed

https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-64/

Carriage Owners 1 – 30

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

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

https://www.udprep.info/june

Bluegreen Facebook

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

Wyndham Facebook

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

Wyndham Carriage Resorts Facebook

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

Sapphire Starpoint  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/insidetimeshare/

Inside Timeshare Facebook Group

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

Thank you Stephanie for your contribution, we hope that this article will help to change the way timeshare companies view their members.

As we stated at the beginning the Carriage Hills and Carriage Ridge Resorts AGM are being held on 21 & 22 October, Inside Timeshare is hoping to bring you a full report soon after.

Well, that is all for this week Inside Timeshare wishes you all a great weekend and join us next week for more news and information on the world of timeshare.

The Tuesday Slot

Welcome to The Tuesday Slot, today Irene Parker tells the story of Joseph, a Welk Resorts Owner, unlike many of the stories in the “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” series, this one does have a happy ending. Joseph is now free of his timeshare and has saved a small fortune in “exit” fees, so commendations to Welk Resorts for their effort in helping to free Joseph. Just a shame others do not take a leaf out of Welk’s response.

A Real Responsible Exit for Joseph, a Welk Resort Owner

Volunteers Needed! Apply Within

Why Volunteers Do What They Do – Brittany Garvin

Hurricane Relief for the Bahamas

Brittany Garvin spends most of her time (14 hours a day) in front of her computer or on her cellphone. Garvin is connecting family members with their loved ones in the Bahamas. She is a volunteer with the nonprofit organization CrowdSource Rescue.

https://www.live5news.com/2019/09/10/adams-run-woman-helping-reunite-hurricane-victims-with-family-members/

By Irene Parker

September 17, 2019

A firestorm of emails was prompted by our August 9th article concerning the lack of responsible exit for six Legacy resort owners. Out of six resorts, only one resort told the owner they would take back the timeshare. While some developers maintain a sales office, the glut of unwanted timeshares, especially among the baby boomer population, continues to flood the market. Since publishing the August 9th article, several more resorts have been added to the list. 

Some resorts are willing to work with Legacy owners who no longer want their timeshare. Navy veteran Joseph, age 89, was able to deed his timeshare back to Welk Resorts. After two attempts to reach someone at Welk, in frustration, Joseph gave up and reached out to timeshare exit companies. One quoted him a price of $4,500. Joseph said he attended their presentation at a chicken dinner at Disney. “Something didn’t feel right so I left,” Joseph explained. Ultimately, Joseph was referred to me. I reached out to Welk on Joseph’s behalf, putting him in touch with the right person. A representative from Welk contacted Joseph immediately.      

The five of six resorts that would not take back a timeshare:

The Seasons in Vermont

Eagle Crest in Oregon

Broadway Plantation in Myrtle Beach

Lehigh Resorts (from a BBB complaint: We were offered a deed back option, but it was $3000 to cover fees and a title search. This amount seemed absolutely excessive.)

Wyndham Carriage Ridge and Carriage Hills Resorts

Remarkably, Melissa received an emailed response (unedited) from a Sugarbush manager at The Seasons Resort stating:

  • Our current owners are renting for premium dollars and receiving a very high rate of return on their investment, because of supply and demand. 
  • If you rent your unit for less than 15 days/year, the rental income will not be includible in income–thus the income is tax-free and you would still be able to deduct your interest payments. 
  • The timeshare won’t be difficult to resell due to the lack of accommodations in the Sugarbush area (supply and demand).

We have also published several articles submitted by frustrated Americano ARC Resort owners. For many seniors, what the developer may consider a responsible exit is not. ARC is demanding those seeking exit purchase a Freedom 365 Travel Club. I think I speak on behalf of my generation when I say the last thing a senior seeking release from a timeshare needs is a $5,000 travel club. 

When a member or owner contacts me, the first thing I do is tell the member to reach out to ARDA’s Coalition for Responsible Exit. They report back their findings. https://responsibleexit.com/

Disney and Marriott are on Shep’s List

https://hyken.com/

Joseph was referred to me because Joseph does not have a computer. When I called Welk Resort, it did take a try or two. I waited on hold as caller #1 for 15 minutes before reaching a company representative. I explained that one of their owners had been quoted $4,500 to be released from his timeshare, so I was checking to see if they might work with Joseph. She referred me to the department that takes care of deed-backs. The person I spoke with said they would forward the message to a representative. I explained that I am not an attorney, so don’t represent anyone, but I was researching timeshare’s secondary market and would like to know Welk’s dissolution policy. That same day I was contacted by a Welk representative who explained they would work with Joseph and quoted me the reasonable fee they charge to deed-back, in the case of someone like Joseph. 

Exit companies would argue that they would be justified in charging Joseph $4,500 because they have to pay for the leads. I don’t agree. With a little persistence and detective work, finding the right department and the right person, members or owners can save themselves thousands of dollars by doing their own research and making their own contacts. 

We are looking for volunteers to assist those who do not have a computer or computer skills due to a variety of reasons. In the last 24 hours, I have been contacted by two owners battling cancer and one with MS. It’s not fair for them to have to battle their timeshare too, given the lack of a secondary market. 

Inside Timeshare can simply refer the owner inquiring to you, and you can assist and follow along with owners who need this type of assistance. You would help only those with fully paid for timeshares, those seeking release, by helping to point the member or owner in the right direction. We have many members helping members resolve disputes, but we could use a few more good soldiers. This is a way we can serve those who served us, like Calvin. 

On Friday we will publish Calvin’s story about how Nationwide Transfer strung Calvin along for two years, demanding over $20,000 from him. Calvin was part of a military police unit that managed a prison camp of 27,000 Iraq soldiers. Nationwide, instead of asking Calvin for medical documentation concerning his PTSD, that required a two-month hospital stay, wrote Vacation Village a letter telling them Calvin has Parkinson’s disease. Calvin does not have Parkinson’s. 

I reached out to Vacation Village and put them in touch with Calvin. Calvin paid $6,000 for the Vacation Village timeshare ten years ago. When his health deteriorated, he spoke with a sales agent who advised Calving to convert to points to reduce maintenance fees. Instead, maintenance fees increased. With the unnecessary upgrade, Calvin paid approximately $12,500 for the timeshare and over $20,000 to Nationwide Transfer. 

Elder Veteran Fraud is one of the most despicable forms of fraud.  

On a side note, I highly recommend Welk Resort. It was one of the first exchanges we made many years ago. For our younger readers, you can learn something about Hollywood memorabilia at Welk Resorts. Our generation grew up listening to Welshman Lawrence Welk and his Champagne Orchestra.

Timeshare provided my family and countless others, generations of wonderful memories. For others, it has caused financial ruin, bankruptcy and the loss of security clearances for active duty service members. “Pitching Heat” is what the industry itself calls the employment of unfair and deceptive sales practices. There have been many lawsuits filed describing the practice. 

I listened to an interview with Brittany Garvin on the Weather Channel over the weekend. She was asked what made her volunteer so much of her time. “With my skills, I could not just sit back and do nothing,” Brittany explained. Timeshare has deceived many who possess valuable skills, including a detective who works economic crimes undercover. If you have skills, or just time, to aid with our self-advocacy efforts, contact Inside Timeshare. Join our growing networks of volunteers. As happened for Joseph, one person can make a difference.  

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

Free at Last Facebook Straight-A Guide

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

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

https://www.udprep.info/june

Bluegreen Facebook

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

Wyndham Facebook

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

Wyndham Carriage Resorts Facebook

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

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

Diamond Resort Facebook

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

Gold Key Facebook

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

Inside Timeshare Facebook

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

Thank you Irene for all the help you gave Joseph, it is great when we can publish a story with a happy ending and a timeshare company willing to help, so we must say a very big thank you to Welk Resorts.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this week’s Letter from America, once again Irene Parker reports on further complaints received by Inside Timeshare from Wyndham Carriage Hills and Carriage Ridge owners. But first some interesting breaking news which has only just been received. Canarian Legal Alliance has announced that they have now secured embargoes on 6 apartments at Beverley Hills Club. This means that if Silverpoint do not pay the clients what the courts have ordered the apartments can be sold off to ensure the clients receive what they are owed. Further information will be published next week as Inside Timeshare receives more detailed information.

After following the 128 complaints submitted to Inside Timeshare from Wyndham Carriage Resorts owners, I am astonished by the developer’s callous disregard as to the harm timeshare is causing good people. What other product is out there that you have to pay to give back? What other industry has created another massive industry, some of the companies with questionable business practices, devoted to getting the company’s customer released from being the company’s customer? We can only hope that there is a Carriage board member with a conscience, and hopefully even some compassion, who will be as moved by these accounts as we are, especially Jeannie, David and a new report we just heard about Stephanie’s grandmother. We continue on with families 115 to 128.

Why You Should Not Buy a Timeshare in Ontario Canada

Unless Change Happens

By Irene Parker and Wyndham Carriage Resorts Owners 115 to 128

September 13, 2019

Original August 16 article about Wyndham’s Carriage Resorts https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-63/

Timeshare lobbyists have been quoted as saying, “The vast majority of timeshare buyers are happy with their purchase.”

Conversely, a leading academic expert on timeshares provided her statistical data conclusions at an industry conference, as reported by RedWeek:

Dr. Amy Gregory, an assistant professor at the University of Central Florida, where she is in the third year of studying the impact of buyer regret-and-remorse on rescission decisions:

  1. The average rescission rate is 15 percent (which is identical, ironically, to the daily average percentage of people who buy a timeshare after a sales presentation).
  2. A whopping 85 per cent of all buyers regret their purchase (for money, fear, confusion, intimidation, distrust and other reasons).
  3. Forty-one percent of buyers never thought they would regret their purchase, but they did; another 30 per cent were neutral prior to buying, but then regretted it.

I conducted my own research. In addition to the over 1,000 families that have contacted Inside Timeshare, just in the U.S., I contacted exit companies to ask how many calls they receive a week from disgruntled timeshare members and owners. There are many exit providers and law firms offering timeshare exit services. It’s an entire industry. Just two of them reported receiving 3,000 to 3,500 calls per month. Each said they end up with less than 200 as clients.

I also contacted members of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Brokers Association (LTRBA). The members I spoke with report being flooded with calls. In most cases, sellers are unlikely to break even. In 2016 I surveyed 64 LTRBA members. Most said they would not speak publically about why they would not even accept a listing to sell my timeshare points. They feared if they said anything negative, they would be sued. One of the respondents sadly explained to me:

For over 15 years now I’ve had to give the bad news to sellers that their timeshare is worth much less than they expected, but for (xx), it’s so hard for them to believe that I can’t help at all.

The most troubling is the unfairness reported by Wyndham Carriage Owners. They were promised an “Equity $ Position” in published marketing materials, only to learn years later that what they purchased is worth far less than a lump of coal. Their “equity” position is a net loss of $1,300 a year if they can no longer use the timeshare. Wyndham did not own Carriage Resorts back then, but that does not diminish the unfairness of what these buyers are experiencing.  

I speak daily with people who spent $10,000 to $20,000 on a timeshare they only used once or twice in 10 or 20 years or more, yet have paid maintenance fees year after year. In addition, a good portion of these members reported losing thousands of dollars to unhelpful timeshare listing agents and fraudulent exit companies. 

We thank the 128 Wyndham Carriage Owners who have let their voices be heard. Sometimes the court of public opinion is the only court open. We are hoping next Tuesday’s article summarizing this series will reach Ontario media, consumer protection organizations, and lawmakers. Wyndham’s silence speaks volumes.   

Prior reports: 

Carriage Owners 91 – 114

https://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-47/

Carriage Owners 61 – 90

https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-66/

Elizabeth’s Analysis

https://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-46/

Jeannie’s Medical Hardship Dismissed

https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-65/

Carriage Owners 31 – 60

https://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-45/

David’s Medical and Financial Hardship Dismissed

https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-64/

Carriage Owners 1 – 30

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

Wyndham Carriage Owners 115 to 128 Eternal Timeshare Contract

115 Valerie F

Hi Irene:

We initially bought a white week in July 2002. We had small children at the time. In 2007 we purchased an additional interval which allowed us to convert to points so we could have more flexibility booking. Our children were getting older. It had been become increasingly difficult to take them out of school for vacations in the off-season.

We have used our timeshare extensively. At first, we travelled with our children. We shared it with our extended family. Currently, we tend to travel as a couple. Although we still enjoy the property regularly, we do have great sympathy for elderly people and others whose personal, health, or financial situations have changed. Our first maintenance fee back in 2003 was $599. We can appreciate how difficult it can be for many to pay the current $1,351 maintenance fee, plus additional booking fees. We know that ill health or income changes could change our own ability to pay.

When the sales office was open, we were told that the property would appreciate in value and that we would have the option to sell, donate or will the timeshare. We were told at multiple presentations that the sales representatives were selling deed-backs from delinquent accounts and owners who had passed. We were told that if our children were not on a deed, they would not have to take it over.

We are deeply disappointed in the closure of the sales office without notice, the fact that Wyndham is not accepting deed backs on the property, and that current owners cannot even give away their intervals, even when willing to pay legal costs and provide additional financial incentives, such as maintenance fees for a year or two or additional cash. It seems ludicrous that our children and other heirs could be saddled with costs in perpetuity. A reasonable exit plan is essential. At this point, it seems that a 75% vote to sell the property may be the only way to recoup any money and save our heirs from never-ending costs. I am attaching some shots of the original sales presentation flyer from 2002.

Accompanying these promises, we received a general email in the summer of 2011 indicating that Carriage Hills owners could buy additional intervals at no cost, provided they covered the legal fees. We did, in fact, purchase an additional every other year red week with a deed of September 2011 at the cost of $600. It was not purchased from an individual owner, but directly from the Carriage Hills Vacation Owners Association. Based on this information and the above promises, we felt that Carriage Hills was taking an active role in sales of deed-backs.  

Sincerely,

Valerie F

116 Karen L

I have been a timeshare owner at Carriage Hills for about 20 years. My family and I have enjoyed vacationing at Carriage Hills and expect to vacation for the next few years, but I am troubled by the lack of an exit strategy. I am also frightened and not willing to accept a situation that would place the never-ending financial burden of timeshare maintenance fees on my unsuspecting heirs, who are not interested in assuming a position in this trap of owning an unsellable, worthless ‘asset’.

When I agreed to become a timeshare owner back in the late 1990s, I was led to believe that I was buying into a private resort, only accessible to a fixed number of owners and their guests. Since then, the maintenance fees have more than tripled and the property has transitioned to being managed like any other openly accessible hotel, i.e. the price to rent a room is routinely below the equivalent maintenance fee that owners are forced to pay, and these renters don’t have the never-ending financial handcuffs of timeshare ownership.

Many thanks and kindest regards,

Karen L

Mississauga, Ontario

#117 Therese B

Hello Irene,

When I bought my every-other-year red week, I’d done some research and had attended a few presentations elsewhere, as well as at the Horseshoe Resort affiliated property.  I came prepared

I’d understood that these timeshares would be of more value because you get a deed and it’s yours for life (as opposed to a 30/40 year scenario). I figured that this would make them easy to sell if and when I no longer could use my week.

I recently learned that owners are on the hook for this for life. That makes the timeshare difficult to sell. You can’t even give them away.

I continue to use my ownership via RCI exchanges, and plan to do so for the next 10 years. At this point, I don’t know that my adult children will have any interest in taking on the constantly increasing maintenance fees or will even want to use the timeshares. I don’t understand why we can’t just give back our deeds to Wyndham. It’s all very fishy. Someone needs to take a good hard look at the whole thing. It’s too bad that a concept that continues to work for many is also causing such hardship for those who can no longer enjoy their vacation ownership.

Thanks for helping us as we embark on standing up to ‘the powers that be’.

Therese and Barry B

Midland ON

118 Tracy M

We have been owners since 1998.  We had kids and used it faithfully.  We are retired now and live in Florida during winter seasons.  We don’t need this burden any longer. Our lives have changed.

I recently posted on Facebook for a friend to contact me if they were claiming bankruptcy so that I could dump this.  I do not want to saddle my children with this anchor. 

Sent from our Paradise

#119 Bruce F

Hi Irene,

I purchased in 2004 with the understanding that my “equity” purchase would be easily marketable. This has turned out to be patently untrue.

I also purchased in order to exchange with RCI properties. Subsequently, the provider was switched to Interval International — which it turns out had a very different selection of properties, excluding the ones I was able to book with RCI. Their (II) booking process was frustrating, to say the least. I was unable to effectively enjoy exchanges.

The maintenance costs (and exchange fees) have increased dramatically, to the point of making this “deal” far more expensive than just booking online. One 2 bedroom week is now close to C$2,000 with maintenance and club fees.

I have investigated selling over the years, but this “asset” cannot even be given away.

We need help dealing with this situation, and with Wyndham, who now operates the resort as their cash cow — and they also effectively control the two boards.

Thanks

#120 Debbie M

Dear Irene,

I am a second-generation holder of two deeds – one each for opposite years.

As many have said, my parents were led to believe that this was an investment and sellable. This is now not the case.

My parents were able to use them while my dad was still alive.  My parents put my sisters and me on the deeds at the time, which also has concerns.  

Although we will continue to pay the fees and use what we can (not an easy task) we do need to find an exit strategy before our own estates would have to figure out what to do with these after we are gone and we move into yet another generation.  

With thanks for your concern.

#121 Glenda B

Hello Irene,

We bought at Carriage Hills over 20 years ago and were told all the things you’ve heard from other people … much of which sadly turned out to be empty promises.  Fortunately, we did resist the sales pressure to convert to points.

We mostly have used our 2-bedroom Red Weeks for RCI trading. This did bring us a number of good vacations, although it involved a fair amount of effort in searching etc.  

However, our maintenance fees have nearly tripled, and RCI costs have continued to climb, while availability declined.  In 2006 a class action was launched (one of several that have been made against RCI). This took six years to resolve but resulted in better access to inventory.  Over time, however, there has been a noticeable decrease in availability and is getting worse.

We have wanted to exit Carriage Hills for a long time, mainly due to the expense and difficulty using the timeshare. Seeing all the ads on TUG, etc. (offering units for free), we did not attempt to list our unit, feeling it was hopeless.  We purchased a studio at Pueblo Bonito in Mazatlan as a Right-To-Use timeshare in 2012, because they promised to take our Carriage Hills unit as trade-in for a lower buy-in. We specifically said we did not want to own two timeshares.  

The company handling the transaction was Resort Connections. Their literature claimed they were “a full-service Equity Trade-in program” that was “owned and operated by timeshare industry veteran Freda Stemick.” They were located in Harrisonburg, Virginia [name aptly changed to Carrion Travel Connections during the process], and an ARDA member. Contrary to the arrangement we made with Pueblo Bonito, their “welcome letter” informed us they could not take our Carriage Hills unit because SVC would not allow them to own it, being a competitor.

Thus they requested a POA to handle the property, in addition to the original deed, while seeking a buyer, plus cash.  (During one of many subsequent phone conversations, I think we were told they could only accept RTU properties, not deeded or Canadian.)  Their fee was $599, $399 processing plus $200 resort transfer fee — but I think we did manage to get our checks returned along with our deed when they finally cancelled the transaction.

Cutting to the chase, we wound up owning two timeshares. The good news is that we can walk away from Pueblo Bonito when we get ready.  The bad news is that our son, John, apparently will be forced into CH ownership when we die.

Glenda B & Paul G

#122 Lisa L

Hi Irene,

Thank you for listening to Carriage Hills and Ridge owners that want an exit strategy in place. I purchased a red week every other odd year at Carriage Hills in March 2000. I was pleased with this purchase and loved the idea of owning my vacations, using properties that were well maintained and shared with other owners. I didn’t want to stay at hotel type places. I had higher expectations.

At first, things were wonderful. I got what I paid for. Now things have changed!! Staying at Carriage Hills with people renting and paying a small amount of what should be paid for this type of property!  I watched a couple let their children colour with crayon all over the stairs! Management did nothing! Dirty diapers and poop smeared on the change room floor in the women’s change room at the pool. I asked 3 separate people to stop smoking cigarettes and cannabis on the balconies and was ignored and/or sworn at! Dogs are being sneaked onto the property. I am here on site to enjoy my week. I am feeling like I need to enforce the rules!!

I am certain that these are renters. I’ve never encountered anything like this here before the units were added to the rental sites. Thankfully, the employees at Carriage Hills are fantastic!! They handled each of my concerns quickly. I truly believe though, that I’m one of the only people complaining. Since I own here, I take the rules seriously and report the issues. Renters just don’t care.

I’m very concerned about the future of this resort. I’ve loved it for many years and took pride in ownership. Unfortunately, things have changed. I don’t want to own a place like this anymore. There is no exit plan and that is very troubling. Owners can’t give it away. They can’t pay someone to take it. Owners are offering thousands of dollars for someone to take it!! This is not right. Owners at Carriage Hills deserve and need an exit plan. 

Thanks so much, Irene for writing about this 🙂

Lisa L 

#123 Eileen W

Hello Irene, 

My husband and I first bought two deeded red weeks in 1998 at Carriage Hills. We subsequently bought two more weeks, an every other year odd and an every other year even. We have four children and thought they should each inherit a week.  When they told us they didn’t want them, we realized they were not in a position to be able afford the weeks. We later converted our weeks to points.

We also bought an every other year timeshare in Mexico. We bought because they told us they would sell our Shell Vacations/Wyndham timeshare. That was over three years ago. We paid fees and sent our deeds off to Value Traded, but they have never been able to transfer title. So everything is still in our names and we still get maintenance fee bills.

Value Traded claims that our CH/CR resorts won’t co-operate with them and that they have been black-listed.  So over the last three years, Value Traded has paid maintenance fees to us (always late, with penalties which we have covered) and we have forwarded the payments to the collection company CH/CR uses. Last year, we had a postal strike in Canada. We forwarded the invoices to Value Traded five days late (they want to receive them at least 30 days before due date) so they refused to pay. We are now in arrears and accumulating penalties (20% CH, 30% CR) on top of that to the tune of over $5000 for 2019. About two weeks ago we received what was termed a Pre-Legal notice from the collection agency.

I am retired and my husband will soon retire. We want an exit. We are heartsick to think that our points have no value after all the money we invested. We dread the next round of upcoming invoices.  We can no longer afford to be paying so much money every year. To top it off, we keep getting calls with offers to buy our timeshare in Mexico but are so afraid of scams. We just don’t trust the timeshare industry any longer.

Thank you for bringing attention to the plight of owners who have bought into perpetual timeshare contracts.  Many of us are desperate for an exit solution. We really appreciate your efforts on our behalf.

Regards,

Eileen and Kent W

#124 James E

Hi Irene,

I just learned of your postings and extensive efforts to help timeshare owners.  After reading your Letter from America, I am compelled to write to you. A little bit about me.  My wife and I own 4 deeds at CH and CR and joined the Shell Vacations Points option which adds an additional fee each year.  Our fees per year are now over $4,000 CDN. We are retired and on fixed incomes. 

Confronting a timeshare company, individually or as a small group of individuals, is futile and a waste of time. Information about the inner workings of timeshare companies is sparse, fragmented.  One feels like a spectator watching a stage magician perform unbelievable tricks when trying to understand why timeshare companies make owners miserable. I share your thoughts about complaints; that they are easily ignored and tend to be bothersome to the receiver.

#125 Brad G

Not only do I want to exit my timeshare at Carriage Hills, because I no longer reside at a location where I can make best use of the facility (we moved to British Columbia in 2005), but for several other reasons:

  • Annual maintenance fees have been increasing at a rate far and away above the rate of inflation. These imposed costs to owners are simply out of control and cannot be challenged. Nor can owners refuse to pay them.
  • The survivor clause in the owner’s agreement means that these ever-escalating annual costs get passed on to my heirs and successors in perpetuity. That’s ridiculous.
  • The voting structure is apparently rigged to make it effectively impossible for owners to carry any sway at AGMs.
  • Management hides behind privacy laws in order to stonewall any attempt by owners to self-organize.

In what sense are “owners” actually owners? They are not owners in any meaningful or useful sense of the word. Instead, they are sheep that are locked into agreements that guarantee perpetual fleecing rights for management. 

Timeshares once had a value proposition to the prospective buyer in terms of the cost of vacations. In the modern age of Expedia and Trivago, timeshare can no longer claim that value proposition. Instead of providing a competitive accommodation option for the owners, timeshares are simply maintenance fee grabs for a management company that has no real accountability to the owners. This situation must be challenged.

Best regards,

Brad G

#126 Stefan

Hi,

I have been an owner for 20+ years. We converted our original weeks to points ago. First, the annual fees were quite reasonable. We used the weeks as our boys grew up. I have since divorced and really can’t use the exchanges anymore.

I’m 68 years old and about to retire. I don’t want to spend $1,500 a year on something I do not use. I would really like

I’m 68 years old and can’t use it anymore also about to retire, and don’t want to spend $1,500 / year on something i do not use I would really like to exit, however it seems impossible I do not want to give this to my boys to worry about.

I don’t mind spending some $$ to get out but I have heard that exit timeshare programs are all scams.

Help

#127 was Simon, the first Carriage Resort owner to reach out

#128 is the owner who explained the tragedy of the Carriage Timeshare Trap.

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

https://www.udprep.info/june

Bluegreen Facebook

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

Wyndham Facebook

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

Wyndham Carriage Resorts Facebook

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

Sapphire Starpoint: 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 Irene and to all those who submitted their stories, there is something very seriously wrong with the timeshare industry and Inside Timeshare calls on the lawmakers to get a grip and curb these companies with legislation, just as they have done in Spain

That is all for this week have a great weekend and join us for more news and insights on the murky world of timeshare