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A Timeshare HOA Collections Agent Shares her Experience

By Irene Parker, March 13, 2017

Hair pull

Inside Timeshare has written many articles about timeshare transfer agents, but not often does a timeshare developer offer insights from their perspective. Kristie works in HOA Collections at a west coast legacy resort. Her job can’t be easy, so we appreciate Kristie taking the time to answer our questions.  

The timeshare resort asked not to be identified. Attorney Mitchell Reed Sussman’s response to the interview is posted at the end. We reached out to Timeshare Exit Team but they have not responded.

Irene: We are grateful that you have come forward to offer a developer’s point of view. Tell us your biggest concerns.

Kristie: I am excited to have been asked to offer my thoughts concerning this difficult topic and happy to provide any assistance you may need in the future. The biggest problem we see is that only the seller has to sign the deed. One thing that might help alleviate transfer scams is if both the timeshare owner and the resort representative had to sign to sell and receive property. Year to date I have tracked 85 individuals, representing $352,000 in uncollected dues because of what we consider to be fraudulent activity.

We have been able to address many fraudulent practices by working closely with the National Timeshare Owners Association (NTOA). Our establishment met CEO Greg Crist at the TBMA Orlando Conference a few years ago. Since then, we have worked together to stop some of the seemingly never ending fraudulent activity. Greg and his team have always provided positive outcomes. I would encourage every timeshare establishment to reach out to NTOA. They are the best in the industry.

Owners pay transfer companies thousands of dollars to be relieved of their timeshare which in the end often does not relieve them. This negatively affects the current dues paying owner with Maintenance Dues increases due to “Viking ships” that have no intention of paying dues. The term Viking Ships refers to Vikings who put their dead on ships and then shipped them out to sea.

We also work with Dave Heine @ requestmyestoppel.com. His program was set up to try to assist timeshare companies in an effort to stop fraudulent transfer activities by having a place for the purchaser & seller to sign as well as the estoppel & account information pages. His program can be built into any resorts policies. This saves all parties time and money.

Real Life Examples

The following article is about a Waunakee Wisconsin businessman who took over unused timeshares for a fee and will have to refund money to owners and return the timeshares to resorts, according to a consent judgment.

Jail

http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/state-gets-judgment-against-waunakee-time-share-wholesaler/article_11d2cf8b-f2d9-5cdb-86d3-054e9148e417.html

NTOA works behind the scenes in their effort to stop fraudulent transfers.

https://www.ntoassoc.com/

“Most NTOA members are timeshare owners, but twelve HOAs have joined NTOA as non-profit Associate Members. We assist HOA members when an HOA suspects fraudulent activity by working cohesively with the resort under attack while cooperating with and coordinating regulatory and law enforcement agency efforts,” Greg explained.

“Our HOA members agree to abide by NTOA’s Timeshare Owner’s Bill of Rights and Best Practices Agreement. Most if not all legacy resorts, meaning sold out traditional timeshare resorts, fight fraudulent practices on a daily basis. When a deeded timeshare is not properly transferred, the resort must hire a lawyer to resolve “clouded title” issues. This costs a resort from $200 to $2500,” he added.

Our interview continues:

Irene: Question 1 – Have you seen a dramatic increase in owners seeking release or more children and heirs taking over their week?

Kristie: We have seen both. Individuals seek a release because either they don’t want to burden their children or they have stated the kids don’t have the money or the time. Our resort and our owners have matured.  Other reasons for release include age, health, finances or are not able to travel like they used to.

If they do transfer the timeshare to the kids, they have stated it’s because they don’t want to give up the property and because of the wonderful memories. They want to keep the family tradition going.

Question 2 – Have your owners been successful selling their weeks and does your resort maintain a resale department or refer to Licensed Timeshare Resale Brokers?

Some of our owners have had great success selling their week and some have had difficulties. Based on feedback, it seems that it is about 50/50, with half selling on their own and half having a licensed resale company sell it.

When a customer calls we strive to give them all the information they need to make an educated decision. We advise customers about the many frauds and guarantees and to stay away from timeshare attorneys. We advise them of the transfer costs and re recording fees and even provide the paperwork they will need.

Question 3 – What are the some of the problems you have encountered when owners seek release through transfer agents?

We see fraud and incorrect deeds being prepared and recorded.  It seems that nine out of ten transfer companies are fraud and when one gets shut down 20 more open up. We have seen timeshares that have been transferred to individuals and companies that keep buying them but then never pay dues.

We have new transfer policies in place for all resale companies. All companies requesting a transfer must provide their company information so we can make sure they are a legitimate company.  We also cross reference addresses and phone numbers and if we find that the customer has chosen a resale company that is not legitimate we immediately advise the customer.

Question 4 – Are you familiar with Resort Release, endorsed by FOX celebrities Laura Ingraham and Dave Ramsey? If so, what is your opinion?

I am not familiar with Resort Release but I am familiar with radio hosts Laura Ingraham and Dave Ramsey and how they have endorsed certain resale companies. Unfortunately they are endorsing the wrong companies giving false information to clients. They both get paid to endorse companies to make it sound good regardless of the outcome. They are in advertising.

Most resale companies promise to get an owner out of their timeshare, but if it’s a deeded property they have to transfer the deed. The resale company might be able to get someone out of a contract, but they can’t get our customers out of a deed. The deed must be transferred to a legitimate party and all of our transfer procedures must be met for a transfer to be valid.

Question 5 – Are you familiar with Timeshare Exit Team? One of their agents contacted me and asked me to review their program. What is your opinion of this firm?

I would never endorse or advise anyone to use their services ever!! They specialize and advertise “Cancellation of Timeshare Contracts” but we don’t have contracts. We have deeds. We have chosen not to do business with Timeshare Exit Team because of their inability to follow our procedures and because of the quality of work previously sent to us.

Timeshare Exit Team has been involved with two other timeshare resale companies and/or timeshare attorneys that were involved with transferring 18 of our deeds since 2014 to four individuals that have never paid the dues and are delinquent in the amount of over $18,000. Out of the four individuals we were able to track, we learned that they are all associated with each other thru business dealings, contract employees or registered agents. They must assume that the association will eventually foreclose or take the property back but it is very costly to foreclose and we do not accept property back. It seems as long as they get their money they will make an effort, but if it doesn’t work out in their favor they just transfer the deed to anyone without making sure of whom they are selling it to.

Our newest issue is with the US Consumer Attorneys. They also specialize in Timeshare contract cancellations. They have transferred deeds to the same individuals as stated above that have never paid, and seem affiliated with timeshare Attorney Mitchell Reed Sussman.

We were never notified of the transfers and none of the procedures were followed. This seems to be a repeat of the Timeshare Exit Team accounts all over again. We would be happy to work with any timeshare resale company as long as the procedures were followed.

Question 6 – When you deny someone a release, and they foreclose, with no loan, do you or the collection agency file a lien or report this to credit reporting agencies?

The account is considered delinquent 30 days after the due date. We send a few letters before filing a lien on the property. Once the lien is recorded and the customer has received the final notice we send the account to a 3rd party collection agency. They will report the account to the credit bureau. They work the account and report it negatively for a year. After the year we pull the account out of collections and evaluate the account for litigation.

Question 7 – Are there any transfer agencies you feel are appropriate for owners denied surrenders or are they better seeking help from a timeshare attorney?

We refer our clients to a company called The Timeshare Guys @ 877-987-4897. This is a legitimate resale company that we use all the time.

http://www.timeshareguys.com/

We never refer our clients to a timeshare attorney. Everyone we have dealt with has taken money from our owners and not been able to perform the work they promised they would do. The timeshare attorneys send us letters telling us that their clients will no longer pay the dues and we need to transfer the deed back to the association. That is not our policy and unfortunately our customer paid thousands for something an attorney cannot do. In this situation we refer our customer to the Secretary of State, or State Bar Association to file complaints to try to get their money back.

Question 8 – If an owner is denied a release, how likely is it a transfer agent will be able to release the owner, as some transfer agents guarantee a release and others offer money back guarantees? Is there such a thing as a guaranteed transfer agent?

If our owner is denied a release, a transfer agent will certainly not be able to get the owner released. If they offer a guarantee and money back they are only deceiving the customer. The board members are the only ones that have the authority to release a client and there are policies that must be followed for that to happen and it does not happen often.

Question 9 – What do you charge an owner for a one week deed-back if your resort accepts the transfer?

Usually we charge two times the amount of the dues plus hard costs.  Each owner’s request is reviewed by the board and our owner’s situation is taken into consideration. The board will never agree to transfer the deed just because the owner is tired of paying. This is deeded property like a home and is treated as such.   

Question 10 – Are transfer agents necessary? If an owner is denied a release, ads say the owner can get released through a transfer agent. The deed goes back to the developer anyway and the owner can be charged $5000 or more.

Our association would rather deal directly with our owners to avoid the transfer agent fee but it seems the customer reaches out to transfer agent first. If the transfer agents were legitimate they would be helpful because they can prepare & file any paperwork.

Question 11 – Are there any other specific company names you can provide that timeshare owners should watch out for?

 

Kristie: There are so many timeshare resale companies that just pop-up and think they know what to do. I am not sure how they get lists of owners but they get the names and prey like wolves on consumers. Some of companies we have had the most problems with and would advise owner to stay away from are: Tek Solutions, Vacation Ventures, Resort Access, Tanya’s Timeshare, Superhealth Technologies, Sunshine Groves, Sunshine Clearing, Starla Missions, and Fireside Registry, just to name a few. Then we have the deliberate scams that timeshare attorneys and resale companies transfer to – individuals that never pay and never notify us. We usually find out about things like that when the customer gets the bill or we stumble upon it in the recorder’s office.

Irene: Thank you Kristie for answering my questions. It sounds like the popular timeshare slogan “Vacation Planning Simplified” does not apply to vacation un-planning. I learned a lot from Kristie’s answers. It will take some time to digest. Inside Timeshare will continue to unravel the mysteries of our timeshare world.

think box

Mr. Sussman responded as follows:

While I understand their position, the simple fact is that if the timeshare had any value at all….the resort should be thrilled to take it back so that they can resell it for a profit.

Of course, since the timeshare is a liability and not an asset, the resorts refuse to take back what is essentially a lifetime financial obligation.

Senior citizens are especially vulnerable.  When for health reasons or simply lack of income they are unable to utilize the timeshare the resorts have zero sympathy, refuse to take back the timeshare and then report the owner as a deadbeat to the credit reporting agencies.

Shame on them and bravo to any attorney, willing to sue or otherwise punish the resorts for taking advantage of the weak and infirm.

If a resort wants attorney’s in the field of timeshare cancellation to not feel as I do, they should simply agree to take back their timeshare when asked by their owner. Not by the attorney. Why should there have to even be attorneys in this field?

If timeshare resorts maintained a policy that would allow owners who are no longer willing and able to travel out of their timeshare, there would be no need for timeshare attorneys or timeshare transfer companies.

Mitchell Reed Sussman

Attorney at Law

The views expressed in this article are the views of the interviewee. Timeshare transfer agents and the problems resulting from fraudulent transfers – as evidenced by the Department of Justice timeshare scam report linked in our article below – is a subject Inside Timeshare will be closely following.

http://insidetimeshare.com/consumer-protection-week-usa/

 

Inside Timeshare would like to thank Kristie for her time and insight, it gives owners / members more information on this mysterious world called timeshare. Also a big thank you to Attorney Mitchell Reed Sussman, his views on owners being able to hand back without the need of an attorney will, we believe, be welcomed by many on both sides of the pond.

 

We welcome your comments and stories, contact Inside Timeshare if you have something you would like to share. It you the reader who provides the information which will help others.

 

The Tuesday Slot with Irene

In this weeks Tuesday Slot we welcome a new contributor, Haley Saldana, who shares her experience with Resort Relief and Castle Law, the introduction is by Inside Timeshare’s very own Irene Parker.

But first, yesterday it was announced by Canarian Legal Alliance that they have secured a Court of First Instance sentence against Club la Costa, in the number 4 court of Fuengirola.

The case was brought against Club la Costa Leisure Limited by CLA on behalf of their English clients. The main basis for the judgement was the contract did not have an end date, which made it a perpetuity one, this has been declared illegal under Spanish Timeshare Law 42/98, which states that contracts have a duration of between 3 and 50 years.

In this case the contract has been declared null and void, with the clients being refunded a total of £19,442 plus all their legal fees and legal interest.

It is quite clear that the lower courts are following the now 115 rulings made by the Supreme Court, which is good news for all clients who have cases pending or are considering filing claims.

Now for today’s article.

Resort Relief and Castle Law Group’s Tangled Web

Part I: How Haley Saldana Lost $3,495 retaining Resort Relief

Part II June 1: Declarations of former employees of Castle Law Group, P.C. and Castle Marketing Group, LLC

Haley Saldana shares her Castle Law and Resort Relief experience

Introduction by Irene Parker

May 29, 2018

Former Silverleaf member Haley Saldana relates her frustration over a cycle of hopeful vacation promises that ended with a desperate need to get out. More consumer awareness is needed, so Haley has shared her story today hoping people ask the right questions before buying a timeshare or signing up to get out of one. It’s important to examine the reasons why people reach out to a timeshare exit company in the first place.   

Inside Timeshare has heard from 431 mostly angry, overwhelmed, desperate timeshare members. They don’t know where to turn for straight timeshare answers. Most allege that they either bought or upgraded a timeshare from sales agents employing bait and switch tactics. If deceived, or just not understanding the nature of the product they purchased, they soon learn the challenges one faces attempting to be released from a timeshare contract, especially if there is an outstanding loan. The contract is perpetual, and the resort usually dismisses the member with a “You signed a contract.” Some state regulators second that response. With no other way out, the buyer seeks legal or third party assistance, or gets foreclosed. In Haley’s case, seeking third party assistance cost her $3,495 and she still got foreclosed!

Haley explains why she feels she was deceived into purchasing a Silverleaf upgrade. Unable to get help from Silverleaf, she contacted Resort Relief. Haley is 31 years old and her husband Louis, 34. Haley and Louis went from Silverleaf timeshare owner, to Resort Relief, to Castle Law, and ultimately to foreclosure.

Through public filings, we obtained depositions from two former Castle Law Group, P.C. employees. Their descriptions of what it was like to work for Castle Law will be the subject of Friday’s Letter from America.      

By Haley Saldana

I contacted Resort Relief in 2016 after being convinced to make a second Silverleaf timeshare purchase. In 2014 we had paid approximately $11,000 for our first Silverleaf timeshare. We had no problem affording this purchase.

We feel we were deceived into making the second Silverleaf purchase. We could not use the bonus time that went with the original purchase. At a members’ meeting we were told a second purchase or upgrade would give us more availability, but it did not. I contacted Resort Relief. Resort Relief set us up with Castle Law Group. We were charged $3,495 February 2016.

Castle Law Group told us if we talked to Silverleaf they would drop us and keep our money. I heard nothing until I talked to a guy at Castle in 2017. He said to keep not paying and again told us not to talk to Silverleaf. We had gotten a letter from Silverleaf that said we should contact them. We received a second letter from Silverleaf June 23, 2017 that said if we do not pay them what we owed them, it would go against our credit, but we had been instructed not to talk to Silverleaf. By this time it had been well over a year since we had originally contacted Resort Relief February 2016.

I emailed Barb Holland from Castle Law the Silverleaf letter June 23, 2017.

Next, now almost two years later, we got a letter from Silverleaf January 26, 2018 saying that they were proceeding with foreclosure.

We notified Castle Law. Castle responded by letter informing us they no longer represent us because of a serious legal conflict with the organization that referred us to Castle Law Group (Resort Relief).

We contacted Resort Relief. Resort Relief owner Kevin Hanson told us, “I’m sorry, I lost $2 million because of Castle Law. He said that Castle Law Group came back to Resort Relief and said “Here are your clients. Castle Law Group is no longer representing Resort Relief clients.”

You would think Resort Relief would make things right since they were the ones that set us up with Castle Law. Instead, Mr. Hanson said if we pay Resort Relief $750 they will transfer our case to a local attorney. We lost the timeshare through foreclosure, and the $3,495 paid to Resort Relief/Castle Law. I have all the emails confirming this disaster.

Mr. Hanson said Baker & Britt is the local (Conroe Texas) law firm that is representing him (Resort Relief) against Castle Law Group.

On the creditor’s side of the fence, back in March 2017, I interviewed Kristie, an HOA collections agent. Kristie expressed her discomfort with Timeshare Exit Team and timeshare attorney Mitchell Reed Sussman. Countering Kristie’s comments, timeshare attorney Mitchell Sussman Reed responded:  

While I understand their position, the simple fact is that if the timeshare had any value at all….the resort should be thrilled to take it back so that they can resell it for a profit. Of course, since the timeshare is a liability and not an asset; the resorts refuse to take back what is essentially a lifetime financial obligation.

Senior citizens are especially vulnerable. When for health reasons or simply lack of income they are unable to utilize the timeshare the resorts have zero sympathy, refuse to take back the timeshare and then report the owner as a dead beat to the credit reporting agencies.

Shame on them, and bravo to any attorney willing to sue or otherwise punish the resort for taking advantage of the weak and infirm.

If a resort wants attorney’s in the field of timeshare cancellation to not feel as I do, they should simply agree to take back their timeshare when asked by their owner. Not by the attorney. Why should there have to even be attorneys in this field?

If timeshare resorts maintained a policy that would allow owners who are no longer willing and able to travel out of their timeshare, there would be no need for timeshare attorneys or timeshare transfer companies.

Mitchell Reed Sussman

Attorney at Law

http://insidetimeshare.com/timeshare-hoa-collections-agent-shares-experience/

Resort Relief has an A BBB rating! As explained on a TUG post below, an F rating may be more credible than an A+ rating.  

https://www.bbb.org/houston/business-reviews/timeshare-advocates/resort-relief-llc-in-conroe-tx-90046035/reviews-and-complaints?section=complaints

Here’s a complaint almost identical to Haley’s complaint!

Complaint

We were sent a letter from Resort Relief where we were talked to about getting timeshare relief for the Timeshare we have through Silverleaf Resorts and was told that this service was a money back guarantee and that we were going to be able to get out of our timeshare once we paid the $4050.00. We… paid the monies and was referred to Castle Law Group who took the information and received all of our documents for them to proceed. I had no heard from the in sometime so I contacted Castle Law Group for a follow up. I was informed on September 11th that the law firm could no longer represent us due to a conflict of interest and referred me back to Resort Relief. I have been calling nonstop and no one is available to give me information or anything. I have stressed that I want my money back and I am getting tossed back and forth from Resort Relief back to Castle Law Group and back to Resort Relief. This has been stressful and I am not getting anything but a Reba will bet back to me and I haven’t heard anything and the worker that answers the phone Tyler doesn’t either and he knows its stuff going on and can’t tell me.

Thank you, Haley for sharing your disappointing experience after responding to a “Get you out of your timeshare or your money back” ad, powered by massive search engines seeking desperate timeshare members. It’s very difficult to reach Castle Law and when I tried calling Resort Relief I kept getting the busy signal.   

Maybe it’s just me, but I find today’s timeshare product one of the most flawed products in history. First, members contacting us allege they were deceived into buying or upgrading a timeshare. When they complained to the resort, the resort dismissed them with, “You signed a contract.” The member is then driven into the net of a search engine, and contacted by someone that often is a former timeshare sales agent or executive. When we researched one questionable timeshare sales agent, we learned he had several open and closed LLCs with names like Vacation Planning. Hence, the sales agent dangled the bait, made the sale, the timeshare buyer victimized, the exit company next deceived them, and possibly by the very person who sold them the timeshare in the first place! Worse, one snoop removed from our advocacy Facebook, had in his background a company called, Timeshare Fraud Recovery. No question this meets the definition of racketing. The member is defrauded by an exit company and then contacted by the same people offering fraud recovery!     

We’re not lawyers, so Haley and Louis would need to contact a reputable lawyer for an opinion as to where to go from here. Given what money has already gone down the drain, I can understand her reluctance to pursue this further. It’s a mess.  

When a reader asks about an exit company, keeping an open mind, I contact the company, explaining one of our readers asked us whether we would recommend them. Often they hang up the phone after a few questions. Once I received a threat accompanied by a string of expletives. Three timeshare exit companies I contacted I feel are reputable and we have maintained communication in an effort to better understand this murky world of timeshare exits and transfers.   

One timeshare insider provided us with this Timeshare User Group forum (beginning November 2016). I can vouch for one of the licensed brokers mentioned, Judi Kozlowski. Judi has helped us out with a few of our articles.

(Brokers recommended) Fred Messreni

www.timeshare-gallery.com

Seth Nock

www.sellingtimeshares.net

Judi Kozlowski

www.timeshareresalepros.com

Tug review crew comment November 16, 2016

I’m adding one more voice strongly recommending that you steer clear of any and every “exit / release / escape” entity — and to ignore meaningless BBB ratings.

 

You might consider “sweetening” the TUGgiveaway” by now additionally offering to pay the transfer fees — and maybe even the next maintenance fee bill as well (…said bill is likely already in hand at this time of year, or very soon en route to you). You’d still be mathematically “ahead” compared to paying any shaky upfront fee parasite, whoever they may be.

Finding a valid new recipient is infinitely more “clean” and legally conclusive than getting involved with (and/or paying) any upfront fee “exit / release/ escape” entity. Bear in mind that some of these entities are actually committing outright fraud by design …which could boomerang back around to you in the future.

Good luck, but do yourself a big favor and stay away from any and all of these alleged “escape artists”.

TUG Admin February 23, 2018

Looking at your ad, we see you are still asking for money for your Festiva timeshare.

You also don’t appear to be offering to pay closing costs as the seller.

Both of these factors are the reason you are having no success in selling your timeshare…not that fixing them will guarantee a buyer…but having them is certainly guaranteeing that the only folks interested in your ad…are upfront fee scammers.

(You are welcome; we just saved you thousands of dollars being thrown away for an upfront fee company)

Contact any of these independent self-help groups if you have a question or concern about your timeshare.

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

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

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

Thank you Irene and Haley, this industry is in dire need of a major shake up and regulation, the periphery companies such as resale, terminations and claims are a product of the greed of the major developers, with the lack of a resale market and the inability to terminate membership.

If you have any questions or comments regarding this or any other article published on Inside Timeshare, use our contact page and we will get back to you.

Have you been contacted by a termination or claims company, or have found one on the internet and are not sure if they are genuine, then contact Inside Timeshare and we will help you to check them.

Remember, by doing your due diligence and your homework, you will save thousands in the end.

The Tuesday Slot

Welcome to another edition of The Tuesday Slot, this week Irene Parker continues her series of articles on complaints received by 126 Wyndham Carriage Hills and Carriage Ridge Resorts owners. Today Irene highlights complaints 31 through to 60, all these complaints are some of the very worst “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” stories that Inside Timeshare has ever received.

Following on from yesterdays article on the new website Anfi-Illegal-Contracts, it has now come to our attention that emails are now being received by Anfi owners. These are unsolicited emails and are in breach of the current Data Protection Regulations. Inside Timeshare would like to ask any Anfi owner who has received one of these emails to contact us and give us whatever information you have. This way we can publish further warnings.

Now to go on with our “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” stories.

126 Wyndham Carriage Hills and Carriage Ridge Resorts Owners Report Unfair and Deceptive Business Practices

The only responsible exit is to die childless? 

“The knowledge that these timeshares are to be burdens to our children after death is just beyond words. What a hellish thing to get stuck with after you have said your goodbyes to your parents. The children of today are not like ‘’us’’’…… busy lives with not the greatest of jobs if you can’t afford a house or even save for a house.” Rit

“Without question, the stress of the timeshares has been a catalyst for her (grandmother’s) emotional and mental state. In regular conversations with family, she shares her worry about being able to afford the fees, and in more recent months, what will happen to them when she and Gary have passed on.” Stephanie

“I have been responsible with my timeshare and feel now Wyndham should be responsible on their end. The resort is beautiful, but if Wyndham cannot figure a way to take back intervals people do not want or cannot afford, and resell them, then they need to take the option of selling the whole resort.  Quit putting guns to people’s head who can no longer afford their Wyndham Timeshare.” Rebecca

“My grandmother, 75, has her story in this 31-60. Today she attempted suicide for the second time this month. She is once again in hospital. This weighs so heavy on my heart.” 

By Irene Parker and Carriage Owners 31 thru 60 of 126 (continued)

August 27, 2019

False and deceptive advertising: There is no secondary market for Carriage Resorts timeshares, due to what owners feel is an onerous and predatory business practice. In the U.S. and Canada, timeshare buyers were routinely told timeshares are easy to sell, as they were buying deeded real estate. Who would buy a timeshare that pursues even heirs for delinquent maintenance fees, despite heirs not having signed the contract?

Our first article that prompted 126 emailed responses described Legacy timeshare owners not allowed a responsible exit. Six out of eight Legacy Resort owners reported that they had no responsible timeshare exit. One of the eight owners was Simon, who purchased a Wyndham Carriage Resort. https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-64/

ARDA’s Coalition for Responsible Exit https://responsibleexit.com/

Article 2: I reached out to a Canadian friend who, by coincidence, owned at Carriage. I was informed that Carriage Hills and Carriage Ridge owners are taken to court for past due maintenance fees. The elderly, often suffering medical hardship, are sued, and if deceased, their heirs are responsible for maintenance fees. https://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-44/

Article 3: Carriage Hill owner David reports a violation of trust; in that, he was assured his timeshare would be foreclosed. David followed all instructions and received notification he had been foreclosed. Fourteen months later, David has learned he is being pursued for $10,000 in past due maintenance fees.

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

Article drafts were sent to Wyndham media, and Mr. Jason Gamel, Sr. VP Legal at Wyndham, and president of ARDA. Mr. Gamel testified at a Florida legislative workshop on March 12, 2019, that exit companies are not needed because Wyndham has a hardship department. A draft was also sent to Canadian Vacation Owners Association (CVOA). CVOA did respond and have said they will look into this.

(CVOA) Mission Statement

  1. To promote high standards of ethical conduct and professionalism throughout the industry. 
  2. To assist in resolving consumer complaints that involve CVOA Members. 
  3. To consult with all levels of the Canadian Government to ensure fair and equitable operational, taxation and industry advancement policies that govern both our Members and consumers. 
  4. To work on behalf of CVOA Members to promote a better understanding of Vacation Ownership by the public, the media and governments; 
  5. To encourage the beneficial expansion of the Vacation Ownership industry.

http://www.canadianvoa.org/

Carriage Resorts Complaints #31 thru 60

#31 Mary

Hello Irene,

Thank you for taking an interest in the owners of the Carriage Hills and Carriage Ridge timeshares.  My husband and I bought Carriage Hills about 20 years ago when we had two young children and could use our timeshare or easily exchange with RCI.

The resort was taken over by Wyndham. We were encouraged to switch to points, but our exchange company changed, making it almost impossible to exchange. When we attended a session at Carriage Hills to ‘help’ us use our points more effectively, we were basically told that we should pay $16,000 to upgrade to a higher level of service. That was a no go for us!

We realize that we cannot sell our units or even give them away. We did not want our children to be burdened after our death. Apparently, the timeshare becomes part of our estate and our heirs cannot decline to take the timeshare!

We were promised upon purchase that this investment would increase in value.

About a year and a half ago, we were contacted by a Canadian exit company. We attended an information session (I’m not using their name…but their office is in Collingwood). They agreed to take over our two timeshares within one year, for a considerable sum upfront, for their online holiday rental company (Travel Club). There was a money-back guarantee. While we were concerned about the upfront fees, we agreed to use their services. Even before the year was up, they said they could not get us out of our timeshare. They passed us on to an American company who wanted more money. We were told to write letters to Wyndham.

We did not use the American company and told the Canadian company we wanted our money back, as they had not fulfilled their part of the contract. They ignored us. A lawyer is involved. So, we are back to paying fees, trying to find ways to use our points.

Thank you for taking an interest in this situation.

#32 Rebecca R

Dear Ms. Parker, 

I own at both Carriage Hill and Carriage Ridge Resort. I originally purchased Carriage Hill in 2010. In 2012 the sales staff offered a program to switch to points, which I paid for. If I try to sell the timeshare, which is virtually impossible, the points switch back to a deeded week. I was unaware of that. Rising maintenance fees and other fees make selling almost impossible. Maintenance fees in 2010 went up from $844 per year to $1,352, per interval. There is also a club fee of around $400 per year.   

I have contacted Wyndham regarding their exit strategy. I do not wish to own this forever and do not want to will it or gift it to a family member. Owners at Carriage Resorts do not qualify for Wyndham’s Ovation program. This is a shame. 

I have enjoyed Carriage Resorts and exchanging for other resorts, but exchange fees also keep going up. I have stayed at some nice resorts in the US, but think some of these exchanges could have been rented cheaper than what I am paying in yearly fees. 

I have three children. They would never be able to afford these fees.  I am starting to find it a burden myself.

When you have children with schizophrenia and learning disabilities, things get very expensive and I worry that this timeshare will be forced on them and forced on me, as years go on.  This will truly be unfair and unrealistic for them and for me. I will fight tooth and nail before I allow this to happen to my children.

I have been responsible with my timeshare and feel now Wyndham should be responsible on their end.

The resort is beautiful, but if Wyndham cannot figure a way to take back intervals people do not want or cannot afford, and resell them, then they need to take the option of selling the whole resort. Quit putting guns to people’s head who can no longer afford the timeshare. 

There are many options that could be looked at:

  • Let people out after 15, 20 or 30 years, even if there is some kind of reasonable fee to do this. Don’t hold them forever!  That is not doable. 
  • Seriously reach out to people that own, and I mean make a huge effort, to get a vote from people to sell the whole resort if that is what it takes.
  • The area where the resort is located is becoming popular.  It’s a nice area. I repeat, do something to resell the units of people who want out or sell the resort. Good gracious, get creative!

Doing nothing or suing people is not sustainable and gives Wyndham and the resort a bad name. It puts extreme stress on people who cannot afford it. At some point, I would like to exit and not burden my family. Wyndham needs to take some necessary steps.

I would also like to see some legislation put in place that better protects the consumer. This is so, so important for the timeshare industry.

Sincerely,

#33 Linda B

Hello Irene,

We too have been trying to exit our timeshare. I have been taken in twice by companies claiming to be able to re-sell our timeshare. Wyndham says we need to find our own buyer. We have used and enjoyed it regularly, but age has caught up with us. We can no longer spend as we used to. Our children are adamant about not inheriting this burden, yet there is no way out. People who might be interested in purchasing bow out when they hear the fees. It is discouraging to hear that others can get rooms cheaper using Expedia than what members pay.

We worry about delinquency rates climbing. This is not sustainable. We need help to convince our Board, SVC, and Wyndham that members need to be able to surrender deeds back when the time comes. 

Thank you.

Linda B

#34 Suzanne T

Irene,

We have owned our CH timeshare for many years and have looked into getting out. When we investigated, we saw that many people were giving away their timeshares for $1 or had them listed on various sites for months. Very few were able to sell even for $1. Our maintenance fees are over $1000 yearly. It is getting harder to pay these fees now that we are retired. RCI exchange fees keep going up as well.

We contacted our attorney here in Michigan. He informed us that not only would it be a problem for us if we stopped paying our maintenance fees, but that our children will inherit this headache once we die!! This is insane! Please help us share this information with the public to help convince Wyndham to give us a “true” exit strategy!

Sincerely,

Fred and Suzanne T

#35 Adele C

Hello Ms. Parker,

We were given this timeshare in 2014. We only paid lawyer’s fees. As we have small children, we thought it was a great idea. After two visits, we decided that Carriage Hills was not ideal for us. With much difficulty, we managed to exchange our week via RCI. Owning weeks, not points, made exchanging our timeshare nearly impossible.

This year we attempted to sublet our week but were unable to find an interested party for March break OR for the first week of July (which coincided with a nearby Rolling Stones concert). We ended up grudgingly using the week ourselves. We found the staff unfriendly and the resort in dire need of upkeep.

We sat through a timeshare presentation but were not interested in spending thousands of dollars to switch to points, which they touted as superior in flexibility and convenience. The annual maintenance fee is an obligation we no longer wish to continue. When we spoke to the Carriage Hills staff about giving our share back, they informed us that there was no mechanism to release us from this obligation. Considering there are dozens of listings on the owner’s association web site, people trying to give away their timeshares, I don’t see a feasible exit. We don’t want this to affect our credit rating. As a young family, this could have a major impact.

#36 Ehab J

Dear Irene,

I have been an owner at Carriage Hills since 2002. I am shocked at what I am witnessing:

1.  There is no exit plan. We thought this was an asset. How can this be legal? Why, as owners, can we not change this?  What owner in their right mind would not want an exit plan? It doesn’t make any sense.

2.  Communication from Wyndham is abysmal, to say the least. I have contacted Wyndham numerous times over the last few years asking them why I don’t get any email updates. Their response is always the same: I am on a “do not contact” list. How could I possibly be on a “do not contact” list when I never requested to be on one? And why can’t they just remove me off the do not contact list? Once again, it makes no sense.

3.  Maintenance fees keep going up to a ridiculous amount. How much further will they go up? My timeshare has become of less value (it’s beyond worthless). The public can rent for less than what I pay in maintenance fees. This is simply theft in my opinion.

Given the above, this timeshare is not sustainable. So my question is:  What happens now?

How can the biggest timeshare company in the world allow this? How can they treat owners like us with such disrespect, lack of communication and transparency, holding us hostage?

Shame on them

#37 Cindy B

Hello Irene, 

Thank you for taking the time to listen to our sad dilemmas. My late husband and I bought at Carriage Hills over 20 years ago. We enjoyed the resort for many years until our maintenance fees increased at an alarming rate. My late husband took care of the timeshare. Now I am left to pick up the pieces. I am finding out that our vacation spot is worth absolutely nothing. As a widow, this was a devastating blow.  Wyndham closed its sales office. Carriage Hills resort owners are trying to give away their timeshares, some with huge incentives.

Wyndham offered an exit program for some, but it seems Wyndham has left us out in the cold. After reading how they are sending collections after seniors, it is so sad. Something has to be done. We are an ageing population and will find ourselves in the same situation. 

Thank you and appreciate anything that can be done to raise awareness.

#38 Pat S

Hello Irene.

My husband and I bought a red week Carriage Hills timeshare in 1999.

We were told at the time we were buying a piece of real estate which would increase in value.

We soon found out when we tried to sell it that this was untrue. It has no resale value.

Last year my husband passed away and I contacted Wyndham to find out if they would please take back the timeshare as I no longer have the income to keep paying maintenance fees. I was told they are not taking any deeds back and my only way out was to sell the timeshare. I told them we tried several times to sell but we’re unable to do so.

I was told there was nothing Wyndham could do.

Thank you for taking an interest in our problem.

Patricia S

#39 Chuck L

Hi Irene 

My wife and I own 1 week of timeshare at the Hills and 3 weeks at the Ridge. When we purchased at Carriage Hills in 2007, annual maintenance fee was $668. Last year (2018) the annual maintenance fee was $1351. That means the annual fee has more than doubled in 11 years. The 3 weeks at the Ridge were purchased in 2008. Annual maintenance fee at the time was $759 and in 2018 was $1325, slightly less than double in the 10 year period. 

When we purchased, we were led to believe that we could enjoy the benefits of the ownership and should we choose to do differently years later, we would be able to sell the timeshare.

The ability to sell appears to be nil, and worse, many owners are now trapped into paying increasing annual maintenance fees as their ability to pay those fees become more difficult as they age. Wyndham represents that they have a way out for owners through their Ovation program, but Carriage Hills and Ridge owners are unable to access this program.

In my case, my wife was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s in 2013, and she now requires 24-hour care. I am her caregiver.

The ability to sell our ownership, or even give it away appears to be non-existent.  I believe that Wyndham has created a situation that traps owners for their own benefit. There is no reasonable way out, so I have no choice but to continue to pay the ever-increasing annual maintenance fees.

I hope this helps you understand the difficult situation I find myself in, as well as many other Hills and Ridge owners.

Thanks for taking the time to look into our predicament. 

Charles (Chuck) L

#40 Kate

Hi, Irene,

I’m an owner of the above-mentioned resort since 2000, 

I’m interested to find a way to sell the timeshare. 

Sincerely, 

Kate 

#41 Ali N

 Hello. 

We would like to add our voices loud and clear to the exit movement … I sincerely believe the sales tactics were not fair for they were loaded with empty promises. Try booking an overseas vacation, it never materializes.  It’s always been cheaper and convenient with other providers. My whole family of 5 is currently touring the UK. Try booking a 2-night stay in Paris France….. It’s outrageously difficult and damn expensive. We want out! We own 2 “deeds”

#42 Marg M

Hi Irene 

Brandi Hope at Wyndham Carriage Hills and Carriage Resorts is our Administrative Assistant.  We were instructed to send our first document for transfer approval to her. I can honestly say she is wonderful and got back to me in a timely manner.

Original report:

Good morning Irene

My husband David and I have been owners at Carriage Hills since approximately 1998. We were promised that we could sell it without a problem and that it would go up in value (we realize things can go down but not to $0!).

We were told by our salesperson that they would be building a gondola from Carriage Hills to get to Horseshoe, but this never materialized. There is no exit option via the Ovation programme that Wyndham touts.

When we try to contact our committee or Wyndham about exiting, the responses are always negative. They suggest we get in touch with an exit company. They want an extortionate amount of money upfront.

From stories we have heard they are pretty much a scam.  As we get older we can no longer afford escalating maintenance fees. Our children do not want to inherit this burden. We desperately need an exit. 

As people default on maintenance fees, they are taken to claims court and apparently money is recouped, BUT part of our maintenance fees is supposedly paying towards the defaulters’ maintenance fees. I have asked if this is true. If so, then why are we still paying towards that and why have we not been reimbursed or our maintenance fees reduced as fees are recouped?

We actually have a person interested in taking over our week, after advertising for years. We are going to pay the $1500 lawyer’s fee and give the buyer a gift card. After I contacted the lawyer, I find I don’t even have the correct paperwork to do this. Until I do, they won’t even take on the sale. I have contacted Brandi at the resort to get the needed paperwork. She said she would have part of it forwarded to the lawyer, but the original contract has to come from corporate in Florida. I am currently trying to find a number to contact. This is proving very difficult as no one seems to be able to help. 

Sorry for the long-winded. I understand you have been looking into the timeshare industry. We thank you for that; finally, someone is trying to help us. 

Margaret and David M

#43 Lynn H

Hi Irene,

We own at Carriage Ridge resorts. We are desperate for an exit strategy. We try to use our time every year but it is not easy. We no longer ski as we are getting older and our kids are not interested in using the resort.

We are one of the lucky ones, I say loosely, as we were able to find a buyer for a couple of weeks we owned. By saying buyer I mean “We gave them our paid-up 2019 weeks and also paid the lawyer fees,” so to transfer over these weeks cost us $4,150.22.

Our buyer wanted to buy our points.

Since Wyndham reverts points back to weeks when you sell, our buyer decided they wouldn’t take one of our weeks.

Now we have a white week left.  We will never be able to find a buyer. It’s only good for booking during 10 off-season weeks of the year. The only way we will be able to get out is through an exit program.

Personally, I think that there may be some buyers out there, but Wyndham’s policies make it difficult. Renters (through Expedia) get a much better deal. We need an Ovations program.

Thank you for your interest!

Lynn and Brian H

#44 Stephanie C

Irene, 

Thank you for taking up this cause. I write to you on behalf of my grandparents. I have been working with my grandmother to handle this timeshare for the last few years. 

Sandra and Gary have been owners at Carriage Hills & Carriage Ridge since the 90’s, and are of the Elite designation. The initial purchase was made with the intent to travel, as YRDSB teachers with summers off. The location of CH and CR was convenient, bringing friends, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Value was found in the timeshare, based on the information provided by the sales representatives.

Initially, annual fees were approximately $ 650 per unit, but 2019 fees were approximately $1500 per unit. Despite this substantial increase, there has been little to no change or improvement to CH and CR. This fee is not affordable.

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

Gary was the breadwinner, being a pensioned teacher, he supported the household. When he was moved to 24-hour care, his insurance only covered a portion. Sandra resides in their home with an adult son, who is not employed. There is nothing frivolous about her life, and her joy comes in the form of making beautiful, handmade quilts.

Sandra has long struggled with depression. In the last 4 years, there has been deterioration in her health. She sees Gary once a week. On June 30 2019, they reached 53 years married. Imagine being married for 53 years, and then having so much stress that you can’t make it out to visit.

Without question, the stress of the timeshares has been a catalyst for her emotional and mental state. In regular conversations with family, she shares her worry about being able to afford the fees, and in more recent months what will happen them when she and Gary have passed on.

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

There is no way out of the timeshare, the fee to sell to another is substantial, the lawyer’s fees even higher. Couple this timeshare with the cuts to health and social programs that Ontario is seeing. It is really a crisis.

 Sandra’s wish is to be able to sell back or return the timeshares to Wyndham… even to transfer to a relative is a 1500$ fee and 1500$ x 5 is exorbitant. Her wish is to stop worrying about choosing these fees over her needs. She found hope in the exit program Wyndham offers, only to learn that they are not extended to CH and CR owners.

As of today, Saturday, Aug 17, my grandmother is arriving shortly at my home as she cannot be left alone. She spent the last 8 days in the hospital due to a change in medication and a depression spell. An exit strategy would be life-changing for her. 

#45 Rita D

I owned at Carriage. Hills and Carriage Ridge for 20 years, but have not stayed at the

Resort much. I used it for exchange. The time has come to EXIT. 

Many owners wish for a smooth exit. Maintenance and exchange fees are high. Being on pension and not getting any younger. Soon there will be no travelling.  In fact, it has already begun with my husband needing surgery soon.

The knowledge that these timeshares are to be burdens to our children after death is just

beyond words. What a hellish thing to get stuck with after you have said your goodbyes to your parents. The children of today are not like ‘’us’’’…… busy lives with not the greatest of jobs if you can’t afford a house or even save for a house.

Our generation has this BURDEN because of pushy misleading salespeople.

I don’t want the next generation to suffer and HATE their parents for their unfortunate mistake.

We, owners, are praying for an EXIT solution. We are very frustrated that there is NO answer or help.

Thank you for your interest in reading the Emails.

Rita D

#46 David M

Hi Irene

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

Five/six years ago our daughter came into financial ruin after a divorce. She had two young children. We had no choice but to support her. This went on for years and nearly ruined us.

I actually spoke to the President of our HOA at the time to find out the consequences of not paying maintenance fees. I was told calls from Shell Collections would occur, then files sent to outside collections, then foreclosure after no payment and after about eight months. We also called SVC. They said the same process would be followed.

After a great deal of thought and worry, we had no choice but to become delinquent ruining our credit rating. All the processes told to us by the Carriage Hills Association President and managers from Shell were followed. We received numerous calls. Everyone understood our financial issues. I returned every call I received. 

After seven months we received letters from the outside collection company saying that because of no payment arrangements, the files would be closed and sent to foreclosure. I have those letters in my notes and file. 

We never heard anything for 14 months – no calls, no letters. Then, all of a sudden, after 14 months, we received a notice threatening court and that we owed 10,000.00 in fees and penalties. 

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

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

The perpetuities issue, given there is no secondary market, is ruining ageing owners who were told resale would not be an issue. Does Wyndham and Carriage Hills truly believe ruining everyone’s retirement years with worry creating nightmares for executors trying to close the estates of Shell Owners, is the way to treat people!  In addition to all this heartache, my wife, 74 years old, fell two years ago and broke her pelvis. She is learning to walk again. She uses a cane, can’t walk any distance, can’t carry anything while she walks, and certainly can’t travel any distance without great agony. 

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

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

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

David M

Ontario

#47 Marg K

We have been owners at Carriage Hills Timeshare since our purchase in 1999.  I don’t believe I need to recount the process used to reel us in as it is no different than everyone else.  Free weekend but spent in the grip of charming, fast-talking and manipulative salesmen. They talked nonstop during the signing process, skimming over the contract in summary fashion, asking for initials at critical statements, and was done over a fancy breakfast with no opportunity to take it away to review, as we had to check out by 10:00.  Never did they state this ownership was a life sentence for us and our children and grandchildren.

We were told of the advantage of deeded ownership is the ability to sell, and like real estate, would only increase in value.

In the fall of 2017, we were desperate to unload this timeshare. We fell prey to the second layer of deceit and spent at least $8,000 in a tiered resale scheme with Genesky, Cyria who supposedly worked with Timeshare Exit in the US to sell back our unit. They said they had great success in doing this for Carriage Hills units, as they were hot on the market, given the strength of the US dollar. We got a few emails, excuses of people who had left, and a new caseworker assigned to one that claimed a key person to our case had died. 

We are seniors on fixed incomes who have also found ourselves sadly in a late-life divorce.

Our children are not in a position to assume this ownership and unless one of them signs off to take it, the last surviving spouse’s estate can’t be settled and costs will continue to accrue. 

Wyndham is not running this resort as a timeshare, but bleeding us to pay for their investment and vacation club.  They have bullied us in board elections and even if we got more members voting, they would exercise their ability to have more voting power. We will never win.

They have shut us out of a voice on site to advertise units. And why, unless for self-serving reasons? They do this while plastering their posters everywhere. Wyndham knows that as individuals, we can’t fight them and win, nor do we have the financial resources.  If they have been so callous in dealing with senior hardship cases, you are already aware we have no hope. 

I don’t know what you can do to help us, but it does appear other provinces and counties have recognized this is a serious issue – taking advantage of seniors and vulnerable others of all ages, with no exit plan to ever escape and yes, we feel in prison.

Feel free to contact me if you want and thanks for highlighting our resort and sad situation.

Marg

#48 Heather T

Good morning, 

We purchased back in 2000. It was a foolish decision. Our plans were to exchange and use it for our honeymoon, somewhere tropical.  We quickly found out that it wasn’t quite as valuable as was indicated and booked something else through a travel agent. Well, you can’t go back in time. Today we are more financially stable and we do enjoy our time at Carriage Hills and exchanges through RCI.  

Our concern is when we get older or pass on, this will need to go to someone and we have no choice. Yes, we are using it trying to make the best of it, but we don’t want to put that on someone else, especially not our kids.

I see stories of people who need out and feel so bad for them, but also realize we will be there sooner than we think. We need a viable exit plan or even a rental system so people can make their fees back so won’t need to default. 

That’s all, thanks for your time!

#49 A & Mellissa S

Hello Irene,

I am a fairly new owner. My husband and I purchased a resale week just last year. Now if I had known how owners were being treated by Wyndham, I would have never purchased. We live close to the resort and bought there so that we could use the facilities regularly for day use, as well as enjoying our allotted time.

We did not know how high the maintenance fees would be or that we could stay cheaper without being owners. We are a young family and look forward to using our time. But what happens when we can’t use this anymore? We can’t burden our kids with this. There needs to be a fair exit. I worry how we will pay maintenance fees if they continue to rise at such an alarming rate. 

I know other families who would love to purchase for the same reasons my husband and I have… but I won’t allow my friends or family to be suckered into this until there is a safe way to get out and some kinda cap on the rising cost.

Thank you for your time and hoping all will be heard. 

#50 Linda D

Hi Irene,

We wish to add our voices to the many other owners who are looking for an exit strategy. We have owned since 2002. We believed the sales pitch and purchased another biyearly week to convert to Shells Vacations in 2003.

The ramifications of “in perpetuity” were not explained.

We were told this timeshare was an investment and an asset that COULD be passed to our heirs, not forced upon them.

To be fair, we have actually used and continue to use the timeshare to exchange and obtain prepaid debit cards. We are, however, getting older and our travelling style has changed over the years. This timeshare really no longer works for us.

We have made the foolish mistake of paying Secondary Ownership upfront to “sell” our timeshare to no avail. They called the fee an advertising fee. This company also called to offer us an exit if we would pay thousands of more dollars for them to facilitate an exit which fortunately we did not fall for.

I have no idea if any other people have had any success with this strategy. We also attempted to use Wyndham Ovations program but were told our resort was ineligible because it was an affiliate. Our attempts to sell or give away have not been successful.

We do believe that one should live up to their financial commitments, but we also believe that people who can no longer travel for health reasons, age, and changed financial circumstances, should have a viable strategy.

There are way too many stories of owners being prosecuted over unpaid maintenance fees. In some cases, the lawsuit may be justified, however, in many, many cases people are elderly, in frail health and have limited financial resources. These people should have a case for an exit for compassionate reasons.

As seniors, we now live on a fixed income and the ever-increasing maintenance fees are becoming a burden. As we age we will not be able to travel as we currently do.  We do not wish to find ourselves in the position of being unable to use the timeshare but still having to pay the maintenance fees. More disturbing though, is that we can’t seem to even give these timeshares away.  Our children have no interest in them.

Suing heirs is a completely unacceptable practice since they had no say in the original purchase.

We would be happy to give our timeshare away or have the options such as a deed back program or the ability to let it go into foreclosure. We just want out!

George and Linda D

#51 Arlene S

I own an every other year white week at each of these resorts, purchased when it was still under Shell Vacations. We bought these properties because they were close to home and easily accessible to take the grandkids skiing.

Three years ago my husband died, and since I cannot drive, it became a problem to get to the resort. I was coerced into converting to points when I bought the Ridge week.

I decided to exchange to other Shell properties. To date I have made two trips to Kona with family, mostly just to use the points I paid for. I enjoyed both vacations but believe I could have found cheaper accommodations booking online.

When we made our original purchase, the maintenance fee was about $500 per year and easily affordable. It has now tripled. In addition, we also have to pay a membership fee to RCI even though it is doubtful we would ever exchange.

We bought from Shell Vacations Club, not Wyndham, and their properties are the ones I wish to visit. For now, I have no major complaints with our timeshare, but I foresee problems soon. I am approaching 80 and not as mobile as I once was. I was considering naming my daughter as a co-owner but am having second thoughts, considering the problems other owners are having disposing of their obligations. I calculate I have spent about $100,000 in capital costs and maintenance fees. Surely the property should have some value. I am sure if Wyndham decided to sell off these properties, located in a prime vacation area, and well maintained by the fees paid by the owners, they would make a huge profit.

Timeshare properties were once a good idea, but with all the options available now, such as Airbnb, Expedia, Trivago, to name a few, they are no longer a good investment. The sales pitch when we bought was since this was a deeded property, we could always sell. From the complaints, I realize that I would have to pay to have someone take it off my hands. I hope that with all the owners banding together and with some legal intervention, we can force Wyndham to honour our legal deeds and provide an exit strategy when I can no longer use this property.

#52 Cindy L

Hello Irene,

My husband and I have been owners at CH/CR for many years.  We have not used the CH/CR location in many years but have exchanged our timeshare thru RCI.  

We have many concerns with the CH/CR timeshare as we age and eventually will not be able to use it. We do not want to burden our children with maintenance fees on a timeshare they will not use. We are very concerned about the dollars in arrears due to timeshare owners not being able to pay the escalating maintenance fees for various reasons. Lastly, we are concerned about the lack of an exit strategy. These issues need to be addressed and solutions in place sooner rather than later. Owners are not getting younger and can’t seem to give away their timeshare, let alone sell.

Thank you for your time.

Cindy and Jeff L

#53 Pamela R

Hello Irene and thank you for taking the time to hear our stories.

My husband and I purchased every other year at carriage hills around 2000. A few years later we purchased Carriage Ridge every other year in order to enter the points system.

My husband has multiple sclerosis and has become wheelchair-bound. He doesn’t accompany me on my timeshare trips anymore, but my mom does. The future for me is that my mom is ageing and my husband can’t be left by himself, so I hire people to come in. It won’t be long before we will want to exit.

It worked for us for 19 years so why can’t it work for someone else? Maintenance fees and the ability to get good rental rates and the threat of forever with no exit – that’s why. Please help us to make Wyndham aware that their product must be appealing. Help us make them realize they need to revamp the product to bring in new owners through resale and added perks etc.

Thank you ahead of time for your interest and help.

Pamela R

#54 Desiree S

Hi Irene

Please add my name to the list of people looking for an exit. I bought many years ago when my children were young. I was divorced with 3 kids. I started with the bi-annual contract for a relatively small amount of points. Over the years I added more points and therefore more contracts. Maintenance fees have steadily increased. I don’t understand why my first contract, which doesn’t have as many points, has a Maintenance Fee as expensive as the others. With these price increases, it’s become exceedingly difficult to keep up payments. I have also heard about people being taken to court if they default on their maintenance fees. In fact, I think I know the paralegal who is handling this, just coincidentally. I’m trying to use my points as much as possible but I most definitely want to have an exit strategy.

Désirée S

#55 Adam P

Irene,

My wife and I are in our early 40’s and have owned at Ridge since before Shell bought the resort. We’ve never been a part of Shell Vacation Club, and have always either used it or exchanged through RCI. We love going up, and do make great use of our ownership, but the ever-increasing maintenance fees, ageing ownership, and Wyndham’s apparent lack of desire to keep the resort functioning as a timeshare make it increasingly important that there be a viable exit, so that we can get owners in that actually can and want to use the resort.

Without a way for that to happen, what happened with the Lodges at Horseshoe Resort will happen with Ridge and Hills (rising maintenance causes defaults, which raises maintenance fees, repeat till resort dies. That’s an oversimplification, but not unique)

We don’t want out now, but we will eventually. I don’t want our daughter or our estate to have to deal with all this if something were to happen to us.

#56 Josh J

Hi Irene,

I bought two weeks at Carriage Hills 16 years ago and I wish to sell. The fact that there is no exit strategy is beyond comprehension. My financial situation has changed dramatically and I need an exit strategy. I would have never purchased this timeshare had I known this.   

Thanking you in advance, 

#57 Anne & John G

In March 1998 my husband John and I purchased a week timeshare at Carriage Hills.  In October 2010, in order to have our weeks changed to points, we also purchased an every odd year ownership with Shell Vacations Club. We took early retirement in 2008 and unfortunately, our pensions are now almost depleted.  We are going to have to sell our house, pay off the mortgage and use the balance to cover us for the rest of our lives.

Obviously, we are looking at ways to save money. When we bought, we were given the impression that we would be able to sell the timeshares and make a profit. Now we can’t give them away. It has been suggested to sell/give to a friend. I cannot in good conscience do that! Although we have enjoyed having the timeshares over the years it is essential to get an exit.

Ann & John G

#58 Charles H

Hi Irene,

You don’t know me nor I you. My story goes, I was only a very young man, 19 years old I believe, and I went away with my then-girlfriend. They convinced me to buy this luxurious vacation. Now I didn’t have a lot of money then so it was clear it would have been a struggle for me to pay, but here we are. Obviously, I was qualified and able to pay for my timeshare. Years went by and by now the ex and I have split. We try and split our weeks Monday to Thursday and Friday – Sunday, basically? But we’ve been trying to sell this timeshare for over 7 years to no prevail. We paid an online company to market and sell and still no buyers. I’m convinced I’ll be paying for this for the rest of my life

Please help. I owe nothing as I paid for my timeshare in full, why on earth can I not get OUT!!!!!

#59 Lois B

I am an owner for 19 years. I now live at the Resort area so use it all the time. The fees are too high and with our current set up, fees will only go higher as owners sell or try to sell. It is hard to sell to others, due to the locked-in financial setup. We will go the way of the timeshare at Horseshoe Resort…owners forced out or paying exorbitantly to stay (Now turned into condos selling for $450 000 to high $500 000 and almost all sold out). They have lots of value now and selling well, located three minutes from Carriage Hills.

We need an exit option and we need it ASAP. 

I never voted on taking people to court, but I also do not want to pay their fees from my pocket. We need a creative win-win situation. Our CARRIAGE Hills Resort is valuable and on prime land in a great recreational destination area. We are on a gem. 

Thank you for what you do. 

Lois B

#60 Karen D

Hi Irene,

Thanks for your interest in our stories!

We bought in the ’90s and have many fond memories with our two daughters of trips to Carriage Hills and Ridge and at traded locations. First grandchild coming soon and can’t wait to have a grandparent week there every year with grandchildren for probably 15 more years!

But then…..who knows what position this beautiful place will be in!

I’m not proud to be part of a group that is treating our older generation so poorly. And it needs to change quickly. Yet there really is no interest in change, just profit.

I feel sure Owner unification will help the owners and the corporation find common interests and agreeable solutions that all can live with. Technology can be used to get a lot of owners and their authorized representatives (beneficiaries) together-physically and remotely, and find solutions.

I really hope you are able to help in any way.

Sincerely,

Bernard and Karen D

How can any company in good conscience operate in this fashion? Thank you to Carriage Owners who responded to Simon’s original complaint reported August 8 and August 16.

Who would ever buy a timeshare if they understood the perpetual contract had no secondary market, holding heirs who did not agree or sign a contract responsible? At least CVOA is listening, and according to their mission statement, will see the futility in this stay vacationed or else demand.

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

Free at Last Facebook Straight-A Guide

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

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

https://www.udprep.info/june

Bluegreen Facebook

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

Wyndham Facebook

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

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

Diamond Resort Facebook

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

Gold Key Facebook

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

Inside Timeshare Facebook

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

Thank you Irene and thank you to all who have contacted Inside Timeshare with their “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” stories. We will continue to highlight these and hopefully the industry will eventually take notice and change the way they work, Inside Timeshare knows this is a long shot, but remember that coming together makes everyone stronger.

Friday’s Letter from America

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

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

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

Children and Grandchildren held Timeshare Hostage

By David M, a Carriage Hills Owner

August 23, 2019

Introduction by Irene Parker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Heir Scare published Halloween 2018

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

Our Wyndham Carriage Hills Experience by David M

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

David M

Ontario

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

Free at Last Facebook Straight-A Guide

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

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

https://www.udprep.info/june

Bluegreen Facebook

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

Wyndham Facebook

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

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

Diamond Resort Facebook

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

Gold Key Facebook

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

Inside Timeshare Facebook

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

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

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

Have a great weekend and join us again next week.

The Tuesday Slot

Welcome to the Tuesday Slot, this article replaces the one originally scheduled as at the last minute the problem may have been resolved, news on this will be published when we have confirmation. So this week we publish the results of the election where our very own Irene Parker stood to be elected to the HOA Board of Diamond US Collections as a representative of all members.

As for news from Europe, the courts have not issued any new sentences, although many cases have been heard.

On the fake “lawyers” front Inside Timeshare has received many emails from anxious owners being contacted by those we have highlighted. All are telling the same story, their timeshare company has been taken to court and found guilty, they have awarded the owners so many thousands of pounds in compensation, but to release it they must first send 20% of the awarded amount to cover tax. For those of you who are familiar with our articles, you know what this is, a complete and utter scam.

Since our article about Silverpoint on 3 October, Inside Timeshare has been overwhelmed with emails from very concerned purchasers, this has resulted in the lack of article being published. It was felt that these enquiries were to be answered and addressed, so our apologies for the lack of articles.

We have also received an email from one reader who has contacted a law firm in the UK and they want £850 to conduct a viability report to see if there is a claim on a no win no fee basis! For a more intense report they want £1,200 This law firm Seth Lovis is charging money from a timeshare owner to see if they can take on her case!

This is totally unethical, Inside Timeshare will do this for free, then we will pass you on to a lawyer who has the experience in this field.

Now for our Tuesday Slot.

Diamond Resorts Election Results – U.S Collection HOA Board

5,387,000 Votes! A Landslide Psychological Victory

By Irene Parker, Candidate finishing #8

October 16, 2018

Diamond Resorts announced election results for their U.S. Collection which was held  October 10, 2018. I finished #8 with 5,387,000 votes.

I have been researching this industry for over three years now. I keep hearing the same complaints over and over from those who bought timeshares from several developers. It’s a broken record coming from 614 families, as of October 14, all but a handful alleging unfair and deceptive sales practices.

My husband and I owned three timeshares for 30 years, our life revolving around the next vacation. I didn’t even know how to use Facebook until I attended a pathetically aggressive timeshare presentation in 2015. I wrote a couple articles and started to hear from timeshare buyers complaining of unfair and deceptive sales practices. I saw that there were a number of Attorneys General investigations and settlements launched against several developers.

I resent being called an “industry hater” by one developer, as I loved this industry for 30 years. It is preposterous for timeshare lobbyists and developers to insist there is no problem with the front end of the timeshare sale – only with exit companies “targeting” timeshare members who would otherwise be happy timeshare owners. Families report being financially devastated and don’t know where to turn.

I have always said half a problem goes away when confronted. Either the industry will confront the deceit on the front end of the sale, or Timeshare Wars continue.

All but a handful of the 621 families have reported:    

  1. They said it was an investment,
  2. They said it was easy to sell,
  3. They said to fill out an application to see if we were eligible, but they opened a credit card and charged it for the purchase (or down payment),
  4. They said we could pay our maintenance fees with this new program, but the program didn’t exit,
  5. They said we could sell our timeshare if we bought more points, but the program didn’t exist,
  6. They said we could pay our maintenance fees by using a credit card, but we would have to charge $200,000 in a year to pay a $2,000 maintenance fee,  
  7. They said airfare would be included when we booked a stay,
  8. The sales agent said the last agent did not sell us enough points,
  9. They showed us a book of resorts, but there is never any availability when we try to book,
  10. They said we could rent our timeshare, but the resort does not allow this,
  11. They said if we did not give up our deed and buy points, our children’s’ credit would be destroyed if something happened to us,
  12. Hours long tag-team, high pressure, aggressive sales presentations,
  13. They said if we didn’t change to another program our maintenance fees will go through the roof,
  14. I should not have bought a timeshare in Hawaii because they have hurricanes,
  15. I should not have bought a timeshare in Florida because they have hurricanes,
  16. The sales agent said he would be my personal representative, but he never returned my calls or text messages.    

Timeshare Advocacy Group™ mission statement:

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.

Our Diamond Resorts member-sponsored advocacy Facebook launched by an economics professor broke 2,000 members today:

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

My campaign bio:

Irene Parker has experience and knowledge in the fields of finance, sales and marketing. Irene holds an MBA from St. Louis University, and holds a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) certificate. Irene retired from Edward Jones Hawaii. She served as a founding member of the Salvation Army Board of Directors, Waimea, a member of the Condo Board at One Archer Lane, Honolulu, a member of The Ombudsman Advisory Board in Kentucky, and was a Kentucky CASA supervisor.

You did!

Thank you,

Irene

Timeshare Advocacy Group™

Facilitator

Well, all we can say is well done to Irene, you certainly gave them a run for their money, your hard work and tenacity has proven that the little people can make a difference. Also a very big thank you to all those who voted for Irene, your voices have been heard.

If you have a timeshare problem that you would like real information on, then use our contact page and get in touch, we have a wealth of knowledge from so many sources that we will find a solution for you. When you contact us, please let us know from what part of the world you are from and where you own or are a member, it will help us put you in touch with the right people.

Friday’s Letter from America

Here we go another Friday’s Letter from America, this week Irene Parker explains reporting a crime to the FBI, regarding timeshare complaints. To us in Europe this appears a little excessive, especially when we take the situation with timeshares purchased in Spain. But in the US, consumers do not seem to have the same protection as those in Europe.

Now for a round up of European news, once again Anfi have been ordered by the High Court in Las Palmas to return over 36,000€ plus legal fees and legal interest to an ex client. In this case the contract was again declared null and void, the main infringement of the timeshare law is once again the contract duration of over 50 years, or what is known as perpetuity. This point has been the subject of many rulings from the Supreme Court.

Still on the subject of Anfi, a Norwegian journalist and Anfi member is starting to ask questions about the accounts for Puerto, Monte and Gran Anfi. It would seem that they are owed huge amounts from Anfi Sales and Anfi Resorts.

At present Inside Timeshare is looking into this and will publish in the near future, suffice it to say, from the copy of the post received, it looks as though there is a substantial amount outstanding. This journalist also asks the question if this is the reason for the lack of maintenance and upkeep at the resort?

More on this subject as and when we get the confirmed information.

Amador Galeca, one of the “Fake” law firms which springs from the Litigious Abogados family has been active again, with Inside Timeshare receiving many enquiries as to if these are genuine.

Once again, these firms are not genuine law firms, they have in place a very elaborate fraud, designed to fool owners into believing they have cases at court. Search Litigious Abogados in the search box, there you will find the story going back around two years.

The unfortunate aspect of this is the frequency with which they change the names of the law firms and the websites. This makes it very difficult for the authorities to keep up on their investigations. The one thing that does help, is the fact the websites are all the same except for the names.

In the end, it is up to you to check if they are genuine before paying these companies, it is no use after you have made the bank transfer, that money is long gone. This is the reason for creating the urgency, with stories such as the director is pleading guilty and the trial is in 3 weeks, so you need to hurry if you want to be part of this claim!

Now on with this week’s Letter from America.

How to Report a Crime to the FBI

graph

By Irene Parker

January 19, 2018

There has been a change in strategy in reporting to the FBI if timeshare members feel they meet the definition of white-collar crime, financial institution fraud defined as “deceit, concealment, violation of trust, bait and switch.”

I’m still recovering from the comment Anthony Davis posted January 11 in response to one of my articles. Anthony wrote that he recorded a timeshare sales presentation. Anthony is an army vet, 90% disabled after serving three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Coincidentally, someone who works in law enforcement contacted me just after I spoke with Anthony, informing us they wanted to donate a GoPro Hero 5 Session camera. My husband and I picked up the camera and drove to Orlando to meet Anthony and Ashley. They came to Orlando because they said they were required to attend a mandatory timeshare presentation scheduled for January 13th. This was their second required new member orientation and they had to bear the air and Uber expense to travel from Tennessee to Florida for two days, just to attend the orientation. Armed with our new GoPro, we recorded an interview with Anthony and Ashley. We also recorded the recording of the orientation.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=phUjnrIG3bI

The next morning, alarmed at what I had heard on the recording, I contacted the FBI. It took a while to explain the significance of this recording, because the FBI is not as familiar with timeshare as they are with say, terrorism, but the agent took the time to understand. At the end of our conversation agent #2222 (I did not ask permission to use his real number) concluded timeshare members need to call their local FBI field office and report orally through the FBI public access line, selecting option #4, white-collar crime. I thought he was going to dismiss me by sending members to the Attorneys General Offices! Here are the FBI field offices:

https://www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field-offices

Previously, FBI agents had advised me to direct members to the IC3.gov portal. This is the FBI’s online complaint site. Filing at IC3.gov is similar to filing an online AG complaint. Timeshare members who feel they have been a victim of deceit and bait and switch should still file with IC3.gov, in addition to filing orally with your local FBI field office. Here’s the IC3.gov link:

https://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx

From the FBI website (my comments are in italics)

Mortgage fraud is a subcategory of Financial Institution Fraud. It is crime characterized by some type of material misstatement, misrepresentation, or omission in relation to a mortgage loan which is then relied upon by a lender. A lie that influences a bank’s decision—about whether, for example, to approve a loan, accept a reduced payoff amount, or agree to certain repayment terms—is mortgage fraud.

Inside Timeshare US has received 278 timeshare complaints from readers. Of the 278 complaints, 263 allege that what happened to them meets the definition of white collar crime, “deceit, concealment, violation of trust, bait and switch.” Several timeshare members have reported timeshare sales agents advised them to falsify information, or the agent on their own falsified information, discovered when the member compares what they signed at the time of purchase to the document the timeshare company provides to the member after they asked for a document when pursuing a complaint.

The FBI and other entities charged with investigating mortgage fraud, particularly in the wake of the housing market collapse, have broadened the definition to include frauds targeting distressed homeowners.

This includes distressed timeshare members as a timeshare loan is considered a mortgage and is reported as a foreclosure, the same as a home mortgage foreclosure. However, timeshare attorney Mike Finn of the Finn Law Group did sue Bluegreen and managed to get foreclosed knocked down to “charged off” on behalf of 11,000 Bluegreen members and, going forward, Bluegreen no longer reports their timeshare point “take backs” as a foreclosure. Foreclosure is the most damaging hit to a credit report, and according to Mike, timeshare companies tend to pick the most damaging category to report.  

There are two distinct areas of mortgage fraud—fraud for profit and fraud for housing.

  • Fraud for profit: Those who commit this type of mortgage fraud are often industry insiders using their specialized knowledge or authority to commit or facilitate the fraud. Current investigations and widespread reporting indicate a high percentage of mortgage fraud involves collusion by industry insiders, such as bank officers, appraisers, mortgage brokers, attorneys, loan originators, and other professionals engaged in the industry. Fraud for profit aims not to secure housing, but rather to misuse the mortgage lending process to steal cash and equity from lenders or homeowners. The FBI prioritizes fraud for profit cases.

Timeshare member can relate to this definition! We have compiled three repeat offender summary reports. One of the reports describes highest loyalty members being up-sold to buy more points because they will be able to pay maintenance fees or sell points when no such program exists.

The FBI seeks to maximize its impact on the mortgage fraud and financial institution fraud as a whole through collaboration.

For example, the Bureau operates Financial Crimes Task Forces within several field offices throughout the country that act as force multipliers in addressing large scale financial fraud schemes. Comprised of federal, state, and local regulatory and law enforcement agencies who work together on a daily basis, these tasks forces have been an effective way to merge valuable resources of participating agencies.

By leveraging the skills, knowledge, and resources of various government agencies and private industry, the FBI and its partners are able to bring more perpetrators of fraud to justice.    

Common Mortgage Fraud Schemes (I selected those pertinent to timeshare)

  • Foreclosure rescue schemes: The perpetrators identify homeowners who are in foreclosure or at risk of defaulting on their mortgage loan and then mislead them into believing they can save their homes by transferring the deed or putting the property in the name of an investor. The perpetrators profit by selling the property to an investor or straw borrower, creating equity using a fraudulent appraisal, and stealing the seller proceeds or fees paid by the homeowners. The homeowners are sometimes told they can pay rent for at least a year and repurchase the property once their credit has been reestablished. However, the perpetrators fail to make the mortgage payments and usually the property goes into foreclosure.

The DOJ places timeshare exit scams complaints second only to debt collection complaints. Timeshare exit scams flourish when timeshare companies do not allow a secondary market. This is a 13 page DOJ report on timeshare exit scams:

https://search.justice.gov/search?query=timeshare+fraud&op=Search&affiliate=justice

One new timeshare term I learned is “Viking Ship” comparing fraudulent timeshare transfers to the term used to describe how Vikings put their dead on a ship, set fire to it, and shipped it out to sea.

http://insidetimeshare.com/timeshare-hoa-collections-agent-shares-experience/

Loan modification schemes: Similar to foreclosure rescue scams, these schemes involve perpetrators purporting to assist homeowners who are delinquent in their mortgage payments and are on the verge of losing their home by offering to renegotiate the terms of the homeowners’ loan with the lender. The scammers, however, demand large fees up front and often negotiate unfavorable terms for the clients, or do not negotiate at all. Usually, the homeowners ultimately lose their homes.

Foreclosure is a guarantee, but you certainly don’t need to pay anyone to help you foreclose. These scams say foreclosure meets their promise of a guarantee!

https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/white-collar-crime/mortgage-fraud

Law rights

Thank you to our FBI field offices for even listening to us as no one else is. We appreciate the efforts of Attorneys General but they are limited in their scope. Federal enforcement is needed.

If you need help with a timeshare concern, contact Inside Timeshare or contact one of these U.S. advocacy groups we endorse, feeling they are truly member supported, not influenced by industry.

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

There we have it, timeshare consumers in the US now have another way of fighting back, things across the Great Lake are a little more complicated for timeshare consumers than in Europe.

If you have any questions or comments about this or any other article published, contact Inside Timeshare, we will help you get the best advice possible.

Have a good weekend.

weekend cat

Mid Week Report

Following on from the news that TATOC is no more, the latest news is that TATOC Consumer Helpline Ltd has also been wound up, when more comes in we’ll publish it here. If you have tried to access the TATOC website, you will have noticed that it no longer comes up, confirmation that TATOC and Harry Taylor are truly gone, although we wonder if any of his old allies (MacDonald Resorts) will be offering him a job?

job wanted
Contact Harry or is it Henry Taylor?

On the story published yesterday regarding the sand on Tauro Beach, The Canary News has also published a full in depth report. It not only looks at the controversy surrounding the importation of sand from the Western Sahara, it also has a very good introduction to the history of this region.

http://thecanarynews.com/the-shifting-sands-of-tauro-beach-investigation-for-alleged-breach-of-un-international-law/

the-canary-news-views-sunshine-logo-2016-250

Now it is August, the courts have closed down for the month, so there will be no news emanating from there. Good news for the timeshare companies! But it is guaranteed that come September there will be a flurry of sentences being announced.

It is also a time for the new “scams” to start getting ready for the Autumn and Winter season, the new company names and websites will soon be surfacing along with some of the old names that will be resurrected. So be warned, do your homework first, check and recheck, these scams are getting very sophisticated, you only have to see the articles on Litigious Abogados and their family of firms. If in doubt or not sure how to check, then contact Inside Timeshare.

So now on with our Wednesday article from Irene Parker.

Welk Resorts sues Timeshare Exit Team for Racketeering

Right To Use timeshare programs need a secondary market

hear no evil

By Irene Parker

August 2, 2017

Welk Resort of Lawrence Welk fame has sued Timeshare Exit Team for racketeering. Once again, the lack of a secondary market forces beleaguered timeshare members into the nets of alleged unscrupulous transfer agents when a resort provides no exit for members sold a timeshare contract in perpetuity.

First, a hat’s off to Lawrence Welk, a big band great that kept early American households riveted to their seats for over 20 years. To this day the Welk resort is a family friendly resort that knows how to run a business. My husband and I stayed at a Welk Resort in California. It was one of our most memorable timeshare vacation experiences.

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

Inside Timeshare has received a volume of reader responses alarmed that there often is no way out of a timeshare contract. ARDA and the industry have lauded timeshares evolution towards a right to use product and have stated members should not expect value back when they seek release from a right to use timeshare.

The problem with ARDA’s “see no evil, hear no evil” position is – about 90% of the complaints Inside Timeshare has received, have loans attached and many allege they were duped into signing off on high interest rate loans and credit cards. Voluntary surrender or “take-back” programs require the member be free of loan encumbrances. In addition, voluntary surrenders are never guaranteed.

Mr. Howard Nusbaum, President and CEO of the American Resort Development Association (ARDA), was quoted in a June 2014 RedWeek article in reference to the lack of a viable timeshare resale market, “This is a legacy problem. People buying a timeshare today are buying it from multisite clubs that have management forever and sales teams forever, so the ability to recycle inventory will not be a problem in the future.”

https://www.redweek.com/resources/ask-redweek/timeshare-resales-arda-predictions

Timeshare Exit Team Response to the Welk Resort lawsuit

Response from Brandon Reed, founder and CEO of Timeshare Exit Team:

Timeshare Exit Team learned of this matter through a media release distributed by Welk Resorts on July 26, 2017. Following the news being publicly distributed, we were formally served on July 27th, 2017, and intend to present a vigorous defense to these claims. We would also like to inform consumers that the meritless lawsuit and inaccurate accusations therein will not dissuade our team from continuing to advocate for consumers.

I’m proud of the service we offer and of the company we have built. Timeshare Exit Team has built an unparalleled in-house team, leveraging effective outside resources as needed, to assess each customer’s unique situation and to provide them with qualified, thorough, and trusted management of their issues.

The Welk Resort lawsuit v Timeshare Exit Team reported by Business Wire    

“SAN DIEGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Welk Resorts, developer of family-friendly vacation resorts, has filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California against Reid Hein & Associates, operating as “Timeshare Exit Team,” and law firms in two states for allegedly operating a nationwide racketeering scheme to induce vacation owners to disrupt Welk’s contractual relationships with its vacation owners, causing breach of contracts, delinquencies and defaults that damaged Welk, the vacation owner association and vacation owners.”

“The suit cites fraudulent racketeering activity, intentional interference with contractual relations, and violations of the California unfair competition law, California Vacation Ownership and Time-Share Act, California False Advertising Law and the state “Running and Capping” Law. The latter makes it illegal for non-attorney agents to obtain business for an attorney or law firm for compensation, or solicit others to engage in running and capping.”

Timeshare Exit Team charged fees of $5,000 and more for this “service.”

http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20170726006103/en/Welk-Resorts-Files-Suit-Timeshare-Exit-Team

Timeshare Exit Team fulfills an HOA Collections Agent’s Prediction – Previously Reported by Inside Timeshare

Kristi, a Home Owners Association timeshare collection agent I interviewed back in March of 2017, complained of lawyers transferring timeshare contracts to fictitious persons or LLCs. Some things are universal. Charles Thomas has been reporting on a recurring “Litigious Abogados” theme. Inside Timeshare is published in Spain.

As reported by Inside Timeshare in our interview with Kristi:

Irene: Are you familiar with Timeshare Exit Team? One of their agents contacted me and asked me to review their program. What is your opinion of this firm?

Kristi: I would never endorse or advise anyone to use their services ever!! They specialize and advertise “Cancellation of Timeshare Contracts” but we don’t have contracts. We have deeds. We have chosen not to do business with Timeshare Exit Team because of their inability to follow our procedures and because of the quality of work previously sent to us.

Timeshare Exit Team has been involved with two other timeshare resale companies and/or timeshare attorneys that were involved with transferring 18 of our deeds since 2014 to four individuals that have never paid the dues and are delinquent in the amount of over $18,000. Out of the four individuals we were able to track, we learned that they are all associated with each other thru business dealings, contract employees or registered agents. They must assume that the association will eventually foreclose or take the property back but it is very costly to foreclose and we do not accept property back.

http://insidetimeshare.com/timeshare-hoa-collections-agent-shares-experience/

Here are ARDAROC’s (Resort Owners Coalition) eight tips for selling your timeshare and how they apply or do not apply to Diamond Resort members. This is what I have learned since trying to sell my Diamond right to use points.

  • Know what you own – Most own non-deeded right-to-use points
  • Consult your resort – Diamond’s Advocacy Department has helped some members but others have had to seek legal assistance when denied relinquishment. Tracking our reader outcomes thus far – 29 out of 77 report positive outcomes.
  • Sell it yourself – member supported Facebook pages seem to be the best option, but complaints abound that “no one wants it.”
  • Get assistance from a Licensed Reseller – not one member of the 64 member Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association will accept a listing for Diamond’s non-deeded points due to secondary market restrictions.  
  • Pass it on or gift it to your family – maintenance fees are also passed on
  • Donate it to a Charity – Donate for a Cause is a scam according to Consumer Affairs. A charity has the same problem. They don’t want the rising maintenance fee liability. https://www.consumeraffairs.com/news/timeshare-donation-scheme-is-a-scam-feds-charge-120115.html
  • Generate income by renting. Diamond Resorts does not allow renting through a third party website. “Use by a Member of public advertising or an online website to seek renters shall be deemed a prohibited commercial use.”
  • Beware of scams.

http://www.ardaroc.org/timeshare-resales-resource-center.aspx

Lela Renea, a Bluegreen timeshare member, contacted Inside Timeshare about her battle with Timeshare Exit Team after they appear to have stonewalled her. Since Lela is in the middle of negotiations, she did not want to elaborate on the distress she feels, attempting to resolve her Timeshare Exit Team concerns – suffice to say she had reason to reach out to Inside Timeshare. We will be reporting as to whether Bluegreen will come to her rescue or allow her to fall to the mercy of Timeshare Exit Team.

Despite the customer loyalty and lack of complaints we reported last week among Disney deeded timeshare owners, with access to resale and rental options, right to use non-deeded timeshare programs continue to ignore the growing problems caused by perpetual contracts not able to be sold, rented or relinquished.

Welk Resorts back in the day was a fixed week timeshare but has converted to a right to use non deeded program. A life change like a job loss or illness, rendering the timeshare unaffordable, is as much a problem for members of right to use programs as it is for legacy resorts.

light thought

 We hope someday, someone in the industry or ARDA will see that throwing up roadblocks to a secondary market is a detriment for all. As we reported last week, timeshare attorney Mike Finn has never had a Disney client and it is unlikely Timeshare Exit Team has ever had a Disney client either.

Some answers are so logical and simple, they cannot possibly be understood.

Once again thank you to Irene, who explains the timeshare world across the great lake, as you will have noticed there is very little difference to the problems that owners / members face.

In this Friday’s Letter from America, we have another contribution from Eron Grant. In her Letter to ARDA she asks Why does ARDA have a Code of Ethics? This very question was also asked of the RDO, Europe’s equivalent of ARDA. We still don’t have a genuine answer to that little conundrum!

So there we have it, half way through the week and a couple of hard hitting stories, we’ll be keeping an eye on the Tauro Beach story and will bring you the latest as it surfaces. Remember, beware the scam artists, do your homework, check and check again, it will save you a lot of money and stress in the long run.

 

sits vac 1

CUSTOMER SERVICE AGENT
Experience in Bull Shit Essential

Timeshare Debt: A Growing Problem

Many people have found themselves in financial difficulty due to huge finance agreements sold to them by the timeshare sales staff and the ever increasing maintenance payments. Usually this is down to a change in circumstances, either from illness, loss of a job or a change in jobs resulting in a severe cut in wages.

Some who are in arrears in maintenance have to this stage because they have listened to bad advice, “Just don’t bother paying they won’t do anything, that’s what I did”. Others because they believed their timeshare had been transferred by a company they paid, only to find that either the timeshare resort does not recognise the transfer or it was never done.

Those who were taken in by Incentive Leisure Group and Designer Way Vacation Club are all too familiar with this scenario.

Timeshare companies will sell the debt to a collecting agency, they will hound you and threaten court action, which is why many end up paying it.

In this article from Irene Parker she explains the problems in the US, it may just sound very familiar to our readers in the UK.

Timeshare Debt Collection

Life after Foreclosure

foreclosure

By Irene Parker

May 30, 2017

The flood of Inside Timeshare reader responses concerning timeshares and what to do when your resort denies your release, request for refund, or loan cancellation has been eye-opening. We have heard from a surprising number of timeshare members in their 60s and 70s with high US credit scores around 800 considering foreclosure for the first time in their life.

Out of 58 formal complaints and request for relinquishments filed in the US and EU, 42 allege they were victims of deceit and bait and switch. The remaining 16 requested relinquishment. Voluntary surrenders or “take back” programs are evaluated case by case. Some of the 42 members were offered surrenders but could not tolerate the non-disclosure agreement, especially the clause that states the member cannot say anything negative about the company. They wanted refunds if they felt they were deceived or a victim of a bait and switch.

We should not harp on the elderly being targeted. At least a third of the approximately 80 timeshare members who have contacted Inside Timeshare are 40 years old or younger. The youngest was 19 and pregnant when she signed a timeshare contract after a six hour presentation.

Continuing on after the 3Rs or F of timeshare we previously reported on –

Resolution

Relinquishment

Refund

Foreclosure

http://insidetimeshare.com/3-rs-timeshare-part-1/

We move on to the cheerful calls from the debt collectors and what happens during the foreclosure period. The shortest timeshare debt collection period seems to be 60 to 90 days and the longest 180 days. If a timeshare company is worried about reporting a high default rate to the investment community, one way to lower that statistic is by lengthening the debt collection period.

It’s been surprising to learn how many of those in timeshare trouble are financing a vacation at a 12% to 19% interest rate. The emphasis in a sales presentation is on the low monthly payment. If someone does think to ask, “At what interest rate?” typically the answer is, as in the sales presentation I attended, “Don’t worry, when you get home you can get a home equity loan.”

An instant credit card is often used to finance the timeshare down payment. When you buy a house, there’s a reason why banks won’t let you borrow the down payment. That reason doesn’t go away when you buy a timeshare for $20,000 to sometimes over $100,000, but credit card companies and lending laws have helpfully aided and abetted timeshare lending.

I have come to the conclusion placing credit card applications in the hands of a thousand timeshare sales agents is like sending a thousand three years olds into Toys R Us unsupervised. Inside Timeshare has published several timeshare lending “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” articles. There have been so many it has turned into something of a series authored by our readers.

Once again, I turned to the Finn Law Group Learning Center to better understand timeshare debt collection.

Timeshare attorney Mike Finn agreed with my assessment concerning overzealous timeshare lending cramming third party loans into the deal. “An additional point to be made in this regard is that their efforts are contrary to Federal law (Truth in Lending Act (TILA), which requires the new debtor to receive in writing PRIOR to the loan being funded a written summary disclosure statement summarizing the deal points. This procedure is never ever followed by the timeshare industry and why the practice is permitted is beyond my grasp.”

        http://www.finnlawgroup.com/learning-center/can-a-timeshare-hurt-my-credit-score

“Timeshare buyers need to think beyond the down payment and loan payments. “Maintenance fee rates may far exceed the annualized cost of inflation,” Mike added.

“To make matters worse, resorts sometimes categorize timeshare loans as “mortgages”.” What this means is that if you stop making payments on your loan, it may be reported to the credit bureaus as a mortgage foreclosure. Many resorts try to pick the category that does the most damage to the consumer.

Finn Law Group helped timeshare owners settle a class action lawsuit against Bluegreen Corporation. Experian Information Solutions, Inc., and Equifax Information Services, LLC in Best and Snapp, et al. v. Bluegreen Corp., et al.

The plaintiffs alleged that when they were delinquent, Bluegreen sent a series of letters advising them that they were terminated from the Bluegreen Vacation Club and the status of their accounts may be reported as foreclosures to the credit agencies in violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act and Florida debt collection laws. While the companies did not admit liability, the more harmful “foreclosure” category was deleted from over 11,000 individuals’ credit reports, replaced with the less damaging “settled for less”.

First and foremost, avoid timeshare transfer agents offering a “guaranteed” release in exchange for an upfront fee which can easily run into the thousands. Our previous interview interviewing an HOA Collection agent tells why.

http://insidetimeshare.com/timeshare-hoa-collections-agent-shares-experience/

Consumers need to be wary of television celebrities like popular financial expert Dave Ramsey, paid to endorse timeshare transfer companies with lofty sounding names. Some of these transfer agents may be legitimate, but heed the warning of our HOA collection agent above. Lisa Ann Schreier, author of Timeshare for Dummies, also explains why:

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

According to Mike Finn, bankruptcy is a worst case solution.

http://www.finnlawgroup.com/learning-center/mortgage-after-bankruptcy-timeshare

“Timeshare consumers can face a steep financial burden which can lead to a ruined credit score, and, in some cases, the need to file for bankruptcy. For more on the complexities of what happens to your timeshare and timeshare debt in bankruptcy, we encourage you to read on over at NOLO or The Bankruptcy Site,” said Mike.

http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/can-timeshare-be-foreclosed-nonpayment-fees-assessments.html

“Failure to pay timeshare loans before bankruptcy can be reported to credit bureaus as delinquencies or even foreclosures, both of which can negatively impact your credit and make it extremely difficult to secure the 580 credit score that the FHA requires for its low down payment advantage.”

So if you are in this situation, what’s next? What can I do to save my credit score?

chains

Sun Trust Bank offers these words of hope and encouragement

http://www.bankrate.com/finance/real-estate/debt-collector-demands-huge-fees-on-past-due-time-share.aspx

“Now, if you were deceived or otherwise legally abused in the purchase, you can file a complaint against the seller. Each state has a different process so you’ll have to contact your state’s attorney general to determine the jurisdiction. Have a narrative of your complaint and a copy of your contract when filing. The agency will contact you if it finds a valid violation of real estate statutes (or sometimes banking statutes), especially if it involves deceptive sales practices. Collectors must legally back off in such under-dispute cases, though many don’t.”

“By the way, consumer complaints about abusive debt collectors have nearly tripled in less than a decade, according to the Federal Trade Commission. They’re exceeded only by identity-theft cases, says the FTC, which has sued about 200 collection companies since 2010. Many have been banned from doing business. “

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau offers this helpful advice concerning what a debt collector can and cannot do.

https://www.consumerfinance.gov/askcfpb/329/are-there-laws-that-limit-what-debt-collectors-can-say-or-do.html

consumer

Our Advocates are here for you if you are concerned about your timeshare. By accumulating a volume of timeshare accountings, we can better recognize patterns of deceptive and predatory lending practices. The following Facebook was launched by Diamond Resorts members working with the company to resolve member issues.

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

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

Inside Timeshare thanks Irene for this insight into the problems of debt and also Mike Finn if the Finn Law Group for his legal contribution.

As for the goings on at Los Claveles, there is at present no confirmed news about Carol Parkinson the Owners Committee President, when we get confirmation of what is happening we will publish here.

If you have any comments about any article published we would like to hear from you, your contributions are welcome. Also if you require any information about any company that you have had contact with, but are unsure how to check them, Inside Timeshare will point you in the right direction.

Welcome to Monday and a Happy Birthday to the National Timeshare Owners Association

Welcome to our Monday article, we start with some news from Europe, Canarian Legal Alliance has been at it again. More news from the courts in Tenerife finding for CLA clients against Silverpoint.

On 2 May, the judge presiding over The Court of First Instance No 5, ruled the contract these clients had contained several infringements and declared the contract null & void. The judge also ruled they should be awarded over £25,957.79 plus the return of their legal fees and legal interest. In this case the main infringement was the floating weeks. The Spanish Timeshare Law 42/98 was reaffirmed by the Supreme Court, a timeshare contract must include a specific date, location and period.

The following day, the same court declared yet another contract from Silverpoint illegal under law 42/98, this infringed the length of the contract. The Supreme Court on numerous occasions have stated that under the law no contract can be over 50 years. The judge in this case again declared the contract null & void, ordering Silverpoint to return over £8,856.71 plus legal fees and legal interest to the client.

Canarian Legal Alliance also received a visit from the Kavli Family, who had their Anfi contract declared null & void awarded back over 39,413€ plus legal interest. Their visit while enjoying a relaxing holiday was to thank the entire team at CLA for all the work they put in to resolve their situation.

Kavli

On another note, this weekend saw the awards presentation of the Canary News Business Awards. Canarian Legal Alliance won the the award in the Service Category, with the Head of Operations, Csilla Nazali being awarded Business Person of the year, this was accepted on behalf of the entire CLA Team. So congratulations to them.

It would also appear that our “Fake Law Firm” the Litigious Abogados family have a new member, Abogados Amable & Garcia. The website is very much like all the others, accept they have a few new photo’s of “Lawyers” with some new names: Juan Hernandez Amable, Armando Ignacio Garcia and Ramon Quemon Cremul. These have not been traced on any Bar Association register. Even the logo on the website is a rehash of the Abel Garcia one. More on this as the information starts to come in.

abogadosamablegarcia-amable-garcia-logo

So on we go with the NTOA article, this follows the news that TATOC, the association that is supposed to represent owners committees, is going into administration. As you will see from the article, there is a difference between the two organisations. The NTOA is independent of the industry, whereas TATOC was funded and run by the industry for the benefit of the industry and not you the owner’s / members. After all we know that Harry Taylor took up his position with TATOC while still a senior figure with Diamond Resorts Europe. We also know he supported MacDonald Resorts to the hilt against owners, when MacDonald’s decided to remove all fixed week owners and replace them with a points system, legal action on this is still ongoing. Somehow we think that is a conflict of interest and not conducive to being “independent”.

stop press 1
Just before publishing today’s article, ARDA once again unleashed its powerful propaganda arm in retaliation against Don and Irene’s FOX Property Man interview with Las Vegas attorney Bob Massi. This was Don and Irene’s attempt to warn the public about Diamond Resorts points not being able to be listed with a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association. A timeshare member can list any major timeshare except Diamond Resorts with any of the 64 members of the LTRBA. The members feel the restrictions Diamond places on the use of secondary points are more onerous than any of the major timeshares they do list.  

You decide the merit and purpose of this interview. The industry continues to ignore the secondary market preferring to promote surrender programs. While the elderly are often mentioned, many young families who feel they were defrauded on the front end of the timeshare purchase have reached out to Inside Timeshare to let their voices be heard.

http://wjla.com/features/7-on-your-side/7-on-your-side-uncovers-the-smart-way-to-break-away-from-your-timeshare

One of the many Diamond Advocates has reached out to the ABC reporter to offer a 101 in Truth. Why Diamond will not loosen its restrictions so that a member can actually sell their timeshare is a mystery.

Our National Timeshare Owners Association 20th Anniversary

NTOA – A Timeshare Member’s Only Voice

Lobbying

By Charles Thomas and Irene Parker

May 8, 2017

European timeshare member lobby efforts are in a state of upheaval due to the bankruptcy of TATOC. It is not always easy to determine if an organization is on the side of the timeshare member or on the side of the developer. One thing is clear. The timeshare developer is not on the side of the member when the interest of the member is at odds with the developer.

The National Timeshare Owners Association in the US is one timeshare member/owner organization unquestionably on the side of the owner or member. As the industry moves towards points, timeshare buyers don’t “buy” or “own” anything. I will use “member” from now on when referring to timeshare purchases.

Timeshares today are mostly a “right-to-use” program. Buyers “join” the program. Unlike a country club that charges a nominal initiation fee upon joining, a timeshare purchased directly from a developer usually involves an initial outlay of $25,000 to over $100,000. Unlike a country club, you can’t cancel at whim.

Signing a perpetual contract without a secondary market, or a limited secondary market at best, has given rise to a robust transfer agent scam industry and has been a boon for timeshare lawyers assisting those sold by “deceit, concealment or bait and switch”, defined by the FBI as White Collar Crime. There have been numerous lawsuits.

Timeshare developers have been unwilling to address the need for a secondary market, preferring to focus on voluntary surrender programs, which are not guaranteed. Often members must grovel before the developer seeking release from a timeshare they no longer need or want.

This unwillingness to allow a legitimate secondary market could lead to the industry’s demise. As one member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association told me, “Many of the calls to our office begin with – my parents got roped into this timeshare.”

Timeshare has had its share of ups and downs over the years. My husband and I bought our first timeshare in 1984, so we have ridden the waves. Never have I seen such an upswing in predatory lending and aggressive strong arm selling tactics. Never before has there been such a need for an organization that truly and purely is on the side of the timeshare member.

I asked Greg Crist, CEO of the National Timeshare Owners Association to describe the organization in a nutshell.

NTOA is a source of real and unbiased information and education. Over the organization’s 20 year history in the timeshare community, we have seen many ownership programs develop and later change. For example, developers have been converting to points programs from deeded intervals for several years. There are other major changes happening in vacation ownership and often owners are not keeping up with those changes. Our role is to help educate those owners (our NTOA members), assisting them to better understand their current ownership benefits”.

“Advocacy is another area we focus a lot of attention on in the United States, Canada and now Mexico. We work with law enforcement, regulators, legislators and attorneys, assisting in consumer protection and again educating all stakeholders on various threats to consumers that exist in the marketplace”.

“Finally we do everything we can to encourage owners to get the most beneficial interest out of their Vacation Ownership. As timeshare owners ourselves, we feel these are the three areas that owners typically seek knowledge and support from us.”

gregcrist600
Greg Crist: CEO NTOA

Inside Timeshare previously published an article about NTOA’s efforts chasing fraudulent timeshare transfer agents caused by the limited secondary market. This is one area the NTOA and the timeshare developer lobby organization ARDA share a common interest. As NTOA works so much behind the scenes, many timeshare members are not even aware of the organization’s existence.

We hope that will change as we launch a membership drive.

Here is one example of how NTOA worked with Eagle Crest in Oregon to stop this particular timeshare transfer fraud.

http://insidetimeshare.com/timeshare-hoa-collections-agent-shares-experience/

As to the demise of TATOC in Europe, Greg expressed some dismay over the demise of this organization.

“The NTOA has worked with TATOC in identifying a number of rogue resale and secondary market companies over the past several years. To that end, our staff has shared intelligence and best practices for consumers and for foreign purchasers of timeshare intervals. We have always considered TATOC a partner in the war on resale fraud.”

I posed the following questions to Greg:

What can a timeshare member do to promote legislative changes to reduce the volume of complaints about aggressive selling and predatory lending?

Greg: The various state legislative processes are often fast moving and difficult to keep up with. Having success in this area requires a grassroots effort in states where owners reside. The optics that many legislators have is that our owners/members are not voters in the states where industry lobbying is prominent. We have to change that perspective so that elected officials are more receptive to the voices of owners.

What is NTOA’s three to five year plan?

Greg: NTOA is in the final leg of its expansion plan in North America. We have been working in Canada for the last three years and began working in Mexico in 2016. This year, we are participating in two industry conferences in Mexico and intend to have a consistent presence there going forward.

To accomplish this part of our mission, we rely on close relationships with other associations in those countries. This includes the CVOA, CARE, ASUDESTICO and ACLUVAQ. In working with partners, we can not only better assist our members/owners but also promote regional tourism as well.

Is there anything NTOA can do to promote a legitimate secondary market?

Greg: The secondary market is a very complicated problem and no one-size fits all solution will work. The NTOA is working with the C.A.R.E. resale task force to develop a better understanding of the barriers, challenges and opportunities for owners and HOA’s.

When you support the NTOA, you are supporting the only recognized independent association in North America supporting timeshare owners.

ntoa-logo

Timeshare Advocacy needs more member voices. We look forward to hearing from you. For more information about how to join NTOA, here is their website.

https://www.ntoassoc.com/

NTOA has assisted many of our Inside Timeshare readers through member supported advocacy groups. We have several upcoming articles contributed by timeshare members reaching out to the general public and to current members by sharing their story hoping to promote increased awareness.

Diamond Resorts Owners Advocacy is one Advocacy Group Inside Timeshare supports. We hope other timeshare member groups join the cause.

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

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

We seek to provide Diamond Resort 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.

Inside Timeshare would like to thank Greg Crist, CEO of the NTOA for his contribution to this article, as usual Irene has done a superb job of conducting the interview.

We would also welcome any views or comments on any article published, it is your voice, use it.

your voice

Part II: The Three Rs of Timeshare

After we published Fridays article, news came in from Canarian Legal Alliance, of four more sentences at the Court of First Instance in Arona, Tenerife. These were once again against Silverpoint, again this lower court applied the previous rulings made by the Supreme Court in Madrid.

In one case the court ordered the return of 85,000€ plus legal fees and legal interest, the client’s contract was again declared null and void. In another two sentences the clients were awarded with the return of over 25,000€ plus legal interest, with the contracts declared null and void. A rather expensive end to the week for Silverpoint, with no sign of these cases letting up.

The week also started on a bad note for Anfi with CLA announcing another sentence issued by the Court of First Instance in Maspalomas. Once again this lower court ruled as per the precedent set by the Supreme Court that contracts over 50 years were illegal, therefore the contracts have been declared null and void.

Court Masp
Court of First Instance Maspalomas

The clients in this case have been returned with over 14,000€ plus legal interest. They are now timeshare free and are no longer bound by the rising maintenance costs. So what a start to the week for those lawyers at CLA.

So, on with today’s writings by Irene Parker, in this article she explores the three R’s, Resolution, Relinquishment and Refund.

In Spain one of the three R’s is hitting the industry, as we have seen from the opening of today’s article, many owners are receiving back their full purchase price and some, purely because the timeshare companies have sold a product that does not comply with Spanish Timeshare Law or the Directives issued by the EU.

For those who do not have a claim, the other option is relinquishment also known as surrender, unfortunately this does depend on who you own with, some are easier than others. One company that is renowned for not playing ball is MacDonald Resorts, there have over the years been many articles written and published about how they make it very difficult for anyone to get out of their contract. They say they allow a limited number out every two years upon payment of 4 years maintenance fees, this is done on a first come first served basis, so no guarantee.

Some resorts, especially the smaller independent and usually family owned resorts, just allow owners to hand back, in some cases they will even pay back something. This obviously is good for both parties, the member is released and the resort has inventory to sell. Win Win!

Part II: The Three Rs of Timeshare

Resolution, Relinquishment or Refund

Part I of the 3Rs or F of Timeshare

Part III – Two More Rs – Rental and Resale

http://insidetimeshare.com/3-rs-timeshare-part-1/

travel lights

By Irene Parker

April 12, 2017

Most consumers are unaware of the perpetual nature of a timeshare contract. The combination of rising maintenance fees and a mortgage interest rate ranging from 12% to 18% if a loan is attached can spell disaster when the timeshare member can no longer afford the timeshare due to illness, unemployment or age.

We hear a lot about the elderly being targeted, but our advocates have also heard from the young. So far the youngest person I have interviewed was 19 and pregnant when she signed her contract just after midnight. When I explained what a perpetual contract meant, she was shocked.

“A perpetual contract in itself is not harmful,” explained timeshare attorney Mike Finn of the Finn Law Group. When you buy a house or car the contract is perpetual. The problem comes when there is no secondary market as Mike explains in his article, “The Unconscionable Suppression of the Timeshare Resale Market”.

http://www.finnlawgroup.com/learning-center/the-unconscionable-suppression-of-the-timeshare-resale-market

The First R: Relinquishment

Timeshare developers and the timeshare lobby ARDA seem to think voluntary exit programs are the answer. How does this help the family who has spent $25,000 to over $100,000 to purchase a timeshare, only to get hit with a life event that results in not being able to afford the timeshare shortly after purchase? Would you buy a house that could not be sold? The price of a timeshare can easily rival the cost of a modest condo or home.

Howard Nusbaum, CEO of ARDA is quoted in a June 2014 RedWeek article in reference to the lack of a viable resale market, “This is a legacy problem. People buying a timeshare today are buying it from multisite clubs that have management forever and sales teams forever, so the ability to recycle inventory will not be a problem in the future.”  Recycling inventory is the term used when a resort “takes back” your points or forecloses due to nonpayment of a loan or maintenance fees.

Timeshare companies are starting to offer voluntary surrender programs, but surrenders are evaluated on a case by case basis. The money invested in a timeshare can easily run over six figures, so walking away from that kind of money without a fight, when you feel you have been defrauded, doesn’t seem right.

The Second R: Refund

A refund is not easy to come by. Litigation takes years and if you win, there will in all likelihood be an appeal. Timeshare developers know the industry is virtually unregulated and that they are protected by the oral representation clause.

Let’s examine the most common complaints our advocacy group has heard to determine if these tactics meet the FBI’s definition of white collar crime.

Reportedly coined in 1939, the term white-collar crime is now synonymous with the full range of frauds committed by business and government professionals. These crimes are characterized by deceit, concealment, or violation of trust and are not dependent on the application or threat of physical force or violence. The motivation behind these crimes is financial—to obtain or avoid losing money, property, or services or to secure a personal or business advantage.

These are not victimless crimes. A single scam can destroy a company, devastate families by wiping out their life savings, or cost investors billions of dollars (or even all three).

https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/white-collar-crime

The most common complaints:

  • The agent said I could sell my shares,
  • Maintenance fees increase only modestly,
  • You can get airline and other travel awards but the value is zilch,
  • It’s less expensive to book online than to use my points,
  • The contract is perpetual? Who knew?
  • The interest rate is 18%!! I didn’t know till I started paying!

According to the FBI, there is corporate fraud and mortgage fraud. Corporate fraud includes accounting schemes designed to deceive investors about the true financial condition of a business entity by manipulating financial data, share price or other valuation methods.

While the definition above is most often applied to stock transactions, we can draw some comparisons to a timeshare point. Availability of accommodations, the value of travel awards can be overstated and the escalation of maintenance fees can be understated.

Mortgage fraud is a subcategory of financial institution fraud known as “fraud for profit”:

Fraud for profit: Those who commit this type of mortgage fraud are often industry insiders using their specialized knowledge or authority to commit or facilitate the fraud. Current investigations and widespread reporting indicate a high percentage of mortgage fraud involves collusion by industry insiders, such as bank officers, appraisers, mortgage brokers, attorneys, loan originators, and other professionals engaged in the industry. Fraud for profit aims not to secure housing, but rather to misuse the mortgage lending process to steal cash and equity from lenders or homeowners. The FBI prioritizes fraud for profit cases.

The backend of timeshare fraud has been widely reported, but there has been little attention paid to the front end. The industry needs to stop focusing only on the backend of timeshare scams as detailed in this US Department of Justice Timeshare Scam Report and take a closer look at the front end – the timeshare sales presentation.

https://search.justice.gov/search?query=timeshare+scam+report&op=Search&affiliate=justice

Timeshare members who begin their complaint with “the salesman said” are sadly told about the oral representation clause contained in a timeshare contract.

 Wyndham has appealed Trish William’s $20 million Whistleblower award.

In 2010, the plaintiff, Williams, reported that elderly customers were being defrauded by Wyndham salespeople, who were opening and maxing out credit cards without their knowledge and lying about reducing interest rates, maintenance fees and the ability to obtain rental income from their timeshares. She also disclosed an illegal, industry-wide practice of falsely representing that if owners spend enough money, often hundreds of thousands of dollars, Wyndham would buy back the timeshare at full value at the owner’s request.

Evidence presented at trial revealed that Wyndham employees engaged in “pitching heat,” high pressure sales tactics involving deliberate lies and misrepresentations to get people to buy more timeshare “points.” These sales practices included “TAFT” days, which stands for “Tell Them Any [email protected]#*ing Thing” days, where employees were encouraged to say anything to make a sale as long as they didn’t put it in writing. The highest selling sales agent was quoted as saying, “I sold my soul to the devil. I can say whatever I want so long as I don’t put it in writing, that’s why Wyndham has good lawyers.”

https://dolanlawfirm.com/2016/11/wyndham-vacation-whistleblower-verdict/

R3: Resolution

hope

Diamond Resorts has instituted a new consumer advocacy department to help members or owners resolve disputes. A member sponsored Diamond Resorts Advocacy Group works with members and Diamond’s advocacy department to resolve issues. There is always the possibility the member just doesn’t know how to use the booking system. Blanket statements like “You can always book online cheaper than using Diamond points” are not accurate. My husband and I are Diamond owners. We just booked two weeks in Sedona for far less using our points than we could have by booking online.

We wish all complaints could be resolved by better understanding the resort’s program, but that is not always the case.

Our complaint format is included in this Inside Timeshare article. Inside Timeshare readers can use this form when contacting Inside Timeshare or their resort when problems arise. Of course there are many who use and enjoy their timeshare year after year. Those owners don’t need us, yet.

http://insidetimeshare.com/friday-post-look-past-week/

Our Diamond Resort Advocacy Group:

We seek to provide Diamond Resort 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/groups/DiamondResortsOwnersAdvocacy/

Let’s keep working together to improve the industry.

Inside Timeshare is here to listen and respond.

fix prob

Related story

http://insidetimeshare.com/?s=hoa+collections

Inside Timeshare would like to thank all those who help to make these articles, especially Mike Finn of Finn Law Group, who helps Irene with the legal aspect of her writing.

If you have any questions or comments on any article published, contact Inside Timeshare and we will try find you the best answer or solution. You can also join our facebook pages and join the discussions. It is through these that we all find out what is going on.

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