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Friday’s Letter from America

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

Bluegreen offers new Pilot Program to Donate Points to Charities 

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

Bass Pro Lawsuit v Bluegreen

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

July 10, 2019

By Diane Smith

Introductory comments by Irene Parker

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

Christel DeHaan, Founder and Chairman of the Board

Co-Founded and sold RCI for $825 million

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

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

Olivier Chavy, President, RCI Exchanges

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ARDA’s Coalition for Responsible Exit

https://responsibleexit.com/

Diane’s Response to “Who’s the Fish?”

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

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

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

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

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

We experienced the following:

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

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

Bluegreen responded to our concerns as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Charitable Giving Program – Donation Options 

Junior Achievement of South Florida (JA)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Petition to Reform Timeshare:

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

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

Free at Last Facebook

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

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

https://www.udprep.info/june

Bluegreen Facebook

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

Wyndham Facebook

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

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

Diamond Resort Facebook

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

Gold Key Facebook

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

Inside Timeshare Facebook 

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

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

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

Friday’s Letter from America

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

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

CASE NO.  CV2013-006230

By Irene Parker

July 5, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

https://www.udprep.info/june

Bluegreen Facebook

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

Wyndham Facebook

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

Sapphire Starpoint New: 

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

Diamond Resort Facebook

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

Gold Key Facebook

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

Inside Timeshare Facebook Group

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

Have a safe 4th of July weekend.

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

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

The Tuesday Slot

Welcome to The Tuesday Slot, today we welcome another new contributor John Collick, who is seeking the Republican nomination for Congress. We begin with a short biography of John and his military career, then John explains his views on protecting not only military personnel but all consumers from unscrupulous timeshare sales agents.

Inside Timeshare also asks all our readers to sign this petition on change.org demanding reform of the timeshare industry. So far there have been 2,700 signatures and we are working to achieve 100,000 by next legislative sessions in 2021. Click on the link below and sign.

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

Why Military Families Need Greater Timeshare Disclosure

https://www.valoans.com/articles/va-loans-escape-clause/

By John Collick

July 2, 2019

https://www.collick4congress.com/?fbclid=IwAR2JoSF5-2j3HM7wgR_Y5LBab112dzCj8qyR6PmiZsUJDFE1Q9sL1eIl4sY

It’s Time for a Military Vet to Represent a Military Community

After a distinguished military career, John knows how to listen and act. As a timeshare owner himself, John understands the concerns of timeshare buyers that may have experienced unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices. Inside Timeshare has heard from 112 veterans and active duty service members harmed by timeshare. Of particular concern are our active duty service members who can lose their security clearance over a timeshare foreclosure. Some companies target veterans, particularly disabled veterans, such as John. John would not meet George Bernard Shaw’s definition of a politician. Irene Parker, Inside Timeshare

“He knows nothing and thinks he knows everything. That points clearly to a political career.” George Bernard Shaw.

Suffolk resident John Collick is seeking the Republican nomination for Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. Mr Collick served our nation for over 35 years combined – in the Marine Corps, as a contractor, and as a government employee. He served as an Intelligence Specialist during his entire adult life, working at all levels of the Intelligence Community.

As an Intelligence Specialist, he worked on high priority missions, including the International Port Security Program for the U.S. Coast Guard; the Syrian Refugee Vetting Process for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services; and an Asymmetrical Threat Methodology for the United States Standing Joint Forces Headquarters, Homeland Security, in Norfolk. With extensive knowledge of the Middle East, he was recruited into the private sector to work on a Defense Intelligence Agency Contract as the HUMINT Issues Manager for Yemen. These projects are in addition to his Marine Corps career as a Signals Intelligence Collector, Linguist, and Analyst.

If elected, several of Mr Collick’s priorities for the families of Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District include:

  • Providing the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security with the resources necessary to protect the United States at home and our interests abroad.
  • Working with area educators, employers, and local leaders to reduce the unemployment rate in the 3rd Congressional District from 7%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, to the national rate of 3.8%.
  • Ensuring the rights and freedoms identified in the Constitution can be enjoyed by all Americans, without abridgement by any state, local, or municipal government.
  • Enacting a school voucher program for children in underperforming schools and school districts, particularly in low-income and inner-city neighborhoods.
  • Propose term limits so that no legislator can serve more than six terms in the House of Representatives and two terms in the Senate.

Mr Collick will serve no more than 3 terms if elected.

Propose significant changes to the Timeshare Industry, including:

  1. A 24 hour “cooling off” period offered before signing a timeshare contract. Timeshare sales presentations can last six hours or more. The buyer is told they must buy the same day. A rescission period is the time a buyer has to rescind a contract after signing. The rescission period varies by state.
  2. If the signing of a timeshare contract is recorded, there needs to be a mandatory recording of the sales presentation, with copies provided to the customer. Sales agents often coach buyers on how to “pass” the closing session.
  3. Eliminate perpetual contracts – no person should be allowed, wittingly or unwittingly, to agree to a perpetual contract with no secondary market.
  4. Buyer to be provided with a single complete and understandable summary disclosure document and the reviewing of the document should be on the recording. Presentation of the Public Offering Statement should also be presented on the audio recording so that it is not buried in a stack of documents with the dismissal, “You can review these when you get home” or “No one reads this.” Despite initials acknowledging receipt and review, given the high pressure and long sales presentation, adequate time to review complex and lengthy documents is not provided. Buyers unknowingly initial that they have read and reviewed the POS when they have not. Most consumers don’t know of its existence until asked to look for it. 
  5. To alleviate buyers of timeshare paying more than those booking the same property at the same time online, units available for rent at timeshare properties should not be rented below 5% of the cost of the highest amount paid for timeshare ownership plus applicable maintenance fees. E.g. Week at Fun Times Timeshare cost $22,000 for 1 week of annual usage and maintenance fees are $1,000 per year, the cost per week is $1,100 + $1,000 for a total of $2,200 per week. This will encourage Timeshare Developers to ensure there are ample units available for members and an incentive to keep maintenance fees as low as possible. 

For more information about John Collick and the campaign, visit 

www.collick4congress.com

John Collick on Timeshare

The more I became involved with those who have purchased timeshares, the more I learned about veterans and active duty service members reporting unfair and deceptive sales practices. Given an active duty service member can lose their security clearance over a timeshare foreclosure, I agree this could present a threat to our national security. The bar to get hired to sell timeshare points is pretty low, and in a state like Virginia, which is home to many military personnel, those with ill intent could seek to jeopardize security clearances.  

If an American citizen, military or civilian, has a security clearance and they default on a loan, their clearance will normally be suspended and often revoked. The consequence can be loss of job, career, and even bankruptcy.  This could mean discharge from the military. 

Most of these folks are upstanding Americans who want to continue in their careers but are prime targets for an unscrupulous timeshare salesperson. If an active duty service member buys into a timeshare, they’ll do everything they can to prevent foreclosure. I expect there are many who have no idea what they can do to save their clearances and/or careers.

The advice I give, especially to military personnel, is to NOT purchase a timeshare on the day of a timeshare presentation. The price WILL NOT CHANGE. Do your research. Talk to other members, check with the Better Business Bureau, and have an attorney review the contract. Any honest businessman or woman would give you 24 hours to think about making a sizeable purchase, especially one accompanied by rising annual maintenance fees and no secondary market.

The lack of a secondary market is even more of a risk for active duty service members, due to the mobility of service life. Decisions can be made on a moment’s notice, making the disposition of timeshare even more cumbersome.

Let’s say that you’re interested in purchasing a timeshare. If the first thing you’re told is the company’s motto: “We will say whatever it takes to make a sale” and then you look up and see a poster illustrating the Timeshare Consumer Lifecycle stating, “From initial contact through debt collection $$,” would you stick around for the presentation or simply get up and walk away? Of course, you would walk away. Well, this Timeshare Consumer Lifecycle was presented during a timeshare industry conference in Las Vegas, Nevada last year.

We all know that salespeople may exaggerate, but in general, consumers depend on salespeople to provide us with correct information on which to base our decisions. Based on timeshare encounters with other members of the military, I have found a high number of timeshare members and former members that have purchased timeshare points – not deeded timeshares – based their decision to buy by listening to salespeople who provided inaccurate, misleading, and sometimes complete fabrications to make a sale. 

My family’s first purchase of a “perpetual” vacation was a camping membership over three decades ago at Wilderness Resorts Campground in Spotsylvania, Virginia. I was on active duty in the Marine Corps and we didn’t have much money, so this ensured that we had a vacation almost every year. 

We often visited the same location every year but about a decade ago, we decided we wanted something different; camping had become difficult, so we decided to buy a timeshare. We purchased a 2-bedroom timeshare at The Colonies of Williamsburg, the week before the 4th of July. The cost was about $40,000 and maintenance fees $750 a year. Over a decade maintenance fees only increased by about $125. We had great experiences with both memberships. Our vacations were perfect. 

Others were not so lucky. Some have experienced maintenance fees that escalated dramatically – and they have no deeded interest in any property, just points that they might be able to use somewhere, sometime. Timeshare problems are not isolated to just one company. Complaints of existing members being presented maintenance fee relief programs that do not exist exacerbate the problem. You need to attend a meeting this week.  It’s not an invitation but a demand. Some don’t even know it’s a sales presentation. Those attending presentations are sometimes held “captive” for several hours waiting for “gifts.” This is not fair to soldiers suffering symptoms of PTSD.

Veterans have reported being told of special programs for veterans (that do not exist) or eligible for, in my case, a disabled veteran program, eligible to receive a lower price. Later I learned there was no “special price” for disabled veterans. 

The standard response to complaints is typically, “it doesn’t matter what the salesperson told you or wrote down…. You signed the contract.” “You have no proof” is often seconded by some state timeshare divisions. Timeshare contracts are not contracts that can be signed in good faith, believing the information provided by the sales staff. Think how many times you purchased a car or home, relying on the ethics of the real estate professional.

Heavily discounted promotional trips typically mean a conversely high-pressure sales session. Unlimited entertainment, food, and drinks often mean unlimited high pressure. A 60 to a 90-minute presentation which you are told emphatically is NOT a sales presentation, will often turn into a tag team of three against two that can last for hours. Promises are scribbled on paper, but the paper disappears.

Anyone buying a timeshare should research the company, the industry and any points-based product. This is something I should have done. I found over 200 people across the United States, including other Disabled Combat Veterans and active duty service members, who described unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices.

There are also complaints describing credit card fraud. Members did not know until they returned home that a card had been opened and charged. Several hours before the transaction, they were told to fill out a form to see if they qualify for a down payment. In addition, members report being told they will be able to pay maintenance fees by using a timeshare company sponsored credit card, unaware this will offset only 1% or 2% of the maintenance fees bill.

A lifetime is a long time to bet nothing will happen to make the timeshare unaffordable. There is no secondary market for timeshare.

Recently, when my wife and I were told of an update we needed to attend, I politely asked the clerk to mail us any pertinent information – she understood that we weren’t interested in attending any more timeshare sales presentations.

This is one veteran’s story. After 9/11 Terry volunteered to go to Iraq. He was close to retirement so he felt it was the last thing he would be able to do for his country. After he got in country, he again volunteered with six other guys to be on a team deployed to Basra where the British had a FOB.

A forward operating base (FOB) is any secured forward military position, commonly a military base used to support tactical operations. (Wikipedia)

Terry was diagnosed with blood cancer after living next to a burn pit is Basra.

Terry was the lead man for the C-RAM program.

C-RAM: Counter Rocket, Artillery, and Mortar abbreviated C-RAM or Counter-RAM, is a set of systems used to detect and/or destroy incoming artillery, rockets and mortar rounds in the air before they hit their ground targets, or simply provide early warning. (Wikipedia)

Terry and his guys would monitor incoming fire. Basra was one of those places where they were the only Americans so it was hard to get medicine and supplies. Terry and the guys lived in tents next to burn pits where the British burned anything that could be burned. Then there was Afghan. Terry was there for eighteen months until he was sent home after a diagnosis of blood cancer. He also served twenty years in the National Guard. He is 55 years old.

I really don’t know what else to say – he lived army ‘til he couldn’t anymore.

Our timeshare experience November 16, 2017

We were told in Gatlinburg at a group presentation that points were an investment and could be sold for a profit. My husbands diagnose of blood cancer was in 2014. We could no longer afford the timeshare. We know the agent lied about being able to sell timeshare points. We are not concerned that we cannot make a profit as the agent claimed, but are concerned that timeshare points are worthless should a member need to sell. Sales agents should not sell points based on the points being an investment. There were several in the room who heard this claim as it was made in the group presentation and in our individual meeting. Also, Cammie said all we had to do is when we got back home was go to our bank as we wouldn’t have a problem getting a lower interest rate. This was not true. Banks will not finance timeshare.

It’s not right. Our veterans deserve better.

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

Free at Last 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, John, for your wonderful contribution, we and all our readers at Inside Timeshare wish you all the best in your campaign, also a very big thank you to Irene for her time editing the Tuesday Slot and Friday’s Letter from America articles.

If you have any comments or question on this or any article published, please use our contact page, we would love to hear from you.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to another Letter from America, today Irene Parker takes a look at the “scare tactics” being used in order to convince owners to give up their deeded timeshare and convert to points. We all know one of the main points in the selling of timeshare was that we would be able to leave it to our children when we finally pop our clogs, now this is being used in reverse and is known as the “heir scare”. After all who in their right mind would want to leave a burden such as annual management fees to their children, unless you hated them!

On another note, Inside Timeshare is once again asking for your help, on several occasions we have published the link below, it is a petition demanding reform of the timeshare industries unfair and deceptive practices. Please take the time to visit the link and sign this very important petition.

https://www.change.org/p/state-legislators-in-arizona-florida-and-nevada-demand-reform-of-the-timeshare-industry-s-unfair-and-deceptive-practices?fbclid=IwAR28bzypeqV-1JaoVCoa5vL7edl27hWYme4yyIQzx54pBG6xvZHLDeef7tA

Scare Tactics Used to Convince Deeded Timeshare Members to Give up their Deeded Timeshare and Convert to Points  

By Irene Parker

June 28, 2019

Inside Timeshare first published “Heir Scare” October 26, 2018. We continue to receive complaints from members who ask if they have to give up a deeded timeshare and convert to points so that their heirs will not be responsible for the timeshare.

The deed is usually paid in full, so by financing points, the sales agent has created an estate liability when in all likelihood, none existed. I’m not a lawyer, but this estate planning lawyer posted good advice on RedWeek. Timeshare sales agents who offer estate planning advice are practising law without a law license.  

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. stevenw on May 02, 2017 06:01 PM.

Yes, points offer greater flexibility, but often fully paid deeded timeshare shares are forfeited for reasons that do not exist. If the deeded week is in a desirable location, like Virginia Beach in summer, those who did give up their deed often complain that they were not able to access even the resort after they forfeited their deed and bought points. Many of our complaints begin with this broken record:   

“The sales agent said we had to give up our deeded week and buy points.”

The member is told they have to give up their timeshare deed or they will be the last man standing, left holding the maintenance fee bag. An ocean engineer who had contacted me about deceptive timeshare sales happened to call when I was reading a RedWeek post about a looming beach erosion fee, expected to occur only for deeded week owners. Our ocean engineer explains why beach erosion problems are typically the responsibility of state and local governments.    

https://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-17/

Timeshare sales agents are not the only ones to use scare tactics. Below is a pitch delivered by U.S. Consumer Attorneys that Marcy S submitted to Inside Timeshare. They used the same scare tactics. Wyndham has filed a lawsuit against U.S. Consumer Attorneys.  

https://dockets.justia.com/docket/florida/flsdce/9:2018cv81251/535273

Marcy called me saying she was having a panic attack over the result of their timeshare debacle. U.S. Consumer Attorneys threatened Marcy as follows:

Louis S called me and said he was with US Consumer Attorneys Group and that he was calling about my timeshare. He was aware that I was a Diamond owner and that I owned at Ka’anapali Resort. He sent me a copy of their contract and said I needed to pay him $2900 to get out of the contract.  He said he is an attorney with US Consumer Attorneys Group. He said Diamond was going to take my house and my children would be responsible for paying all Diamond debts and that they would even attach my wages. He said Diamond would also take my Social Security payments and my retirement.

George Yamada paid U.S. Consumer Attorneys $6,000 to seek release from his timeshare. After 21 months he contacted Inside Timeshare. By filing regulatory complaints, George resolved his dispute through self-advocacy. George is a pension administrator, an Army veteran 70% Agent Orange disabled.

https://www.opednews.com/articles/Let-s-Honor-our-Veterans–by-Irene-Parker-Fraud-180908-59.html

An excerpt from A Second Warning We Wish We Did Not Have to Give

By Tom Tubbs at Island Consulting Realty

Tom Tubbs, Broker, R.N.G.

Island Consulting Realty

800-809-6020 or 941-922-3808  www.TimeSharesToGo.com

Senior Licensed Real Estate Specialist

Co-Founder: Licensed Timeshare Resale Brokers Association

Board Member: Florida Timeshare Owners Group

Doctor of Funology

Well, these are the folks who “create” a problem that does not exist. This is a very common sales tactic with just about anything out there for sale or service. With timeshares, these companies create a VERY false impression that your timeshare is actually a burden instead of an asset. They give you the VERY false impression that you can’t sell it (although that’s what we’ve been doing for folks for the past 33 years….) and that when you die your kids will then be strapped with it (also false). Then they have a solution! (Of course!). Give them $3500 plus the deed to your timeshare and they’ll get you out of it. What great guys!

So in a nutshell what you have here is a company creating a problem for you that minutes earlier you did not know you had and then solving that problem for you by you giving away your timeshare and your money! Problem is, for many of these companies it’s all one big fat lie; as the following story will tell…

Orlando woman says timeshare exit plan was all a lie

American Consumer LLC charged thousands then filed 

Chapter 11 bankruptcy

ORLANDO, Fla. – Lisa Eller, a timeshare resort customer for 18 years, is convinced American Consumer LLC never intended to negotiate an exit from her resort contract despite promises from then Chief Operations Officer Cory “Hubb” Hubbell, that he could get it done.

“He’s a smooth salesman; he seemed like he knew what he was doing,” Eller said. “He said, ‘It takes us about 12 months to work the program.'”

Eller and her husband agreed to pay $2,350 for the program but just this week discovered no one from the company, aka A Consumer LLC, ever contacted her resort.

“They present themselves as people who have contacts at these resorts,” Eller said. “Our contract was paid in full; we were just paying maintenance.”

The last time Hubbell spoke to Eller was in March, according to Hubbell’s Facebook account, he left the company in May. Eller’s attorney, Jennifer Beaman Clark, told News 6 that when she advised the resort representative that her clients had been trying to resolve this for a year she was told, “It was the first time they had been contacted about the account.”

According to records obtained by News 6, American filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Sept. 9. The registered agent, Brevard County attorney Michael Sarocco, said he would try to help consumers who wanted to get their money back but that he had no official ties to the company. In an email to News 6, Sarocco wrote, “I no longer represent the company and do not have the authorization to make any statements on their behalf.”

A review of state records shows Saracco was the registered agent for American Consumer Credit LLC along with another 12 companies all linked to the same manager: Dana Micallef. Micallef started the company in 2011 and, according to state records, lives in Daytona Beach. Still, it appears he has been calling customers from a New York area code.

Rebekah Nelson hired the company last September and agreed to pay $2,800 to get a release from a timeshare in Vista, California. Nelson told News 6 a man she believes to be Micallef, asked her to wire $700 to continue the contract. “They block the consumer from talking to the timeshare so you don’t know (American) is not doing their job,” she said.

Nelson is convinced there are dozens of victims who fell for the same scheme.

News 6 found a website that explained how the company claimed to complete the exit:

“When you enter into the contract termination process with Aconsumercredit™, we start to permanently remove your timeshare contract burden. No more fees. No more payments.” Nelson said she was told to stop paying her timeshare fees and that is when her credit was ruined.

If you believe you are a victim of this company, contact Mike Holfeld at [email protected]

For more information, contact attorney Saracco: [email protected]

Related articles:

By Mike Finn of Finn Law Group:

How Can I Eliminate my Timeshare Liability for my Heirs?

https://www.finnlawgroup.com/eliminate-timeshare-liability-for-heirs/
https://www.finnlawgroup.com/eliminate-timeshare-liability-for-heirs/

Inside Timeshare is swamped on both sides of the Pacific Pond. If you have skills you feel will help consumers who fell for unfair and deceptive sales practices on both ends of the timeshare sale, buying and/or trying to get out, contact Charles Thomas on the EU side or me in the USA. Weekends are fine. 

Irene, the Peasant of Venice

Timeshare self-help groups:

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

https://www.udprep.info/june

Bluegreen Facebook

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

Wyndham Facebook

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

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

Diamond Resort Facebook

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

Gold Key Facebook

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

Inside Timeshare Facebook Group

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

Thank you Irene, once again you highlight the lengths sales people will go to just to get another sale under their belts, or rather more $$$ in their pockets. In the end, it is the timeshare companies themselves who must take the blame for these “deceptive” practises, they are the ones who allow the sales agents to say what they like. The one phrase we are very used to hearing is “we are not responsible for what our sales agent says”. Sorry, but you are!

News from Tenerife.

National Police have arrested and dismantled a gang defrauding timeshare owners, using fake court documents and posing as lawyers. The scam involved contacting timeshare owners and convincing them that their timeshare company was being taken to court, with the payment of a fee the owner could be part of the case and be reimbursed with all their money and compensation.

The investigation started in February 2018 and is still underway, so at present we do not know which “fake lawyers” they are, as news comes in we will publish it here.

https://www.eldia.es/sucesos/2019/06/26/policia-nacional-desarticula-organizacion-criminal/987664.html?fbclid=IwAR3HnsZ6-SgAmdIrvw1jM7ysAkyiDrBTGzsGlU9Al0SsNihztsK87SSBLwI

That is all for this week, join us again on Monday when Inside Timeshare brings you more news and stories about the murky world of timeshare.


The Tuesday Slot

Welcome to The Tuesday Slot with Part III of our series on the abuse of Veterans and the elderly with Irene Parker and Eddie Rodriguez. This article is just another in the series Inside Timeshare has dubbed “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”, which at the last count numbered 111 complaints from veterans alone. All we can ask is when will the industry take notice and stop these predatory practices by sales agents which are destroying lives.

Inside Timeshare has been informed of the following post by this company:

Timeshare Cancellation Guaranteed | ITT Exit – Call Toll-Free 1-800 …

https://www.ittexit.com/

At ITT EXIT, we know that when you purchased your Timeshare, it seemed like a great idea at …. these stories, Inside Timeshare has received around 111 complaints from Veterans and how … The AP news staff was not involved in its creation.

Inside Timeshare does not endorse this company, we are however happy for them to publish links to our articles. Inside Timeshare will not endorse or recommend any Exit company as we have in place a tried and tested formula for US owners/members to self-advocate.

Irene reached out to ITT Exit. They said it was not their intention to mislead and they would have their IT person change the description. We always appreciate a good line of communication with any exit company or developer.

Now for this weeks article.

How to Reform Timeshare to Protect Veterans

By Irene Parker and Eddie Rodriguez

June 25, 2019

Part I Theresa Taylor Provides Insights into Timeshare Defaults

https://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-35/

Part II Ron Tzinski Timeshare Lending Compared to Subprime

https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-55/

Part III Why the Center of Excellence on Elder Abuse & Neglect Suggestions Offer Little Help

Army veteran Eddie Rodriguez called me after reading veteran Ron Tzinski’s article and the timeshare complaint disabled Marine veteran Richard Valdez provided. Eddie wanted to reach out to these veterans and also explain to me why the suggestions offered by the Center Of Excellence on Elder Abuse & Neglect in all likelihood won’t work for veterans or our non-military readers harmed by timeshare.

For veterans, Eddie suggests time would be better spent working directly with veteran organizations like the DAV, VA, and VFW. Eddied managed U S Post Offices and is a former lobbyist. He was vice president of the Postal Union NAPS, Branch 164. The following disabled veteran’s complaint infuriated Eddie and me. 

Given the service Richard Valdez gave to his country, the extent of his injuries, and the report the VA provided, as to the reasons why this veteran should be released from his timeshare loan, we question the timeshare lobby ARDA’s assertion that timeshare members don’t need to contact an attorney or a timeshare exit provider. ARDA and industry executives insist their companies have hardship departments. We identify Richard, but not the timeshare company, because when we sent the report to the company, we heard back that they had assigned someone to investigate. We are grateful, despite being a bit late.

I spoke with Richard by phone. He lives in Honolulu. Richard retired from the Marine Corps as a Corporal IE 4. He earned a Purple Heart. During combat, Richard encountered explosive rounds in contact with his platoon. They had to shoot flares to see the enemy because there was no light. The 60 mortar rounds backfired. Fighting mountain to mountain, he was exposed to Agent Orange. He had a golf ball size growth in his head, maybe a little smaller. It took him a long time to get to reality. Richard says is often confused. He can’t comprehend when reading, so he just signed the timeshare contract.

Richard is the 6th Agent Orange exposed Vietnam veteran to contact us. Inside Timeshare has heard reports of unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices from 111 veterans/active duty service members, and a total of 864 families. This report, by Richard’s son, explains our outrage.  Richard is 100% disabled. This is how he was treated by his timeshare company.     

I am writing this on behalf of my father. He sustained significant brain trauma due to intense fighting in the Vietnam War and is not capable of understanding difficult concepts or following complicated instructions so I am doing this for him. He purchased a timeshare for $23,800 in 2016. My father obviously does not have the capacity to understand what was happening or the details of the contract. After he used it the first time in Las Vegas and realized what it was we sent a letter from the VA outlining my father’s condition as the reason for him misunderstanding the product, but it has been ignored. I think it is disgusting that my father is being treated this way after serving our country at such a cost to his own life. My father is 100% disabled and incapable of understanding complex concepts.

The company has now passed him to a collections company who are harassing and stressing him out with threats to his possessions. Please look into this and help in any way you can. If you can talk to him, you will see he was taken advantage of badly.

Four out of the six organizations the Center Of Excellence on Elder Abuse & Neglect suggested have not helped any our readers resolve timeshare disputes. We had provided the link to this resource in Ron Tzinski’s article. Two of the organizations mentioned I had not heard of. We’ll try them next.  

http://www.centeronelderabuse.org/veterans.asp

The six organizations

1) The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has been all but dismantled. Even in its heyday, it was usually impossible to file a timeshare lending complaint because timeshare companies were not an option from their drop-down menu. Timeshare loan payments are often made to timeshare financial departments. Borrowers didn’t know the identity of their lender. A credit card lender, selected by default, rationalized that they did not sell the timeshare or open the credit card. https://splinternews.com/mick-mulvaneys-complete-dismantling-of-the-consumer-fin-1826649324

2) Task Force on Market Integrity and Consumer Fraud is to be explored.

On July 11, 2018, President Trump signed Executive Order 13844, establishing the Task Force on Market Integrity and Consumer Fraud and identifying the Deputy Attorney General as its chair. The Task Force is part of a government-wide initiative to combat fraud against consumers – particularly the elderly, service members, and veterans – and corporate fraud that victimizes the general public and the government. https://www.justice.gov/fraudtaskforce

3) Consumer Federation of America is to be explored.

https://consumerfed.org/issues/consumer-protection/

The Consumer Federation of America provides a summary of protections against predatory lending for servicemembers

4) The FTC Consumer Sentinel Military Network (Military page not found)

https://www.ftc.gov/enforcement/consumer-sentinel-network

All of our readers are directed to file complaints with the Federal Trade Commission. While a spokesperson for the organization expressed sympathy and passed along information to FTC attorneys before leaving the FTC, we are not aware of any action taken by the FTC to reduce timeshare fraud. It can take thousands of complaints to get a lawmaker, law enforcement, or a federal regulator to act, so we encourage our readers to file. It’s hard to even find the timeshare tab on the FTC complaint site. Instructions are in this article.

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

5) The Better Business Bureau

Two of our readers, out of 864, reported being helped by the BBB. The BBB evaluates how efficient a company is in responding to complaints. Given timeshare companies are quick to respond, “You signed a contract” and “We are not responsible for what our sales agents say,” some have high ratings. It is important to file because bad timeshare companies have over 1,000 complaints or more on file over a three year period, while better timeshare companies only have a few hundred complaints.

6) AARP We learned AARP had been linking an article suggesting timeshare members contact a listing service to sell timeshares. This company not only stole our keywords, using search words “Inside Timeshare Sales and Rentals,” they routinely accept timeshare listings, charging timeshare members $1,500 to $1,700 to list timeshares known to be worthless. We were able to convince AARP to stop linking the article that would cause timeshare members to throw good money after bad. It is helpful AARP suggests members file with the FTC and BBB.      

I had a difficult time talking to Richard because he sounded just like Leo Gomez. Leo passed away last year from pancreatic cancer. Leo was 100% disabled, Agent Orange exposed. I link Leo’s article every chance I get, because Leo’s last words to me were, “I want my story told.”

https://www.opednews.com/articles/A-Fourth-Agent-Orange-Vete-by-Irene-Parker-Fraud-180917-513.html

One of the first 100% Agent Orange veterans to contact us incurred a $170,000 1099c tax liability for a timeshare loan cancellation. We directed him to an expert who could help dispute the tax bill as he certainly gained nothing in exchange for the cancelled loan. This veteran was one of 20 complaints against the same Las Vegas sales agent.

Eddie Rodriguez is a veteran himself. A native New Yorker from Brooklyn, Eddie had the basic ability to fight for the rights of post office employees as a union representative. A Westgate and High Point timeshare owner, unable to dispose of the timeshares, Eddie has taken up our cause, lobbying to provide more disclosure to veterans buying timeshares. In the primary housing market, this is already required.

A Coalition to Reform Timeshare (CRT) was launched to advocate for the rights of more than 9 million timeshare owners in the U.S.  

Our volunteer Supporters at Timeshare Accountability Group™ (TAG) feel both ends of the timeshare sale need some reform. The Change.org petition has already received over 1,300 signatures.  Sign our petition today to show lawmakers and the Timeshare Industry at large that there is a need for change.

Inside Timeshare supports John Collick for Congress, (VA-3). John is a friend of mine who understands our concerns. I’ve read comments from members who say Republicans are not interested in consumers. At the Florida legislative workshop I attended in Tallahassee March 12 of this year, it was Republican representatives who spoke up for the consumer. Florida Representative Newton shared how he had to file for bankruptcy in the 90s to get out of his timeshare. 

https://www.collick4congress.com/?fbclid=IwAR2JoSF5-2j3HM7wgR_Y5LBab112dzCj8qyR6PmiZsUJDFE1Q9sL1eIl4sY

Let’s hope level heads on both sides of the aisle recognize the need for change. We owe that to our veterans and to our active duty service members. Too many families have been harmed.  

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

Free at Last 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 to Irene, Eddie and all the other contributors to this three-part series, these are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg, Inside Timeshare receives a what can only be described as a never-ending stream of emails looking for help. It is a story that unfortunately will not be going away until the industry changes its ways.

Anfi Tauro Beach Project

The story of the Anfi Tauro Beach Project which we have been following over the past few years has now seen the ex-head of the Coastal Authority José Maria Hernández de León finally found guilty of falsification in an official document and administrative prevarication.


José Maria Hernández de León

As we already know he allowed the work on the beach by Anfi to go ahead even before all the licenses and official documentation was in place, then signed the documents months after the work started.

The court has sentenced him to 3 years in prison, nine years of disqualification from public office and a fine of 3,900€. This sentence is not final as the parties may appeal in the Civil and Criminal Chamber of the Superior Court of Justice of the Canary islands.

We will bring you more on this as it happens.

See link below for the full La provincia story.

https://www.laprovincia.es/gran-canaria/2019/06/20/condenan-ex-jefe-costas-canarias/1186170.html

The Tuesday Slot

Welcome to The Tuesday Slot, this week we welcome another new contributor Theresa Taylor, with her experience of attending a presentation. As you will see from her story, it is one that is very familiar to every reader of these pages, high-pressure sales tactics with plenty of ways to get around a problem of affordability. One of the most disturbing facts of this story is the fact the sales agents found a way to get Theresa finance despite being in the middle of a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. As we already know from other stories, sales agents will do and say anything to get the deal, yet the timeshare companies still allow this to continue.

Part I: I Explain to Wyndham CFO Michael Hug:

Why Wyndham’s Default Rate is higher than he would like

By Theresa Taylor

June 18, 2019

Timeshare Tussle, by Jason Garcia at Florida Trend

There was a cloud over the results, however. During the call, Wyndham also revealed that the number of owners defaulting on their timeshare mortgages climbed during the second quarter, extending what has become a multiyear increase in defaults. The company says the rate of increase in its provision for loan losses has slowed to “under 5%” in the second half of 2018, but in the earnings call Brown said defaults remain “higher than we would like,” seconded by CFO Michael Hug, who added that “loan loss remains a central area of focus.”

Of the company’s nearly 900,000 owners, only 200,000 have loans. However, the company expects to set aside 21% of its gross sales to cover losses in 2018 — meaning it expects not to collect $21 of every $100 it’s loaned.

https://www.floridatrend.com/article/25726/timeshare-tussle

Part II Friday: Timeshare Reinvents Subprime Mortgages by Ron

My friend Ron reached out to Wyndham’s hardship department. He was turned away. Wyndham’s reaction to my friend explains why timeshare members reach out to timeshare exit companies for help. Going through a foreclosure process is not something a timeshare member wants to go through alone.

If Ron doesn’t qualify for hardship, I don’t know who would. Ron is an 11-year veteran. His wife died two years ago after his timeshare was purchased in 2016. His annual income is less than $12,000. He is self-employed.

I decided to attend a Wyndham timeshare presentation. My experience will explain why so many are defaulting on timeshare loans. I don’t think Wyndham is the only company providing loans to buyers who should not be buying, lending through high-interest rate loans and even higher interest rate Barclay credit cards. Undeterred by my bankruptcy, Wyndham’s sales agents explained how they could list me as a foreigner to circumvent the obstacle.

Here’s what happened at Wyndham Grand Desert Resort in Las Vegas:       

It was a family celebration for my son’s 21st birthday. After arriving late, I awoke the next morning to find a card slid under my door instructing me to see Amelia to receive a Welcome Packet. I proceeded to check-in to get my welcome package and before I knew it, I was informed that I had to attend a timeshare presentation the next morning.

Lauren informed me that I qualified for a “no-high-pressure card” to take with me to the presentation. I had to give them a $20.00 refundable fee to hold my spot.  She then discussed income requirements. They required a minimum household income of $75,000. She assumed that my friend Ron was my partner. We explained that he was not, and even if we were together, Ron currently has no income. I told Lauren my income was only $60,000. Lauren kept insisting that Ron was part of my household income.

Once we finally convinced Lauren that Ron should not be involved, she decided I could proceed with $65,000 per year household income. She changed the form from $75,000 to $65,000. When I reiterated that I only made $60,000 Lauren stated that they can actually work with that. She offered me show tickets or a $100 American Express gift card as my reward after I completed the presentation. I elected the gift card.

Red Flag #1 Falsified Income

The next morning I got up to attend the presentation. Ron decided to go with me. They showed us a video of all the places you can stay if you join Wyndham Vacation Resorts. We learned Wyndham owns RCI which is why there are so many places to stay. There are fees involved to use RCI.

Our presenter Eddie did a breakdown of the cost to vacation, explaining the value in buying into Wyndham Vacation Resorts. After the video, Judy took us on a tour of the Grand Desert, showing me the presidential suite. Next, we went to a room where tables were set up with other salespeople talking to other potential customers about the cost to vacation.

Judy showed us a price sheet. After she went over the costs, I asked for a moment to think about it. Visions of beautiful resorts momentarily left my head. I talked to Ron because it dawned on me that I am currently in a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. I shouldn’t be able to buy anything.

We flagged Judy down to explain that I forgot to mention I was in the midst of a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. She said she would go talk to her manager.  To be honest, I thought my time there was done. Nope, Judy came back and stated that the Chapter 13 Bankruptcy wasn’t a problem and that they could get me into a program that did not require a credit check or my social security number. Judy indicated that it was their international/foreign (non-US resident) program.   

Red Flag #2 Suitability

I told Judy thanks but no thanks. I thought it best to wait until I am through with the Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. She said fine, gathered up all the paperwork and advised that someone would be over with my gift card.

After about 15 minutes a woman named Sophie came to the table. She stated that she was doing a survey of my experience. She asked me how I liked Judy, how was the presentation. She asked if this was a program that I would enjoy given different circumstances. Trying to be pleasant, I explained that I don’t think the program is right for me at this time given I am in the middle of a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. Undeterred, she flipped over some paperwork to show me another offer to buy into Wyndham Vacation Resorts.

Red Flag #3 High Pressure

I couldn’t believe it. Here I’m trying to get my financial head above water, and Sophie is convinced I need to buy a luxury item so that I can be driven deeper into debt. This go-round they offered me a “trial period” program which involved 400,000 points for use over two years at a cost of $3,548. She explained I could put down approximately $400 and make monthly payments.

At this point, I remembered my “no-high-pressure card” Lauren was supposed to give me, which seemed like ages ago. I said to Sophie, “Lauren said I was supposed to experience a no high-pressure presentation. She even said she would give me a “no-high-pressure card” (which Lauren forgot to give me), so I would not be pressured into buying something.  Sophie said “A what”?

Red Flag #4 Unfair and Deceptive Sales Practice

There obviously is no such thing as a “no-high-pressure card” so this was unfair and deceptive. First, my income was falsified to qualify, I am in debt up to my ears, I told them no, they will not take no for an answer, and they want to add another layer of monthly payments on top of my bankruptcy payments. Maybe it’s just me, but I think this is high pressure. Note the 6th line down on the left indicating 120 payments at 17.99%. What a great way to start life after bankruptcy.

I brought up the “no-pressure card” again to Sophie and that Lauren had said I was entitled to a “no-pressure card” because I was somewhat related to the person who booked my stay with them. Sophie confirmed my suspicion that there is no such thing as a “no-high-pressure card” by saying she had no idea what I was talking about.  I told Sophie (pretty sternly) that I WAS NOT INTERESTED. She asked if I felt I was being pressured.

This all occurred over  2 ½ hours and I think it ended only because I got stern with her and used the words “high pressure” hoping it would register.

On Friday Ron will explain why he feels the ARDA Code of Ethics doesn’t exist and Wyndham’s hardship department is fictional. I sent Wyndham a draft of this article for comment, but they did not respond. I can put them in touch with Ron if they would like to review his case.

I encourage those who feel they have experienced unfair and deceptive sales practices to join one of the self-help support groups listed below. There’s a new Wyndham Facebook page which is member/sponsored.

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

A Petition to Reform Timeshare

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

https://www.udprep.info/june

Bluegreen Facebook

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

Wyndham Facebook

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

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

Diamond Resort Facebook

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

Gold Key Facebook

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

Thank you, Theresa, for your contribution, it is a story that I would think is familiar to all our readers and one that we at Inside Timeshare have highlighted on many occasions. Once again we see sales agents using practices which can only be described as despicable and underhand, yet what does senior management do? Allows them to continue.

That is all for today, join us tomorrow for Part Five of our continuing “saga” of Silverpoint exposed.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to another Friday edition of Letter from America, today we welcome the Madden Family with their “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”, this time it is Orange Lake in Orlando. It is another story of deceptive sales practices by sales agents working on behalf of the timeshare developer and the lack of a secondary market. It is a story we are all too familiar with at Inside Timeshare.

A TRUE STORY by an Orange Lake Timeshare Buyer

May 31, 2019

By the Madden Family

We recorded our Orange Lake experience on YouTube hoping to prevent others from making the decision we unfortunately made. I’m told Orange Lake is no worse than several other timeshare companies. Buyers who no longer can use the timeshare are held hostage with no choice but to walk away due to the lack of a secondary market.

Our YouTube

We purchased an Orange Lake Resort Timeshare in Orlando, Florida in 2014. It was the day after Christmas. After hours of mouth flapping, winning smiles, scribbled notes in illegible writing, we were fairly pliable and ended up signing a contract we now know is worthless. This has been a source of massive stress.

Here are the unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices we experienced which readers will have heard countless times: The sales agent told us that we were making an investment that would appreciate like any other investment. Timeshares are worthless.

  • The sales agent said the timeshare had built-in equity from a prior owner. There is no such thing as equity when it comes to a timeshare. Timeshares are a liability. The sales agent said that since this had been owned by a prior party, we had to buy “today” or the price tomorrow would be without equity, so full price. This was nonsense.
  • The sales agent said we could easily refinance, replacing the exorbitant 26% financing provided by Orange Lake. This was not true. Banks don’t finance timeshares because they are not an asset.
  • The sales agent said there was a resale market. We tried that market but were scammed the same way we were scammed into buying the timeshare.
  • The sales agent said he wasn’t a salesman, just there to help timeshare owners find buyers. He was a salesman.
  • The sales agent said an Orange Lake timeshare is like any other property. You can deduct mortgage interest. You can’t deduct timeshare loan interest.
  • The sales agent said we could cover the cost of owning the timeshare by renting it out. He said he would help us rent. He didn’t.
  • The sales agent said we could book wherever we wanted easily. We wanted to book west coast Florida but were told it was unavailable and would be unavailable through the next year. We tried to book Cape Canaveral, Panama City Beach Resorts or Galveston, but that was unavailable. We ended up in Las Vegas as a last resort. We were never able to book with the ease the sales agent promised.

The moral of our story is that you can’t believe a word a timeshare sales agent says. I know there are timeshare members who use and enjoy their timeshare, but there are also thousands and thousands of complaints. Before buying, check the happy and unhappy buyer sites. Weigh each side, because your only discernable truth will come from those who bought timeshares, not from those who sell them.    

We tried reaching out to Orange Lake with our concerns but were ignored. The lack of communication from Orange Lake made us feel like they have no cares whatsoever for their customers, or about the deceptive claims their sales agent make, as long as they get their money. They were never in a hurry to answer our concerns, but have invested considerable time to call us daily, repeatedly, to collect money.

When we filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, Orange Lake responded with a copy of our contract. Surely signatures do not exempt a company from promising a diamond but delivering a piece of coal. Where is the Federal Trade Commission?

We intend to tell our story in as many places as possible to warn others. Too many families are being financially harmed so that sales agents can earn commissions and timeshare companies can report profits at the expense of hard-working citizens. Citizens harmed spent a lifetime buying cars and houses, relying on the integrity of the seller, integrity that, based on our experience, does not exist in timeshare.

Join our efforts!

Contact Inside Timeshare to join this family’s efforts to help others. Following are self-help groups we feel are not industry influenced.

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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/

Thank you to the Maddens for sharing the experience of your own “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”, many of our readers will recognise some of the tactics and deceptions from their own experiences. Is it not time the timeshare industry reigned in these unscrupulous sales agents, then they may have a product which does not court controversy, complaints and above all misery to consumers. It is only through you the readers sharing your stories and coming together which helps others to see that they are not alone, together you do have a voice that can change the industry.

If you would like to share your own “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” or have a happy story to tell of good sales practise and consumer protection, Inside Timeshare would love to hear from you.

Are you a European owner of a timeshare in the US and want to get out, are you a US owner of a timeshare in Europe especially purchased in Spain and want to know how Spanish law protects you, then use our contact page and lets us know, we will point you in the right direction.

Have a great weekend and join us again next week.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this weeks Letter from America, today we publish the final report by Irene Parker on the Platinum Protest in Orlando which was held on 17 to 19 May. This report also includes their brief stories which helps to explain why they are protesting. In the case of Patty and her story, we have received many complaints which have named the same sales agent. Inside Timeshare has read these complaints and it is surprising that for people who have never met how close their stories are. This can only lead us to conclude there is something very wrong in what this sales agent is doing.

What Happened at the May Platinum Member Protest in Orlando

Save the Date for the next Platinum Protest in Arizona:

Veteran’s Weekend November 9 – 11


From left: Anna, Cindy, Sheilah and Patty

By Irene Parker

May 24, 2019

Many have expressed admiration for the efforts of four Diamond Resorts Platinum families protesting on behalf of 85 Platinum members who have reported that they were told to buy additional timeshare points for reasons they say do not exist. Of the 85, 43 reported that they were told they would be able to offset maintenance fees only if they purchased additional points. Others report they bought points told that they must buy additional points to be able to sell points.

What happened to Sheilah and Gad (a protestor not pictured), is why Friday’s location was at the Florida state building housing the Florida Attorney General’s timeshare division, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR).  Sheilah, Gad and a third buyer all bought from the same Daytona agent.  They each have their “pencil pitch” which is what agents scribble as they talk. Near the top of Sheilah’s three-page pencil pitch appears:  

8631 (Now) – 8631 (Save) = 0

What could be clearer?

1) (Now) (Save)

2) Redirect savings to help offset costs (to 0)

The complete explanation is in Sheilah’s article:

https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-11/

Diamond Sales Agent pencil pitch

Diamond’s response, from the company promoting a CLARITY promise of “Clear, concise, accountable and transparent information” was, “We admit this was confusing, but it was not illegal,” according to Sheilah.

“Talking to the Florida Timeshare Division DBPR was the same as talking to Diamond Resorts,” Sheilah said. At first, I was dismissed with “We don’t know if you were given this evidence or if you took it.” Their point I believe was that evidence obtained illegally is not admissible. When I questioned the logic of this statement, the reviewer called back several days later reporting that she spoke with Diamond’s attorneys. “I didn’t understand the program either until I spoke with Diamond’s attorneys, but now I do,” she reported to Sheilah. It’s not difficult to understand why someone would be so angry they would fly 1,000 miles to protest.

Florida’s DBPR has dismissed all our readers’ complaints with, “Verbal representations are hard to prove.” While Arizona, New York, Tennessee and other states have launched timeshare investigations based on a volume and pattern of complaints, Florida will not. When Sheilah asked why, the DBPR supervisor responded, “How they do things in other states is not how we do things in Florida.” By their own admission, Florida dismisses timeshare complaints, despite a volume of complaints. The timeshare lobby ARDA has been quoted as saying, “Timeshare is a highly regulated product.” Apparently regulation means dismissing all complaints.

Florida’s dismal statistics:

As reported at a Florida legislative workshop in Tallahassee March 12:

Victoria Butler, from the Florida Attorney General’s Department of Consumer Protection, reported a figure of 1,500 to 1,600 complaints in recent years, with about 50% involving senior citizens. She said the majority of complaints were in regard to the initial sales presentation.

Ms Butler stated that the Florida timeshare division engaged only 42 complaints, the majority concerning resale.

Nevada is another state that dismissed all our readers’ complaints with, “You have no proof.” At least in Nevada, you can record a conversation without the other person aware. Florida is a two-party state meaning it is illegal to record without the other person aware.

How in the world is a timeshare buyer expected to obtain proof?

Three of our protestors were able to speak at length with one individual inside the state building. In fear of retaliation, we will not identify this person, but their advice was to have the protestors protest every Friday. Logistics preclude this, but we appreciated their support and knowledge of unfair and deceptive practices.

Inside Timeshare has heard from 831 families describing unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices. ARDA and Diamond’s CEO Michael Flaskey argue that the vast majority of timeshare buyers are happy with their timeshare.

Fair enough, so I checked facts and figures. I contacted law firms and timeshare exit companies throughout the United States. There are many. Two exit companies reported that each receives 3,000 to 3,500 calls per month. They accept less than 200 as clients. Just two of the many law firms and exit providers receive over 6,000 calls per month from families seeking timeshare release! An entire industry of law firms and timeshare exit providers has sprung up catering to timeshare members waking up to the realization that the timeshare they were told would be easy to sell, or sell if they bought additional points, has no secondary market.

I have to admit I was not looking forward to a weekend of sign holding, but the reward we felt by the number of horn honks, thumbs up and, especially on Sunday, a steady stream of members stopping by to express their concerns, made it all worthwhile. Here we met Platinum member #84.

I’m not a Platinum member, but wanted to support the Platinum Protestors’ efforts. Patty and Cindy have their stories. The second day of the protest I heard from a Diamond member who contacted me infuriated. She had bought points from the same agent Patty bought points from, becoming #43 of 85 Platinum members who say they were pitched maintenance fee relief programs that do not exist. This will make six complaints against Patty’s agent; the third complaint against this agent was from a couple ages 79 and 80, the husband diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. We even have a recording of the agent provided by a veteran from over a year ago who experienced a similar up-sell.

Rather than show concern for 85 of their highest loyalty members who have reported unfair and deceptive practices, Diamond and the timeshare industry as a whole insists there are few complaints. There is not enough space in an article to list all the law firms, timeshare exit companies, lawsuits, including whistleblower lawsuits, and Attorneys General investigations concerning timeshare sales.

All protest participants had been timeshare owners and members for decades. They liked timeshare. The Platinum members had purchased points a number of times, so with the ensuing trust did not expect to be blindsided by programs that they say do not exist.

We’re not saying there are not honest timeshare sales agents trying to make a living selling timeshare points properly. But when top liars, who eventually get fired for pitching too much heat, are put up on a pedestal for new hires to emulate, the result fosters deceit.    

Many have wondered if this industry could exist without deception. One timeshare insider reported that Diamond Resorts has the highest loan loss provision of all major timeshares. As reported by Wall Street:

Diamond Resorts International Inc. Downgraded To ‘CCC+’ On Very High Anticipated Leverage, Outlook Negative

The negative outlook on Diamond reflects our expectation for minimal cash flow generation and very high leverage in 2019. The outlook also incorporates our belief that the company is vulnerable to possible future operating missteps or an unexpected downturn in the economy over the next two years, which may render its capital structure unsustainable despite our assessment of adequate liquidity.

https://www.ademcetinkaya.com/2019/04/diamond-resorts-international-inc.html?fbclid=IwAR0N7Sc0Dld_LFlK8F2sv0-t4gIzAr-yd5HngEyWb6JLnVcW_OA0hfvSPPU

Many of the 85 Platinum members have resolved their dispute, but resolution required several rebuttals and regulatory filings. Some relinquished their points, meaning they walked away from all the money spent. Diamond points sell for around $4 per point so we’re talking about Platinum members with 50,000 points or more walking away from $200,000 or more. A recorded QA closing is routinely used in the dismissal, but recording the sales session is not allowed. As mentioned, recording without the other person aware is legal in some states, but not Florida.   

Given a reluctant regulatory environment, the Courts of Public Opinion seem the only courts open. Holding up signs is not easy, but the rewards are great. A realtor stopped by clearly upset that he could not sell a Westgate timeshare for his client. I gave him my contact information. Within a few hours, his client called from Brazil. Out of about 60 licensed timeshare resale brokers, only one I am aware of will accept a Westgate listing. If there are no takers, I advised the member to speak Portuguese when the maintenance fees collectors call. He can no longer afford the timeshare. Fortunately, there is no loan outstanding. His relief at hearing straight answers was palpable, even from that far away.    


Grateful listeners

Two new Facebooks have been launched by Wyndham and Starpoint Sapphire Inside Timeshare contributors. Through Social Media and grassroots protests we little by little are letting the consumer know timeshare sales can be a quagmire of debt and deceit. These are the support groups we feel are not industry influenced:

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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/

Thank you Irene and a very big thankyou to those who were able to make it to the protest, also thanks must go out to all those who showed support in whatever way they could. The next Platinum protest is scheduled for 9 to 11 November which is Veterans Weekend in the US and is being held in Arizona. If you are able to make it, you will be most welcome.

That is all for this week, use our contact page if you have any views or comments on any article published, or if you just need a little help or advice we are here to help.

Have a great weekend and join us again next week.


The Tuesday Slot

Welcome to The Tuesday Slot, today we welcome another new contribution from the Valdibieso Family, with their “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”. These features are becoming all too commonplace, so it does beg the question, When will the industry take note and change?

Our very own Irene Parker has reported that the Platinum Protestors, protesting out front of Diamond Resorts Cypress Pointe Resort in Orlando over the weekend, especially on Sunday, had a steady stream of horn honks, thumb’s up, and members who talked about their experiences, and many who asked questions about their concerns. On Friday, May 17, they protested outside the Florida Timeshare Division. One person who works inside the state facility, who asked not to be identified, suggested they protest every Friday. Unfortunately, since the protestors live in NY and AZ, it would be difficult to commute. All in all, it was a major success. A full report will be presented in Friday’s Letter From America.

Don’t Buy a Timeshare Without Checking Good and Bad Reviews

By the Valdibieso Family

May 21, 2019

Our nightmare began after we purchased a Sapphire Resort timeshare in Las Vegas in October 2017.  From the start, our timeshare experience has been one of anger and frustration.

We have joined efforts with Vanessa Hernandez who purchased a Sapphire timeshare the day of the Las Vegas mass murder. Her article is linked below. Vanessa was uncomfortable after signing her contract, so planned to review her contract that evening, but attended the concert that devastated her life. She could not even get out of bed for a long time due to the trauma. Even a horror like witnessing a mass murder did not move Starpoint Sapphire to cancel her contract, despite reported misrepresentations.  

I found 221 Starpoint Sapphire complaints on file with the Better Business Bureau, in addition to a host of complaints on other complaints sites. Starpoint has an A+ BBB rating. The BBB basically assigns a rating on how efficiently a company handles complaints. As you can see, Starpoint Sapphire is quick to respond that you signed a contract so you’re stuck.  

https://www.bbb.org/us/nv/las-vegas/profile/resort/starpoint-resort-group-inc-1086-66568/complaints#176983305

Vanessa and I have joined forces to get the word out to let others know the timeshare you buy is worthless if you need to sell it. Not only is it worthless, it is accompanied by rising maintenance fees. I know of no other product that holds the buyer hostage, making sure they stay vacationed or else.

This is the link to our Facebook:

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

Join our consumer protection efforts. If you bought a timeshare and are happy with it, we understand. Not all sales agents are deceptive. We intend, like so many other timeshare buyers who feel they experienced unfair and deceptive sales practices, to build our Facebook group and start a RedWeek and Timeshare Users Group thread.

Until the timeshare industry wakes up to the fact that they are financially destroying family after family by allowing unfair and deceptive sales practices, and restricting the secondary market to the extent you can’t dispose of it, consumers will be harmed. Publicly traded timeshare companies even warn their stock investors that a secondary market is a risk to THEM. What about us?

Our Timeshare Nightmare

Our Sapphire sales presentation dragged on for hours. To seal the deal they offered us a free trip to Hawaii or Cancun but said we had to sign quickly because they were only giving one free trip to our group.

After we signed a contract, something didn’t feel right. We decided to cancel the contract. When we talked to them about cancelling, we asked how the timeshare could be transferred to someone else and – boom! That’s when we found out about maintenance fees and all the fees that would be needed if we wanted to sell the timeshare. They also informed us that if we could not sell it, we did not have the right to cancel. None of this was mentioned in the presentation. A company representative suggested we put it on Craigslist and hung up. We have tried to contact Sapphire, to no avail. They could care less about misrepresentations.

We were told we would be allotted 5,000 points annually that would allow us to go anywhere. This was not the case. The Sapphire points are not good everywhere. They can only be used at certain places and then only thru RCI. This was crazy because I did not even sign up for RCI. When we attempted to reserve a stay, we were informed that our points would expire on July 10, 2018. We could roll them over, but we could only roll them over one time. The points eventually expired.

All the locations listed in a book that was given to us required over 5000 points. We were also informed we could purchase trips for only $269. That was not the case, because again, we could only book through RCI and they have different rules. This had not been explained.

The free trip to Hawaii turned out not to be free. The sales agent failed to mention all the fees that we would have to pay, or that we would have to fly out from a specific airport, one we did not have easy access to. We would have to pay for plane tickets to the required airport and back. The free trip to Hawaii was what eventually sold us. If we knew about the costs associated with the “free” trip, we would not have signed the contract.

We have never used our timeshare.

This has literally been one of the worst experiences we have ever had in terms of deception and aggressive sales tactics that seem geared to wear you down. They brainwashed us and have caused our marriage to fall apart due to the stress of this purchase.

Only false promises accompanied our purchase.

Excerpt from Vanessa’s Starpoint Sapphire Resort article

October 30, 2018

To be honest, I don’t remember as much as I’d like about the purchase of our Starpoint timeshare October 1 of last year. That night Rogelio and I went to the concert that flipped Vegas upside down. We hid and ran for our lives, hoping to make it out alive. Thankfully we did. We cut our trip short, so I didn’t look over the paperwork as I told myself I would. I couldn’t get out of bed or eat for a month.

I remember feeling pressured and pushed into buying the timeshare, which was why I told myself I needed to look over the paperwork as soon as I got home. The reasons I felt uncomfortable with my decision:

  • They said the timeshare was prime real estate,
  • I was not aware the credit check was being run,
  • They told me to wait 30 days before booking,
  • They promised a free trip (which never materialized).

If you would like to join Mari and Vanessa’s Advocacy Facebook, contact Inside Timeshare and we will put you in touch with two more timeshare regret consumers dedicated to warning the public about the negatives of timeshare, to counterbalance timeshare developers and lobbyists insisting few regret their purchase.

Self-help groups we feel are not industry influenced:

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

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s all for today, thank you to our latest contributors for their story, if you have a story that you would like to share, whether it be a “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” or a positive experience (which we would love to hear about just to make a change), use our contact page and get in touch.

The Tuesday Slot

Today on The Tuesday Slot we welcome another new contributor Laura Crow with her very own “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”, with an introduction by Inside Timeshares very own Irene Parker. These stories are now becoming all too familiar on our pages, with new “Nightmares” being received on an almost daily basis. It seems that not a single day goes by without another email pleading for help, many of these are from seniors and veterans. We do have to ask when will the industry change the way it works?

It is now only a few days to go before the start of the Platinum Protests in Orlando, the dates are 17 to 19 May, see the link at the end of Laura’s article.

We are timeshare trapped!

By Laura Crow

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Introduction by Irene Parker

Laura Crow was told the California Attorney General only acts when it is in the interest of the public? Why then, have Arizona, New York, Tennessee, Missouri and Wisconsin AGs, to name a few, launched investigations and negotiated settlements when they received a volume and pattern of timeshare complaints?

Timeshares rank second on the list of complaints to the state in Connecticut in 2018, according to the state Office of the Attorney General

Do you have a story idea? We want to hear from you! Fill out the complaint form on the NBC CT Responds page or call 844-303-RESP, (844) 303-7377. More #NBCCT Responds archive here.

https://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/local/Timeshare-Troubles–What-To-Do-Before-You-Buy-and-Sell-504017151.html

Each state has a different protocol for filing a timeshare complaint. In California and Nevada, timeshare complaints must be filed with the state’s real estate division against a particular agent. Filers should also file a complaint against the principal broker over all the brokers in the state.

Those who feel they experienced unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices should also file complaints with the FTC and the FBI at IC3.gov. Inside Timeshare has received reports of unfair and deceptive sales practices from over 800 families. Many members report being financially and emotionally devastated, having believed false claims told to them by timeshare sales agents, like the common complaints voiced today by Laura Crow. Seniors suffer physical harm as many report loss of sleep, weight loss, and symptoms of, or a recurrence of, cardiac and blood pressure problems over the stress of their timeshare nightmare.

There has been no federal enforcement. Attorneys General who have launched investigations and negotiated settlements are appreciated, but investigations and settlements have been mere speed bumps along an enormous revenue stream.

Please reach out to the FTC and FBI if you experienced unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices:  https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-47/

One of the Wyndhamtestimonials by current and former employees Laura discovered:

“Liars liars pants on fire”

Former Employee – Timeshare Sales in Daytona Beach, FL

Doesn’t Recommend

Neutral Outlook

CEO

I worked at Wyndham Destinations full-time (More than a year)

Pros

Free coffee, nice view, some friendly co-workers, company parties were fun, decent discounts

Cons

The timeshare sales department is filled with a bunch of liars. New hires have to sit through specific training on what is and is not allowed to tell customers. You are in no way allowed to tell customers that the timeshares are a good investment, that points can be used to pay the management fees, or that the timeshares can be rented out during peak periods to give them a return on their money. ALL THESE THINGS ARE NOT ALLOWED, BUT TOP SALES PEOPLE SAY ALL THESE LINES AND EVEN MORE LIES TO MAKE SALES. The top sales team are all a bunch of vultures lying to people to make a living. Customers get beaten down during the process. I’ve seen documents forged and old terms given to customers to secure their signature. If you have a conscience, do not work there. If you like lying to people to make money and can obtain a real estate license and have a clean background, lying to people during a timeshare presentation is much more lucrative than lying to people on the phone. If this is the type of scummy person you choose to be, then Wyndham is a great fit. If you are a salesperson who grows a conscience, there are other jobs at Wyndham you can do, so you don’t need to just quit. Just try to transfer to a different department.

Laura Crow’s Nightmare on Timeshare Street

I am a California resident and have found other California residents online in the same leaky timeshare boat as me. We have all filed a complaint with the California Attorney General and were all told that the Attorney General can’t intervene on behalf of individuals. They only act when it is in the interest of the public. Well, how many members of the public does it take to get some kind of action?

After attending a Wyndham WorldMark presentation four years ago, we left believing we could travel anywhere, any time. Europe was the big selling point. The selling point for my husband was that we could make good money by renting out our timeshare. The timeshare would pay for itself! As many have reported, timeshares are worthless. In no way should timeshares be pitched as an income producing investment. I would advise you to run the other way if you ever encounter sales agents spouting such falsehoods.

We are trapped in a contract that has not delivered the financial gains or freedom our sales representatives assured us it would. Instead, it has turned into a financial burden. We are left with the constant stress of this hanging over us, waiting for the next hit to our credit report.

Wyndham and WorldMark could care less. I will send them a draft of this article, but safe to say they will say something like it didn’t matter what our sales agents said. That’s why the public needs to know a timeshare sales agent can get away with saying anything to make a sale. What product would you buy for $25,000 to $100,000 or more that becomes worthless a second after your contract rescission period ended, should you need to dispose of the product?   

Our experiences with Wyndham are the same as so many other timeshare buyers, irrespective of the company. Instead of boring you with our Wyndham narrative, I will draw your attention to the lethargy and inaction on the part of regulatory authorities, authorities who are supposed to have our best interests at heart.

I understand that the BBB is not a government agency and has no power to enforce the law or compel a business to act ethically, but I wonder how it is possible for Wyndham to have such a volume of complaints (over 2000) and bad reviews, yet still maintain a C+ rating. About the time when I filed my BBB complaint, there was a warning from the BBB about a pattern of complaints concerning sales practices. That warning has mysteriously been taken down. How did that happen? My next step is to contact Alexis Castro at the Nevada BBB to find out.

It was the same story with the CDRE (California Division of Real Estate). Mr Aiu of the compliance division has been good enough to communicate with me but told me cases are judged on an individual basis, so no point mobilizing a group to achieve strength in numbers.

Hmm, where have we heard that before? The Catholic Church sex abuse scandal and #metoo comes to mind. This dismissal plays right into the hands of Wyndham. My complaint basically comes down to ‘he said, she said’ but ‘we said, he said’ is needed. Someone, somewhere, a regulator, a lawmaker, a media outlet; something needs to happen. If women followed Mr Aiu’s advice, we would still not be allowed to vote.

ARDA, The American Resort Development Association has been quoted as saying; “Timeshares are a highly regulated product.” Big timeshare paints a portrait of happy timeshare campers idling on the beach, but there are thousands of complaints to be found on the internet. Comments from current and former Wyndham employees, like the comment above and additional comments below, support my allegations. If you would like to test my thesis, compare the number and nature of complaints about a hotel brand, contrasted with the number of complaints directed against that same company’s timeshare brand.   

There are state and federal laws prohibiting unfair and deceptive sales tactics, yet the timeshare industry is going strong. I read about lawsuits and AG cases against Wyndham, like the $20 million a jury awarded to former Wyndham sales agent and whistleblower Trish Williams. Even that has done little to stop unfair and deceptive sales. Wyndham and other companies pay out some money, toss in some media window-dressing dollars, and carry on like nothing happened.

I am in it to win it. I will be reaching out to the media, starting with NBC. I will continue to search out agencies that may intervene or advocate on my and other owners’ behalf. Until the FTC, the FBI, or more state AGs act, public awareness is our only safeguard. That is why I am writing this article. It is not acceptable for timeshare sales agents to lie, deceive, misrepresent and withhold information about their product in order to make a sale.

Here are more Glassdoor.com anonymous reviews by current and former Wyndham sales agents rating the company. Their comments support our allegations of deceptive sales practices.

https://www.glassdoor.com/Reviews/Employee-Review-Wyndham-Destinations-RVW3171503.htm

Here are some reviews by salespeople at Wyndham. You are enabling this behaviour by

Helpful (4)

“If you have integrity – don’t even think to work here”

Cons

You are 100% on commission. The only way to sell is lying to customers, the quota is very high and management is very unprofessional. On an everyday basis, you will hear from current owners how disappointed they are with timeshare product – it makes very hard to sell a product that does not do any good for people.

“In House Sales”

The way to making real $ is if you are okay with lying to people, otherwise, you can make an average living 40K or so. The biggest issue is that upper management acts like they have blinders on, making employees sign statements that they will not say certain things, while direct managers teach the sales techniques that encourage embellishments! Really?

Nov 7, 2018

Helpful (1)

“Sales Rep”

Current Employee – Outside Sales Representative in New Orleans, LA

Recommends

Positive Outlook

CEO

I have been working at Wyndham Destinations full-time (Less than a year)

Pros

I can’t even think of one

Cons

Wyndham Destinations over promises and vastly under delivers on potential income – the possibility for large income prospects are there though minutely small. The fact is it’s very hard to even make a living wage. It’s timeshare sales so very very few leads are actually even viable. Additionally, management regularly and actively encourages sales reps to oversell what clients are actually buying, to mislead, misdirect and ultimately be dishonest with prospects and do anything to get the sale.

Aug 21, 2018

Helpful (1)

“Vacation Ownership Sales”

Former Employee – Inside Sales Representative in Atlantic City, NJ

Doesn’t Recommend

Negative Outlook

CEO

I worked at Wyndham Destinations full-time (More than 3 years)

Pros

Some of the people that work there are nice.

Cons

Being trained to lie to clients to sell them points to travel. If you don’t lie, there is no way to make money. Taking advantage of older people and ripping off their retirement funds is not my idea of how to make a living. The worst thing is that management rewards the biggest liars by sending them off on a beautiful vacation and calls it “President’s Club”. If you ever meet a President’s Club sales rep, RUN! There is nothing they are about to tell you that is remotely close to being true.

Jun 30, 2018

Helpful (1)

May 11, 2018

“Vacation Ownership Sales”

Former Employee – Sales Associate in Clearwater, FL

Neutral Outlook

CEO

I worked at Wyndham Destinations full-time (Less than a year)

Pros

Can make great friends among certain Co-workers, free meals, beautiful office space, earning potential is attainable if you possess the skill sets.

Cons

Favouritism from management, unethical sales process, you should not have to lie about what you’re selling if the product is as good as you say it is. Draw sucks

“Front Line Sales – Not for everyone”

Former Employee – Front Line Sales Representative in New Orleans, LA

Doesn’t Recommend

Neutral Outlook

CEO

I worked at Wyndham Destinations full-time

Pros

I genuinely liked most of the people I worked with.

Cons

Marketing can bring in some completely unqualified tours so when you work on straight commission, it can be extremely frustrating. Management’s take on it is complete oblivion if that marketer meets (and exceeds) their numbers. This job can be emotionally draining – especially when you talk to people about vacationing all day and then get little wiggle room to take your own time off (again, management will bend over … if you are selling). I never sacrificed my morals to make a sale but, unfortunately, I saw many people that did.

“Scam”

Former Employee – Vacation Sales Consultant in Clermont, FL

Doesn’t Recommend

Negative Outlook

CEO

I worked at Wyndham Destinations (Less than a year)

Pros

Work life balance. nothing else is good about this job.

Cons

If you are heartless and enjoy lying to people including elders and single moms, then maybe you can do very well here.

Save the Date!

The Platinum Protest is this weekend May 17-19 in Orlando. Contact Inside Timeshare for more information. On May 17 protesters will meet outside the Florida timeshare division office.

Contact Inside Timeshare if you would like to join Laura Crow’s efforts. Here are some self-help groups we feel are not industry influenced. There are honest sales agents and many who use and enjoy their timeshare. That doesn’t mean sales agents who deliberately mislead should be allowed to continue unchecked, report after report confirms, especially in Florida and Nevada. Thank you, Laura Crow, as we welcome our newest active advocate for change.

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

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

Well that’s it for today, if you have any comments or would like to share your views with others, then use our contact page, Inside Timeshare would love to hear from you.