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Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to the first Letter from America of February, this week we hear another “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” from the Wheat family and their experience with Wyndham, edited by our very own Irene Parker. First a little news from Europe.

Yesterday, Thursday 31 January, at Birmingham Crown Court , Dominic O’Reilly, Stephanie O’Reilly and Eze Europe Limited, appeared for sentencing. As we know they had faced many charges of unfair trading practices, misleading consumers and many more. On checking the courts website this morning, nothing has yet been posted, but Inside Timeshare has emailed the court for confirmation of sentences and we are waiting for a reply. As soon as this comes in we will be publishing on these pages.

News came in this morning regarding another case involving Diamond Resorts in Tenerife, Canarian Legal Alliance originally had a case in which the Court of First Instance found in favour of Diamond. They instantly appealed this decision to the High Court

The High Court reviewed the case and ruled that the First Instance Courts decision was flawed, they immediately overruled the first court’s ruling, as per the Supreme Court rulings. They deemed that all 5 contracts were illegal and declared them null and void, they also awarded the client 100% of the purchase price, plus double the deposit paid within the 14 day cooling off period, all legal fees and legal interest. This client will now be receiving over 25,000€ and can now enjoy a timeshare free life.

Now for this weeks Letter from America.

The ‘Take Away Timeshare Close’

By a Wyndham buyer

February 1

By the Wheat Family

Introduction by Irene Parker

Inside Timeshare has heard from 671 families. Like a broken record, the member reports being told “I can’t believe that last salesperson sold you this!” You should have never bought:

 

  • So few points!
  • The wrong package!

 

Understand that this is a tried and true sales technique. I spent 30 years in sales selling in a number of industries, but can’t recall using this technique unless I felt the sales agent really did sell the buyer a wrong product. For example, as a stockbroker I would run into a young person’s 401K funded with a fixed income product. In timeshare, it’s used as a ploy. If both sides of the supposedly wrong/right product sell against each other, it means no consumer should buy the product. It’s not unusual to hear, on the same day, from two different members, Sales agent A said I should not have bought Product 1 while sales agent B said I should have bought Product 1. It’s called the Take Away Close:

The Take Away Close really takes some time to master. Though it sounds simple at first, the real secret is learning when to use it. The danger is always using the take away close and having a customer agree to purchase a lesser product when they were close to committing to a larger sale. From The Balance Careers

https://www.thebalancecareers.com/the-take-away-closing-technique-2918597

The Wheat Family Explains

The motive behind the ‘Take Away Close’ is to make the customer/prospect feel like they are missing out on something they should have been entitled to and then make them spend the money so they feel they are getting their money’s worth.

We experienced this sales ploy. I wonder how many other people fell for it too.

We bought a Discovery package (200,000 points) for $1,944 at Wyndham’s Great Smoky Lodge at the beginning of 2017. A credit card was opened and the purchase charged. When we tried to use the Discovery package for Florida in July 2017 it did not work. There were restrictions on when we could reserve. In August 2017 we tried to reserve in Myrtle Beach. We tried a third time at the beginning of 2018 for the Smoky Lodge. We were told it was full so we paid for two days ourselves. That is when another salesperson, JR Renteria, said they had 64 vacant rooms so we should have been able to reserve one. He said the problem was because of the Discovery package we purchased. Although Wyndham would not be able to reimburse us, they could give us a free week certificate (which turned out not to be free). Mr. Renteria advised us to upgrade so we would not have this lack of availability problem again.

With an upgrade we were told we would be VIP members and that the original credit card that was opened for our first purchase would be upgraded to a Gold credit card which we could use to reserve when and where we want to go, any day.  They said we could get 50% off cruises and restaurants. Other family members could make reservations in their names. Mr. Renteria said if we upgraded they would roll the original 200,000 Discovery package points over for the next year. Renteria gave us our documents after we signed the new contract, but told us to wait for the Gold Card and the Silver VIP card before we tried to book anything. This effectively dodged the contract rescission period. He told us we should receive the new cards in about a week. It took around three to four weeks before we received the VIP card. We still have not received the upgraded Gold Card. We were told we had six months to pay in full with no interest.

We bit and got bitten for $18,000.

Another strange thing was that Renteria said he wanted us to write a note saying the first reps, Carol Finch and Cyndy Vdaw, did not cover everything properly for the Discovery package. Maybe this was part of a scam, maybe Wyndham actually kept a copy. Either way, we wrote a note saying we did not understand everything on the Discovery package deal.

After the upgrade we tried to reserve a room to attend a wedding in Atlanta. Wyndham told us we would have to reserve two months in advance in order to use our points. (Renteria had said we could book on the day with our new Silver member status.) Wyndham told us that they could reserve a room for $188 on the day we needed it. The sad thing is we could book the same room for the same dates for $108 online.  You would think being a Silver member (VIP) we should have been able to get a better price than a non-member.

Renteria told us we could call him if we ever had any problems getting reservations and he would take care of it.  We tried to contact him but NEVER got a reply to any of our calls or texts.

We called Carol Finch at the Discovery timeshare when Renteria did not return our calls. I told Carol we were not happy and that nothing we were told was true. She said we should not have had to wait two months to reserve a room and Renteria should have combined the two timeshares. She said she would let him know and would call us back that afternoon. We have not heard back. That was the final straw. In this day and age of Expedia, Airbnb and Booking.com, don’t buy a timeshare. That’s my takeaway close.

But that’s not all!

To make things worse, after looking over the credit card application we found that the application had been doctored. There is an annual income noted under both of our names for $100,000 each.  However, $100,000 is what we may make combined, not individually. I have a copy of the credit card application as proof. My writing is very distinctive. I filled out the whole form, yet the only place that was left blank was filled in by someone with a much scruffier handwriting than mine and he wrote another $100,000 to double our annual income. We sent this obviously doctored form to Wyndham, but they did not even acknowledge it. They chose to focus on the parts of our complaint that they could reasonably deny because the lies were verbal and can’t be verified. Wyndham conducted an ‘investigation’ into our allegations of concealment and omission. We were informed, somewhat predictably, that their investigation had found that our allegations were baseless and the contract was properly executed and legally binding. I suppose I’ll go and ask the drunks to guard the bar for my next trick.

Other representations we feel were unfair and deceptive:

  • They did not say we were actually buying a timeshare. They called it a vacation ownership or something like that.
  • They said they would help us rent so we could earn a profit.
  • They said maintenance fees would never increase.
  • They said we could call every six months to continue our interest free rate.
  • They told us our purchase would give us more reservation rights than it actually did.

Do yourselves a favor and stay away from Wyndham. I imagine Wyndham is not alone, so the best advice is to stay away from timeshare altogether.

Thank you to the Wheat family for sharing their experience. Timeshare companies should want their buyers to feel good about their decision to buy a timeshare. Timeshare is not for everyone and we hope by sharing experiences, buyers will be better informed as to whether the timeshare product is right for their family.

Related articles:

Veteran family Wyndham buyer Kleen family article:

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-38/

Veteran family Wyndham buyer Althage family article:

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-37/

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/

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

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

Thank you Irene for your editing efforts and a very big thank you to the Wheat family for sharing their experiences with us. These real life stories that we publish do show how the industry is in dire need of reform, especially in the tactics employed by their sales agents. As we know when high commissions are the motivation, these agent will say and do anything to get the sale.

If the industry does not do anything themselves to curb these practices, then maybe like Spain, the law needs to take control in order to protect consumers. We do know that many other countries in Europe with a large timeshare presence have been watching Spain very closely and are also now in the process of enacting similar legislation.

If you have a “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” story that you would like to share then contact Inside Timeshare, it is through your own experiences that we hope we can make the industry listen and change.

Have you been contacted by any company with a story that sounds too good to be true?

Are you looking to do business with any company you have found on the internet or advertising in the press or magazines?

Do you want to know if they are genuine and will do what they say?

Are you able to find out for yourself or do you need help?

If you answer yes to any of these questions, then use our contact page and we will point you in the right direction.

Remember doing your homework will save you not only money but also a whole lot of stress.

Have a great weekend and join us again next week.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to another Friday’s Letter from America, this week we publish revised instructions on how to file a complaint, this has been revised by one of our readers who was successful.

First a quick piece of news from Europe.

The Supreme Court in Madrid has issued another judgement, Spain’s highest court once again has defended the rights of timeshare consumers, in this case British, by declaring a Diamond Resorts contract null and void. As in all other judgements the court ruled that the contract was in contravention of Law 42/98, as the contract had no end date, known as perpetuity. The law clearly states that timeshare contracts may only be for a minimum of 3 years and a maximum of 50 years.

The court also awarded the clients all money paid in the first three months in double, this reaffirmed the court’s stance on the illegal taking of deposits within the cooling off period. Along with over £11,000 they were also awarded back their legal fees and legal interest. (click on PDF below to see court document)

Supreme Court Diamond Ruling

This is yet another victory for timeshare consumers brought on their behalf by Canarian Legal Alliance.

Now on with this weeks Letter from America.

How to File a Timeshare Complaint (January 25, 2019 revision)

By a Timeshare Member who Followed our Complaint Process

Step 1 GATHER INFORMATION

  1. Read Your Contract and any documents given to you at the time of signing. If your contract offers a rescission and you are still within the offered period you should take the steps necessary to rescind immediately.
  2. Educate yourself! There are many resources in place that are meant to protect consumers (most of which I was completely unaware of until I had to tackle this issue). The more you know the better you will be able to stand up for yourself.

LIST OF RESOURCES AND ORGANIZATIONS TO FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF WITH  

a: AG: Attorney General – You will want to file a complaint with the AG from the state in which you purchased your timeshare. If you can connect with other buyers in your state of residence, file a complaint with your own state Attorney General. See instructions below. Some states, like California and Nevada, require you file your complaint with the state real estate division against the sales agent.

b: ARDA-ROC: American Resort Development Association-Resort Owners Coalition

ARDA Timeshare Consumer Protections Page : Did you receive one of the three required “disclosure documents”? Is there a rescission period? When did it begin/end?

Excerpts from ARDA Code of Ethics: Read this code and make note of any parts that were violated during your purchase.  ARDA ROC does not mediate disputes, but they have a Code of Ethics that may be violated. The full code of ethics can be found here.

http://www.arda.org/ethics/

c: FTC: Federal Trade Commission-Protecting America’s Consumers There is a timeshare tab not easy to find. Follow these instructions: http://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-13/

d: BBB: Better Business Bureau: This is the organization that most people are familiar with and the link to file a complaint is found right on the homepage of their site. You may need to edit your complaint to 4,000 characters, sometimes no easy task. The good thing about the BBB is that they often allow you to log in and file a rebuttal if you disagree with the company’s answer to your complaint.

e: SEC: US Securities and Exchange Commission: You will only file a complaint with the SEC if you were falsely led to believe that the purchase of a timeshare was a good investment. The sale of an investment product must be registered with the SEC.

f: FBI: Sound serious? That’s because it is serious to report a complaint to the FBI. The definition of White Collar Crime is “Deceit, concealment, violation of trust, bait and switch.” File an online complaint at IC3.gov. Select Internet Crime from the three choices available. It’s confusing because your timeshare complaint doesn’t have to be about internet crime. That’s just the name of the portal.

g: Legal Action: Retaining a lawyer is something you can do after you have exhausted the above resources and still feel as though you are getting nowhere. It is a last resort option and it will cost you; make sure that the cost is worth the possible worst-case outcome. There is a compiled list of law firms that specialize in timeshare cases on one Advocacy Facebook page. Law Firms Doc You do not have to use one of these lawyers but it is recommended that you use someone who has specific experience with timeshare, and do not do business with a lawyer or a law firm you do not know. One timeshare lawyer has recently been disbarred

h: TUG: Timeshare Users Group TUG Forums: These forums are incredible for gathering information from other timeshare owners. You can search specific questions to see if anyone else has already asked and received answers.

i: Timeshare Exit Firms: BEWARE! A lot of these firms are scams. Some are not, but you can do the lion’s share of what any exit company can do. Beware especially of money back guarantees. Some companies consider foreclosure an exit. Obviously, you don’t have to pay anyone to get foreclosed. Also, it is important to note that some timeshare companies will not approve voluntary relinquishment of a timeshare if you have contracted with an exit firm.

j: Most would agree The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau does not offer the consumer protections it once did, they still regulate banks. File a complaint with the CFPB if your complaint involves a credit card. Remember to dispute the credit card charge, even if the transaction extends beyond 30 days. Some companies will extend the period if you can present a compelling case for fraud.  The Secret Service also investigates credit card fraud.      

Step 2 HOW TO WRITE A COMPLAINT LETTER

    1. Create a Record of Events: The very first thing you should do is make a list of everything that you were told by timeshare representatives (i.e. salespeople, managers, receptionists, concierge services). Write down every detail that was said even if it seems insignificant; you can always weed out details that are less important later. Your memory of the event will start to warp and change over time so it is important that you write down this information as soon as possible so that every complaint you file has consistent information.
  • Organize the information:

a: Create a Timeline: Begin with when you first became involved with the company and proceed chronologically. Keep your history brief up to the point when things began to go wrong; it at this point you should be as detailed as possible.

What was your first encounter? (phone call, concierge, sales agent)

  • What resort or location did the presentation take place?
  • Date and time of presentation.
  • Names of all sales agents/managers that you dealt with (names will typically be listed somewhere on your contract)
  • How long did they tell you the meeting would last vs what was the actual duration of meeting?
  • Did they offer you food or beverages during the duration of the meeting?
  • Did they take your ID and credit card? Did you ask for these items to be returned?
  • If you feel you experienced unfair and deceptive sales practices, describe your experience.
  • When did you first realize your agent misled you?
  • Was it possible to learn you were deceived during the rescission period? Sometimes an agent will say a bogus program won’t be available until after the first of the year, or wait a few months before refinancing. Banks don’t finance timeshares. Sometime over promised availability can’t be determined until allowed onto the booking site, after the rescission period has expired.  
  • What steps did you take after realizing you were misled? Did you contact the agent or the company? What was their response? List dates/times if possible. Keep all emails.
  • Did the sales person ask you to apply for any credit cards/loans or take any other extraordinary measures (refinance home, equity line of credit, etc.) in order to cover costs? Transferring to a third party lender complicates things.

b: List Relevant Complaints: Here is a list of some common complaints from timeshare owners.  Certain misleading statements are more serious than others:

  • The agent said I could easily sell my points. To find out if your timeshare has a secondary market, contact a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association. They charge no upfront money to list a timeshare. http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/
  • The agent presented maintenance fee relief programs that do not exist
  • The agent said I had to give up my deeded timeshare and buy points
  • The agent said I have to give up my deed and buy points or my heirs will be burdened
  • The agent told me this would be a good investment. At least 49% of the cost of your timeshare is attributed to marketing costs (source a major timeshare company’s annual report)
  • The agent said that I could rent out my timeshare for money when the company rules do not allowed renting
  • The agent overstated the value of travel awards to pay for airline tickets, or the use of a travel credit card to pay maintenance fees
  • The rescission period was dodged

Step 3 EMAIL AND SEND YOUR LETTER OF COMPLAINT

Below is an example of a sample layout with some ideas of information that you might want to include in your letter. Copy and paste your complaint into the body of an email (do not send as an attachment). Email or send to all interested parties, including customer service, ARDA ROC (if their Code of Ethics has been violated), the credit card company if a credit card is involved. You will send your complaint to regulatory agencies if your request is denied, so make sure you take the time to present your grievance clearly and factually. Have a friend or family member read your complaint before submitting to see if they understand the complaint.

Include the following information:

Name(s) of Member(s)

Phone Number

State of Residence

Today’s Date

Member Number

**List the following information for each contract you are disputing**

Date and Place Purchased

Number of Points Purchased

Sales Agent and Sales Agent ID# (if available)

Purchase Price

Down Payment

Amount Financed and Interest Rate

Loan Number

Current Loan Balance

Information to include in the body of the complaint:

  • What do you want? Do you seek a refund, cancellation of contract, or relinquishment?
  • Why? Is it due to Deception, Health, Age or Financial Burden?
  • This is your written timeline. Provide a chronological account of what happened during the sales process that makes you feel you experienced unfair and deceptive sales practices.
  • Consider citing the ARDA code of ethics and what articles of the code were violated.
  • Making emotional statements will most likely not help your case.
  • In conclusion, restate the main complaint and what it is you are asking for.

**Complaints expressing dissatisfaction with general availability will go unheeded and so will requests based on not being able to afford the timeshare.

**If there was no deceit then request relinquishment. This is only an option if your Maintenance fees are current and you have no outstanding loan. Contact your resort for more information about voluntary surrender.  

HOW TO FILE A COMPLAINT WITH THE ATTORNEY GENERAL

  1. File your complaint with the AG from the state in which you purchased your timeshare. In “Part 2” of the link below it explains how to find the correct AG and file a complaint. Some states, like California and Nevada, require you file a timeshare complaint with the state’s real estate division.   

Steps for filing an AG complaint

  1. Always send copies of important documents and keep originals
  2. If not filed online, mail your complaint via Priority Mail with tracking.

OTHER CONSUMER PROTECTION RESOURCES

  • Seniors should consider contacting the AARP Fraud Hotline. Weigh their advice as they are not timeshare experts, but it is important for them to be aware that a significant proportion of complainants are age 60 or older. Click HERE to visit the AARP site.
  • Remember to pay no money upfront without reaching out to other members, or a resource like like TUG Timeshare Users Group
  • Forward your complaint to the Association of Vacation Owners.          AVO Contact Us Page

Contact Inside Timeshare if you are interested in helping other members or have questions about the filing process. Our goal is to make consumers more aware of the financial pitfalls that can result if you buy a timeshare you don’t understand or was not presented truthfully. We know there are many who use and enjoy their timeshares and sales agents that sell the product honestly. Honest sales agents are also negatively affected by predatory sales and lending.    

Timeshare Accountability Group™

Well that is all for this week, remember, before engaging with any company that contacts you or you have found on the internet or through adverts in publications, do you homework and stay safe.

Have a great weekend.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this week’s Letter from America, today’s article is from another new contributor, the Kleen family, who we welcome to our pages. They explain their own experiences and show how the lack of a secondary market can harm families. So on we go with another in the series “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”.

A Wyndham Worldmark Member Offers an Analysis

Families Harmed by No Secondary Market

There is no secondary market for timeshare ownership. No one wants to buy a timeshare, so owners have trouble getting rid of one.

https://thriftylittlemom.com/2015/06/25/should-you-invest-in-a-timeshare/

By the Kleen family

January 18, 2019

There is something inherently wrong with a product that cannot be sold or sometimes even given back, especially a product purchased for thousands of dollars. A lifetime is a long time to live without experiencing an adverse life event necessitating a need to sell. Wyndham states in their annual 10-k report that a viable secondary market is a risk to their investors. There is no mention of the risk to their customer stuck with their product that has virtually no secondary market.

Friends of ours in good standing with Wyndham received a $.36 per point buyback offer from Wyndham Ovations, which they accepted. The Wyndham Ovation program is Wyndham’s voluntary surrender program available to members in good standing. When we initially contacted “Wyndham Cares” about our medical hardship we had hoped for a similar offer, but never heard back. We have an outstanding loan, so are probably not eligible.

Timeshare points dramatically lose value. To compare, think of a house purchased for $100,000 that could only be sold for $11,666. That’s what $.36 per point would translate to for what we paid at $2.50 to $3.50 per point. They tell you think of your timeshare as a second home, but what home purchased for $100,000 would you buy that had a resale value of $11,666?  What would happen to the housing market if virtually no secondary market existed? Too many families are being harmed. If you own a home with a loan, you can still sell the home.

We purchased our Wyndham Worldmark timeshare in 2011.

Our son Matt believes it is imperative that veterans be provided more disclosure. The housing market requires veterans be provided greater disclosure, like on HUD loans. Especially for active duty service members, who can get transferred or sent overseas, the lack of a secondary market is of real concern. “In the case of my parents, they would have been eligible for the Armed Services Vacation Club, which Wyndham runs and operates. This would have been a much better program for them. My father even told the sales agent he was a veteran,” said Matt.   

In 2016 we wanted to help Matt. Matt is totally disabled, now living with us along with his daughter. The fact that not only is this timeshare worthless, but we are held hostage by it, prompted us to write this article hoping others will understand that timeshares are worthless, should you need to sell.        

In 2015 we were looking forward to enjoying our retirement and a timeshare seemed a good way to do it. This purchase fell far short of that. Every time we went to a resort, the staff enticed us with offers of gift cards and money to attend “owner updates” which were just other chances to use high pressure sales. There was never anything presented about updated information.

They always told us that our points would never lose their value. Salesman told us that our previous point level was worthless, and could only be rendered of value by buying more points, explaining we would have a much better chance to get where we wanted to go, when we wanted to go, only if we purchased additional points.

More than eight months ago we contacted WorldMark/Wyndham Resort Development to request a hardship release. We have called and contacted Wyndham several times, but never received any answers. A manager said she was going to do her best and get back to us. Not one word received.

We are full time caregivers for our son and his daughter. We can’t use the timeshare as originally planned.  Our two dependents require financial, medical, and emotional support. Our son needs special furniture. Traveling by car or plane is nearly impossible due to his lack of mobility.  Since they have never contacted us about our hardship request, we add that to our “lack of customer service” complaints.

Sales agents always presented offers in a very confusing way. We had to ask questions again and again and have them repeat their answers as we tried to get clarification on certain things. Sometimes we just gave up. The sales presentations always lasted longer than the promised 60-90 minutes. We would end up leaving because the salesmen wanted us to sign statements about the cost of points in the future if we did not buy right then. They got very nasty when we refused to sign.

The salesmen never told us that upgrading was mandatory, but they pressured us greatly to upgrade. We were able to get away and use the program a few times this year. It is not an easy thing to do because of the responsibilities at home, but we were able to get away for a few days at a time for respite. Most of these stays had to be around when Wyndham had availability, so trips were not always convenient.

We hope our article reaches the eyes of those considering a timeshare purchase. We question why anyone would spend so much money on an “asset” that is really a liability if even the timeshare company does not want it back.

If you know what you are buying is worthless, should you need to sell, and still are comfortable with your purchase, then buy the timeshare. We wish we had known.

Thank you to the Kleen family. We agree too many families have been financially harmed by timeshare’s lack of a secondary market. Contact Inside Timeshare if you have a story to share.

Self-help groups Inside Timeshare feels are not industry influenced.

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/

 

That is it for this week, join us on Monday for news and information on the world of timeshare, have a great weekend.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this week’s Letter from America, today we welcome a new contributor David Althage with his Nightmare on Timeshare Street”  story. David is another in the long list of veterans who have experienced problems at the hands of timeshare sales agents. Once again a big thanks to Irene Parker for her introduction.

A Wyndham Timeshare Buyer, a Marine Veteran, Shares his Timeshare Experience

January 11, 2019

Introduction by Irene Parker

Marine Veteran David Althage is one of 90 veterans and active duty service members who feel they have been financially harmed by their decision to buy a timeshare. Many of the veterans are disabled. By publishing member accounts, we hope others will be made aware of the financial hardship that can result when a perpetual contract is signed, a contract accompanied by annual maintenance fees, with little to no secondary market.

We understand there are many who use and enjoy their timeshare. Many may have not been made aware of the difficulties that can arise when there is little to no secondary market.

A draft of today’s article was sent to Wyndham but the dispute was not resolved. We feel there should be better disclosure as to the lack of a viable secondary market. Timeshare companies list in their 10k annual reports a viable secondary market is a risk to their investors.   

By David Althage

I would like to share my Wyndham experience, hoping others will take the time to think about a decision that can easily become a financial albatross. I deeply regret our decision to buy the timeshare. They pressured us to a huge extent, but we didn’t realize this until much later. I feel we experienced elder abuse.

I am a veteran of the Marines. I served from 1964 to 1968 and ended up as a Corporal E4. I spent most of 1965 and 1966 in Vietnam and my specialty was machine gunner which I did on the ground and also as the door gunner on helicopters. I was wounded twice and I have also suffered from skin cancer, possible from Agent Orange. All of that seems a lifetime away as my wife and I have been settled for many years in Missouri. These days I repair mobile homes for work, and I keep going at this even though I am now 73. I do not have retirement or a pension. I only have social security.

My wife and I were in a Branson, Missouri mall when a woman at a kiosk told us she had some things to give away, but we would need to attend a 90 minute presentation. The 90 minute Wyndham presentation lasted over five hours. Over 5 hours!

The sales reps kept talking, stalling and feeding us more information. They talked so fast it was difficult to take it all in. There was a lot of paper. We started at 8:30 a.m. They did not tell us how much the timeshare would cost until about 12:30 p.m. We were tired, hungry. We kept asking how much longer it would take. The reps did not offer lunch nor would they allow us to leave to get lunch. Due to our medical issues, our heads were spinning, and my wife’s blood sugar was really dropping. She felt unwell. I suffer from macular degeneration and glaucoma, and I also need cataract surgery. I don’t see well. It was impossible to properly examine all the paperwork. And by the way, the original agent at the kiosk promised us show tickets on the Branson Belle, but it was sold out.

We are shocked at how hard this program is to use. Early in November 2017 we wanted to book a suite in Branson after Christmas in order to see a special show. We were surprised and totally disappointed when the booking center told us that we would have to book at least nine to ten months in advance. They had nothing available at any of their six Branson resorts. We don’t know our schedule that far ahead due to health issues and doctors’ appointments, etc. They did not tell us about having to book so far in advance at the sales meeting. We received a letter from Wyndham which stated,

“As part of an ongoing commitment to enable more owners to vacation where they want, when they want and how they want, in May we introduced updates to the CLUB WYNDHAM Plus Program Guidelines. These updates, made by the FairShare Vacation Owners Association Board, were introduced to help you own your vacation experience and get more out of your vacation.”

We really resent that Wyndham said we could vacation wherever and whenever we wanted. They didn’t give us the straight facts on how hard it is to book. I can only conclude that this statement was a lie.

We found out later that when you book a room and you have to cancel, you have to do it 17 days in advance of your reservation or you lose your points. This is an egregious way to treat anyone, let alone senior citizens! As a result of all this, the timeshare is not of much benefit, especially considering the price we pay.

Another point we wish to make is that the sales reps told us that by taking out visa cards through Barclays, and by making all our payments through these cards, the timeshare would “pay for itself” by generating income from points on purchases. They claimed that these points would then pay for our maintenance fees and our payments to Barclays as well. This is absolute nonsense! You can only pay for about 1% of the maintenance fee by charging, so a $2000 maintenance fee purchase would require $200,000 a year in charges!

One of the reps told us that if we decided we did not want the timeshare, we could easily sell it with no problem. By saying we could do this “with no problem” we took it that it would at least hold its value. Checking online, we were shocked to find out that these timeshares have almost no value at all. He misled us.

Sales agent Landon Anderson gave us his phone number and said to call him any time. He said, “If you ever have any problems, we will work with you.” We said we were going to Branson after Christmas to which he replied that he would take us out to dinner. We called and called, but there was no answer. We believe this number was a burner phone in a drawer somewhere.

Finally, the reps never gave us a hard copy of the contract. We specifically asked for this, but instead handed us a tablet saying that these days everything was electronic. As a result, we could not read the contract so I don’t even know if we could have rescinded in time. I called Wyndham and insisted that they send me a hard copy by mail. It took a long time to arrive. We have been unable to make the electronic device work, so for the longest time we had no idea what was on there.

It felt like they were only interested in making a sale.

This is my sorry Wyndham experience.

From Florida Trends

The world’s largest timeshare developer, Wyndham Destinations, got off to a promising start this summer as a standalone company. The Orlando-based business, established when Wyndham Worldwide split its hotel and timeshare divisions, announced in August that timeshare sales increased by 7% and earnings exceeded Wall Street expectations during its first quarter on its own. “It was an outstanding quarter,” Michael Brown, Wyndham Destinations’ president and CEO, said on the company’s earnings call with analysts.

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.

Wyndham blames much of the problem on secondary companies in the timeshare market — firms that resell timeshares, arrange for the transfer of ownership or help purchasers get out of their timeshare contracts.

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

We are no fans of exit companies, but the industry as a whole seems to show undue finger pointing at exit companies, rather than even consider there might be a problem in-house.   

Former Wyndham sales agent and whistleblower Trish Williams was awarded $20 million:

Wyndham’s sales goals for employees were impossible to meet if representatives adhered to the company’s policies and regulations governing timeshare sales, Robert Parker, a former sales executive, testified in depositions. When sales at the Canterbury lagged, he explained, something known as “TAFT days” came into play.

“TAFT is the acronym for ‘tell them any frigging thing,’” Mr. Parker testified. “In other words, it didn’t matter what you said. We need business. Today’s your day. Just tell them whatever you got to tell them. That’s what TAFT is.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/25/business/my-soul-feels-taller-a-whistle-blowers-20-million-vindication.html

It may be a lofty goal, but we are hoping that by hearing the consumer’s side, a better relationship, and better corporate margins can be achieved, by addressing the problems rather than pretend the problems don’t exist. Inside Timeshare has listened to 659 mainly infuriated timeshare members.

Self-help groups we feel are not industry influenced:

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

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

Thank you to David for sharing his story, if you find after reading these articles that you have similar experiences and would like to share them with other, then use our contact page. We will then be in touch and welcome your contributions. It is only through your stories and “Nightmares on Timeshare Street” that the industry might, just might take notice, then we may see changes for the better.

Following on from the many articles that Inside Timeshare publishes about bogus law firms, claims companies, resale and exit companies, if you have been contacted or even been taken in by them, again use our contact page to get in touch. Your information can then be published to warn others, it is only through you the readers that these scam merchants can be outed and others prevented from falling victim.

As always do your homework before engaging with any company that has contacted you or that you have found either on the net or through adverts in various publications. Just because you see an advert in a prestigious paper or magazine, does not mean they are legitimate. Remember, the advertising department is there to sell advertising space, they make no checks on whether the company is genuine.

Have a great weekend and join us again next week.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to another edition of Letter from America, this week we publish another “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” which was originally published on 21 December 2018 but was withdrawn due to having to be changed. It is another story about the ongoing problem of Elder Abuse, Brenda Santos explains her parents “Nightmare”, edited by our very own Irene Parker.

The main character in today’s article is a name that has come up many times on Inside Timeshare, Rick Casper, a name that is well known around timeshare circles. Yet Diamond allowed him to continue his deceptive practices even though they should have known what he was doing, in this I believe Diamond is as culpable as Rick Casper.

We think that you will be shocked once you have read this article, so without any further ado, on with the last Letter from America before Christmas.

Why I Feel My Parents Experienced Elder Abuse

Their Encounter with Diamond Resorts and Rick Casper

By Brenda Santos, a daughter and Irene Parker

December 21, 2018

January 4, 2019 Retraction by Irene Parker

Diamond Resorts, via the Duane Morris law firm, has demanded that Inside Timeshare publish a retraction due to a misinterpretation of a sentence in the italicized paragraph below.

We mistakenly stated that Dan Percy allegedly sexually assaulted Rick Casper’s fiancée at Diamond CEO Michael Flaskey’s penthouse, when the alleged sexual assault, according to Rick Casper, took place in their guest accommodations. It was my understanding Michael Flaskey’s penthouse was the same property as the Villa, in other words, the Villa and Michael Flaskey’s penthouse were one and the same.

After receiving the letter objecting to the statement, Charles Thomas immediately deleted the offending sentences. However, Duane Morris/Diamond has demanded a retraction we thus provide.

We apologize for the misunderstanding. Our intent was to shed light on the actions twenty Diamond members contend were perpetrated by Rick Casper. The alleged sexual assault was mentioned because Rick Casper alleges he was fired for reporting the alleged sexual assault to Diamond’s Human Resource department, not because he created reasons why existing member had to buy additional points.      

The actual wording in the complaint filed in US District Court District of Nevada reads as follows:

  1. Plaintiff (Rick Casper) and Ms. McGrath left before the concert ended to retire early to their guest accommodations.  
  2. Upon information and belief, after the concert, Defendant Percy and other Diamond Resorts employees and contest winners were invited by Michael Flaskey to his Penthouse Suite at Cabo Azul for more cocktails and then later to the hotel bar, whereupon Defendant Percy and another Diamond Resorts employee were nearly engaged in an altercation.
  3. Upon information and belief, Percy was drinking heavily at the dinner, the concert, and at Flaskey’s Suite and hotel bar.
  4. Plaintiff’s guest accommodations at the Diamond Resorts event were at guest bedroom at Villa Palmila, a Diamond Resorts property (“Villa”). The Villa was a well-appointed house with several bedrooms. Plaintiff and Ms. McGrath had their own bedroom and shared the Villa with other Diamond Resorts employees and contest winners who occupied the other bedrooms.
  5. To get to Plaintiff’s bedroom in the Villa, it was necessary to walk through two sets of double doors.

Original paragraphs:   

According to the lawsuit, Mr. Casper earned over $1 million in 2015, $2.4 million in 2016 and $2.4 million in 2017 selling Diamond timeshare points. Why did this go on so long when members reported his actions as far back as early 2016? Members report being told Casper said the member would be able to sell points or eliminate maintenance fees if they bought more points – programs that did not exist. Casper filed the lawsuit alleging his Diamond VP Dan Percy sexually assaulted his fiancée at Diamond CEO Michael Flaskey’s penthouse in Cabo San Lucas. Casper alleges he was fired for reporting the incident to Diamond’s Human Resource department.

As Rick Casper alleges, “At instruction of DIAMOND RESORTS, Plaintiff CASPER was asked to identify or facilitate issues that were wrong with the owners’ current ownership points.” Case 2:18-cv-01455-GMN-NJK

Original December 21 article with the offending paragraph omitted:

Having connected with six other grown children whose parents have been harmed by timeshare, it is our intention to organize a media, legislative and regulatory outreach for the purpose of alerting the public as to unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices which we feel also constitutes elder abuse. We are professionals. Three of us have parents who are veterans, one a double Purple Heart recipient.

My father Dale, age 73, is an Army veteran and was a Captain in the Vietnam War. He earned a Bronze Star for Victorious Service. My mom will be 73 in January. Our family has been financially and physically devastated by their decision to buy Diamond timeshare points. My parents always lived debt free, saved to buy things like cars, so having to do a reverse mortgage because of what these sales agents told my parents is unbearable. We have learned we are not alone.

Roy and Lillian Simmons, a Navy veteran and a retired letter carrier

http://insidetimeshare.com/tuesday-slot-irene-13/

Raymond and Teresa Mori, Mr. Mori a Marine Veteran, two Purple Hearts

http://www.insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-42/

My parents represent the 20th Rick Casper complaint from our support group of over 2,000 Diamond Resort families. I have learned Rick Casper’s name is known among law firms outside of our group.

In a lawsuit Rick Casper filed August 7, 2018 against Diamond Resorts and his former VP Dan Percy, Rick Casper admitted he created reasons or problems why existing members needed to buy additional timeshare points, as happened to my parents. A summary of the 20 Rick Casper complaints are listed below. As Diamond understands Rick Casper employed deceptive and unfair sales tactics, it is wrong not to recognize and correct what Diamond and Rick Casper did to my parents. I challenge anyone to read the 20 complaints and not conclude my father is telling the truth.

According to the lawsuit, Mr. Casper earned over $1 million in 2015, $2.4 million in 2016 and $2.4 million in 2017 selling Diamond timeshare points. Why did this go on so long when members reported his actions as far back as early 2016? Members report being told Casper said the member would be able to sell points or eliminate maintenance fees if they bought more points – programs that did not exist. 

As Rick Casper alleges, “At instruction of DIAMOND RESORTS, Plaintiff CASPER was asked to identify or facilitate issues that were wrong with the owners’ current ownership points.” Case 2:18-cv-01455-GMN-NJK

My parents were former Sunterra owners since 2006. Their problems first started when they went to a timeshare presentation at Diamond’s Daytona Beach Regency resort on May 11, 2015. According to my parents, they were told they were not full Diamond members so it was important to get things changed. The sales agent explained that Diamond took over Sunterra due to bankruptcy.

That was not true. Diamond Resorts acquired Sunterra, but not because of bankruptcy: https://www.travelweekly.com/Travel-News/Hotel-News/Diamond-Resorts-to-acquire-Sunterra-Corp-for-700-million

The following is what my father recounted to me about his Diamond experiences.

The Florida sales agent in 2015 explained that we needed to get out of our current Sunterra contract to become Diamond members. He used scare tactics to get us concerned that if we did not make the switch to Diamond officially our current investment with Sunterra would be worthless. The sales agent said if we purchased Diamond points, we would no longer be part of a bankrupt orphan group.

We previously purchased a Diamond Sampler (trial) package but it was almost impossible to get a reservation. We were trying to figure out how to get out of it when the sales agent presented what seemed to be a perfect solution. He said that by buying additional points, Diamond would fold our Sunterra contracts into one new Diamond points system. Several managers explained that we were not going to have enough points to do anything now that the Sunterra credit card was not able to be used due to the bankruptcy. The manager told us we would have legal issues and would risk losing everything and would not be able to sell the timeshare if we were not fully vested Diamond members.” We have learned Diamond points are virtually worthless.

After six hours, we were exhausted. Irene is diabetic and her blood sugar was increasing. We were stressed from hearing the news about our bankrupt investment, so we signed fast just to get out of there to get Irene’s blood sugar taken care of. We were thrilled to be out of the Sampler and thought we were finally set as a fully vested Diamond member. Diamond sales agent Mike sounded very helpful so we bought 2500 points for $10,925.

Three months later, on August 11, 2015 we met with Scott at Cancun Resort in Las Vegas. This meeting lasted seven hours. The representative kept reiterating how he was just trying to help us get out of the mess we were in because of our Florida purchase.

Scott said the only way to get the best benefits was to purchase more points to get to Silver status. He explained that until you get to Silver you will have all kinds of problems. He also said our maintenance fees would be taken care of and we would be able to sell points back, possibly at a profit. We said we were not interested. A manager told us we needed to know the truth about what happened to us as a result of our Florida purchase because the changeover to Diamond did not happen correctly. He said we were still not fully deeded with Diamond Resorts.  

Diamond points are not deeded.

The sales agents said we had to purchase 6,500 points to get out of Sunterra completely to become a true vested Diamond member. He told us the vacations and airline tickets would pay for the points so we would not be out any other money and that maintenance fees would not increase, but be capped by reaching Silver status. None of this was true.

I was offered a Barclay credit card to pay for the fees. We purchased 6500 points for $22,945. Silver status benefits were totally misrepresented. Our maintenance fees were not taken care of. We found out later that our prior contracts were indeed with Diamond and legit.

My parents purchased 7500 points on March 15, 2016

Purchase price:  $32,625

We went to a timeshare presentation on March 15, 2016 and met with Rick Casper at Cancun Resort in Las Vegas. Casper told us when we started the presentation that he was not going to sell us anything. He said we had not been told the truth about a lot of things and that he wanted to make things right. “With the program I am in charge of there will be an exit strategy so that someday, if you don’t want the timeshare and your kids do not want it, they can exit out easily.” He said he was a family guy and would not want his kids to have to deal with high maintenance fees so it would be better to ensure a cap on maintenance fees. He explained how we or our children would never be able to get out of the timeshare in the future unless we were part of his special group that would allow us to exit. He said we could make money on our investment by selling points.

Rick Casper showed us a worksheet as to what we would save by using points for maintenance fees and airfares. The math figures made sense. I already had a Barclay card that I used to finance the 2015 purchase. Rick Casper told us that if my wife could get her own Barclay card we could put almost the entire purchase on the Barclay Mastercard.  

We were there for over seven hours. We felt like hostages because they would not give us our free gifts until Rick’s supervisor finished. We bought with the understanding that we would be able to sell points. The charges on our Barclaycard ended up being way more than was disclosed.  Rick Casper said our Gold status bonus points would put a cap on maintenance fees for generations, but our maintenance fees skyrocketed as a result of this contract which was supposed to consolidate four prior contracts.

We signed fast because Irene almost passed out due to her diabetes and blood sugar levels. We told Rick we had to leave. We were tired and already under a lot of emotional distress to find out that Scott Pritchard did not fix anything the year before. We felt pressured to make it right or risk never being able to use points to pay for maintenance fees or exit out of the timeshare without being in Rick’s special elite program.  

When we received our Barclay credit card statement we noticed an additional $1000 charged for what Rick Casper presented to us as a gift from Diamond.

We contacted Diamond. A representative told us that there was no way we could use our points to pay for maintenance fees. I called and asked Rick Casper to correct the issue. His response was in a loud screaming threatening voice, “How dare you accuse me? I didn’t tell you those things; you are trying to get me in trouble. I am going to sue you if you pursue this and go to my supervisor.” I told him that he was dishonest and that we would take action.  His screaming was abusive, degrading, and caused me physical and mental distress. I have been through a lot of trauma as a Vietnam War veteran but have never been screamed at and degraded like Rick Casper did to me. I ended up very traumatized emotionally which caused me to have a stress attack in 2016.

After recounting this incident for my daughter a few weeks ago, I had a similar attack and had to be admitted to the hospital for heart symptoms. The doctor was a different doctor from the same medical group. He noted from my patient history that the mention of Diamond prompted my 2016 symptoms. I was put on blood pressure medication due to this emotional stress and have daily deteriorating health issues as a result of the stress this causes me every time I walk into my house and know I have debt on my home as a result of tactics I consider to be an organized effort to take advantage of us.

We had to do a reverse mortgage on our home as a result of these timeshare purchases because our social security income was too low to cover the total charged on both Barclay cards. I worked as a Baptist pastor until retirement. My credit score was 817 the day we met with Rick Casper but it has gone down considerably.  

In May 2016 we went to another Diamond presentation to try and figure out how to use our points to pay for our maintenance fees since we were having a hard time getting through to anyone at Diamond.  The timeshare representative was very embarrassed about what had happened and apologized on behalf of Diamond Resorts for the deception. He told us he wanted to help us understand what we had. He said that paying $32,625 for 7500 points was unheard of and that we could not do anything Rick Casper told us we could do at our current Gold status, which he said was only put in the system temporarily.  

That Diamond representative told us that we should take action and file a complaint. He explained how using points for an airline ticket would cost us 11,000 points (or about $2,200 for one domestic airline ticket) so not a good deal. We could not use points to pay for maintenance fees at Gold status. Only Platinum members can use points to pay maintenance fees and at only $.04 per point.  

Gold status did not give us what Rick Casper said it was going to give us, which included paying maintenance fees with points, exiting out of the timeshare, and being able to sell our timeshare points to make money on our investment.

We are both in terrible health and financial distress as a result of this Diamond resort investment trauma.

I learned of this only recently. I’m still trying to grasp the situation.  Diamond responded denying the request to cancel the last purchase because they used their points and said that nothing Rick Casper said was in writing. What is there to stop this from happening to others if misrepresentations continue unchecked? I believe my parents. How could anyone not believe them after reading so many similar complaints? I sent this article to Diamond for comment on December 17, but they did not respond.   

Twenty Rick Casper Complaints and excerpts from articles submitted by those who purchased points from Rick Casper:           

  1. SM, age 65 and his wife 81, 21 years Army, trained chemical, biochemical, nuclear defense RESOLVED http://insidetimeshare.com/nightmares-timeshare-street/

After the last Rick Casper up-sell, their monthly payment escalated from $431 a month to $2200. They told Mr. Casper they were worried about passing this burden on to their heirs.  

  1.  CL $75,000 RESOLVED – A Stage 4 cancer patient

During our meeting we were told about all the changes that had been discussed at the dinner that would allow us to sell our points. My husband has cancer so all that was going through his mind was trying to make a choice that would help me later on if the chemo didn’t work and when Rick Casper convinced him this was the answer that’s all that my husband heard.  

  1. N C, ages 67 and  69 $142,000 RESOLVED

http://insidetimeshare.com/another-nightmare-timeshare-street/

We are both disabled and retired from civil service. Dan is a retired army Lt. Colonel and a combat Vietnam and Desert Storm veteran.  

We are Platinum members. We feel our most recent Diamond purchase was made under deceptive and extremely high pressure selling techniques. We had been struggling with two loan payments of $329 and $121 but the most recent purchase we did not even realize we made, will drive us into foreclosure. Rick Casper in Las Vegas on January 22, 2017 sold us 50,000 Diamond points bringing our total number of points to 106,000. Our new loan payment is $2,133 a month which we cannot pay. The $142,400 purchase of 50,000 points included $17,000 charged to a DRI Barclaycard. We did not realize we made this $142,000 purchase until we returned home and checked our credit cards. As I have had a double mastectomy, undergone chemotherapy, radiation and have had two knee replacement surgeries, buying more vacation points was in no way our intention. Dan has had two minor strokes and a mild heart attack. He has chronic pain and is on 25 medications prescribed by the VA and our doctors. He suffers from PTSD. I was in terrible knee pain. Rick provided me with two glasses of wine in a Styrofoam cup with plastic lids because alcohol is not allowed at presentations.

Rick said we should join the new “Legacy program” that allows members to sell blocks of Diamond points to a third party with all Diamond benefits intact.  He said if we joined the Legacy program “people would be standing in line to buy our points.”

After six hours, my pain increased and I became confused. I walk with a cane so it was an effort just to walk to the restroom as it was some distance. Dan was confused due to diabetic symptoms. We were so overwhelmed by the time we were signing contracts, we did not even realize we were buying points. Rick kept saying we would receive 50,000 bonus points. We signed just to get out of there.

  1. KK, age 61 $117,000 RESOLVED

Questionnaire sheet asked: Had you attended a dinner? What is your exit strategy? Apollo had dinners informing members Cloobeck was leaving.  Not everyone heard the presentation so Rick was talking to Platinum members about the Legacy program. He said DRI never allowed you to sell points. This will. He knows real estate people can get $5 on resale for DRI points. New members are paying $9 so if you buy at $4 it is easy to sell. He had contacts that he could set us up with. 12/29/2016

5 RB, age 66 $75,000 RESOLVED

Mr. Casper said on at least four occasions I was eligible for a Pool Party Upgrade that would provide an exit strategy. He said the program was about to expire so I needed to write a sentence that said I wanted to do this and he would get the purchase approved. I never received a copy of the sentence. The purpose was to make my existing points more valuable. Mr. Casper went on to explain that this exit strategy would allow me to monitor and sell points. He mentioned that he is a family man and does not want to pass his points and maintenance fees on to his kids.

6 JH, age 56 $132,000 RESOLVED

The main benefit that Rick Casper presented was the ability to convert points directly into cash at $0.30 per point. If we had leftover points, he said we could be reimbursed in cash. All we had to do was contact Rick’s Vice President Dan Percy who would process the transaction and put the money on our reloadable Visa card.

I continued to ask questions about each benefit to be certain.  I worded questions differently to see if I would get the same answer.  I threw out this scenario; if at the end of the year I have 30,000 points still sitting in my account, you’re telling me that I can get reimbursed cash for these points at $0.30 per point?”  His response; “Absolutely – You contact Dan Percy and he will load $9,000 onto the Visa card.” We purchased 40,000 points to get us to the level of Super Platinum. There is no level above Platinum.

7 AC, age 68 $55,000

http://insidetimeshare.com/wednesday-article-america/

We purchased an additional 20,000 points on July 16, 2016 for $55,200 from Richard Casper. The reason is because Rick told us if we went from Gold to Platinum, he could sell points to substantially reduce our maintenance fees by submitting receipts to him for goods and services. We have never seen a tangible way to reduce our current $8,685 fees.  

During the presentation we asked about combining our eight contracts. Casper advised that any free and clear points sold on the resale market will have the same benefits except loyalty level as long as no more than 20,000 points were sold to one individual so it would be better not to combine the points. None of this was true. Casper stated that many Gold owners would be happy to buy 20,000 points at the lower price to become Platinum.  

We contacted Richard Casper by email on April 7, 2017 because we needed to sell 20,000 points. We received an auto reply stating to contact VP Dan Percy. Dan Percy stated that Diamond Resorts sales personnel don’t assist people who need to sell points.

8 JM, age 61 $90,000 RESOLVED

Rick Casper was introduced to me as a Platinum specialist. Mr. Casper said I made a big mistake buying Hawaii points and a bigger mistake transferring the 20,000 points I bought in Daytona, due to a class action lawsuit against DRI that caused exorbitant increases in maintenance fees because of storm related beach erosion.  

Mr. Casper said I had to transfer back to US Collection and if I owned 100,000 points I would be unofficially known as double Platinum and that I could sell unused points back to Diamond at 30 cents per point. Mr. Casper said this was closely regulated by the authorities. Mr. Casper said by selling these points back I could pay some or all of my maintenance fees for that year and years to follow. Mr. Casper said this would allow my children not to have to pay maintenance fees. “You are really passing your children a bill.  We have a new program if you reach me in November to let me know what you did not use. Diamond will buy the points back at $.30 to, ‘put them back in the kitty’. We need the points because we can sell them to other people who need them. What are you waiting for? This is a no brainer.”

I purchased an additional 30,000 points. I now owned 115,000 points. Mr. Casper said the reason for the 30 cent program was due to the sale of Diamond to Apollo. Mr. Casper said Mr. Cloobeck wanted to do something for members who owned over 100,000 points to show his appreciation. He included the 30 cent per point program in the terms of the Apollo buyout.  

In November 2016 I called Rick Casper to inform him I had 80,000 points I wished to cash in so that I would receive $24,000 as he had illustrated.  He denied any knowledge of the arrangement.  I spoke with Dan Percy. He said no such program existed.    

  1. SW 100% disabled Army veteran Agent Orange exposure

April 6, 2018 $170,000 1099 issued

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-44/

In 2016 we went to Las Vegas and stayed at Diamond’s Cancun resort and met with Rick Casper. Mr. Casper said if we upgraded, we would be able to cover maintenance fees. However, maintenance fees increased after the upgrade from $5,000 to $16,000 a year. After five hours, my blood sugar was at 400. I was recovering from congestive heart failure. Rick Casper said it would cost us $198,000, $2500 a month in payments for the next 10 years but after ten years we would have no maintenance fees and no loan payment. Rick Casper said, “Then the little people will be paying for your vacation.” He said it would take up to a year and a half to set up but he would personally handle it. He said since we were only paying $3, he had a guy that could sell points for much more than that and the proceeds would pay for maintenance fees. I ended up paying a company in Branson MO $1500 to get out of this; but now the IRS has issued us a 1099 for $170,000. I’m 71 years old.

#10 MP RESOLVED, a widow, a speech teacher, age 71

April 2018 Platinum

My husband John and I purchased an additional 25,000 US Collection points May 2017 from Rick Casper. He said we had to purchase these points to take advantage of a program that would allow us not to have to pay Maintenance Fees after we paid off our loan. Mr. Casper said the program description had been sent to us in a letter we should have received. Rick Casper told us that because we did not get a letter, Diamond would still offer what had been offered.  He did not have a copy of the letter. Rick Casper told my husband and me (John was still alive at the time), that once we paid off our loan, we would not have to pay maintenance fees.

The scare that Rick put into me was because he said we would be paying a million dollars in maintenance fees over our lifespan if we did not buy the additional 25,000 points.  Rick Casper explained how Diamond maintenance fees would continue to skyrocket. We purchased the 25,000 points for $86,250. Wed had purchased 53000 points previously.

John was in much pain. We did not know at the time he had cancer, spine and skeleton, which had metastasized. John kept saying, “I do not want to do this.” Rick Casper even asked, “Is he alright?” I was incredulous because it was obvious John was not alright. He was diagnosed with cancer October 13, 2017. Our presentation started at 8:30 AM and did not end until 7:30 PM. John was terribly affected by my decision. He couldn’t get over what we (I) had done because we already had enough points.

Well, in order to not have to wait ten years to not pay maintenance fees, I went right out and got a lower interest rate home equity loan. I felt this way I could pay the loan off in 30 days so that I would not have to pay 2018 maintenance fees.

#11 D H UNRESOLVED

We told Rick Casper about our concerns:

  1. Concerned about paying even more maintenance fees if we purchased more points.

Rick reassured us that if we purchased more points we could use them to pay all our maintenance fees every year and still have points left to travel.

We trusted Rick so we bought 25,000 more points, upgrading to Platinum so that we could take advantage of the .30 per point benefit. How can this be justified? These deceitful sales tactics go against many laws (FBI, ARDA and SEC to name a few).

  1. Concerned that we couldn’t use the points we already had, let alone buy more.

Rick was very skilled in reassuring us that all would be ok if we purchased more points. He even stated that as Platinum he would be our personal concierge.

  1. Concerned our timeshare was not a good investment.

Rick reassured us it was a good investment, and that points were selling for more than what we originally paid; he showed us a chart with yearly increases. He mentioned that he had a friend that resells timeshares and that DR points were in high demand. He said that if we ever decided to sell that he would put us in touch with his friend, who can easily sell our points for double what we paid. This eased our minds. Nov. 2016, I texted Rick and asked him if he still knows a guy that’s willing to buy our timeshare. He never replied.

#12 J K We were Gold members, told we could save on maintenance fees via a reloadable VISA card that would be credited to pay maintenance fees. Purchasing additional points or upgrading to Platinum was never mentioned.

Rick Casper said DRI VP Dan Percy would take care of our 2018 maintenance fees.  Due to signing electronically, we were not aware we had purchased an additional 30,000 points until we returned home and reviewed the actual documents, received new credit cards, and invoices. It was difficult, if not impossible, to read the contract via the electronic signing.

I have learned there is a real program called 20/20 or 30/30, depending on the loyalty level in which 30% of vacation points can be credited toward travel discounts.  Rick Casper adulterated the actual program to be able to cover himself and Dan Percy. In other words, you can redeem points at $.30 per point, but not for the reasons Rick Casper stated. You cannot redeem points at $.30 per point to pay maintenance fees.

#13 MS, ages 80 and 84 Parents of #12

Rick Casper said Dan Percy would handle our 2018 maintenance fees. He explained that the program they were up for and the current ownership will benefit us and allow for better use of ownership.  Due to the electronic signing of the contract, we did not know we had purchased 30,000 additional points until we returned home and could properly review the documents, received the credit cards and invoices. It was difficult, if not impossible, to review the contracts on the small Tablet.  

#14 M Y, age 72

We went to Polo Towers September 2, 2017. We wanted to know how to reduce maintenance fees. Rick Casper told us that the only way to reduce maintenance fees was to buy more points. He asked, “Are you happy about paying all these maintenance fees?” We purchased 47,500 additional points.

When we got home, three Barclay cards came in the mail. We were charged almost $28,000. He never mentioned that he was even going to open the cards. We already had one Barclaycard. When we got to our room, we reviewed the documents, but it did not really show the Barclay charges.

The very next day we told Joey Guiterrez we wanted to cancel. He said if you cancel you will lose all your benefits and be fined $40,000. I asked why and he said that’s just how it is. When I complained, he denied saying this. My husband was with me. I became depressed for months.

#15 T T Rick Casper complaint

TT (age 51) and IT

25000 points purchased Polo Towers, Las Vegas, NV on September 5, 2017

Sales Agent: Richard “Rick” Casper – Real Estate License S.0172679

Purchase Price: $102,000

Down Payment: $29,000

Amount Financed: $73,750 @ 12.1305%

Down payment charged to Barclay Diamond Cards

Rick Casper said we would not have to pay out of pocket for Maintenance Fees ever again, and we would not have to worry about losing any points at the end of the year – Dan Percy, VP of Sales, will be in contact with us after 21 days and will work with us.

Casper said that if we did not purchase, we would not be included in the new program to use our points to pay for all our maintenance fees. He caught our interest when he told us how the Maintenance Fee could be fully paid for by points and the credit card program by getting credit for paying for the Maintenance Fee, flights, car rentals, cruises and other travel expenses. He said the points could be redeemed at $0.30/point. What Rick told and showed us addressed many of the struggles and anxieties that we faced owning the timeshare, so we were glad to hear about the new programs (we later learned did not exist).

Rick said to get started; we needed to purchase more points. I asked Rick specifically: “If we were to be in this new program, would we need any out of pocket money to pay maintenance fees?”  He replied that by using points and the credit card, that with the additional 25000 points, it would be enough to cover the maintenance fees for future years.

I was unemployed at the time, so asked if we could delay purchasing more points but he became very strict in explaining the offer was only for this session, and how he would note that we refused the new program on the exit form. We felt compelled to purchase the points. We definitely do not need these additional points.

Dan Percy moved to Hawaii and directed inquiries to go to Joey Gutierrezs.

My wife and I have determined through contact with Joey Gutierrez and others at Polo Towers that the program for points for maintenance fees does not exist. Platinum members can pay maintenance fees at $0.04 (not $0.30) per point and will not pay the full MF amount of $8,631.  

#16 G K

We bought points five or six times. We did not have problems with Diamond until we encountered Rick Casper.  We purchased 50,000 points. I called Joey Guiterrez two days after we purchased to cancel. He was skillful in dodging the rescission clause.  Our Polo Towers meeting with Rick Casper was August 18, 2017

I was told at the beginning of the meeting that I would be spending $700,000 over the next 20 years just in maintenance fees. Rick Casper said he would help me create a program to cover these expenses. I pulled out my cell phone to use the calculator to check this figure. Mr. Casper assured me the amount was correct so I put the calculator away. The $700,000 was not correct. I created an Excel spreadsheet based on the average increase of 5.6% a year.

My maintenance fees were about $14,200 at the time. Rick Casper said that if I purchased 50,000 points, I would be able to redeem the points at an average of $.20 a point which would generate $10,000 in cash. Rick Casper said I could then sell half the points I already owned to generate the remaining amount to cover the maintenance fees.

I called Diamond Resorts around February of 2018 and asked to redeem 50,000 points. I was informed there was no such program. I would have to use my points for travel such as airfare ($.10 a point) or restaurants or lodging outside Diamond at only $.10 a point. There were very few ways in which to use points for this. I don’t need a new TV let alone dozens of them.

Rick Casper said I would be assigned my own agent (Daniel Percy) in Vegas to assist me with all bookings. When I called I found out that the bookings would simply be made through Interval International. It seems Daniel Percy worked in tandem with Rick Casper.

No mention was made of the fact that purchasing an additional 50,000 points would raise my maintenance fee by approximately $8,300.

AFTER signing, I was given a folder with the spiral bound book that said to the effect: “Read This Thoroughly before Signing Any Documents”.  Upon reflection of the documents I signed, I found that my maintenance fees would now increase by over $8000 meaning any efforts to “cover my maintenance fees” with this contract were useless!

We had an early start to the airport the next morning to arrive in Seattle for our Alaska Cruise. I placed a call Mr. Joey Guiterrez. I told him I wanted to cancel. He spent about 20 minutes trying to convince me otherwise. He finally said, “Well, if that is what you want” and left it there. On the sixth calendar day, Mr. Guiterrez contacted me. I had called to ask why the contract had not been cancelled. He stated that the contract had to be cancelled in writing within five calendar days. Mr. Guiterrez obviously waited until the sixth calendar day to dodge the rescission period.

The only response from Diamond was, “You signed the contract.”  Noting all of the lies that lead me to sign the contract were a non-issue according to the person I talked to.  .

#17 P B

Disabled, worked ER for 20 years, attacked by patient, the patient did know what she was doing

Age 63 LA County Sheriff’s Department

Deputy Sheriff for 25 years

Our accounts have been foreclosed.  We were in good standing until we met with Rick Casper.

In 2016 we stopped at Polo Towers.  We told them we were having trouble financially because I was on disability income and my husband was just retired. They said they could offer us a refinance but it ended up we purchased US Collection points not even knowing we had purchased them. They said they would slip the paperwork under our door. They did not. We had no documents provided to us. Before we got on our plane to continue on a Dream Holiday, I received an email (which Diamond says does not exist but I have a copy) saying attached is our paperwork and that they would mail the documents. The purchase made us Platinum but we were not even aware we had bought additional points.

Rick Casper did the paperwork process. He went over with us about the refinancing and that the 2017 and 2018 maintenance fees would be included.  We had met Dan Percy before the closing process. He also confirmed that we were doing a refinance that would include the maintenance fees and that this transaction would reduce our monthly payments by a few hundred dollars per month.

They said Dan Percy would be our contact person.  An email said that if we received a maintenance fee invoice, we should contact Dan Percy. We contacted Percy after we received a maintenance fee invoice for $15,000. He said we owe the money.

This company is beyond belief.

#18 TF A non-disclosure agreement signed.

#19 TZ 60,000 points were purchased, but I rescinded the Casper purchase because they would not put in writing what I was told.  Casper tried to convince us to get a mortgage on our home. He said there was no way to get out of a Diamond contract.

Rick Casper complaint #20 are my parents.

Thank you Brenda for your contribution and also to Irene for taking the time to edit, as you have seen, this character has caused untold misery and that is the ones we know about. The question is how many more people have had to suffer a “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” because of Rick Casper?

This message is not just to Diamond, but to all timeshare companies who allow their sales agents to do what the hell they like, just so they can line their pockets with millions in commissions. They are your employees, they are selling your product, they are selling your name, you are “RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT YOUR SALES AGENTS SAY!”

If you have any comments or have a similar story to tell, then contact us at Inside Timeshare by using our contact page, we will get back to you.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to another Letter from America, the original article which was going to be published today has been replaced, this is due to the timeshare company reaching out to the members. As always, Inside Timeshare sends a draft copy to the timeshare company for comment, we do not always get a response, but on this occasion the company did respond. It may have been at the eleventh hour, but we congratulate the timeshare company concerned for their reaching out and we hope that they are able to resolve the matter.

As a last minute replacement we publish a revised version of The Peasant of Venice and the Queen of Versailles, by Irene Parker, originally published in November 2016.

This week has been a rather quiet one as far as the courts are concerned, there have been many cases going before the judges, but the sentences are unlikely to be announced until the New Year. Although we did get news of two sentences issued this week.

The first was from the Court of First Instance No4 in Maspalomas, Gran Canaria, the judge in this case declared the contract with Anfi null and void. The reason was the length of the contract which exceeded that allowed by Spanish Timeshare Law 42/98, which states that perpetuity contracts or contracts with no end date and exceed the 50 years maximum are illegal. The client in this case has been refunded over 61,000€ plus legal Interest.

At the High Court No4 in Tenerife, Silverpoint was on the receiving end. The contract was declared null and void as it did not include any tangible product. Again under Law 42/98, a timeshare must include specific information such as a set apartment or an exact time of year. The client in this case has been refunded over 10,000€ plus legal interest.

Once again these cases were brought on behalf of the clients by Canarian Legal Alliance, contrary to what some forums run by some very dubious characters will tell you, these are genuine cases and are a matter of public record.

     

Now for this week’s replacement article.

The Peasant of Venice and the Queen of Versailles Revisited

    Jackie Siegel, Queen of Versailles  

By Irene Parker

December 14, 2018

“The Peasant of Venice and Queen of Versailles” article was first published November 6, 2016. I wrote the article because I wanted to explain how I went from being a 30 plus year timeshare owner without a timeshare complaint, question or post, to a full time volunteer whistleblower.

In July of 2015 I experienced a pathetically aggressive timeshare sales presentation in Florida. We had previously purchased points in Virginia because the company said they were adding New York properties, only to learn it would take about $10,000 in equivalent maintenance fee dollars to stay at the same hotel, same week that could be booked online for $1,000 plus tax. When I checked December 1, 2018, it would have cost $12,000 using our timeshare points. I don’t blame the sales agent. He may not have known about the poor value. It was the response from the company to the Attorney General listing all the times we had used our points prior to that purchase that bothered me. Eventually I was offered our money back for that purchase, but could not bring myself to sign the non-disclosure agreement.       

Rosa Parks said, “I was just trying to get home from work.” In my case, we were trying to get to our new home, moving from Bowling Green, Kentucky to Venice, Florida. It was my intention to return to my first love – teaching piano lessons. That all changed after the revolting timeshare presentation we experienced in Florida.  Disgusted, I returned to our unit, turned on the television and witnessed the jaw dropping house pictured above, being built by Westgate timeshare owners Jackie and David Siegel. I could not resist.

It was a hot July summer day in Orlando when my retirement turned upside down.

We entered the hospitality area where we were invited to attend a 55 minute “information only” presentation for existing owners. “Will we be paired with a commissioned sales agent?” I asked three times. “No”, Julie replied, “Only if you have questions in the last ten minutes. I attended and I learned a lot! We have group presentations now because we had so many complaints about high pressure aggressive sales sessions.” We did not sign the form agreeing to the 55 minute meeting because the fine print said we would be robo-called if we did. We were robo-called anyway. There was no form to be signed for the three hours that followed the 55 minutes.

A Diamond Resorts member recently sent me this comment from a former Diamond concierge describing an unfair and deceptive practice:

Concierge (Former Employee) – Virginia Beach, VA 23451 – December 3, 2018

A typical day of work consisted of misleading current owners and their guests in order to persuade and entice them to attend a timeshare meeting that could last well over what was initially disclosed….The hardest part of this job was knowing I was intentionally misleading owners/guests of the length of time for their timeshare meeting, as well as not disclosing it as a timeshare meeting as instead it was mandatory we refer to it as simply an “update on their current status” or “ways you can stay here and affiliated businesses in the future”. The most enjoyable part of this job was the interaction with varying people and the connections I gained therein.

https://www.indeed.com/cmp/Diamond-Resorts-International/reviews

Our Nightmare on Timeshare Street begins:

The next day we entered the reception area to be greeted by an attractive young lady. “Hello,” Donna greeted us. “Are you a commissioned agent?” I asked.  Puzzled, she took us by the arm and escorted us to the 55 minute presentation, retrieved us immediately after, and led us to her den.

I told Donna, “My husband is 77 years old. We do not want to invest in vacation plans because we need to investigate long term care plans.” “Why, we have many in their 90’s who come and enjoy our resorts!” she cried. “But we are in the middle of building a house and have no permanent residence at this time,” I countered. Kneeling and looking up, she gazed into my eyes and confessed she was a single mother and had to resort to her Diamond points when she divorced. “I know you didn’t put all your money in that house though,” she added. I kept saying over and over, “We don’t want to travel. We like our new house.” Frustrated, the manager ended by advising me to go to the website if I want to find out what’s new. Three hours and three sales agents and managers later, we returned to our unit.

I checked my email and learned the 4,500 points we had been promised for our Port Elsewhere Ozark timeshare deposit was credited only 3,000 points. Sure enough, I learned later the 4,500 points promised could be changed at any time for any reason. It’s all in the fine print.

I then decided to take my mind off this disturbing revelation by watching television. I turned on the FOX news show Property Man show hosted by Las Vegas Attorney Bob Massi, and there she was – The Queen! The King and Queen of Westgate timeshare were building a 90,000 square foot home that defied the imagination. Jackie’s clothes closet is 5,500 square feet!

http://www.realtor.com/news/trends/queen-of-versailles-q-and-a/

Thinking about the pathetically aggressive timeshare sales presentation we were deceived into attending, and the worthless points specifically purchased to stay in New York City, I wrote to Mr. Massi at Property Man never dreaming I would earn a response. Copying the letter to Diamond customer service, they credited the correct amount promised for our Port Elsewhere week.

A few months later a FOX producer called. I was asked if I would be willing to be interviewed by Mr. Massi. The producer told me the Queen of Versailles show wasn’t even about timeshares. It was about their house, but FOX had been flooded with timeshare complaints. She said I was the only viewer they asked to interview because I was the only respondent who said I wanted to talk about the positives in addition to the negatives of timeshare. I told her I was sorry, but I had just accepted a position as interim music director for a large church and could not participate, but I offered to research timeshare to help them with their talking points.

I started digging. The deeper I dug, the more alarmed I became. Wyndham, Westgate, Bluegreen and Diamond seemed to have the most complaints, with Disney, Hilton and Marriott far fewer. I submitted my research to FOX and returned to the choir. Six months later, after arranging a flight to Phoenix to stay at  a Diamond resort in Sedona, I received a call from the FOX producer, asking if we would agree to be interviewed by Mr. Massi in Phoenix as they had interviews scheduled that weekend. Some things are meant to happen.

The FOX producer told me David Cortese of Magical Realty had also been interviewed by Mr. Massi about timeshare resales. David is a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association (LTRBA). After viewing David’s segment, I contacted him to see if he would sell our Diamond points. I was told their company would not accept a listing to sell Diamond points. I surveyed all 64 LTRBA members and 22 responded also saying they felt Diamond points were worthless on the secondary market. “We feel Diamond has placed too many restrictions on the use of secondary points to be of any value to a buyer,” they sadly explained.

One of the LTRBA members asked if I would speak with a Hispanic family. Since this first October 2016 complaint, the calls and emails have not stopped. I have heard from 646 timeshare members.

Timeshare members want straight answers but straight answers are in short supply at some timeshare customer service desks. Callers or emailers explain how a sales agent lied to them, but when they contacted the timeshare company they were told, “You signed a contract.” Some described how the rescission period was dodged. Some things, like over promised availability, can’t be determined by reading the contract. I feel I was deceived by reading the contract which stated, “You can sell your points but we will not assist you.” They left out the part about no buyers.

From the October 2016 article describing what happened to the Hispanic family:

Maintenance fees increased to the point where they could no longer afford to own their points. The family soon found that they had to charge maintenance fees to their credit card in order to pay them. The family had already taken out a $33,000 home equity loan from their credit union to reduce the high loan interest rate, typically 14% to 18%.

In August 2015, when they complained about maintenance fees, they said that a sales agent tried to convince them to purchase another 10,000 points in order to achieve Platinum level. He said that by being Platinum, it would allow the couple to pay their maintenance fees with their points, as only Platinum members are allowed to use their points to pay maintenance fees. Then and now Platinum members can pay maintenance fees at $.04 per point, so if all 50,000 points were tendered, it would pay $2,000 towards a 2018 $8,631 maintenance fee bill.

If the family had agreed to the additional 10,000 points, they would have gone further into debt with little recourse. Based on hundreds of reported responses, if they had purchased the points, they would have been told, “You signed a contract” or “We are not responsible for what our sales agents say.” They have a daughter who just graduated from high school and has started college.

I spoke to the family not long ago. They relinquished their $60,000 worth of points that they had accumulated. They are still paying off the home equity loan.

Contact a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association to find out if your timeshare has resale value.

Property Man was preempted due to the 2016 election coverage, so our segment aired April of 2017. The Florida DBPR timeshare division only acted on 110 out of 2,360 timeshare complaints from April 2012 to April 2014, so ignore Pam Bondi.  Bob Massi and his advice on timeshare resales:

https://www.facebook.com/RealBobMassi/videos/1041694629230338/

From FOX I stumbled onto Jim Cramer of Mad Money’s investment news service TheStreet, where remarkable editors, possessing the patience of Job, provided a crash course in editing.

https://www.thestreet.com/author/1684637/irene-parker/all.html

A member who submitted an article to Inside Timeshare introduced me to Whistleblowers of America https://whistleblowersofamerica.org/. Accepting an invitation to attend a Whistleblowers Summit in Washington DC this year, I was introduced to OpEd News:

https://www.opednews.com/articles/Witness-to-Las-Vegas-Octo-by-Irene-Parker-America-181030-359.html

And of course, there’s Charles Thomas at Inside Timeshare in Spain and Wayne Robinson in Malaysia and Wayne’s book.  I was honored to edit and write the Forward. Everything About Timeshare, Before. During and After the Sale

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

So all in all, I’m getting great value from my timeshare points measured in the people I’ve met, readers who read my articles, and the gratitude from members who are grateful for straight answers. We especially appreciate our Facebook administrators and our growing team of members helping other members. I do believe we are a disruptor and hope our efforts will benefit sales agents who sell the product honestly, as well as forestalling new buyers and existing members from making a decision that has financially devastated more than a few families. When sold honestly, timeshare provides years of fun for friends and family.

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

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

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

Thank you Irene for getting this article out to us so quickly, it is difficult to replace an article at such short notice, but at least the timeshare company did respond and for that Inside Timeshare was happy to replace the original one.

That’s it for this week, join us again next week our last one before Christmas.

To all our readers have a great weekend and remember to do your homework before engaging with any company that contacts you or that you have found on the internet.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this weeks Letter from America by Irene Parker, it is appropriate that today on this special occasion in the US we publish our Veterans “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”. You may also be familiar with some of the names, as we have published their stories in the past.

 

Pearl Harbor Day, December 7

Never Forget

By Irene Parker

Yesterday America mourned the loss of 41st President George H. W. Bush. We pause today to remember Pearl Harbor and all veterans and active duty service members.

Tom E. (Tommy) Unger was my best friend and fellow Rotarian when I lived in Hawaii. The picture above is from his book, Max Schlemmer, Hawaii’s King of Laysan Island. I can think of no better way to honor my friend than to promote his book about his grandfather, a whaler and later a superintendent of a guano mining operation on Laysan Island, one of the Northwest Hawaiian Islands about 800 miles from Honolulu. I wrote Never Forget and then remembered Tommy’s book. I dug it out of the bookshelf and read his inscription, “To Irene and Don – who gave me a midnight ride to the hospital. Dear friends I shall never forget. Aloha, Tom E. Unger. This happened after a couple martinis did not sit well with Tommy’s heart medication. It felt like Tommy answered me.

Tommy grew up across the street from Roosevelt High School, becoming one of Roosevelt’s star football players. Following in his footsteps, grandson Max Unger plays NFL starting center for the New Orleans Saints.

From Tommy’s book cover, “Tom saw action during the Pearl Harbor attack as a civilian rescue worker. He received a Purple Heart and a Combat Commission during three Italian campaigns.” Visitors to Pearl Harbor were greeted by Tommy as they settled in to watch the film describing that day. He gave lectures and acted as a guide at the Visitor Center at the Arizona Memorial until his passing. Credit for photo: Donald J Johnson

Inside Timeshare has heard from 86 veterans and active duty service members who have described astonishing accounts of unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices. Several of the veterans are disabled. Below I list five Agent Orange veterans, including Leo Gomez who passed away at age 72 in November, battling pancreatic cancer and his timeshare contract. I think of Leo often given the number of times I talked to him the last month of his life about his timeshare. The company responded that I am a “self-styled” so-called, third party (not an attorney) “advocate” with “clients” who purports to assist members in exiting their contract. I am a human being with a conscience, who is incapable of hanging up the phone when a distraught fellow human being contacts me in distress. It’s called having a soul.  

Listed below are five Agent Orange exposed veterans who have contacted me, describing extraordinary accounts of deception, perpetrated by timeshare sales agents. Timeshare company representatives will call their accounts allegations. I don’t. Based on a volume and a pattern of complaints, I believe war heroes over repeat offender timeshare sales agents. This volume and pattern of complainants together I believe establishes and overcomes the “you have no proof” denials offered by the companies purporting to care about their customers, and some regulators, together allowing deception to continue unchecked with “You have no proof” auto-denials.    

I want to also thank Whistleblowers of America for supporting our efforts. They included our timeshare report at the Joint Committee on Veterans Affairs March 14, 2018.

https://whistleblowersofamerica.org/

Please remember WoA this Holiday season.

  Speak Truth to Power

Fraud and Scams Against Veterans:

Although WoA recognizes that it is not inherent within the VA mission to protect veterans from fraud and scams that could cost them their benefits, it suggests that it could be assistive in educating veterans against these unscrupulous tactics. For example, WoA has had multiple complaints from veterans related to timeshare deceit and bait and switch tactics, which are defined by the FBI as fraud for profit.  Often elderly veterans are mentioned as being targeted by the Timeshare Advocacy Group™ which fights for active duty and retired military who fear losing their security clearance, career, homes or other assets.  Foreclosures and financial distress because of these misrepresented investments are happening every day to elderly disabled veterans and their families. In the past, VA has cooperated with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) over mortgage and other loan scams that caused financial hardships for veterans.  Home loans and timeshare loans are identical as both are reported as foreclosures. WoA asks that Congress consider a role for the VBA Employment and Economic Initiative (EEI) could play in cooperation with CFPB to educate and protect veterans from unscrupulous financial predators and fraudulent practices.

Our five Vietnam Agent Orange exposed veterans:

   

Mr. David Althage is the 5th Agent Orange exposed veteran harmed by timeshare. We are currently reaching out to the company hoping they will help Mr. Althage.

My name is David Althage and I am a veteran of the Marines. I served from 1964 to 1968 and ended up as a Corporal E4. I spent most of 1965 and 1966 in Vietnam and my specialty was machine gunner which I did on the ground and also as the door gunner on helicopters. I was wounded twice and I have also suffered from the cancerous effects of Agent Orange on my skin. All of that seems a lifetime away as my wife and I have been settled for many years in Missouri. These days I repair mobile homes for work, and I keep going at this even though I am now 73. I do not have retirement or a pension. I only have social security.

#2 George Yamada, 70% disabled, bought timeshare points as an investment – George is a pension administrator

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

#3 100% Agent Orange disabled, Purple Heart, shot in Vietnam, company resolved the timeshare dispute.

#4 Danny Wolfer, up-sold by a timeshare sales agent we have received 20 complaints against. Mr. Wolfer is 100% disabled, issued a $170,000 IRS 1099 due to timeshare foreclosure. Danny’s son contacted us about the 1099 after his dad had been foreclosed. We helped him resolve the IRS liability.

#5 Leo Gomez, earned two Purple Hearts, with one month to live, battled pancreatic cancer and his timeshare – Sadly Leo passed away November 9, 2018.

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

Thank you to all service members, especially those who have sacrificed their life and health, to protect even those who seek to do them harm.

Leo Gomez

If you have a timeshare story, positive or negative to share, contact Inside Timeshare. We know there are many honest sales agents who have sold timeshares to many who use and enjoy their timeshare. We are not disputing that. One former sales agent and executive is Wayne C. Robinson, author of Everything About Timeshares, Before, During and After the Sale. Wayne is himself a Navy veteran, a former Navy journalist, and now a champion for those who feel they have been harmed by unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices that Wayne witnessed during his timeshare career. Please consider Wayne’s book on your stocking stuffer list. It’s the perfect size!

  

https://mailchi.mp/c17d6bca8662/here-is-a-christmas-gift-you-were-not-expecting

Timeshare 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/

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

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

If you have any comments or would like to share your “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”, please use our contact page, Inside Timeshare would love to hear from you.

Have a great weekend and join us again next week.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to our Friday’s Letter from America, this week Wayne Robinson explains why it is often very difficult to cancel after purchasing a timeshare, but first a quick look at Europe.

Earlier this week it came to our attention that one of the largest tour operators TUI had been advertising weeks at Anfi Emerald for 1000€ p.p.p week, this was for a 1 bed deluxe apartment and included flights, transfers and breakfast. Now when we consider that members have paid thousands for their floating weeks along with the annual maintenance fees, yet we constantly hear from them that there is no availability, it makes you wonder what is going on?

This is not just a problem with Anfi, we have heard from many timeshare members that they are constantly having trouble booking, yet they see their own resorts being advertised on the various booking websites. Is it fair that these people pay thousands for what they are told is exclusive to members and find they can in many cases book cheaper than their maintenance fees, without having to pay the initial purchase extortionate price.

In another twist, mindtimeshare which formerly under the now discredited Alberto Garcia, was funded by the RDO (Resorts Development Organisation), has just published what can only be described as a rebuke of their former paymasters.

It revolves around the liquidation of Enduria Travel, also known as the Travel Shop and was based in Gran Canaria, they were also affiliate members of the RDO. In their article, mindtimeshare explained that they actually expressed concerns to the RDO about this company, but the RDO still accepted their membership. All we can say is how things have changed.

Today is what everyone is calling Black Friday, but at the start of the week it was for Anfi BLACK MONDAY!

Canarian Legal Alliance received on that day alone 12, yes 12 sentences against Anfi in favour of their clients, with over 900,000€ awarded, plus all contracts were declared null and void. They also received another sentence from the High Court in Tenerife against Silverpoint. In all this year CLA have secured over 11 million euros in awarded claims.

Now for this weeks article.

5 Strategies Timeshare Resorts Use To Prevent Cancellations

By Wayne Robinson

Black Friday November 23, 2018

Today is Black Friday in America, celebrated by standing in long lines at shopping malls to be followed by Cyber Monday, when stay at home shoppers shop the internet. I hope you will add my book Everything About Timeshares: Before, During and After the Sale onto your Cyber Monday shopping list.

Available through Barnes and Noble:

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

Many timeshare buyers do not even think about the contract they signed until after the rescission period has passed. Given that buyers are often not allowed onto the booking site until after the rescission period, the product the consumer bought is for the most part bought sight unseen and untried. Anything we can do shed light on these important rescission days could save the timeshare buyer untold grief and money, should they come to regret their purchase.

The Rescission Period     

The rescission period is the time allotted by local governments for consumers to review their purchase and legally cancel their timeshare. The length of time varies by state, but is typically three to ten days. In Aruba, and in some American states, there is no rescission period.

If the timeshare buyer cancels their purchase during the rescission period, the government requires timeshare companies to give purchasers a full refund of any monies they have received. There is nothing more frustrating for a sales team than to spend 6-8 hours making a sale that later cancels. Sales agents and their managers will do everything they can to prevent new owners from cancelling their timeshare purchase during the rescission period.

Here are 5 strategies that many timeshare resorts use to prevent new timeshare owners from cancelling during the rescission period.

  1.      Sales agents will avoid the rescission clause that is included in the documents.

Although the rescission clause is clearly written in the documents, many timeshare agents or Legal Verification Officers (VLO) will avoid mentioning this very important item. Many reps will discuss other matters to avoid the clause that outlines the rescission.

The resort’s management will not allow sales reps to mention the rescission period during the sale presentation.  Mentioning it could lead to disciplinary action or being fired.

This is how many timeshare sales reps avoid having their sales cancelled.

Most timeshare buyers will not review the paperwork during the rescission period. After a 6-8 hour grueling sales presentation, the last thing the new owner wants to do is review all the legal jargon included in the documents.  If the rescission period is not mentioned by the staff, too often the buyer is not even aware of it. In some states trial products have no rescission period.

Each state rescission period is listed in this chart provided by ARDA, the American Resort Development Association.  There have been more than a few complaints from timeshare members who were denied release, despite being only a half day late. Instructions on how to rescind are buried deep within the contract, and sometimes instructions are vague.

http://arda.org/uploadedFiles/ARDA/Government_Affairs/Government_Affairs_Call_Out_Boxes/RescissionPeriodsDec2012.pdf

  1.      They will follow-up to overcome Buyer’s Remorse
Photo by Samantha Hurley by Burst

It is important for the timeshare sales staff to keep in touch with their new clients shortly after the sale to prevent them from cancelling.  Most clients will have buyer’s remorse and reconsider their purchase after the buyer has taken the time to think about their purchase, research the company that they just spent $21,000 on (on average), to ensure that they did the right thing. For this reason, sales reps need to be available just in case the client wants to cancel. After all, it might have been a very expensive and unexpected purchase that was sold on emotion

According to a Redweek article, Dr. Amy Gregory, assistant professor at the University of Florida has been studying the impact of buyer regret and remorse and rescission decisions. She says that most timeshare buyers regret their decisions.

A whopping 85 percent of all buyers regret their purchase (for money, fear, confusion, intimidation, distrust and other reasons).”

Dr. Gregory’s findings are as follows:

  • The average rescission rate is 15% – essentially identical to the daily average percentage of people who buy a timeshare following a sales presentation.
  • 85% of all buyers regret their purchase, citing reasons including money, fear, confusion, intimidation, and distrust.
  • 41% of buyers never thought they would regret their purchase but ended up doing so; 30% were neutral prior to buying, but came to regret their decision.
  • 95% of all buyers go back to their resort and sales team for more information after the sale, usually within one to three days, seeking more information about maintenance fees, resale options, and pricing alternatives.

Some sales reps will treat their new owners out for a nice dinner to help “bond the relationship.”  This tactic works well as the new owners are getting to know the sales agent on a personal basis rather than as a sales person.  After all, the salesperson used their own money and time to take the new owners out for dinner. Why would they consider canceling with “their new friend?”

  1.      They will follow-up by phone.

If the new timeshare owners are on vacation some resorts will require the sale staff that made the sale to meet with the new clients the next day, or call them within 24 hours. This is to overcome buyer’s remorse, and to answer any questions or provide clarifications.  Often, the new owners forget the verbiage made during the presentation.

  1.      The resort may reduce the sales price.

If the new timeshare owners decide that they want to cancel, the resort can offer to reduce the price. Often this “second round” rendezvous could require another 2-3 hours of negotiations. Many take the bait and purchase at the lower price, or some keep the original agreement.  Unfortunately, the timeshare company may not change the original rescission period, and the new owners now have less time to reconsider their purchase.

Consumers need to be aware that the “today only” price will always be available the next day, week, month or maybe even years later.

  1.      The resort may offer more gifts.

If the resort offered gifts, there are hundreds or thousands of additional monies that was left on the table because the sale did not exceed their “bottom line” price.

If the new owners want to cancel, the management can offer more gifts to “sweeten the deal.”  These free gifts might include free accommodations, free meals, free activities, free or discounted RCI weeks or other options.

New owners must be aware of the new terms that might have entered the contract.  These terms could include paying rack rates for the free accommodations or paying the highest advertised prices for any gifts just in case they decide to cancel the deal. This action could add into the thousands of dollars if they decide to cancel.

Timeshare resorts will use every strategy that they can, including embarrassment and condescendence to keep the sale, but it’s the consumer’s final decision to end the relationship or move forward. Therefore, it is imperative to read all the documents thoroughly before signing, or present it to an attorney during the rescission period.

Wayne C. Robinson is the author of Everything About Timeshares:  Before, During and After The Sale. He is a former timeshare executive who is advocating with consumers to assist them their timeshares problems, and to help consumers better understand the timeshare business from an “insider’s” perspective.

For more information, visit his website at www.everythingabouttimeshares.com

Related article: About Wayne Robinson

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-21/

Self-help groups we feel are not industry influenced:

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

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

Thank you Wayne for your contribution this week, it is certainly an eye opener.

If you have any questions or comments about this or any other article, then Inside Timeshare would love to hear from you. We hope that you have a great weekend and join us again next week.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to another Letter from America by our very own Irene Parker, this week we revisit our series on the 3 Rs and 1F of Timeshare, but first a word of caution brought about by some very disturbing emails received by Inside Timeshare.

These emails are all concerning companies our readers have paid to “relinquish” their timeshares, all being told that the “exit notification letter” being sent on their behalf is all that needs to be done and they are now timeshare and maintenance free. They are told they should not engage with the timeshare company or need to pay any further maintenance fee.

Unfortunately this is not the case, several of our readers have paid a certain company who shall remain nameless at present, but they know who they are, to exit their membership with Diamond, around three years ago. These readers are still getting demands for maintenance fees along with a surcharge for interest. They are also being threatened with court action and a debt collection agency.

The company concerned with these exits tells the clients that they are free of their timeshare  and to “DO NOTHING, PAY THEM NOTHING”. “That Diamond would not take court action because they knew they could lose given the dubious selling practices and the fact that no court would allow a company to insist on payments for a product the owner cannot use”.

We know that Diamond does chase unpaid maintenance, the debt is usually passed to Daniels Silverman a Market Leading Debt Recovery Agency, based in Liverpool. So it is not Diamond who take the “debtors” to court, but Daniels Silverman on behalf of their client Diamond.

If you are told to stop paying your maintenance fees until you have official notification from your timeshare company that your contract and membership has been cancelled, then failure to pay puts you in breach of contract.

It is also known that Diamond will not deal with these “exit” companies, they have their own system in place and will deal direct with the member. Remember no matter what these companies tell you, they are not “lawyers”, they do not know timeshare, all they know is how to take your money.

Now for this weeks Letter.

The 3 Rs or F of Timeshare Revisited (prior revision February 16, 2018)

Resolution
Relinquishment
Refund
Foreclosure

By Irene Parker

November 16, 2018

Our Timeshare Advocacy Group™ advocates brace for when timeshare companies hit the “send” button as millions of maintenance fee invoices hit inboxes.

February 16, 2018, when this article was previously published, we had heard from 300 readers since we began counting January 2017. As of November 14, 2018, we have heard from exactly 600 readers.  Not one of our readers was aware of the limited to no secondary market for a timeshare. This often triggers a complaint.

There is rarely a need to pay anyone money to get you out of your timeshare. Special circumstances, or if a member requests an attorney, we refer to one of the law firms we know and trust, if the timeshare company refuses to help. Seeking legal counsel is the right of every citizen if they feel they have been harmed, as is filing regulatory complaints.    

If you have a complaint, our “How to File a Complaint” form explains a process that takes time, determination and effort, but when it works, it costs nothing. We say when, because no one wins them all.

Timeshare companies cry, “Don’t call an exit company! We have your best interest at heart!” What the timeshare company means is:
Don’t call an exit company because it interferes with our recycled inventory process! Let us foreclose! We make collection calls to you no more than twelve times a day. (Six to each spouse, as has been reported)
When exist companies boast, “We can guarantee you release!” beware that that guarantee may include foreclosure. You don’t need to pay anyone to foreclose.  
Our complaint form: http://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-11/

Our goal:  Convert an angry, desperate, overwhelmed and confused member into an empowered member. Timeshare Advocacy Group™ has 44 core advocates, including a team of reporting advocates to answer questions about regulatory and, if needed, law enforcement filings. All of our Advocates are unpaid.  

The First R: Relinquishment

Some timeshare companies offer voluntary surrender programs, but relinquishments are not guaranteed and there cannot be an outstanding loan or delinquent maintenance fees.

Before relinquishing, check with a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association to find out if your timeshare can be listed with one of their members. http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

LTRBA members charge nothing up front, so they don’t waste your time or money by listing a timeshare that, in all likelihood, will never sell.

The Second R:
A refund is not easy to come by, but in cases of serious and obvious fraud; a refund may be achieved. The complaint process begins with a petition to the resort, followed by the filing of regulatory and law enforcement complaints.

The timeshare lobby ARDA has a Code of Ethics. Not one of the 600 members who have contacted us could tell us what the letters ARDA ROC stand for, yet collectively give about $5 million a year to ARDA ROC. ARDA stands for American Resort Development Association and ROC Resort Owners Coalition. The money comes through “voluntary” opt-in or opt-out donations. This $3 to $10 amount, which varies depending on the resort, appears on all maintenance fee invoices purchased in the U.S. if the developer is an ARDA member. Despite our advocates and members forwarding approximately 200 complaints to ARDA, questioning ARDA’s Code of Ethics, there has been no response.

ARDA’s Code of Ethics:

The intent is that all member activities subject to the Code are designed to be honest and fair, and are conducted with integrity, dignity and propriety.  http://www.arda.org/ethics/

Litigation can take years and often the amount of money at stake doesn’t justify the time and expense litigation requires. Some developers have a class action ban, forcing arbitration. There are many critics of arbitration, including Minnesota AG Lori Swanson:  
“The right to have your dispute resolved before a jury of your peers is as American as it gets; it’s a fundamental core American democratic principle,” says Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson. “To think that millions upon millions of consumers are forfeiting their fundamental right to have their day in court because of fine print in a contract….”
Chris Parker, a reporter for City Pages writes: “Should a dispute arise, arbitration forces consumers out of the court system and into arbitration where appeals aren’t allowed, corporations historically wield a huge advantage—and details of misconduct are kept private,”

http://www.citypages.com/news/the-plot-to-kill-consumer-protection/451334393

Timeshare buyers should check immediately after signing a contract to see if they can opt out of the arbitration clause. Probably only a lawyer would think to do so.
http://insidetimeshare.com/tuesday-slot-arbitration/

According to the FBI agents and attorneys we spoke with, it is not legal for a company to hide behind fine print, providing sales agents the means to say anything they can come up with to sell points. With little enforcement in some states, deception prevails. Families after family have no option but foreclosure, if they have a loan outstanding. Most members contacting us do.        

The Third R

It doesn’t happen very often, but there is the possibility the member just doesn’t know how to use the booking system. Blanket statements like “You can always book online cheaper than using timeshare points” are not accurate. My husband and I are Diamond owners. We have often booked two weeks in Sedona or Orlando for less than it would cost booking online using our points.

I ALWAYS tell members when they say, “After we signed we read all these negative complaints!” that there are just as many and more who use and enjoy their timeshare.  

    Foreclosure

This is the least pleasant outcome, but foreclosure is not the end of the world. We’re working on a document for those who experience foreclosure to provide to credit rating agencies or lenders, detailing the patterns of complaints listed with the Better Business Bureau, Attorneys General, and lawsuits.

If you foreclose, there will be a hit to your credit score, but if you feel you are a victim of unfair and deceptive sales practices provide the credit rating agencies or your lenders with the reason why you refused to pay off a timeshare loan. Lenders are human. Many will take this into consideration.     

I asked timeshare attorney Mike Finn of the Finn Law Group some common questions we are often asked about the foreclosure process:
Will the timeshare company try to ruin my credit for non- payment of maintenance fees, loans or both?


Mike Finn: Generally no credit reporting on maintenance fees, yes they do on “mortgage” payments. Most timeshare property owner associations, which are separate non-profit entities, do not report non-payment of maintenance fees largely because they don’t maintain subscriber contracts with the credit reporting agencies. However, once referred to collection, those agencies do maintain subscriber relationships and that’s where the issue becomes relevant.

Can members be taken to court for non-payment of maintenance fees or loans?

Mike: Can yes, will, maybe not so much

Do they place liens for non-payment of loans?

Mike: Yes in the sense that they do pursue foreclosures, yes for maintenance fees as well.

Does the lien apply just to the timeshare, or does the lien apply to a member’s primary residence as well?  

Mike: The word ‘lien’ can be utilized in more than one way. In the timeshare world it typically means the security interest filed against the timeshare itself by virtue of nonpayment of maintenance fees. Only the timeshare interest itself is impacted by that kind of lien, not the owner’s property beyond the timeshare. A mortgage lien on the timeshare caused by non-payment of the initial purchase price can, under certain circumstances, become a judgment which could be satisfied by going after the defaulting party’s personal assets. This very rarely happens, but it has happened, so we can never, say never. A foreclosure on your credit report is quite damning, it will make refinancing or new residential purchases an issue for about five years. Rarely will they sue for deficiency balance.

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

http://www.finnlawgroup.com/english/learning-center/page-12

Our Advocates, bringing experience and expertise from all walks of life, are here to help you put your timeshare in the rear view mirror, if that is your goal.

Our mission

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

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

Thank you Irene, useful as always, in the Tuesday Slot next week, we will have another “Secret Shopper” report, edited by Pete Gibbes the Secret Shopper Coordinator, so join us for another insight into the murky world of a timeshare presentation.

Don’t forget the book by Wayne C Robinson, Everything About Timeshares, Before, During and After the Sale, with the forward by Irene Parker, you can obtain your copy from the link below.

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

Friday’s Letter from America

Today Timeshare Advocacy Group Secret Shopper Coordinator Pete Gibbes describes a remarkable Diamond sales presentation. Inside Timeshare is always ready to publish a good report. Pete has not yet heard back from the sales agents and managers who said they would look into the complaint that prompted Pete to become more involved with advocacy efforts. Inside Timeshare will follow along and report in as soon as Pete hears back.

On 17 October Inside Timeshare published an article warning about another new “fake” law firm in Tenerife called,  ADN Alberto Dlendro Nabalez, Litigacionespaña SL, we have now had another reader send us information on the contact they have had with them. It seems that the Director of their timeshare resort The Harbour Club at Los Gigantes, Tenerife, has been charged with fraud. ADN have told our reader that many owners are getting together to cancel their membership, ADN would do this for them for 20% when the claim goes through.

Our reader then received another call informing them that a date has been set for a hearing on 20 November at 12.20pm. All they need to do is pay the “fake procurator” as soon as possible and they would be part of the case. This is very speedy indeed, but as we have said before this is all a FRAUD, there is no case, the director has not been charged with fraud and no trial date has been set. If you have had a similar call to this regardless of who you own with, then contact Inside Timeshare, your information is invaluable in helping others steer clear of this outfit.

http://insidetimeshare.com/consumer-warning-a-new-fake-law-firm-in-tenerife-part-of-the-litigious-abogados-family/

It has been a very busy week for the courts all over Spain, on Wednesday 7 November there were 15 cases being heard in various courts against a variety of timeshare companies and resorts.

In Tenerife another High Court has affirmed a First Court sentence and declared a Silverpoint contract null and void, with the return of their initial payments and double the deposit paid.

Continuing with Anfi, after yesterday’s article, it was announce that a further two sentences have been received from the Court of First Instance No 1 in Maspalomas, both contracts have been declared null and void with the return to both the clients of over 43,933€ and 47,582€ respectively.

Court Sentences PDF’s

Anfi Sentence a

Anfi Sentence b

Now for this weeks Letter from America.

Our Diamond Resorts Experience

A Not So Secret Shopper Reports

By Pete Gibbes, Timeshare Advocacy Group™ Secret Shopper Coordinator

November 9, 2018

We stayed at Diamond’s Los Abrigados Resort in Sedona Arizona October of this year. I was treated like royalty during a member update and sales presentation, neither of which would have lasted 15 minutes unless I had more concerns. Our sales promotion presenter, who said he had been with Diamond Resorts for 27 years, said that if we would like to buy more points we could talk about it. If not, was there anything else we wanted to ask? I asked if I was in an alternate universe.

They maintained that the company no longer employs hard sell because they found it to be counterproductive.

The internet is flooded with complaints that begin with, “The sales agent said….” only to be dismissed with, “You signed a contract” or, as we were told in 2016, “We are not responsible for what our sales agents say.” In my opinion, any company which does not take responsibility for their salesperson’s words and actions is implicitly incentivizing them to misrepresent the product in order to elicit a sale. When the sales agent is allowed to keep his or her commission, time after time, undisciplined or not terminated, that company is rewarding unfair and deceptive business practices.

To avoid being fleeced, I advise – don’t believe a word a timeshare sales agent says. “You signed a contract” is a fair response for simple buyer’s remorse.  If companies refuse to reverse transactions when allegations of misrepresentations are detailed and credible, sales will ultimately be affected.

I hope our experience at Los Abrigados is representative of future updates to come.   We received “Priority Check-in”, i.e., whisked to their VIP accelerated check-in which, according to the Diamond Resort’s website, is reserved for ‘Gold‘ and ‘Platinum’ loyalty owners, but I’m just a ‘lil old Silver member’.

During the update I was asked to document my previous purchase elicited, I believe, by deception. They actually wanted me to put it all down in writing because they wanted to directly bring my case to Diamond. They said to specifically use the word ‘misrepresentation’, because that has been the term which phony sales presentations have been scrutinized over. They also said to be sure to put that I was pursuing legal remedies, because Diamond took that seriously.

Two or three higher level people at the update were shocked and dismayed about how we had been treated in 2016. A senior manager appeared and commiserated with us. He sweetened the vouchers. They maintained that several years ago the abusive sales practices were addressed and things changed for the better. They were glad that I had let them know how I had been so shabbily treated before. They wanted to go to bat for me. (My account of what happened in 2016 follows this Secret Shopper report.)

At the sales presentation we were told that we could use our Diamond points to pay for nights at ANY 3 star rated hotel. I’d be reimbursed for 300 (or 400?) points per night. Now that’s not a bad deal, at least for many Diamond stays. At 400 points per night for 7 nights you’d be paying 2800 points for a very nice lodging, and it would be wherever you wanted to go, whether there was a Diamond resort available or not. I had not heard of such a benefit. This time around I will confirm if this is true. I have this sales agent’s contact information. He said to call him anytime about anything.

Also, there are supposed to be now 39 different ways for you to spend points, although he said points for flight miles wasn’t a very good use of points at $.07 to $.10 per point. It would take about $2,000 in maintenance dollars to book one domestic airline ticket. Typically, the best of use of points for any timeshare member is to use the points to stay at the resort’s properties. There are 39 different ways to use points? That may be a whopper.

I would like for someone familiar with alternative uses of points to refer me to where all these uses are detailed so we can calculate the actual value. I don’t see them listed on the Diamond website. Members need to do their timeshare math, as using the Barclaycard to pay maintenance fees is only at 1% per purchase, so it would take $200,000 charged in a year to pay a $2,000 maintenance fee bill. When members are told, “You can pay maintenance fees by charging purchases to a Barclaycard”, do the math to determine the actual value of this strategy.  

We were given all kinds of extra vouchers and discounts to attractions because I had had such a poor experience with the company. The concierge seemed amazed at the generosity of our discount/voucher amounts. He said he had never seen anything like it. Thought somebody must have made a mistake. This may have been a bit of luck, but our unit had what surely must have been the best view of the red rocks as anyone there.

The entire experience was far friendlier than I have ever experienced at a Diamond Resorts property. It was bizarre. Could they have been apprised that I am TAG’s Secret Shopper Coordinator? Or does Los Abrigados just happen to be a resort where members are treated particularly well? If my dispute over our 2016 purchase gets resolved, I will credit the sales team at Los Abrigados. I certainly would praise this particular resort, if my experience is typical, which I don’t know. I thought you would find my experience of interest. Maybe someone can even explain it to me.

All in all, I felt like Donald Trump must feel like when he stays at one of his properties. I do have to say that if the people I dealt with were ‘acting‘, they should be up for some awards, because even my highly tuned BS detector never flashed any warnings. Unfortunately it never did two years ago either. Proof is in the pudding, as they say.

It may be advisable to make all the people on our advocacy site Co-coordinator Secret Shoppers.

Here’s what happened to us at a Hyatt presentation in Charlottesville 11/18/2016.

My goal here goes well beyond getting this transaction reversed. I am hoping all those who feel that they experienced unfair and deceptive sales practices will come forward and file regulatory complaints and warn prospective buyers to be EXTREMELY skeptical of anything a timeshare sales agent says. This is not fair to those selling the product honestly, but the liars are so good, it is impossible to tell the difference.

We originally purchased 11,500 points in 2007 at Lake Tahoe Vacation Resort. We were not unhappy with Diamond until the 2016 Virginia purchase.

We learned about six months after our purchase that a Diamond “buy-back” program described in great detail by our sales agent does not exist. The buy-back program was the only reason we purchased the additional 4000 points for $15,500.

We attended the member update only because we wanted to get out from under the Diamond points we had already purchased. It was then DRI sales agent Mark W offered us a “great new deal” whereby DRI members who bought enough points to become Silver loyalty members could sell back ALL Diamond points.

After multiple “no” responses to other reasons to buy additional points, Mark W brought up the non-existent program that was of great interest to us. He said that if we became Silver members, after three years, we would have the option to sell all our points back to Diamond for $108,000. He said Gold loyalty members would be able to sell points back in two years. He put this in writing (which I have), by writing down $108,000. He also wrote 2Y=G and 3Y=S.

I was extremely skeptical because I had never heard of a timeshare buying back points. However, after he repeated this ‘new deal’ about five times, we finally decided he must be telling the truth. We signed.

When we ultimately learned there was no buy-back program we repeatedly asked Diamond to cancel the contract. Diamond’s response inevitably was, “It doesn’t matter what the salesman said,” or even wrote down apparently. They said that we had signed the contract.

My oral and written requests to get our contract cancelled began around June 2017. When you buy additional points, obviously you are not thinking about selling. It is only until you inquire about selling you learn you were duped.

I am encouraged by the Sedona Diamond representatives and their willingness to look into our complaint. There is a lot more detail to our complaint, but no sense rehashing it here since the entire experience is well documented. I look forward to hearing what my new friends at Los Abrigados find out.   

Advocacy Facebook offer support groups for those who have had bad timeshare experiences like ours. Our Facebook has over 2,000 members.

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/


Contact us at Inside Timeshare or one of our Advocacy Groups if you or someone you know needs timeshare help.

Don’t forget the book by Wayne C Robinson, Everything About Timeshares, Before, During and After the Sale, with the forward by Irene Parker, you can obtain your copy from the link below.

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

So that is all for this week, join us again next week for more news and views on the world of timeshare, have a great weekend.