In this week’s Letter from America we welcome the first article from Ken Silva, with his Nightmare on Timeshare Street story. This is also made more complicated due to the involvement of Barclays, as this is considered as a separate agreement to the timeshare. But first we look at the news from Europe.
It has now been confirmed that the enterprises owned by Mark Rowe, are being investigated by South West Police, this follows the report at the beginning of January of the raids conducted by Trading Standards at several premises used by these companies. This followed after an investigation by the “Scambuster Team”.
The Police are contacting clients who either have lodged complaints with Trading Standards and the Police in the past, or from records seized in the raids. If you have had any dealings with any of his companies (a full list can be found at the link below), then contact:
South West Police ROCU. DC 4624 Katie Andrews. PO Box 37, Valley Rd, Portishead,Bristol. BS20 8QJ
Could this now be the end to the Mark Rowe Enterprises?
If we thought that things could not get any stranger in the world of timeshare, then you would be wrong.
For now on with today’s Letter from America.
A Warning to Anyone Thinking About Buying a Timeshare
Our Diamond Resorts International nightmare
By Ken Silva
February 2, 2018
Timeshare Consumers, take my advice and do due diligence before buying a timeshare.
Protect your family. Do not get your family into the mess we are in. Do your research. There’s a reason there are so many timeshare members on Facebook and websites seeking to dump their timeshares. I’m sure there are sales agents selling the product honestly, but you decide about our sales agent after reading what happened to us. All you have to do to prove we are telling the truth is to get on our booking site and try to find a vacation based on what we were sold.
Attorneys General, please, do not dismiss our experience. We are fighting to get our money back, as we still owe $10,000 on a Diamond Resorts Barclaycard credit card. We hope to escape the “ironclad” STAY VACATIONED contract.
Here’s what happened
In May of 2016 my wife and I purchased a Diamond Resorts International (DRI) Sampler (trial) package for $2,995 in Las Vegas.
Using our Sampler points we booked a stay at Diamond’s Ka’anapali Resort. We purchased 2,500 Hawaii Collection Diamond points for $13,000. Our sales agent was Karen Cossettee. Ms. Cossette told us we would be able to book one to three weeks of vacation anywhere. Our son Jacob, age 3, has a serious medical condition so we need to vacation close to home as we have to be near medical facilities. We had to cut both our Hawaii and Las Vegas trip short because our son experienced a medical emergency back home.
After we returned home, we got on the booking site, but found no locations meeting our requirements. About the only bookings you can get with 2,500 points are for places like Branson Missouri or Gatlinburg, maybe a one bedroom in Orlando. It is impossible to stay one to three weeks in a one bedroom in California near a major medical facility.
Jacob has cerebral palsy. He has been diagnosed failure to thrive and is on a feeding tube. He requires 24/7 care and he is a case study at Stanford University Medical School. We cannot fly because of his condition. We booked Tahoe recently, but cancelled that trip because even Tahoe is too far.
Using our Sampler points requires a sales presentation, so we booked a trip to
Las Vegas November, 2017. We stayed at DRI’s Cancun resort. There the Diamond sales agent, Davia Hunsicker said, “Hawaii lied to you! You can’t go anywhere on 2,500 points.” We were told Hawaii Collection points are expected to be slammed with assessments and 10-14% increases in maintenance fees because Hawaii is so expensive and subject to weather damages. However, in Hawaii they told us maintenance fees increase only 6%. They went on to explain that Hawaii was going to have a $1,000 plus assessment for damage to shores. Ms. Hunsicker told us U S Collection maintenance fees increase only 2% on average.
The Vegas agents told us the only way out of this situation was to move our Hawaii points to the US Collection and to do that we had to buy 4,500 points for $18,000 to own 7,000 U S Collection.
Like in Hawaii, we were shown several places we could stay that met Jacob’s needs. Again, when allowed on our booking site (again after the rescission period), it was a different inventory. I called DRI and reached a Platinum agent who said, “I’m with the Platinum desk. I can pull strings.” She found a desirable option, Pacific Grove in California. This was one of the locations we were shown in Vegas, only in our inventory it would require 22,000 points.
Timeshare companies can dodge the rescission period by not allowing access to the booking site until after the rescission period. In our case, I tried to log on two days after signing but was told my account was in escrow. The rescind period is seven to ten days, but it takes nearly 30 days before you can access the booking site.
DRI sales agents are so good at having all the answers and they will promise you the moon. Ms. Hunsicker also said we could get an extra 8500 “ghost” points that would upgrade us to Silver by saying we owned an RCI week. She instructed us to just nod to the QA person when they ask about RCI and we would be able to get the extra points, but not to say she told us because, “You might get me fired if they find out, but that way you’ll get another 8500 points.” She advised us to purchase an RCI week at Sam’s Club for $500 – $600 and then trade it in to Diamond for 8,500 points. She said with Silver benefits we could have food stocked and luggage forwarded. This was a tremendous benefit because of Jacob’s needs. However, when I read about these benefits the luggage benefit costs additional funds and the food service was not available at the Silver level.
We asked about what would happen if we could no longer use the points and were told DRI will work something out and were informed DRI has a website where you can sell points. DRI points are virtually worthless on the secondary market.
We would have rescinded our contract immediately if I had been able to see that we could not use our points as promised. Diamond salespeople will offer their cell and promise to be available and act like they genuinely care about you (like ours did concerning Jacob), but then disappear after a few days of friendly texts.
I work for a faith based non-profit. We teach anti-bullying and leadership skills. Our credit score is over 800. I am 33 years old and my wife is 31, caring for our son’s severe medical issues. To think that timeshare companies allow these practices and hides behind the fine print is astonishing.
I published a review on Trust Pilot.
Reply from Diamond Resorts International
Published Monday, January 15, 2018
We regret to hear of your experience as we are known in being forthright and delivering top notch service. Please email us at [email protected] for further assistance.
My response to Diamond’s response
Edit: Diamond Resorts reached out, as seen below, however, they have not responded to my email to them as of 1/25/18. Also, they are not known for their top notch service. In fact, look on Facebook for the various groups of people who are in positions like mine, or the many other reviews on Trust Pilot. It often takes DRI 45 or more days to get back to you and many are ignored. When you call customer service, they tell you there’s not much they can do to help.
If Diamond was forthright and delivering top notch service, they would refund victims their money. I’m glad I have a background in Social Justice and Social Media.
I hope our pain will save others.
Notes from Irene
Since Ken submitted this article a week ago, Inside Timeshare received five more complaints directed against this same sales center, one against the same agent Ken complained about. Especially in California, there have been complaints from Monarch owners of deeded weeks, coerced into giving up their deed and buy points, only to find out they did not have access to the week they had used and enjoyed for years.
All timeshare resorts have non-member inventory that always guarantee non-members can spend the money but members often cannot find availability. Diamond is not the only resort with complaints like this. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman settled with The Manhattan Club for $6.5 million. Clearly, there is a problem industry wide.
Timeshare deception and “bait and switch” is not a practice limited to Diamond, but in the case of DRI, licensed resale brokers will not even accept a Diamond listing. It’s bad enough if you can sell a timeshare if you were lied to, (often a timeshare is worth only pennies on the dollar), but with Diamond it is worse because it has been widely reported Diamond has virtually no secondary market. Try calling some of the members of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Brokers Association and see what they have to say.
We really do hope timeshare developers will work with us to stop predatory timeshare sales.
Thank you Ken and Irene for today’s article, it is with these stories that everyone becomes aware of what is happening, including the developers. Let us hope that they take note and start to change how they operate.
Inside Timeshare has just been informed from one of our German readers that Marriott is sending out emails to clients with the following statement (part of email translated from German):
If you have any questions or require any information on this or any other article published, contact Inside Timeshare, we will be pleased to help and point you in the right direction.
So that is it for another week, Friday is upon us and the weekend beckons, have a good one.