Welcome to another edition of our Letter from America, this week we ask for your support to the protests planned for May 17th to 19th, this is another in a series of protest that disgruntled timeshare owners have staged. The protest centres on “Unfair and Deceptive Timeshare Sales Practices”, this is a subject of many of the complaints received and also of the many “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” articles we have published.
Following on from our Tuesday Slot and the lawsuit between Diamond & Aaronson here is an editorial by Timeshare Insider.
Irene Parker is not under the jurisdiction of the court over the lawsuit Diamond Resorts filed against attorney Austin Aaronson, so she is not obligated to keep terms of the settlement of Diamond Resorts v Austin Aaronson confidential, as requested by Diamond’s outside legal counsel, attorney Richard Epstein of Greenspoon Marder. However, Irene wishes to respect the wishes of Judge Dalton.
Suffice to say this is what Diamond CEO Michael Flaskey reported to the media:
This is what eye-witness Irene Parker reported:
Inside Timeshare received Diamond Platinum member complaint #82 yesterday, yet another Diamond Platinum member alleging they were up-sold into insolvency, promising maintenance fee relief programs, or programs that would allow the ability to sell points, programs that do not exist.
Hence, Diamond Platinum Member 82 Protest in Orlando next Friday, May 17 to 19. You don’t have to be Platinum to join.
Save the Date! Our next Platinum 80 Protest is in Orlando
May 17 – 19 Two Locations:
Location 1: Friday May 17 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Florida Timeshare Share Division DBPR Office
400 West Robinson Street, Orlando
Location 2: Saturday Sunday May 18 and 19 – 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Near Disney World
535 S Apopka Vineland Road and Palm Parkway, Orlando
You don’t need to be Platinum to Join Us!
Protesting Unfair and Deceptive Timeshare Sales Practices
By Platinum Protest Organizers
Friday May 10, 2019
When we protested in March in Las Vegas, we protested on behalf of 70 Diamond Resorts Platinum members alleging that they had been intentionally targeted for their loyalty and deliberately up-sold into insolvency. Since then we have grown to 81 Platinum members, many similar if not identical complaints. We believed in programs to pay maintenance fees that do not exist. Others say they were told if they purchased additional points, they would be able to sell points.
By their own admission, Florida’s Attorney General’s Office and the timeshare division, Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) will take no action unless a member can produce proof. Given Florida demands proof, Florida should change from a two-party state to a one-party state, meaning make it legal to record a timeshare sales presentation without the other person aware. Otherwise, how can there ever be proof? They don’t even let you take what sales agents scribble on paper.
There are many things that cannot be determined by reading a timeshare contract. One member reported that he was shown at a Virginia sales centre a “Special Sales Double Platinum” booking site, but if he had given up his deed he would no longer be able to book the weeks he had owned for years at the Silver loyalty level. He would not have found this out until after the rescission period, as members report not being allowed onto the booking site until after this period to cancel has passed.
His online Diamond account is a “Special Sales Double Platinum Account” (a descriptive term as there is no such thing as a Double Platinum loyalty level). It shows everything in the system and probably quite a bit more, but did not display what we would have access to using the proposed 15,000 points (for two weeks).
As reported at a Florida legislative workshop in Tallahassee March 12:
Victoria Butler, from the Florida Attorney General’s Department of Consumer Protection, reported a figure of 1,500 to 1,600 complaints in recent years, with about 50% involving senior citizens. She said the majority of complaints were in regard to the initial sales presentation.
Ms Butler stated that the Florida timeshare division engaged only 42 complaints, the majority concerning resale. This fits with our members reporting that all timeshare complaints they submitted, DBPR responded, “Verbal representations are difficult to prove.”
Diamond points sell for around $4 a point. Platinum members own a minimum of 50,000 points. By 2018 maintenance fees had increased to $8,631. Out of 81 Platinum complaints, 42 members report that they were told of maintenance fees relief programs that they later learned did not exist and 16 specifically report that they were told they could pay maintenance fees at $.30 per point.
Only Platinum loyalty level members can pay maintenance fees at $.04 per point. If a member turned in 50,000 points, redeemed at $.04 per point, it would mean they would be credited $2,000 towards a maintenance fee bill of $8,631 with no points left to travel. Members report that when they complain about being told they can turn in points to pay maintenance fees at $.30 per point, Diamond responds describing a legitimate 30/30 program that offers travel discounts. This program has nothing to do with paying maintenance fees at $.30 per point.
Platinum 81 Complaint Statistics:
Seniors: 54 out of 81 member complaints are seniors, 65%
21 out of 81 are Veterans, Active Duty Service Members, Law Enforcement, 20%
Other Reports of Unfair and Deceptive Practices
- If you buy the additional points, you will be able to sell your points. Contact me when you want to sell points. When the member contacts the agent, the email or call goes to the VP who responds that there is no program to sell points.
- If you purchase these additional points, you will be part of the Legacy program and your heirs will not be liable for the points.
We want consumers to Beware and Be Aware. Similar complaints have been directed against other timeshare developers and sales agents as well. Understand:
- You may be browbeaten for hours by a tag team of three against two,
- You can record in some states like Arizona and Nevada,
- Most contracts are perpetual, and,
- There is no secondary market.
- Points may list a retail price of $9, but this does not mean points are worth $9. It has been widely reported timeshare points are worth nothing.
- You don’t have to give up a deeded timeshare for any reason,
- If you insist on 24 hours to review documents, you can still buy tomorrow.
Diamond members involved in the 2017 Arizona Attorney General’s investigation report that the Arizona AG’s office received over 900 complaints accusing Diamond of violating Arizona’s Consumer Protection laws. Diamond settled for $800,000 and was issued an Assurance of Discontinuance, essentially keeping Diamond under state supervision for six years.
We all actually liked Diamond Resorts and enjoyed using our points. We had built up trust over the years adding to our points. We feel 81 of a company’s highly loyal members, reporting similar to identical complaints, is proof. The fact that Diamond has dismissed us all as misunderstanding is telling. Bear in mind that we are only banding together as Platinum members. There are many similar to identical complaints reported by Silver, Gold, and lower level Valued members.
T-Shirts will be on Sale for $25 to help defray signage expenses.
Thank you Charles Thomas for being our Voice!
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.
If you are able to join them or are in the area, please go along and give them your support, for those of us unable to attend, we will be with you in Spirit. We also look forward to publishing your report on the protest.
That’s it for another week, the weekend is upon us and it is time to relax, have a great weekend and join us again next week.