Welcome to this week’s edition of Letter from America, today Irene Parker reports on the start of the jury trial between Candace Czarny v Hyatt Residential Marketing Corporation. Irene first published news of the pending legal action back in 2017, so this has been a long wait. We hope to bring you news of the result in a later edition.
Former Hyatt Timeshare Sales Executive Candace Czarny v Hyatt Residential Marketing Corporation and Kent and Allison R. Drysdale
CASE NO. CV2013-006230
By Irene Parker
July 5, 2019
The jury trial of former Hyatt Sales Executive Candace Czarny v Hyatt Residential Marketing Corporation, a Florida corporation, and Kent and Allison R. Drysdale began this week. The trial is expected to last seven days. The Joshua Carden Law Firm, P.C. filed on July 6, 2019, a second amended complaint on behalf of plaintiff Candace Czarny, in Maricopa County, Arizona Superior Court.
The lawsuit is a wrongful termination lawsuit. It is unlawful for an employer to retaliate against any employee because the employee refuses to participate in and/or properly disclosed illegal activities, according to Arizona statutes, including “fraud, false pretense, false promise, misrepresentation, or concealment, suppression or omission, in connection with the sale or advertisement of any merchandise whether or not any person has in fact been misled, deceived or damaged thereby….”
The lawsuit alleges Hyatt defendants fired Candace after she refused to commit such acts or omissions that would violate Arizona statutes. Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages.
Candace was employed by Hyatt on or about January 1, 2011, as a Sales Executive at Hyatt’s Piñion Pointe timeshare resort in Sedona, Arizona. Defendant Kent Drysdale was her supervisor. Candace alleges she was instructed by Drysdale to make certain false statements and omissions when communicating to Hyatt timeshare owners and potential clients in order to make sales.
Inside Timeshare has heard from 887 families. The majority have reported unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices. Some just can’t afford the timeshare and didn’t know when they purchased there was no secondary market. If they have a loan outstanding, the only option may be foreclosure, especially if there is no evidence of deception. Most complaints are dismissed with, “You signed a contract.” General allegations from this lawsuit, that are similar or identical to our readers’ complaints, include:
· 9. (a) Owners were told that if they did not add to their portfolio on the day of their tour they would give up rights to upgrade in the future and would forfeit special pricing.
· 9. (i) Owners were told that Hyatt would leave two agents on the property that would resell their ownership for them in the future and implied that they would be getting a minimum of original purchase price.
· 12. Some potential buyers that had paid cash or lived in a more expensive zip code (referred to as PG or Preferred Guests) were given prices that were inflated more than other potential buyers, that had either never made a payment, had financed a payment or lived in a less desirable zip code. Plaintiff and other Sales Executives were instructed, at various times, to mislead PG clients into believing they were getting special consideration when in fact they were not.
· 20. Plaintiff and other Sales Executives were instructed to bring a manager to the table when attempting to close deals, so that the manager could make certain false statements and omit certain facts when communicating to potential clients. False statements made by Drysdale and other Hyatt managers include:
a. Telling owners that they had given up their rights to upgrade, looked in their files, and if not finding the disclosure, would say that he might be able to get corporate to allow them to upgrade if they would write a letter supporting their request. He would then tell them that if they did not purchase that day they would forfeit their right in the future.
b. Telling owners that Hyatt had sent a letter to them telling them to upgrade or sign off on the ability to do so in the future. He told owners that this letter stated that Hyatt would deny an upgrade in the future.
c. Telling owners that unless they owned a “platinum” or “diamond” week they would not be able to access new Hyatt timeshare properties.
I have heard many accounts from former sales agents, of a manager’s ability to “starve out” an agent who was not a team player, meaning the sales agent refused to employ unfair and deceptive practices. It is known, prior to a tour, who is likely to buy and who is likely not to buy. The lawsuit alleges such actions were taken against Candace. In addition, Candace alleges manager Drysdale would only allow agents of his choosing special incentives to offer potential clients and he would refuse to release certain more desirable inventory to sales agents who did not play by his rules.
Candace was terminated despite high overall job ratings, but others who had performance numbers similar to Candace were not terminated. Upon information and belief, such Sales Executives had either not announced opposition to Drysdale’s sales methods and tactics, or had expressly agreed to cooperate with them.
It’s a modern day David & Goliath story. Timeshare companies employ armies of attorneys in their effort to suppress the seedy side of timeshare. While many owners use and enjoy their timeshare year after year, others, as our readers have reported, fall into deceptive and fraudulent sales presentations, ending up with a vacation dream that turns into a financial trap.
Some lawmakers have sided with the timeshare consumer in an effort to expose selling strategies that incorporate psychological manipulation, omissions, deceptions, and fraud. Others blame the victim, maintaining the “You signed a contract” mantra.
Candace Czarny is a former Hyatt and Diamond Resorts sales agent. While at Hyatt, Candace said was advised by management to order a copy of the CIA Guide to Interrogation and Human Manipulation. According to numerous Attorneys General investigations and lawsuits, some timeshare companies employ strategies designed to intimidate and confuse hardworking consumers worldwide in order to generate profits and earn wildly inflated commissions and compensation. Honest sales agents, previously able to earn a good living, find themselves subtly maneuvered out of this new, more sinister timeshare business.
According to Candace, “It was only after working in the industry as a sales agent that I came to see and understand the complicated strategy of greed from the inside. Like Trish Williams, awarded $20 million in a Wyndham Whistleblower case, I am one of the individuals not willing to be a pawn perpetuating a scam against hard working people trying to create a happy life for their families.”
The lawsuit began six years ago with three plaintiffs, former Hyatt sales agents. One plaintiff settled, but the other’s case did not move forward.
Some timeshare companies hide behind carefully and strategically worded contracts intended to shield them from responsibility and litigation. Arbitration is private and binding. If you lose, you may be ordered to pay arbitration fees. Timeshare attorneys I have asked about arbitration feel arbitration is a kangaroo court.
This leaves the timeshare member, sold by unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices, feeling hopeless and angry, with no recourse. Timeshare companies rely on the burdened member not being able to withstand a costly and lengthy legal battle. If the member resolves a dispute, they are often required to sign a non-disclosure agreement, agreeing not to say anything disparaging about the company, another effort to silence and isolate victims. I was offered my money back in 2016 for the purchase of additional points in response to my complaint. I refused to sign the NDA.
Social Media is here to stay. Members sharing reports of deceit with other members have created a clearinghouse of information and a means to track complaints against timeshare sales with repeated complaints against them.
While New York, Missouri, Colorado, Tennessee and Arizona Attorneys General have made some progress protecting consumers, more needs to be done. There has been a notable lack of concern from some state and federal regulatory agencies.
Lawmakers responding with “Well, they signed a contract” have no concept of the depth of deception some timeshare agents employ to sell points. Many things, like promised availability, cannot be determined by reading the contract, and state contract rescission periods can be artfully dodged.
Based on the timeshare lobby ARDA’s estimates, there are over 9,500,000 timeshare units in the United States. To give you an idea of how profound this corporate culture of greed is and how the courage and bravery of single individuals are making a difference in the name of what is right, listed below are just some of the settlements, judgements and lawsuits against these timeshare giants.
- The NY Attorney General investigation into the Manhattan Club resulted in a $6.5 million settlement. https://www.amny.com/real-estate/the-manhattan-club-settlement-includes-6-5-million-in-restitution-ag-says-1.14048559
- Tennessee Attorney General announced a $3 million settlement with Festiva, a network of vacation and timeshare companies, for alleged violations of the federal Telemarketing Act, federal Telemarketing Sales Rule, and the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act. https://www.tn.gov/attorneygeneral/news/2016/2/24/pr16-04.html
- Colorado Attorney General sued Highlands Resort, Sedona Pines and twelve other defendants for deceptive trade practices. https://businessden.com/2016/12/07/ag-sues-timeshare-firm-for-deceptive-tactics/
- Missourians sometimes are targeted by real estate developers and resort communities to buy vacation timeshares, an arrangement in which consumers buy vacation homes, usually in a resort area, for a specific length of time each year. https://ago.mo.gov/civil-division/consumer/consumer-topics/vacation-timeshares
- Arizona Attorney General received hundreds of complaints against Diamond Resorts, fined the company $800,000 and issued an Assurance of Discontinuance. https://azag.gov/press-release/attorney-general-brnovich-announces-800000-settlement-diamond-resorts
- Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen says his office received 58 timeshare complaints in 2018, including concerns about pressure sales tactics, exorbitant fees, and difficulty reselling. https://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/local/Timeshare-Troubles–What-To-Do-Before-You-Buy-and-Sell-504017151.html
Members can do their part by joining forces with others seeking to reform timeshare. Sign this petition to let your voice be heard, and join one of these self-help groups. If none are appropriate, start one!
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.
Free at Last Timeshare Support Course offered by Straight-A-Guide
Diamond Resort Facebook
Gold Key Facebook
Inside Timeshare Facebook Group
Have a safe 4th of July weekend.
That is it for this week, Inside Timeshare would like to thank Irene for all her hard work in preparing these articles, all the volunteers of the Advocacy Group and of course all our Secret Shoppers, who we hope will be bringing us another of their wonderful reports very soon.
It just leaves Inside Timeshare to wish all our American readers a very Happy 4th July Weekend, join us again next week for more revelations on the murky world of timeshare.