Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this weeks edition of our Letter from America, today Inside Timeshare highlights another Wyndham Carriage HillsNightmare on Timeshare Street” story. Carriage Owner Jeannie is not the only senior suffering severe hardship, held hostage in an eternal timeshare contract. Wyndham’s Carriage Resorts even holds heirs that did not sign the contract liable for their parent’s timeshare. Timeshare owners worldwide were told timeshares are easy to sell since they are deeded real estate. Given this false promise, holding seniors hostage is not only unfair and deceptive, it is also cruel. Wyndham can certainly afford to treat these owners fairly. Stock investors surely cannot feel good about tactics employed to please Wall Street. Canada is not only America’s neighbour, but Canada is also part of North America.  

PARSIPPANY, N.J., February 13, 2019Wyndham Hotels & Resorts (NYSE: WH) today announced results for the three months and year ended December 31, 2018. Highlights include:

  • Revenues increased 69% compared with fourth-quarter 2017, to $527 million.
  • Net income was $43 million for the quarter; adjusted net income was $57 million, a 50% increase over the prior-year quarter.

The Tragedy of Wyndham’s Carriage Hills and Carriage Ridge Resort

A NOOSE AROUND MY NECK!

By Jeannie, a Carriage Owner

Ending comments by Irene: My two favorite timeshares!

August 30, 2019

Dear Irene,

Please forward my letter to CVOA, the Canadian timeshare advocates, and to Mr. Jason Gamel, Senior Vice President of Legal at Wyndham, due to our medical hardship. The harm that Wyndham and Carriage Resorts are causing families is unforgivable, especially for those of us experiencing medical hardships. To think we are treated as such, just because we happened to purchase a Wyndham timeshare in Canada, is appalling. 

I want to share how desperate my husband and I have been to get rid of our Carriage Ridge timeshare. Purchasing Carriage Ridge led to many unwise decisions that took place before and after my stroke in our attempt to get out from underneath this impossible financial burden. We bought at Carriage Ridge in October of 2003 for $13,326. We should have cancelled the contract the day after we signed, but we were dealing with my husband’s heart condition. My husband was admitted to the hospital with Cardiomyopathy Stage 4, just after we agreed to purchase.

On December 26, 2004, we used Carriage facilities to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. We attended a meeting where we were introduced to Shell Vacation Club. We paid $13,620 to convert to points.

By 2014, I was desperate to exit the timeshare. In January of 2014, I paid a timeshare exit company $1,198 in the U.S. to help us. I cannot be specific with the name, as eventually, they refunded my money after I complained to the U.S. Better Business Bureau.

On October 15, 2016, I suffered a Thalamic Stroke. I am in constant pain on my right side and my blood pressure has been as high as 195/100. My memory has been greatly affected, from spelling, completing tasks, anxiety, depression, etc. I had to leave work in July 2017. Now the only income I have is CPP Disability and my husband is on CPP and OAS.

In October 2017 I went to a Sheraton Flex Vacation presentation. I was assured that I would be better off getting rid of Carriage Ridge by buying into Flex Timeshare. They told me about Wyndham’s Ovation program and gave me papers explaining how to apply. I gave Flex Vacation a deposit of $1,147.50 U.S.

As soon as we arrived home, we had no peace about this purchase. My husband was experiencing pain which required a hernia operation. We wrote immediately to both our sales reps and to the head office asking to terminate the sale. I was a few days late. They refused. The sales team didn’t explain all the fees, and they were not educated about Wyndham’s Ovation program not being available to Canadians.

I wrote to the Better Business Bureau about Flex Vacation, to no avail. Sheraton Flex Vacation then offered a way out, so six months later I completed the paperwork. I had a lawyer in Canada witness our signature, but Sheraton said I needed to go to the U.S. Consulate or to a U.S. lawyer to have them witness my signature. How ridiculous. I had been out enough money. I continued to receive monthly invoices, threatening letters and phone calls. That stopped after they foreclosed. It took from November 2017 to March 2019 to end that nightmare. They were liars or uninformed about Ovations.

Okay, so still desperate to be rid of my Carriage Ridge timeshare, I went to Mexico in February 2018 and ended up buying into a Vacation Plan that would require only paying maintenance fees when we used their facilities. I’m not at liberty to say which company, as they returned half our money, after I complained on Facebook and other places. Part of the issue was that they had put me in touch with TRM, assuring me of the sale of Carriage Ridge. I even received the paperwork. I contacted Carriage Ridge for my deeds and explained what was happening, only to be informed the sale wouldn’t be granted by our Board of Directors/Wyndham Club, as it was a company buying, not a person. How discouraging. 

Bottom line: DON’T TRUST ANYONE WHO SAYS THEY CAN SELL CARRIAGE HILLS/RIDGE.

I contacted the Wyndham staff at Carriage Ridge, as well as our Board of Directors saying we are not able to continue paying the increased fees. I was told I will be sued if I stop paying. I received a letter from Derek Beaudoin, Canadian ICR Ltd, a collection agency. Finally, I paid $1,325.11 and was hit with an additional fee. I asked if this could be waived. This was the reply I received from Derek.

Mrs. B,

The resort has received your e-mail (below) and forwarded it to us to respond.  The Home Owners Association will not be waiving any of the remaining balance, $341.26.

Please be aware your arrears continue to accrue interest at $0.28/day.

I wrote again, explaining my health and financial situation. Below is the email I received from Nanci Shepard, Chairman of our Board of Directors on February 22, 2019. The least Nanci could have done was not say they were very sorry for my health. If they were sorry they would not continue this financial elder abuse, especially since buyers were told they were buying deeded real estate, so no problem selling. 

Hi Jeannie,

After a lengthy discussion with my fellow board members, we have unanimously decided to NOT waive your late fees. We are very sorry for your health and personal issues but as you state you have been an owner for 15 years so you are well aware that we put these policies in place for a reason.

We are responsible to make sure the resort runs to above industry standard and we count on every owner to pay their maintenance fees in a timely manner in order for us to do just that.

There will be no further discussions on this matter and we will wait until Derek advises us you are paid and back in good standing.

Nanci

I wrote and told them they were heartless. I have to take my blood pressure daily. My family physician asked why it fluctuates so much, as high as 160/80 recently. I told him it was because of the financial burden and nightmare this timeshare has become. He has warned me the next stroke might be fatal. This timeshare is like having a noose around my neck. No one in my family wants it. My adopted son suffers from mental illness and lives on ODSP so he can never afford this.

Wyndham and our Board of Directors have really messed us up.

We believed false promises. Ongoing yearly increases for Maintenance Fees, Member Fees, Exchange fees, on top of our original investment, have really added up throughout the years. We were never told how much we would be out of pocket. We were told we owned Gold weeks, and if I return to weeks, it would be Red (whatever that means). I haven’t been able to book around our December 28 wedding anniversary the last couple of years through Shell Vacation Club. For the first time ever, I didn’t pay our Shell Vacation Club fees, so had to pay late fees. Membership fees don’t cover much.  

There have been so many changes that our heads are spinning. To sum this up, there is no longer a sales office, our maintenance fees more than doubled in 15 years, late fees 30% in my case, suing delinquent owners, there is no Ovation program, non-owners pay less to rent units, rules change without our knowledge, we pay the Wyndham staff, they make it hard to sell, our kids are being forced to inherit a timeshare, and leadership changed. NOOSE AROUND MY NECK.

Wyndham should offer all of us that need out release if we have no mortgage. We want out. I don’t want my executor having to deal with this when I pass away.

Sincerely,

Jeannie B

Comments by Irene

Thank you to Jeannie for her story. Jeannie is one of 127 Carriage Hills and Carriage Ridge owners to reach out to Inside Timeshare, expressing alarm over unreasonable and irresponsible corporate behaviour. It is our hope Wyndham and Carriage will work with these owners to salvage a resort that by all accounts could be a nice place. 

My husband and I just returned from a timeshare we purchased in 1983. Maui Hill at Maui Lea has a resale department. Hoping to get a better price, I listed it with Tom Tubbs at Island Consulting Realty, a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association. LTRBA members charge nothing upfront to sell timeshares that are blessed with a glimmer of a resale market. Our daughter expressed alarm, explaining that having moved so often, Maui Hill offered the only stability in her life. She graciously gave us this past week in appreciation.

We also purchased at a timeshare at Osage Beach in the Missouri Ozarks in 1984. I called Port Elsewhere and talked to the manager I had gotten to know over the years about taking the timeshare back. We are getting up in age as well. She responded, “Yeah, we had a board meeting. We decided we can’t hold hostage, loyal owners who have faithfully paid maintenance fees for decades. I’ll send you something to sign.” It was one page. We are out after warehousing decades of wonderful Ozark memories. To avoid a special assessment one year, owners donated vacuum cleaners.


Port Elsewhere

The Wyndham Carriage debacle should not be unsolvable.  

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

Free at Last Facebook Straight-A Guide

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

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

https://www.udprep.info/june

Bluegreen Facebook

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

Wyndham Facebook

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

Wyndham Carriage Resorts Facebook

https://m.facebook.com/groups/152117225452689

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

Diamond Resort Facebook

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

Gold Key Facebook

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

Inside Timeshare Facebook

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

Thank Jeannie for your contibution and also thanks to Irene for your ending comments. These stories are becoming all to commonplace, not just for Wyndham but many other timeshare companies. The perpetual contracts being referred to are illegal in Spain, contracts must be no longer than 50 years in duration and even if the members pass away their children are not obliged to take them over. Spain recognised that it would be inherently unfair to burden the children with a contract which they had no part in signing.

If you have a story of your own and would like to share this with others, then Inside Timeshare would like to hear from you. Use our contact page and get in touch.

Have a great weekend and join us again next week.


7 Comments

  • Rebecca Raetsen

    August 30, 2019

    The only responsible thing for Wyndham and other timeshare companies is to have a good, reasonable exit plan in place. Agents should be trained in how NOT to hard-sell, but sell a product that people want and can enjoy for years to come. Timesharing can be a great thing if the companies would focus more on the owners and not be so greedy! Wyndham has seen huge profits, but that won’t last forever if the product is no good. Shame on you for not doing the right thing for the owners! I am sure your shareholders are happy with you, but they won’t be happy for long when they know it’s at the expense of taking advantage of good people! Come on, put an exit plan it place! This is so important. Let’s get some laws change to help protect people!

    Reply
    • Don Anderson

      August 31, 2019

      Rebecca, I think you have nailed it in suggesting that some laws need to change. Our timeshare experience could have and should have been so much better. The timeshare industry has done so much damage to its image, it is probably going to go the way of the dodo bird.

      Reply
      • Rebecca Raetsen

        September 1, 2019

        You may be right, although if you are in the Orlando area at all, it looks like it is on the rise, but things need to change pretty quick I think for that to be sustained. I think it needs more of the public voicing our opinions to help make that happen.

        Reply
  • Susan Mallendine

    August 30, 2019

    Hi Charles, just read your Article on Elder Financial Abuse, and that is exactly what these timeshare people are doing. Since we started our court case with CLA because of all the trouble with Silverpoint, my husbands Dementia has got a lot worse with the worry, he s 80.I am more fraught also, we have not been able to have any holidays this year and I feel we are coming near to divorce. These people don’t just take your money, they wreck lives. The elderly are more trusting because in our day, people would not do this to the elderly, they had respect. Spain/Tenerife should shut all these so called Company’s down immediately. So glad to see that InsideTimeshare is doing something to protect us. Keep up the good work Charles. Kind Regards. Sue Mallendine.

    Reply
  • Chuck

    August 30, 2019

    This is a situation that every owner could possibly find themselves in as they age. Without a resale program, the whole venture will fail when enough owners are unable to pay the annual maintenance fees, and the association is unable to collect the fees due to the high number of delinquent accounts and the growing legal fees to collect. Although Wyndham doesn’t own the whole resort, they effectively control the board and what happens at the resort through their voting. They are the only entity that can correct the path that the resort is on, but it appears that their agenda is different than those of us who are unable to sell our timeshare. (A reminder here, we were all sold this as an investment that had value because it was deeded.) Wyndham has the ability to effectively set up a resale program if they wanted to, but as I said earlier, that does not appear to be on their agenda or in their interest, thus they are a corporation that is willing to be a party to preying on people who have come into hard times.

    Reply
  • Liza

    August 31, 2019

    The Carriage Ridge & Carriage Hills VOA Boards are complicit with Wyndham in the cruel way they treat owners who need to EXIT their timeshares – debt collection & suing in court owners with little means & deteriorated health The result is a waste of VOA funds for pennies in recovery AND negative PR for the resorts. The toll is significant. “Wyndham Cares,” the latest ploy to pacify owners, is a FARCE. Form letters that refer owners to the Ovation program ignores reality. Wyndham’s Ovation program is NOT available to CR & CH in Ontario, Canada. WYNDHAM DOES NOT CARE; profiting from every angle with misleading up-selling pressure tactics. Wyndham also owns sufficient developer holdings at CR & CH to dominate the Boards & turf any board member who stands up for owners at large. The band played on while Titanic sank.

    Reply
  • Don Anderson

    August 31, 2019

    What’s it going to take to get Wyndham to make their Ovation program available to CR & CH in Ontario, Canada? It seems they are truly heartless, do not care that aging owners are losing endless hours of sleep, experiencing failing health and even attempting suicide because of their inconsideration due to a lack of an exit strategy. Why are we treated this way in Canada? We owners bought in good faith believing and told that our properties would go up in value, that they were special because they were deeded. Perhaps this is the crux of the issue. Our situation is different in that our property is deeded. Other timeshares have an expiration and owners are off the hook after a 20 yr period, ie., whereas we are never going to be off the hook. What a hopeless conundrum. Nowhere to turn to. Even the courts are upholding Wyndham’s right to sue us and our heirs. WE NEED AN INTERVENTION! I wish that the Avengers were real and could right this evil wrongdoing.

    Reply

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