Welcome to the end of another week with Inside Timeshare and another Letter from America. We once again visit a subject that has been followed many times on our pages the culpability of the developers in the ongoing scamming of timeshare owners by the many fraudulent exit companies that have sprung up. All because of the lies by the sales agents and the difficulty in terminating any timeshare membership.
Why are Timeshare Developers not Concerned about those Harmed by Timeshare Sales Agents?
Organizational Chart of Exit Companies
April 30, 2021
Inside Timeshare routinely hears from those harmed by timeshare exit companies. The conglomerate chart above contains familiar names. Michelle in California reached out to her timeshare company to report allegations that she and her husband were sold points deceptively. The resort dismissed Michelle’s complaint, basically saying they were not responsible for the actions of their sales agents. Michelle retained Resort Release for $25,000. Not long after, Resort Release sought bankruptcy protection after Michelle’s timeshare company and others filed lawsuits against Resort Release and American Resource Management Group (ARMG). ARMG is at the center of the chart. Resort Release appears on the right.
American Resource Management Group
“A top priority for ROC is to ….help protect them from dishonest individuals or companies trying to take advantage of them,” said ARDA‐ROC Chairman Ken McKelvey. American Resource Management Group, LLC doing business as Resort Release, filed for bankruptcy in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Florida under Case NO.: 19-14605-JKO.
Timeshare developers need to understand that a solution to the problem requires an acknowledgement that the developers and their sales agents are part of the problem. The Federal Trade Commission this year listed Timeshare Sales at #7 on their Top Ten Scams list. Timeshare Resales are #10 on the list. Timeshare resale scams are companies that contact you to say they have a buyer.
Timeshare Freedom Group (to the left on the chart) has been running frequent advertisements on national television in the U.S. Measured in terms of dollars spent per second of advertisement, the average going rate for an ad on national TV is approximately $342,000 per 30 seconds of air time, according to WebFX.
Help4TSO is at the top of the chart. A VA Chaplain and his wife attended an Allied Solutions Group presentation at a Joe’s Crab Shack in Las Vegas. Allied Solutions Group is not on the chart, but they refer to Help4TSO.
“We paid Midwest Transfer $27,895 on May 17, 2017 for a Travel Club promised a release from our Bluegreen and Silverleaf timeshares, but now have a travel club we don’t need and the two timeshares. Allied Solution Group/Mid-West Transfer described their services as a Mortgage Relief Advocacy Process. They said an advocacy firm would be retained by Help4TSO.”https://www.opednews.com/articles/A-VA-Army-Chaplain-Loses–by-Irene-Parker-Fraud-181009-152.html
The other side of the coin
Michelle is not alone. Air Force veteran Adam Siler is reaching out to veterans and active duty service members, Tiffany Renee, the elderly, and Bernadette, those battling chronic health conditions. With so little done to help the consumer, in a largely self-regulated industry, an informed consumer is the best defense. Adam, Tiffany and Bernadette explain in this April 16 article why timeshare buyers need to record the sales session.
Bernadette’s Petition has 421 Supporters as of April 25
Michelle’s report, followed by three other reports against her sales agent
By Michelle in California
I signed Bernadette’s petition to protest the double standard. In January of 2018 we met with Diamond Resorts sales agent Adam D and his manager Billie B in Las Vegas. We already had 70,000 Diamond points. As Platinum members, this was more points than we needed. Anyone who has achieved Platinum loyalty level has likely spent over $200,000 on vacation points.
Adam informed us that our maintenance fees would go up every year unless we wrapped our prior loan into a new loan. He said that by refinancing, our maintenance fees would not increase for ten years because they would be included in the ten year refinance. Adam said he would GIVE us 15,000 bonus points if we refinanced. We received bonus points at prior purchases, so this seemed normal.
We noticed the Purchase and Sale Agreement showed 15,000 points. We asked Adam about it because we told him we didn’t want to buy additional points. Adam said not to worry as it would get fixed later. He added that if we ever wanted to sell points, “We can hook you up with another member. Diamond will charge $250.” We now know Diamond points have no resale value. You have to PAY Diamond $1,000 per contract to take points back. The meeting lasted over seven hours.
It wasn’t until the next month we learned that we BOUGHT 15,000 points! Our loan amount increased to $183,582 and maintenance fees increased from $12,000 to $15,000. We called Diamond. A Quality Assurance representative named Dave said he would investigate. He never called back. Ultimately, Diamond’s attorney sent us a letter that basically said all that matters is we signed a contract.
We retained Resort Release in June of 2018 because there was no way we could afford the additional purchase. After paying Resort Release $25,000, they filed for bankruptcy.
Other Adam D Complaints
Complaint #2 Bonita in California
In May of 2017 we purchased 4,000 points from Adam and his manager Joey. Adam told us that since we had so few points, we were paying more for maintenance fees than we would if we purchased additional points. After the purchase, I received a bill for $661 for additional maintenance fees. Adam said that my fees would be $1,124 but after the purchase they were $1,541. When questioned, he responded that the $1,124 was the amount for the new maintenance fees as stated on the contract. That was not how he explained it. We were told the price of the points was going to go up, but learned points have no resale value. Adam also said he was going to add in a Westgate week so that we could be at Silver loyalty level at 15,000 points. We did not own a Westgate week.
Loan amount $22,829.44 financed @ 17.1558%
“We must advise that it is specified clearly in the contract documentation that if you relied upon any verbal information given during the presentation you must ask for this to be put in writing. Likewise, if anything was said that was of particular importance to you, but which is not contained in the terms and conditions of the membership, this should have been requested to be implemented in the body of contract before documentation was signed.”
Adam D complaint #3
Wanda and Douglas, ages 65 and 71 at time of purchase
Douglas is a Bronze Star Veteran
We owned two deeded weeks. We purchased points from Adam D at Polo Towers. The purchase cost $2,400 per month in monthly loan payments and $13,000 in annual maintenance fees. We were told that we would be able to rent out the timeshare to make money to cover the monthly loan payments. That turned out to be impossible. We defaulted on the loans.
When we called Diamond they said: We are not responsible for what a salesman tells you. I asked, “Doesn’t this salesman represent your company?” They just repeated, “We are not responsible for what a salesman tells you.”
Complaint #4 A former Criminal Investigator
We met with Adam and Rick at Polo Towers. They explained how Diamond Resorts had been taken over by Apollo Global Management and that Apollo, realizing that Diamond had failed to remedy failures, created a program that would provide financial relief – if we purchased additional points. It would be foolish not to join as it would “right all wrongs.” Rick produced a binder listing “The Club” benefits. Adam produced a card from his wallet.
Benefits that failed to materialize:
Benefit 1. When making reservations, 50% of the points used would be loaded onto a reloadable “Club Card” that could be used like cash, redeemable for $.10 to $.30 per point. The credit could be used for anything, INCLUDING PAYMENT OF MAINTENANCE FEES. Had this been true, it would have addressed our major concern – rising and exorbitant maintenance fees.
Two weeks passed without receiving a “Club Card.” When I contacted Adam he said Diamond discontinued the card. When I asked what would replace it he said he was in a meeting and couldn’t talk. I never heard from him again. When we attempted to obtain the “50/50 split” we were told no such program existed.
Benefit 2. Vice President of Sales Dan P would be our “Personal Travel Concierge.” Dan’s skills were described as being “like magic.” Dan gave us his business card and said he looked forward to working with us. Voicemail recordings were all that happened.
I sent a letter to Diamond CEO Michael Flaskey. His agent recommended I use Diamond’s Barclay credit card explaining, “That is what ‘covered under financing’ means.” I have stopped payments. Nothing was ever mentioned about using Barclaycard to pay maintenance fees. Charging purchases to a Barclaycard offsets maintenance fees at only 1%, or 2% if used to charge Diamond-sponsored products.
More need to join our efforts to reach out to lawmakers, regulators and the media to raise awareness and provide consumer education. A simple disclosure provided before the sales session alerting the buyer that anything a sales agent promises will not be honored – due to one sentence in your volume of documents:
“I did not rely on oral representations to make my purchase.”
A Diamond member-sponsored Facebook
Thanks to Michelle and all our contributors from across the Great Lake, your problems are very similar to those experienced by timeshare consumers in Europe and most probably anywhere in the world that timeshare is sold. Hopefully, these articles will help to create a change in the industry that is well and truly needed.
That is all for this week, Inside Timeshare will not be publishing for a short while due to personal reasons, but we hope to be back with you within a couple of weeks.
Have a great weekend.