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Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to the end of the week and another edition of our Letter from America, we continue our “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” stories on the Canadian resorts Carriage Hills and Carriage Ridge, two Wyndham owned resorts. In this weeks edition, Irene Parker highlights complaints 61 to 90 which have been received by Inside Timeshare, all within the space of a few weeks. There is obviously a very serious situation as all complaints are very similar in nature, surely, the Wyndham management should be taking notice and resolve these complaints immediately?

Read Owner Reports before Buying a Timeshare in Canada

Wyndham’s Carriage Hills and Carriage Ridge’s Eternal Contract

“Wyndham Cares About Your Timeshare”

https://www.myclubwyndham.com/mycw/owner-101/wyndham-cares.page?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIidm886Kt5AIVyP_jBx22WQlLEAAYASABEgLDyvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

Explore options if you’re experiencing life-changing financial issues.

(Unless you own in Canada should be added)

·  Ovation by Wyndham

Safe timeshare exit solutions if your loan is paid off and dues are current.

·  Financial Hardship 

Carriage owner Donna C:

The story about the ailing 80 year old owner – how she is being viciously and mercilessly harassed and hounded makes me sick to my stomach and fills me with terror and dread as this could easily become our fate, and the fate of hundreds of owners at Carriage Hills. Wyndham holds all the cards in this distressing situation, and their refusal to provide a ‘way out’ for owners is a blatant and egregious act of corporate greed and abuse of power.

A key element is in regard to the high-pressure ‘sales pitch’ we were subjected to when we visited the Sales Office over 20 years ago. We were told that this timeshare was unique in that it was a real estate purchase, with a property deed that ‘could’ be passed down to others, IF WE CHOSE TO. And we were told that, as a property asset, it could be sold in the future to another buyer. There was never any indication that this deeded real estate transaction could not be sold, or that our children would automatically inherit the liability for this so-called asset. Not only was this sales pitch unscrupulous, it was false advertising and completely fraudulent.

By Irene Parker and Carriage Owners 61-90

September 6, 2019

According to over 100 families, for those who own at Wyndham’s Carriage Hills and Carriage Resorts, there is no safe timeshare exit solution, except to die childless. There is also no medical or financial hardship. If anyone deserves medical hardship consideration, it is Jeannie, David and others who have reached out to Inside Timeshare to make the public aware of the danger of buying a timeshare in Canada. I’m told Carriage is not the only Canadian timeshare trap.

Jeannie’s Medical Hardship Dismissed

https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-65/

David’s Medical and Financial Hardship Dismissed

https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-64/

Timeshares in the U.S. and Canada were routinely sold as easy to sell because, after all, your timeshare is deeded real estate. There are few takers for a timeshare that follows your heirs once you pass on.

At a legislative workshop March 12, 2019, in Tallahassee, Florida, Mr. Jason Gamel, Sr. VP Legal at Wyndham and now president of the timeshare lobby ARDA, testified that exit providers were not necessary because of Wyndham’s hardship department.

Mr. Kenneth McKelvey, founder of Defender Resorts and Chairman of the timeshare PAC ARDA ROC, testified:

“Most of the developers I know, and certainly most of the timeshare managers I know, and I managed timeshare properties for thirty years… every single resort had a dissolution policy, every single one! There was a way to get out. You had to come to your management company, and based on what the board of directors instructed us to do in the terms if they had to pay a fee or if they had to be current, whatever those situations were, we did not have one that did not have a dissolution policy and a hardship policy …”

A quote from an ARDA lobbyist:

“Their value comes from using it,” the timeshare industry’s top lobbyist told ConsumerAffairs in January, admitting that points have no resale value while claiming that consumers don’t mind this because the value comes from the experience.

Carriage Owners 31 – 60

https://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-45/

Carriage Owners 1 – 30

https://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-44/

Elizabeth’s Analysis

https://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-46/

Carriage Resort Owners 61 thru 90

#61 Lori S

Hi Irene,

I bought at Carriage Hill in 1999. I loved the concept, but what we signed up for is not what we actually got down the road. My husband got cancer in 2008. We tried to dump both units. I hired a company to sell one or both. Laughingly, I gave them $1,500 US. We should have just rolled it up and burnt it.  There were over 300 people trying to sell and or give away the timeshares. A few years later another company said they were bigger and better and could unload my units if I gave them $1,000 U.S. We were desperate to get rid of them so tried again. Guess what, just another scam. Later, my second husband and I purchased at Carriage Ridge. We were stuck with Carriage Hills so decided to go for the point version to recoup the maintenance fees at least, and travel.

For the last five years, I’ve basically given up and paid maintenance fees, kicking myself for getting involved in the first place. I realize I’m not the only one. We need to find an exit from this sham of ownership. I can’t even give it away, even if I pay the legal fees. We were told it was a great investment – low maintenance fees.

I think it was RCI and Wyndham’s plan to get us to buy and then run it like a hotel. We lose because we can’t compete against their lower rental rates vs us trying to break even charging what it costs us. I could go on and on.  The older we get, we don’t always remember details.

#62 Gina D

Hi Irene,

My husband and I have been owners of a 2 bedroom red week at Carriage Hills Resort since 2011.  My Uncle was an original owner but wasn’t using it. At the time, the maintenance fees were a little over $900 a year. We intended to use it to exchange.  After increasing yearly maintenance fees, along with increasing RCI exchange fees, we found that exchanging no longer made financial sense. Although Carriage Hills is a lovely resort, we would never pay the price we are now paying (almost $1400 a year) to stay there, if we had a choice.

Our other big concern is the lack of an exit strategy.  Although we are a young family and can afford the maintenance fees, there will come a day when we no longer will be able to use it. Our children will likely not want to take it over, given the cost of living in Ontario.

We do not agree with our current Board’s strategy of going after elderly people who can no longer use their timeshare. We certainly do not agree with going after estates or beneficiaries that do not want to inherit the burden. Honestly, if we had known what we were getting into, we would have never taken the timeshare.

Thank you for bringing attention to the difficulties owners at Carriage Hills are having due to the lack of an exit strategy since Wyndham refuses to bring their Ovation program to Canada.

Kind regards,

Gina D

#63 Tony P

Hi, Irene

My wife, Louise, and I are owners at Carriage Hills, having purchased a 2 bedroom unit back in 2002.

At the time of purchase, we were told that we could sell, or sell back our ownership since it was deeded property.

We are now retired and on fixed income. Maintenance fees are far too high for our income. One potential Kijiji purchaser laughed and said that the maintenance fees were double what he would pay to buy the timeshare.  For about seven years we attempted to sell for $1, via Kijiji and the Carriage Hill website. We have been pestered by robocalls from Timeshare resale companies. Like many others at Carriage Hills, we want out.

#64 Candis

Good day Irene,

I purchased an every other year red unit in 2001.  I realized pretty quickly that this decision was a mistake. I’ve tried selling numerous times over the years without success. I’ve rarely used it. 

I’m incensed over the maintenance fees and the inability to offload.  When I first bought, the fees were around $500. They have skyrocketed to over $1300. I wouldn’t be so fussed about the ownership if the fees hadn’t escalated. The idea that I have purchased something that will outlive me and seemingly has no end is outrageous.  I’m divorced. Even bad relationships can end. However, Carriage Hills is forever and beyond. I had no idea that I was locking myself in.  I was clearly told I could sell, which obviously isn’t true.  I was told I was locking in the cost of future vacations … which also is not true.  

I called Wyndham in November 2018 and was plainly told we don’t qualify for their Ovation program.  If I recall correctly, they told me that our board decided against this program. The whole thing is unpleasant and stressful. 

I hope one day we will find a solution to this appalling situation. 

Thanks

Candis

#65 Stacy B

Hi Irene,

I have owned a floating red week with Carriage Hills since 2003. I have enjoyed my ownership and I still use it. My maintenance fees have doubled since I bought it. I feel it is time there is an exit strategy for those in a different situation.

Some owners were fooled into “upgrading” to points. They tried to upgrade us. To be honest, I almost fell for it because the idea of four-day trips sounded great, but my husband was outraged. He believed it was a big scam as the value of points is not set and can eventually be worth nothing. This is what is happening to point owners. I am glad we didn’t switch.

There are some owners that can’t afford the maintenance fees. They can’t sell their units and they can’t even give them away. They are stuck. Some of them just don’t pay and then our maintenance fees are used to pursue legal action. How is that a good use of our money? 

There are many “businesses” offering exit solutions (for upfront money), and then these poor owners get ripped off. Why can’t Wyndham offer these poor people an exit strategy? I am sure they would be happy to pay fees for an exit. The fees could go into a fund for the timeshare and then the units can be rented or resold.

I fail to see how forcing these owners to pay, or spending money on suing them, is a sound financial business decision. This is costing these owners money they can’t afford and it is costing other owners money in higher maintenance fees because of those that are delinquent. 

We need some innovative thinking. If a committee was assigned to come up a solution, I’m sure one could be found that would benefit everyone. The deeded ownership model is outdated. It’s time for Wyndham to evolve. 

#66 Jim

My big fear is lack of an exit strategy. At this time we can handle the cost, but with the number of delinquencies we are worried about costs becoming unmanageable. Also, at some point we will ourselves not be able to pay on a senior’s income.  Our kids want no part of it.

#67 Marion K

Good Morning

We purchased an every other year red week18 years ago. There is no mortgage. It’s a wonderful resort and we enjoy visiting in the fall, but we have a grave concern about the lack of exit, and how this will affect our heirs – namely our children. It appears our children have two choices:

1.      Accept the ownership and take on something they have no desire to own or can afford, and then pass the financial burden on to their children…ad infinitum. Our children never agreed to be part of this. Are our children to be punished?

2.      Or they can refuse to accept this and then our estate will be responsible for maintenance fees until our estate is bled dry? I am uncertain if this means the estate could not be dispersed at all?

This actually frightens me of late…I can’t sleep for worrying. There is a need for a proper exit – whether by sale, a reasonable fee, according to need, etc. Reading the stories shows a desperate need by so many. We just cannot leave this unwanted financial burden for our children and their children. 

Thank you for listening

Marion

Marion’s husband David:

Our Sales Agent Cory Stegemann is now owner /CEO of Cornerstone Vacation Ownership!!

We are 84 and 77 years old respectively. This year we felt it was time to exit as we are incurring more health issues etc. We wanted to ensure all was in good order before we could no longer cope. We have learned that selling (even for Free) is nigh impossible.

We learned those in financial crisis due to old age, illness, unable to pay maintenance are being taken to courts even upon death – of heirs forced to pay the maintenance when they can’t afford to. The heirs are being taken to court – horror stories!!  It seems that Wyndham/ARDA/ OVATION do not appear to live up to their words/promise.

It fills us with a feeling of hopelessness and despair. We had hoped to have exited our timeshare by the time my wife, Marion, turned 80, in 2020 or before.

Please note: We appreciate all that  the Carriage Hills /Ridge Facebook has done to keep owners  fully informed of everything (especially Cheryl in particular.. she has been so kind in helping us understand)

Sincerely

David and Marion K

#68 Gabe

My wife and have been owners at both Carriage Hills and Carriage Ridge for quite a few years. At first, we found it to be a good way to travel. We often traveled to various SVC (Shell Vacation Club) resorts across North America or traded for other destinations using RCI or II.

Unfortunately, my wife was recently diagnosed with ALS. She is immobile and we are no longer able to travel. We will no longer be able to use our timeshares, but there seems to be no way out.

We have looked to Wyndham to find a way out, but there is no exit strategy. What is worse is that the maintenance fees have to be paid in perpetuity and our children can be stuck with paying the fees after we pass.

We purchased our timeshares in good faith based on sales presentations which made claims about the benefits of being owners but said absolutely nothing about the downside. At the time, we were convinced that this was a great opportunity for us to vacation. It was for a while, but times have changed. The maintenance fees have escalated enormously over the years and we now pay about $5000 in maintenance fees every year. Timeshares are no longer an economical way for people to travel.

There are two types of owners at CR/CH: those who want to exit and those who will want to exit at some point. This is a non-sustainable situation. More and more owners will default on their maintenance fees forcing the already unacceptable maintenance fees ever higher until the whole thing comes crashing down. This is a no-win situation for Wyndham. They need to find an exit strategy that is a win-win for everyone, and the board needs to empower the Wyndham management team to come up with this strategy.

#69 Heather C

Hi Irene,

We purchased an every year, floating red week in 1998 after foolishly falling victim to high pressure tactics while on a getaway promo. We had two young boys, and were working a lot of hours, plus running a farm. We had only taken two vacations since our honeymoon in 1987 so we thought ‘investing’ in a local deeded property with ski and golf, plus exchange options, would be a good incentive to take vacations more often.  

We were told that Carriage Resorts were not like other timeshares that everyone is afraid of. These were deeded properties with real value that could be resold on the open market if we no longer wanted it, or, the resort would also have a program to take it back.

We fell for their lines. A champagne cork popped (like many others in the room that day), we signed and our lives apparently changed forever, unbeknownst to us at the time.

At the time, maintenance fees were reasonable as were the exchange fees. We enjoyed many wonderful exchanges to Hawaii, Arizona, Mexico, and other locales in Switzerland, France and others. We enjoyed family vacations over the years as our boys grew. We are skiers/boarders and so are they. It was fantastic, plus we were told we would get 50% discount on all lift tickets and ski memberships at Horseshoe, along with discounts at the restaurants, etc. That ended. The discounts under our original ‘gold membership’ seem to have disappeared.  Now we just get the same VIP card/discounts that any Joe Blow off the street gets.

We were called by the developer in 2004 to attend an update where they pitched switching to Shell Vacation Club points, offering more flexibility. We switched. We were still pretty happy.  Maintenance fees were rising, but still manageable.

Around 2012 or 2013 maybe, it seemed like fees were getting more costly, plus our family was grown. Our travel preferences were beginning to change as we wanted to go to destinations not offered through the exchange company. Rarely have exchanges been available, not like in the original days. I never forfeit points, but they were certainly getting expensive and not a good value for other uses like gift cards or other services.

I noticed around 2016 or so, on occasional weekend stays, we no longer got sales calls. Initially, I thought ‘thank God!’ but then last fall, when I wanted to organize things to sell out two deeds, the REAL story started to unfold. I learned our deeds were not eligible for Wyndham’s Ovations program. Our deeds were worthless ‘assets’, and there was a perpetuity clause buried into both agreements we had signed! I felt ill and still do.

Our family experienced a serious health crisis as we approached the first phase of retirement our transition.

I’m terrified of the drain these timeshares will make. This has been a devastating realization.  We own a large family farm that has been in the family for generations. I shudder to think that the farm could be at risk.

We understand that our sons could get strapped with this mess. They had nothing to do with these contracts. They were children!!  I’m mortified! I’m likely going to start doing more digging with accountants and lawyers ($$$) to get better informed on how we can realign our estate and assets to try and protect them from these spineless vultures and also try to ensure our sons and their families will not get strapped with these ridiculous contract obligations that go beyond the grave!!

#70 Clarissa C

In an industry where you would hope senior executives would be transparent and seek to promote confidence in their users for a healthy and long pipeline of success, we have experienced nothing but false hope. Vacations have been nice, but not luxury. Fees are excessive, not reasonable, and vacations are not simplified. We distrust our Board of Directors. Accountability at the senior level is just not there.

We were led to believe that we had a deeded share of property – we were led to believe that we could sell back – we purchased a resale from Carriage Ridge, and we were led to believe maintenance fees would be reasonable. Wyndham is a fraud. We want out.

#71 Darleen and John C

As a very young couple in our 20’s, my husband and I purchased two timeshare properties. We spent over 50,000! That was 14 years ago when we had great jobs, no children, and no mortgage to worry about. We had no idea it was a lifetime commitment. Today it has become a burden. We now have two children, a mortgage, and only one person working. We struggle every year to make our payments, we definitely need a way out, and we definitely need Help!!

Thank you

Darlene and John

#72 Scott H

Hello Irene,

I’d like to introduce myself to you as a recent board member, a past president of the Carriage Hill’s Owner Association from 2013 thru to 2018. I still have hundreds of emails from owners during my time on the board.

Regards

#73 Melissa L

Hello Irene!!

Here is our story in a nutshell:

We purchased at Carriage Hills in April 1998 just two months before our wedding. We are an every-other-year owner. We enjoyed the property with three kids for 21 years, sometimes at the resort and sometimes trading with RCI to travel North America.  We went in eyes wide open. 

Originally, there were no rental units available to the public.  The resort was ONLY for owners. Given the exclusivity, we expected the units to maintain their value so we would be able to sell them in the future.  Like a car, we never thought we’d sell for a profit, but we thought we’d at least be able to sell it when the time came to move on.  We cannot even give our ownership away! Our biggest problem is that Wyndham has changed the use of the property and thus negatively affected its values AND eliminated the resale market. 

Wyndham offers a “give back” program called Ovations for their US owners “Ready to Move On” but Canadian owners are excluded from the Ovation program. Why? We don’t know. Add to that: the seemingly shady business practices… Wyndham employees are on the Carriage Hill Board of Directors. Not cool.

In the 80’s, the big scary stories about timeshares were when they went out of business and left all the owners with nothing.  Now 21 years later, that is what we wish for.

Thank you for helping us to shed light on this issue

Melissa & Jeff L

#74 David S

I’ve had this timeshare for approximately 10 years. I can no longer afford to pay the maintenance fees. It has become a real burden and increasingly stressful. I’m trying to find the money to pay for something we consider has no value. We never used it a lot. We paid $11,000 for it. I would like out of this timeshare for what I paid.

#75 Henry L

Hi Irene,

I have called Ovations to try to exit my timeshares. I was told that the properties I own are not eligible for this program. I even offered to give it back to them just to get out but they will do nothing for me.

#76 Maria

Hello Irene,

We have been owners at Carriage Hills Timeshare Resort in Oro-Medonte, Ontario since 1997. We have been extremely disappointed with the increases in maintenance fees, particularly over the past few years. Here are the numbers over the year, and the percentage increases.

Year Fees % increase

—- —– ———

2018 $1351 4%

2017 $1299 7%

2016 $1214 4.63%

2015 $1160 10.10%

2014 $1054 4.70%

2013 $1006 3.97%

2012 $968   3.85%

2011 $932   2.59%

2010 $909   7.71%

2009 $844   7.93%

2008 $782 10.45%

2007 $708  

1997 $526

Like others Carriage Hill owners, we are very concerned and worried about how there is no market to sell our timeshare. We will be burdening the rising costs of this property. We are close to retirement. The maintenance fees are going to be a huge portion of our retirement income.

When we originally bought back in 1997 we were sold on the fact that it would be a deeded ownership, but now it just means that we will be passing on the burden to our adult children when we pass on.

There is no longer a market for our timeshares and no sales office anymore. People off the street are able to rent our units at a rate that is cheaper than our maintenance fees, thanks to Wyndham taking over 10% of our units, renting out units at discount rate, yet we aren’t allowed to market and promote our own private rental to the public.

I could go on, but much of this will have already been mentioned to you by many others.

Thank you for taking time to read and I hope there is a way for us to improve our ownership/sales at Carriage Hills Resort.

#77 Julianne M

Hi Irene,

My husband and I purchased 10,500 Shell Vacation Club points in 2005, as a result of many false and misleading statements. We were led to believe that owning these points would lead to a less expensive way of vacationing and money well spent on a good financial investment.

However, in time it became clear that we could often book a vacation for the same properties through the internet for less money than we were paying in maintenance fees, let alone our initial investment of over $30,000. We have tried to make the best of our purchase over the years by exchanging our points or using them at Shell or Shell affiliated properties.

None of our children are interested in owning something that costs more than they could vacation booking online. My husband and I are 66 and 67 years old. We know the time will come when we can no longer afford these fees. 

If what was told to us during the sale presentation was true, we would have no problem selling a “great investment.”  How sad that there seems to be no repercussion for those who mislead and the people who suffer are the ones who believed them.

My husband and I would strongly advocate for the Wyndham executives to take action to rectify the lack of an exit strategy both for the loyal owners and for the reputation of the vacation club/timeshare division of the company. 

#78 Anne D

We have owned at Carriage Ridge and Carriage Hills for 20 years. Although we still enjoy our time and don’t wish an exit, we can see that sometime in the near future we would. Our children are spread across Canada and have no interest in carrying on with our ownerships. It is not right or fair that those who no longer can afford or wish to own the timeshare cannot get out of their ownership.

It is also unfair that Wyndham is able to take our maintenance fees (which have been increasing too quickly) to make many improvements so that they benefit by renting out units. Why are they not selling the benefits of ownership by keeping a healthy and happy turnover of owners who want to be at CH and CR?

We are upset that there are renters when we were sold on the idea that CH and CR were places for owners. Also upset when we hear that other owners cannot get availability when there are listings on rental sites for the same time periods.

Why is there so much secrecy about owners’ lists? Why is there not honesty about plans for CH and CR? Why not make CH and CR great destinations and have happy owners? Why not tap into the pool of people living in the Greater Toronto Area for prospects for owners, once Wyndham cleans up their act and acts with honesty and integrity!!!?

Anne D

#79 Kathie R

We still occasionally use our timeshare but as we are now in our 70’s. It’s becoming a financial burden for us and one that our children cannot afford. We are ready to sell.

We had a horrible experience a couple of years ago after a presentation in Las Vegas about the “newest upgrades” and how to book your vacation etc. After sitting thru and saying “no” to the ever-increasing levels of tough closers, managers and all the strong-arm tactics, we finally got up and said we had had enough and were leaving. The woman who was our first level contact berated us for not knowing what we were doing and said – how dare we waste her valuable time! She continued to follow us out of the presentation room hurling insults at our back. It was unprofessional and frightening. We want out.

Ron and Katharyn R

#80 Lynda K

Dear Irene,

As an owner of a Red week two-bed unit at Carriage Hills since 2006, I would like to transfer my timeshare on. I am now a widow, retired on a limited pension, no children (my dear son passed away a few years ago) and my life has changed, evolved as life does.  I did enjoy my time but that cycle of life is over for me. I have been trying to pass on my unit for over a year now. It is a wonderful place and would be enjoyed by the next generation, but there is no easy venue to allow this. I am not a real estate person or a salesperson, but I would be willing to pay a price to give this to someone.

There is no doubt that a new individual would be more inclined to purchase a unit if they knew that there was a reasonable transfer process in place to expedite a sale/ transfer of their unit in the future when it no longer met their needs.

Nothing lasts forever as they say. 

Thank you, Lynda K

#81 Donna C

Hello Irene

I am writing to provide you with my experience and perspectives on fractional ownership at Carriage Hills. I’ve been a ‘weeks’ owner for over 20 years. I am dismayed and appalled at the current situation regarding the inability to exit from the ownership.

We purchased this timeshare in order to have the opportunity for affordable family vacations in places around the world, places that we could never afford to travel using hotel accommodations. That decision has turned into a nightmare, and we are filled with remorse at the prospect of forcing our children to assume the responsibility and escalating expenses.

The story about the ailing 80 year old owner – how she is being viciously and mercilessly harassed and hounded makes me sick to my stomach and fills me with terror and dread as this could easily become our fate, and the fate of hundreds of owners at Carriage Hills. Wyndham holds all the cards in this distressing situation, and their refusal to provide a ‘way out’ for owners is a blatant and egregious act of corporate greed and abuse of power.

It is a highly distressing situation and causes me many sleepless nights worrying about this ‘trap’ that we find ourselves in and that we are unable to escape. Your article will be immensely helpful in raising awareness of this serious issue which can lead to massive damage to the financial, emotional and physical well-being of countless families.

A key element is in regard to the high-pressure ‘sales pitch’ we were subjected to when we visited the Sales Office over 20 years ago. We were told that this timeshare was unique in that it was a real estate purchase, with a property deed that ‘could’ be passed down to others in our will, IF WE CHOSE TO. And we were told that, as a property asset, it could be sold in the future.

There was never any indication that this deeded real estate transaction could not be sold, or that our children would automatically inherit the liability for this so-called asset. Not only was this sales pitch unscrupulous, it was false advertising and completely fraudulent. It would be extremely enlightening if a former salesperson would agree to speak with you confidentially and anonymously to reveal the false messages that were communicated to buyers during these high-pressure sales pitches.

Donna C.

#82 Lisa and Wayne A

Thank you for taking the time to hear our concerns.

My husband and I are annual Red week owners for well over 20 years.

Failing health (now on CPP Disability) limits our ability to travel AND pay the huge maintenance fees.  These fees are almost triple what we started paying.

So many options that we were guaranteed when we purchased are closed. There is no buyback. There is no sales office. Wyndham rents the units cheaper than our fees.

We stayed at the resort two years ago – left early because the room was filthy, the furniture broken, TV signal issues and the pool was scummy. We called the front desk several times for help before we finally left after a couple of days. Owners are not supported – we simply are the bankroll for Wyndham to offer “our” rooms at discount prices.

When we tried calling to book our time (to rent it out privately) – it seems like the rules always change.  Sometimes we can split our 2 bedroom into separate units – or even separate 3 and 4 day stays. Other years when we call we are told different. The staff that handles these calls definitely does not have the best interest of the owners.   

We just want out.

Thank you

Lisa and W A

#83 Trish C

Good Morning Irene

Sadly, the timeshare model of ownership is no longer suitable for many, yet we are stuck paying increasing fees forever……and forever is a long time. 

We purchased our timeshare in 2011 for $300 from a widower. We bought because our home backed onto the property and we intended to use it as a gym/pool with the ability to trade it for vacations. Our maintenance fees in 2011 were $932 but have risen to $1350 in eight years, a whopping 45% increase! 

We have moved from the area and would like to exit the timeshare. The main reason is that we abhor the fact that we are suing owners for defaulted maintenance fees, especially the elderly. 

We do believe that the property has great worth, possibly as a condo development as it can easily be converted. We wonder if this isn’t the end game for Wyndham. A similar situation occurred just down the hill at Horseshoe Resort. Timeshares there were eventually taken over because of a maintenance fee squeeze and have now been converted to pricey condos. 

Again, thank you for taking an interest in many of our owners’ plight. Something that was sold as a dream vacation for many has turned into an ugly nightmare. 

Best regards,

Trish/Rob C

#84 Nicki C

Irene,

First and foremost I want to thank you for taking an interest in what has become a bitter legacy. When my husband and I purchased our red week every other year over 20 years ago we weren’t thinking about how we could get out of it! We had a young family and dreamed of fabulous vacations in beautiful two bedroom condos. I want to say that we have had fantastic vacations. I still remember our first exchange to Powhatan Plantation in Williamsburg that began our 20 plus year love of timeshare vacations.

While we have made poor decisions over the years, we truly don’t count this as one of them. We are still healthy enough to travel and take advantage of all the great resorts available to us. What does concern us, as we age, is we don’t want the decision we made all those years ago to affect our children. That is why we believe it’s important to have an exit strategy. While it is not something we are looking for immediately, we support those desperate to find a way out.

Thank you again, 

Nicki and Bernie C 

#85 Elizabeth B

Hi Irene,

I live in Leaside, Toronto Canada. This started for me just a few months ago. My dad ‘gifted’ me a timeshare about seven years ago [on the agreement $1 for natural love and affection]. We signed a three-page deed, no other agreement details.

When I asked my dad what happens when I want to get rid of it, he said simply, “Sell it.” Unbeknownst to my husband and me, the $10K value on the agreement was not an assessed value, but what my father purchased it for. And we were unaware that he had tried to sell it but could not find ‘any takers’ his words [for even $1]. And we were unaware that maintenance fees had skyrocketed [from a historical 3% annual increase to 10% that year and are now at a 7% annual average].

He explained that he was 80 years old and had lost much of his retirement investments in 2007 explaining that my husband and I were in a much better position to deal with this. He could not deal with the stress of collections. Our relationship has been very negatively impacted by this – as I try and understand his desperate need.

When I simply wanted to give the timeshare away I learned that you can’t even pay someone to take them and that as it’s deeded it follows your estate. When you die it would go to your kids. You can never exit.

I called Wyndham and escalated my call to Ovations Supervisor Erica. She advised that their Ovation program could not be offered to Carriage Hills owners. She advised of an Exit company [so many are crooked] that is approved by them named Fidelity. I had already tried them and was told by Fidelity’s Jacob Jones that he doesn’t remember ever selling Carriage Hills, as it’s old and no one wants it.

He suggested I list on eBay with a $400 gift card [Sell my Timeshare Now wanted USD$4500 to list, so I just paid someone CAD$1000 in Staynor ON and have since found out through our Facebook page I’ve basically been scammed]. SO, Erica recommended I gift it to family. REALLY? Like what happened to me? More like a Ponzi scheme. Gift it to someone who trusts you?

I have listed my timeshare on Kijiji and will pay someone $2200 PLUS pay the $1500 legal transfer fees. No serious interest. Every once in a while a new owner pops up on our Facebook page. The seller uses a Carriage Hills approved lawyer and I’m uncertain that they are able to adequately represent both buyer and seller, particularly to highlight Carriage Hills has $11MM in uncollected maintenance fees and, nor we believe, an adequate reserve fund. 

Hundreds of Carriage Hills properties are listed for the most part $1 [over 319 on sellmytimesharenow.com and about same on Secondary Ownership, the one I listed with – who took $1000 up front]. There are certainly many who suggest misleading sales practice, told they could give the deed back at any time, which is not true. Sell it yourself [no market] or it goes with your estate.

More background…..Wyndham Vacations purchased Shell Vacations Club [and Carriage Hills] in 2012, located in Barrie, Horseshoe Valley, and 172 Units. 51 weeks, 8772 intervals [~9200 owners].

2016 Wyndham ‘took’ ownership of 772 units in arrears [8.8%]

2017 Wyndham had ownership of 831 units [9.5%] + 109 units, although owners have been told there is no way out. It appears Wyndham is backdooring some. I’ve been told you hire a lawyer, they don’t want the noise. So some suffer, some win.

2018 Accountant Reviewed financials should be out shortly with another update.

Even after Wyndham has ‘taken’ about 10% of intervals there are currently another 10% in arrears [maintenance fee’s not paid]. And it’s increasing at a rate of 30% YoY. And $11MM [yes million] dollars has been accrued in unpaid debt. Although the accounting records show that ~3.5MM is recoverable, that doesn’t make any sense, as a 3rd party collection agency, who is paid 25 cents for every dollar collected, is expected to recover ~$600K in 2019

There are no future financial projections. A budget is shared, but the actuals are not on the owners’ webpage. The Carriage Hills Board is not transparent. And the Board President, in an email to me, stated that the number of votes to support an exit would not be possible, as only about 10-15% of owners show up to the annual meeting, a bizarre statement…with telephone, email, etc., why would we believe, if the model is collapsing, that getting 66% of owners to support a sale would not be achievable?

My husband’s golf course [York Down’s] recently sold. The owners had to vote. They made $125K per person. My parents RV fractional ownership sold 20 years ago and owners made $15K per person. On the webpage, someone posted an MCAP assessment for part of Carriage Ridge for $30MM [possibly $90MM?].

Some have questioned the integrity of the Board Chair. For example, $2MM was spent on Wyndham standard door locks. It is unknown if there was a request for proposals. Wyndham earns $1MM a year to maintain the property [they are not the majority owner, yet it appears by defacto they are the preferred firm]. Wyndham can advertise their units for fees that are lower than the maintenance fees while owners are not allowed to do the same. In essence, this de-values the ownership because it’s cheaper to grab a unit from Expedia.

Maintenance fees are currently $1350 up from $1006 in 2013, 5 years prior. People on fixed incomes have no way to walk away without collections and legal action.

As you are aware, condominium boards carry a very strong fiduciary mandate to represent their owners’ best interests, and that means all the owners. And there is a question if Carriage Hills Board is acting on behalf of Wyndham, who own 10%, or the majority of owners [I understand the board president was given his timeshare by Wyndham + points].

Board minutes show people asking for an exit strategy years ago. Only recently a team was ‘allowed’ by the board to take a member survey and have adding a sales office discussed.

A board member recently reported in minutes, stating ‘Wyndham marketed but no one is biting to buy in Canada.’ If there was a sales opportunity Wyndham would be on it…it’s the bad debt being high, Ontario taxes are not favourable or the products integrity.

If the Board stated and believes the above, then how does a sales office help? Why is the inevitable collapse of this model [look at the mounting arrears] not being initiated with a sale?

Also over the last several years, owners have asked to get a quote on the property. The Board refused. Owners have asked to allow for a phone line so owners can call into the Barrie Board meetings. This was refused.

Owners have asked for a mailing list or any mailing to communicate with owners to advise that there is no exit and vote on options [change term or sell Carriage Hills]. This was refused. Sixty-six per cent of owners must agree to change the deeded agreement from lifetime to 5 or 10 year durations, for example, or to sell the property. Still, the Board has not acted.

Before I close there are some other disturbing things. The owners are at odds with those who don’t pay. The elderly on fixed incomes are unable to escape the fees. They go in arrears. And Carriage Hills Board decided to hire a collection agency and lawyer. So, although we mostly agree there needs to be an exit strategy, the owners are going after those that are not able to pay.

There are stories here as well. Sad stories you will see. What these owners don’t understand is that they are paying for nothing. There is no future annuity stream in this model. No new blood -just the slow stop payment of those left to pay. And they don’t even know how to manage collections or understand that after three years of not paying in BC, you can’t continue to go after the person, or that two years in Ontario after the last payment, if legal action wasn’t already taken, there is no future legal recourse [hence the need for a 5 year financial outlook].

Wyndham has lost class action suits in the US but nothing in Canada has started. The scam Exit Strategies [desperate people are paying 1000’s – you can google a Hamilton Spectator Joe and Rita F].

Let me know how I or my Carriage Hills contacts can assist.

Liz

#86 Dee C

Good morning…

I have been a timeshare owner at Carriage Hills since 1997 in good standing. I have enjoyed it, but now circumstances have changed. We are in our 70’s and need an exit.

When Wyndham took over we saw Ovations. We called immediately. We were told Carriage Hills was not in and we were told only a select few places are in it…not all Wyndham!

We contacted our government consumer protection with another owner and were told that they are not going to amend timeshares at this time. Selling on our own is next to impossible. Hopefully, with this exposure an exit will be forthcoming.

Thank you for your time.

#87 Barbara H

Dear Irene,

If a timeshare salesperson’s lips are moving, they’re lying. I think we were all told so many lies it makes you wonder how these people sleep at night. My husband and I purchased many years ago and have enjoyed some great vacations.

At the time of purchase, we were told that selling would be no problem, the investment would hold its value and many other falsehoods. 

Everyone needs to be able to see an end to this.  Wyndham should at least take back these units so people have a way out and not sue them into bankruptcy.

I was at Carriage Hills two weeks ago. The place was full and everyone loved it. There is a market for these resorts.

Thank you, Irene.

B. H.

#88 Binh C

Dear Irene,

In 1999, when I was just one year out of university, 24 years old, my boyfriend and I were given the hard sales pitch. We purchased a week. As young people just starting out in life, we feel like we were taken advantage of. At the time, we barely had jobs! This seemed to NOT be a concern for the sales staff (we remember her name was Tracy). She was on a mission to make sales. For 20 years we paid our fees which have DOUBLED – despite the promise of staying stable and not growing with inflation.

The other notable problem with our ownership is that it has lost its trade value with RCI. The first 10 years we were able to exchange week to week – direct value. Now, the points that we receive for our Carriage Hills deposit gets us NOWHERE. We are unable to use RCI. We have had to use our home resort.

We have done our best to pay for our mistake and use the resort, but we are very concerned that the cost of maintenance is going up and there is no market to resell. Moreover, we own the deed in perpetuity (unlike many timeshares that expire in 99 years). Passing this problem onto my children is not ideal and certainly NOT what my 24-year-old self had thought of when I was scammed into purchasing. With no new owners and the burden of maintenance fees on the shoulders of paying owners, I just don’t think the current model is sustainable.

There needs to be an exit developed for owners wishing to leave. We would like to sell/exit from Carriage Hills.

Sincerely,

Binh C & Ramon C

#89 Michele H

Hello Irene

We have been owners at Carriage Hills since 1996. We love it and have our family reunion there each year. We have travelled well by RCI trading. We have wonderful memories and appreciate having had the opportunity to travel around the world at amazing RCI resorts.

But, as we are entering our senior years, going to a very minimal income, having more medical issues starting to arise, we are very concerned at the amount the maintenance fees are and increasing. We are still happy with our timeshare as we can still use it, but it is scary to think what will happen in the future if we cannot pay maintenance fees or sell. We have worked hard to have great credit, but not being able to pay maintenance fees can ruin a person and their credit.

Something needs to be done to give people an exit when they need it. Thank you for doing what you can to bring this to full attention.

Sincerely 

#90 Dan and Ellen M

Good. Morning Irene,

We are another retired couple who were duped into purchasing a two bedroom timeshare for one week at CH in 2001. We used our timeshare for a number of years, but then when our grandkids got older we no longer wanted the timeshare. We learned the hard way that there is no exit strategy other than finding your own buyer and going through all of the legal ramifications.

For the last five years or so we have taken a fairly big hit with maintenance fees, now around $1350. We advertised on Kijiji with limited results to the point where we gave one week away for $300 as no other takers. We could go on and on with our story, but the reality is, we want out.

Sincerely,

Dan & Ellen M

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

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 you, Irene, for your hard work in compiling these complaints for publication, all we can do is hope that Wyndham takes notice and resolves the serious issues which these elderly owners are having to deal with. Inside Timeshare will continue to be their voice.

That is all for this week, join us again next week for more on the murky world of Timeshare. Have a great weekend I certainly will!.

The Tuesday Slot

Welcome to another edition of The Tuesday Slot, following on from last Friday’s Letter from America on Wyndham’s Canadian Resorts Carriage Hills and Carriage Ridge, Irene Parker highlights the first 30 complaints received by Inside Timeshare. So far we have received 110 which we expect to rise as more and more owners find these articles, one thing is certain they are all telling a very familiar story, deceptive practices by the sales agents.

Wyndham’s Canadian Carriage Hills and Carriage Ridge Unfair and Deceptive Business Practices

An Open Letter to:

Jason Gamel, Wyndham Sr. VP, Legal, and ARDA President  

By Irene Parker and 30 of 110 + Carriage Resorts Victims of Unfair Practices

August 20, 2019

After publishing our August 8 article challenging ARDA’s Coalition for Responsible Exit program, I reached out to a Canadian friend asking about Canadian Legacy owner Simon D’s Carriage Resort complaint. The article described six out of eight fully paid Legacy owners not allowed out of their contracts. A seventh, homebound, contacted us, so seven resorts out of nine single-site resorts in the U.S. are not being allowed voluntary surrenders. Lawmakers are not hearing the whole story. Shockingly, in the case of Wyndham’s Carriage Resorts, owners are required to pay maintenance fees or be sued.  

While the Canadian Consumer Product Safety Act may seem more geared towards manufacturing, those who take the time to read 110 reports of those held hostage in a timeshare trap, will understand Wyndham and Carriage’s draconian and predatory policies can cause adverse health effects too. Seniors in their 70s and 80s, and even their heirs if deceased are being sued for maintenance fees. These fully-paid owners have watched their maintenance fees double over the years, while their income in retirement decreased.  

Carriage Resorts may be domiciled in Canada, but U.S. based Wyndham acquired Carriage Resorts from Shell Vacation Club several years ago. Despite Wyndham promoting their Ovations voluntary surrender program, Carriage owners are held in a predatory grip even when they can no longer travel. 

Please take the time to read through over 110 complaints submitted by Carriage Resorts owners, beginning with complaints 1 through 30. Reports 31 thru 60 we will publish Friday. Timeshare buyers were routinely told their timeshare would be easy to sell because the timeshare is real estate.

August 8 article:  

ARDA”s Coalition for Responsible Exit Fails Legacy Owners

https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-62/

August 16 article:

Simon’s complaint prompts “Two Carriage Resort Owners Describe Unfair Practices” https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-63/

Mr. Kenneth McKelvey, founder of Defender Resorts and Chairman of the timeshare PAC ARDA ROC, testified at a legislative workshop held in Tallahassee Florida March 12, 2019, that attorneys and timeshare exit providers are not needed.

“Most of the developers I know, and certainly most of the timeshare managers I know, and I managed timeshare properties for thirty years… every single resort had a dissolution policy, every single one! There was a way to get out. You had to come to your management company, and based on what the board of directors instructed us to do in the terms if they had to pay a fee or if they had to be current, whatever those situations were, we did not have one that did not have a dissolution policy and a hardship policy …”

ARDA’s position is that the problem of the lack of a secondary market has been solved. A quote from an ARDA lobbyist:

“Their value comes from using it,” the timeshare industry’s top lobbyist told ConsumerAffairs in January, admitting that points have no resale value while claiming that consumers don’t mind this because the value comes from the experience.

The first 30 of 80 complaints:

Any delinquent owners are being sued for unpaid maintenance fees. Many of the aged owners are finding themselves in a real bind with health problems and limited from travelling anymore. The last thing they need is to be sued. Don and JoAnne  

Over the last 10 years, we have approached and been approached by several companies offering to transfer our units. We have probably lost about $30,000 trying to exit. Colin and Mimi

While Wyndham’s CEO Michael Brown is bragging about putting $1 Billion into expanding their timeshare business. If that is not the epitome of corporate greed, I don’t know what is! Cheryl

I wrote and told them they were heartless.  I have to take my blood pressure daily and my Family Physician asked why it fluctuates so much, as high as 160/80 recently, I told him the financial burden this timeshare is and the nightmare it 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.  Jeanne

#1 Doug M

Twenty plus years ago we bought into what seemed to be an exciting package of vacation opportunities. Through the years, our maintenance fees kept climbing and climbing. Now our fees have climbed so high it’s no longer a viable option as they (Shell and Wyndham) have adjusted and changed the rules giving us less and less time with our timeshare. 

I am now retired with failing health. I just had open heart surgery and my kidneys have stopped working. I’m on home dialysis.  With this, my wife and I have lost the desire to travel. I can no longer swim or use many of the facilities. It is almost impossible to sell.  It seems I have to pay someone to take it. Thank you for representing our views.

#2 Greg and Christiana

Hi Irene,

My wife and I have been owners at Carriage Hills Owner since 1999 and have enjoyed many vacations that we shared with friends and family. A few years ago we moved to British Columbia. We can no longer use the resort with any frequency so looked into selling. Much to my surprise, I came to the realization that there are zero markets for these timeshares. There are 100s listed for sale! Some are even willing to pay a lawyer’s fees for the transfer and others offer a year or more paid maintenance fees. People are willing to walk away from their investment, in my case, around $17,000. We are willing to pay lawyer’s fees and also pay a few thousand in maintenance fees just to walk away. Very few owners have been able to get out of this. I have spoken to the Board of Directors, people at Shell Resorts and Wyndham without any solution.

This desperation has fueled scam agencies that are willing to take our money with false promises that they can get rid of it. People are getting scammed out of $1,000s of dollars.

It seems that no one is willing or able to help owners. Couple this with the rising maintenance fees and, to my horror, the knowledge that our Board, overseen by Wyndham, is actively suing elderly owners in arrears on fees who cannot use the resort due to health or sell due to no market. They can’t give it back to Wyndham because they don’t want it.

Please, we need help. This is a major crisis just waiting to explode.

Sincerely,

Greg and Christina

#3 Stefan J

I have been a Carriage Resorts owner for 20+ years. We converted our weeks to points a few years ago. At first, the annual fees were quite reasonable. We used the weeks yearly as our boys grew up. I have divorced and can’t use the points anymore. I am 68 years old and about to retire. The maintenance fees are $1,500 a year. It seems impossible to exit. I don’t want my boys (who did not even sign the contract!) to worry about this liability. I don’t mind spending some $$ to get out but I have heard all exit companies are scams.

#4 Lori and Roy

My husband and I bought our timeshare at the beginning of our relationship seeing it as a great investment. Our situations changed when I went back to school and became a teacher.  I now do not travel very much as I don’t enjoy travelling on the March or Christmas break. I need that downtime for sanity. We were also given my uncle’s timeshare so we now own two.

Last year we were in arrears.  I called the resort to ask about selling. In the past, at Carriage timeshare presentations, we were offered timeshares that were ‘returned’ so I assumed they would help me get rid of the timeshare.

I do not have the money to travel or pay my dues. Wyndham and Carriage have made it impossible. That just seems crazy.  “We have a great option for you, but you cannot know what it is or how much it costs unless you spend some money to come and hear us tell you about it.” I am not spending more money. That is insane.

I followed all of the information on their site about resale but did not find any help. Lots of organizations offered to help if I gave them a couple of thousand dollars upfront – really?! I have listed everywhere and tried to give it away and I still can’t get rid of it. I have no idea what to do.  I borrowed the money to pay off the dues for this year, but still have not paid that loan back. By the time I do, the next dues will be due!

#5 Mel and Anth

Good afternoon Irene!

My husband and I own at Carriage Hills. We bought an every other week (red) November 2000. While we did have some really nice vacations we haven’t been happy with our exchanges in close to a decade. We’ve listed it with timeshare exit sales companies and lost money. We’ve purchased another timeshare with the promise (in writing) that they would take Carriage Hills off our hands. Later we found out that Carriage Hills could not be sold to a Corporation and we were still on the hook and now we have another timeshare to boot!

We’re frustrated and at a loss. We thought about walking away but learned that it affects the rest of the owners and our credit, so we know that’s not an option. We reluctantly pay our dues and exchange for a place that is worth far less.

We dread the idea of passing this burden onto anyone else. If it wasn’t a lifetime (and beyond) deed, it may be worth owning, but as a lifetime deed, it’s a curse.

Thank you for listening. I pray that you’re able to help us all find a way out.

Melissa

#6 Don BG

We bought a timeshare from Carriage Hills. We have a liability, not an assist.  We can’t give the timeshare away or sell it because Wyndham will not approve any transfers.  It is taking up to six months to make a decision. No other business in the world is this slow.  As we age we would like to get rid of this liability we paid big bucks for. Wyndham could resell but instead insists on sending collection agencies to older people who no longer use the resort or can afford it, yet they rent it out to non-owners telling us that it is all sold out. 

In the US some resorts take back timeshares or resell. We just get grief.  I buy a car and yes I take a loss when I resell it but I can still resell. A timeshare is worth nothing the moment you buy it because no one wants to deal with these crooks.  How this is allowed to happen in Canada is beyond me. Where are the people who will stop this evil? 

Any help you can give is greatly appreciated. 

#7 Lillian

Hello Irene – my husband and I own at Carriage Hills and at Carriage Ridge.  We had the opportunity to use the facilities from time to time but that has changed since we now live in Prince Edward Island, a 19-hour drive.

What I am learning is frightening.

When we bought in 2001 we were assured that when we no longer were able to use our timeshare, there would be no problem – the company would purchase the unit back from us at fair market price – which was predicted to skyrocket – and we would have had all the travels we wanted in the interim.

Exchanging is getting more difficult.

The maintenance fees have skyrocketed to the point where it is cheaper to stay in a hotel or Airbnb. Communication from the resort has been spotty at best and basically non -existent from Wyndham.  

We would feel much more comfortable not to have to worry about our children, upon our death, being responsible for our purchase made so many years ago, sold to us as being a wise, wonderful investment.  

It does not feel like an investment with the maintenance fees that are now well over $1,000 per year plus additional SVC/RCI required membership.  We set aside money every month so we aren’t hit with the huge maintenance payments due in November – just short of Christmas.  

I believe the timeshare owners are entitled to an exit strategy as a first step in making the situation not so worrisome for owners who want to move on or whose travelling days are over.

Thank you.

Lillian L

#8 Leslie W

Good Day Irene

We purchased our unit back in 2000 and have had some nice vacations.

We were advised by the salesperson that this was just like investing in real estate. We could sell our unit at any time (and the implication was that it would be at a profit).

With escalating Maintenance Fees and changes in life conditions, we no longer wish to own this. None of our children would be interested in it, nor could they afford it.

I have had many sleepless nights trying to figure out how we can get out of this. I and many others are willing to WALK AWAY. We certainly DO NOT want to burden our heirs with this ridiculous responsibility. I only hope we can find a resolution.

Best Regards,

Leslie W

#9 June R

Hello Irene. I want to support your advocating for a timeshare exit plan.  I have been a deeded owner since 2002. I enjoyed my experiences but I am significantly older and my circumstances won’t enable me to continue paying maintenance fees into infinity. I have paid my fees every year without fail.

Thank you.

#10 Bill S 

I have two deeds. I would like to get rid of one of my years.

#11Natasha C

My husband (at the time) and I purchased our first deed at Carriage Hills back in the late 90’s. We were told it was an investment that could be willed, resold or deeded back if we no longer wanted or needed it. 

After a couple of years, we received a call to come to the resort for a sales presentation of the points program.  We attended with the idea of selling it back because we were under the impression we could. Our maintenance fees increased yearly. 

In 2011 we had our first child. Our priorities changed. I started to feel that we should consider deeding it back. We divorced in 2019. I am now desperately trying to get out of my deed.

I called Wyndham when I learned of the Ovation Program. I was informed by the Representative that Wyndham was not taking back Carriage Hill deeds but I could look at posting the deed for sale as a listing on Kijiji or our Carriage Hills Home Owners Association Website. The majority of the postings were for $1. I was gobsmacked with the sudden reality of my situation.

I believe that Wyndham must be renting Carriage Hills units out on various external travel websites and at a fraction of the cost, it would be for me to list to rent or sell my unit.  I also now start to question that if my timeshare is not-for-profit but owned and managed by Wyndham, is that not a conflict of interest? 

I’ve tried reading and understanding the Time Share Agreement and other contracts that hold me bound in perpetuity to this fractional ownership but that honestly make my eyes crossed.  Delinquent accounts are taken to court and then not only have to pay the fee but also the costs to have the litigation due to delinquency. I’m considering bankruptcy but being self- supported and with an 8-year-old daughter, I simply do not want to go that route. Some members have written local MPs but it seems to go nowhere.

I’m thankful that I’ve found an ear to listen to my situation.  This timeshare is literally the first thing on my mind when I wake and the last thing on my mind before I go to sleep.  I feel ill that I’ll need to go another $1300 in debt just before Christmas so I don’t get myself in “trouble” with Wyndham. The hardest part is that I know they are a huge entity and could take my deed back and benefit from it more than the trouble it causes me.

Thank you for your time,

#12 Natalyn

What do we need to do?

#13 Irene B

Hello Irene, My Carriage Hills Deed I purchased in May 2002.  I was so very proud of this purchase, but now very upset, sad and anxious. I don’t know what I own, except a piece of junk no one wants. I wanted to sell as my life has changed as is the case with many. In the past year, I have seen people giving them away or paying to give them away. Our maintenance fees have increased from $568 to $1368.  

I’m worried for my daughter who has to take on this burden. I feel I was very misled by the sales team back in 2002. So much has changed and not for the better. I just want help to exit my timeshare.  This is creating lots of anxiety for me.  

Irene B

#14 Anne C

Dear Irene

The Carriage Hills/Ridge exit situation for our family is terrible. My husband suddenly became extremely ill in 2005 and has been living in a nursing home ever since.

The purpose of purchasing the 3 timeshares was mainly for vacations in retirement. Now that we are senior citizens, we are unable to fulfil this dream because he is unable to travel. He was unable to work from the time he was age 60. We could not save money for retirement. Once he got sick we had to pay the nursing home fees in addition to my living expenses. Therefore we cannot afford the maintenance fees which have increased drastically. We need to exit from the timeshares immediately to avoid having to pay maintenance fees.

Is there a way to give away the timeshares and not have to pay any more fees?

Sincerely,

Anne C

#15 Sharon H

Hi Irene,

I read your article on the non-existent exit strategies at our resort. We bought into Carriage Hills over 20 years ago. We were told that as deeded owners, the property would increase in value as we would OWN the property. We paid our maintenance fees but rarely used it.

My husband has been diagnosed with cancer and we are just realizing there is no way to get out of this mess. Our children don’t want anything to do with it but they will be saddled with the payments. How can this be? I thought that when we died, that would be the end of it. I am worried about the future and how I will manage the maintenance fees, especially for something we don’t use. I have tried to rent it out at prime time but was unable to do so.

Thank you so much for raising this issue. There has to be a solution out there. How can the law allow you to own something in perpetuity (with no secondary market)??

Sharon H

#16 Liz A

I bought at SVC Carriage Ridge in 2003 when I was close to retirement & able to travel. Now I am 77 years old, single, disabled – cane, walker, wheelchair in airports, on pension.  I know that EXIT is a must in the next 5 years. 

Systematically, unit value has been eroded.  Terms have been changed without consultation or notification. Access to available exchanges has been poorly served by SVC web & RCI & II.  Calling to book always involved up-selling. Stays at resorts often involved “updates” & the agents clearly are trained to focus on SALES & Up-Selling. My experience at Wyndham Panama City reached a new LOW – check-in delayed & parking tag withheld until we agreed to attend when we clearly stated that we would NOT buy anything new.

In addition, Wyndham competes with Owners underselling rental opportunities on the open market because they have marketing access; pockets revenues and bypasses accounting for local revenues & is not held accountable by our Boards.  They avoided “late payment” fees when maintenance fees on the units they hold missed the payment deadline – paid a single $100 late fee when they should have paid $100/unit. The By-law has been changed to % late fee which harms all the other owners.  Their reps at AGM glibly stated that “if there was money to be made they would have maintained the Sales Office.”  

The Ovation (exit) available to other owner groups has been withheld to CR & CH Owners.  They bought back defaulted deeds at the time of the purchase of SVC to increase their holdings from 4% to 10% & assure “control” AND they (in theory) claim “developer” 4x voting power although they claim they do not exercise that option.  How can a secondary owner claim developer: status when all developer units had been sold? It seems they may have been selling points & other locations memberships from our sales centre and closed quickly – No notice to local members. 

* SVC (Shell) abandoned owners at CR & CH to Wyndham’s cavalier attitude & exploitation of OUR resorts.  Yes, they bring management expertise, but they have used their access to line their own pockets; they do not serve local Owner Member interests. 

Our local Boards have taken the position that they only “manage” the resorts on behalf of Member-Owners.  They have done very little to defend Owner interests in relation to the parent companies – SVC & now Wyndham.  Customer/Owner Services is a farce; all the reps are Wyndham employees defending Wyndham interests.

#17 Julie S

Owner, Purchased: July 2004, Mortgage:  $14,931.00 at 13.65% interest is paid in full 

My complaints are numerous.  The inept team at Carriage Hills couldn’t coordinate anything with Shell Vacations Club for years. The last time we used ours was 2010 because it was no longer worth it. We started to sell it back but got vague messages about lawyers’ fees etc., and more invitations to come to sales presentations.  We were warned by others it was another sales pitch.  

We’ve been “upgraded” to Interval but could never book anything. The cost to work through RCI was more than $200 Canadian, making it more costly.  My husband called the office and spoke to someone about the Ovation program – Carriage Hills was not invited to participate.)

The original Purchase was to include a yearly fee of $619 for Annual Basic charge due to the association.  Yearly fees are up close to $2000 with both “membership” and “maintenance”.  

I looked on websites to book our White Week:

Expedia: Dec 7 – Dec 14, 2019 

Studio / no kitchen:  $105 per night / $735 week (1250 points)

One Bedroom w kitchen:  $153 / $1073 (2300 points)

Two-Bedroom w kitchen: $206 / $1443 (3550 points)

If I didn’t have a $15K investment in Carriage Ridge, I could spend only $1443 Canadian for a 2 bedroom instead of just shy of $2000 each year. There are many parts to why this doesn’t work but it boils down to an “investment” that costs us more per year than someone who didn’t invest.  

This was bought with the idea that it could be traded for a vacation anywhere at a great price.  The $619 per year “Membership Fee” was going to allow a trade to the equivalent of a two-bedroom in Hawaii.

We haven’t pursued selling after learning how many want to sell. 

Thanks for listening.

#18 Don A

Hi Irene,

My wife and I own at the Carriage Hills and Carriage Ridge Resorts near Barrie, Ontario for about 20 years. We have enjoyed our ownership and travelled to many destinations but we are now both seniors. I am 74 and my wife is 67.  

When we purchased we were told that these resorts were special in that we would have titled deeds and as such, they could be passed on to our children or could be sold for a profit since they would surely appreciate in value.

Our children have no interest in them.  There was a sales office on-site up until about 3 years ago. Apparently, these units have no value to Wyndham so we are stuck. Most units are being sold for as little as $1.00. Our maintenance fees have increased by about $1,000. Delinquent owners are being sued for unpaid maintenance fees. Many of the aged owners are finding themselves in a real bind with health problems. The last thing they need is to be sued. 

Wyndham had an Ovation program available to owners of the US timeshare properties, but we seem to not be eligible. We are hopeful that you can bring attention to this dilemma, and that a resolution can be found. Thank you so much for taking up the cause to right this wrong. 

Respectfully yours,

Don and Jo-Anne A

#19 Colin and Mimi S

Hello Irene,

My wife Mimi and I have been owners at Carriage Hills for about 15 to 20 years. We have never been satisfied with it because we were given incorrect information when we joined and despite many efforts have never been able to exit.

Over the last 10 years, we have approached and been approached by several companies offering to transfer our units. We have probably lost about $30,000 trying to exit.  Carriage Hills management has been unhelpful, even when we showed letters about the miss-information we were given when we first signed up.

We are retiring next year and the exorbitant maintenance fees are just too much.

Hopefully, this can be of help to you and to us.

Thank you so much,

Colin and Mimi

#20 Cheryl C

Good afternoon,

Thank you for hearing our voices! I am a 20+ year owner. We enjoy, use and can afford our timeshare. Over the years the fees rose way more than we wanted and exchanging got harder.

For the first time ever, I attended an AGM in 2017. WOW! What an eye-opener! I had no idea that Wyndham had so much power and we had so little.  Wyndham closing the sales office rang some alarm bells as well as owners selling (giving) away for free.

As we became more informed about our situation, I became desperate to find a way out for myself, but especially the elderly owners, those who’ve become sick and those who’ve had financial hardships. It was apparent that not only was it near impossible to give these away but that many owners were falling prey to exit teams who essentially stole their money.

Our Board of Directors has very little power as the cards are stacked in Wyndham’s favour. That situation only seems to get worse every AM as they put their 10% concentrated vote on the candidate of their choice while we scatter our votes among candidates.

Last AGM we were proudly told that we regained our Gold Crown Status with RCI and the next representative from SVC said there is “no market for CH/CR and if there was they’d be selling!”

The attached article is about an 80-year-old couple from Wainfleet, ON. It is almost unbelievable, but this is one of many, many sad stories. We are all in a scheme that means if one owner doesn’t pay, we all foot their bill so we have no option but to send owners to collections for something they cannot use or sell while Wyndham’s CEO Michael Brown brags about putting $1 Billion into expansion. If that is not the epitome of corporate greed, I don’t know what is!

We have pleaded for Ovation but are told it is not available. They referred us to Fidelity (which does not take an upfront fee), but they haven’t sold one of our units in years. 

We are desperate and angry and need a solution. 

#21 Laura F

Hi Irene,

There needs to be an exit available as circumstances change. There should be some method to sell or turn back the property. We were not advised of this.

How I can support efforts to address this issue?

Regards

#22 Jeanne B

My husband and I bought October 2003 for just over $13,000 at Carriage Ridge. At a meeting, the sales team was excited to tell us that if we bought an opposite year for another $13,000+ we could automatically become Shell Vacation Owners and could change from weeks to points. For ten years it was great even though maintenance fees increased as well as Shell membership yearly fees and exchange fees. We all get older and there comes a time to retire and live on pensions. In the last 15 years, Maintenance Fees have doubled to about $1,200 a year. 

I suffered a Thalamic Stroke over two years ago. 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. The only income I have is CPP Disability and my husband is on CPP and OAS.

I contacted Wyndham about Ovation. I was passed from one person to the next. Finally, I was told that our Board of Directors does not allow us to use this program. Our Board of Directors denied it and said that it was Wyndham’s decision. I don’t know who to believe. This year someone was interested in buying my timeshare. The buyer wanted to join Shell Vacation and have points instead of weeks but that is no longer an option.   

I have been communicating for 8 months now with Wyndham Staff at Carriage Ridge as well as our Board of Directors. I told them I really can’t afford to pay the maintenance fee. I was told I would be sued. The fees were $1,325.11 and it was not in my budget. I wasn’t able to pay. I received a letter from Derek Beaudoin, Canadian ICR Ltd, a collection agency. Finally, I saved up enough money to pay it and was hit with an additional fee. I asked if this could be waived this was the reply I received from Derek.

Mrs. Boisvenue,

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 and this is the email I received from Nanci Shepard, Chairman of our Board of Directors on February 22, 2019,

Hi Jeannie,

After 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 and my Family Physician asked why it fluctuates so much, as high as 160/80 recently, I told him the financial burden this timeshare is and the nightmare it 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.

To sum this up, there is no longer a sales office, our maintenance fees more than double in 15 years, late fees 30% in my case, suing delinquent owners, there is no Ovation program, non-owners pay less, 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, ownership/leadership changed, NOOSE AROUND MY NECK.

#23 Trish M

Good evening

I like many others have been an owner at both Carriage Hills and Ridge for 20 plus years. 

The stories we started to hear about people desperate to get out of their timeshare were heartbreaking – the elderly, the sick, the unemployed. And we as owners were suing them for their maintenance fees through the office.

The rates have soared, we paid a huge investment in the beginning and continue to pay maintenance fees – there just isn’t any value in it anymore. Anyone can book off the street while we pay for the upkeep!!  Those who cannot afford the fees are being sued!! It is atrocious in my opinion. Our children do not want it left to them. What young person could afford it?

Many thanks!

#24 Jeff M

Hi Irene 

My wife and I purchased our timeshare in 2008 at 24 and 23 years old. We were basically sold on the premise that we could “get out of it” at any moment. We are stuck paying over 1000 $ annually for something that has no value. This has been the worst financial decision we have made in our lives.

Thank you,

Jeff M

#25 Wenda M

My husband and I purchased at Carriage Hills Resort in January 2000. We were told that we could sell the units when it became the time that we could no longer utilize it. Now as we age and have developed health issues our travel time has been curtailed. We need a viable exit plan. Our costs of annual maintenance fees and membership fee in 2018-19 amounts to almost $5600. This is not sustainable. No way is our son interested in inheriting our mistake. Our debit is ours not his and he is not on the deed.  

We need an EXIT – not just words but an actual plan. 

Wenda M

#26 Sue R

Hello

We own 6 deeds at Carriage Ridge and Carriage Hills Resorts. We purchased our units so that we could travel when retired. We use our points well, able to vacation about 10 weeks a year!  Our maintenance fees for both the Ridge and Hills are approximately 8,000.00 yearly, plus our SVC club fees at approximately 800.00. Now, knowing we may never be able to “get out” makes our stomachs turn! Never, ever, did we think our children could end up carrying our burden! We are not ready to sell but want to know how we can eventually get out of our commitments without having to go bankrupt. 

We would appreciate an acknowledgement that you received our email. Thank you.

Sincerely

Sue R

#27 Tom K

To be provided

#28 Ana N

Good Evening, 

I, too, am a long-time owner (15+ yrs) who was swindled into this so-called investment. We were sold this timeshare that was supposed to be something that could give joy to our family. Instead, it has caused us grief and stress when maintenance fees have doubled. This is not something that we would like our children to inherit and they have made it clear that they don’t want it.  

In addition, it is not something that I can continuously sustain with my husband who was diagnosed with advanced-stage cancer last year and has been in treatment since.

It seems impossible to sell or even give away.  I’ve been looking into selling or disposing of these and reached out to a member of the board who did not even bother responding to me.

We need a solution.  We need an exit plan.  We need help.

Thank you.

Ana N

#29 Jill M

Irene, I am writing to you with regard to my ‘ownership’ at Carriage Hills. I recently purchased resale time – what a horrible mistake! Not only was I completely misinformed by the seller and lawyer, but Wyndham provided zero information or assistance. My greatest concerns are the heavily increasing maintenance fees and the lack of an exit plan. I cannot and will not pass this disaster on to my executors or trustees.

If there is anything that can be done to assist the owners, we need to know now. Ownership falling into default is only going to continue to harm those of us that can’t get rid of our shares.

Thank you for your time,

Jill

#30 Rocky P

Hello Irene, my wife and I purchased a timeshare 20 years ago at Carriage Ridge thorough Shell Vacation Club. Over the years we have had great use but over the last few years have not been able to use it for financial reasons. We are both almost 70 with no pensions. We contacted the new owners Wyndham regarding an exit and we’re told of the Ovation program but have since found out that we are not eligible. We are also told that our children will inherit this increasing debt. This just can’t be right we can’t even give it away. We are lost at to what we can do. 

Anthony and MaryAnn P

In America, parents were paying $600 for an Epi-pen, a life-saving device for children who experience acute asthma. Public outcry resulted in a $200 generic version almost overnight. The draconian policy Carriage Resorts has imposed on loyal customers, who faithfully paid maintenance fees for decades, suing seniors experiencing the stress that comes with ageing, is predatory and unfair. Who would not agree with my statement? Let’s hope lawmakers come to this realization.

Thank you to Carriage owners for speaking up and speaking out. Inside Timeshare will do all in our power to keep this out front to support advocacy efforts.

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/  

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 Group

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

Thank you Irene, once again we witness disgusting practices by sales agents and the timeshare company fails to recognise that they have a severe problem. It is not just the deceptive practices it is also the age of many of these victims, as we have seen in many cases highlighted by our US colleagues as well as with many of the clients of Silverpoint’s “investments and company participation schemes” this can be clearly defined as “Elder Abuse”. If the timeshare companies are unable to change their practices then is it not time that the law is changed to force them to improve and protect consumers, especially the elderly.

If you have a timeshare problem and would like to know what options are open to you, then use our contact page and get in touch, Inside Timeshare will point you in the right direction.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this week’s edition of Letter from America, but first some breaking news from Tenerife. As we already know several companies owned and operated by Mark Rowe, are under investigation in the UK by the Regional Organised Crime Unit, Somerset & Avon Police following raids in the UK and Tenerife. We also know that his company ABC Lawyers Ltd is also in liquidation, now Inside Timeshare has heard that the authorities in Tenerife have now raided his offices in Fanabe. One of the companies based there is Timeshare.Lawyer under the umbrella of Advanced Business Consultants Legal SL. It certainly looks like time is running out for Mark Rowe.

Now for today’s Letter from America, this is not the article we had scheduled as we have delayed publishing the subpoena Diamond Resorts attempted to issue Irene until Tuesday. As you will read in today’s article, Howard Nusbaum, the former president of ARDA, is also a former senior partner at Baker Hostetler, Diamond’s outside counsel in their case against a Florida law firm. This gave us pause. Irene will be doing a little more digging as this adds support to our belief this subpoena is a less than subtle form of harassment. Today’s article offers proof that there is no responsible exit for many fully paid timeshare owners.  Baker Hostetler explains why.

When ARDA’s Coalition for Responsible Timeshare Exit Fails:

What Happens Next?

Six out of Eight Legacy Resorts have no Responsible Exit, according to eight “Free at Last” participants, reporting what happened when they sought a responsible exit

August 9, 2019

This is the first of four articles summarizing 21 timeshare members piloting the Free at Last Online Timeshare Support Course, sponsored by the nonprofit Straight-A Guide. The next three articles will report on Travel Clubs, timeshares purchased in foreign countries, and point-based timeshares.

I direct callers seeking timeshare release to reach out first to ARDA’s Coalition for Responsible Exit, or to the timeshare company if the timeshare company does not participate in ARDA’s responsible exit coalition.

Straight-A Guide helps 100,000 prisoners a year transition back to society through self-advocacy. Their customers are prisons. Our Free at Last participants learn how to self-advocate.

Legacy Resorts are single-site, older resorts. Of our eight Legacy owner participants, so far only two were able to work with their resort to take back their unwanted timeshare. One owner was able to deed back to Colorado River Adventures and one owner was able to deed back to Festiva.

There is no responsible exit for Legacy Resorts owners at Eagle Crest, Broadway Plantation, Lehigh Resort Club, and Wyndham Carriage Ridge in Canada, The Seasons in Vermont, or Bellavista. Six out of the eight Legacy resorts have no responsible exit! The only choice for these owners is foreclosure if the resorts will not provide a responsible exit. Three of the owners are over 80 years old and have been paying maintenance fees for decades, two only using the timeshare once or twice over the decades. 

Mr. Kenneth McKelvey, founder of Defender Resorts and Chairman of the timeshare PAC ARDA ROC, testified at a legislative workshop held in Tallahassee Florida March 12, 2019, that attorneys and timeshare exit providers are not needed. He made these comments at the Florida legislative workshop:

“Most of the developers I know, and certainly most of the timeshare managers I know, and I managed timeshare properties for thirty years… every single resort had a dissolution policy, every single one! There was a way to get out. You had to come to your management company, and based on what the board of directors instructed us to do in the terms if they had to pay a fee or if they had to be current, whatever those situations were, we did not have one that did not have a dissolution policy and a hardship policy …”

We hear from many seniors forced to endure the demeaning foreclosure process, despite maintaining a high credit score their whole life. Lately, there have been complaints from millennial buyers, as the industry is targeting that demographic. Some seniors tell me they don’t care anymore about a drop in their credit score as they are set, but those in their 30s see their credit score ruined along with their chances to buy a home. The foreclosure process can be overwhelming without support.  

The industry calls the vehicle used when a timeshare contract is transferred to fictitious individuals or a fictitious LLC a “Viking Ship,” so-named because Vikings used to stack their dead on a ship, set it on fire, and send it out to sea.

ARDA and the law firm Baker Hostetler published these comments about Legacy Resorts:  

COVER STORY • Many legacy timeshare resorts are struggling to survive: why?

Vacation Ownership WORLD contacted some of vacation ownership’s leading figures, as well as experts on the subject, and asked them about a much-discussed matter within the industry: why are so many legacy timeshare resorts having such a tough time and what can be done about it? Many of these resorts are failing due to an assortment of problems that include: a lack of professional management; a lack of adequate reserves; a resistance by the HOA board of directors to impose an adequate assessment for operating expenses; an underperforming or non-existent external exchange relationship; an aging owner base that no longer uses the resort or that wants to exit ownership but is generally unable to; and, diminishing resort maintenance standards. ARDA President and CEO Howard Nusbaum and senior partner in the Orlando office of Baker & Hostetler and ARDA treasurer and Board member Rob Webb offer their viewpoints on this issue. This is the first of a two-part story; the second article on the subject will appear in the next issue.

https://www.bakerlaw.com/files/uploads/Documents/News/Articles/BUSINESS/2014/January2014VacationOwnershipWorldWebbArticle.pdf

A quote from an ARDA lobbyist:

“Their value comes from using it,” the timeshare industry’s top lobbyist told ConsumerAffairs in January, admitting that points have no resale value, while claiming that consumers don’t mind this because the value comes from the experience.

Based on complaints from over 900 families, this lobbyist is out of touch with reality. Just two exit companies I spoke with received 3,000 to 3,500 calls per month from desperate timeshare members seeking release.

Legacy Owner reports by Free at Last participants 

#1 Unresolved – Robert Kennedy is 81 years old. He seeks release from Eagle Crest in Oregon. In 2017 I published an article in which I interviewed an Eagle Crest collection agent. The interview was in regard to problems Eagle Crest owners experienced when they contacted a fraudulent timeshare transfer company. It’s no wonder Eagle Crest owners are going through this.

At age 81, I have a credit score of 819 but now must face a foreclosure.  At our age, we no longer are able to travel as we once could. We will not continue to pay maintenance fees for something we no longer want or need.

Robert sent his request for release to the following individuals:

To: Jerry E Andres, CEO Eagle Crest

https://www.bbb.org/us/or/redmond/profile/resort/eagle-crest-resort-1296-50002619

Jason Gamel, ARDA President

[email protected]

Ken McKelvey, CPA, ARDA ROC President

[email protected]

https://www.defenderresorts.com/contact-us/

Greg Crist, Association of Vacation Owners

[email protected]

Mr. Andres

After Eagle Crest said they would not help me, I contacted Irene Parker at Inside Timeshare. Ms. Parker told me to contact ARDA’s Responsible Exit program.  I went to ARDA’s Responsible Exit Website, but Eagle Crest does not participate. We purchased a floating week 33 years ago and have faithfully paid maintenance fees for 33 years.  https://responsibleexit.com/

I would like to ask Mr. Andres why Eagle Crest does not have a responsible exit program. I have grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren. As a result of my experience, they have learned not to get involved with timeshare. 

I contacted members of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association. They said they were not interested in helping us.  Others need to be warned about the dangers of becoming involved with timeshare.

Robert Kennedy

#2 Unresolved Simon D, Canada

Carriage Ridge Wyndham 

To Irene Parker at Inside Timeshare

August 5, 2019

I reached out to Ovations as you suggested. Wyndham Ovations will not accept our Carriage Ridge Resort in Canada. We purchased this floating week timeshare May 2004 for approximately $13,750. We have no loan.

We were told at purchase there would be no problem reselling the timeshare. Ovations will not take it back so isn’t it false advertising to say that they have a program for fully paid members when they don’t? I tried selling the timeshare. No one wants it. Availability has been an issue.

Why are consumers put in the position of being held hostage with no choice but to foreclose? Who, understanding that buying a timeshare is something you can’t get out of unless foreclosed, would buy one?  Especially when the buyer is told, like we were, it would be easy to sell.

I will no longer pay maintenance fees. I will be contacting the Canadian Vacation Ownership Association as you suggested. They should know that many Canadians are being harmed and Wyndham should not falsely advertise that the problem of no secondary market for timeshares has been solved. It’s not true. Thank you for the websites you provided. At least I know others are experiencing the same.  

http://www.canadianvoa.org/

https://www.shellhospitality.com/hotels/carriage-ridge-resort-and-carriage-hills-resort

https://www.myclubwyndham.com/mycw/happening/news/ovation-by-wyndham.page?

This comment was posted on RedWeek:

I was duped into a gifted timeshare from my father. The story is sad…he is retired and was desperate to get out as he lost most of his retirement money in 2007. So he misleads my husband and I. I contacted Ovation to take the deed back from Carriage Hills resort in Canada and they said NO. Referred to Fidelity who advised THEY HAVE NOT SOLD a Carriage Hills unit IN YEARS! 31 units are listed on Carriage Hills website for $1. Many owners are offering $400 gift certificates. Wyndham is the ring-leader. They should offer Ovation. https://www.redweek.com/forums/messages?thread_id=20770&page=last

#3 unresolved – a Medical Doctor

We purchased a Broadway Plantation timeshare in Myrtle Beach, a floating week, a long time ago for about $17,000. I have never used it. I have paid maintenance fees for many years. We were told the timeshare would be easy to sell.

I reached out to ARDA as they say timeshare now has a Responsible Exit program. When I contacted Broadway Plantation they said they do not take back timeshares. If there is a responsible exit, why doesn’t Broadway Plantation have one?

I feel defrauded, cheated and abused by the timeshare industry. Having an every other year timeshare for a single week has been a waste of money.  When I tried to use it, there was no availability. I have no intention of ever paying you any more money. I am 70 years old.   

#4 Unresolved S E

July 20, 2019

I am helping my father. He is age 83. Bellavista was purchased six or seven years ago. We are current with maintenance fees, no loan. He was delinquent with maintenance fees, he settled for about half what he owed..

#5 Inez

At age 87, I have been paying maintenance fees since 1991. I only used the timeshare a couple of times. We purchased Lehigh Resorts in 1991 in Florida. We have no loan. I’ve only used it twice since 1991. When I first bought it the maintenance fees were $300. Now they are $670. They said they would not take it back.

#6 Melissa

I purchased a timeshare a long time ago at The Seasons in Vermont. They will not take back the timeshare. I have filed a complaint with the Vermont Attorney General.

Melissa was provided with the following in writing at the time of purchase, statements in printed literature and in an email Melissa received from a Sugarbush manager dismissing her complaint:

  1. Our current owners are renting for premium dollars and receiving a very high rate of return on their investment, because of supply and demand. 
  2. If you rent your unit for less than 15 days/year, the rental income will not be includible in income–thus the income is tax-free and you would still be able to deduct your interest payments.
  3. The timeshare won’t be difficult to resell due to the lack of accommodations in the Sugarbush area (supply and demand). 
  4. Don’t listen to family & friends because it is an investment and a guarantee that we would take a vacation every year.

In addition to our 21 Free at Last participants, Inside Timeshare has received many complaints from Americano ARC owners. They are required to spend $5,000 to $6,000 for an RCI points-based Travel Club called Freedom 365 in order to be released from their timeshare they bought decades ago. We will address their concerns on Friday when we look into Travel Clubs.

I have grouped our 21 callers into the following groups:

  1. (7)Legacy resorts (pre-dating points),
  2. (5)Travel Clubs,
  3. (2)Timeshares bought in foreign countries,
  4. (7)Points-based timeshare 

Please Sign this Petition to Reform Timeshare:

https://www.change.org/p/state-legislators-in-arizona-florida-and-nevada-demand-reform-of-the-timeshare-industry-s-unfair-and-deceptive-practices

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/ 

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/?ref=bookmarks

Well, that is all for this week, as you will have noticed Inside Timeshare has been a little sparse this week, August tends to be rather quiet as it is the main holiday month, very little news coming from the courts and elsewhere. But keep on checking, we never know when another story will break and as it does we will bring you the news right here.

Have a Great Weekend and join us again next week.

The Tuesday Slot

Welcome to another edition of The Tuesday Slot, this week we welcome back Shielah Brust with her article on Unfair and Deceptive Sales Practices. It is in response to the industry’s claim that timeshare members are being subjected to “Deceptive Timeshare Exit Practices”, yet we at Inside Timeshare receive many complaints on this subject by the industry’s very own sales agents. If Michael Flaskey wants these exit companies to be regulated then the industry should also take a very close look at itself. We do agree that there are some unscrupulous “Exit” companies, but at the end who is actually to blame for their creation in the first place? 

To: Michael Flaskey, Diamond Resorts CEO

The Unfair in Unfair and Deceptive Sales Practices

Timeshare Exit Companies have little to fear if they are to be regulated like Florida timeshare

“The long term strategy is, if there are (exit) companies out there that really are legitimate, which we haven’t seen yet,” Flaskey said, “then they need to be regulated the same way our (timeshare) industry is regulated.”

                                                             Michael Flaskey, Diamond Resorts CEO

https://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/os-bz-timeshare-castle-diamond-20190719-3zvqhr46yjcnplwm33fyhgm3iy-story.html

Testimony from the Florida Legislative Workshop March 2019

Victoria Butler, from the Florida Attorney General’s Department of Consumer Protection, reported a figure of 1,500 to 1,600 timeshare 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, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR), engaged only 42 complaints, the majority concerning resale.

By Shielah Brust

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

I am writing in response to the article linked above written by Chabeli Herrerra of the Orlando Sentinel. In the article, Mr. Flaskey expresses his concern over timeshare members experiencing deceptive timeshare exit sale practices.  Based on Diamond Resorts complaints reported by many members of our self-advocacy group, and dismissals received from DBPR, there is little to no timeshare regulation in Florida. DBPR backs up Diamond’s “You signed a contract” defence with “Verbal representations are hard to prove.”

While many Diamond members have had disputes resolved, the process requires endless rebuttals and often regulatory and law enforcement filings. In addition, we have sent more than 200 complaints to the timeshare lobby ARDA and ARDA ROC. Mr. Flaskey sits on ARDA’s Board of Directors. 

To take the “un” out of “unfair” timeshare buyers should be allowed to record the sales session. I am one of 101 Diamond Platinum members who have reported unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices. In our case, we even have our “pencil pitch” that proves we were pitched a nonexistent maintenance fee relief program. One need not read any further than $8631 – $8631 = no maintenance fees. My DBPR investigator, when she first saw my proof, said, “I can’t believe they let you walk out with that paperwork!” Our 2017 “pencil pitch”:  

Three complaints and one lawsuit have been filed against Brad L, a sales agent at Daytona Beach Regency. Only the most recent of the four complaints resolved. A VIP at Diamond corporate told us in 2018 that they agreed Brad L’s explanation was confusing. As a result, they said they changed the way agents present the program. However, a year later, in 2019, the fourth complaining member produced a “pencil pitch” identical to ours. Only the numbers vary.

In 2017, Brad L told us to “wait a few months before turning in points to pay maintenance fees because the website (member page) was being rebuilt so that the member would be able to view a split-screen showing promised double points.” Two years later, in 2019, Brad told complainant #4 to wait a few months before checking because the website was being rebuilt.  

Also unfair is the recording of the QA closing session. The recording is routinely used against the member. Complaints are dismissed because the buyer did not ask questions in regard to what they were promised.

Members often report how they were coached on how to “pass” QA. The member believed the sales agent so did not ask questions. A member can only access the recording by subpoena, meaning the member must retain a lawyer in order to view it.  

This recording of the QA session was sold to the Arizona Attorney General as “enhanced training” after the Arizona Attorney General issued an Assurance of Discontinuance. Their office received hundreds of complaints during 2016 and 2017. From the AOD:

IV Assurances

“Diamond shall enhance its programs, policies and training and continue to instruct and train its Vacation Counselors and Sales Managers to comply with the ACFA (Arizona Consumer Fraud Act). Diamond shall advise all Vacation Counselors and Sales Managers that they may not:

  1. Sales agents should not deviate from sales material
  2. Sales agents should not make oral representations at the point of sale inconsistent with the Purchase document.

https://www.azag.gov/press-release/attorney-general-brnovich-announces-800000-settlement-diamond-resorts

Since 1994, we have spent over $200,000 on Diamond points, not including maintenance fees. We have been fighting Diamond for over 18 months. Of the 101 Platinum member complaints, approximately half are about members purchasing additional points based on overstated maintenance fee relief programs and the rest the ability to sell points. Diamond points are worthless on resale, and the only program to be relieved of maintenance fees would relieve only $2,000 towards an $8600 maintenance fee, and the member is charged $100 to do so.

  • Mr. Flaskey, consider believing your highest loyalty customers over sales agents that have had multiple complaints filed against them.
  • Allow buyers to record the sales session. Why would you not allow this?
  • Florida needs to become a one-party state so the buyer can legally record an in-person presentation if Diamond will not allow the sales session recorded.
  •  Allow a 24 hour “cooling off” period so buyers can breathe before signing a perpetual contract, easily sold by deceit, accompanied by annual maintenance fees, and no secondary market.

Diamond’s lawyers twisted our written proof to mean what they wanted it to mean and twisted our words to mean what they wanted our words to mean. After Diamond allowed Brad L to answer the complaint his way, DBPR closed my case.

A letter of denial from Julia Russell, Consumer Legal Affairs Paralegal, and Russell Burke, Diamond in-house counsel, corporate headquarters, stated it was their understanding I refused to meet with the DBPR in person. I sent them the email requesting a meeting. I informed DBPR I would be in Orlando on May 16, 2019, and would bring boxes of emails, texts and other information.

I offered to meet with the DBPR reviewers. I told them I would be in Orlando. When I went to their office on May 16, 2019, their door was locked and a security sign was posted on the door.

Hard-working people who had been loyal Diamond members for years now devote a considerable amount of time reaching out to lawmakers, the media, and regulators asking the government to take a hard look at the way timeshare companies are destroying many families financially, mentally, and even physically. I will continue to fight to help others and file complaints with governmental and law enforcement agencies. Here’ how to file with the FTC and the FBI:

https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-47/

We advise members to send complaints to ARDA President Jason Gamel, also Sr. Legal VP for Wyndham, ARDA ROC, Apollo Global Management, Diamond Resorts CEO Michael Flaskey, Ashley Moody, Florida Attorney General, and Barclay’s Bank, if a credit card was involved. 

Florida’s Department of Business Practice and Regulation (DBPR) response to our complaint after I asked why the Arizona Attorney General launched an investigation based on a volume and pattern of complaints:

As you are aware, alleged verbal misrepresentations are very difficult to prove in light of the written documents and disclosures.  In terms of evidence, we rely on these documents to prove or disprove the allegations. The actions taken by other state agencies are not evidence of the alleged misrepresentations related to the sales transactions conducted in Florida.  Based on our review, it did not appear that the information provided to you by the sales agents were false and misleading. Lack of clarity could be an issue but that in itself cannot be considered a violation. We are not sure if the sales agent had voluntarily provided the hand-written notes or you had kept them on your own.  If there are discrepancies between the notes and what was actually received in terms of points, we will address that issue.

Brad’s explanation:

Brad said we paid $8,631 in maintenance fees for 50,000 points in 2017.  Following Brad’s logic, we could eliminate $8,000 of the increased $11,252 maintenance fee (due to the purchase of 15,000 additional points), by taking advantage of this new program. From Brad’s notes:

65,000 own                $8,631 current maintenance fees before 15,000

 65,000 given               2,621 maintenance fees on the new 15,000

130,000 points           $11,252 Total maintenance fees with new 15,000

  50,000 if used           8,000 Less reimbursement check

  80,000 left                  $3,252 Maintenance fees still owed        

x $.10 reimbursed

EXCEPT THERE WAS NO 65,000 POINTS GIVEN!

$8,000

Diamond’s Clarity™ promise launched after Mark Brnovich, Arizona Attorney General, issued an Assurance of Discontinuance:  

The CLARITY Promise:

With this clear, concise and consistent information, consumers can easily determine whether the Diamond Resorts hospitality experience is the right decision for them and their families.

https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20170123005839/en/Diamond-Resorts-Launches-New-National-Customer-Service

Diamond’s Response:

On April 5, 2018, we received a call from a DRI Hospitality agent. They found no wrongdoing. This is part of what she said to us. 

I definitely agree that your confusion of that process is warranted. I have spoken to our legal team and sales team and we agree the double point explanation is definitely something that could have been misconstrued or seen as confusing by members or purchasers.

We have made changes to the way that information is given at the time of sale but we have to say the stance we take on this is: because there may have been some confusion on how you may use those points to create savings for yourself doesn’t make the explanation illegal.

According to the Federal Trade Commission Section 5

An act or practice is deceptive where

  • a representation, omission, or practise misleads or is likely to mislead the consumer;
  • a consumer’s interpretation of the representation, omission, or practice is considered reasonable under the circumstances; and
  • the misleading representation, omission, or practise is material.

https://www.federalreserve.gov/boarddocs/supmanual/cch/ftca.pdf

I hope Ms. Herrerra will write a story for the people’s side.

Sincerely, Sheilah Brust, a Diamond Platinum member in foreclosure

Pictured from left: Anna and Diamond Platinum members Cindy, Patty and Sheilah

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://everythingabouttimeshares.com/consider-exchange-options/

Free at Last Facebook

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/  

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 Group

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

Thank you Shielah for a very interesting article and for taking the time to write it, you have certainly made some very interesting points. Inside Timeshare will continue to publish the concerns of these practices by the timeshare industry as well as exit and resale companies who use these same techniques.

Tomorrow Inside Timeshare will be publishing more on the Anfi story regarding the intervention of the Provincial Prosecutors Office, we will be publishing a news item aired by TVE 1 News which is Spanish National Television. It includes an interview with the Canarian Legal Alliance Lawyer Eva Gutiérrez.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to another edition of our Letter from America, this week Irene Parker writes about the upcoming Whistleblowers Summit & Film Festival. The term Whistleblower refers to someone who is making public information which they feel morally and ethically to be the right thing to do. It may be highlighting abuses of power by government, unfair working conditions by companies or even abuse of the elderly by care home providers. Whistleblowers are needed and should be thanked for what they do for the general good and not for profit.

The 8th Annual Whistleblower Summit & Film Festival

Washington D.C., July 29 – August 1

http://whistleblowersummit.com/summit_at_a_glance/

By Irene Parker

July 26, 2019

The 8th Annual Whistleblower Summit will be held July 29 through August 1 in Washington D.C. Attending the Summit last year was an eye-opener. I heard from like minds, unafraid to speak truth to power and hold the powerful accountable. This year I am honoured and grateful for the opportunity to participate as a panel participant in a Summit discussion called:

The Resilient Advocate – Elements Ethics and End Results

Panel members will discuss how resiliency skills helped them cope with stressful situations. Concepts surrounding resilience include mindfulness, meditation, gratitude and forgiveness of self and others.

I am listed as Irene Parker, Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA)

I am not at present, an active CASA, but once a CASA, always a CASA at heart. I first became involved with CASA in Bowling Green, Kentucky in 2009 as a CASA volunteer. Later, I served as a paid CASA supervisor until 2012.

A CASA is a voice for a child in state care, a voice for the voiceless. A CASA’s duties include interviewing the child, the child’s biological parents, foster parents, and others involved in the child’s life. The CASA may not agree with the wishes of the child but assures the child that the court will hear what outcome the child wishes. As supervisor of 27 CASA volunteers, I edited volunteer court reports and wrote court reports for cases unassigned.  

In Florida where I live now, the program is called Guardian Ad Litum.

Skills learned at CASA provided me with the foundation to assist victims of timeshare fraud – timeshare members who wish to voice their concern about unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices.

As in the case of any family in crisis, explanations are usually confusing and convoluted. I liken it to a witness describing what happened after a serious auto accident. When contacted by a timeshare member, I frequently ask, “What do you mean by that?” or “Can you provide an example?”

I have heard from over 900 families reporting unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices, including 116 veterans and active duty service members. An active duty service member can lose his or her security clearances, and their career, over a timeshare foreclosure. More than a few families have been financially devastated, including a Navy veteran and retired postal worker forced to seek bankruptcy protection after being up-sold to $2,700 a month in timeshare loan payments. 

The Resilient Advocate – Elements Ethics and End Results

The panel discussion will be led by the founder of Whistleblowers of America, Jacqueline Garrick, and a Department of Justice Whistleblower.

www.whistleblowersofamerica.org

A Navy veteran introduced me to Jackie after the veteran successfully resolved their timeshare dispute following our principles of self-advocacy. An obvious “bait and switch” left the veteran encumbered with a large loan. The purchase was presented as a way to reduce annual maintenance fees, but the opposite occurred. Knowing the veteran, and having received other complaints against the same sales agent, it was not difficult to know who to believe.  

Panel Discussion     

Resilience is the state of mind, body and spirit that allows a person to overcome adversity and experience growth. Therefore, the resiliency skills needed to overcome whistleblower retaliation.

  • There is no denying that whistleblowers face societal stigmas and negative responses for their disclosures
  •  These negative connotations have a psychological impact on ethical people who faced difficult decisions and took the high road to do the right thing
  • Most whistleblowers face years and years of retaliation, harassment and discrimination
  • They are at constant risk of losing financial stability, social status, and family security. Their physical and emotional health is impacted as a result.

Other panel participants include:

Maureen Elias, Deputy Director, Veterans Health Council of Vietnam Veterans

Richard Hill, MD, Retired Primary Care Physician

Ms. Heidi Weber, Associate Producer, Whistleblower on CBS

“Toxic Tactics” of Retaliation that have affected my family:

a.      Gaslighting – challenging the memories or ethics of the whistleblower –  making you question yourself

b.     Mobbing – getting others to conspire against or spy on the whistleblower

c.      Accusing – refocus on the whistleblower as the wrongdoer

d.     Harassment and (in my case a threat of) violence

e.      Emotional abuse, humiliation

f.       Legal and financial challenges 

What advice would I give to others thinking about blowing the whistle?

·        Understand the Pandora’s Box you are opening and the long-term implications to your family when opened

·        Recruit a team to aid in your efforts to ensure your efforts will continue if stifled or delayed due to the above mentioned retaliatory tactics

·         Recognize the extent of loss your family may experience as the result of “poking the bear” in an effort to right wrongs

While the timeshare lobby and political action committee ARDA and ARDA ROC recommends timeshare members contact their state Attorney General in regard to companies that provide exit services, I have suffered retaliation for encouraging timeshare buyers to contact an Attorney General if they feel they experienced unfair and deceptive timeshare practices. Timeshare sales agents are emboldened by the oral representation clause timeshare attorney Mike Finn described as “a license to lie” in a 2016 New York Times article written by Pulitzer winner Gretchen Morgenson.

The Timeshare Developer and Lobbyists Pot Calling the Kettle Black – There are unfair and deceptive practices on both ends of the timeshare transaction.

The rash of complaints and legal proceedings prompted the American Resort Development Association (ARDA) to issue a warning to consumers about these (exit) companies, encouraging owners who believe they have been unfairly taken advantage of or defrauded to contact their state Attorney General, local law enforcement or ARDA directly.

At least 200 complaints from timeshare members in our advocacy group have forwarded their complaint to ARDA and ARDA ROC. To my knowledge, all complaints have been ignored. The Board of Directors of ARDA ROC (Resort Owners Coalition) is staffed with timeshare executives.

(BBB) RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE INDUSTRY

The link below is a timeshare report warning consumers to beware of unfair and deceptive trade practices prepared by the St. Louis BBB, with input from the Missouri Attorney General’s office.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR GOVERNMENT

  • Tougher law enforcement action. Regulatory agencies have reported receiving an increasing number of complaints about the timeshare industry. Bringing action against any bad actors in the industry could help consumers and deter companies from violating consumer protection laws.
  • New laws. BBB hears from many senior citizens who have been affected by the timeshare industry. Missouri legislators should consider special protections for those 65 and older who enter into agreements with timeshare and travel club companies. An extended right of rescission period could help seniors who may not totally understand what they have purchased. All consumers should receive pertinent information – such as access to websites and passwords – at point of purchase so that they can check potential savings and actual values of timeshares on resale market so that if they decide to cancel, they can take advantage of the rescission period.

For more information about this study, to obtain a Business Profile or register a complaint, contact BBB. 

https://www.bbb.org/en/us/article/news-releases/18149-dont-fall-for-deception-pressure-and-traps-disguised-as-vacations-a-better-business-bureau-study-of-the-missouri-timeshare-vacation-club-industry?bbbid=0734

Research and report on scams and fraud using BBB Scam Tracker.

https://www.bbb.org/scamtracker/us/

If you’re in the area, even if not a whistleblower, you will experience one of the most enlightening and inspiring events of your lifetime if you can attend. I’m hoping our Supporters or our timeshare members in distress will consider attending.  

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://everythingabouttimeshares.com/consider-exchange-options/

Free at Last Facebook

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/  

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 Group

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

Thank you Irene we hope that you have a very informative time at the summit and we look forward to receiving your report on the proceedings.

Well that is it for this weekFriday is once again here and the weekend calls, have a great weekend and join us again next week.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this week’s Letter from America, today Patty Boyak who has been attending court on behalf of Inside Timeshare reports on the verdict in the trial between Candace Czarny and Hyatt for unfair dismissal. Unfortunately, it is not the result that we had all hoped for. We then go on to report on seven more complaints against a Diamond Resorts sales agent in Las Vegas and five against another Diamond sales agent in California. These complaints are becoming all too frequent with Inside Timeshare receiving them almost on a daily basis, yet the timeshare companies do nothing and continue to allow their sales agents to behave in this despicable manner.

Now on with Patty’s report.

Former Hyatt Timeshare Sales Executive Candace Czarny v Hyatt Residential Marketing Corporation and Kent and Allison R. Drysdale

CASE NO.  CV2013-006230

Jury Trial Verdict

Seven complaints against our Diamond Resorts Las Vegas sales agent and five complaints against our California agent 

By Patty Boyak

July 19, 2019

In the trial of Candace Czarny v Hyatt and Kent and Allison Drysdale, the jury ruled in favour of Hyatt. While the verdict was a profound disappointment for Candace, when God closes one door he often opens another.

In 1991 Anita Hill got dragged through the muck of Senate hearings after accusing U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment. She didn’t want to go public, but knew in her heart she needed to speak out about actions she felt were inappropriate for a Supreme Court justice nominee. A movie was made about her humiliating ordeal. At the end of the movie, the wrap-up listed the positive consequences because of her efforts. Nationwide revisions to antiquated sexual harassment policies and procedures ensued.

To be honest, having listened to a week of testimony, I felt Candace had at best a 50/50 chance. She had only worked in the timeshare industry for 17 months. However, Candace scored a major victory in court for timeshare members, assisted by other witnesses, and Hyatt’s attorneys provided landmark evidence or lack of:

THERE IS NO LETTER!  

The reason this is so important is that so many timeshare complaints begin with, “They said I should have gotten a letter.” This statement is reported by many Diamond members, including a disabled veteran who caught deception on a recording. Understandably, his dispute was quickly resolved. We experienced the same agent but were told another member’s complaints had no bearing on our complaint.

If you listen to the recording, most would conclude this agent should have been fired. Instead, he introduced himself to us a year later as a Platinum Counselor, and just a few weeks ago, our group received complaint #7 against this agent.

Defendant Kent Drysdale was Hyatt’s Director of Training, but some of the deceptive practices described in Candace’s lawsuit (like the letter), were the same practices members complained about during the Arizona Attorney General’s investigation of Diamond Resorts in 2016. Mr Drysdale was the Director of Training for Diamond prior to being recruited by Hyatt. Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich issued an Assurance of Discontinuance against Diamond Resorts after the AG’s office received hundreds of complaints from Diamond members.

A “deceptive price freeze” demands the member buy points the same day or loose special pricing. In the case of the veteran who recorded our Diamond sales agent, not only had the veteran repeatedly asked for his driver’s license and credit card back over two hours of a five hour ordeal, he was told that because he “didn’t get the letter” he was not grandfathered in for a special price after Apollo Global Management had acquired Diamond. Alaa stated this meant they would have to pay enormous maintenance fees over the next ten years unless they purchased additional points. As this dispute quickly resolved, we will not identify the buyers or link the article published about their dispute.  

Thank you, Candace!  

Those of us whose families have been harmed by timeshare sales agents, now have proof of deceptive and unfair practices because Hyatt’s attorney could not produce the letter. One of the members of the jury had asked where it was. There were 200 exhibits. Two letters hastily produced at trial, but neither had anything to do with a prior letter the member was supposed to have received.    

I would like to share our Diamond Resorts experience so consumers may understand how the decked is stacked against the consumer. Of the 913 complaints our advocacy group has received, 115 are veterans and active duty service members. My husband is a Navy veteran.

Our Timeshare Accountability Group™  members share experiences in an effort to expose timeshare sales agents that have had multiple complaints filed against them. Including the veteran and our family, a total of seven complaints have been received, directed against Las Vegas sales agent Alaa C, and five complaints against California agent Trevor W. We purchased from both agents!

I have asked Inside Timeshare to publish our complaint submitted to the California and Nevada Real Estate Divisions hoping to reach lawmakers who, in recent Arizona legislation, bent to the will of ARDA lobbyists. ARDA’s position is that a state should not take responsibility for those who did not bother to understand the product and Arizona Senator Michelle Ugenti-Rita was quoted, “These people are adults. There was a meeting of the minds and they signed a contract. They should take responsibility.”

I’d like for ARDA lobbyists and lawmakers to read five complaints against the California agent in today’s article, and the seven complaints against Nevada agent Alaa C (to be published next Tuesday) to understand the kinds of minds that meet.            

Five complaints against California Diamond sales agent Trevor W and Principal Broker Peter M

Trevor W complaint #1 A Senior in her mid-70s

Trevor W complaint #2 Brandon and Patty Boyak

Trevor W complaint #3 A Navy veteran

Trevor W complaint #4 Reported complaint but did not buy

Trevor W complaint #5 A senior age 75, resolved 

Trevor complaint #1 Platinum Member #80 of 101, age 75

April 10, 2019

My mother lost her entire retirement annuity of $350,000, plus maintenance fees are $20,000 so almost $400,000. She was switched back and forth five times over six transactions.  (Highlighted in red are agents Inside Timeshare received multiple complaints against):   

Everything was okay until May 2015 when Rick C transferred her points to the US from Hawaii, which cost $42,000. September 2015 she was switched back to HI by Paul M for $33,000. April 2016 HI points were switched back to the US at Mystic Dunes in Orlando, by Angelica S. In March 2017 she was switched back to HI by Ras for $38,000. November 2017 Palm Canyon Resort $80,000 bought points from Trevor W. October 2018 Billie B and Fred K transferred points back to the US telling her she would be able to pay maintenance fees costing $45,000. In Hawaii, one of the brokers said he has a broker who could help her rent points (which is not allowed for-profit) to get her money back and in the future, her points could be sold back to Diamond. 

She did not buy a second time March 2019 from Paul M. Paul said she should switch back to HI because there was going to be a huge Special Assessment in the US if she didn’t switch back to Hawaii for $63,000. She ended up with 100,000 US Collection points and $17,000 in annual maintenance fees

Trevor complaint #2 Platinum Member #28 of 191

July 6, 2019

Brandon and Patty Boyak

Our complaint is against CA Diamond Resorts sales Agent Trevor W.  

We purchased 17,500 points October 21, 2017, from Trevor at Palm Canyon Resort in Palm Springs, CA for $72,850.

Consumers need to know there is nothing to prevent timeshare fraud without a recording because proof is required. I spoke to attorneys to ask what constituents proof. I was told a pattern of complaints serves as a form of proof.  This is why we are gathering complaints.    

Peter M, Principal Broker California  

Trevor W said if we became Platinum “members” as opposed to “owners” we would be eligible for a program to sell points back to DRI at $0.30 per point. He explained this as a buyback program available only to Platinum members. We had never heard the term “member” before.  Trevor explained that by becoming a member we would lock in our maintenance fees, preventing them from increasing at alarming rates over the coming years. There is no such thing as member or owner points.

We never attempted to sell points back at $.30 because we missed the window period. Trevor explained that we had to turn in points by November 30 and we had to have 20% of our loan paid to be eligible for the maintenance fee buyback program. In no way would we have 20% of the loan paid in such a short time. This avoided the rescission period.  We were already aware of a travel discount program called 30/30. We did not know at the time only Platinum members can pay maintenance fees at $.04 per point, a worthless benefit because 50,000 points turned in at $.04 a point would cover only $2,000 towards an $8,631 maintenance fee bill (in 2018).

Trevor explained that as soon as a buyer makes an initial purchase of Diamond points, they become an owner.  Any new purchaser is considered an owner, but once we became Platinum we would become a Diamond member. He reminded us that we were considered “owners” because of our past Monarch affiliation.

We had five contracts prior to this meeting. This would finally give us true Platinum Member status with DRI.  The contracts were not wrapped.

Trevor Complaint #3 #78 of 101

A Navy veteran (retired), age 69

April 5, 2019

To: Michael Flaskey, CEO

Maria Kalber

ARDA

ARDA ROC

Barclay’s Bank

January 28, 2018

Points purchased: 1,500

We attended a presentation at a hotel on January 28, 2018.  Mr R. He said it would be better if we were to upgrade to Platinum because then we would be able to use our points to pay maintenance fees. I explained that we did not have the resources to upgrade. After several hours we agreed.

September 4, 2018, NV

Points purchased: 16,000

Sales Agent: Mr J Trevor W

Manager: Mr Matthew G

Purchase price: $48,000

September 4, 2018, we met with Trevor W. Mr W went over our account and stated that we were only a temporary platinum member and that we could not use our points towards maintenance fees.

I recall being told several times that if we were to upgrade to Platinum it would be an investment that we could pass to our children. He said if our children did not want the timeshare in the future they would be able to say that they did not want it or that they could sell points to pay maintenance fees.

Mr W asked us how we were able to purchase our existing points at such a low price because the price for points now was much higher.  He left to talk to his manager and came back stating that they would honour the low point price but if we waited the price would be substantially higher, somewhere in the range of 9 dollars and that they would increase soon in the future.  It was again mentioned that we would be able to use our points to pay maintenance fees by selling points. He said we would be able to sell our timeshare points outright in the future, but not at the present time.

Mr W said he would assist me in using Barclay Card points and Platinum exchanged points to pay maintenance fees. Mr W gave me his cell phone number and told me to call him towards the end of the year and he would assist me with the process.  Mr W never returned calls. After contacting customer service I found out that the point conversion was so small it would not make a dent in the liability. I did not find this out until I was billed for maintenance fees and attempted to pay the fees via points.   

 I have learned members are not required to attend presentations unless accepting a promotion. This also is deceptive to be told an update is required when it is not. Diamond points are worthless on resale. 

A senior, age 73, who did not buy from Trevor  

Trevor Complaint #4 Platinum member #85 out of 101

At Palm Canyon CA Trevor showed me a graph of maintenance fees showing maintenance fees increasing. Trevor had said that the way my contract with Al C had been written, my maintenance fees were at a higher rate of increase. Al had told me my maintenance fees would be at the lower rate of increase, but Trevor explained that because of how C wrote the contract I was at the higher level because C wrote the contract as an owner contract and not a member contract. He explained that there is a difference between members and owners in terms of how much you pay in maintenance fees. However, I bought non-deeded Diamond points from Al, so what he sold me was a membership. He said C made more money selling owner points.

Trevor waived the maintenance fee graph in front of me and said, “I know you are telling me the truth because there would be a signature acknowledging receipt in your file”. I asked Trevor for a copy of the contract history he was reviewing, but he said he could not give this to me. Trevor said the only way to fix the problem C caused was to buy more points for $125,000. Had I believed Trevor’s nonsense about buying ownership and not membership points, I would have been driven deeper into debt. I would be another Platinum member-driven into foreclosure.

Trevor also presented the misrepresentation about heirs saying that my heirs would be responsible if I did not buy an additional 75,000 points for $125,000.

Trevor, and a second agent, Brad G, said I could get out of the owner status and go to “member status” if I made the purchase.  Trevor assured me if I bought the points, I would then have the lowest maintenance fees. He told me I would need to do this to take care of the mess C had created.

Trevor and Brad acknowledged that “middle easterners at Cancun” in Las Vegas often made these mistakes. They thought Al was one who had put another person in a bad situation, but they would call Mike B to see if they could help me. Trevor agreed that Al had sold me a bait and switch.  Trevor and Brad also stated that Al had sold me 7000 more points than I needed to reach platinum status.

In the end, I did not feel that I could trust Trevor. I asked Trevor for a copy of his proposal that he had written down so I could talk to my financial advisor. He would not give it to me. I said I had to talk to my family because they had been waiting for hours. My friend and daughter-in-law returned with me and said that I was not going to sign anything. Trevor got nasty and said, “I resent you coming in here at the last minute giving advice.”

I also was told that unless I bought the new points from Trevor I could not sell my points.  If I did buy the points from them, Diamond would give me a list of members to whom I may sell. Diamond points are worthless on resale.

Besides ruining my afternoon with my family for my grandson’s birthday, I was a mental wreck.  When I returned, I told the two men that I didn’t have enough funds to make the purchase. I asked for more time so I could talk to my financial advisor who was not available by phone.  Trevor denied that request. He said I had to sign right then. He said if I signed I had 7 days in CA to cancel the contract. 

Trevor Complaint #5

A senior, age 70, Diamond Platinum member #90 of 101

June 5, 2019

To Michael Flaskey, CEO

Hospitality

Barclay’s President’s office

ARDA ROC

California Real Estate Division

Peter M

Trevor W

On 4/22/19 in Palm Desert, I went to an “Owner Update” with Platinum specialist Trevor W.  I had previously been assured that since I already owned 90,500 points, I was well in excess of the 50,000 points needed to be Platinum. I am 70 years old and have no children. The timespan and need for points are limited. Trevor launched into an explanation of why I had to buy additional “membership” points because the prior Hawaii sales agent had fraudulently, or at least mistakenly, sold me “owner” points due to inadequate training.  

I explained to Platinum specialist Trevor W that my only goal was to find a way to SELL my points, and also to make absolutely sure that Diamond could NOT attach my estate because my heirs did not want the points. 

Trevor explained that my points were essentially worthless, that there was no market for them because of the type of ownership category I held. He explained that the points that I owned, on the secondary market, would have none of the myriads of benefits like travel reimbursement for air and hotel, or access to other features. The buyer could only access specific Diamond-owned properties. 

The Hawaii sales agent said that Hawaii points were the premium to own and in huge demand by buyers. They explained that Hawaii points have a limited supply, so I could use them and then easily sell them. In fact, they said Diamond itself would likely buy them back because they were running out of property in the tight Maui market. 

Trevor pretended to be disappointed that I was sold a pack of lies, and implied that the Diamond rep knew the Hawaii points had no resale value. He said the rep should have disclosed this fact about worthless “ownership” points, worthless even when sold in Hawaii. I was really discouraged. Trevor posed as my friend, sorry to have to explain this to me.

Trevor offered a solution. Apollo owned Diamond, and Apollo was going public in the next couple of months. He said Apollo wanted Diamond to be clean as a whistle to have a stellar rating and reputation. Many owners had complained about not being able to resell, so Apollo had created a new class of ownership called “membership” which entitles a future buyer to all the Platinum benefits of my points. The maintenance fees for “owners” were going to skyrocket, compounding every year. He showed me a horrifying chart showing maintenance fees growing to a million dollars in aggregate over 20 years.  But the “membership” category would be capped. This would result in huge savings over time.

Trevor said the terms of the public offering SEC filing by Apollo mandated that points had to be sold at a base rate of slightly over $11/point. No more bargaining. Trevor said there were scores of Platinum buyers clamouring to buy points, as they would not want to pay the new rate, creating a hot market to sell points to those who had previously purchased “ownership” points like I had been mistakenly sold. Trevor said he would give me a list of buyers with their emails once Apollo went public. Of course, it would be up to me to make a private party agreement.  We had an elaborate discussion about what my average cost per point would be – about $4.50. 

Trevor said he had recently purchased points, knowing he could sell them back at a profit. Being leery, I said I wanted to see his purchase contract, which he said was at home, so on speakerphone, he called his wife to ask her to fax it.  She answered, such a sweet voice, and said she was at the market, but would send it as soon as she got home. So we took a break, as we’d been talking for hours. The break stretched to an hour. When we reconvened Trevor showed me his purchase contract. It must have taken an hour to make the mock purchase contract, backdate it, and have it faxed.

The hook was lowered.  I would be required to buy 25,000 points at $112,500 in order for Diamond to convert all my “ownership” points to “membership” points.  I was shocked at the dollar amount. It was like betting on the come, but it seemed the only way out. In about 2 months, Apollo would go public and Trevor would give me a list of eager existing Platinum owner-buyers. As I stalled, exhausted and discouraged, Sales Manager, Bradley reassured me.

I signed the purchase contract with misgivings, and explained to the contract/quality control guy (who said he was there to protect me from any misleading sales practices), that I was forced to buy points in order to be able to sell points in the near future and at least break even.  He didn’t blink an eye, which was reassuring. 

During this process, a loved one was rapidly sinking into dementia/Alzheimer.  

Members and current and former timeshare sales agents like Candace can help by joining forces with others seeking to reform timeshare. Sign this petition for reform to let your voice be heard, and join one of these self-help groups.

https://www.change.org/p/state-legislators-in-arizona-florida-and-nevada-demand-reform-of-the-timeshare-industry-s-unfair-and-deceptive-practices

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://everythingabouttimeshares.com/consider-exchange-options/

Free at Last Facebook

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/  

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 Group

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

Once again thank you Patty for taking the time to attend the trial and submitting your report, itjust unfortunate that it was not the result that Inside Timeshare and our readers had hoped for. We must also give Candace a very big thank you for having the courage to take on the big boys, we all hope that you will now move on and rebuild your life.

If you have any comments or views on this or any other article published, please do use our contact page and let us know.

That is it for this week, have a great weekend and join us again next week.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this week’s Letter from America, we today publish yet another “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” from yet another Veteran, Ron Tzinski. Since we began highlighting these stories, Inside Timeshare has received around 111 complaints from Veterans and how they have been targeted and lied to by unscrupulous sales agents, yet the timeshare companies still allow the deceptions and lies to continue. These are men and women who have given their lives to the service and defence of the country and this is the thanks they receive! Despicable is the only word I can use without the use of profanities.

Part II Timeshare Reinvents Subprime Mortgages

What Wyndham Timeshare Hardship Department?

Veterans Speak Out

Part I Theresa Provides Insights into Wyndham’s Defaults

https://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-35/

http://www.centeronelderabuse.org/veterans.asp

Part III Why centeroneelderabuse.org Suggestions Offer no Help

On July 11, 2018, President Trump signed Executive Order 13844, establishing the Task Force on Market Integrity and Consumer Fraud and identifying the Deputy Attorney General as its chair. The Task Force is part of a government-wide initiative to combat fraud against consumers – particularly the elderly, service members, and veterans – and corporate fraud that victimizes the general public and the government. https://www.justice.gov/fraudtaskforce

By Ron Tzinski, an Army Veteran

June 21, 2019

I am an eleven year Army veteran, retired. I became inactive after Desert Storm when President Clinton decided to reduce the military. I have been inactive since 1993. I have an Honorable Discharge.

I would not be in a dispute with Wyndham had I been told about Wyndham’s Veterans Holidays program. I could have taken advantage of their “Always Low Fees” instead of being driven to foreclosure. I have not made a payment in eight months.  


Always Low Fees, Never Any Pressure

While accommodations are mostly at timeshare resorts, you will not be required to attend a timeshare presentation. Some resorts are already sold out and do not have active sales centers on-site. If the resort is still in sales, at some time during your stay, you will probably be given an opportunity to attend a presentation in exchange for a premium or gift (free dinner, theater/show tickets, amusement/theme park tickets, etc.). Everyone at these resorts is given this same opportunity. If you like the incentive gift and want to attend the presentation, you are welcome to do so. But you are under no obligation and can simply say, “No, thanks.”

Veterans Holidays is a part of Wyndham Worldwide, one of the world’s largest hospitality companies.  https://www.veteransholidays.com/about-us

I bought my Wyndham timeshare in Tennessee October 2016.  October 2017, I talked to someone at the Wyndham Grand Desert about getting out of my timeshare. Instead of getting out, I got talked into buying additional points. They promised that if this purchase was a problem, Wyndham would buy-back the timeshare. They explained the reason for this convenience was because Wyndham self-finances loans. And I was buying a trial product. This made perfect sense.

I am a small business owner on the verge of bankruptcy due to massively decreased income. I have the tax returns to prove it. My family needs dictate that I provide the basic day-to-day necessities for my families now, over a timeshare

I never should have been sold a timeshare in the first place. Even when I bought the timeshare, I made less than $12,000 a year. I’m self-employed. When I bought the timeshare, I wasn’t asked about my income. As Theresa mentioned in her article, she was told a minimum of $75,000 was required to make a timeshare purchase. Also, my wife passed away two years ago, after we had purchased the timeshare. I never even used the points.

I applied for a hardship release. Wyndham started three files on me, but ultimately denied a release. Inside Timeshare sent a draft of this article to Mr Jason Gamel, Sr. VP Legal at Wyndham, and to another Wyndham representative, asking why an annual income of $12,000 a year and death of a spouse would not qualify for hardship. Mr Gamel said at a Florida legislative workshop that Wyndham members need not seek timeshare exit provider services because of Wyndham’s hardship department. You must have to be on welfare to qualify.   

Wyndham does have a release program called Ovations for those without loans:

‘We understand that your situation may have changed since you purchased your timeshare with us and now you’re unable to use it the way you planned. Whether it’s a change in marital status, family needs or vacation preferences, these events impact how and when you choose to travel.’

I just don’t understand the high bar obstacles for release, given Wyndham can take back the timeshare today and sell it to someone else tomorrow for full price. A member can’t even sell the timeshare on eBay for a dollar. Wyndham already has the money I paid until I could no longer afford to make payments. I understand that money is gone. Wyndham is in a win-win proposition, and with no secondary market, the consumer loses.   

‘With Ovation by Wyndham, owners receive the peace of mind that their best interest is being protected, something fraudulent timeshare resale, transfer and cancellation companies cannot offer.’

At least a cancellation company can support you during the demoralizing foreclosure process. Therein lays the rub. You can exit as long as you are paid up. So, what if you are only 2 ½ years into a 10-year loan when your situation changes? And we were told Wyndham self-finances so can easily take back the timeshare. We have no option but foreclosure.

Based on the response we received, Wyndham does not care about me or my situation. I know I am not alone. This Facebook page was started because we need support. At least members deceived can support each other. How sad.

Link to our Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/376743609795740/

I feel that all timeshare companies care about is the money they feel they are entitled to. They care about keeping as many people on the hook as possible. I am sure the units, weeks, and points that everyone is ‘timesharing’ exceed the available inventory. I’m sure that most of the money goes to pay sales presentation incentives and sales staff wages.

We pay a ‘voluntary’ donation to the timeshare PAC ARDA ROC to be our voice, yet ARDA ignores us when we call them out on a violation in their Code of Ethics. Wyndham describes its Ovations program as an award-winning” program. An award was presented to Wyndham by the timeshare lobby ARDA. The president of ARDA is a Wyndham executive.   

I have connected with other veterans. We are now veterans in a different kind of war. The lack of a timeshare secondary market is even more harmful to active duty service members who could lose their security clearances over a foreclosure. Something needs to change, beginning with the non-existent secondary market. It’s a recipe for financial disaster, much like the subprime mortgage crisis.

Afterthoughts by Irene

After reading about Ron’s disappointment with Wyndham’s hardship department, I thought of the legislative workshop I attended in Tallahassee on March 12, 2019. ARDA had proposed a Florida bill that included a provision whereby timeshare exit providers must allow potential customers a 24-hour cooling-off period before signing a contract with an exit company. ARDA and Wyndham were concerned about unfair and deceptive sales practices, yet Ron was told it would be easy to have Wyndham take back the timeshare.

Exit providers and timeshare members wholeheartedly agreed with the cooling-off period as long as timeshare buyers would be allowed 24 hours to consider their decision. This would eliminate the high-pressure “today only or the deal is off” hard sell. The bill ultimately died in committee surely to resurface in 2021.

We are one hundred per cent in agreement that there are many timeshare exit scams, but I’ve been in contact with a few exit service providers who are as sincerely concerned about unfair and deceptive sales practices as we are. “We” are our volunteer Supporters who answer questions for timeshare members filing regulatory and law enforcement complaints for members who feel they experienced unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices.

Sign this Petition for Timeshare Reform. We are working towards 100,000 signatures by 2021. Over 1,200 have signed. You don’t have to be a timeshare member to sign.

https://www.change.org/p/state-legislators-in-arizona-florida-and-nevada-demand-reform-of-the-timeshare-industry-s-unfair-and-deceptive-practices

Marine veteran Jim Sherwood is a 100% disabled Marine Corp Master Sergeant. Wyndham did resolve Jim Sherwood’s request for hardship, so there is a legitimate hardship department. Mr Sherwood’s article was published on March 8 of this year. We appreciate Wyndham’s response to Jim Sherwood’s request for hardship, but Mr Sherwood was at his wit’s end when he contacted Inside Timeshare, after denials following the VA’s report that he and his wife were unable to travel.   

Thank you to Ron for sharing his experience. Our standard disclosure is that we know there are many happy with their timeshare purchase. That doesn’t make up for thousands of families reporting deceptive and unfair timeshare sales practices. We have organized an outreach committee to seek more disclosure for veterans buying timeshares.

Related article: A Legislative Scoreboard

https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-45/

Whistleblowers of America is a nonprofit organization assisting whistleblowers who have suffered retaliation after having identified harm to individuals or the public. Together, we can speak truth to power.

https://whistleblowersofamerica.org/

Self-advocacy groups 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.

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

https://everythingabouttimeshares.com/consider-exchange-options/

Bluegreen Facebook

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

Wyndham Facebook

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

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 Group

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

Thank you, Ron, and also to Irene Parker for her contribution to this article, we would also like to thank all the volunteers who are helping with the advocacy efforts and giving others some hope.

It is such a shame that the timeshare companies act the way they do, they allow their own sales agents to destroy the lives of those who have served, all for what? There is only one word and that is GREED!

Inside Timeshare welcomes your comments and views on this article and any others published, just use our contact page and get in touch with us.

That is all for this week, join us on Monday for Part Six of our exclusive story on Silverpoint Exposed. Have a great weekend.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to another Letter from America, today Irene Parker has a look at the Coalition to Reform Timeshare and the petition which needs your signatures. This has been a recurring theme on our pages, the timeshare industry needs to change how it works, it is in dire need of reform, yet it seems they are not listening to the hundreds of complaints which are hitting not just forums like Inside Timeshare but many other forums, websites and FB groups that you will find on the internet. Inside Timeshare has received hundreds of emails asking for help, yet that is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

The industry needs to change if it is to survive, it has created the problems yet it does not even acknowledge them or admits that there is a problem. It is responsible for the myriad of scam exit and resale companies that exist, all because it fails to police how its own sales force operates. The time for change is here, it is in your own interest to be part of this and sign this petition.

Timeshare Wars Continued

Has Diamond Resorts Offered a Compromise through Transitions?

A Petition and a Coalition to Reform Timeshare

By Irene Parker

June 14, 2019

A Coalition to Reform Timeshare (CRT) was launched to advocate for the rights of more than 9 million timeshare owners in the U.S. CRT is made up of individuals and organizations dedicated to reforming the timeshare industry.

Timeshare developers feel the industry is just fine and doesn’t need reforming. Where do you start when two sides are so opposed? How do you narrow the gap?

Our volunteer Supporters at Timeshare Accountability Group™ (TAG) feel both ends of the timeshare sale need some reform. The Change.org petition already received over 800 signatures.  Sign our petition today to show lawmakers and the Timeshare Industry at large that there is a need for change.

https://www.change.org/p/state-legislators-in-arizona-florida-and-nevada-demand-reform-of-the-timeshare-industry-s-unfair-and-deceptive-practices

After signing the petition, a prompt appears asking for a donation. I questioned how donations are spent. One of our Supporters received this answer from Change.org:

Similar to boosted posts on Facebook or sponsored tweets on Twitter, promoted petitions let you pay to show any petition (including your own) to other potential supporters on Change.org or our distribution which supports our platform as well.

Has Diamond Resorts provided a bridge between members and exit providers?

I’ve heard timeshare exit service providers say, “If the developers would just take back the timeshare, there would be no need for timeshare lawyers or exit service providers!”

Well, Diamond Resorts is taking back timeshares at a record pace. One member reported that she had to wait on hold for five hours at year end. I can’t speak for the entire universe of Diamond Resorts members, but I can speak for the Diamond members on our over 3,000 member-sponsored Facebook page.  I can’t recall one post from a member who applied for Transitions and was not accepted. Many members who successfully exited their timeshare via Transitions remain on our Facebook to advise others.

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

I posted asking members to share their Transitions experience. Six members responded, all positive. Veteran family Cathy McDyer posted, “We applied & were accepted when the fee was only $250. We had points & a deeded week.” One member reminded me that points or weeks purchased on the secondary market are not eligible.  

Diamond Resorts launched their Transitions voluntary surrender program late 2017. Members with no outstanding loan and current on maintenance fees can deed back their timeshare by clicking “Transitions” on their member dashboard.

Inside Timeshare has received complaints from Diamond members who say they paid an exit company to get out of a fully paid Diamond timeshare. Not only did they pay more money than the $1,000 Diamond now charges, the process will likely take longer and some exit companies require the member continue to pay maintenance fees while they try to get you out. To make matters worse, the member is no longer eligible for Transitions if they contract with an exit provider.   

I contacted the Newton Group to ask if they would consider directing their fully paid Diamond member callers to our Facebook. The first representative hung up quickly when I asked. I called back and spoke with JoAnn, who also hung up on me as soon as I asked the question.

In 2018 Wyndham filed a lawsuit listing the Newton Group as one of the defendants. DC Capital Law is also listed as a defendant. DC Capital has filed a lawsuit against the timeshare developer ARC Americano.

https://dockets.justia.com/docket/florida/flsdce/9:2018cv81251/535273\https://insidetimeshare.com/tag/americano-beach-resort/

If Diamond is accepting their timeshare points and weeks back (at least according to our Facebook members), why are some exit providers charging $3,000 or more to get a member out of a fully paid Diamond timeshare rendering them ineligible for the program?

I’ve asked exit providers to test my proposition by referring a few callers to our Facebook page. They would not need to convince the member. It could be a suggestion after, “Have you reached out to the company?” If the member would be denied, it would strengthen the argument as to why timeshare exit service providers are needed. Can you imagine the good will that would ensue if this were to happen?  It would be one baby step to solve this nightmare without dueling lawsuits.

Signing our Change.org petition will also support the establishment of a Timeshare Bill of Rights. My comments are highlighted in red.

1) The right to a 24-hour cooling-off period prior to signing a timeshare contract to allow for the review of all sales and contract information including, but not limited to, other governing documents, public offering statements and covenants that run with the land.

Timeshare buyers also need time to recover after sales sessions that last more than six hours. There have been many reports of driver’s licenses and credit cards confiscated to prevent leaving a presentation, along with other creative techniques. I would add that the buyer could waive this offer if they wished.

In debates over timeshare bills proposed this year, the timeshare lobbyists for ARDA in Arizona strongly objected to allowing timeshare buyers 24 hours to review their decision to sign a perpetual timeshare contract, despite lobbying for a 24-hour cooling-off period in Florida and Nevada when it comes to signing a timeshare exit contract.

There is no other industry that would disintegrate if the buyer were allowed 24 hours to think about signing a contract. It’s because timeshare contracts are perpetual, accompanied by rising maintenance fees, and has no secondary market. Complaints about deceptive sales abound.

2) The right to receive complete disclosure of the true market value of the timeshare, prior to the timeshare being purchased.  

Some timeshare companies do disclose this, but the buyer doesn’t read the contract. The consumer does need to do their part by reading the contract.

A major concern is the lack of a secondary market. If the primary housing market placed restrictions on the ability to sell homes, think of the effect this would have on the housing market. Some timeshare companies list in their annual reports that a viable secondary market is a risk to investors. One private equity firm even described the lack of a secondary market as a reason to buy the stock!

In summary, customers experience a reasonable value proposition tempered by the lack of a secondary market. The secondary market has undoubtedly had its growth stunted because the absence of the market creates an opportunity for the imeshare companies.

Scott Miller, Founder of Greenhaven Road Capital, Latticework

3) The right to be free of any high-pressure sales techniques and verbal misrepresentations intended to circumvent the assessment period. For example, “Today Only” offers or the requirement of any form of advance payment to attend a timeshare presentation. Developers would be prohibited from collecting and withholding a credit card, driver’s license or other items before or during the timeshare presentation.

The verbal representation clause appears in many other contracts but widely reported to be abused and overused by unscrupulous timeshare sales agents.  Three against two tag-teams are skilled at holding attendees hostage. Is the gift worth this?

4) The right to record the entire sales presentation or to require the developer to record the entire sales presentation, including the closing of the sale, and to retain the recording for a period of 24 months with no waiver.

My biggest beef is timeshare companies that record the closing session, and then hold that recording against the member, but do not allow the member to record the sales session. Some states, like Nevada and Arizona, allow recording, but the consumer on vacation mode never thinks to do so. After all, they were told they were just required to hear about a new resort.

5) The right to full transparency during the sales presentation without any waiver of verbal representations during the closing of the sale. This right also prevents owners from being required to attend “update meetings” or similar meetings if a sales presentation is conducted during this meeting.

6) The right to full disclosure of the resort owners’ association financials, as well as disclosure of any and all HOA fees, including indirect resort costs imposed on owners which may increase maintenance fees and special assessments. This right also includes yearly owner roster notifications that disclose the number of weeks or points under developer control with the HOA, not excluding resale and rentals the HOA has control over.

7) The right to have the rescission period for a contract extended to one week after a person returns from their vacation to allow appropriate family and/or legal counsel review. The rescission date would be clearly noted in the contract based on input from the consumer on when they return home.

Unfortunately, even this extension doesn’t help when timeshare sales agents are skilled in dodging the rescission period as evidenced by Tuesday’s Inside Timeshare article in which the buyer was told to wait a few months until they had made a couple of months of loan payments before applying for an exit program. Many are told of maintenance fee relief programs that do not exist. They don’t discover they were lied to until they attempt to pay their maintenance fee invoice in December.  

https://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-34/

8) The right to be free of sales calls from the timeshare developer before or after the sale and the right to be free of attempts by the timeshare developer to have a consumer re-activate a previously rescinded sales contract.

I think this provision is a stretch. Most companies, especially cell phone companies, have customer retention departments.

9) The right to full disclosure of the entire cost of timeshare ownership, including available interest rates, before a consumer signs a contract. This would include projected increases in maintenance fees based on the average maintenance fee increase for the past five years for an individual property.

I think the buyer has the total cost including interest as stated on the purchase agreement.

10) The right to have sales agents and timeshare companies subscribe to an industry code of ethics.

There is an industry code of ethics, but it is ignored, based on hundreds of complaints sent to ARDA ROC which they ignored. The board of ARDA consists of timeshare executives, so the complaining member is complaining to the chief wolf guarding the chicken coop. If the industry doesn’t respond to over 200 timeshare members reporting unfair and deceptive practices, what good is a code of ethics?

11) The right as a timeshare owner or vacation club member to have priority booking of reservations over the general public.

A good idea, but I think it would be hard to prove a member does not have priority.

12) The right to unilaterally terminate an unencumbered, non-deeded timeshare interest with written notice to the developer upon making the current “use year” maintenance fee payment.

To join the Coalition or share your story, go to ReformTimeshare.org. Inside Timeshare also welcomes member submissions. Speak up and speak out. Right now the only enforcement seems to be via the media and the media seems reluctant to take on the mega-money associated with the front end of the timeshare sale, so join our efforts to reach sympathetic lawmakers and members of the media not afraid of big money.    

Other member sponsored advocacy groups:

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.

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

https://everythingabouttimeshares.com/consider-exchange-options/

Bluegreen Facebook

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

Wyndham Facebook

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

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/

Thank you Irene, let us hope that this petition really does take off, the industry is in need of reform, either they do or the lawmakers have to step in and do it for them just like in Spain.

So that is all for this week in the murky world of timeshare, join us again on Monday with Part Four of our exclusive on the truth behind Silverpoint.

The Tuesday Slot

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Tuesday Slot, once again Irene Parker highlights another complaint and explains how it should be written. This is just one in the hundreds that Inside Timeshare has been receiving, all have the same hallmarks, so it does make you wonder that if all these people are saying the same thing, yet none of them knows each other, something must be wrong. The Timeshare Industry needs to take note of these articles and ensure that their sales agents tell the truth. We can only live in hope.

How to Write a Clear and Concise Complaint

Lesson 39 from the Free at Last Timeshare Support Course

http://www.udprep.info/

All proceeds benefit the nonprofit Straight-A Guide

By Irene Parker

June 11, 2019

The first step in any complaint process is to prepare a clear and concise complaint. Complaints received by Inside Timeshare are almost always confusing, like someone describing a car accident they just witnessed. When a timeshare member contacts Inside Timeshare with a timeshare complaint, to understand the complaint, I frequently ask, “What do you mean by that?” or “Can you provide an example?”

I selected the complaint below as an example of a before and after complaint because the deception reported is brazen and easy to understand. The complaint is an actual complaint.

The member reported that they were told in order to be eligible for the company’s Voluntary Surrender program they would have to buy additional points. This was not true. Another member was told they would have to convert their deeded timeshare to points to be eligible. This was not true either.

A responsible exit program offered by the developer doesn’t help someone who learns they were duped just days or months after purchase.

Tina’s complaint is not resolved so we will not identify the member or the timeshare company. I have changed their names.

Tina said they were told they had to upgrade from one loyalty program to the next to be eligible for the company’s Voluntary Surrender program. They had been struggling to make the high interest rate loan payments. By selling them more points, the sales agent forced insolvency.

To prepare her complaint, I advised Tina not to use words like lie or scam. Put yourself in the reader’s perspective. Emotional words that cannot be proven will turn off your reader. Even if you were scammed, your mission is to write up what happened to explain why you feel you experienced unfair and deceptive sales practices. Highlighted in red are my suggestions and the reasons why I felt my suggestion would make the complaint more clear and concise.            

Tina and Tony’s complaint as prepared by Tina

Tina and Tony Smith

Our California address

Our Phone Number

June 5, 2019

To Customer Service, ARDA ROC, CEO, sales agent

Tina had started her complaint with “To whom it may concern.” Send your complaint to specific individuals or organizations. The timeshare PAC ARDA ROC does not mediate disputes but they have a code of ethics.

We are writing to demand that our last two contracts below be cancelled due to fraudulent and negligent misrepresentations that took place in Las Vegas.

Tina and Tony made four purchases. They were so angry they wanted all their contracts cancelled. It is unlikely a developer will cancel all contracts, especially those over a year old. However, if told the timeshare was like real estate and easy to sell, the member doesn’t know they were lied to until they try to sell the timeshare.   

We were deeded timeshare owners before we were falsely told we had to give up our deed and buy points. We were free and clear of any loans before buying points.

  1. In 2013 we purchased 15,000 points with sales agents N S in Las Vegas for $25,750.
  2. In 2014 we purchased 7,500 points for $24,630 in Las Vegas from Sales Agent J G.
  3. In 2016 (Contract #xxx) we purchased 7,500 points for $23,925 in Las Vegas for 7,500 points with the same Sales Agent J G.
  4. In 2018 (Contract #xxx) we purchased 8,500 points for $26,105 in Las Vegas from sales Agent R S and Manager M G (J. G’s brother.)

Our third purchase in 2016 was our second purchase from J G. The concierge said we had to attend a mandatory update meeting.

(They were not on a promotional trip. It was not mandatory to attend the meeting).

He told us if we declined the update they will be forced to have us pay for our stay even though we had booked our stay with points.

I suggested they delete “the meeting had lasted well over 1-hour” because all timeshare meetings are over one hour. Unless the meeting lasted five hours or more, it will have no bearing on a complaint.

We said that we were fine with what we had. We didn’t need any more points. J G said if we don’t upgrade now we will lose special pricing. We remembered he said the same thing in 2014, but the numbers he presented looked so good.  

We repeated ourselves and stated we are helping our daughter in college, and we don’t have extra cash. He said, “You can put the down payment on a credit card. This is a one-time deal. You will be losing thousands of dollars if you don’t accept today.”

We said over and over that we are not people who make that much money. I’m a stay at home mom who takes care of foster children and my own children. Our priority with our finances is to help our daughter with college. J G said our points will appreciate just like real estate and said that he uses the interest paid on the loan as a tax write-off.

Points do not appreciate and the interest cannot be written off. It was okay to say we are not people who make that much money in this context, but “I can’t afford it” is not a valid reason for release, any more than you can go to your home mortgage lender and say, “I can’t afford this.”

At our last Upgrade in 2018 in Las Vegas we purchased 8,500 points for $26,105 in from R S and manager M G. The accumulated loan balance is $80,117.99.

It’s best to isolate the numbers because when they get too mushed in a narration they lose meaning.

It was stated that if we pay in full over the course of the period our loan amount would increase to a total of $152,301.30. Our maintenance fees are $6,897.77. We pay our fees monthly with a credit card because it is too much for us.

The member here is referring, I think, to the total amount they would have to pay if the loan went to maturity. It’s not meaningful to mention this amount because the total amount of any loan with interest is staggering. In addition, it’s the buyer’s responsibility to read the purchase agreement. This information is clearly stated on that agreement.

I told them to delete mentioning maintenance fees.  Mentioning maintenance fees really has no bearing on anyone’s complaint unless it involves an allegation that the member was promised the maintenance fees would go down if they purchased additional points, but they went up.   

This upgrade was done with R S, and his supervisor M G. We again said we did not want to attend. We were on vacation and did not want to be bothered. Again, concierge told us we needed to attend or our stay will be charged.

R S proceeded to show us how much an upgrade would cost. I told him I wanted out of the timeshare. We had heard about and wanted to look into the company’s voluntary surrender program.

He told us that in order to be eligible for The Voluntary Surrender program we needed to upgrade to have enough points to be eligible.

This is real deceit. This voluntary surrender program does not require purchasing any additional points.

He showed us numbers on how much our timeshare company would pay us for our points if we become eligible for the Voluntary Surrender program. We asked why we needed to upgrade to be eligible. He said, “You have to be a Platinum member to be able to get out of our timeshare company.”

(In no way do you have to be a Platinum member to be eligible for this Voluntary Surrender program.)  

We stated we couldn’t afford this. We can barely afford to pay for our maintenance fees. He said “What’s another $300 more on your loan payment? That isn’t too much to upgrade in order to be able to get out.”

We repeatedly told the agents that we don’t even have the money for a down payment. He said we could look to see if there are credit cards available. I said, I don’t want to charge this, why do I have to put a down payment? He said, “We need a down payment because there is no other way to upgrade you guys without one.”  

He said once we upgraded, we would need to make a couple of payments before applying for the Voluntary Surrender program.

(The rescission period was dodged by telling them to wait a few months before applying.)

He came back and asked if we know anybody that has another timeshare we can put that on your file to become Platinum.

(This is in reference to a program that allows the member to include other timeshares. The points credited count towards Platinum status.)

I said my sister does. (Adding your sister’s timeshare does not qualify.) I asked him if this was normal. R said, yes of course and said to ask his manager M G. M G smiled and nodded when we asked as he was passing by, “Even if we don’t own the other timeshare?”

We made a few loan payments and then applied for the Voluntary Surrender program, per R’s instructions. We got denied because we had a loan. We were not informed the timeshare has to be paid in full to be eligible for the Voluntary Surrender program.

We called the company (on my advice) to ask why we are Platinum members if we only have 38,500 points. Platinum requires 50,000 timeshare points. The agents had said that we are Platinum because of adding my sister’s timeshare. They said it would be part of “Declared Inventory.” The company representative said that she never heard of this and would need to check into it. I was put on hold for so long, I hung up.

We thought and believed that we were signing a contract in good faith and that our agents were honest. They were not. We are a family of 6 with one income. We will no longer fight in silence and will do everything we can to help others in our situation by reaching out to the media and to Representative Katie Porter. I will be filing a complaint against R J G and M G with the Nevada real estate division, the Better Business Bureau, the Federal Trade Commission, the FBI, and others.

Please contact me if you wish to discuss our complaint,

Tina Smith

(The complaint should be signed by the family member best suited to deal with this mess)

Tina’s original complaint was one long paragraph. When you read published articles, paragraphs are usually short. When too many sentences run together you can lose your reader. I learned this from my editors at TheStreet, Jim Cramer’s investment news service. One editor often told me, “Don’t bury the lead!” meaning state up front what you want your reader to know. I still hear his voice in my ear when I have buried the lead.

I always suggest you have a friend or neighbor not familiar with your complaint read it to see if it makes sense. Only a handful of the 900 complaints I have read have made sense to me when I initially read them.

Thank you to Tina and Tony for sharing their timeshare financial disaster. We will follow along and let our readers’ know how this family fares.

Timeshare can be a great product for the right reasons and for the right family. When a timeshare member references a volume of online complaints, I tell the member that for every unhappy member, there are 100 who think the timeshare company is wonderful. They may not have been deceived. Just because there are honest agents, it doesn’t mean there are not dishonest agents that should be stopped. Those who have had a positive experience should not judge those who have experienced unfair and deceptive sales practices. There will always be those who blame the victim.  

Join one of the timeshare member support groups. If there are none suitable, consider starting 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.

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

https://everythingabouttimeshares.com/consider-exchange-options/

Petition to reform timeshare

https://www.change.org/p/state-legislators-in-arizona-florida-and-nevada-demand-reform-of-the-timeshare-industry-s-unfair-and-deceptive-practices?fbclid=IwAR1n3m6kFW-xs6qtC4zKhHz1AC0gXWWDlBo2Ba6AWlXEPqlZsrIU2G-DU0A

Bluegreen Facebook

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

Wyndham Facebook

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

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/

Related article: Complaint Instructions revised by a millennial member who resolved her timeshare dispute:

https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-39/

Thank you Irene, all we can hope for is that this dispute is resolved and that Tina and Tony can enjoy a stress free life outside of timeshare.

One thing we must point out, we are not anti-timeshare, we do believe that for many it could be a good product, it is the greed of the sales agents with the blatant use of untruths that is the problem. A problem that can only be solved by the timeshare companies themselves.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this week’s edition of Letter from America, following on from our previous articles on the timeshare bills put forward by Florida and Nevada, Attorney Mike Finn submits his thoughts on this subject with the introduction by Inside Timeshares very own Irene Parker.

But first, a reminder that today is the first day of the Platinum Protest in Orlando, even if you can’t make it, please enter your support for them on the Diamond Resorts Owners Advocacy page on Facebook. We hope to bring you a report from them next week.

Lawyers and Their Important Role in Consumer Protection

By Attorney Mike Finn

Why You Should Sign our Petition asking a lawmaker to sponsor a Bill in 2021 requiring that timeshare buyers be offered 24 hours to review a perpetual timeshare contract before signing.

By Jordan Raskin

May 17, 2019

Our petition preparing to launch:  

https://www.care2.com/?fbclid=IwAR3w3tungUxAWYjY3fSro_WJBRUKB9pe99LiJ_9ur8T5WZOyC9wHsyswqZc

Provide the timeshare consumer 24 hours to review, at least think about, their decision to sign a lifelong perpetual contract, with no secondary market, often without even having tried the product, and often not allowed access to the booking site until after the rescission period.

This offer could be waived if the buyer chooses, either due to the certainty that the buyer wants the product, or the need to sign because the vacation is ending soon.

This offer should not be buried in the electronic fine print. It should be a separate disclosure presented and signed before the sales presentation. The price per point offer would be required to be maintained for 24 hours.

What’s so unfair about that?  

Introduction by Irene Parker

Never mind a lawyer! We’d settle for our mom, dad, son, or daughter!

Both the Florida and Nevada Bills referenced in Mike Finn’s article below, asking that timeshare exit providers provide buyers 24 hours to review their contract before signing, died in committee: Florida HB 2639 and Nevada SB 348 bill are dead  

SB 1430 Companion Bill to Florida HB 2639 Vacation and Timeshare Plans

http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2019/01430

SENATE – Died in Innovation, Industry, and Technology

How do you separate the wheat from the chaff? There are legitimate lawyers and lawyers with questionable business practices. I have contacted a number of exit company providers to inquire about the volume of calls they received. Two of the major exit companies say they receive between 3,000 to 3,500 calls each month from timeshare buyers desperately seeking release from timeshares they were told would be easy to sell. Each company only accepts less than 200 callers as clients, as the member must meet specific criteria of unfair and deceptive sales practices.  

Before we begin with Mike Finn’s article,  

If you are going to be in the Orlando area this weekend May 17-19 Friday – Saturday, please support our Platinum Protestors. Locations and dates provided: https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-49/

Now onto:

“Why Kill All the Lawyers?”

By Attorney Mike Finn

“Add to that advantage the fact that the purchaser purchases on the same day they’ve been introduced to the product with no ability to consult with or review the multipage purchase contract with their own legal representative and you can begin to understand the owner/purchaser’s situation years later when they ultimately seek to terminate their arguably lifelong contractual obligations contained within their timeshare purchase contract.”

It’s hard to say anything about lawyers that haven’t already been said. They are both revered and reviled as staunch proponents and champions of justice or as avaricious opportunists. The profession is comprised of all types, from the most learned jurists to the slightly seamier side of humanity. We lawyers share the same spectrum of positive human qualities and negative frailties as the rest of our species.

The import of this article is less related to the issues of lawyers individually, but rather to the role of the attorney as consumer advocate within the legal system. I speak to the issue of what removing lawyers, or significantly diminishing their role to effectively represent their consumer clients, does to strengthen or weaken consumer protection in general, as a matter of national policy.

Currently, there is pending in at least two states with a significant timeshare presence, Nevada and Florida, House and Senate Bills sponsored by ARDA, the timeshare industry’s trade association. Ostensibly, per the statements made by ARDA’s political arm, ARDA-ROC (American Resort Development Assoc.-Resort Owners Coalition), the primary intent of these Bills is to enhance consumer protection. However, to some of us on the consumer side of the equation, we suspect there may be a darker, more industry serving purpose. These Bills seek to regulate two separate and quite distinct groups, lawyers and timeshare exit companies.

There can be no argument that some regulation is warranted, specifically in regard to the unlicensed and unregulated timeshare exit companies; however, this ‘shotgun style’ approach of lumping-in lawyers with this proposed legislation will if passed, create some chilling and decidedly consumer-unfriendly impacts on the timeshare consumer/owner.

To further distinguish these totally disparate entities, lawyers are already both licensed and extensively regulated by their respective State Bar Associations. Additionally, as lawyers, (and unlike exit companies) we are specifically trained and educated to handle matters involving contract disputes, as well as debtor/creditor rights issues and other relevant matters that may well arise in the course of a controversy. Without getting too far into the weeds, I think it’s fair to state that the pending State Bills are clearly designed to severely limit and restrict the involvement of both timeshare exit companies and, from my perspective, more importantly, lawyers, in terms of their ability to provide services to timeshare owners seeking third-party assistance in terminating or modifying their timeshare purchase contracts.

To summarize the owners’ plight, many owners didn’t realize that their purchase contracts did not include a way to terminate their contract when they could no longer utilize their timeshares because of life changes, like aging, job loss, divorce, death of a spouse, or other major life changing events. This issue wouldn’t be so troublesome if it were not for the fact that there exists little to no resale value or market for these timeshare interests, trapping owners who cannot continue to derive any benefit from their ownership, but remain legally bound by their purchase contract, subject to annual rising maintenance fees and other contractual liabilities.

The ‘timeshare exit’ industry sprang into existence to fill the market void created when the timeshare developers themselves were unwilling to offer owners relief from essentially ‘lifelong and perhaps beyond’ contracts. This exit industry includes lawyers who focus on consumer timeshare owner issues as part and parcel of their law practices, and exit companies, non-lawyers who claim industry knowledge and apparent ability to act on behalf of timeshare owners in their negotiations with timeshare developers or property owner associations.

The focus of this article will remain on the lawyer and not the exit company. It’s important to distinguish between these two different kinds of organizations and avoid comparing the two. They are completely and totally unlike and should not be combined or grouped together in these Bills. It’s impossible to make any logical form of comparison beyond stating that each seek to represent the consumer timeshare/owner in dealing with the respective owner’s timeshare situation. Combining the two and treating them as equals in proposed legislation is grossly inaccurate and inappropriate. It only adds to consumer confusion!

Attorneys have undergone extensive education and training and have prepared for and passed a state mandated Bar examination in order to prepare themselves for dealing with contested and controversial legal issues. Our legal system is by definition adversarial in nature. Justice involves a process by which parties on each side of a controversy present, through their selected legal representative, their respective position to an impartial determiner of the facts in order to produce a just outcome. Indeed, our very symbol of justice is a robed and blindfolded woman holding a scale aloft in her hand.

Each side, through its appointed legal representative, presents its best case to the referee, hearing officer, or judge and jury. At the end of the contest, the winning side, through presentation of evidence and persuasion, tipped the scales in its favor. This is our legal system, or at least the portion of it that decides controversies. Add to our justice system the requirement that each side starts off with a level playing field. Neither side has gained an unfair advantage prior to the contest commencement. As a condition of fundamental fairness, may the side with the most compelling case for justice win!

What can skewer the ‘level playing field’ aspect of the justice model, is if one of the players gets to the game before the other side, gaining a one-sided advantage. Arguably, that’s exactly what the Timeshare Developer has been able to do. Since the state requires the Developer to register and apply for a license to market timeshares within that particular state, the Developer has prepared its purchase contracts and other disclosure documentation and submitted them to the appropriate state agency well in advance of its initial sale. It’s probably fair to suggest that these purchase agreements were prepared by an able team of lawyers with the Developer’s best interests in mind. In fact, the only remaining task for the Developer’s sales team at the time of consumer purchase is to fill in the blanks on the preprinted purchase contract with the purchaser’s name and other pertinent information.

Add to that advantage the fact that the purchaser purchases on the same day they’ve been introduced to the product with no ability to consult with or review the multipage purchase contract with their own legal representative and you can begin to understand the owner/purchaser’s situation years later when they ultimately seek to terminate their arguably lifelong contractual obligations contained within their timeshare purchase contract.

Now that you can envision, from the consumer’s perspective, the un-level playing field that the consumer finds themselves on at termination time, and add to that the circumstances that would exist if the Timeshare Developers are successful in passing these new laws. These Bills, if passed, would further restrict the consumers’/owners’/members’ ability to seek justice within the legal system, if the lawyers’ ability to represent the consumer is constrained and restricted.

From where I sit, as lawyer representing timeshare owner/consumers, it appears that the timeshare industry is dissatisfied with its already existing unfair advantage over their consumer and still seeks to tilt the field further in their favor. My advice to them (not that I anticipate them appreciating any of it) is to show a kinder, gentler aspect to your loyal owners by either recognizing and permitting an easier contract termination, or, at minimum, not further attempting to restrict their right to effective legal representation as they seek relief from their onerous timeshare purchase contracts.

Respectfully submitted,

Michael D. Finn, Esq.

Thank you Mike and Irene for this week’s edition of Letter from America, these articles are certainly helping many timeshare owners see exactly what is going on in the murky world of timeshare.

If you have any views or comments on any article published then use our contact page we would love to hear from you. Do you have a story to tell, be it a positive one or a “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”, which you would like to share, then contact us and we will help you to submit an article.

Well, that is all for this week, remember the Platinum Protest and show your support, have a great weekend and join us again next week.