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ARDA-ROC

Friday’s Letter from America: Consumers being Blamed

Welcome to this week’s edition of Letter from America, since we first published on the subject of timeshare purchases and the consumer labeled as “gullible” and is to blame for their own woes, it has sparked quite a debate on various forums. Today we welcome another old contributor back to Inside Timeshare, Sheilah Brust, who is also a Tarda Board Member and her own take on this subject.

Why the Consumer Should not be Blamed

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By Sheilah Brust, a TARDA Board Member

May 28, 2021 

I have been following ARDA and the Timeshare Crusader’s comments about people like me being gullible, versus Inside Timeshare explaining why the consumer should not be blamed. I read about the non-reliance clause, sometimes called the oral representation clause. I won’t rehash what that’s all about, but being called gullible prompted me to share my experience to explain why my timeshare experience led me to join efforts to form the timeshare consumers’ voice in Washington D.C. 

One of the reasons why the timeshare exit industry is out of hand is because timeshare developers and timeshare industry lobbyists refuse to acknowledge the role that timeshare sales agents play that prompts thousands of timeshare members to contact exit companies or an attorney. My experience serves as a good example. 

I have personally communicated back and forth with Florida’s timeshare division, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) and reached out to ARDA-ROC, along with hundreds of other members who feel they experienced unfair and deceptive sales practices. I won’t go into all the reasons why my reviewer at DBPR, and even the DBPR supervisor blamed me, but I am encouraging the reviewers at DBPR and ARDA to read the book Not Today Buster! Author Vern Thornton, and founder of Senior Vs Crime, explains why the consumer should not be blamed.

Glendora Goodwin, known as “GG” to her friends, is pictured on the cover of Not Today Buster! GG was a “Super Sleuth” in that she worked undercover. She wrote a “Snooper” column for a Florida newspaper. One of her three primary warnings was, “Never buy on the same day an offer is presented.” If consumers followed that advice, it would stop a lot of timeshare complaints.  

I did not think my complaint would be dismissed because I had written proof of deception. Moreover, four others had the same “pencil pitch” in their possession. Only the numbers differed, depending on the points purchased. Note “8631 – 8631 = 0” is written on the left. That was the amount of maintenance fees for that year. The Florida sales agent, writing upside down, explained in great detail how I could be relieved of all maintenance fees.  

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/8hytFMWae3yvjKgo0-ALQBAc6GVKJ1LhhVtS9GQhix6Z_s5bH2XihgWWpQvfrfeklyfD4_EAFyy9br3kAV_k8Uq8fclDtyPcF-Pi71GGjt-VV4RcWgtsQkOXE_gZ-wrSOc6dr52m

Dismissed by the resort, and DBPR, and no response from ARDA-ROC, I reached out to Seniors Vs Crime (SVC), a Special Project of the Office of the Florida Attorney General. I learned that DBPR is not a consumer protection agency. They cannot mediate a dispute or compel a company to cancel a contract. In contrast, Seniors Vs Crime is a consumer protection agency, and can mediate a dispute. ARDA doesn’t mediate disputes, but they have a Code of Ethics that their members are supposed to abide by. The ROC in ARDA-ROC stands for Resort Owners Coalition, the timeshare members’ arm of the Political Action Committee (PAC). 

I reached out to Seniors Vs Crime and met with a “Senior Sleuth” volunteer at her Florida Delray office. They were understanding and so moved that they looked into other complaints I forwarded to them. They seemed shocked that there is nothing to stop deceptive statements, thanks to the non-reliance clause.  

TARDA stands for Timeshare and Resort Developer Accountability, Inc. A few hundred of us are raising funds to engage a lobbyist organization so that real timeshare consumers can be the voice for timeshare consumers, who at present feel they have no voice. TARDA is an all-volunteer 501c4 nonprofit.  

But back to my being gullible, the purpose of this article. I was a Platinum timeshare member. That means that over the years my husband and I purchased points costing our family over $200,000. Having purchased a few times, and used to relying on the ethics of real estate agents, the sales agent’s written illustration convinced us our agent was being truthful. He provided plausible explanations why this new program to relieve us of maintenance fees had not yet been announced so would not be part of the contract. He said the website would be updated shortly. 

Had I recorded the presentation, which is not legal in Florida without the other party aware, I’m not sure if even that would have been enough to cancel our contract. The non-reliance clause gives a green light for sales agents to say anything to make a sale. Even with proof, that one sentence in a stack of documents that says I did not rely on oral statements, legalizes deception. 

Given no harm befell the agent – he is free to continue to promote the ability to be relieved of maintenance fees. The resort responded that while they could understand his explanation to be confusing, it was not illegal. They would take steps to make sure it would be better clarified in the future. Six months later a fifth member complained, providing the same pencil pitch and the same explanation. Their dispute was resolved. Maybe I paved the way.  

All the complaints sent to ARDA ROC that I am aware of were ignored. 

Thank you Sheilah and those who have helped to edit and proofread the article, it has certainly been a great help at the moment. Hopefully, Inside Timeshare will be back next week with a few more articles. In the meantime have a great weekend.

Friday’s Letter from America: Open Letter to ARDA and Timeshare Crusader

Welcome to this week’s Letter from America. Over the years Inside Timeshare has been running this series of articles. We have heard from so many elderly people, veterans, and serving military personnel, all have told similar stories. These revolve around the lies and untruths members allege are told by sales agents employed by Diamond and other developers to sell their product. The initial response to complaints has always been the same, “We are not responsible for what the sales agents say” and “you signed the contract”.

Today’s article was not going to be published, but due to comments made on various social media platforms which Inside Timeshare posts, it was decided that this Open Letter was the only reply. It was one comment made by the Timeshare Crusader which really did spark this change, in the comment Lisa, who we do have a great deal of respect for, calling consumers “gullible”. Considering the horror stories we have published we felt this had to be addressed. Over-reliance on the oral representation sentence, buried in a lengthy contract, implies the consumer is at fault. Only a biased observer will hold deceptive agents blameless.

ARDA has never appeared to address this issue, and as a reminder about oral representations, we do believe that it is too little too late, a case of “closing the stable door after the horse has bolted”. They also do not go far enough to protect consumers from their ARDA members or sanction them when they allow sales agents to say what they like.

An Open Letter to ARDA and Timeshare Crusader Explaining Why the Victim should not be Blamed

https://memeguy.com/photos/images/hypocrisy--7178.jpg
  • Beth in Arkansas, on behalf of younger people buying timeshares, 
  • Tiffany, on behalf of her elderly parents, 
  • Adam, on behalf of veterans and active-duty military,
  • Bernadette, on behalf of those experiencing serious medical conditions,
  • A timeshare member from 2017 who holds a security clearance  

May 7, 2021

If you are considering buying a timeshare for the first time or you are an owner thinking about adding to your vacation ownership portfolio, ARDA-ROC and the Timeshare Crusader recommend that you consider, at a minimum, the following:

https://www.arda-roc.org/important-information-for-buying-timeshare?fbclid=IwAR0DfjCzkYz4VzvaHkASdv1NO8iBx5ETU7S9URkUjdqzty5Y81cP42mNTho

If ARDA and Timeshare Crusader would take the time to read our articles, they would learn why the victim should not be blamed. We are disappointed, but not surprised, that neither organization holds deceptive timeshare sales agents and managers accountable. On a short vacation, if promised the ability to sell points, rent points, access “equity” or refinance, no one is going to attempt to do that while on vacation. The rescission period is easily dodged. It is easy for those who have not experienced a predatory timeshare experience to judge. 

AARP staff writer Doug Shadel explains in his book Outsmarting the Scam Artists” why the victim should not be blamed. An excerpt from the chapter entitled Ether:

This inability to fully grasp how emotion or “affect” influences our decision-making is crucial to understanding why fraud occurs… Even victims who are interviewed after the fact, criticize themselves….This is because they are no longer inside the situation – no longer having their emotions manipulated and vulnerabilities exposed. The ether has worn off.

ARDA and Timeshare Crusader talk about how financing a timeshare is like financing a house. No, it’s not. Home mortgage rates in the U.S. are at 2.882%. Timeshares are financed at 12% to 19%. If a Barclay credit card is used, the interest rate after the grace period is over 20%. If you buy a house but then decide you don’t like the house, you can sell it. Timeshares are virtually worthless.   

Tiffany: My elderly parents were deceived in 2019. The security clearance holder who shares her similar experience below is not a senior, yet she fell for the same pitch that my parents fell for – you have to give up your deed and buy points. My parent’s “QA” agent kept them for 11 hours. My mother called me during the ordeal. I told her to leave. She said she couldn’t because they had their credit card and driver’s license. They attended because they were told if they didn’t attend, they would be charged for their stay. They were browbeaten into giving up the Gold Key deeds they had owned for years. There was nothing in the contract that would have addressed this falsehood, and after 11 hours without food, water, or necessary medication, they were defeated. Diamond’s response was they sounded just fine on the recorded “QA” closing. They lost the two Gold Key deeds that they had for years, and over $30,000 after being told they had to give up their deed and buy points. The full story:

Tiffany Renee’s parents kept for 11 hours:

https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-74/

Bernadette’s Change.org Petition to remove an offensive YouTube: https://www.change.org/Michael-Flaskey-MO-WA-AG-take-down-YouTube

https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-the-story-of-bernadette/

Adam Siler [email protected]

Why timeshare presentations should be off-limits to active duty military: 

https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-75/

Adam, Bernadette Tiffany: Why Buyers Need to Record the Sales Session https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-should-sales-presentations-be-recorded/

Beth in Arkansas: 

I worked as a Covid nurse during the height of the pandemic. My parents gave me 10,000 Liki Tiki points. At a presentation I attended in Tennessee, I was told I had to give the points up because they were so limited. The agent said I could get 5,000 additional points for $4,500. It wasn’t until later I learned I had a $45,000 loan. That’s more than my student loans. I would have never bought the points. Diamond Resorts blamed me. They said on the recorded closing I was informed of the total purchase price. I certainly did not hear that because I would have never signed. I wanted to listen to the recording but they said I could only do so by subpoena. They only provided a transcript in which the QA agent stated the purchase price. I have to trust that the transcript is accurate. I learned that to listen to the recorded closing, I had to get an attorney to send a subpoena, but to send a subpoena, you have to file an arbitration case. I’m 24 years old. It’s too much. I have no choice but to default. My mother is horrified. She thought giving me her Diamond points was a good thing.       

A November 30, 2018 article by a Diamond member with a security clearance:

https://insidetimeshare.com/2018/11/

Timeshare sales can pose a national security risk. For those of us with security clearances, our careers could be in jeopardy if we believe a timeshare sales agent and find ourselves forced to default on a timeshare loan. Since the timeshare sales agent knows they will suffer no negative consequences, if deceptive tactics are employed, they are given the green light to sell by any means, knowing the consumer will be blamed.  

Diamond should want the public to know this. 

At a December 17, 2017 meeting, we asked Davia H about selling our deeded Sunterra timeshare. We had no loan and had tried unsuccessfully to sell it. Davia said there was no way to sell our Sunterra timeshare because we did not have “Full Club Member” benefits. She encouraged us to become “Full Club Members” so we could easier sell the timeshare. Davia said our Sunterra timeshare was worthless. We needed to upgrade to “Full Club Member” benefits to receive “benefits that would increase the value of the timeshare to make it worth buying.” We feel not informing us that timeshare points are worthless was a material omission.  

She used asymmetric information. This is where one party has more or better information than the other.  

Davia advised us to wait six months before trying to sell (to avoid the rescission period) because the value of the timeshare would increase. She said she knew someone who helps people sell their timeshares and could give us her contact’s information. Repeated calls and texts to Davia went unanswered.

Diamond used the recording of the Quality Assurance signing session against us. Why would we ask the question of the ability to make money or sell points if we didn’t know Diamond points were worthless?  The recording of the QA was reported in a Diamond CLARITY press release to be for the purpose of enhanced training. In my opinion, the recorded closing is used as an entrapment.

I signed Bernadette’s petition. We are proof that if you do call Diamond, you will be told, “Sorry, you didn’t bring it up on the recorded closing.”  I sent our complaint to this list of contacts found on our advocacy Facebook page. They didn’t care.   

To: Michael Flaskey, CEO

Barclay’s President’s Office

DR PR Firm

ARDA

ARDA ROC

Association of Vacation Owners

Hospitality

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

This article has been written last weekend and has been set to publish automatically. Inside Timeshare may be back at some point in the next week or so, depending on recovery from surgery.

Have a great weekend.

Friday’s Letter from America: The Story of Bernadette

Welcome to this week’s Letter from America, this week Bernadette gives her story on why they had to default on their timeshare loan. This is not a story that we are unfamiliar with, we have in fact highlighted this over the past few years from many of our US readers. It is just the latestNightmare on Timeshare Street stories which once again highlights the intransigence of Diamond and their behaviour towards “valued members”. The start of today’s article begins with a link to change.org, it is a petition for Michael Flaskey, CEO Diamond Resorts to remove his YouTube video. To members this video is nothing short of condescending towards members, Inside Timeshare urges you to login and sign, our US Cousins welcome all timeshare owners worldwide to sign. Please do so.

Please Sign My Change.org Petition: 

Remove Diamond Resorts CEO Michael Flaskey’s YouTube Featuring the Missouri and Washington State Attorneys General 

https://www.change.org/Michael-Flaskey-MO-WA-AG-take-down-YouTube

Why we had to Default on Our Timeshare Loan 

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/UcPAt-4SAlBz3jsblcl5KhlF1CpjolRBrs-lnGEBh2ijYcycEz0v2E9vZgjQYLgA5sST6pU_xn4KxHpBQdM5ZyXzuSrYRgyWoLDjDe1vv9fnoIZGHlF5_gJOeePkTzgBue49feFF

By Bernadette in Oklahoma  

March 12, 2021

Is Timeshare Considered Real Estate Or Installment Loans?

There are waiting period requirements after foreclosure, deed in lieu of foreclosure, short sale to qualify for government and/or conventional loans. However, there is no waiting period after a timeshare foreclosure because a timeshare is not considered a real estate loan. All government home mortgage programs consider timeshare loans as installment loans.

Read more https://gustancho.com/timeshare-foreclosure

I am afraid that the Missouri and Washington State Attorneys General offices and the former Arizona Attorney General are protecting corporations over consumers. With so many Attorneys General settlements because of complaints filed against timeshare companies, why aren’t there more Attorneys General warning about timeshare companies? At least the former Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen issued a warning about deceptive timeshare sales.  

https://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/local/timeshare-troubles-what-to-do-before-you-buy-and-sell/4953/

The Missouri Attorney General’s Office advised me to retain an attorney after my timeshare complaint was dismissed. On the offensive YouTube former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods warns,

“The lawyers they hire no one has ever heard of…. some storefront clown……”

When I complained about what we were told, the response was that we signed a contract and we could have cancelled during the rescission period. Reading our contract would not have determined:

  1. It was not necessary for us to give up our deed and buy points to be released from our timeshare (a Las Vegas timeshare sales agent),
  2. There was no reason to buy Hawaii points to be able to be released from a contract (a Hawaii timeshare sales agent), 
  3. There was no reason to refinance to be able to walk away in 10 years (a Branson, Missouri sales agent).

Our sales agents never mentioned Diamond Resorts voluntary surrender program, Transitions, available for members in good standing. We were in good standing when we first inquired. Diamond launched Transitions in 2017. 

Frank and Betty were ages 88 and 89 at the time of their purchase. They ended up with a $197,000 timeshare loan and $19,000 in annual maintenance fees. 

https://www.azcentral.com/story/money/business/consumers/2019/03/28/diamond-resorts-convinces-elderly-arizona-couple-buy-timeshare-frank-betty-lusk/3282776002/

Our Experience 

Sent to the following on October 25, 2020  

To Michael Flaskey, CEO, Hospitality, ARDA ROC, Barclay’s President’s Office, Association of Vacation Owners, Hawaii Attorney General, Missouri Attorney General, Nevada Attorney General and Oklahoma Attorney General

We attended meetings because of my husband’s debilitating medical hardship. I was worried about our ability to continue to pay annual maintenance fees. He had a heart attack in 2006 at an early age. We owned a deeded Polo Towers timeshare that we had purchased in Las Vegas in 2003. In October of 2017 my husband suffered a stroke that forced him to take early retirement. He worked as a supervisor at an Illinois state-run Mental Health institution.  

We met with Las Vegas Diamond sales agent Giovanni on November 26, 2018 to find out how we could sell the timeshare. Our oldest son doesn’t want the timeshare and our youngest son has autism. Giovanni told us no one would want our timeshare and our kids would be stuck with it if we did not convert to Diamond U.S. Collection points. He said Diamond would take back those points. We expressed our concerns about having two maintenance fees, but Giovanni said we would not have to worry about that. We ended up with two maintenance fees. We paid $13,590 to convert our Polo Towers points to Diamond points. The purchase price was charged to a Diamond Barclaycard.      

Next, on August 14, 2019 we attended an update in Hawaii with Diamond sales agents Jonathan and Kennedy in Honolulu at The Modern. They told us the agents in Las Vegas gave us wrong information because our sons would be stuck with U. S. Collection points unless we purchased Hawaii points. I was overwhelmed. I raised my voice and was escorted out. This meeting took five hours. We purchased 13,500 Hawaii points for $39,201. I had to borrow money from my sister for the down payment and the balance was financed by Diamond at 19%. By this time my husband needed a wheelchair to get through an airport. We had paid in full for the 2018 Las Vegas purchase. 

Still worried about our worsening situation, we attended an orientation on February 1, 2020 in Tulsa, OK. We met with Branson Diamond sales agent Christy. She said we should convert Hawaii Collection points to U. S. Collection points to reduce our 19% interest rate to 14%. Christy explained that this would create a bigger monthly payment but it would be better in the long run. I asked Christy if there was a way to get out of Diamond. Like the other agents, she said no, but we could drop out after we paid off the loan in 10 years. Christy advised us to go to a bank to get a lower interest rate. We tried two banks. Neither would refinance. Christy said we would get six months free interest with the Barclaycard and we could request an extension. When we contacted Barclays there was no extension available. She said if we didn’t switch to the U.S. Collection, we would incur a $3,000 Hawaii special assessment. There was no way I could afford $3,000. I would like to know if there was a $3,000 assessment. 

We converted to the Hawaii Collection and bought points for an additional $16,912. Our mortgage payments increased to $634.76, our maintenance fees to $900 (we still have the original Polo Towers deeded timeshare) plus $3000 (US collection). The amount financed increased to $56,113. I am 57 years old and my husband is 60. 

The response from Diamond 

When I called Diamond on September 24, 2020, a Hospitality agent asked me to give her two times to talk. I provided two times allowing a three hour window period. Over two days I spent six hours waiting for her call. On October 6 I sent her a letter to update her on my husband’s health because he had another ER visit. 

The Missouri Attorney General responded that it would be difficult to achieve a resolution and suggested we retain an attorney. The Hospitality agent suggested we apply for medical hardship. That didn’t feel right. I decided to launch my Change.org petition after listening to the following comments made on YouTube. 

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt states: 

“They (exit companies) directed consumers to pay a variety of additional expenses.” 

Diamond CEO Michael Flaskey states: 

“They are taking money from members that really have no idea why they are paying the money. They are adding more prices, more charges.” 

“They (the exit companies) are controlling the narrative.” 

If you post a comment, only Mr Flaskey/Diamond Resort and the person posting the comment can read the comment. The poster thinks their comment is available for public view.

If you would like to join our effort to affect change or share your experience, contact Adam Siler at [email protected]

We enjoyed our timeshare until my husband’s heart attack in 2006. I can only hope enough people join our cause to improve communication between those harmed and those who can make a difference.   

Air Force Veteran Adam Siler’s article, February 26 

https://insidetimeshare.com/a-new-friday-letter-from-america-veteran-active-duty-service-member-outreach/

A few comments following Adam’s article 

https://insidetimeshare.com/start-the-week-military-veterans-article-comments-begin-latest-anfi-appeals-dismissed/

Six additional comments 

https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-more-veterans-stories/

Diamond Clarity™ Promise – DiamondRESPECT

https://www.diamondresorts.com/diamond-clarity

We know that first impressions are everything. That’s why we aim to consistently exceed expectations from day one. After listening to your feedback, we set about refining our sales and marketing programs with a single, defining principle in mind: Respect. Respect for your time… respect for your preferences and opinions… respect for what matters to you.

While other companies make promises, we deliver. 

This is DiamondRESPECT: Transparency

  • We will provide clear, concise and consistent information at our presentations so you can easily decide whether committing to vacation ownership is the right decision for you and your family. 

That is all for this week, Inside Timeshare should be back as normal next week when we catch up on the latest news from the courts and some rather interesting developments in the world of timeshare.

Have a great weekend.