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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Managementhad 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
Part III Why centeroneelderabuse.org Suggestions Offer no Help
On July 11, 2018, President Trump signedExecutive 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 Holidaysprogram. 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.
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.”
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 doeshave 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.
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 ROCtobe our voice, yet ARDAignores us when we call them out on a violation in theirCode 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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That is all for this week, join us on Monday for Part Six of our exclusive story on Silverpoint Exposed. Have a great weekend.