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ARDA

A new Member to EGTBW (Re-published)

Due to the lockdown in Spain there is no news from the courts at present so we have re-published a previous article to add a little bit of humour to the current situation. Back in June 2016 Inside Timeshare published the following article, it started with a “Spoof” Trade Body which Inside Timeshare had just become a member of. Due to some of the articles we have published recently it was decided to republish this article as a warning that even “Trade Bodies” cannot be relied upon to give consumers the best advice or even tell the truth. (The article has also been amended from the original).

Although the article starts with some humour the message is very real, we hope that you enjoy reading it.

Inside Timeshare is proud to announce that it has been invited to become a member of the prestigious trade body EGTBW. This is the European Guild of Timeshare Blog Writers, it is affiliated to the IATBWG, the International Association of Timeshare Blog Writers Guilds.

Becoming a member means that Inside Timeshare must adhere to the Code of Conduct and Ethics of this Organisation.

  1. Members must not attack, make detrimental comments or otherwise demean any organisation that is a member or affiliated to EGTBW or IATBWG.
  2. Members must adhere to the laws of the EU, or the country of registration. Unless we can get away with it.
  3. The EGTBW and IATBWG will not mediate in any dispute between a member and non-members.
  4. If any organisation or entity has a complaint about a member of this organisation it must be taken directly to the member concerned.
  5. Any member may lie or spread false information about any non-member, citing freedom of speech and expression.
  6. If any action is taken against a member, both organisations will fully support that member, no matter what it has done wrong.
  7. Members may display both the EGTBW and IATBWG logos on all promotional material, correspondence and websites.

This Logo is a sign of quality and is a kitemark of excellence.

So there we have it Inside Timeshare has paid its £20,000 a year membership fee for the full protection and backup of these prestigious organisations. It now means we can do what the hell we like, so there!

If this was not a joke it would be farcical but unfortunately, this is all too real in timeshare. On a daily basis we see owners and members being treated in the most disrespectful manner, we have also seen numerous court cases against the timeshare industry for breaking legislation.

There is an organisation that is supposed to be the trade body of this industry The RDO, (In the US it is ARDA), but it is its own members that are breaking the rules. What do they do about it? Not a sausage.

rdo-logo

This organisations own code of conduct states that members should adhere to any legislation and laws regarding the sale of timeshare. Yet we see illegal contracts still being sold, deposits being taken on the day, all in breach of EU Directives which are supposed to be in each member state’s laws.

The industry funds this organisation and it does its bidding, it will not even investigate its members when a complaint is made by an owner or member. They say that you must deal with your own resort/company.

They also believe that the press does not research the stories they publish, creating even more of a slur on the industry. Following is a direct quote from their own website under why join the RDO:

“Vacation ownership has been the victim of poorly researched press attention. These articles and broadcasts can cause serious and lasting damage to the reputation of the industry. RDO works on behalf of vacation ownership companies to clear up any misinformation, accusations of sharp business practices and to actively encourage the education of journalists and travel bloggers.”

“We believe that this work directly benefits all businesses in the industry by maintaining buyer confidence in holiday ownership. Additionally, RDO members have the added marketing advantage of being able to display the RDO logo on their marketing material. The RDO logo is a Kite Mark of quality for the holiday ownership industry and enables RDO Members to offer additional peace of mind to their customers.”

So a prestigious journalist such as Tony Hetherington has poorly researched his articles. (It must be pointed out that MacDonald Resorts have not been RDO members since 2005, but these articles highlight a problem that is rampant throughout the industry).

tony hetherington
thisismoney

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/experts/article-2346500/TONY-HETHERINGTON-I-escape-nightmare-sun.html

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/experts/article-2698355/TONY-HETHERGINGTON-Even-death-not-rid-timeshare.html

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/experts/article-2527546/TONY-HETHERINGTON-Timeshare-boss-relents-spite-fighting-talk.html

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/article-1323162/TONY-HETHERINGTON-Death-doesnt-bring-end-timeshare-fee.html

So these are poorly research are they?

On another point, there have been numerous rulings made by the Spanish Supreme Court regarding the timeshare laws, Anfi (an RDO member) have been on the receiving end of these rulings, having contracts declared null and void and huge amounts having to be repaid to consumers. Anfi believe the court has got it wrong, the RDO it seems agrees with them!

For many, timeshare has become a burden, the membership base is aging, new younger members are not being attracted to the concept, hence many sales offices are closing and staff being laid off. Yet those that want to get out of their membership are being held to “ransom”, they can’t sell (no resale market) and can’t get out without paying huge amounts for the privilege.

What does the RDO do about this problem of getting out of the timeshare?

It enhances its “Code of Conduct” for so-called “legacy” cases, or those sold in perpetuity. The rules are not really very helpful and are as follows:

  • In the event of the death of a joint owner, the surviving owner can surrender their timeshare if they wish and additionally, the beneficiaries of a will are not obliged to take on the timeshare if they do not wish to do so.
  • A timeshare owner who has been declared bankrupt may hand back the timeshare without charge.
  • If a sole owner or either of the joint owners is suffering from a long-term illness that prevents them from travelling to their resort for the foreseeable future, the timeshare interest may be surrendered.
  • In all other cases, an owner may surrender their timeshare interest at any time, subject to the agreement of the RDO member. In such cases any surrender fee shall not exceed a sum equivalent to 3 years current maintenance fees.

(Notice it states “Subject to the agreement”)

As the industry trade body, should not the RDO back up these owners and make sure their members act in an ethical manner.

What of TATOC in all this?

tatoc logo

No surprise here, they back the RDO plans to the hilt, after all they are funded by RDO members who pay them to be members of TATOC, all so they can display this organisation’s logo. Oh sorry, it is another sign of prestige, you can trust us we are members of The RDO and TATOC; just look at our logos!

Since this article was first published TATOC has now been totally discredited and forced into bankruptcy. (Search TATOC in the search bar for previous articles). For years this organisation run by the infamous “Harry or is it Henry” Taylor, duped timeshare owners into believing that it was a credible organisation out to protect timeshare owners. It has now been proven that this was not in fact the case, in fact TATOC’s backing of MacDonald Resorts move to transfer their fixed week owners to the infamous points system and become members of a vacation club rather than owners, is a prime example.

We started this article with a spoof, the only thing is this spoof is real when it comes to timeshare. The industry is in decline, its reputation has been sullied, it only has itself to blame, the past greed and belief that they could get away with anything has finally caught up with it. Consumers no longer believe the “sales pitch”, they can see it is not value for money, members see their resorts being rented out to non members on the internet, usually for less than their maintenance fees. Yet the industry and the Trade Bodies cannot see the writing on the wall because they still believe they are right!

Inside Timeshare will continue to highlight any bad practice and report any news within the world of timeshare. If you have any questions regarding your ownership/membership, or need to know which company to deal with, contact Inside Timeshare and we will get back to you.

Carriage Resorts Annual Meeting Report

Welcome to the last article for this week, as you know Irene Parker is now concentrating on her work with Tarda, so this slot will no longer be called Friday’s Letter from America as it was her one of her twice-weekly slots. Although Irene will continue to submit reports on the timeshare situation in the US when she is able to. For those wishing to follow Irene’s posts plus those from many timeshare owners’s/members, you can do so at the link below. Also please do join and donate to TARDA, they will be working in your interest and need your support.

www.TARDA.org

Carriage Resorts October 21 and 22 Annual Meetings

Will BDO Dunwoody Find Solutions to the Need for an Exit Strategy?

By Irene Parker

October 25, 2019

The Wyndham Carriage Hills annual meeting was almost held October 21 and the Carriage Ridge annual meeting was held October 22 in Ontario Canada. The Carriage Hills October 21 annual meeting was cancelled because the facility could only hold 500 while another 500 members waited outside. Owners were annoyed but felt the chaotic debacle was the best message they could have sent.

The reason for the robust attendance was because the Carriage Board of Directors had notified Owners that they had retained the strategic accounting firm BDO Dunwoody to study the two-fold problem of no responsible exit from the timeshare and the resulting and escalating bad debt. Owners, even those with severe medical and financial hardship, have not been allowed a release from their fully paid for timeshares. They are liable for ongoing annual maintenance fees, as well as their heirs – there has been no responsible exit.

At the Carriage Ridge Oct 22 annual meeting, not much new news was provided other than a statement concerning early-stage negotiations between the two Carriage Boards of Directors and BDO Dunwoody. Board President Marti Ginsherman reported that information as to actual proposals and desired outcomes would not be made available until first quarter 2020.

The U.S. timeshare lobby ARDA does have a Coalition for Responsible Exit. Owners in good standing need only to look for their resort on the ARDA website. If the resort is not found, it doesn’t mean there is no exit. The resort may have a program, but not be a part of ARDA’s program. Usually, there is a charge to voluntarily deed back the timeshare points or deed. Some U.S. resorts are still resistant to any form of exit except foreclosure.

https://responsibleexit.com/

The Canadian counterpart to ARDA is CVOA. They are aware of the dilemma Carriage owners face, responding that a solution will require time and considerable resources. Those considerable resources include the strategic accounting firm BDO Dunwoody which will work with a Transition Team to address problems and solutions.

At the October 22 Carriage Hills meeting, Carriage Ridge board secretary/treasurer Maureen Lee Ah Yen volunteered to head the Transition team and Carriage Ridge owners Lori Smith and Bruce Fleming volunteered to act as the liaison between owners and Transition Team board members.

The most glaring example of the need for a medical and hardship release concerns Stephanie’s grandparents, Gary, and his wife of 53 years Sandra. Gary resides in a nursing home and Sandra lives with her unemployed son. Gary’s entire pension must go towards his care. Sandra suffers from depression, and the worry over finances contributed towards a recent hospital stay.

Published marketing materials provided at the time of purchase stated:

  • Freeze costs of future vacations
  •  Equity $ position
  •  Worry-free vacations

 Maintenance fees have increased from $600 a year to $1,500 over the years. Owners feel they do not have worry-free vacations as the absence of an exit strategy has caused significant stress for many. In addition, thousands of dollars have been lost to timeshare exit providers and timeshare listing services.

Carriage Resorts were acquired by Shell Vacation Club and subsequently, Wyndham acquired Shell. No doubt the argument will be that current owners are not responsible for the original developer’s marketing claims. That does not change the unfairness of owners finding themselves held timeshare hostage.

On Monday Carriage Hills Owner Karen Levins will offer her comments on the current situation and hope for the future.

Thank you, Irene, from all the previous articles on these two resorts and now this report of the Annual Meeting, it is very clear there is a very serious problem for our Canadian friends. In all the years that Inside Timeshare has been running and we include the original incarnation, we have never had a series of stories such as these. They are truly a “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”.

That is all for this week, join us again on Monday with another story of why you need to be careful about who you do business with.

Have a great weekend.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this week’s Letter from America, unfortunately, this will be the last one that we publish as Irene Parker no longer has the time. She must now concentrate on her defence in the upcoming subpoena and also her work with the new Organisation TARDA. Today’s article covers another 5 complaints from owners of the Wyndham Carriage Hills and Carriage Ridge Resorts in Canada. These are another example of a “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”.

Wyndham Carriage Hills and Carriage Ridge Resorts

Carriage Owners’ Reports 129 – 133

Will there be a change in holding heirs responsible for maintenance fees on a fully paid for timeshare?

Carriage Hills and Carriage Ridge Annual Meetings are October 21 and 22

By Irene Parker

October 18, 2019

ARDA’s Coalition for Responsible Exit

https://responsibleexit.com/

“Find Your Resort” will take you to16 boxes to choose from.

Four of the boxes are Wyndham:

Club Wyndham

Margaritaville Vacation Club by Wyndham

Shell Vacations Club owned by Wyndham

Worldmark by Wyndham

Wyndham’s Carriage Resorts is not one of them. I’m not sure if it is because Carriage is a property Wyndham acquired when they acquired Shell Vacations Club, or because the property is in Canada, but these Wyndham owners are being unfairly held hostage by weaponized Canadian timeshare contract law.

Meanwhile, the Canadian government has issued a warning about buying a timeshare in Mexico. Carriage Resorts marketing flyers promised “Freeze the cost of future Vacations” “Equity $ position” and “Worry-free vacations” yet Stephanie’s grandfather Gary is in a nursing home, pursed for maintenance fees. Maintenance fees have increased from $600 a year to $1,500 a year. Stephanie’s story: https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-71/

Canada issues travel advisory due to high-pressure sales tactics used to sell timeshares in Mexico The Yucatan Times October 12, 2019

https://www.theyucatantimes.com/2019/10/canada-issues-travel-advisory-for-high-pressure-sales-tactics-used-to-sell-timeshares-in-mexico/?fbclid=IwAR0LgdWeFEFlsvMf417O5R6KI9A50RykGBsXOpABeDqGsW_BRkyzsKJcE-Q

Excerpt from my comment:

In response to my Inside Timeshare article back in September, I received 131 emails from Canadian residents, Carriage owners, betrayed by false advertising. On Friday I will publish my 10th article about the tragedy of Canada’s consumer protection turning their back on their residents held timeshare hostage. One symptom of Elder Abuse is Financial Exploitation. No one wants to tamper with incoming revenue so point the finger elsewhere. As the late Indian Jesuit priest and psychotherapist Anthony DeMello said, “I’m pointing to the moon and you’re staring at the end of my finger.” Reading the contract would not have helped Carriage Ridge owners. You can’t blame them for believing the published marketing materials.  

I’m told a proposal will be introduced at the upcoming Carriage Resorts annual meetings October 21 and 22 to offer those who wish to exit the timeshare a way out. There will likely be criteria and restrictions that must be met. Let’s hope the Carriage Board recognizes that not even allowing foreclosure, holding descendants responsible for maintenance fees on a fully paid-for timeshare, is draconian, to say the least. Carriage owners anxiously await the upcoming meetings to learn if they really do have a voice.

Carriage Owners 129 to 132

Paul, Dianne, Patrick, Debra and Diane

Prior Carriage Hills and Carriage Ridge reports:  

Stephanie’s Grandparents

https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-71/

Carriage Owners 115 – 128

https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-67/

Carriage Owners 91 – 114

https://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-47/

Carriage Owners 61 – 90

https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-66/

Elizabeth’s Analysis

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

Jeannie’s Medical Hardship Dismissed

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

Carriage Owners 31 – 60

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

David’s Medical and Financial Hardship Dismissed

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

Carriage Owners 1 – 30

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

Dianne mentions in her report that she paid thousands of dollars to advertise with SellMyTimehsareNow. SMTN pirated Inside Timeshare’s keywords so when you search Inside Timeshare you get “Inside Timeshare Sales and Rentals” with a link to SMTN. This is unethical and unprofessional.

Members of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Brokers Association charge no upfront money to list a timeshare.  https://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

Thank you to all the Carriage Owners who have shared their feelings about a drastically restrictive policy that has financially, physically, and emotionally harmed so many. I look forward to meeting those of my new 131 Canadian friends who will be attending the October 21 and 22 meetings.         

Carriage Owner #129 Paul E

Hello Irene!

We bought at Carriage shortly after it first opened. Our hope was that owning in Ontario would give us the ability to use the resort beyond the one week every other year we purchased. What I have come to know is that the contract grossly favoured the developer and left me with virtually no path to exit. I do not want to transfer this burden to my children, and given the condition of the resort, and the changing clientele usually occupying it, we have little desire to use it. We place our weeks with RCI and go elsewhere.

While we are not a hardship case at this point, that day may well come. Maintenance fees continue to rise well beyond the rate of inflation. More and more owners will simply stop paying their fees, leading to even higher annual increases. If not already the case, it will be cheaper for someone off the street to rent a week here than it will be for me to use my owned week. And it is clear that there are thousands of owners like me, or worse. I served on the Board for one year during which time it became clear to me that the Wyndham executives I met with had no interest in resolving these issues. It is so sad to see that a vacation dream for my family has turned into a nightmare!

Paul K, Ontario 

Carriage Owner #130 Dianne C

Hi Irene

Thank you for highlighting the desperate situation facing Carriage Hills/Ridge timeshare owners. Your article was excellent. I have owned at Carriage Hills since 2000. Easily, this was my worst life decision. I have been trying to get out from under the thumb of Wyndham for many years. 

I’ve always paid my bills. It goes against the grain to go into arrears & declare bankruptcy. It would also place an even greater financial burden on the remaining owners who are trying their best to hang on until an exit strategy becomes available. I paid thousands to Sell My Timeshare Now to advertise the property for $1. I have posted on Kijiji for years offering to pay all legal fees for the transfer. I offered to give the mortgage-free title to Wyndham. I offered to pay Wyndham to take it back – All to no avail.

As time passes my financial situation becomes more difficult. As a senior with no discretionary spending, I now squeeze my food budget to save up to pay the maintenance fees for something I do not want & will never use. The Food Bank subsidizes my groceries so I can keep paying into the bottomless Wyndham pit. I am ashamed to take from a charity to help pay for my terrible decision. I am racked with guilt & anxiety. It is nothing short of highway robbery in broad daylight.

Any attention you can bring to this major issue will be much appreciated. Thank you very much.

Regards, Dianne C 

Patrick K Carriage Owner #131

Hello Irene and thank you for your time.

My wife Miriam and I bought into this “investment opportunity” back in 1998. The sales pitch made sense at the time as the dues equalled roughly $450 per year. We signed up for a Red week every second year. Miriam was not so sure at the time, but I bought the pitch and talked her into it. How could we lose as it was an easy drive from home and once the deed was paid off we could build a little equity for the future? Sadly, this investment has turned out to be a money grab and at this time there seems no way out but to keep paying, even after death.

We totally understand some may still be enjoying the experience of a week at Carriage Hills.  The thing I and others are ashamed of is that we only saw the beautiful accommodations and trusted the sales person’s pitch. We also paid some company roughly $700, trusting their word they could sell for us. Once the check was cashed I never heard another word and then suddenly, just got a voicemail for a while, and then gave up.

Our dues are up to date. I have no intention to default but this will not last much longer as a fixed income is fast approaching. I honestly did not see and refuse to believe our retirement income needs to consider a payment “for life” to a company that in no way is losing revenue as they rent out our un-booked paid for units at a total profit.

Sincerely, Patrick and Miriam

#132 Debra F

Hello Irene,

My husband and I bought a Red Week every year week at Carriage Hills resort. We purchased in 2001 when our kids were little.  We were introduced to the concept of timeshare through friends who owned at Smugglers’ Notch, Vermont. 

Initially, we enjoyed Carriage Hills and made several exchanges to various US destinations.  There were some good vacations and great memories. However, after purchasing our Carriage Hills timeshare from the Developer, I learned in hindsight that it was an error. There were resale opportunities that could have saved us many thousands of dollars.  

In 2003, we exchanged into Waterside by Spinnaker in Hilton Head SC and attended their timeshare presentation.  We made it very clear that we had no intention of owning TWO timeshares. We were told that as part of the purchase of one of their weeks, they would sell our Carriage Hills interval.  They said they had a buyer, but we would only get around $3,000 for it. They said the paperwork would be delivered by the time we arrived back home. We purchased another unit with the promise that they would sell our interval at Carriage Hills. Within the cooling-off period, I was uncomfortable because here I was again, buying from a Developer. There was nothing in writing about the sale of Carriage Hills. When I voiced my concerns to the sales rep I was reassured that the documents were in process.  I have a copy of the letter I sent the sales rep, Ted J. Morris, dated December 2003 in which I referenced the sale and faxed him our deed as he had requested!! So now, we own two.

We are older now, and the kids are grown.  With all the changes over the years at RCI, with variable trading power points, needing multiple maintenance fees/intervals to exchange into many of the nicer resorts, lack of inventory etc. and our increasing age and reduced income, we need an exit strategy.  I can’t find a buyer for our Carriage Hills unit, and friends can rent there for the same or less cost through travel websites, so I can’t even recoup my maintenance fee via renting. Carrying the costs of two intervals is not sustainable. To my knowledge, there is no exit strategy for that one either. It’s a terrible feeling knowing that we’ve been taken advantage of.   

For now, my main concern is trying to find an exit strategy for CH. When I look back at the documents that we were given at the time of the sale, and all the ‘benefits’ of ownership – deed and title, equity dollar position, year-round country club, save, rent, lend, sell, will….the benefits are gone, except for the noose around our wallet.

Thank you for any assistance you might be able to provide to us.

Kind regards,

Deborah & Paul F

#133 Diane W

Thank you so much for coming to the Carriage Hills AGM and for meeting with unhappy owners that have no way out. We bought when it first opened, well over 20 years ago. I am sure you have heard from many about the ever-increasing maintenance fees, and the inability to sell or get out. We are seniors now and do not wish to visit CH any longer or to “trade”. Our ability to pay these fees for something that we do not want and will not use is very difficult as we live only on our savings.

We have no children but we do not wish to burden our estate with this “ball and chain” expense. We are fed up with the fact that Wyndham rents these units out to benefit Wyndham. We have two sets of friends that also bought, and feel exactly the same way do, so this email can count for three two-bedroom units, and six unhappy owners. Please Help!

The fact that an exit strategy will be even be discussed at the Carriage annual meetings shows what the collective voices of consumers who have been harmed can accomplish. Get Involved. Make a change where change is needed.

Join our new organization Timeshare and Resort Developer Accountability Inc.

A donation of $10 or more will enroll you as a member of TARDA. 

https://tarda.org/

Other self-help advocacy groups:

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 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://www.facebook.com/groups/CHCROwners/

Sapphire Starpoint  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/insidetimeshare/

Inside Timeshare Facebook Group

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

I wish to thank Charles Thomas, and all who have read and responded to my articles. Due to a lawsuit Diamond Resorts filed against Finn Law Group, a lawsuit I have nothing to do with, I must devote my time to raising $25,000 for my Legal Defense against Diamond Resorts GoFundMe. You can find “Highlights of the Timeshare Week” posts on the TARDA website on Fridays beginning in November.

Thank you Irene for all the work you have put into the articles we have published over the past few years and thank you for all the help you have given to beleaguered owners. Inside Timeshare wishes you all the best in your defence and also with your work for TARDA. 

 Well, that is all for this week, please join us next week for more on the world of timeshare.

Have a great weekend.