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Friday’s Letter from America

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

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

Timeshare Wars Continued

Has Diamond Resorts Offered a Compromise through Transitions?

A Petition and a Coalition to Reform Timeshare

By Irene Parker

June 14, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scott Miller, Founder of Greenhaven Road Capital, Latticework

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other member sponsored advocacy groups:

We seek to provide timeshare members a way to proactively address membership concerns; to advocate for timeshare reform; to obtain greater disclosure from the company; to advocate for a viable secondary market; and to educate prospective buyers.

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

Bluegreen Facebook

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

Wyndham Facebook

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

Sapphire Starpoint New: https://www.facebook.com/login/?next=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fgroups%2F292083584642570%2F%3Fref%3Dshare

Diamond Resort Facebook

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

Gold Key Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1639958046252175/

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

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

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this week’s Letter from America, today’s article by Irene Parker explores the Whistleblowers of America Code of Ethics. A Code of Ethics is meant to be lived by. In timeshare, a Code of Ethics has been something to write and post on your website, but never seem to be followed. It doesn’t help that 200 or so of our readers who have reported violations in ARDA‘s Code of Ethics have been dismissed by the very executives that sit on their board. We take our hats are off to Whistleblowers of America for taking a Code of Ethics seriously. But then Whistleblowers are not in it for the money.

Hollywood Mirage Club

Inside Timeshare has been asked by an independent member of the committee at Hollywood Mirage Club for members to make contact with him as soon as possible. He and one other will be standing for election to the full committee at the AGM at the end of June. The unfortunate thing is that they have been told that there is “no mechanism” for them to contact other members with the Secretary stating he will not allow it under the GDPR (The EU General Data Protection Regulation). A move obviously designed to control the voting, but Article 47 of the GDPR “fully considers the right of members of groups (clubs) to communicate with each other”.

To make contact directly with this member who is standing please use our contact page and we will send you his contact details privately. It is in your interest to get together and have your say.

Now for Irene’s article.

Whistleblowers of America Code of Ethics

As Applied to Timeshare Support Mentors

Information about the 8th Annual WhistleBlower Summit and Film Festival to be held in Washington D.C. July 28 – August 1:

http://whistleblowersummit.com/

By Irene Parker

Friday, June 7

A Whistleblower is normally a person associated with a corporation or government agency that blows the whistle on wrongdoing as it pertains to waste, fraud and abuse, medical errors and wrongful death. You would not think an old lady crying from the rooftops of Florida about vacation plans would qualify, yet the harm done to veterans and active duty service members on the receiving end of a fraudulent timeshare sale has financially, emotionally, and physically, harmed many. Of the 841 families who have reached out to us, 106 are veterans and active duty.

We are asking for your signature on this petition for reform. You don’t have to be a timeshare member to sign.

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

A grown daughter contacted me on behalf of her Bronze Star recipient father. She could not answer all my questions about the timeshare, so I told her to ask her father about it. He had a heart attack when they were discussing it, and at the ER, the doctor noted he had a heart attack two years prior when asked about his timeshare. Her parents are the kind of people who saved up and paid cash for cars, He and his wife had been upsold to the point he had to take out a reverse mortgage because he could not afford the timeshare loan payments. He said every time he walked in the front door, he felt like he was losing his home. A Navy veteran declared bankruptcy. He had been upsold to $2,700 a month in timeshare loan payments, living on his letter carrier’s pension, charging to a number of credit cards before his grown daughter found out.

Whistleblowers of America’s Code of Ethics spoke to me. I thought to myself, “Guilty as charged!” as I read through them.

It’s not easy to live in a state of constant anger, moved by the voices of those desperate and deceived. The only thing that keeps me going is hearing the voice turn from a desperate voice to an empowered voice.

From the Whistleblowers of America Code of Ethics:

  • Counter-balancing dysfunction responses to wrongdoing with informed advocacy and resilience, skill building is the cornerstone of interactions,
  • Understand legal processes and procedures, a guide in problem solving and decision making to overcome toxic tactics.

I employ skills I learned at CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) writing court reports for Family Court judges and interested parties to make a determination as to the best outcome for a child in state care.

I learned an important lesson from my husband Don, a pharmaceutical researcher. The first thing a pharmaceutical company will do if they don’t like a lab’s answers, that would allow the launch of a billion dollar a year drug, is to blame the lab. Don told me to fight with data, not words.

A mentor needs to know their boundaries.

I don’t know if I speak for all whistleblowers, but I think there is a tendency to become over-involved, breaking through necessary boundaries. I will share an example of how I overstepped mine, but in the heat of the battle, we bend rules.

A Harvard graduate and fellow Rotarian turned out to be a brute holding a Korean lady hostage. Thankfully, another fellow Rotarian was our chief of police. He helped me rescue the mom and their toddler. Major Ganot of the Salvation Army was also in my Rotary Club. She could be a Major in anyone’s army after spending a couple decades in Haiti.

Mom and child stayed with us before we returned them both back to Korea. Mom had been a manager of Duty Free shops in Korea before coming to America. Her parents were math teachers at a university. The first night at our house I heard the child screaming. I went to ask mom what the child wanted. Mom replied, “Irene,” the child grabbed my neck and clung. Dad also had child porn on his computer. The police chief found THC in the refrigerator which mom said he used to put on his pancakes. He had DTs and once dropped the child at a Rotary function.

The advice Major Ganot gave to me is the advice all mentees and mentors should heed. “You are less effective if you become part of the storm.” Doctors call this intellectualization, in that if they went into a tailspin every time they lost a patient, they would lose effectiveness. This doesn’t mean the doctor doesn’t care. It means he or she must put their role is perspective.    

In psychology, intellectualization is a defense mechanism by which reasoning is used to block confrontation with an unconscious conflict and its associated emotional stress – where thinking is used to avoid feeling.[1] It involves removing one’s self, emotionally, from a stressful event.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intellectualization

Whistleblowers of America Code: Ethical Standard #2

Shared Experience Rapport

I appreciate more than ever the fidelity of “Semper fi” that exists among those battling a common enemy. Lifelong friendships have blossomed and grown. Once a timeshare dispute has been resolved, we encourage the person made whole, or as whole as possible, join our efforts to respond to others.

The moto of Whistleblowers of America is Speak Truth to Power. I would like to add to that the headline this reporter used in his investigative report about ALEC, a powerful lobby. The television reporter led with “Holding the powerful accountable” and I see “Holding the powerful accountable” as the next step after speaking truth to power.

Ethical Standard #5 Non-judgement A mentor needs to be reflective and inquisitive, but not judgmental. A mentor does not adjudicate. They facilitate problem solving rather than solve the problem.

An obstacle to resolving any dispute is getting your opponent to listen, as opposed to just hearing what the other person is attempting to communicate. Callous customer service representatives “hear” the complainant and respond, “You signed a contract.”

They don’t listen. Leadership coach Stephen R. Covey said it best:

11. Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

https://www.inc.com/dave-kerpen/15-quotes-to-inspire-you-to-become-a-better-listener.html

My collaborator Michael Santos at Straight-A Guide, teaches how self-advocacy can overcome struggle. The outcome may not be what you expected. It may not be the outcome you wanted, but staying the course with determination, and making the most of available resources, is part and parcel of advocacy and self-advocacy. A Whistleblower needs both as they must advocate for their cause, and they must advocate for themselves.

Ethical Standard #11Self-care

The words “disengage when necessary” hit me like a dagger. I hear from one to five infuriated timeshare members a day, seven days a week. The unhappy emails outweigh the “we did it!” emails. Resiliency is a word often mentioned in whistleblowing. Hurtful potshots from our opponents can weigh us down or sharpen our sword. Author Carlos Castaneda, a student of Yaqui Indian Don Juan, described them as petty tyrants.

I have a friend in Sedona by the name of Pete Sanders, a Navy veteran. A technic I learned from Pete, during one of his Free Soul sessions, taught me how to find my brain’s Limbic Center and Joy Center. As I understood Pete’s lecture, you can shift your negative thoughts by employing Pete’s techniques.

The limbic center is somewhere behind the eyes and between the ears. It’s kind of a negative thought center. Think about a time you were so angry that you were acting out in front of your spouse and kids. All of a sudden the doorbell rings and you snap into normalcy. According to Pete, you have shifted negative thoughts from your Limbic Center, to somewhere in the frontal lobe of the cerebral cortex, the Joy Center, a compartment that holds positive thoughts. I took a class in head and neck anatomy and two semesters of A & P, but I’m getting out of my depth.  But trust me; even if I have botched the explanation, it works. I swear that I can feel the “half empty/half full” feeling before and after shifting the same thought.

Pete Sanders of Free Soul

Pete Sanders is an honors graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology with principle studies in BioMedical Chemistry and Brain Science. Accepted to Harvard Medical School, he chose instead to pursue independent mind/body potentials research. That quest led to a revolutionary discovery: how to directly stimulate the brain’s natural mood-elevation mechanisms.

This technique provides a natural alternative to using alcohol, nicotine, drugs, or overeating for coping with life’s challenges. It gives you a method to enhance your feeling of well-being without being dependent on achievement or relationship success.

I look forward to this year’s Whistleblower Summit. I didn’t attend the Whistleblower Summit last year because I thought I was a whistleblower. I attended on behalf of the veterans and active duty service members harmed by timeshare. An active duty service member can lose his security clearance and his career over a mortgage foreclosure, so don’t think timeshare is a silly topic. One Marine lost his air unit command over a timeshare loan foreclosure.

There are laws protecting traditional whistleblowers, but not individuals. I’m alone. But an individual is alone only if they don’t reach out to other whistleblowers for help and support. Rosa Parks was one person who committed a courageous and dangerous act. She sat in the front of the bus. It was a small act, but possibly inspired by the actions and words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King was not so naïve as to think he was going to resolve racial divide once and for all. He knew this problem would not likely be solved in his lifetime. That did not deter his efforts.

One financial journalist called me a gadfly. “You’re nothing but a gadfly to this timeshare company,” he sneered. I looked up the definition.  

The original definition was an insect that stings cattle. Somewhere around the Middle Ages, in England, the meaning of gadfly morphed into “an annoying person who spurs others to action.”

I’m okay with being a gadfly. When I told my Free Soul Florida mate, attorney Mike Finn, that the journalist called me a gadfly, Mr Finn suggested an adjective, “How about the Green Gadfly?” “Like the Green Hornet?” I responded.

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to explain to the attorneys who deposed me for six hours why Mr. Finn calls me gg. The deposition serves as an example of retaliation. I enjoyed explaining to my interrogator lawyer why I am called gg. Gallows Humor, or Humour, as my British collaborator would spell, should be included as a defense mechanism to Ethical Sandard  #11 Self-care . Humor really can be our best medicine.

Thank you to Whistleblowers of America for your support because this is not easy. My twilight years are anything but relaxing.       

https://whistleblowersofamerica.org/

Statement of

Ms. Jacqueline Garrick, LCSW-C

Executive Director

Whistleblowers of America

Before the

Committees on Veterans’ Affairs

U.S. Senate

U.S. House of Representatives

March 14, 2018

Excerpt from report:

Fraud and Scams Against Veterans:

Although WoA recognizes that it is not inherent within the VA mission to protect veterans from fraud and scams that could cost them their benefits, it suggests that it could be assistive in educating veterans against these unscrupulous tactics. For example, WoA has had multiple complaints from veterans related to timeshare deceit and bait and switch tactics, which are defined by the FBI as fraud for profit.  Often elderly veterans are mentioned as being targeted by the Timeshare Advocacy Group, TM which fights for active duty and retired military who fear losing their security clearance, career, homes or other assets.  Foreclosures and financial distress because of these misrepresented investments are happening every day to elderly disabled veterans and their families. In the past, VA has cooperated with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) over mortgage and other loan scams that caused financial hardships for veterans.  Home loans and timeshare loans are identical as both are reported as foreclosures. WoA asks that Congress consider a role for the VBA Employment and Economic Initiative (EEI) could play in cooperation with CFPB to educate and protect veterans from unscrupulous financial predators and fraudulent practices.

Thank you, Irene, for all your hard work in getting these articles ready, along with all the work you do helping those with problems, you are a thorn in the side of the timeshare industry, as well as a Green Gadfly, but you are our thorn and our Green Gadfly!

Paramount – Club Paradiso Tenerife

Information has been received by Inside Timeshare that the resort known as Paramount – Club Paradiso has closed. Those with bookings have been refused entry on arrival and moved to other resorts such as Hollywood Mirage and Beverly Hills Heights.

The telephone is on constant voicemail and the website is no longer working

Telephone: +34 922 787 650

https://www.clubparadiso.com

If you have purchased any product such as standard timeshare, investment packs, company participations or Keys Concierge use our contact page and get in touch. Inside Timeshare will explain your options and point you in the right direction.

That is all for this week, join us again on Monday for Part Two of Exclusive Breaking News: The Truth Behind Silverpoint Exposed.

Have a great weekend.

Wise old dog

The Tuesday Slot

Welcome to this weeks Tuesday Slot article by Irene Parker, who introduces us to Michael Santos, but first, Monday, May 27 was a major holiday in America. Memorial Day honours veterans & soldiers who work to defend even those who may seek to do them harm. Yesterday Inside Timeshare heard from veteran/active duty service member #105 asking about unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices. Many of the veterans who have reached out to Inside Timeshare are disabled, five from Agent Orange. We hope other members of the military will reach out to us because when buying a primary residence greater disclosure is required. We are reaching out to provide the same for veterans applying for a timeshare loan. Too many have been financially ruined because they believed false promises made by timeshare sales agents. The Free at Last Timeshare Member Support Manual is another tool in our arsenal to fight timeshare corruption.

The Free at Last Timeshare Member Support Manual

http://timesharedisputeresolution.mykajabi.com/

Offered by the Straight-A Guide Foundation

https://michaelsantos.org/about/
https://michaelsantos.org/about/

By Irene Parker

May 28, 2019

Meet Michael Santos, no stranger to struggle. Rather than succumb to despair, as many would, Michael faced his challenges head-on. Struggle is struggle. His admitted bad decisions led him to serve 25 years of a 45-year prison sentence. While incarcerated, Michael earned an undergraduate degree in Human Resources Management and a master’s degree. Now he works to serve others in struggle through education, contribution to society, and a support network of people who believe in you.  

Michael’s story: 9,135 Days in Prison TEDXConstitutionDrive 2013

I need help. I’m struggling, overwhelmed, with unending calls from infuriated timeshare members, many financially devastated because timeshare sales agents got away with unfair and deceptive sales practices. While top liars earned $1 million or more annually until eventually terminated, family after family described to me how they were lied to. Particularly painful to me are the stories of veterans and active duty service members harmed by timeshare. A timeshare foreclosure can result in the loss of security clearances.

How can I leverage my time and our team’s limited resources?

Enter Michael Santos of Prison Professors, Straight-A Guide Foundation

Continues with Aspiration, Action, Accountability, Awareness of Opportunities, Achievement, and Appreciation of Resources

In addition to offering a sophisticated platform that has been helping the incarcerated work towards release and reentry back into society, Michael teaches adversity skills. The Straight-A Guide Foundation helps 100,000 people every year, teaching people in struggle how to prepare for success.

Employing these same adversity skills, Michael Santos and I developed a timeshare self-help manual to leverage our timeshare team’s efforts, and the efforts of others experienced in the field of timeshare.

Our Free at Last Timeshare Member Support Manual also offers webinars and podcasts.  http://timesharedisputeresolution.mykajabi.com/


From left, my husband Don, me and Michael Santos

Unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices don’t just harm timeshare members. Honest timeshare sales agents, managers, and even an executive or two have expressed their frustration over spotty and inadequate state regulation and a Pollyanna attitude on the part of timeshare lobbyists and developers insisting all is well in timeshare.

Dr Amy Gregory, PhD in Hospitality Management from the University of Central Florida and Masters in International Business Administration from the Thunderbird School of Global Management was a presenter at a 2017 timeshare ARDA World convention. She describes statistics that tell a different timeshare tale, as reported by RedWeek’s chief correspondent, Jeff Weir:

Here are some of Dr Gregory’s findings:

  • The average rescission rate is 15 per cent (which is identical, ironically, to the daily average percentage of people who buy a timeshare after a sales presentation).
  • A whopping 85 per cent of all buyers regret their purchase (for money, fear, confusion, intimidation, distrust and other reasons).
  • Forty-one per cent of buyers never thought they would regret their purchase, but they did;
  • 30 per cent were neutral prior to buying but then regretted it.

https://www.redweek.com/resources/ask-redweek/arda-world-timeshare-owners

Wondering if there is something wrong with me, I contacted timeshare law firms and timeshare exit service providers across the country and learned that they are also frustrated with this “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” media spin strategy on the part of the industry.

Two of the exit companies I contacted reported that they received 3,000 to 3,500 calls a month from people seeking timeshare relief. Both companies said they only accept as clients, less than 200 callers, as the timeshare member must meet their timeshare deceit criteria.

What happens to the 2,800 or so turned away? Even if your only option is to foreclose, thanks to the orchestrated lack of a secondary market, these members need support. As if someone broke into your home, you feel violated, alone.  Most begin their call to me with, “I feel so stupid.” I respond that I have heard from a detective who works economic crimes undercover, two counter-terrorism experts, two private detectives, a professor with a PhD in criminology, an ICE agent with an M.S. in Criminal Justice, all describing how they were duped by timeshare sales agents.

If you take the time to listen to the entire 20 minutes of Michael’s Top Ten Surrender Tips before Surrendering to Federal Prison, it’s easy to see how prison adversity skills carry over to timeshare adversity:

https://prisonprofessors.com/top-ten-surrender-tips-surrendering-federal-prison/

https://prisonprofessors.com/top-ten-surrender-tips-surrendering-federal-prison/

Michael’s Ten Tips

  1. Expect Challenges!
  2. Understand your Finances
  3. Develop a Reading Plan
  4. Journal, Write and Publish – Writing is Therapeutic!
  5. Personal Belongings – One Navy veteran charged $2,700 a month in timeshare loan payments to credit cards. He lived in fear of losing his home and had to seek advice from a bankruptcy attorney.
  6. Prepare for Communication
  7. Set Your Values and Goals and Create Timelines
  8. Create an Accountability Metric Adhering to Timelines
  9. Quadrant Adjustments Reflecting New Opportunities and Opportunity Costs Visualize/Plan/Prioritize/Execute
  10. Release Plan – Think about your day of release!

Hoping to leverage what I and others have learned, I support the Free at Last Timeshare Support Manual lending what I’ve learned to others. All proceeds from our manual are to be donated to the Straight-A Guide Foundation.  Together we will work alongside those in prison or formerly incarcerated to become Free at Last. I’m pretty sure Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. would support our borrowing his prayer.

I think it was Ella Fitzgerald who said her momma told her, “Go out and make something happen. If you’re not going to make something happen – stay out of the way!” Morgan Freeman said it another way:

These self-help groups were launched and subscribed to by doers seeking:

A way to proactively address membership concerns; to advocate for timeshare reform; to obtain greater disclosure from the company; to advocate for a viable secondary market, and to educate prospective buyers.

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

Bluegreen Facebook

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

Wyndham Facebook

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

Sapphire Starpoint New: https://www.facebook.com/login/?next=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fgroups%2F292083584642570%2F%3Fref%3Dshare

Diamond Resort Facebook

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

Gold Key Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1639958046252175/

Thank you, Irene, and also a big thank you to Michael, we are sure that you will get plenty of support from our readers.

Late on Friday, Canarian Legal Alliance published the following results of cases over the past two weeks, these were against Anfi Del Mar, Silverpoint, Club La Costa and Holiday Club Finland. In total there were 24 sentences as follows:

  • 15 in the Courts of First Instance against Anfi Del Mar
  • 3 High Court against Anfi Del Mar
  • 2 Court of First Instance against Silverpoint
  • 2 High Court against Silverpoint
  • 1 Court of First Instance against Club La Costa
  • 1 High Court against Holiday Club Finland

All contracts were declared null and void and in most cases, clients received back their legal fees plus legal interest.

The total being returned to clients is a staggering 787,664.00€

Obviously some very happy clients but some very unhappy and embarrassed timeshare companies. Well, they only have themselves to blame!

Do you have any questions about your timeshare purchase, want to know if you have a claim or want to just get out, have you been contacted by a company offering you a service and want to know if they are genuine?

Then use our contact page and get in touch, we will point you in the right direction with the best advice available.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this weeks Letter from America, today we publish the final report by Irene Parker on the Platinum Protest in Orlando which was held on 17 to 19 May. This report also includes their brief stories which helps to explain why they are protesting. In the case of Patty and her story, we have received many complaints which have named the same sales agent. Inside Timeshare has read these complaints and it is surprising that for people who have never met how close their stories are. This can only lead us to conclude there is something very wrong in what this sales agent is doing.

What Happened at the May Platinum Member Protest in Orlando

Save the Date for the next Platinum Protest in Arizona:

Veteran’s Weekend November 9 – 11


From left: Anna, Cindy, Sheilah and Patty

By Irene Parker

May 24, 2019

Many have expressed admiration for the efforts of four Diamond Resorts Platinum families protesting on behalf of 85 Platinum members who have reported that they were told to buy additional timeshare points for reasons they say do not exist. Of the 85, 43 reported that they were told they would be able to offset maintenance fees only if they purchased additional points. Others report they bought points told that they must buy additional points to be able to sell points.

What happened to Sheilah and Gad (a protestor not pictured), is why Friday’s location was at the Florida state building housing the Florida Attorney General’s timeshare division, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR).  Sheilah, Gad and a third buyer all bought from the same Daytona agent.  They each have their “pencil pitch” which is what agents scribble as they talk. Near the top of Sheilah’s three-page pencil pitch appears:  

8631 (Now) – 8631 (Save) = 0

What could be clearer?

1) (Now) (Save)

2) Redirect savings to help offset costs (to 0)

The complete explanation is in Sheilah’s article:

https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-11/

Diamond Sales Agent pencil pitch

Diamond’s response, from the company promoting a CLARITY promise of “Clear, concise, accountable and transparent information” was, “We admit this was confusing, but it was not illegal,” according to Sheilah.

“Talking to the Florida Timeshare Division DBPR was the same as talking to Diamond Resorts,” Sheilah said. At first, I was dismissed with “We don’t know if you were given this evidence or if you took it.” Their point I believe was that evidence obtained illegally is not admissible. When I questioned the logic of this statement, the reviewer called back several days later reporting that she spoke with Diamond’s attorneys. “I didn’t understand the program either until I spoke with Diamond’s attorneys, but now I do,” she reported to Sheilah. It’s not difficult to understand why someone would be so angry they would fly 1,000 miles to protest.

Florida’s DBPR has dismissed all our readers’ complaints with, “Verbal representations are hard to prove.” While Arizona, New York, Tennessee and other states have launched timeshare investigations based on a volume and pattern of complaints, Florida will not. When Sheilah asked why, the DBPR supervisor responded, “How they do things in other states is not how we do things in Florida.” By their own admission, Florida dismisses timeshare complaints, despite a volume of complaints. The timeshare lobby ARDA has been quoted as saying, “Timeshare is a highly regulated product.” Apparently regulation means dismissing all complaints.

Florida’s dismal statistics:

As reported at a Florida legislative workshop in Tallahassee March 12:

Victoria Butler, from the Florida Attorney General’s Department of Consumer Protection, reported a figure of 1,500 to 1,600 complaints in recent years, with about 50% involving senior citizens. She said the majority of complaints were in regard to the initial sales presentation.

Ms Butler stated that the Florida timeshare division engaged only 42 complaints, the majority concerning resale.

Nevada is another state that dismissed all our readers’ complaints with, “You have no proof.” At least in Nevada, you can record a conversation without the other person aware. Florida is a two-party state meaning it is illegal to record without the other person aware.

How in the world is a timeshare buyer expected to obtain proof?

Three of our protestors were able to speak at length with one individual inside the state building. In fear of retaliation, we will not identify this person, but their advice was to have the protestors protest every Friday. Logistics preclude this, but we appreciated their support and knowledge of unfair and deceptive practices.

Inside Timeshare has heard from 831 families describing unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices. ARDA and Diamond’s CEO Michael Flaskey argue that the vast majority of timeshare buyers are happy with their timeshare.

Fair enough, so I checked facts and figures. I contacted law firms and timeshare exit companies throughout the United States. There are many. Two exit companies reported that each receives 3,000 to 3,500 calls per month. They accept less than 200 as clients. Just two of the many law firms and exit providers receive over 6,000 calls per month from families seeking timeshare release! An entire industry of law firms and timeshare exit providers has sprung up catering to timeshare members waking up to the realization that the timeshare they were told would be easy to sell, or sell if they bought additional points, has no secondary market.

I have to admit I was not looking forward to a weekend of sign holding, but the reward we felt by the number of horn honks, thumbs up and, especially on Sunday, a steady stream of members stopping by to express their concerns, made it all worthwhile. Here we met Platinum member #84.

I’m not a Platinum member, but wanted to support the Platinum Protestors’ efforts. Patty and Cindy have their stories. The second day of the protest I heard from a Diamond member who contacted me infuriated. She had bought points from the same agent Patty bought points from, becoming #43 of 85 Platinum members who say they were pitched maintenance fee relief programs that do not exist. This will make six complaints against Patty’s agent; the third complaint against this agent was from a couple ages 79 and 80, the husband diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. We even have a recording of the agent provided by a veteran from over a year ago who experienced a similar up-sell.

Rather than show concern for 85 of their highest loyalty members who have reported unfair and deceptive practices, Diamond and the timeshare industry as a whole insists there are few complaints. There is not enough space in an article to list all the law firms, timeshare exit companies, lawsuits, including whistleblower lawsuits, and Attorneys General investigations concerning timeshare sales.

All protest participants had been timeshare owners and members for decades. They liked timeshare. The Platinum members had purchased points a number of times, so with the ensuing trust did not expect to be blindsided by programs that they say do not exist.

We’re not saying there are not honest timeshare sales agents trying to make a living selling timeshare points properly. But when top liars, who eventually get fired for pitching too much heat, are put up on a pedestal for new hires to emulate, the result fosters deceit.    

Many have wondered if this industry could exist without deception. One timeshare insider reported that Diamond Resorts has the highest loan loss provision of all major timeshares. As reported by Wall Street:

Diamond Resorts International Inc. Downgraded To ‘CCC+’ On Very High Anticipated Leverage, Outlook Negative

The negative outlook on Diamond reflects our expectation for minimal cash flow generation and very high leverage in 2019. The outlook also incorporates our belief that the company is vulnerable to possible future operating missteps or an unexpected downturn in the economy over the next two years, which may render its capital structure unsustainable despite our assessment of adequate liquidity.

https://www.ademcetinkaya.com/2019/04/diamond-resorts-international-inc.html?fbclid=IwAR0N7Sc0Dld_LFlK8F2sv0-t4gIzAr-yd5HngEyWb6JLnVcW_OA0hfvSPPU

Many of the 85 Platinum members have resolved their dispute, but resolution required several rebuttals and regulatory filings. Some relinquished their points, meaning they walked away from all the money spent. Diamond points sell for around $4 per point so we’re talking about Platinum members with 50,000 points or more walking away from $200,000 or more. A recorded QA closing is routinely used in the dismissal, but recording the sales session is not allowed. As mentioned, recording without the other person aware is legal in some states, but not Florida.   

Given a reluctant regulatory environment, the Courts of Public Opinion seem the only courts open. Holding up signs is not easy, but the rewards are great. A realtor stopped by clearly upset that he could not sell a Westgate timeshare for his client. I gave him my contact information. Within a few hours, his client called from Brazil. Out of about 60 licensed timeshare resale brokers, only one I am aware of will accept a Westgate listing. If there are no takers, I advised the member to speak Portuguese when the maintenance fees collectors call. He can no longer afford the timeshare. Fortunately, there is no loan outstanding. His relief at hearing straight answers was palpable, even from that far away.    


Grateful listeners

Two new Facebooks have been launched by Wyndham and Starpoint Sapphire Inside Timeshare contributors. Through Social Media and grassroots protests we little by little are letting the consumer know timeshare sales can be a quagmire of debt and deceit. These are the support groups we feel are not industry influenced:

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

Bluegreen Facebook

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

Wyndham Facebook

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

Sapphire Starpoint New: https://www.facebook.com/login/?next=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fgroups%2F292083584642570%2F%3Fref%3Dshare

Diamond Resort Facebook

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

Gold Key Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1639958046252175/

Thank you Irene and a very big thankyou to those who were able to make it to the protest, also thanks must go out to all those who showed support in whatever way they could. The next Platinum protest is scheduled for 9 to 11 November which is Veterans Weekend in the US and is being held in Arizona. If you are able to make it, you will be most welcome.

That is all for this week, use our contact page if you have any views or comments on any article published, or if you just need a little help or advice we are here to help.

Have a great weekend and join us again next week.


Friday’s Letter from America

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

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

Lawyers and Their Important Role in Consumer Protection

By Attorney Mike Finn

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

By Jordan Raskin

May 17, 2019

Our petition preparing to launch:  

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

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

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

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

What’s so unfair about that?  

Introduction by Irene Parker

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

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

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

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

SENATE – Died in Innovation, Industry, and Technology

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

Before we begin with Mike Finn’s article,  

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

Now onto:

“Why Kill All the Lawyers?”

By Attorney Mike Finn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Respectfully submitted,

Michael D. Finn, Esq.

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

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

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

The Tuesday Slot

Today on The Tuesday Slot we welcome another new contributor Laura Crow with her very own “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”, with an introduction by Inside Timeshares very own Irene Parker. These stories are now becoming all too familiar on our pages, with new “Nightmares” being received on an almost daily basis. It seems that not a single day goes by without another email pleading for help, many of these are from seniors and veterans. We do have to ask when will the industry change the way it works?

It is now only a few days to go before the start of the Platinum Protests in Orlando, the dates are 17 to 19 May, see the link at the end of Laura’s article.

We are timeshare trapped!

By Laura Crow

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Introduction by Irene Parker

Laura Crow was told the California Attorney General only acts when it is in the interest of the public? Why then, have Arizona, New York, Tennessee, Missouri and Wisconsin AGs, to name a few, launched investigations and negotiated settlements when they received a volume and pattern of timeshare complaints?

Timeshares rank second on the list of complaints to the state in Connecticut in 2018, according to the state Office of the Attorney General

Do you have a story idea? We want to hear from you! Fill out the complaint form on the NBC CT Responds page or call 844-303-RESP, (844) 303-7377. More #NBCCT Responds archive here.

https://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/local/Timeshare-Troubles–What-To-Do-Before-You-Buy-and-Sell-504017151.html

Each state has a different protocol for filing a timeshare complaint. In California and Nevada, timeshare complaints must be filed with the state’s real estate division against a particular agent. Filers should also file a complaint against the principal broker over all the brokers in the state.

Those who feel they experienced unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices should also file complaints with the FTC and the FBI at IC3.gov. Inside Timeshare has received reports of unfair and deceptive sales practices from over 800 families. Many members report being financially and emotionally devastated, having believed false claims told to them by timeshare sales agents, like the common complaints voiced today by Laura Crow. Seniors suffer physical harm as many report loss of sleep, weight loss, and symptoms of, or a recurrence of, cardiac and blood pressure problems over the stress of their timeshare nightmare.

There has been no federal enforcement. Attorneys General who have launched investigations and negotiated settlements are appreciated, but investigations and settlements have been mere speed bumps along an enormous revenue stream.

Please reach out to the FTC and FBI if you experienced unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices:  https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-47/

One of the Wyndhamtestimonials by current and former employees Laura discovered:

“Liars liars pants on fire”

Former Employee – Timeshare Sales in Daytona Beach, FL

Doesn’t Recommend

Neutral Outlook

CEO

I worked at Wyndham Destinations full-time (More than a year)

Pros

Free coffee, nice view, some friendly co-workers, company parties were fun, decent discounts

Cons

The timeshare sales department is filled with a bunch of liars. New hires have to sit through specific training on what is and is not allowed to tell customers. You are in no way allowed to tell customers that the timeshares are a good investment, that points can be used to pay the management fees, or that the timeshares can be rented out during peak periods to give them a return on their money. ALL THESE THINGS ARE NOT ALLOWED, BUT TOP SALES PEOPLE SAY ALL THESE LINES AND EVEN MORE LIES TO MAKE SALES. The top sales team are all a bunch of vultures lying to people to make a living. Customers get beaten down during the process. I’ve seen documents forged and old terms given to customers to secure their signature. If you have a conscience, do not work there. If you like lying to people to make money and can obtain a real estate license and have a clean background, lying to people during a timeshare presentation is much more lucrative than lying to people on the phone. If this is the type of scummy person you choose to be, then Wyndham is a great fit. If you are a salesperson who grows a conscience, there are other jobs at Wyndham you can do, so you don’t need to just quit. Just try to transfer to a different department.

Laura Crow’s Nightmare on Timeshare Street

I am a California resident and have found other California residents online in the same leaky timeshare boat as me. We have all filed a complaint with the California Attorney General and were all told that the Attorney General can’t intervene on behalf of individuals. They only act when it is in the interest of the public. Well, how many members of the public does it take to get some kind of action?

After attending a Wyndham WorldMark presentation four years ago, we left believing we could travel anywhere, any time. Europe was the big selling point. The selling point for my husband was that we could make good money by renting out our timeshare. The timeshare would pay for itself! As many have reported, timeshares are worthless. In no way should timeshares be pitched as an income producing investment. I would advise you to run the other way if you ever encounter sales agents spouting such falsehoods.

We are trapped in a contract that has not delivered the financial gains or freedom our sales representatives assured us it would. Instead, it has turned into a financial burden. We are left with the constant stress of this hanging over us, waiting for the next hit to our credit report.

Wyndham and WorldMark could care less. I will send them a draft of this article, but safe to say they will say something like it didn’t matter what our sales agents said. That’s why the public needs to know a timeshare sales agent can get away with saying anything to make a sale. What product would you buy for $25,000 to $100,000 or more that becomes worthless a second after your contract rescission period ended, should you need to dispose of the product?   

Our experiences with Wyndham are the same as so many other timeshare buyers, irrespective of the company. Instead of boring you with our Wyndham narrative, I will draw your attention to the lethargy and inaction on the part of regulatory authorities, authorities who are supposed to have our best interests at heart.

I understand that the BBB is not a government agency and has no power to enforce the law or compel a business to act ethically, but I wonder how it is possible for Wyndham to have such a volume of complaints (over 2000) and bad reviews, yet still maintain a C+ rating. About the time when I filed my BBB complaint, there was a warning from the BBB about a pattern of complaints concerning sales practices. That warning has mysteriously been taken down. How did that happen? My next step is to contact Alexis Castro at the Nevada BBB to find out.

It was the same story with the CDRE (California Division of Real Estate). Mr Aiu of the compliance division has been good enough to communicate with me but told me cases are judged on an individual basis, so no point mobilizing a group to achieve strength in numbers.

Hmm, where have we heard that before? The Catholic Church sex abuse scandal and #metoo comes to mind. This dismissal plays right into the hands of Wyndham. My complaint basically comes down to ‘he said, she said’ but ‘we said, he said’ is needed. Someone, somewhere, a regulator, a lawmaker, a media outlet; something needs to happen. If women followed Mr Aiu’s advice, we would still not be allowed to vote.

ARDA, The American Resort Development Association has been quoted as saying; “Timeshares are a highly regulated product.” Big timeshare paints a portrait of happy timeshare campers idling on the beach, but there are thousands of complaints to be found on the internet. Comments from current and former Wyndham employees, like the comment above and additional comments below, support my allegations. If you would like to test my thesis, compare the number and nature of complaints about a hotel brand, contrasted with the number of complaints directed against that same company’s timeshare brand.   

There are state and federal laws prohibiting unfair and deceptive sales tactics, yet the timeshare industry is going strong. I read about lawsuits and AG cases against Wyndham, like the $20 million a jury awarded to former Wyndham sales agent and whistleblower Trish Williams. Even that has done little to stop unfair and deceptive sales. Wyndham and other companies pay out some money, toss in some media window-dressing dollars, and carry on like nothing happened.

I am in it to win it. I will be reaching out to the media, starting with NBC. I will continue to search out agencies that may intervene or advocate on my and other owners’ behalf. Until the FTC, the FBI, or more state AGs act, public awareness is our only safeguard. That is why I am writing this article. It is not acceptable for timeshare sales agents to lie, deceive, misrepresent and withhold information about their product in order to make a sale.

Here are more Glassdoor.com anonymous reviews by current and former Wyndham sales agents rating the company. Their comments support our allegations of deceptive sales practices.

https://www.glassdoor.com/Reviews/Employee-Review-Wyndham-Destinations-RVW3171503.htm

Here are some reviews by salespeople at Wyndham. You are enabling this behaviour by

Helpful (4)

“If you have integrity – don’t even think to work here”

Cons

You are 100% on commission. The only way to sell is lying to customers, the quota is very high and management is very unprofessional. On an everyday basis, you will hear from current owners how disappointed they are with timeshare product – it makes very hard to sell a product that does not do any good for people.

“In House Sales”

The way to making real $ is if you are okay with lying to people, otherwise, you can make an average living 40K or so. The biggest issue is that upper management acts like they have blinders on, making employees sign statements that they will not say certain things, while direct managers teach the sales techniques that encourage embellishments! Really?

Nov 7, 2018

Helpful (1)

“Sales Rep”

Current Employee – Outside Sales Representative in New Orleans, LA

Recommends

Positive Outlook

CEO

I have been working at Wyndham Destinations full-time (Less than a year)

Pros

I can’t even think of one

Cons

Wyndham Destinations over promises and vastly under delivers on potential income – the possibility for large income prospects are there though minutely small. The fact is it’s very hard to even make a living wage. It’s timeshare sales so very very few leads are actually even viable. Additionally, management regularly and actively encourages sales reps to oversell what clients are actually buying, to mislead, misdirect and ultimately be dishonest with prospects and do anything to get the sale.

Aug 21, 2018

Helpful (1)

“Vacation Ownership Sales”

Former Employee – Inside Sales Representative in Atlantic City, NJ

Doesn’t Recommend

Negative Outlook

CEO

I worked at Wyndham Destinations full-time (More than 3 years)

Pros

Some of the people that work there are nice.

Cons

Being trained to lie to clients to sell them points to travel. If you don’t lie, there is no way to make money. Taking advantage of older people and ripping off their retirement funds is not my idea of how to make a living. The worst thing is that management rewards the biggest liars by sending them off on a beautiful vacation and calls it “President’s Club”. If you ever meet a President’s Club sales rep, RUN! There is nothing they are about to tell you that is remotely close to being true.

Jun 30, 2018

Helpful (1)

May 11, 2018

“Vacation Ownership Sales”

Former Employee – Sales Associate in Clearwater, FL

Neutral Outlook

CEO

I worked at Wyndham Destinations full-time (Less than a year)

Pros

Can make great friends among certain Co-workers, free meals, beautiful office space, earning potential is attainable if you possess the skill sets.

Cons

Favouritism from management, unethical sales process, you should not have to lie about what you’re selling if the product is as good as you say it is. Draw sucks

“Front Line Sales – Not for everyone”

Former Employee – Front Line Sales Representative in New Orleans, LA

Doesn’t Recommend

Neutral Outlook

CEO

I worked at Wyndham Destinations full-time

Pros

I genuinely liked most of the people I worked with.

Cons

Marketing can bring in some completely unqualified tours so when you work on straight commission, it can be extremely frustrating. Management’s take on it is complete oblivion if that marketer meets (and exceeds) their numbers. This job can be emotionally draining – especially when you talk to people about vacationing all day and then get little wiggle room to take your own time off (again, management will bend over … if you are selling). I never sacrificed my morals to make a sale but, unfortunately, I saw many people that did.

“Scam”

Former Employee – Vacation Sales Consultant in Clermont, FL

Doesn’t Recommend

Negative Outlook

CEO

I worked at Wyndham Destinations (Less than a year)

Pros

Work life balance. nothing else is good about this job.

Cons

If you are heartless and enjoy lying to people including elders and single moms, then maybe you can do very well here.

Save the Date!

The Platinum Protest is this weekend May 17-19 in Orlando. Contact Inside Timeshare for more information. On May 17 protesters will meet outside the Florida timeshare division office.

Contact Inside Timeshare if you would like to join Laura Crow’s efforts. Here are some self-help groups we feel are not industry influenced. There are honest sales agents and many who use and enjoy their timeshare. That doesn’t mean sales agents who deliberately mislead should be allowed to continue unchecked, report after report confirms, especially in Florida and Nevada. Thank you, Laura Crow, as we welcome our newest active advocate for change.

We seek to provide timeshare members with a way to proactively address membership concerns; to advocate for timeshare reform; to obtain greater disclosure from the company; to advocate for a viable secondary market, and to educate prospective buyers.

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

https://www.facebook.com/groups/465692163568779/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1639958046252175/

Well that’s it for today, if you have any comments or would like to share your views with others, then use our contact page, Inside Timeshare would love to hear from you.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this weeks Letter from America, but before we start the article, a quick update on A K Advisory Limited. As we have reported this is just one company contacting Eze Group clients, saying they can get their money back for a £725 upfront fee, one of our readers has informed us of the “ESCROW” account and the name of the recipient that it should be paid into, these are the details.

The BACS  account is a Lloyds TSB account, Number 37871668, Sort Code 77-13-11, Name of account holder Mr Connor Baker.

This company along with all the others is a fraud, do not pay them anything, you will not get your money back.

Now for todays Letter from America.

It is unlikely Arizona Senator Michelle Ugenti-Rita, R-Scottsdale, quoted below, will bother to read the reports from some of the 80 Platinum members who have been financially devastated because they believed in timeshare programs they say did not exist. Today’s Inside Timeshare describes some of the members financially devastated. We hope timeshare members will recognize how ARDA ROC lobbyists spent some of members’ $5 million in annual $3 to $10 opt-out “donations” and recognize that this organization is not the voice of 1.8 million timeshare members. The comments below from lobbyists and pro-industry lawmakers are appalling.

At least the Arizona Attorney General’s Office and Howard Fischer, a journalist for the Daily Courier, understand. What chance does the consumer have if ARDA and the developers will not even heed the advice of an Attorney General. As we have previously explained, there are many ways to dodge a rescission period. Tuesday’s Secret Shopper explained how easy it is to bait and switch the unsuspecting. Just how out of touch can those in authority be. Imagine how you would react if you learned minutes after the rescission period that you experienced fraud, reading,

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

From The Daily Courier

Lobbied by the industry, state lawmakers are not going to help those who bought timeshares get out from under what is often a lifetime obligation.

https://www.dcourier.com/news/2019/apr/16/opt-out-provisions-timeshare-bill-no-longer-table/?fbclid=IwAR2cs4PdvFFqQVlvUd_I5-DxOSOUl5U59w_KVEYs1jchViitMMLYzz6PRx0

“We’re disappointed that the timeshare industry killed a lot of the pro-consumer parts of this bill,” said Katie Connor, spokeswoman for the Attorney General’s Office.

“They’ve got a lobbying presence here and around the country,” added Amanda Rusing who lobbies for the office. “It was very disappointing to have to remove all of the stronger, pro-consumer provisions.”

Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, R-Scottsdale, who chairs the Senate Commerce Committee, said the legislation, which now awaits a roll-call vote, does include some additional requirements for what needs to be disclosed to prospective buyers.

“At some point, these are adults that come to a meeting of the minds and want to sign a contract,” Ugenti-Rita said, saying that buyers have some responsibility to know exactly what they are signing.

While the industry claims that “points” are no different than a deed, simply with more flexibility, consumers have noted that points appear to have no intrinsic value because they can’t be resold, making memberships that were purchased for hundreds of thousands of dollars essentially worthless on the resale market.

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

According to ARDA lobbyist Don Isaacson:

But the bottom line said (ARDA lobbyist) Isaacson, is that the state should not step in to protect people who didn’t bother to understand the nature of the deal.

“You read the documents,” said Isaacson. “And unless there is fraud, you are bound to that particular purchase.”

Anyway, Isaacson argued that too much is being made of the issue.

Timeshare Insider

Save the Date! Our next Platinum 80 Protest is May 17 – 20

Two Locations:

Friday, May 17 near the Florida DBPR Office

Saturday and Sunday, May 18 and 19 near Disney World

You don’t need to be Platinum to Join Us!

Protesting Unfair and Deceptive Timeshare Sales Practices

By Platinum Protest Organizers

Friday, April 19, 2019

When we protested in March in Las Vegas, where we represented 70 Diamond Resorts Platinum members alleging that we had been intentionally targeted for our loyalty and deliberately up-sold into insolvency. Since then we have grown to 80 Platinum members, many similar if not identical complaints. We believed in programs to pay maintenance fees that do not exist. Others say they were told if they purchased additional points, they would be able to sell points. According to Diamond, we are all confused. We are all educated professionals.

As reported at a legislative workshop in Tallahassee, Florida March 12,

Victoria Butler, from the Florida Attorney General’s Department of Consumer Protection, reported a figure of 1,500 to 1,600 complaints in recent years, with about 50% involving senior citizens. She said the majority of complaints were in regard to the initial sales presentation.

Ms Butler stated that the Florida timeshare division engaged only 42 complaints, the majority concerning resale. This fits with our members reporting that all timeshare complaints they submitted, DBPR responded, “Verbal representations are difficult to prove.”  

Based on these numbers, a sales agent can say anything to sell points. At least let the consumer know they should not believe a word a sales agent says. Reading the contract doesn’t always help. Members are often not allowed onto a booking site until after the rescission period has passed.   

The status of 80 Platinum member complaints:

  • 26 Resolved their Diamond dispute so won’t be protesting. Resolved doesn’t mean people didn’t lose a lot of money,
  • 21 Unresolved,
  • 9 Foreclosed with one senior Navy veteran filing for bankruptcy,
  • 18 Unknown outcome because we don’t call to find out what happened,
  • 4 Relinquished which meant they lost everything.
  • 2 In litigation.

Diamond points sell for around $4 a point. Platinum members own a minimum of 50,000 points. In 2018 maintenance fees had increased to $8,631. Out of the 80 Platinum complaints, 42 members report that they were told of maintenance fees relief programs that they later learned did not exist and 16 specifically say they were told they could pay maintenance fees at $.30 per point.

Only Platinum loyalty members can pay maintenance fees at $.04 per points so if a member turned in 50,000 points, redeemed at $.04 per point, it would mean they would be credited $2,000 towards a maintenance fee bill of $8,631 with no points left to travel. Members report that when they file a complaint, the hospitality agent responds describing a legitimate 30/30 program that offers travel discounts. This program has nothing to do with paying maintenance fees at $.30 per point.  

Inside Timeshare told us they do not link prior articles if the complaint has been resolved, but given Platinum complaints are increasing, they said they would allow us to link articles published by 14 of the 80 Platinum members even though some have resolved. They resolved, but not without endless rebuttals and regulatory filings. When you read our 130-page summary report – reports from educated professions who don’t know each other, all reporting similar to identical complaints, it’s unlikely a reader would conclude all our reports are falsehoods.  

We have added the Lusk family to our list of 81, even though they did not submit their complaint through Inside Timeshare. Their experience was published in USA Today. As reported by Rebekah L Sander for the Arizona Republic, Frank and Betty Lusk are retired Christian missionaries, nearly 90 years old. Annual maintenance fees are $19,000.

He told the Lusks buying another $150,000 timeshare with 10 per cent down was “life insurance” that would resolve any debts they had with the resort when they died, a promise they repeatedly questioned, Betty said. The timeshare contract they received is not life insurance and does not pay off debts upon death.

https://amp.usatoday.com/amp/3310015002

Following are 14 articles submitted by our Platinum 80 members:

Article 1 published April 12, 2019 Platinum member #80

The timeshare member is single, over 70 years old. From 2015 to 2018 the member was ping-ponged back and forth seven timeshare times told, “You should not have bought Hawaii points,” and then “You should not have bought US Mainland points,” until up-sold into insolvency. The member has lost their entire retirement savings that were worth almost $400,000. The member also suffered tax consequences due to liquidating a retirement asset.

Since we published the article, the family learned she was only switched back and forth five times over six transactions. These histories can be a nightmare to piece together, worse than your worst tax return.

Article 2 was published by Consumer Affairs March 29, 2019 Platinum #57/80

The FBI website is tricky. One of our three FBI helpers helped Diane through the intricacies of the FBI filing website IC3.gov. It starts off confusing asking if you want to report Terrorism, Missing child or Internet Crime.

Diane’s father had asked Diamond to take back a fully paid timeshare when he was 85 years old. They said no. He was sold five additional contracts between the ages of 85 to 88.

Diamond Resorts still can’t explain why it sold $250,000 worth of timeshare points to an 88-year-old

In late December, Diane Burkhart sent a complaint to the FBI describing how her 88-year-old father agreed to purchase $250,000 worth of timeshare points over the course of 18 months, from 2016 until late 2017. In 2018, he was diagnosed with dementia. He is now 89 and living in a nursing home, Burkhart says. His wife passed away last May.

https://www.consumeraffairs.com/news/diamond-resorts-still-cant-explain-why-it-sold-250000-worth-of-timeshare-points-to-an-88-year-old-032919.html

Article 3 is by Platinum Protestor Patty Boyak Valentine’s Day 2019 #28/80

Patty’s Las Vegas sales agent was recorded defrauding a disabled veteran in 2017. That family was interviewed January 2018, at which time they provided to Inside Timeshare a copy of the highly disturbing recording. An interview Inside Timeshare conducted with the couple was sent to Diamond’s attorney. The dispute was swiftly resolved, but instead of firing this agent, Patty met him October 2018. He introduced himself as a Platinum Specialist. Patty purchased her last contract from him. Just recently Inside Timeshare has heard from a third member sold by the same agent, the husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and English is his wife’s second language. The family is financially devastated.

The very first complaint Inside Timeshare received in 2016 was about being told buying additional points would relive maintenance fees.  

At their last stay at a Diamond Resorts International resort in August 2015, Sylvia Saldana said that a sales agent tried to convince them to purchase another 10,000 points in order to achieve platinum level, which is 50,000 points (Remember they owned 30,000 points). The sales agent explained that by being platinum, it would allow the couple to pay their maintenance fees with their points, as only platinum members are allowed to use their points to pay maintenance fees, Sylvia Saldana said.  https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-on-thursday/

Patty’s Miracle Mile Protest in March article (pictured above)

Article 4 was submitted by a 100% disabled Army veteran. He was issued a 1099C for $170,000. His is one of now 21 complaints directed against the same sales agent. At least following the advice we provided to his CPA, he successfully disputed the phantom income.

This former Diamond member says DRI sales agent Rick Casper, working out of Polo Towers in Las Vegas, told him to buy more Diamond vacation points to eliminate maintenance fees. He and his wife wanted to talk to someone at DRI because they were struggling to pay maintenance fees on the 50,000 DRI points they already owned. This member is a 100% disabled Vietnam veteran, having been exposed to Agent Orange. The former member did not contact us to complain about Diamond Resorts. He wanted to know if there was anything that could be done about 1099. I did ask why he purchased additional timeshare points from Rick Casper, given Inside Timeshare has received 11 identical complaints about the same Las Vegas sales agent over an 18 month period.   

In 2016 we went to Las Vegas and stayed at Diamond’s Cancun resort and met with Rick Casper. Mr Casper said if we upgraded, we would be able to cover maintenance fees. However, maintenance fees increased after the upgrade to $16,000 a year. After five hours, my blood sugar was at 400. I was recovering from congestive heart failure. Rick Casper said it would cost us $198,000, $2500 a month in payments for the next 10 years but after ten years we would have no maintenance fees and no loan payment. Rick Casper said, “Then the little people will be paying for your vacation.” He said it would take a year to a year and a half to set up but he would personally handle it. He said since we were only paying $3, he had a guy that could sell points for much more than that and the proceeds would pay for the maintenance fees. I ended up paying a company in Branson MO $1500 to get out of this, but now the IRS has issued us a 1099 which has to be claimed as income. It’s for around $170,000. I’m now 71 years old. I would have been better off foreclosing.

Article 5 is by Gad Liebmann and his wife Noreen. They have been protesting outside Daytona for a year. They have had to stop protesting because Noreen was injured in a fall. They are both Army veterans and have many foster children.


From left, Noreen, Irene, a good Samaritan holding sign for Gad and Don

One of the Diamond sales agents told them they should be greeters at Walmart to help pay maintenance fees. Their complaint is identical to Sheilah Brust’s complain. Sheilah and Gad were sold by the same agent. Sheilah attended a presentation as a Secret Shopper and was told this agent was a problem at Wyndham.

Article 6 is Sheilah’s article. The article is called “Sheilah’s Pencil Pitch”

Sheilah is in possession of her “Pencil Pitch” which clearly states $8,631 minus $8,631 = 0 on the first page. There is an arrow and “save” written on the paper. At first, DBPR dismissed Sheilah with, “We don’t know if you were given this paper or you took it.” Sheilah was astonished. The last Sheilah heard from the reviewer is that she didn’t understand the program either until Diamond’s attorney explained it. That alone should have been grounds for dismissal. Here’s the first page of the pencil pitch. Sheilah was impressed her agent could write this upside down.

Article 7 is by Angela Simmons Sandstede. Her dad is one of those switched back and forth between Hawaii and US Mainland programs like the single female described in Article 1.

Roy is a retired letter carrier and Navy veteran, up-sold to $2.700 a month in loan payments. He had been charging loan payments to credit cards. The family had to retain a bankruptcy attorney. They are in their 70s. They had maintained a  high credit score before this.

Roy’s YouTube and March 6, 2018 article:

Article 8 This PhD trained the sales force for Perkin Elmer.

They are caregivers for two grandchildren, one autistic, one Down’s syndrome. They relinquished, losing everything.

Article 9 Filipino seniors with a previous high credit score foreclosed.

Article 10 – An executive VP posted one rental ad on RedWeek, despite hundreds of ads to rent on RedWeek.

Their account was suspended and it was demanded she pay $2,400 a month in loan payments and a $23,000 annual maintenance fee while her account was suspended.

Article 11- These seniors are foreclosed, the husband has Bell’s palsy

We were told “We are real estate agents. You can write off the interest paid and closing costs on these contracts because it is like real estate.” They said the proof was because they have real estate licenses. They are licensed real estate agents, but what they told us was not true. Our accountant said we were not allowed to take any deductions. We were told we had to buy that day so we could not talk to our accountant.

Article 12 This family did not know until they returned home they had purchased $142,000 in timeshare points, $17,000 charged to a Barclaycard.

Their attorney gave up. They submitted this article for comment and resolved their dispute that day. He is a Gulf War veteran, on 25 meds. She has had two knee replacements and a double mastectomy.

Article 13 A 21 year Army veteran, taught biological, chemical and nuclear defence at colleges.

Today we thank Samuel Melendez who spent 21 years in the army training soldiers, working with colleges, teaching chemical, biological and nuclear defence. When a military family is forced into foreclosure because they were lied to about being able to sell back points or finance at a lower rate, they don’t just lose their money. This can jeopardize their security clearance and their job.  

Article 14, A Coast Guard veteran, relinquished so lost all.

Rick Casper told us we should contact him when we needed to sell points because he had people that would buy them. This was the only reason we upgraded from 30,000 points to 50,000 points. When we contacted Rick earlier this year, we learned from Dan Percy (Rick Casper’s immediate boss) that we could not have been told that and we might be able to sell them through a resale third party. We never heard a response from Rick Casper.”

“In addition, we asked Rick about combining our seven previous contracts into one contract covering all 50,000 points. Rick Casper (allegedly) advised us not to do so as it would be easier to sell smaller quantities of points and inferred he could do so easier having contracts in increments, as when someone wants to upgrade from Gold to Platinum requiring only 20,000 additional points.”

“The thought of being able to sell was a relief.”

These are only a few of the Platinum complaints. We have heard from exactly 700 families as of today. We wish there were only a few bad apples, but Inside Timeshare says they have received multiple repeat offender complaints.

St. Louis BBB report warning consumers about timeshare

Don’t Fall for Deception Pressure and Traps Disguised as Vacations

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

We hope you can join us on May 17 – 20! We will publish exact locations soon.

Our Mission Statement

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; to educate prospective buyers.

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

https://www.facebook.com/groups/465692163568779/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1639958046252175/

That is it for this week, we look forward to hearing your report on the protests next month and for those who cannot attend we will be there in spirit.

Inside Timeshare would also like to share this little gem from Mahatma Gandhi, it is for Irene Parker, who as we know is under attack from the industry big guns, you have our support Irene.

Have a great Easter weekend and join us again next week for more news and views on the murky world of the timeshare industry.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to another Letter from America, over the past few weeks we have been publishing various articles on Bills which may have a detrimental effect on timeshare consumers. This week Irene Parker shares how she sees the legislation being proposed.

A Legislative Scorecard – Nevada Florida and Arizona

How to Connect Lobby Dots

By Irene Parker

April 12, 2019

VOTE “OPPOSED” TO NEVADA SB 348 UNLESS THE BILL IS AMENDED TO OFFER TIMESHARE BUYERS (NOT JUST THOSE RETAINING EXIT SERVICES), 24 HOURS TO REVIEW A TIMESHARE CONTRACT.

Review means an offer to be able to review a contract 24 hours before signing.

This offer should not be buried in fine print. Timeshare buyers who wished to waive the requirement could do so.

Rescission Period means the 3 to 10 days a member has to review after signing.

Nevada has an easy method to comment on the legislation. Select SB 348 and oppose the bill unless amended to allow a timeshare buyer 24 hours to review a contract:

https://www.leg.state.nv.us/App/Opinions/80th2019/

Why would the American Resort Development Association (ARDA), an industry-supported PAC, and ARDA ROC, (Resort Owners Coalition), be so opposed to offering timeshare buyers 24 hours to think about their decision to sign a perpetual contract with little to no secondary market?

A recent complaint received by Inside Timeshare:

The timeshare member is single, over 70 years old. From 2015 to 2018 the member was ping-ponged back and forth seven timeshare times told, “You should not have bought Hawaii points,” and then “You should not have bought US Mainland points,” until up-sold into insolvency. The member has lost their entire retirement savings that were worth almost $400,000. The member also suffered tax consequences due to liquidating a retirement asset.

The timeshare member identified six timeshare sales agents, of which five are repeat offenders, names well known to Inside Timeshare. The sixth is an up-and-comer who up-sold the senior in Hawaii at a prior update. On a subsequent visit to Hawaii, a family member accompanied the senior to a March 2019 “mandatory” meeting. The sales agent informed the senior that there is going to be a huge Special Assessment in the US program so the member needed to switch back to Hawaii from the US program for the eighth time in four years. If agreed to, this would have cost the senior over $60,000, pushing the loss to more than $400,000. The sales agent also told the family member and the timeshare member that he has a broker they could retain to rent and get money back and at some point in time, the points could be sold back. They added that purchasing these additional points would also allow the member to use points to pay maintenance fees.

I am 100% confident the timeshare company will tell the member that they signed a contract. They will file a complaint with the Nevada Real Estate Division (NRED). NRED will provide the senior with a “You have no proof” letter.

ARDA lobbyist Don Isaacson has been quoted, “The state should not be concerned with those who did not bother to understand the product.”

I wish the member’s story was unusual. At the Florida legislative workshop and at the Arizona hearing, lawmakers themselves reported how they had experienced unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices.

An overlooked Nevada bill:  

Nevada Assembly Bill 438: Vacation and Timeshare Plans

https://www.leg.state.nv.us/App/NELIS/REL/80th2019/Bill/6835/Text

An OPC is a bird dog, if you will, hanging out at strategic locations, offering incentives to hear about something. NV AB 438 has no single sponsor. Many times I heard a member complain that they were not told it was a timeshare presentation. Nevada Assembly Bill 348 is an act relating to timeshare, providing the following:

Section 1 states:

1. The Administrator may impose a fine or suspend, revoke, reissue, subject to conditions, or deny the renewal of the registration of any representative if the representative has, by false or fraudulent application or representation, obtained a registration or is found guilty of (a) Making a material misrepresentation; (b) Making any false promises of a character likely to influence, persuade or induce another person to attend a timeshare presentation; (d) Must disclose that the promotion is for solicitation of timeshares.   

Florida HB 435: GENERAL BILL sponsored by freshman Representative Wyman Duggan profiled on LobbyTools.

Effective Date: 7/1/2019

At a Florida legislative workshop held March 12 in Tallahassee, the Florida Attorney General’s spokesperson admitted Florida received 1600 timeshare complaints annually in recent years, 700 so far this year, the bulk concerning the initial sales presentation, 50% seniors. “We engaged 42, mostly about resales,” they added.

This is good news for perpetrators as they can be assured oral representation will be dismissed, despite a volume and pattern of complaints.

Arizona ARDA lobbyist Don Isaacson assured those who attended the Arizona HB 2639 hearing that unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices are minimal because Arizona only received 250 complaints in a year arguing that allowing a buyer 24 hours to review a perpetual contract is not necessary.

The Arizona House Bill 2639 was aimed at alleviating unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices. The bill included allowing a timeshare buyer 24 hours to review a perpetual contract. ARDA was able to get this item in the bill thrown out.

I wrote “Timeshare Foreclosure Explained to Lenders” so members foreclosed can explain to their lender how when “pitched heat” by unscrupulous timeshare sales agents, they can lose $100,000 or more in a week, one second after the rescission period ends because the resort can fall back on the oral representation clause. By their own admission, Florida’s timeshare division DBPR will fall back on it too.  https://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-18/

From AZ HB 2639

Buyers often enter into timeshare contracts when on vacation, are encouraged to review documents after they return home from vacation, sometimes long after the rescission period has ended – leading to confusion, anxiety and costly fees that can last years.

The timeshare lobby ARDA and the timeshare industry have yet to acknowledge unfair and deceptive sales practices exist on the front end of the timeshare sale. The amount of money lost to timeshare exit companies pales in comparison to the amount of money timeshare members say they lost because they believed a timeshare sales agent, according to our 800 readers.  

When timeshare members receive their maintenance fee invoices, they are asked to make a $3 to $10 donation to ARDA ROC. Timeshare members collectively give ARDA ROC approximately $5 million a year. I have yet to meet the timeshare member who can tell me what ARDA ROC even stands for.

Timeshare members that have contacted Inside Timeshare are not trying to weasel out of their contracts because they can’t afford them. They allege unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices. Our readers include doctors, lawyers, two private investigators, mortgage loan officers, professors, MBAs, war heroes, law enforcement professionals, criminologists (one a PhD), a detective who worked economic crimes under cover, and a contract specialist for ConEd, all alleging unfair and timeshare sales practices. What chance has the vulnerable?

All we ask is make it a level playing field, by providing disclosure, alerting the consumer – you cannot believe a word timeshare sale agents say because they could be “pitching heat.” Unscrupulous sales agents also harm honest sales agents trying to sell the product honestly. We’ve heard from a lot of them.       

The American Legislative Exchange Council

The reporter in this YouTube describes how lobbyists sit at the table with legislators filling in the blanks crafting desired bills tailored to their wishes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6MHYOB5uptc

Our volunteers answer questions about regulatory filings when members complain of unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices. Many members have resolved disputes by filing regulatory complaints. Too many families have been financially harmed by their decision to buy a timeshare, a product advertised to reduce stress.

Self-help groups we feel are not industry influenced:

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

https://www.facebook.com/groups/465692163568779/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1639958046252175/

Other related articles:

Arizona HB 2639

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/opinion/os-florida-timeshare-tactics-scott-maxwell-20150411-column.html

https://www.consumeraffairs.com/news/diamond-resorts-still-cant-explain-why-it-sold-250000-worth-of-timeshare-points-to-an-88-year-old-032919.html

https://amp.usatoday.com/amp/3310015002

Thank you Irene, all we can hope for is that these Bills do not get through, timeshare consumers need protection not just from unscrupulous resale and exit companies but also from the industry as a whole. We have often stated that timeshare could be a good product, but as we know it is the way it is sold and the unfair conditions consumers have to put up with that are the problem.

Have a great weekend and join us again next week for more news and views on the world of timeshare.

Start the Week

The RDO (Resorts Development Organisation) is supposedly the trade body for the timeshare industry in Europe, yet it is their very own members who are being taken through the courts for the mis-selling of timeshare. Yet it fails to act against them or even sanction them for their misdeeds. In fact, if you look at their own membership list, it probably only represents about 10% of the industry in Europe, with many of their own members on the receiving end of hundreds of court cases.

Instead, it funds several entities to discredit companies that do genuinely try to help beleaguered timeshare owners, Kwikchex, Timeshare Taskforce and Timeshare business Check, all run by Chris Emmins. This gentleman does not have a very successful track record when it comes to his directorships, with 17 appointments with all companies being dissolved under his directorship.

Kwikchex and Chris Emmins replaced the now discredited Alberto Garcia who with his blog site Mindtimeshare did the RDO’s bidding, using the “Enforcement” program, now renamed Timeshare Taskforce. Granted, timeshare owners do need to know the good from the bad, but as we have seen over the years the good have been lumped together with the bad, all because they do not wish to subscribe to RDO membership or are using legal means against the timeshare industry.

Chris Emmins

So who do the consumers have to turn to?

At one time many believe that it was TATOC, The Association of Timeshare Owners Committees, but as we know that organisation has fallen by the wayside. It was also funded by the industry and the then CEO Harry Taylor instead of protecting timeshare consumers was very much on the side of the industry.

Recently the RDO announced a new organisation for owners, EUROC, or European Resort Owners Coalition. Yes, you have guessed it, the European equivalent of ARDA ROC from the US.

We do know that the RDO and ARDA, (American Resorts Development Association) are very close, in fact, the RDO is very much modelling itself on their US cousin. Lobbying on behalf of the industry to the detriment of the consumer.

UEROC, is being funded by both of these organisations, according to the RDO for at least one year, then it should become self-sufficient. But does that mean it will be funded by timeshare owners, or like we had with TATOC funded by industry membership and associates?

Is this new organisation actually going to represent consumers’ interests against the industry or is it going to be just another sham to make consumers believe they have a voice?

Only time will tell if what we are seeing with the industry in the US, with ARDA supporting bills which destroy consumers rights in Florida and Nevada, it does not bode well for consumers in Europe.

At least in Spain, the law is on the side of the consumer, making perpetuity contracts illegal, banning the sale of floating weeks and points systems, enforcing the cooling off period and forbidding the taking of any payments within that period. These are the basics of many of the court cases consumers are winning, resulting in contracts being declared null and void and the return of all payments.

If you purchased a timeshare in Spain after January 1999 and want to know where you stand legally, then use our contact page and we will point you in the right direction.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to our Friday’s Letter from America, this week Irene Parker replaces the original article scheduled for today with her take on Are Timeshares Worth the Money in the Long Run by Women Who Money.

Latest news on the Nevada SB 348, the bill has been pulled possibly for a couple of weeks, this is due to the efforts of consumers. From our efforts 35 timeshare members posted comments, lets keep this going and increase that number to 350!

Unless timeshare buyers are given 24 hours to review a contract as ARDA is demanding from timeshare exit providers, we will continue to see consumers being pressured into purchasing there and then. As they say, what is good for the goose, is good for the Gander.

In the lawsuit against Marriott Vacation Club, a Florida Judge has sustained central claims in the class action against Marriott and their points based system. According to the article (see link below), “Consumer Deeds are invalid because they lack any cognizable legal description of a real property interest being conveyed as required by Florida law.”

https://www.nyrealestatelawblog.com/manhattan-litigation-blog/2019/april/florida-judge-sustains-central-claims-in-suit-ag/?fbclid=IwAR2wlVr8NIPBZj9Mcg8vVQI7_yHJvTHkIWTU4NdT9XEC8QANg0rfR9wmZrs#.XKZAISFvVH0.facebook

This is very similar to the reasons that points and floating weeks systems have been deemed illegal under Spanish timeshare law, they lack any substance, allowing only for the right of use, subject to availability.

Could this be the start of points based systems becoming illegal in the US, well we shall have to wait and see. Now for this weeks Letter from America.

Women Who Money

Are Timeshares Worth the Money in the Long Run?

What Timeshare Regulations?

By Irene Parker

April 5, 2019

I enjoyed reading “Are Timeshares Worth the Money in the Long Run?” published by Women Who Money.  I agree with the article’s major points, with the exception of the author’s comment about “regulations being in place to protect timeshare consumers.” Having heard from timeshare members how easy it is for a timeshare sales agent to dodge a contract rescission period, I wonder if there is any foolproof way to prevent being scammed. Some things, like actual availability, cannot be discerned by reading the contract. Also, my contract said, “You can sell your points. We will not assist you.” The part about no buyers was left out.  

House, Senate and Assembly Bills are flying across the country. On Tuesday we published a summary of proposed legislation and asked timeshare members to oppose Nevada Senate Bill 348, unless it can be amended to say timeshare buyers will be allowed 24 hours to review a contract, not just contracts with exit service providers.

There is no need to propose a bill requiring those who seek to buy a car be allowed 24 hours before signing a contract. Typically when buying a car, you shop, and a tag team of three against two doesn’t gang up on you for hours. We ask timeshare members to voice their opinion on NV SB 348 following the link in Tuesday’s article. Timeshare buyers should be at least offered 24 hours before signing a contract.

Timeshares are regulated by states. Since timeshare buyers typically buy a timeshare in a state other than their state of residence, lawmakers have little incentive to react to non-constituents. Lawmakers need to listen to those who bought a timeshare in their state, not just those who reside in their state. While some state Attorneys General seem to be on the side of the consumer, other states follow the mantra, “Verbal representations are hard to prove.”

I found the Woman Who Money article, “Are Timeshares Worth the Money in the Long Run?” on Lisa Ann Schreier’s Timeshare Crusader blog. Having worked in the industry for years, Lisa’s knowledge brings a lot to the table.

From Women Who Money   

Regulations now exist to help protect consumers from high-pressure sales tactics. If you buy a timeshare and quickly regret it, you may have options for getting out of the signed contract.

The most important things you can do if you’re considering a timeshare purchase is to take time to read every word in the contract. You’re given a mandated legal rescission period ranging from 3-10 days.

https://womenwhomoney.com/timeshares-worth-money/?fbclid=IwAR0bYNP97–z3c_zLuiKII59MamwEsSaCA6exdi6GdNOspnL26F88c09eeg

Timeshare expert and author of Timeshare for Dummies Lisa Ann Schreier agrees:

“While it is true that each state has a legally mandated rescission period, the fact of the matter is that 99% of purchasers will not read the contract within that time frame. The days of relying on the sales person for good, solid information are over. Consumers must go into these timeshare sales pitches armed with a litany of questions and be prepared to walk out without purchasing anything if they don’t receive answers that can be pointed out within the contract.”

http://thetimesharecrusader.blogspot.com/

My husband and I used and enjoyed our timeshare for 25 years with no complaints, questions or Facebook posts. The points-based product does offer greater flexibility and the elimination of additional fees imposed by exchange companies. We’re not saying timeshare isn’t good for many, and there are not honest sales agents, but I am convinced, in speaking with timeshare members, current and former sales agents, managers and even an executive or two, “pitching heat” is on the upswing. Having sold everything from pianos to Charitable Remainder Trusts, I have never encountered a term as revolting as “pitching heat” as the industry itself describes the employment of unfair and deceptive sales practices.

Timeshare buyers should record their timeshare sales sessions in one-party states where legal. I would recommend not buying a timeshare in a two-party state. If you can’t record your presentation, proof will be hard to come by. One of our Supporters, Sheila Brust, has in her possession her “Pencil Pitch” that clearly denoted:

$8,631

-8,631

0

There was an arrow pointing to 0 and the word “saved,” indicating she would be able to cover all her maintenance fees using a program that unfortunately did not exist. A second buyer who bought from the same sales agent was also dismissed by the Florida timeshare reviewer. The Florida reviewer told Sheilah that she did not understand the program either until she spoke with the company attorney. What chance does the average consumer have if a Florida timeshare reviewer, who has reviewed hundreds, if not thousands of timeshare contracts, did not understand the program until she spoke with the company attorney?

“Hear no evil, see no evil” seems the norm in some states. As far as proof, 78 Platinum members, who don’t know each other, reported similar to identical complaints, often against repeat offender sales agents. I’m told that constitutes proof as it is a good faith investigation and a reasonable conclusion.  At the very least if Florida demands proof, make Florida a one party state.

Contact Inside Timeshare or a self-help group if you have questions or concerns about your timeshare.

We seek to provide timeshare members a way to proactively address membership concerns; to advocate for timeshare reform; to obtain greater disclosure from the company; to advocate for a viable secondary market; and to educate prospective buyers.

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

https://www.facebook.com/groups/465692163568779/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1639958046252175/

Thank you Irene for coming up with today’s article at such short notice.

Do you have any comments or views on any article published, if so use our contact page and let us know, we welcome your views.

Have you a problem with your timeshare, you don’t know where to turn or who to trust, again use our contact page and we will point you in the right direction. Remember there are many bogus companies out there, promising the earth and delivering nothing, do your homework before engaging with any company.

Have a great weekend and join us again next week.