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Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich

Friday’s Letter from America

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

Now on with Patty’s report.

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

CASE NO.  CV2013-006230

Jury Trial Verdict

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

By Patty Boyak

July 19, 2019

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

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

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

THERE IS NO LETTER!  

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

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

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

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

Thank you, Candace!  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trevor W complaint #2 Brandon and Patty Boyak

Trevor W complaint #3 A Navy veteran

Trevor W complaint #4 Reported complaint but did not buy

Trevor W complaint #5 A senior age 75, resolved 

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

April 10, 2019

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

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

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

Trevor complaint #2 Platinum Member #28 of 191

July 6, 2019

Brandon and Patty Boyak

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

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

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

Peter M, Principal Broker California  

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

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

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

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

Trevor Complaint #3 #78 of 101

A Navy veteran (retired), age 69

April 5, 2019

To: Michael Flaskey, CEO

Maria Kalber

ARDA

ARDA ROC

Barclay’s Bank

January 28, 2018

Points purchased: 1,500

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

September 4, 2018, NV

Points purchased: 16,000

Sales Agent: Mr J Trevor W

Manager: Mr Matthew G

Purchase price: $48,000

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trevor Complaint #4 Platinum member #85 out of 101

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trevor Complaint #5

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

June 5, 2019

To Michael Flaskey, CEO

Hospitality

Barclay’s President’s office

ARDA ROC

California Real Estate Division

Peter M

Trevor W

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

Free at Last Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/groups/623703881470577/?ref=share

Free at Last Timeshare Support Course offered by Straight-A-Guide

https://www.udprep.info/june

Bluegreen Facebook

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

Wyndham Facebook

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

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

Diamond Resort Facebook

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

Gold Key Facebook

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

Inside Timeshare Facebook Group

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

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

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

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

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this week’s Letter from America, today Sheila Brust gives us an update to her previous article “Pencil Pitch”, again edited by Irene Parker.

It would seem that Darth Vader has sent in his Imperial Stormtroopers and Inside Timeshare is under attack from the dark side, no problem, the force of the good is with us. Keep your stories coming, the truth will always prevail!

Now on with this week’s Letter from America

An Update to Sheilah Brust’s Pencil Pitch

The Florida Timeshare Division told us,

“You have no Proof” and we were not allowed a rebuttal

Why is this not proof?

July 6, 2018

Introduction by Irene Parker

Many potential timeshare buyers have watched timeshare sales agents scribble timeshare promises on a piece of paper. Buyers are not allowed to keep a copy of the “Pencil Pitch” but Sheilah Brust managed to walk out with hers.

Sheilah listened to her pencil pitch in Daytona presented by Diamond sales agent Brad Leslie. She filed a complaint with Florida’s Department of Business Practice and Regulation (DBPR) and was told the following,

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

By Sheilah Brust

My husband Thomas and I have been Diamond timeshare members since Diamond acquired our resort. Our original timeshare was purchased in 1994. Things were fine until we fell for the Pencil Pitch.   

On February, 4, 2017, we attended an update meeting at Diamond’s Daytona resort The Cove. We wanted to attend the update because Diamond had been sold to Apollo Global Management. We are Platinum Diamond members so already had more points than we needed, but wanted to hear about the changes.

Diamond sales agent Brad Leslie said that he had just returned from training in Orlando and had learned about a new program that would allow us double point usage. We patiently followed Brad’s presentation. He wrote the numbers upside down. I remarked at how he could he do that. He said practice.

We feel Diamond must not understand the Pencil Pitch or they would cancel this purchase. I have learned Diamond retained the law firm Duane Morris to write a letter implying our article was defamatory. I have submitted this article as our rebuttal. We understand the figures we were presented. We were not confused. I have an accounting background. I wrote down everything Brad Leslie said.

Here’s the pitch. We hope you post a comment expressing your interpretation.  

The actual Pencil Pitch is three pages long. Page 2 of the Pencil Pitch is based on 15,000 additional points instead of 25,000 points pictured above because we said no to 25,000 points. The numbers below reflect 65,000 points instead of 75,000.  For those not familiar with the point system, a Diamond timeshare points sells for around $4 a point.

Timeshare members incur annual maintenance fees. For Platinum members the annual maintenance fee is $.15 per point, or $8,631 for the 50,000 points we owned before the purchase of 15,000 additional points.

From the original illustration above, to offset maintenance fees, on the right side of sheet, Brad said and wrote:

  • Own 75,000 points
  • Ability to get (Double Usage) 150,000 points – 50,000 points is what would be left for travel
  • 100,000 points would be available for point redemption @ 10 per point through a Travel Reimbursement program. Brad told us to book hotels, etc., and then cancel the reservations. We would receive a reimbursement check back for $10,000. The 50,000 points tendered would not be credited back. Brad said we would be reimbursed via check in about 30 days or 72 hours if via a reloadable debit Visa card. Without the double points, this program is of no value. If we used all our 50,000 points for redemption at $.10 a point, we would receive a reimbursement check for $5,000 that would only pay $5,000 towards a $8,631 maintenance fee bill with no points left for travel.

Brad said we could use the reimbursement check to pay maintenance fees but he said he could not tell us that. He said, “It’s your money!”

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

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

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

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

50,000 if used            8,000 Less reimbursement check

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

x $.10 reimbursed     EXCEPT THERE WAS NO 65,000 POINTS GIVEN!

$8,000

Brad said Diamond was working on a new member page for the new program that would have a split screen and that we would be able to see our newly acquired 15,000 points in the background. He said the 65,000 points “given” (Brad’s word) would also appear on a “split screen” on our member account page.

When I asked about the maintenance fees on the new 15,000 points, Brad said, “If you don’t use them you don’t pay maintenance fees on them. They will be kept in the background. If you want to use them then you will pay maintenance fees.”

I specifically asked Brad, “So if I had all 130,000 points reimbursed, they could all be redeemed for a check? Brad said, “Yes.”

I asked Brad why this program was developed. He said Diamond wanted to make sure we STAYED VACATIONED.     

We met with Brad again in May 2017. Brad said the program had changed. Brad said Diamond was getting rid of the debit cards because there were problems. He said DRI was working on the split screen. He said now we would need to generate the reimbursement checks by participating in the Travel Reimbursement program. I was familiar with this program and had used it before. This was a benefit we already had as Platinum members, but only beneficial if we were to lose points. We feel Brad adulterated the Travel Reimbursement program, incorporating it into his February Pencil Pitch.  

Brad’s reply to our complaint submitted to the Florida DBPR was that 15,000 points in the background was for a Dream Vacation. He said I was confused! Dream vacation points were not in any background account. They were added to our account February 17, 2017 so these could not have been the points in question. Brad sent us a $2,621 check to reimburse us the maintenance fees on the newly purchased 15,000 points. If it wasn’t for the NEW 15,000 points, we never would have gotten a $2,621 reimbursement check for the maintenance fees. Diamond representative Brandi said sales agents are allowed to reimburse members for their first year’s maintenance fees. Dream Vacation points don’t have maintenance fees.

Of course Brad was selling a double point program. He wrote down 130,000 and called the 65,000 points “given” points. I had told him that this program better be right because we are retired and living on fixed incomes and that we had NO extra money if he was not telling us the truth.  His answer was that he hoped to rebuild our trust in Diamond. We had told him we had been duped previously, told we had to buy 4000 points to prevent our heirs from being stuck with Diamond points.

Diamond’s response to us was that the information as presented was confusing, but not illegal. This is the CLARITY promise Diamond launched in response to Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s issuance of an Assurance of Discontinuance.  

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

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

Diamond’s Response:

On April 5, 2018, we received a call from a DRI Hospitality agent. She said our complaint had been escalated to the legal team and they found no wrongdoing. This is part of what she said to us.

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

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

Summary

As a result of this upsell and lack of clarity, we have less time to travel because we have to work to pay for the additional points that increased maintenance fees to $11,252. We have a loan with Diamond for $31,000 and $26,000 Barclay Card balance.

Brad charged on two Barclay Cards $14,000 in my name and $12,000 in Thomas’ name. He had us fill out a credit card application to see if we qualified for the new program. He returned and said, “Barclays loves you! You got $26,000 credit!” I was livid after I learned we had been charged these amounts. We could have used a different credit card that would have gotten us rewards points.  

This whole deal was based on having 130,000 points using points at $.10 a point for a Travel Advantage reimbursement service taking advantage of 65,000 bonus points. You can book a lot of vacations with 50,000 points that would vastly exceed a measly reimbursement check for $5,000. You can stay a week for roughly 2500 to 5000 points. At an estimated 4000 points per week, about 12 weeks.       

What CLARITY?

According to the Federal Trade Commission Section 5

An act or practice is deceptive where

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

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

From the Arizona Attorney General’s Assurance of Discontinuance:

IV Assurances

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

 

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

 

 

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

http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/business/aroundregion/story/2018/jun/17/whconsider-when-buying-time-share-vacatispot/472994/

Contact Inside Timeshare or one of these self-help groups if you need help with a timeshare concern or would like to share your experience.   

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

Thank you Sheila for your candid story, it just amazes us that this type of sales practice still goes on, yet the companies involved deny all responsibility for their sales agents actions. In Europe timeshare is very much on the decline, partly due to the antics in the past of unscrupulous sales reps, not all I hasten to add, I do know many who abhor the deceitful practices and are genuine in their approach to selling the product. They believe that telling the truth sells the product.

We have said this on many occasions, timeshare was and could be a good product, it may not suit everyone but sold properly and truthfully will only strengthen it and give it a future.

So we say to all timeshare companies, get your house in order, reign in your sales agents / reps, stop these types of sleazy sales presentations, take control or you will lose a product that could work.

News has just come in from Canarian Legal Alliance of this weeks court cases, on the receiving end are Anfi in Gran Canaria once known as the flagship of timeshare resorts in Europe and Silverpoint in Tenerife.

The Court of First Instance in Maspalomas, Gran Canaria, has had NINE sentences passed against them this week. The clients will receive back all their money and have had their contracts declared null and void.

In Tenerife, Silverpoint, who are well known on these pages has lost another case in the Court of First Instance in Arona. Again the court ordered the return of all money and the contract declared null and void.

In total these 10 cases will cost these timeshare resorts over 325,112€ plus legal interest and in most cases the return of the client’s initial legal fees.

So the week ends with another “Black Cloud” hanging over the timeshare industry. Will they ever learn?

Inside Timeshare welcomes your comments and stories, if you would like to share these with the rest of the timeshare world, then use our contact page and get in touch.

So that is all for this week, join us on Monday for more news and views of the timeshare world, have a great, enjoyable and safe weekend.

Money Vs Morals

A Fraudulent Timeshare Sale can pose a National Security Threat

One Marine sacrifices, not only his money and his security clearance, but also his air unit command, as a result of believing a timeshare sales agent.

Secretary of the Navy, Richard Spencer, former Marine Corp pilot and investment banking and capital market underwriter, was also president of Crossroads Investment, LLC, a leading venture capital and private equity fund-of-fund investment firm.   

http://www.navy.mil/navybio_ldr.asp?id=1001

NNSA

December 27, 2017

By Irene Parker

Inside Timeshare received an alarming response in response to last week’s article about Samuel Melendez. Mr. Melendez spent 21 years in the U.S. Army, working with soldiers and colleges to teach them chemical, biological and nuclear defense. A Diamond Platinum member, he alleges he and his wife Delores were up-sold by deceit and bait and switch by Diamond Resorts top selling sales agent Rick Casper at DRI’s Polo Towers resort.

Inside Timeshare has been informed one Marine lost more than his money and security clearance. He lost his air unit command, as a consequence of believing a timeshare sales agent. He was forced into foreclosure which jeopardized his security clearance. We will not name the Marine who lost his air unit command, or the timeshare company, because Inside Timeshare has received reports directed against four timeshare companies offering members of our armed forces deals like the ability to rent for a profit, the ability to easily sell vacation points, or buy vacation points at a special military discount price that does not exist. Fifteen active duty and retired military and law enforcement personnel allege they were sold by deceit.

Marine

Former Marine Jeff Diehl describes how his Vacation Village sales agent over promised the income that could be generated from renting his week.

Jeff Diehl

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-30/

Jeff expressed outrage after hearing a fellow Marine lost his command post due to predatory timeshare sales. He sees such tactics as a threat to our national security. “It would be easy for anyone, seeking to do our country harm, to get hired to sell vacation points in an effort to remove an armed service member from their command post,” said Jeff. Jeff is encouraging service members to write to the Secretary of the Navy Robert Spencer and Commandant of the Marines Robert B. Neller, as well as other directors of our armed forces.

I fear Secretary of the Navy Robert Spencer, a former top venture capitalist, may have conflicting feelings about how Diamond Resorts, owned by Apollo Global Management, achieve their sales target. Apollo is the third largest private equity company. Secretary of the Navy Spencer is a former Marine Corp pilot and a former investment banking and capital market underwriter. He was also president of Crossroads Investment, LLC, a leading venture capital and private equity fund-of-fund investment firm. Mr. Spencer was sworn in August, 2017. Apollo manages Diamond as a fund of funds.  

Our fifteen Timeshare Advocacy Group™ military and law enforcement members have mobilized as a unit of armed forces to put an end to timeshare’s predatory sales and marketing targeting the military. Jeff, a retired Marine and disabled, is the unit commander. All fifteen allege they were sold a timeshare by deceit and bait and switch. Four are worried about losing their security clearance. Four are disabled.

https://www.mca-marines.org/gazette/2017/11/242nd-marine-corps-birthday-message-commandant-marine-corps

Given dismal regulatory enforcement, we fear the only court open to any timeshare buyer alleging deceit is the court of public opinion, so in addition to 15 members of the Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force and Marines, alleging they were victimized by Vacation Village, Bluegreen, Wyndham and Diamond timeshare sales agents, four members of our media outreach committee will assist our military in an effort to reach mainstream media.

Diamond Resorts is offering free passes to the military and to first responders for their upcoming invitational golf tournament to be held in Orlando January 12 – 14. Model and golf pro Blair O’Neal is featured.  

https://www.insidethegate.com/2017/12/military-first-responders-to-receive-complimentary-tickets-to-third-annual-diamond-resorts-invitational/

USN

Navy computer technicians Amanda and George Jones are also worried about their Navy security clearances. Amanda and George say they were told by two Diamond sales agents, at two different locations, there are many companies that specialize in refinancing timeshares. Banks will not finance timeshares. They too could be forced into foreclosure and lose their security clearance, unable to afford the 18% timeshare loan interest rate.

Amanda and George Jones were featured in last week’s article. Mary Bowling, former #2 top selling Diamond Resorts sales agent, describes in a lawsuit, how the deceptive “price freeze” works.

Amanda and George Jones

http://insidetimeshare.com/tuesday-slot-irene-3/

Here is the “price freeze” script

Case 1:17-cv-00562-DKW-RLP filed in Hawaii District Court Page 10 of complaint

#43 Owners Update is deceptive because it is to sell points.

#44 Customer is told the current “list price” but the agent has to see someone else.

#48 the sales agent has customer sign a form indicating they were updated and the agent has to have the manager sign off.

#49 the sales manager has reviewed all prior customer contracts and the manager falsely states the customer was given a “price freeze” but none exists.

#50 (In bold) because of the “price freeze” only today can the customer buy for the discounted price.

#51 (In bold) the price given is the real price planned from the outset.

#52 the “price freeze” never existed because (a) The special deal available to this customer only is available to anyone and (b) Urgent to buy only for today

#54 this is lucky news for the customer – brand new information!

#55 the sales agent waits for the customer to “step in”

George and Amanda Jones “step in”

We went to an orientation in Orlando presented by DRI sales agent Jonathan Pineda at DRI’s Resort Mystic Dunes March 2017. (This is the second complaint Inside Timeshare has received from our readers directed against Mr. Pineda) We ended up purchasing an additional 4000 points for $15,732. Our loan balance $13,271.16 is financed at 18.6794%. Jonathan (like our first Virginia DRI sale agent), said both loans could be refinanced and combined by companies that specialize in refinancing timeshares. He said we would have to wait until we made our first payment (long after the contract rescission period). When we asked for a company name, Jonathan said we could google it.  

We were told we were buying our second purchase in Orlando at a price point that was almost unheard of and was not being offered to any new Diamond customers right now. “I can’t believe your first sales agent didn’t tell you about this price from the first purchase!” Jonathan said.  If we did not buy that day we would lose out and would go from $2.85 per point to $10 from that day on. He said not to go to any future promotional events because it would change our price point. Jonathan said parents had died and the children did not want the points so DRI was reselling at this low price.

Jonathan also said that we needed to get to Gold so that we could pay our maintenance fees with points. We have since learned only Platinum members can use points to pay maintenance fees at $.04 per point. He said it would be worth it to spend all our savings so that we would not have to pay maintenance fees. We were not comfortable so we only bought 4000 points.

USArmy

Samuel Melendez, Army veteran

http://insidetimeshare.com/nightmares-timeshare-street/

Mr. Melendez is the eighth Rick Casper Platinum DRI member to reach out to Inside Timeshare, and the only complainant not to have been resolved. The Melendez complaint was dismissed. Mr. Melendez said he received an email from their DRI Consumer Advocate hospitality agent, with the family’s initials on their contract, confirming the oral representation clause.

Platinum members are Diamond’s most loyal customers. They are unsuspecting because they have dealt with the company for years without major complaints until their encounter with Rick Casper or others with questionable business practices.

We’re not sure if Rick Casper is still with DRI. Like Elvis, some members report Rick Casper and Wadji Kassas (another name frequently mentioned) are no longer with the company, while others tell us Casper and Kassas are still working at DRI. I can imagine them holed up in a special Platinum bunker.

Inside Timeshare also published the story of army veteran Terry Carter, diagnosed with blood cancer. Terry lived next to a burn pit in Iraqi. Bluegreen offered this family a loan cancellation but no refund. Terry says he will not give up without a fight. Sold in a group presentation, promised the ability to sell their timeshare at a profit should they need to sell, the family is demanding a 50% refund. Bluegreen’s defense is the family used the timeshare for 19 days since making their first purchase in 2013. They stopped making loan payments in July.

Terry Carter http://insidetimeshare.com/tuesday-slot-irene-2/

One of the worst upsell stories was reported to Inside Timeshare by Karen Vartan, another disabled vet. She was contacted by DRI marketing in San Diego. As a Platinum member for more than five years, Karen was hosted by the Diamond Resorts East Coast Mystic Dune Sales Team in Arlington, Virginia. Karen says she was told if she purchased 25,000 additional DRI points, added to her exiting 57,000 points she would have 82,000. But if purchased today only, double points – 165,000 – allowing Karen to be able to pay her maintenance fees with points left over to travel. The program does not exist. Diamond’s response was again to provide Karen with her initials on her contract acknowledging that Karen “did not rely on any oral representation to make her purchase.”

Canada is also represented in our military victim report  

Canada

Roxanne and Terry Hurley

http://insidetimeshare.com/timeshare-advocacy/

Inside Timeshare directed Roxanne and Terry Hurley to Diamond Resorts Consumer Advocacy department over a year ago after the family reported they lost their entire life savings to DRI. Chalk it up to a bad decision, but having served in the Canadian army their entire career, they have nothing left. DRI did provide some help. We are not lawyers, so are not privy to the terms, but the family thought it would be alright, not violating the non-disclosure agreement, to admit they are still DRI members. Roxanne’s mom’s condition has worsened since she reached out to us. With no secondary market, their savings wiped out, their dream vacation future turned into a financial tragedy.

homeland

Law Enforcement is also at risk

Lela Renea is a Florida detective trying to work with Bluegreen to resolve her complaint.  Inside Timeshare, back in July, published Detective Renea’s article describing how she feels she was a victim of a Bluegreen bait and switch. We will not use the word “alleged” because if anyone knows they were baited and switched, it’s a detective.  

Detective Renea  http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-11/

Scotty Black, MS Criminal Justice, also works in law enforcement. Inside Timeshare will publish Scotty’s battle with Diamond Resorts in an upcoming article. Detective Renea and Scotty could also lose their security clearances if forced into foreclosure.

There are others who have moved on. We will not republish their articles or mention their names, as they have signed a mutual release agreement, agreeing not to say anything bad about Diamond Resorts.

When will this industry wake up? Never, I fear if there is not some federal enforcement. Members cannot even file a complaint effectively with the weakened Consumer Financial Protection Bureau if the timeshare company finances the loan because, as not the actual lender, there is no drop down CFPB menu choice to select a timeshare company. Only banks are listed.

monay v morals

According to FBI agents I spoke with, and several attorneys, hiding behind the oral representation clause is not legal but continues as a hamster wheel because there is no federal timeshare enforcement. In our opinion, state enforcement is, in some states, influenced by powerful lobby dollars. With so little enforcement, unscrupulous sales agents have little to fear. Lie to make the sale, force the member into foreclosure, take back the points, resell for full value to the next consumer.

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring has dismissed all Diamond Resorts complaints, submitted by members who contacted Inside Timeshare, despite Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich issuing an against DRI accusing the company of violating the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act. The AZ AG office received, according to a source, 400 complaints, and an additional 500 complaints after the press release.

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

We do not dispute there are many timeshare members, having not yet experienced a life crisis, who use and enjoy their vacation points. We know there are honest timeshare companies, like Disney Vacation Club, and honest timeshare sales agents, but it would take another lengthy article to list the lawsuits that have evolved, like the Wyndham whistleblower Trish Williams $20 million jury award describing TAFT days – tell them any blank think on slow sales days.

At least timeshare members, those who find Inside Timeshare or one of the self-help groups listed below, are not silenced and isolated.

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

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

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

help