Welcome to another edition of our Letter from America, this week Irene Parker explores the problems surrounding some Canadian Timeshare owners at Resorts taken over by Wyndham. The article also looks at how Quebec is leading the way to protect consumers in Canada. Much of the legislation is very similar to that instituted in Spain, which as we already know has the strongest timeshare laws in favour of consumers in Europe. It does look as though lawmakers in other countries are looking at and using the Spanish model in their bid to protect consumers, this can only be for the best as the industry has failed miserably in this area.
The Hypocrisy of ARDA’s Coalition for Responsible Exit and Wyndham’s Ovation Program for Carriage Resorts Owners
Wyndham’s Carriage Hills and Carriage Ridge Canadian Resorts
By Irene Parker
August 16, 2019
A follow-up to Legacy Resort owners’ lack of a responsible exit
It’s been over a year since Quebec passed a law in June of 2018 challenging the perpetual nature of non-deeded timeshare contracts. It is hoped Quebec’s model legislation will be expanded to include other Canadian provinces. The law does not apply to deeded intervals, which are considered real property in Canada.
Legislative Revision to Quebec Timeshares
A contract related to timeshare accommodation rights is considered a service contract. You may resiliate your contract for other reasons, and you have other rights and recourses (187.13). The verb resiliation means “To draw back from a contract.” Cambridge dictionary (de résilier un contrat cancelling, termination)
Carriage’s draconian policy surpasses anything I have encountered in America. Wyndham acquired Carriage Resorts from Shell Vacation Club several years ago. Carriage Resorts lack of an exit policy is even more disturbing, considering the new president of the timeshare lobby ARDA, is Jason Gamel, Senior VP, Legal at Wyndham. ARDA’s position is that the problem of the lack of a secondary market has been solved by programs like Wyndham’s voluntary surrender program Ovations, and ARDA’s Coalition for Responsible Exit. A quote from an ARDA lobbyist:
“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.
A RedWeek post from a Carriage Resort owner found on the internet (unedited):
I was duped into a gifted timeshare from my father. The story is sad…he is retired and was desperate to get out as he lost most of his retirement money in 2007. So he misleads my husband and I. I contacted Ovation to take the deed back from Carriage Hills resort in Canada and they said NO. Referred to Fidelity who advised THEY HAVE NOT SOLD a Carriage Hills unit IN YEARS! 31 units are listed on Carriage Hills website for $1. Many owners are offering $400 gift certificates. Wyndham is the ring-leader. They should offer Ovation.
As reported by a Carriage Resort member to another Carriage member:
By coincidence, I own at Carriage Hills which is the “sister” resort to Carriage Ridge (Simon’s resort) north of Toronto. Both these resorts are deeded timeshares (not points) and unless Wyndham changed their policy and allowed Ovations to take back Carriage deeds, the owners at both these resorts are “stuck” and obliged to pay their fees unless they manage to sell.
The board of Carriage Hills (and I believe Carriage Ridge as well) takes delinquent owners to court to oblige them to pay through a court ruling. The only way out currently is to sell. They are even taking “delinquent” heirs to court for payment of the late fees and say they have been successful. Simon will not be “foreclosed” – they don’t take back any timeshares at all. The owners’ associations at both timeshares cannot “own” any units and Wyndham is uncooperative.
Wyndham took over these resorts from Shell Vacation Club several years ago and at that time also closed the sales office because they alleged they could not sell the units. Since that time they also have stopped taking back units from owners wanting out. This is a Facebook group which could be helpful (https://m.facebook.com/groups/152117225452689) for Ridge and Hills owners. They discuss “exit” strategies and appeals to the board to find a solution for owners who want to exit, amongst other topics.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a good answer for you – at Embarc, because it is points and we are members who own no “real estate”, and because Diamond still takes back points to resell, a member has the choice of 1) Selling at around $10 per point (a fraction of the purchase price), 2) asking Diamond to take back the points or, 3) If they refuse, simply not pay one’s fees and points will be eventually forfeited.
Carriage Hills/Ridge has no such choices – right now, the only thing one can do is attempt to sell to someone else – on Redweek.com, tug2.com or local Kijiji pages. I myself have listed my unit on the Carriage Hills website and am attempting to sell… There doesn’t however, appear to be a similar website for Carriage Ridge owners.
Excerpt of email to Irene Parker at Inside Timeshare from Simon
August 5, 2019
I reached out to Ovations as you suggested. Wyndham Ovations will not accept our Carriage Ridge Resort in Canada. We purchased this floating week timeshare May 2004 for approximately $13,750. We were told at purchase there would be no problem reselling the timeshare.
Quebec Bill 178
Under Quebec Bill 178, a service contract can be cancelled under liberal conditions if the purchaser is not getting the benefits of ownership due to medical conditions, availability, or a host of other reasons.
Introduced 18 April 2018 Quebec National Assembly
Passed 6 June 2018
Excerpt from the bill: “You may resiliate your contract for other reasons, and you have other rights and recourses.”
187.13 A contract relating to timeshare accommodation rights is deemed to be a service contract
Quebec’s consumer protection act is not the first time Canada has ruled on the definition of a timeshare. According to a 2017 ruling, the Canadian Court of Appeals defined a timeshare more like a country club than real property.
Spain ended perpetual timeshare contracts.
Spain was the first country to rule that perpetual timeshare contracts are illegal. In Spain timeshare contracts purchased in perpetuity, floating weeks, and points-based timeshares have been deemed unlawful by the Supreme Court.
I attended a Florida legislative workshop in Tallahassee March 12 of this year. Hearing lobbyists explain responsible exits and hardship departments, I learned of two parallel timeshare universes – what lobbyists and developers portray to lawmakers – and what over 900 families report is really happening.
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.
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Thank you Irene, one thing this article does show is at least some lawmakers are taking an active interest in curbing the excesses of the timeshare industry and giving them some rights under law. I don’t know of any other industry where the consumer has no protection with the laws in favour of the industry, this must change and we are slowly seeing that happen.
Inside Timeshare would also like to apologise for the lack of articles over the past few weeks, August is usually rather quiet so Inside Timeshare has taken the time to have a well earned rest. All will be back to normal in the next week or so.
Have a great weekend.