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The Tuesday Slot

Welcome to another Tuesday Slot, today we welcome another contributor, Elizabeth, to the ongoing saga which Inside Timeshare calls “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” revolving around the Wyndham Carriage Hills and Carriage Ridge Resorts in Canada. Inside Timeshare has been receiving many complaints on this subject and it does appear to be one of the worst cases we have encountered over the years. It is not only from the US and Canada that Inside Timeshare is receiving complaints but we have now started to receive them from Australia, this is certainly becoming a global problem.

An Analysis of Wyndham’s Canadian Carriage Resorts

In 2017 the Board reported they had 600 intervals in arrears. In 2018 there were 800 in arrears and in 2019, year-to-date 1,740, more than double. The Board further advised that it was higher in 2018, but due to an error, was incorrectly reported.  

A Wake-up Call for Carriage buyers – The Contract is Eternal   

By Elizabeth, a Carriage Owner

September 3, 2019

Our Carriage Hills Resort ‘wake-up’ started just a few months ago…

Wyndham’s Carriage Resorts owners are being held as timeshare hostages in an ironclad contract. Buyers unwittingly have ended up owning a timeshare that is not a marketable product. Policies that are so restrictive require swift and prudent actions, which may very well be a vote and sale. Buyers were routinely told they were purchasing deeded real estate, hence there would be no problem selling the timeshare – and for a profit!  

The elderly and their heirs are being pursued for delinquent maintenance fees. A policy so unfair and restrictive; it cannot be in Wyndham’s best interest. In America, Wyndham, in good faith, offers their voluntary surrender program Ovation to American timeshare holders who wish to exit for a variety of reasons.

Ovation by Wyndham

We understand that your situation may have changed since you purchased your timeshare with us and now you’re unable to use it the way you planned.

Whether it’s a change in marital status, family needs or vacation preferences, these events impact how and when you choose to travel.

https://www.myclubwyndham.com/mycw/happening/news/ovation-by-wyndham.page?

I recently asked the Carriage Board President about exiting our timeshare. In response, he stated that the number of votes to support an exit would not be possible, as only about 10-15% of owners show up to the Annual General Meeting. However, no multi-channel contact strategy has ever been attempted to encourage a vote.

There has been success selling other luxury properties. My husband’s golf course recently sold. The owners voted and made $125K per person. My parents RV fractional ownership sold 20 years ago. Each owner made $15K. On the Carriage webpage, an owner posted an MCAP assessment for part of Carriage Ridge for $30MM, for just one of three parcels of land.

My father ‘gifted’ my husband and me our Carriage Hill timeshare about seven years ago. We signed a three-page deed. At the time, I asked my father what happens when I want to get rid of the timeshare. His response was simply, “Sell it.” Unbeknownst to us, the $10K “value” on the deed was not an assessed value. Rather, it was what my father had paid for it in 2001. The timeshare is worth less than nothing. It is a liability due to ever-increasing maintenance fees.

We ‘woke-up’ a few months ago when we attempted to exit. We learned we can’t even pay someone to take our Carriage Hills timeshare and it follows your estate. This means that when you die your children remain responsible for the ongoing maintenance fees. This is contrary to American timeshares. Heirs in American rarely must assume a timeshare when parents pass. You can never exit Wyndham’s Carriage Resorts!? The contract is eternal?

When I asked my father if he knew the contract had no exit clause, he explained that he was 80 years old, had lost most of his retirement money in 2007, and could not deal with the stress of collections. He felt my husband and I were in a much better position to deal with this. He went on to tell me that he had tried to sell, but was not able to find ‘any takers’ [in his words] and that maintenance fees had skyrocketed [from a historical 3% annual increase to 10%]. So he “gifted”….

The relationship with my dad has been very negatively impacted by this situation – as I try and understand his actions.

I investigated exit options, only to discover exiting is nearly impossible. I called Wyndham about Ovation. Supervisor Erica advised that Wyndham’s Ovation program is not offered to Carriage Resorts owners. She said to call a timeshare exit company called Fidelity, approved by Wyndham. Erica also recommended I gift the timeshare to family. “REALLY, and have a family member experience this? Gift what seems like a Ponzi scheme to someone who trusts you?” I replied.

Fidelity’s Jacob advised that he could not remember ever selling a Carriage Hills unit, as “it’s old and no one wants it”. He suggested I list it on EBay with a $400 gift card. I looked at sellmytimeshare.com. They wanted $4,500 USD to list with no guarantee of a sale. Recently, I paid Secondary Ownership $1,000 CAD in Ontario, but despite researching as best I could, have since found out through our Carriage Resorts owners’ Facebook page, This will not be effective. In June I listed the timeshare on Kijiji offering to pay any buyer $2200 PLUS pay the $1500 legal transfer fees. There has been no serious interest.

There are hundreds of Carriage Hills properties listed for sale (over 319 are listed with a resale company and about the same on Secondary Ownership). Owners end up throwing good money after bad, paying exorbitant listing fees to sell a product widely reported to have no secondary market. Who would want it if you can’t get out? Furthermore, Carriage Hills has $11MM in uncollected maintenance fees.

Recently a new owner joined our Carriage Hills Facebook page. The seller covered all legal fees and, as recommended by the Carriage Hills Owners Association, used a Carriage Hills preferred lawyer. I’m uncertain that they are able to adequately represent both buyer and seller. 

Carriage Resorts and Wyndham’s Financial Challenges:

In my investigation of the available financial information I discovered the following:

  • Wyndham Vacations purchased Shell Vacations Club [including Carriage Hills] in 2012. The property is located in Barrie’s Horse Shoe Valley and has 172 Units, 51 weeks, 8772 intervals [~9200 owners].
  • In 2016 Wyndham acquired ownership of 772 units in arrears [8.8%].
  • In 2017 Wyndham had title ownership of 831 units [9.5%].
  •  Even after Wyndham had acquired about 10% of intervals, it was reported in Board Q&A in 2018 that another 10% were in arrears [maintenance fee’s not paid].
  • Maintenance fees are currently $1350 up from $1006 in 2013, a 34% increase from 5 years prior. Owners on fixed incomes have no ability to surrender their units without the threat of collections and legal action.
  • There are $11 million dollars accrued in unpaid debt on the 2017 Financial Statements.
  •  In 2017 the Board reported they had 600 intervals in arrears. In 2018 there were 800 in arrears and in 2019, year-to-date 1,740, more than double. The Board further advised that it was higher in 2018, but due to an error, was incorrectly reported.
  • A 3rd party collection agency is paid 25 cents for every dollar collected.
  • Budget items that are increasing at the fastest pace include legal fees [+200% between 2018/19], Bad Debt expense [+14.7%] and collection fees [+7.5%].
  • The Carriage Hills model has shifted from a fractional ownership management firm to a collections management model to remain solvent.

Interestingly in the 2018/19 Budget, there are no 5 and 10-year financial projections to provide owners an outlook on maintenance fees and the impact of increasing arrears. A budget is shared with owners [with a Wyndham disclaimer at the bottom], but not the actual spend.

Large investments decisions are made, including Wyndham as the management company, without transparency on the request for proposal process, list of bidders and the results.

In 2018 records show that $2MM was spent on upgrading units to Wyndham standard door locks. Given the close relationship Wyndham has with Carriage Hills, arm’s length auditing and oversight should be required over the procurement process to ensure that financial decisions made are sound, free of conflict of interest, and not biased towards Wyndham’s preferred contractors.

Rental Rates:

Wyndham can advertise their units for rental rates that are lower than the maintenance fees, while owners are not allowed to do the same. In essence, they have de-valued ownership because it is often cheaper to rent a unit from Expedia.

Board of Directors:

Condominium boards carry a very strong fiduciary mandate to represent their owners’ best interests. That means all owners. Given the 10% ownership of Wyndham, their 4x’s voting power, plus their Property Management fees and strong direction on budget/maintenance spend, it is unclear if this is possible with this Board. Clearly, Wyndham has a stronghold and benefits from continuing to force owners to remain on the title for their units.

Board minutes show owners requesting for an exit strategy years ago. Only recently a Transition Committee was approved by the board, including two board members. While the meetings were supposed to be minuted, nothing has been posted and to date, no known actions have been taken.

The Board has approved a 3-year trial of an on-site sales office. However, a Wyndham employee [VP Operations] recently stated in minutes, Wyndham marketed, but no one is biting to buy in Canada.’ If there was a sales opportunity Wyndham would be on it…it’s the bad debt being high, Ontario taxes are not favourable and the products integrity.  Based on this, how does a sales office help?

Owners have asked to allow for a phone line so they can call into the Barrie Board meetings. This was refused. In the February 4th, 2019 board minutes under 2019 Venue & Video broadcast Wyndham’s Administrative Assistant advised why video broadcast is not available and states that owners MUST attend board meetings in person for verification. Carriage Hills elected board member [Director] simply complies without any alternatives being vetted, stating his fiduciary duties to owners at the outset of the meeting recommends and approves commencement of collections against estates.

A recent owner poll showed that most preferred to hold Board meetings on a weekend. Not only is the next Board meeting scheduled on Monday, October 21st but on Canada’s Federal election night, making attendance even less likely. Efforts to seek owner participation are minimal. It appears the Board has lost touch with their owners.

The hard truth is that there are no new owners buying at a rate to sustain the model and generate future income. If the sales model is broken then the model itself is broken – as the financial reports show. And those owners who are in a favourable financial position will pay more and more as those on a fixed income or changed financial realities continue to default. This is at a time when Canada’s unemployment rate is at all-time lows – it is only going to get worse. Those who need to exit their timeshare agreement have few options:

  • Sell to a buyer who may not understand the inherent liability of the Carriage Hills model. While not illegal or fraudulent, certainly rife with moral issues given perpetual liability. 
  • Stop payments and go into arrears for a $1350 maintenance fee, then endure collections calls, Carriage Hills lawyers, and a long term negative impact or your credit rating.
  • Gifting the deed to family and friends simply passes on the inherent liability and debt.
  • Surrendering is not an option and is shamefully not supported by the Carriage Hills board.

Thank you to Elizabeth and others for bringing to light a situation few will find responsible on the part of Carriage Resorts and Wyndham.

PARSIPPANY, N.J., February 13, 2019Wyndham Hotels & Resorts (NYSE: WH) today announced results for the three months and year ended December 31, 2018. Highlights include:

  • Revenues increased 69% compared with fourth-quarter 2017, to $527 million.
  • Net income was $43 million for the quarter; adjusted net income was $57 million, a 50% increase over the prior-year quarter.
https://corporate.wyndhamhotels.com/news-releases/wyndham-hotels-resorts-reports-fourth-quarter-and-full-year-2018-results/

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://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/everything-about-timeshares-wayne-c-robinson/1129749757?ean=2940161600962

Free at Last Facebook Straight-A Guide

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

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

Wyndham Carriage Resorts Facebook

https://m.facebook.com/groups/152117225452689

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

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

Thank you Elizabeth for your report and thank you to Irene Parker for the editing, as many of you will have heard Hurricane Dorian is set to hit the Florida coast, Irene and Don have evacuated and Inside Timeshare along with all our readers will be thinking about you. We hope that all affected by this are kept safe and well.

Yesterday, CLA International published an article on this subject with a link to Niagara this Week by Paul Forsyth. It covers the story of Mr & Mrs Game, Carriage Hills owners in their 80’s who are now trapped into their membership with no way out. You can find the story and link to the original article on the link below.

https://clainternational.ae/2019/09/02/elderly-couple-trapped-in-timeshare-at-carriage-hills-resort/

Friday’s Letter from America on Thursday

Welcome to Friday’s Letter from America on Thursday, yes that is correct, we are publishing a day early as we are travelling to the US on Friday.

Inside Timeshare is visiting our American colleagues, with Irene and Don meeting me at Orlando airport, while there we have arranged to meet with several attorneys including America’s very own Timeshare Crusader Lisa Ann SchreierWe will also be meeting many other people and hopefully having a few cold beers.

beer

Inside Timeshare is also pleased to announce a new collaboration, for sometime CLA International based in Dubai, has been getting their website up and running. They have been following the articles published on Inside Timeshare and have asked if we would run their news section.

They wanted an independent voice rather than their own take on things, Inside Timeshare has agreed to supply those articles, so many of the articles regarding international timeshare news we publish will be posted on their website. These will be from the many contributors who are now writing for Inside Timeshare. We also hope to add more from the following areas:

India (Goa), Thailand and the surrounding Asian area, Australia, Mexico, Central and South America, we welcome any contributor who would like to publish their experiences, news and views on the world of timeshare. You can contact us via our contact page or direct to [email protected]

contribute

Update from Europe

Once again, Inside Timeshare has heard from another reader who found our articles on the Litigious Abogados family, namely Amador Galeca Abogados.

The reader had a call regarding their timeshare at Royal Sunset Beach, with  Mr X again being named as the director being taken to court with all his personal property and assets being seized. For a sum of just under 1000€ they could be part of the case.

The reader then made a bank transfer, but then decided to check out the name of Mr X, finding our previous article. When the reader contacted us we explained how the scam operates, they immediately informed their bank and the bank is now trying to stop the transaction.

The reader explained that when her husband became too ill to travel Royal Sunset actually took back the timeshare, so they no longer owned. Because of this there would not be any basis for a claim in any court.

This story just goes to show once again, before you pay any money, check who you are dealing with. Hopefully the readers bank was informed in time to stop the money being transferred.

stop think proceed

We started the week with verdict from the courts against Palm Oasis (Tasolan), the following day the Supreme Court ruled on another case against Silverpoint in Tenerife, that made 64 rulings from this court on timeshare. In this case the court again declared the contract null and void, awarding over £99,000 plus a double deposit of £6,082 including legal fees and legal interest.

Then yesterday Wednesday 4 October the High Court in Tenerife ruled once again against Silverpoint and awarded over 67,000€ plus legal fees and interest to the client. This was then followed by the news the Supreme Court had just issued another sentence against Silverpoint, bringing the total number of cases won at this court by Canarian Legal Alliance to 65.

Now on with Irene’s article where she recounts our first meeting and her visit and interview with Canarian Legal Alliance. We have certainly moved on since that first meeting.

Canarian Legal Alliance and Inside Timeshare

The meeting of minds

Irene with CLA
Irene Meeting with CLA Staff Sept 2016

By Irene Parker

October 5, 2017

We are judged by the company we keep, so shortly after submitting my first article to Inside Timeshare my husband and I flew to Gran Canaria, Canary Islands to meet Charles Thomas and his Canarian Legal Alliance friends. It was not an easy trip since we boarded the wrong plane in Madrid and ended up in AMSTERDAM!

We stayed at Diamond Resorts Cala Blanca resort on Mogan. A Diamond sales agent in the US actually introduced me to Charles by sending me one of his articles. The staff at Cala Blanca could not have been nicer. I talked quite a while with the manager as he was the head of a resort employee union of sorts advocating on behalf of refugees he felt were being treated unfairly at a resort on the other side of the bay. One of the sales agents working at Cala Blanca and a friend of Charles is one of my Facebook friends.

In today’s timeshare world you can’t be too careful. Attorneys come in all ethical shapes and sizes. In addition to meeting Charles, I was able to meet with the CLA office manager Csilla, named business person of the year for Gran Canaria, several intake workers showing sincere compassion as they listened to timeshare accounts over the phone, and a few CLA lawyers. Since this July 2016 video clip CLA has achieved several more victories for EU timeshare clients – 65 Supreme Court victories to be exact as of October 4, 2017. Watching this video for the first time, I remember thinking if Cristina ever decides she doesn’t like law, she could find a job in the motion picture industry.

http://www.canarianlegalalliance.com/cla-latest-updates-video/

Timeshare today seems to have lost all sense of direction. True, we hear primarily from the disgruntled, but developer lawsuits flying back and forth between timeshare developers and transfer agents has left many timeshare members in a state of confusion. Who do you trust?

I trust CLA and am honored to have been asked to have my Inside Timeshare articles featured on the new CLA International website with Charles webmaster of the news tab. Our Diamond Resorts member sponsored Advocacy Facebook administrator and Economics Professor Michael Nuwer and Australian Contributor Justin Morgan submitted their comments for this article about the Apollo Global Management buyout of Diamond Resorts.

http://clainternational.ae/2017/09/28/who-is-apollo-what-is-apollo-two-diamond-member-consumer-advocates-offer-their-opinion/

Timeshare members need help. It has been widely reported many aging baby boomers (like me) are desperate to be released from timeshare. Some timeshare companies have launched surrender programs, like Wyndham’s Ovation program, but the vast majority of members contacting Inside Timeshare succumbed to high interest rate loans and credit cards. Thus, they are not eligible for voluntary surrender programs. Often they are forced into foreclosure. The problem is exacerbated when the member alleges they were deceived into buying a timeshare or upgraded for maintenance fees relief or buy-back programs that do not exist. Out of 157 complaints received (as of October 4), 143 allege deceit on the front end of the sale. The others can’t afford rising maintenance fees.

From our humble beginnings, as more members started helping other members, we called ourselves Timeshare Advocacy Group™ as members turned anger and disbelief into action and advocacy. Timeshare Advocacy Group™ started as an afterthought. A former timeshare sales agent contacted me and said they wanted to do a press release in Arizona. We needed a place where readers could respond.

Irina Allen stepped up to the plate. She is our Facebook page administrator.

admin lady new

Irina (Irene) Allen purchased over $500,000 worth of timeshare points to share with family, friends and clients. On the advice of a sales agent, Irene opened a RedWeek account and posted one ad to rent some of her points. She gave up this idea after she never got paid for the rental. Rentals are not allowed, according to company rules, but there are hundreds of rental ads anyway. She also was accused of opening an Airbnb account. Irene says she has never had an Airbnb account. She was expected to pay $2,400 per month in mortgage payments and $29,000 in maintenance fees for a year while her account was suspended. Resorts are exempt from the rule for promotional purposes. Thus, the resort was able to rent out Irene’s points at Irene’s expense.

At Timeshare Advocacy Group™ members also help members with regulatory filings and media outreach. We have Wyndham, Bluegreen and Diamond members working alongside former Hyatt, Westgate, and Diamond timeshare sales agents in an effort to reform an industry badly in need of reform. In addition to timeshare members, other Advocates, like blogger Lisa Ann Schreier, lend their support. Lisa Ann and Charles are both former timeshare sales agents.

In America, it’s not easy these days for opposing sides to talk to each other, but every once in awhile there is a glance of a Republican sticking their toe over to the Democratic side of the aisle. It is our hope there will be a day when developers will take the time to listen to what critics have to say instead of only focusing on ambulance chasing unscrupulous transfer and listing agents. It is my belief, until the deception on the front end of the timeshare sale is acknowledged and addressed, the court of public opinion is the only court open for the beleaguered and often financially devastated timeshare member learning their contract is perpetual and the secondary market limited at best. For some timeshare companies, there is no secondary market. What other investment or product exists that holds the buyer of a product hostage?

Charles Irene

Charles is winging his way to America tomorrow, so let us know if you will be in the Orlando area October 8 – 12. Or, let Charles know the next times you happen to be on Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands.

I am a former stockbroker and financial planner. After I retired from the brokerage business, I became a CASA Supervisor, writing court reports for Family Court on behalf of children in foster care. I have always had a problem turning my back on anyone who considers themselves a victim. There are many ways to volunteer time in retirement. Join us in our efforts to enhance timeshare accountability and transparency.

http://insidetimeshare.com/what-a-volunteer-does-for-nothing/

globe

That’s it for this week, tomorrow will be a long day as it is Gran Canaria, Madrid, Miami then to Orlando. I know Irene and Don have set aside a couple of days to show me some of the sights, so it will not be all work and no play!

We will however be trying to publish some articles while over there, so keep an eye on these pages.

Have a great weekend

cartoon-airplane