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Diamond Resorts

The Tuesday Slot

Welcome to the latest edition of The Tuesday Slot, as we know Irene Parker has received a subpoena to disclose emails and other documents which she lists in the article. This is a blatant attempt by Diamond Resorts to attack a volunteer who works hard to help others resolve their timeshare disputes, as we all know Irene receives no payment whatsoever for the work she does, neither do any of the other volunteers who have stepped forward to take some of the pressure away from Irene. Please support Irene in whatever way you can.

One thing that Inside Timeshare finds very sad with all this is that a company wants to subpoena one of their own customers, especially to silence one that refused to sign a non-disclosure agreement.

The Subpoena Diamond Resorts sent to me, a volunteer

By Irene Parker

August 9, 2019

Instead of Diamond Resorts, and other developers, acknowledging that they may have a few bad apples, the timeshare lobby ARDA, in cooperation with several developers, has raised $50 million to crush timeshare exit companies, legitimate law firms providing timeshare relief services, and my 81-year-old husband and me.

The Orlando Sentinel supporting Diamond Resorts:

https://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/os-bz-timeshare-castle-diamond-20190719-3zvqhr46yjcnplwm33fyhgm3iy-story.html

HotelBusiness supporting the consumer:

To The Editor:

As a hotel owner and operator, and as an attorney who has represented hotel owners and operators since 1988, I am a regular reader of your publication. At the end of the Mike Flaskey opinion piece, [which appeared in the July 15 issue], you requested comments.

While Mr. Flaskey provides helpful advice for avoiding scams, he and ARDA have chosen to ignore the underlying problem. People wouldn’t become prey for scammers if the companies selling timeshares provided them with a reasonable means of exiting.

There are many reasons people want to sell or otherwise exit; it could be age, changed financial circumstances, changed family circumstances, or simply dissatisfaction with the product that was represented at the time of the high-pressure sales pitch.

(Inside Timeshare article – Six out of eight Legacy Resorts owners have no exit, even for those over the age of 80. A seventh contacted me just before publication, over 80 and disabled, unable to travel.)  https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-62/

For Mr. Flaskey to end his opinion piece with the claim, “When people invest in vacations, they invest in happiness and a lifetime of memories,” is to be disingenuous. If timeshare ownership is as picture-perfect as he portrays it, people wouldn’t be getting scammed; people are getting scammed because of their desperation over the inability to find a means to sell or exit their timeshare. – Bill Bowen

I work over 40 volunteer hours per week providing straight answers to about 35 callers per week. I have never been compensated and I have nothing whatsoever to do with a lawsuit Diamond Resorts filed against a Florida law firm. Diamond attempted to subpoena the documents listed below.

This is evidence of extreme retaliation because I listened and responded to over 700 Diamond Resort members as they reported unfair and deceptive sales practices. In 2016 and 2017, the Arizona Attorney General’s investigators listened to over 900 complaints from Diamond members, according to what an investigator told one of our member-sponsored Diamond Facebook members.  

At last year’s Whistleblower Summit and Film Festival held in Washington D.C., I learned that I am a whistleblower. Most whistleblowers are employees, offered some protection thanks to whistleblower laws. At this year’s Summit, I learned laws protecting whistleblowers often fall short. As an individual, I have no protections, save my readers and supporting members of the legal community.

On Tuesday Charles published my highlights from the 8th Annual Whistleblower Summit & Film Festival held the last week of July. My panel discussed ethics and resiliency after retaliation. https://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-42/

There is no question in my mind Diamond’s intentions are to file a SLAPP lawsuit against me. I am guilty of four of the six points below. According to ACLU Ohio:

A large, well-funded organization may be SLAPPed, but more often, individuals with fewer resources are the victims of SLAPP suits.

Examples of Actions Which Have Resulted in SLAPPs: 2

  • Writing letters to the editor
  • Circulating flyers or petitions
  • Participating in a demonstration
  • Filing complaints with a government agency
  • Commenting at public hearings
  • Filing legal claims or lawsuits
https://www.acluohio.org/slapped/what-is-a-slapp-suit

This example of retaliation goes beyond the call of Pro Bono legal representation so I will be launching a GoFundMe as soon as I receive the narrower in scope subpoena. I have already received a multitude of pledges of support.

Subpoena directed to: Irene Parker who is not a party, to produce the items listed at the time and place specified in the attached Subpoena.

DATED this 10th day of July 2019.

Filing # 92298657 E-Filed 07/10/2019 09:16:51 AM

YOU ARE NOTIFIED that after ten (10) days from the date of service of this notice, if service is by facsimile or hand delivery, or fifteen (15) days from the date of service, if service is by mail, and if no objection is received from any party, the undersigned will issue or apply to the Clerk of this Court for issuance of the attached Subpoena directed to: Irene Parker who is not a party, to produce the items listed at the time and place specified in the attached Subpoena.

Brandon T. Crossland, Esq. Fla. Bar No. 0021542 Primary email: [email protected] Secondary email: [email protected] [email protected] Christa C. Turner, Esq. Fla Bar No. 0076627 Primary email: [email protected] Secondary email: [email protected] BAKER & HOSTETLER LLP SunTrust Center, Suite 2300 200 South Orange Avenue Post Office Box 112 (32802) Orlando, Florida 32801 Telephone: 407.649.4000 Telecopier: 407.841.016 8 Attorneys for Plaintiff

CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE

I hereby certify that on July 10, 2019, I electronically filed the foregoing document with the Clerk of the Court by using the Florida Courts E-Filing Portal, which will send a Notice of Electronic

DEFINITIONS AND INSTRUCTIONS

1. The term “document” or “documents” refers to any printed, written, taped, recorded, graphic, electronic, computer materials, or other tangible or intangible matter, from whatever source, however produced or reproduced, whether in draft or otherwise, whether sent or received, or neither, which contains information or from which information can be obtained and which is in Your possession, custody or control, including, but not limited to, the original, a copy (if the original is not available), and all non-identical copies (whether different from the original because of notes made on or attached to such copy or otherwise) of any and all writings, correspondence, letters, telegrams, cables, telexes, facsimiles, emails, text messages, contracts, proposals, agreements, minutes, acknowledgments, notes, memoranda, analyses, projections, work papers, books, forecasts or appraisals, papers, records, reports, diaries, statements, questionnaires, schedules, computer programs or data, books of account, calendars, graphs, charts, transcripts, tapes, or recordings, photographs, pictures or film, ledgers, registers, work sheets, summaries, digests, financial statements, pictures, videos, audio recordings, and all other information where data, records or compilations can be obtained, including all underlying, supporting or preparatory material now in Your possession, custody or control. The term “document” or “documents” specifically includes documents kept by individuals in their desks, at home or elsewhere.

2. The term “computer materials” shall mean any and all files from any personal computer, notebook or laptop computer, file server, minicomputer, main-frame computer, or other storage device, including, but not limited to, hard drive disk drives or backup or retrieved electronic information, including, but not limited to email. All relevant files that are still on the storage media, but are identified as “erased but recoverable,” are to be included.

3. The term “copy” when used in reference to a document means any color, or black or white facsimile reproduction of a document, regardless of whether the facsimile reproduction is made by means of carbon papers, pressure-sensitive paper, xerography or other means or process.

4. The term “communication” or “communicate” means any writing, or oral conversation, including, but not limited to, telephone conversations and meetings, letters, emails, text messages, emails, telegraphic and telex communications, and includes all information

relating to all oral communications and “documents” ( as hereinabove defined), whether or not any such document, or the information contained therein, was transmitted by its author to any

other person.

5. The term “person” means any natural person, any employer, any business entity (whether a corporation, partnership, or other business association), any government or political

subdivision thereof, or governmental body, commission board, agency, bureau or department.

6. “Lawsuit” means the lawsuit filed by DRC against Finn Law Group, P.C., Finn Law Group, P.A., and Michael Finn in the Circuit Court in and for Orange County, Florida and

bearing Case No. 2017-CA-006199-O.

7. “You”, “Your”, and “Parker” means Irene Parker and your agents, representatives, directors, officers, members, employees, attorneys, accountants, predecessors, successors, assignors or assignees, and anyone else acting on its behalf or subject to your control.

8. “DRC” means Diamond Resorts Corporation and its agents, representatives, directors, officers, members, employees, attorneys, accountants, predecessors, successors, assignors or assignees, and anyone else acting on its behalf or subject to its control.

49. “Finn” means Finn Law Group, P.C., Finn Law Group, P.A., and Michael Finn and their agents, representatives, directors, officers, members, employees, attorneys, accountants, predecessors, successors, assignors or assignees, and anyone else acting on their behalf or subject to his control.

10. “Diamond Customers” means any individual(s) and/or entity that purchased, owns and/or holds a Vacation Ownership Timeshare Interest with Diamond Resorts Corporation, or

one of its separately named and operated affiliates, parents, or subsidiaries.

11. To the extent that You consider any of the following requests objectionable, respond to so much of each Request and part thereof, as is not objectionable in Your view and separately state that part of each Request as to which you raise objection and each ground for

such objection.

12. If You object to the identification of any document on the basis of attorney/client or work product privilege, identify the privilege claimed as well as each document for which such privilege is claimed, together with the following information with respect to each such document: a. Date; b. Sender; c. Addressee; d. Subject;

e. The basis on which the privilege is claimed; and f. The names of persons to who copies of any part of the document were furnished, together with an identification of their employer and their job titles.

13. You shall produce the documents requested herein as they are kept in the usual course of business or You shall organize and label them to correspond with the categories in the request.

SCHEDULE “A”

1. Produce any and all contracts, agreements or any other arrangements between you and Finn.

2. Produce any and all contracts, agreements or any other arrangements between you and Finn regarding Diamond Customers.

3. Produce any and all engagement agreements between you and Finn wherein Finn agrees to provide you with legal services.

4. Produce any and all invoices, bills, or other requests for payment from Finn to you since January 1, 2015.

5. Produce any and all documents, checks, or bank statements evidencing any payment from you to Finn since January 1, 2015.

6. Produce any and all documents, checks, or bank statements evidencing any payment from Finn to you, whether direct or indirect, since January 1, 2015.

7. Produce any and all communications and emails between you and Finn regarding Diamond Customers from January 1, 2015, through December 31, 2018.

8. Produce any and all communications and emails between you and Finn regarding Finn’s solicitation of, a referral to Finn by you, or Finn’s potential representation of Diamond Customers from January 1, 2015, through December 31, 2018.

9. Produce any and all communications and emails between you and any Diamond Customers from January 1, 2015, through December 31, 2018.

10. Produce a list of Diamond Customers that were referred by you to Finn from January 1, 2015 through December 31, 2018.

11. Excluding communications where you were requesting that Finn provide you with legal advice regarding articles, blogs, or social media posts that you have written, produce any and all communications and emails between you and Finn that relate to DRC, timeshare, or timeshare owners from March 1, 2015, to December 31, 2018.

12. Produce any and all communications and emails between you and Finn regarding the Lawsuit.

13. Produce all blogs, articles, editorials, commentaries, exposes, FaceBook posts, or other social media content written, in full or in part, by you from January 1, 2015, through the date of the Subpoena.

14. Produce any and all communications and emails between you and Inside Timeshare regarding Diamond Customers from March 1, 2015, through December 31, 2018.

15. Produce any and all communications between you and Greg Christ regarding DRC, timeshare, or timeshare owners from March 1, 2015, through December 31, 2018.

4826-7592-6394.1

Page 7

Our Diamond Member-Sponsored Facebook has over 3,400 members.

We seek to provide Diamond Resort 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/groups/DiamondResortsOwnersAdvocacy/

What the Diamond Resort Owners Advocacy Facebook is not: 

If members join our Facebook only to express displeasure, they are better served by posting on Trip Advisor. While venting may make a person feel better, ranting on a complaint site will do nothing to change what we feel are unfair and deceptive business practices, as defined by the FTC and the FBI.

Timeshare Accountability Group™

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

Timeshare Advocacy Group™ was launched by a small group of advocates concerned about the volume of timeshare complaints found on the internet directed against Wyndham, Bluegreen, Diamond Resorts, Westgate, Vacation Village and a few others. Disney Vacation Club has almost no complaints. Hilton and Marriott have few complaints.  

We hope the lessons learned by consumers who purchased a timeshare product they did not understand will reach the general public so prospective timeshare buyers know what questions to ask before buying or upgrading a timeshare.

We hope the lessons learned by consumers who purchased a timeshare product they did not understand will reach the general public so prospective timeshare buyers know what questions to ask before buying or upgrading a timeshare.

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-16/

TAG has also received Sell My Timeshare Now complaints. It has been widely reported Diamond points have no resale value, yet SMTN charges already financially distressed members $1499 to $1699 for ads to list points.  

http://insidetimeshare.com/tuesday-slot-irene-5/

We don’t mind if industry insiders or Diamond employees join our Facebook as long as they are respectful. In fact, we encourage this hoping they will confront the serious problems we have uncovered.

Other Member-Sponsored Facebook pages and resources

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

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/

Thank you Irene, I am sure that once you launch the GoFundMe campaign many of our readers will be donating. What Inside Timeshare will say is this, Irene has worked tirelessly giving up her free time for this cause, please show your support and make a pledge now. Use our contact page and show your support.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this week’s edition of Letter from America, but first some breaking news from Tenerife. As we already know several companies owned and operated by Mark Rowe, are under investigation in the UK by the Regional Organised Crime Unit, Somerset & Avon Police following raids in the UK and Tenerife. We also know that his company ABC Lawyers Ltd is also in liquidation, now Inside Timeshare has heard that the authorities in Tenerife have now raided his offices in Fanabe. One of the companies based there is Timeshare.Lawyer under the umbrella of Advanced Business Consultants Legal SL. It certainly looks like time is running out for Mark Rowe.

Now for today’s Letter from America, this is not the article we had scheduled as we have delayed publishing the subpoena Diamond Resorts attempted to issue Irene until Tuesday. As you will read in today’s article, Howard Nusbaum, the former president of ARDA, is also a former senior partner at Baker Hostetler, Diamond’s outside counsel in their case against a Florida law firm. This gave us pause. Irene will be doing a little more digging as this adds support to our belief this subpoena is a less than subtle form of harassment. Today’s article offers proof that there is no responsible exit for many fully paid timeshare owners.  Baker Hostetler explains why.

When ARDA’s Coalition for Responsible Timeshare Exit Fails:

What Happens Next?

Six out of Eight Legacy Resorts have no Responsible Exit, according to eight “Free at Last” participants, reporting what happened when they sought a responsible exit

August 9, 2019

This is the first of four articles summarizing 21 timeshare members piloting the Free at Last Online Timeshare Support Course, sponsored by the nonprofit Straight-A Guide. The next three articles will report on Travel Clubs, timeshares purchased in foreign countries, and point-based timeshares.

I direct callers seeking timeshare release to reach out first to ARDA’s Coalition for Responsible Exit, or to the timeshare company if the timeshare company does not participate in ARDA’s responsible exit coalition.

Straight-A Guide helps 100,000 prisoners a year transition back to society through self-advocacy. Their customers are prisons. Our Free at Last participants learn how to self-advocate.

Legacy Resorts are single-site, older resorts. Of our eight Legacy owner participants, so far only two were able to work with their resort to take back their unwanted timeshare. One owner was able to deed back to Colorado River Adventures and one owner was able to deed back to Festiva.

There is no responsible exit for Legacy Resorts owners at Eagle Crest, Broadway Plantation, Lehigh Resort Club, and Wyndham Carriage Ridge in Canada, The Seasons in Vermont, or Bellavista. Six out of the eight Legacy resorts have no responsible exit! The only choice for these owners is foreclosure if the resorts will not provide a responsible exit. Three of the owners are over 80 years old and have been paying maintenance fees for decades, two only using the timeshare once or twice over the decades. 

Mr. Kenneth McKelvey, founder of Defender Resorts and Chairman of the timeshare PAC ARDA ROC, testified at a legislative workshop held in Tallahassee Florida March 12, 2019, that attorneys and timeshare exit providers are not needed. He made these comments at the Florida legislative workshop:

“Most of the developers I know, and certainly most of the timeshare managers I know, and I managed timeshare properties for thirty years… every single resort had a dissolution policy, every single one! There was a way to get out. You had to come to your management company, and based on what the board of directors instructed us to do in the terms if they had to pay a fee or if they had to be current, whatever those situations were, we did not have one that did not have a dissolution policy and a hardship policy …”

We hear from many seniors forced to endure the demeaning foreclosure process, despite maintaining a high credit score their whole life. Lately, there have been complaints from millennial buyers, as the industry is targeting that demographic. Some seniors tell me they don’t care anymore about a drop in their credit score as they are set, but those in their 30s see their credit score ruined along with their chances to buy a home. The foreclosure process can be overwhelming without support.  

The industry calls the vehicle used when a timeshare contract is transferred to fictitious individuals or a fictitious LLC a “Viking Ship,” so-named because Vikings used to stack their dead on a ship, set it on fire, and send it out to sea.

ARDA and the law firm Baker Hostetler published these comments about Legacy Resorts:  

COVER STORY • Many legacy timeshare resorts are struggling to survive: why?

Vacation Ownership WORLD contacted some of vacation ownership’s leading figures, as well as experts on the subject, and asked them about a much-discussed matter within the industry: why are so many legacy timeshare resorts having such a tough time and what can be done about it? Many of these resorts are failing due to an assortment of problems that include: a lack of professional management; a lack of adequate reserves; a resistance by the HOA board of directors to impose an adequate assessment for operating expenses; an underperforming or non-existent external exchange relationship; an aging owner base that no longer uses the resort or that wants to exit ownership but is generally unable to; and, diminishing resort maintenance standards. ARDA President and CEO Howard Nusbaum and senior partner in the Orlando office of Baker & Hostetler and ARDA treasurer and Board member Rob Webb offer their viewpoints on this issue. This is the first of a two-part story; the second article on the subject will appear in the next issue.

https://www.bakerlaw.com/files/uploads/Documents/News/Articles/BUSINESS/2014/January2014VacationOwnershipWorldWebbArticle.pdf

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.

Based on complaints from over 900 families, this lobbyist is out of touch with reality. Just two exit companies I spoke with received 3,000 to 3,500 calls per month from desperate timeshare members seeking release.

Legacy Owner reports by Free at Last participants 

#1 Unresolved – Robert Kennedy is 81 years old. He seeks release from Eagle Crest in Oregon. In 2017 I published an article in which I interviewed an Eagle Crest collection agent. The interview was in regard to problems Eagle Crest owners experienced when they contacted a fraudulent timeshare transfer company. It’s no wonder Eagle Crest owners are going through this.

At age 81, I have a credit score of 819 but now must face a foreclosure.  At our age, we no longer are able to travel as we once could. We will not continue to pay maintenance fees for something we no longer want or need.

Robert sent his request for release to the following individuals:

To: Jerry E Andres, CEO Eagle Crest

https://www.bbb.org/us/or/redmond/profile/resort/eagle-crest-resort-1296-50002619

Jason Gamel, ARDA President

[email protected]

Ken McKelvey, CPA, ARDA ROC President

[email protected]

https://www.defenderresorts.com/contact-us/

Greg Crist, Association of Vacation Owners

[email protected]

Mr. Andres

After Eagle Crest said they would not help me, I contacted Irene Parker at Inside Timeshare. Ms. Parker told me to contact ARDA’s Responsible Exit program.  I went to ARDA’s Responsible Exit Website, but Eagle Crest does not participate. We purchased a floating week 33 years ago and have faithfully paid maintenance fees for 33 years.  https://responsibleexit.com/

I would like to ask Mr. Andres why Eagle Crest does not have a responsible exit program. I have grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren. As a result of my experience, they have learned not to get involved with timeshare. 

I contacted members of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association. They said they were not interested in helping us.  Others need to be warned about the dangers of becoming involved with timeshare.

Robert Kennedy

#2 Unresolved Simon D, Canada

Carriage Ridge Wyndham 

To Irene Parker at Inside Timeshare

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 have no loan.

We were told at purchase there would be no problem reselling the timeshare. Ovations will not take it back so isn’t it false advertising to say that they have a program for fully paid members when they don’t? I tried selling the timeshare. No one wants it. Availability has been an issue.

Why are consumers put in the position of being held hostage with no choice but to foreclose? Who, understanding that buying a timeshare is something you can’t get out of unless foreclosed, would buy one?  Especially when the buyer is told, like we were, it would be easy to sell.

I will no longer pay maintenance fees. I will be contacting the Canadian Vacation Ownership Association as you suggested. They should know that many Canadians are being harmed and Wyndham should not falsely advertise that the problem of no secondary market for timeshares has been solved. It’s not true. Thank you for the websites you provided. At least I know others are experiencing the same.  

http://www.canadianvoa.org/

https://www.shellhospitality.com/hotels/carriage-ridge-resort-and-carriage-hills-resort

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

This comment was posted on RedWeek:

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. https://www.redweek.com/forums/messages?thread_id=20770&page=last

#3 unresolved – a Medical Doctor

We purchased a Broadway Plantation timeshare in Myrtle Beach, a floating week, a long time ago for about $17,000. I have never used it. I have paid maintenance fees for many years. We were told the timeshare would be easy to sell.

I reached out to ARDA as they say timeshare now has a Responsible Exit program. When I contacted Broadway Plantation they said they do not take back timeshares. If there is a responsible exit, why doesn’t Broadway Plantation have one?

I feel defrauded, cheated and abused by the timeshare industry. Having an every other year timeshare for a single week has been a waste of money.  When I tried to use it, there was no availability. I have no intention of ever paying you any more money. I am 70 years old.   

#4 Unresolved S E

July 20, 2019

I am helping my father. He is age 83. Bellavista was purchased six or seven years ago. We are current with maintenance fees, no loan. He was delinquent with maintenance fees, he settled for about half what he owed..

#5 Inez

At age 87, I have been paying maintenance fees since 1991. I only used the timeshare a couple of times. We purchased Lehigh Resorts in 1991 in Florida. We have no loan. I’ve only used it twice since 1991. When I first bought it the maintenance fees were $300. Now they are $670. They said they would not take it back.

#6 Melissa

I purchased a timeshare a long time ago at The Seasons in Vermont. They will not take back the timeshare. I have filed a complaint with the Vermont Attorney General.

Melissa was provided with the following in writing at the time of purchase, statements in printed literature and in an email Melissa received from a Sugarbush manager dismissing her complaint:

  1. Our current owners are renting for premium dollars and receiving a very high rate of return on their investment, because of supply and demand. 
  2. If you rent your unit for less than 15 days/year, the rental income will not be includible in income–thus the income is tax-free and you would still be able to deduct your interest payments.
  3. The timeshare won’t be difficult to resell due to the lack of accommodations in the Sugarbush area (supply and demand). 
  4. Don’t listen to family & friends because it is an investment and a guarantee that we would take a vacation every year.

In addition to our 21 Free at Last participants, Inside Timeshare has received many complaints from Americano ARC owners. They are required to spend $5,000 to $6,000 for an RCI points-based Travel Club called Freedom 365 in order to be released from their timeshare they bought decades ago. We will address their concerns on Friday when we look into Travel Clubs.

I have grouped our 21 callers into the following groups:

  1. (7)Legacy resorts (pre-dating points),
  2. (5)Travel Clubs,
  3. (2)Timeshares bought in foreign countries,
  4. (7)Points-based timeshare 

Please Sign this Petition to Reform Timeshare:

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://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

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

https://www.facebook.com/groups/2213231165610648/?ref=bookmarks

Well, that is all for this week, as you will have noticed Inside Timeshare has been a little sparse this week, August tends to be rather quiet as it is the main holiday month, very little news coming from the courts and elsewhere. But keep on checking, we never know when another story will break and as it does we will bring you the news right here.

Have a Great Weekend and join us again next week.

The Tuesday Slot

Welcome to this edition of The Tuesday Slot, this week Irene Parker reports on the Annual Whistleblowers Summit held in Washington DC last week. Irene, as we all know, has been working tirelessly on behalf of many owners who have contacted Inside Timeshare for help. Irene does this work free of any charge and has never received any payment for the advice or help she has given. Inside Timeshare has been working with Irene for around 4 years now publishing the many articles she has submitted, no payment has ever been made in regards to this. Inside Timeshare publishes articles from many contributors who just want to get their story and views to others, no one has ever been paid to submit an article that we publish.

Highlights from the 8th Annual Whistleblower Summit

Resiliency after Retaliation

Why the Need for a $200,000 GoFundMe  

From left: Ethics and Resiliency panel members Richard Hill, MD, Maureen Elias, Vietnam Veterans of America, Jackie Garrick, Whistleblowers of America, and me  

By Irene Parker

August 6, 2019

The 8th Annual Whistleblower Summit & Film Festival was held last week in Washington D.C. Our panel pictured above was well attended. We discussed resiliency after retaliation as a quality necessary for those who discover and report fraud, waste or abuse.

Prominent whistleblowers like Sharron Watkins and Eugene Ross spoke at our luncheon. Ms. Watkins exposed Enron, and Eugene Ross exposed fraud at Bear Stearns. “Every fraud victim’s best friend is a whistleblower,” stated Mr. Ross. Despite the efforts of Mr. Ross that resulted in the recovery of millions of dollars for investors, he was forced to declare bankruptcy. Mr. Ross was critical of mandatory arbitration and industry self-regulation. My peers are critical of the timeshare industry’s self-regulation and forced arbitration.  

Other Summit Highlights

July 30 is “National Whistleblower Appreciation Day”

Michael McCray is a federal whistleblower who disclosed over $40 Million in waste, fraud and abuse at the U.S. Department of Agriculture:

“A whistleblower often doesn’t know they are a whistleblower until they are in the middle of their whistleblowing.” 

Consumers don’t wake up in a morning and think they will buy a timeshare today. Whistleblowers don’t initiate their efforts thinking they will be a whistleblower. They see wrong and make a vow to make it right. By the time the whistleblower is made aware that they are a whistleblower, they have reached their point of no return.

Others spoke of how a whistleblower cannot live in peace if they see wrong and don’t try to right it. “They will be haunted the rest of their life. It will be like a cancer in their soul,” said Tim Mak, NPR national security and politics reporter.  

Timeshare fraud is orchestrated and sophisticated. Honest sales agents and managers are as alarmed as the more than 900 timeshare members who have reached out to Inside Timeshare and to me to report unfair and deceptive sales practices. About half of the members report that they had been scammed by a fraudulent exit company.  

My resiliency and motivation comes from their voices turned empowered.  I am motivated by 119 veterans and active duty service members who sacrificed their health and life to protect even those who seek to do them harm, especially two-time Purple Heart recipient Leo Gomez. Leo spent the last 30 days of his life battling pancreatic cancer and his timeshare company. His last words to me were, “I want my story told.”

The first family to reach out to me in 2016 was a Hispanic family. They attended a Diamond Resorts timeshare presentation because they were struggling to make loan and maintenance fee payments. They said they were told of a maintenance fee relief program, but no such program existed. Fortunately, they did not buy additional points. https://insidetimeshare.com/irene-parker-write-barclay-card-usa/

I contacted Diamond’s attorney on their behalf. He arranged a relinquishment, but the family is probably still paying off a $33,000 home equity loan. I liked this attorney. He worked with me to resolve my dispute. I was offered our money back but refused to sign a non-disclosure agreement. I had been writing articles as a contributor for TheStreet, Jim Cramer of Mad Money’s investment news service. I could not sign because I wrote articles about several timeshare companies.   

Since Inside Timeshare published my first article about a timeshare family in distress, October of 2016, the complaints about maintenance fee relief programs have not stopped. Expecting retaliation, I prepared a 180-page report of 101 just Platinum Diamond members who have complained about maintenance fee relief programs they learned did not exist. Platinum maintenance fees in 2018 were $8,631 for 50,000 points. Points can only be turned in to pay maintenance fees at $.04 per point, contributing only $2,000 towards the 2018 $8,631 maintenance fee.  

Back then maybe one or two families a week would reach out to me. Now three to five calls or contacts a day are not unusual.  A team of volunteers lends their support by answering questions that arise when filing regulatory and law enforcement complaints. My resiliency and strength also comes from our volunteers and members digging in to fight. All are whistleblowers.    

Whistleblower Summit panel member Dr. Matthew Fogg

https://www.whistleblowers.org/members/dr-matthew-fogg/

In 1998, Dr. Matthew Fogg, Chief Inspector U.S. Marshal, retired, won a landmark $4-million jury award, promotion to Chief Deputy US Marshal, and a finding that the US Marshals Service nationwide was operating a racially hostile environment for all African American Deputy US Marshals.

“After my training, at the duty station, I was told ‘Forget what you learned. This is how we do things.”

We have heard this from timeshare sales agents and managers also alarmed over deceptive practices that are endorsed and encouraged.

Why the need for a $200,000 GoFundMe

Diamond Resorts demanded so many documents from me, it would be humanly impossible for one individual, working from the corner of her living room, to produce. Diamond has not sued me. They sued a law firm in 2015 over a matter I had nothing to do with. Diamond’s demands include emails from their customers who have reached out to me through our member-sponsored Facebook page and Inside Timeshare.

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

I have repeatedly asked attorney after attorney if I am doing something wrong by listening to member complaints in an effort to gather data documenting multiple complaints made against the same agents. They have assured me I am doing nothing wrong. It appears a judge or jury will ultimately decide. On Friday Charles will publish the list of Diamond’s demand. This demand for documents follows a six-hour deposition, pertaining to the same lawsuit.  

Like others on our 3,400 Diamond member-sponsored Facebook, I referred to this law firm when a member requested an attorney, or I was asked a legal question I am not qualified to answer. Our Facebook Files now provides a list of six law firms we respect.

Four attorneys have been assisting me without charge. It’s time for them to be paid. They filed a motion on my behalf that narrowed the scope of Diamond’s demands, but the task I expect will still be formidable and beyond the call of pro bono. I have retained my neighbour who worked as a former legal assistant to help me with the task. 

A portion of my $200,000 GoFundMe will be earmarked for a purpose suggested by a person of influence I met in Washington D.C. this past week. This person was referred to me by another person of influence whose family has been harmed because of points they say they purchased for a reason that does not exist.  

I will not launch the $200,000 GoFundMe me until I receive the narrower in scope subpoena. In the meantime, I seek pledges of support. Groundwork is being laid for our strategic and tactical plan following the advice of our person of influence. I am not at liberty to publish details but contact Inside Timeshare if you would like to learn more.

Some causes require a sacrificial lamb.

I doubt there are many that know Mark Twain considered his book Personal Reflections of Joan of Arc his finest work. He spent twelve years researching this child of a French peasant family:

I like Joan of Arc best of all my books, and it is the best; I know it perfectly well. And besides, it furnished me seven times the pleasure afforded me by any of the others; twelve years of preparation, and two years of writing. The others needed no preparation and got none.

— Mark Twain

Personal Reflections of Joan of Arc should be required reading for any peasant attempting to hold the powerful accountable. I’m no virgin and I’m no saint, but like Joan, I may be burned at stakes for my efforts. Had Joan been told of this likely conclusion to her advocacy efforts, I’m confident Joan, like me, would have replied, “D’accord.”

Whistleblowers at the Summit convinced me this comes with the territory.  

We seek to provide Diamond 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.

Diamond Resort Facebook

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

Gold Key Facebook

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

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

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

Inside Timeshare Facebook Group

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

Thank you, Irene, it is obvious from your report that you have made some significant contacts while at the summit and one thing is very certain, everyone must work together if we are going to see any change.

On the point of the GoFundMe campaign which Irene will shortly launch, please use our facebook pages or the Inside Timeshare contact page to pledge your support. Irene has helped so many it is now time for her to receive our support. Thank you all.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to another edition of our regular Letter from America, today we welcome another contribution from our very own Secret Shopper Coordinator Pete Gibbes. In his article, he explores and gives his insights into Apollo Global Management and the buyout of Diamond Resorts in 2016. Inside Timeshare ran a series of articles on this subject at the time but Pete has a better understanding of this and explains it in a very simple and easy manner.

A Tiger can Change his Diet – from Junk Bonds to Timeshares

A junk bond has some value, but Diamond points have no resale value 

New York-based Apollo was founded by veterans of junk-bond pioneer Drexel Burnham Lambert. The firm is known for its willingness to make aggressive, sometimes contrarian, bets. April 20, 2018

https://www.wsj.com/articles/apollo-plans-to-take-diamond-resorts-public-1524222000

By a Pete Gibbes, MBA, CFA

August 2, 2019

Over a year ago, I filed a complaint against a Diamond Resort sales agent. Buying Diamond points has caused our family considerable anguish. We have lost about $60,000 we can’t afford to lose. The public must be made aware that anything a timeshare sales agent says must be verified to be believed.

https://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-23/

I have 20 years’ experience in the investment industry. I worked as a portfolio manager for a firm that caters to high net worth individuals, foundations, endowments and retirement plans. The firm I worked for currently has $2.9 billion under management. I have an MBA, a CFP (inactive) and a CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst).

Thinking about how timeshare has evolved from a hard asset to ethereal points, I wondered why Apollo Global Management, the third-largest equity firm, would be so interested in timeshare. Venture capital is typically associated with fast-growing companies and start-ups, like high tech or biotechnology, rather than a mature industry like timeshare. Apollo acquired Diamond in 2016.

One need not look for the answer any further than Wikipedia. History provides the answer. Apollo’s predecessor company was Drexel Burnham Lambert. DBL filed for bankruptcy in the 80s after incurring a $650 million fine over a junk bond scandal that sent Michael Milken to jail for securities fraud. Apollo probably isn’t allowed to deal in junk bonds anymore.

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

Apollo simply reinvented their lending by switching to timeshare. Timeshares provide an even better return (to private equity and stock investors) due to the fact Diamond points are worth nothing on resale. A junk bond is a lower-rated bond, and, like a sub-prime mortgage, has some value. When Diamond takes points back, the turnaround to resell is quick since foreclosure is non-judicial. It takes less time to foreclose on points than it would on a hard asset like a house or a fixed week timeshare that is defined as real estate. Diamond points are not deeded.

After taking Diamond private in 2016, an Initial Public Offering was planned for 2018. For some reason, the IPO did not materialize. The IPO was expected to generate over a billion dollars of profit for Apollo.

From the Wall Street Journal:

By Maureen Farrell (from the article linked above)

Updated April 20, 2018 10:11 a.m. ET

Private-equity firm Apollo Global Management APO -0.58% LLC is preparing to take Diamond Resorts public in the coming months, according to people familiar with the process.

The timeshare resort company has filed confidentially with the Securities and Exchange Commission and is expected to start trading in June or July (2018), these people said. Apollo could seek a valuation for Diamond Resorts of around $4 billion and aim to raise in excess of $500 million in the offering, though price expectations are moving around, according to people familiar with the process.

If Apollo moves forward with a listing this summer, it would come less than two years after the firm closed its $2.2 billion purchase of Diamond Resorts in September 2016. That would mark the latest quick move by Apollo to put one of its recently purchased companies back into public markets.

Our oral representations:

The only proof we have is the “S3” and “G2” our Virginia sales agent noted on the illustration below. We owned 11,500 Diamond points prior to our downfall. Mark said that if we became ‘Silver’ Loyalty members at 15,000 points, we would have the OPTION to SELL 15,000 points back to Diamond after three years (December 2019) for an estimated $108,000. If we increased our points up to ‘Gold’ loyalty level, we would be able to exercise this type of option after two years. Mark wrote $108,000 on a separate piece of paper.

Diamond’s Clarity™ Promise

While other companies make promises, we deliver. This is Diamond RESPECT:

Transparency

  • We will provide clear, concise and consistent information at our presentations so you can easily decide whether committing to vacation ownership is the right decision for you and your family.

I was sceptical when Mark presented this because I had not heard of a buy-back program. I asked Mark, “How in the world can Diamond offer to buy back our points for more than the total amount of all shares purchased? “Oh, it’s because Diamond makes a lot of profit on points sold to you, as well as maintenance fees over the years. Plus, they can recycle the points,” Mark explained. This made sense. Mark explained the program in astonishing detail.  

While we are stuck, both disabled, with points we bought to make a small profit, Apollo will rake in over $1 billion if the IPO comes to fruition.

In summary

A timeshare sales agent can earn over $2 million a year selling timeshare points that have no value on the secondary market. If deceived, a timeshare company can dismiss oral misrepresentations with “You signed a contract” or “We are not responsible for what sales agents say.” Some state regulators second the dismissal. This equates to no regulation. The buyer is stuck with a perpetual contract and no secondary market. A viable secondary market is mentioned as a risk to stock investors.  

What can we do? Continue to reach out to lawmakers, the media, regulators, hoping someone, someday, will shed light on the unfairness of the oral representation clause. 

Join our efforts to promote our clear, concise message.

A buyer cannot rely on a word a timeshare sales agent says

Without recording the sales presentation, you have no proof. This assures sales agents that they can continue without reprisal. 

Our Diamond self-advocacy Facebook, launched by an economics professor, has over 3,300 members.

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

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

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

Gold Key Facebook

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

Inside Timeshare Facebook

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

Related article:

“On June 26, 2016, the Diamond Resorts board voted in favor of the company’s sale to Apollo. But Cloobeck abstained from that vote. In not one, but two board meetings, Cloobeck said that he was abstaining because mismanagement of Diamond Resorts had negatively affected the sale price and it was therefore not the right time to sell the company.

Diamond failed to inform the stockholders of the reason for Cloobeck’s abstention:

https://www.diamondresortswatch.org/apolloreport/?fbclid=IwAR2KkrjqipLB2htnjo208yzsfyvwO6OrsB-r4AbB616IIhMhvbZoritZzeg

Highlight the link above right click and select go to.

Thank you Pete for all your hard work on behalf of all our US readers including the coordinating of the Secret Shopper program.

If you would like any information on becoming a Secret Shopper contact Inside Timeshare using our contact page and we will pas it on to Pete. This is a very important program as it helps to spread the word and warn others of what to be aware of and how to avoid the pitfalls of “UPDATE MEETING”.

Have a great weekend and join us again next week. 

The Tuesday Slot

Welcome to another edition of The Tuesday Slot, this week we welcome back Shielah Brust with her article on Unfair and Deceptive Sales Practices. It is in response to the industry’s claim that timeshare members are being subjected to “Deceptive Timeshare Exit Practices”, yet we at Inside Timeshare receive many complaints on this subject by the industry’s very own sales agents. If Michael Flaskey wants these exit companies to be regulated then the industry should also take a very close look at itself. We do agree that there are some unscrupulous “Exit” companies, but at the end who is actually to blame for their creation in the first place? 

To: Michael Flaskey, Diamond Resorts CEO

The Unfair in Unfair and Deceptive Sales Practices

Timeshare Exit Companies have little to fear if they are to be regulated like Florida timeshare

“The long term strategy is, if there are (exit) companies out there that really are legitimate, which we haven’t seen yet,” Flaskey said, “then they need to be regulated the same way our (timeshare) industry is regulated.”

                                                             Michael Flaskey, Diamond Resorts CEO

https://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/os-bz-timeshare-castle-diamond-20190719-3zvqhr46yjcnplwm33fyhgm3iy-story.html

Testimony from the Florida Legislative Workshop March 2019

Victoria Butler, from the Florida Attorney General’s Department of Consumer Protection, reported a figure of 1,500 to 1,600 timeshare 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, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR), engaged only 42 complaints, the majority concerning resale.

By Shielah Brust

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

I am writing in response to the article linked above written by Chabeli Herrerra of the Orlando Sentinel. In the article, Mr. Flaskey expresses his concern over timeshare members experiencing deceptive timeshare exit sale practices.  Based on Diamond Resorts complaints reported by many members of our self-advocacy group, and dismissals received from DBPR, there is little to no timeshare regulation in Florida. DBPR backs up Diamond’s “You signed a contract” defence with “Verbal representations are hard to prove.”

While many Diamond members have had disputes resolved, the process requires endless rebuttals and often regulatory and law enforcement filings. In addition, we have sent more than 200 complaints to the timeshare lobby ARDA and ARDA ROC. Mr. Flaskey sits on ARDA’s Board of Directors. 

To take the “un” out of “unfair” timeshare buyers should be allowed to record the sales session. I am one of 101 Diamond Platinum members who have reported unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices. In our case, we even have our “pencil pitch” that proves we were pitched a nonexistent maintenance fee relief program. One need not read any further than $8631 – $8631 = no maintenance fees. My DBPR investigator, when she first saw my proof, said, “I can’t believe they let you walk out with that paperwork!” Our 2017 “pencil pitch”:  

Three complaints and one lawsuit have been filed against Brad L, a sales agent at Daytona Beach Regency. Only the most recent of the four complaints resolved. A VIP at Diamond corporate told us in 2018 that they agreed Brad L’s explanation was confusing. As a result, they said they changed the way agents present the program. However, a year later, in 2019, the fourth complaining member produced a “pencil pitch” identical to ours. Only the numbers vary.

In 2017, Brad L told us to “wait a few months before turning in points to pay maintenance fees because the website (member page) was being rebuilt so that the member would be able to view a split-screen showing promised double points.” Two years later, in 2019, Brad told complainant #4 to wait a few months before checking because the website was being rebuilt.  

Also unfair is the recording of the QA closing session. The recording is routinely used against the member. Complaints are dismissed because the buyer did not ask questions in regard to what they were promised.

Members often report how they were coached on how to “pass” QA. The member believed the sales agent so did not ask questions. A member can only access the recording by subpoena, meaning the member must retain a lawyer in order to view it.  

This recording of the QA session was sold to the Arizona Attorney General as “enhanced training” after the Arizona Attorney General issued an Assurance of Discontinuance. Their office received hundreds of complaints during 2016 and 2017. From the AOD:

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

Since 1994, we have spent over $200,000 on Diamond points, not including maintenance fees. We have been fighting Diamond for over 18 months. Of the 101 Platinum member complaints, approximately half are about members purchasing additional points based on overstated maintenance fee relief programs and the rest the ability to sell points. Diamond points are worthless on resale, and the only program to be relieved of maintenance fees would relieve only $2,000 towards an $8600 maintenance fee, and the member is charged $100 to do so.

  • Mr. Flaskey, consider believing your highest loyalty customers over sales agents that have had multiple complaints filed against them.
  • Allow buyers to record the sales session. Why would you not allow this?
  • Florida needs to become a one-party state so the buyer can legally record an in-person presentation if Diamond will not allow the sales session recorded.
  •  Allow a 24 hour “cooling off” period so buyers can breathe before signing a perpetual contract, easily sold by deceit, accompanied by annual maintenance fees, and no secondary market.

Diamond’s lawyers twisted our written proof to mean what they wanted it to mean and twisted our words to mean what they wanted our words to mean. After Diamond allowed Brad L to answer the complaint his way, DBPR closed my case.

A letter of denial from Julia Russell, Consumer Legal Affairs Paralegal, and Russell Burke, Diamond in-house counsel, corporate headquarters, stated it was their understanding I refused to meet with the DBPR in person. I sent them the email requesting a meeting. I informed DBPR I would be in Orlando on May 16, 2019, and would bring boxes of emails, texts and other information.

I offered to meet with the DBPR reviewers. I told them I would be in Orlando. When I went to their office on May 16, 2019, their door was locked and a security sign was posted on the door.

Hard-working people who had been loyal Diamond members for years now devote a considerable amount of time reaching out to lawmakers, the media, and regulators asking the government to take a hard look at the way timeshare companies are destroying many families financially, mentally, and even physically. I will continue to fight to help others and file complaints with governmental and law enforcement agencies. Here’ how to file with the FTC and the FBI:

https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-47/

We advise members to send complaints to ARDA President Jason Gamel, also Sr. Legal VP for Wyndham, ARDA ROC, Apollo Global Management, Diamond Resorts CEO Michael Flaskey, Ashley Moody, Florida Attorney General, and Barclay’s Bank, if a credit card was involved. 

Florida’s Department of Business Practice and Regulation (DBPR) response to our complaint after I asked why the Arizona Attorney General launched an investigation based on a volume and pattern of complaints:

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 sure 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.

Brad’s explanation:

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. From Brad’s notes:

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

Diamond’s Clarity™ promise launched after Mark Brnovich, Arizona Attorney General, issued 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. 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 savings for yourself doesn’t make the explanation illegal.

According to the Federal Trade Commission Section 5

An act or practice is deceptive where

  • a representation, omission, or practise 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 practise is material.

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

I hope Ms. Herrerra will write a story for the people’s side.

Sincerely, Sheilah Brust, a Diamond Platinum member in foreclosure

Pictured from left: Anna and Diamond Platinum members Cindy, Patty and Sheilah

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/

Thank you Shielah for a very interesting article and for taking the time to write it, you have certainly made some very interesting points. Inside Timeshare will continue to publish the concerns of these practices by the timeshare industry as well as exit and resale companies who use these same techniques.

Tomorrow Inside Timeshare will be publishing more on the Anfi story regarding the intervention of the Provincial Prosecutors Office, we will be publishing a news item aired by TVE 1 News which is Spanish National Television. It includes an interview with the Canarian Legal Alliance Lawyer Eva Gutiérrez.

The Tuesday Slot

Welcome to The Tuesday Slot with another look at some of the many complaints received by Inside Timeshare, this review has been written by Patty Boyak who as we all know has been staging many protests outside some of the resorts. One thing that will strike you the reader is the similarity in the complaints from people who have never met, yet we always hear the same thing “We are not responsible for what our sales agents say”!

Why we need Secret Timeshare Shoppers – Especially in Vegas

Timeshare Buyers Need to Record Las Vegas Timeshare Presentations

Seven Timeshare Complaints against the same sales agent  

 “The long term strategy is, if there are (exit) companies out there that really are legitimate, which we haven’t seen yet,” Flaskey said, “then they need to be regulated the same way our (timeshare) industry is regulated.”

                                                             Michael Flaskey, Diamond Resorts CEO

https://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/os-bz-timeshare-castle-diamond-20190719-3zvqhr46yjcnplwm33fyhgm3iy-story.html

In Nevada, hundreds of timeshare complaints have been dismissed with:

“You Signed a Contract.”

This is regulation?

July 23, 2019

By Patty Boyak, Diamond Platinum Complaint #28 out of 101 

Branden and Patty Boyak 

#2 of 7 Complaints

Jean Paul H, Principal Broker Nevada

This is our complaint sent to the Nevada Real Estate Division July 7, 2019.

A recording of Alaa C defrauding a 28 year old disabled veteran was provided to NRED over a year ago.

Sent To Hospitality, Michael Flaskey, CEO

Our purchases:  

  1. 19 December 2017  – Palm Canyon Resort, Palm Springs, CA
  2.  6 May 2018  – Cancun Resort, Las Vegas, NV Purchase price for 15,000 points:  $55,000 Down payment: $11,075 on a Barclay card Amount Financed: $151,079.65

Trevor W had previously sold us points in Palm Springs promising a maintenance fee relief program if we bought “member” instead of “owner” points. There is no such thing as “member” vs “owner” points.   

Several Diamond members were pitched this:

https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-59/

When we next met with Alaa C we were unaware that we had been deceived by Trevor because we had not attempted to sell points back at $.30 per point. We missed the window period Trevor explained – that we had to turn in points by November 30 and 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. The delay avoided the rescission period.  

On 06 May 2018, we went to Las Vegas Cancun Resort where we met Alaa C. C introduced himself as a Platinum Counselor.  Alaa said that as Platinum members we should be using our points at $0.20 each to pay maintenance fees and said there were NO restrictions on the amount of points we could redeem. We brought up that Trevor Wood in California had told us about the $.30 per point to pay maintenance fees, so why was this $.20 a point? C said it’s not $.30. 

Using his phone, he showed us rebate checks we could receive at $0.20 per point.  There were several checks in a row on his screenshot on his phone. We didn’t see the exact amounts, but we had asked about the legitimate rebate program because we were already aware of Diamond’s Travel Reimbursement program. This was not the reimbursement program we knew, C assured us.

C gave us his phone number and said he would be our Platinum counselor. We attempted to call him multiple times. He only called the day after we purchased to ask about incentives we had attended. He never returned calls after that.

C said that by purchasing 15,000 additional points, we would be able to redeem points at $0.20 per point.  C said we would have enough points to pay all our maintenance fees with 50,000 points and still have points to travel. The first time we attempted to use the point redemption program, we were told by Platinum customer service no such program existed.  

Reviewing our files, Alaa informed us that none of our previous contracts had been wrapped and that wrapping them into a single contract would stabilize maintenance fees. C told us the only way to wrap the contracts was by purchasing an additional 15,000 points and if we did, the maintenance fee increase would only go up by 4%, whereas if we had six contracts, the maintenance fees would be much higher, in the 10 to 12% range. This turned out to not be true. It would be highly unlikely for maintenance fees to go up by 10 to 12% just because there were six contracts instead of one. Fees have not decreased. In fact, we incurred an additional $2600 in maintenance after purchasing the additional points.

Patty and Brandon Boyak and another Platinum couple protesting in Las Vegas.  It would be unusual for educated professionals to go to this much trouble over buyer’s remorse.

It is common for Platinum members to have made several prior purchases. Trust ensues. If the member refuses to pay for a recent purchase, they risk walking away from all points purchased; the money spent exceeding $200,000 or more. A 180-page report summarizes 101 Platinum up-sells. The similarities are glaring.   

Alaa C complaint #1 is a 90% disabled Army veteran. He recorded the second hour of a five-hour sales presentation because C refused for an hour to return their credit card and driver’s licenses. Alaa told them that because they did not get “the letter” from Apollo they were not grandfathered in so would have to buy additional points or pay $250,000 in maintenance fees over 10 years. Member complaints frequently begin, “They said we should have received a letter.”

Alaa C complaint #3 A Y, age 79 Platinum complaint #72 out of 101

Mrs. Y’s first language is Cantonese. Her husband, age 80, is diagnosed Alzheimer’s. Typically, Diamond points sell for $4 per point. Buyers are shown a price listing points at $9 and a warning the price will appreciate in the subsequent year. Buyers are not told Diamond points are worthless on the secondary market. Mrs. Y did not know the total amount they spent to buy 80,000 points, but at $4 per points an estimated price would be around $360,000.  Platinum 52,000 points

October 10, 2018, Nevada

In 2018 October we attended a meeting in Las Vegas and met with sales agent Alaa C. We agreed to buy 100,000 points more but ended up buying 90,000 additional points. Alaa C said that if we purchased these points, we could use 50,000 to pay maintenance fees by redeeming points and still have 50,000 to travel. We turned it down. The manager Maher F said we don’t need 100,000 points, maybe 80,000 points.

They said we could trade in points for $15,000 every year. They said you turn in January and it would take 30 days to process. Both Alaa C and Maher F told us this. They said only Diamond has this program.

Alaa C Complaint #4  

An attorney contacted us and asked if we knew of Alaa  C as he has received a complaint against him. 

Alaa C #5 B W, age 57, Platinum complaint #86 out of 101

May 23, 2019

The maintenance fees after 2014 escalated. In California, they kept saying they were going to go public. They told me our kids would have to inherit the points unless I bought additional points. They said, “Your kids won’t be able to have a choice whether to keep it or not if you don’t buy additional points.”

I met with Alaa C June of 2018. He told me everything that happened in CA wasn’t true. In order to give me what I was already supposed to have, I was told I needed to buy 25,000 additional points. I asked C if I could record. He said no.  C told us about a program to pay maintenance fees. If you book through travel services you could get $.30 per point toward maintenance fees. I took a picture of his picture pitch.

Alaa C #6 complaint, age 73, (resolved) Platinum complaint #85 out of 101

Al C sold me 25,000 additional Diamond Hawaii points March 2019 for $90,750.

C said at this new Platinum Legacy level, there would be an option for “travel cash” which I could use to pay maintenance fees.  He even showed me how to calculate it. He said if I bought these points I would be at the highest level and there would be no reason to buy any additional points in the future. However, at my next presentation at the Palm Canyon Resort in California April 26, 2019, Trevor told me I needed to buy additional points.  

At the Palm Canyon April 26 presentation, Trevor told me that there is no such thing as travel cash. I WOULD NOT HAVE BOUGHT THE LAST PURCHASE FROM C IF THIS TRAVEL CASH TO PAY MAINTENANCE FEES HAD NOT BEEN SOLD TO ME as a way to offset maintenance fees. C had multiplied the number of points x 30 cents to illustrate how to pay for maintenance fees.

Trevor showed me a graph of maintenance fees showing maintenance fees increasing. Trevor had said that the way my contract with Al had been written, my maintenance fees were at the higher rate of increase. Al had said my maintenance fees would be at the lower rate of increase. Al did not provide me with a “summary of maintenance fees.” Diamond’s CLARITY promise, which promotes clear, concise, accountable and transparent information says, “You will receive a summary of maintenance fees.”

Al also said I needed to buy additional Hawaii points so that my heirs would not be responsible for maintenance fees. I have learned heirs would not be responsible.

Trevor told me I would need to purchase 75,000 additional points for an additional $125,000 to take care of the mess Al created.  Trevor and Brad also stated that Al sold me 7000 more points than I needed to be platinum.

Al said to put part of the down payment on my own credit union mastercard. If I called the next day he would switch the money to my Barclaycard so that I would have a 0% interest for 6 months.  He put his cell number in my phone. I called him the next day with the required information. Al never responded to my next texts.

Since the meeting on April 28, I go to bed every night worried about my fees, wake up in the middle of the night and think about what to do, and wake up in the morning thinking about fees. This is making me ill. 

Yes, I met with the QA representative, and he may have witnessed Al telling me what to put on the why-did-you-make-a-purchase-today sheet in Cancun. Yes, I bought to have platinum status, but only because I was told this included travel cash, lowest maintenance rates, and the right of my heirs to refuse the points. 

#7 “Al” complaint Leo Gomez, deceased at age 71

Army, Vietnam veteran Agent Orange 100% disabled

September 10, 2018

To: Hospitality

Michael Flaskey, CEO

ARDA

Barclays President’s office

Association of Vacation Owners

We only bought points because we were told ILX went bankrupt.  In March of 2017, I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, stage 4.  In September 2018 I was told there was nothing that could be done. I have been given a few weeks to a month to live. I have been approved for Hospice.

We only owed about $6,000 on the loan before Al said we had to convert our PVC points to US Collection. The presentation was exhausting, over four hours. Al knew I had pancreatic cancer and was exhausted because of that. ILX 15 years ago $17,500 was the purchase price 

I have learned it was not necessary to convert our PVC points. They said our maintenance fees were $2,200 for 2018 and would go up to $3,000 January 1, 2019, if we did not convert. They said at Silver the maintenance fees will not go up. Especially under the circumstances, we are upset that we were lied to. We bought 15,000 U.S. Collection points July 16, 2018, at Cancun converting PVC points to U.S. points purchased for $33,000. Amount financed: $28,000.

Leo Gomez

Leo’s last words to us, “I want my story told.” 

https://www.opednews.com/articles/A-Fourth-Agent-Orange-Vete-by-Irene-Parker-Fraud-180917-513.html

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/

Thank you Patty for your time and effort and we hope that your next round of protests goes well. We are also very sorry to hear that your own complaint was turned down. We have with your kind permission attached a PDF of the letter you received from the Nevada Real Estate Division.

That is all for today, if you have any comments, views or just need any information please use our contact page and get in touch.

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.

The Tuesday Slot

Welcome to this weeks Tuesday Slot, today Patty Boyak reports on the trial highlighted in Friday’s Letter from America on 5 July between Candace Czarny and Hyatt. The case centres around the wrongful termination of Candace after being forced to use “unfair and deceptive sales practices”.  Branded a whistleblower she found it difficult to find new employment, but she has worked hard to rebuild her life and Inside Timeshare is proud to share her story, after all, that is what these pages are about, to give you the reader a glimpse into the world of timeshare and all that is dirty about it.

Part II Continuation of Whistleblower Wrongful Termination Trial

Candace Czarny v Hyatt and Kent and Allison Drysdale

Part I: The Trial

CASE NO.  CV2013-006230

https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-57/

By Patty Boyak

July 16, 2019

I learned a lot this week attending the jury trial of Candace Czarny v Hyatt and Kent and Allison Drysdale that began last week in Maricopa County, Arizona, Superior Court. An Arizona resident myself, I took this opportunity to observe the trial proceedings to better understand the inner workings of timeshare today.    

Candace worked for Hyatt in Sedona, Arizona from November 2011 to June of 2012. She previously worked at Diamond Resorts but left Diamond concerned about what she considered to be questionable business practices. Hired by Hyatt to sell timeshare, Candace alleges in her lawsuit that she was forced to employ unfair and deceptive sales practices or face termination. Hyatt did terminate Candace.

Sedona is a small town, so Candace had difficulty finding work after her termination. She moved to Phoenix. Candace had lived in Sedona for 25 years.

Hyatt’s attorney, Mr Kraig J. Marton, challenged the reasons why Candace had remained unemployed since her termination, insinuating that Candace had not tried very hard to get a job, even after moving to Phoenix.

I reached out to Candace outside of the trial. I had not attended Candace’s testimony in which she explained the difficulty she experienced when she sought employment. Candace said that potential employers were turned off because of her whistleblower stigma. Candace generated income from her rental property and worked on re-stablishing a business she had been involved with previously. She has been generating income from that business since 2017. Prior to that time, she had been paying off debt to re-establish her business.

Candace said in Phoenix, she has been living in a 10 x 10 rented room with a view of a block wall, after living in a beautiful home in Sedona with views of the Red Rocks. Candace said she mitigated her damages by scaling back, but she has not sat around idle since her termination.  

Mr Marton continued to examine Candace’s work history. Candace responded that the reason she did not apply for other timeshare positions is because she did not want to find herself put in another position in which she would be instructed to employ unfair and deceptive sales practices. She felt the obligation of anyone holding a real estate license is to uphold the principles of integrity that holders of a real estate license should abide by. 

Working under the conditions Candace described took an emotional toll. A witness for the Plaintiff, Jackie Garrick, who is an expert in Workplace Traumatic Stress and post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD), described psychological abuse as a “serious injury” justifying a diagnosis of PTSD. Ms Garrick explained that PTSD can be experienced by anyone, not just soldiers who witness harm against others and suffer a moral injury because it violates their sense of ethics. She compared whistleblower retaliation to domestic abuse in which one spouse manipulates, humiliates, isolates, and bullies another spouse. Defence attorney Mr Marton tried to minimize PTSD as if it only related to combat stress, ignoring all research on emotional abuse and identity disruption.      

Candace’s attorney, Joshua Carden, next called Larry Stokes as a witness for Candace. Mr Stokes is an economist. He testified as to Candace’s loss of income. He calculated her annual wages as follows: 

Loss wages from 8/2012 to 7/2019

$449,186 in back pay

$168,709 in loss front pay

$54,756 in interest on back pay

Grand Total:  $672,651  

Former Hyatt Sales Executive Mark Schmidt, also a witness for the Plaintiff, testified on July 9. Mark had worked as a timeshare sales agent for 15 years. Candace and Mark’s employment overlapped for a period of about two months, prior to Candace’s termination. On cross-examination, Mr Schmidt was asked about his relationship with Candace. He stated they were friendly coworkers. They were asked about emails they had exchanged as to the possibility of an age discrimination lawsuit against Hyatt

Mr Schmidt had also been terminated from Hyatt for being a “bad fit” and for poor performance. Mr Schmidt responded that he had worked three tenures at Hyatt and generated $130,000 in sales the last six working days of a March month. An “eligible for re-hire” letter was placed in his personnel file. Mark said the reason for his short work tenures was because he would leave the company if a bad sales manager was hired and wait it out until the sales manager was fired or left the company.  

Like Candace, Mr Schmidt testified that he had been terminated because he refused to give false statements to potential buyers. He stated that Kent Drysdale in 2012 instructed agents to sell “First Day Incentives” that were deceptive. Agents would threaten potential buyers, telling them that if they did not buy that day, in the future they would have to purchase a two-week timeshare vs only a one-week timeshare. It was not true that buyers could not buy a one-week timeshare in the future.

What Letter?

One fraudulent practice was that Mr Drysdale trained his sales agents to tell existing Hyatt clients that there was a letter sent to the existing member advising them of an advantageous price, but the letter, in fact, did not exist. According to Mr Schmidt, Mr Drysdale instructed the agents to tell the existing member that they would check their file to see if the letter was there. One of the jurors asked if they could see the letter. Hyatt’s attorney seemed to scramble to produce the letter. What was produced, Mr Schmidt said, was a completely unrelated document. It was an Upgrade Document Declaration. This document was discredited because it pertained to the surrendering of points after a member upgraded. Mr Schmidt added that if the letter existed, Hyatt would have produced it during discovery. 

Oh boy, have I heard this “Did you get the letter?” before. I am a member of a 3,300 timeshare member-sponsored Facebook. Many complaints begin, “They said we should have gotten a letter!” If the letter is fictitious, this is unfair and deceptive.    

Mr Schmidt stated that Mr Drysdale used to be the Director of Training for Diamond Resorts. He brought up the Assurance of Discontinuance (AOD) and the $800,000 fine issued by Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich after their office received hundreds of complaints from Diamond members. Mr Drysdale had been employed by Diamond Resorts during the period in which the Arizona Attorney General’s office received so many complaints.

In addition to the Arizona complaints, I was aware of former Diamond top sales agent Mary Bowling’s allegations, describing how a deceptive price freeze was employed by Diamond sales agents in Hawaii:

Mary Bowling sued Diamond Resorts, not because of deceptive sales, but because she was terminated when no one else was. She applied for FMLA 2-12-16 and was terminated 2-15-16. 

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 the 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 because of the “price freeze” only today can the customer buy for the discounted price.

#51 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”

At one point, Candace had provided an example of an observed deceptive sale: “Say the property is $35,000, but the Director of Sales would say that there had been a default, so we got this new inventory we can get you for $29,500. However, $29,500 had been the intended price all along.” Mark Schmidt explained that the difference between a primary residence negotiation and timeshare, is anyone selling a primary residence doesn’t start with their bottom line price requirement, then issue threats and false consequences if the interested party doesn’t buy at the bottom price that day – or will not be able to buy the house the next day at the low price.

Mr Schmidt further testified that price sheet packages were manufactured by Mr Drysdale: a two weeks package and the standard one week package. Mr Schmidt stated that Mr Drysdale would change the prices at will.

Mr Schmidt was asked to describe Mr Drysdale as Director of Sales.  He said Mr Drysdale was aggressive and physical. He witnessed Mr Drysdale giving a body check to Joey, another sales agent. Mark stated he addressed his concerns with Human Resources regarding Kent’s behaviour that included CIA like intimidation tactics and deceptive practices. He said Mr Drysdale was enthusiastic about the practices and procedures described in the CIA Manual on Human Manipulation.

Next a witness for Hyatt, Theodore “Ted” was called. Ted was the former Director of Sales during Candace and Mark’s tenure. He had hired Candace and supervised Kent Drysdale. Ted said Candace had little sales experience but was hired anyway due to tough hiring times during the years 2010 to 2011. He described Candace as someone who didn’t want to listen and stated that her personality wasn’t “fun” or personable.  He claimed he tried to help her but concluded she was not “coachable” as she did not like to take his advice. He stated she had low performance. 

July 10

Candace returned to the witness stand. In earlier testimony, it was described how Hyatt employee Shelley instructed Candace to create a “First Visit Incentive” document. This document was reviewed by the potential buyer, but never given to a buyer.  

Candace testified that another agent, Scot Steward, did not have a real estate license on file, but was allowed to give tours and transact sales. Mr Steward had been hired by Shelley or Mr Drysdale. Candace took handwritten notes of observed sales and the line rotation, meaning who was up next to meet a potential client. Her notes showed that Mr Steward made a sale, but that Mr Drysdale had limited the number of tours Candace was given, a practice used against an agent who did not play by the rules. There are 3 types of tours: 1) An owner 2) Owns a timeshare other than Hyatt 3) Not a timeshare owner. Candace stated that AM tours always went to the agents on the top of the list (Top Selling Agents).

On Friday I will continue with what happened next. All in all, it was a fascinating experience, and I have a much better understanding of how easy it was to dupe our family. My husband and I experienced deceptive timeshare sales practices. We have joined forces with other timeshare buyers alarmed at the rise in such practices. Deceptive practices seem to be employed industry-wide by some sales agents and managers. That’s my opinion, but the only opinion that counts are the opinions of the nine members of the jury. Join a self-advocacy group if you would like to join our timeshare consumer protection efforts. 

Please sign our petition to reform timeshare:   

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

Candace Czarny has joined our list of just a few of the recent Attorneys General investigations and lawsuits. We’re not making this up.

The NY Attorney General investigation into the Manhattan Club resulted in a $6.5 million settlement. https://www.amny.com/real-estate/the-manhattan-club-settlement-includes-6-5-million-in-restitution-ag-says-1.14048559

Colorado Attorney General sued Highlands Resort, Sedona Pines and twelve other defendants for deceptive trade practices. https://businessden.com/2016/12/07/ag-sues-timeshare-firm-for-deceptive-tactics/

Missourians sometimes are targeted by real estate developers and resort communities to buy vacation timeshares. https://ago.mo.gov/civil-division/consumer/consumer-topics/vacation-timeshares

Arizona Attorney General received hundreds of complaints against Diamond Resorts, fined the company $800,000 and issued an Assurance of Discontinuance. https://azag.gov/press-release/attorney-general-brnovich-announces-800000-settlement-diamond-resorts

Tennessee Attorney General announced a $3 million settlement with Festiva, a network of vacation and timeshare companies, for alleged violations of the federal Telemarketing Act, federal Telemarketing Sales Rule, and the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act. https://www.tn.gov/attorneygeneral/news/2016/2/24/pr16-04.html

Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen says his office received 58 timeshare complaints in 2018, including concerns about pressure sales tactics, exorbitant fees, and difficulty reselling. https://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/local/Timeshare-Troubles–What-To-Do-Before-You-Buy-and-Sell-504017151.html

A Florida Whistleblower lawsuit was filed on behalf of ten former Wyndham employees, including eight former sales agents. Plaintiffs allege that they objected to and refused to participate in illegal sales practices.  https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-42/

Former Wyndham sales agent Trish Williams, a jury awarded an initial $20 million. https://dolanlawfirm.com/2016/11/wyndham-timeshare-whistleblower-lawsuit/

Candace Czarny v Hyatt and Kent and Allison Drysdale – Former Hyatt timeshare Sales Executives alleged that they were instructed to make certain false statements and omit certain facts when communicating to Hyatt owners and potential clientele in order to make more sales. https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-57/

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/

Thank you, Patty, for taking the time to attend the trial and prepare this very interesting report, I am sure that all our readers are rooting for Candace, it is time that justice was done.

If you have any views or comments you would like to share please use our contact page and get in touch.

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 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.