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Gold Key

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to our Friday’s Letter from America with an update from our US contributor Tiffany Renee who explains Why the buyer is blamed when told lies by sales agents. This is a subject that has been covered on numerous occasions over the years, with many articles by Irene. This particular problem is not just confined to the sale of timeshare in America, it happens all over the world but is very much a serious problem in the US. Tiffany reached out to Diamond Resorts for comment. They responded placing the blame on Tiffany’s parents. This does make you question Mr Flaskey’s quote in Bernadette’s petition, “And they could have just called Diamond.” We have heard so many times Diamond’s response, “we are not responsible for what our sales agent say”. That as we know is lamest of excuses, they are your employees, they are selling your product and they are representing you, it is your “Responsibility”.

Why the Buyer is Blamed if a Sales Agent Lies 


April 2, 2021

Update from Tiffany Renee

Last December Inside Timeshare published my article about how my parents were browbeaten for 11 hours until they were convinced they had no choice but to forfeit their two Gold Key deeded timeshares that they had loved for years. Their sales agent and Quality Assurance agent told them that if they didn’t give up their deeds my brother and I would suffer dire financial consequences should something happen to them – maintenance fees will increase dramatically – to over $6,000! Their Gold Key maintenance fees were $2,000. The transaction resulted in maintenance fees of over $6,000. My father collapsed when he received the notification. The “QA” agent made them wait while he called the developer of Gold Key to get them the secret special price …. You must buy today…. the special price time period has expired! 

How can this be happening to so many seniors in America?

The full story:

If there is no problem with Diamond Resorts CEO Michael Flaskey making claims that exit companies lied and took $10,000, $12,000, $14,000, $25,000 from Diamond members, then there can be no problem with my making the claim that Diamond agents lied and took over $85,000 in cash and deeds from my parents.

An interview with Diamond members Frank and Betty, ages 88 and 89, parallels the elderly couple interviewed in Mr Flaskey’s YouTube describing how they lost money to exit companies. Betty, a former librarian, said in a USA Today article that she has had insomnia and fainting spells from the stress and has gone to the hospital several times.

Michael Flaskey’s YouTube 

Frank and Betty’s YouTube

Diamond Resorts took approximately $31,000 from my parents and their two deeded weeks. The purchase price was around $88,000 of which approximately $57,000 was credit for their deeded weeks. 

Many years ago they paid $17,600 for a Turtle Cay 2 BR unit and $37,550 for a 2 BR Ocean Beach unit. It was not easy to piece together what happened from the mounds of paperwork, but as of November 28, 2020, it looks like after the up-sell they ended up with 32,500 points of which 24,000 points were credited for their Gold Key deeds. The purchase of 8,500 points is why maintenance fees increased. 

Frank and Betty lost $63,000 to Diamond Resorts and told them they were buying an “annuity” timeshare that would release a survivor spouse from the timeshare liability should something happen to one of them. After the transaction, their cumulative loan balance was $197,000 and annual maintenance fees $19,000.

For Betty and Frank and my parents, fear was used as the bait.  

Then and Now: Why Seniors Need Support 

(STAY VACATIONED letter received from Diamond Resorts March 29, 2021)

Unfortunately, if your account remains in default for 30 days from the date of this notice, the Association will take necessary action to collect the unpaid assessment fees together with late fees and interest…. These actions may include but are not limited to the following: 

  • Send the delinquent account to an attorney, which will result in additional legal fees; 
  • Engagement of a professional collection agency which will result in additional collection fees;

Michael Flaskey said on his YouTube, “They could have just called Diamond.”  

My parents are proof you can’t. 

Bernadette’s Petition

Bernadette in Oklahoma launched a petition March 7, 2021 asking Michael Flaskey to remove the YouTube in which he, the Missouri and Washington Attorneys General, and the former Arizona Attorney General, criticize deceptive practices by timeshare exit companies. Lawyers are called “storefront clowns,” yet the Missouri Attorney General’s Office recommended Bernadette retain an attorney. Please sign Bernadette’s petition after reading about her Diamond experience:

Our experiences are two of over 5,600 accounts from members of our member-sponsored Diamond Advocacy Facebook. The majority of our Facebook members joined to ask for advice about resolving disputes or complaints about Diamond’s sales and marketing practices. Volunteers answer questions as to how to file regulatory complaints. We know there are many who are happy with their Diamond membership and with the sales agents they worked with. Our Facebook consists of mostly members who feel they experienced unfair and deceptive sales and marketing practices.

I initially filed a complaint with Seniors Vs Crime, a project of the Florida Attorney General’s Office. They mediate disputes and volunteers are seniors themselves. I was informed Seniors Vs Crime would not be allowed to help my parents. I was forwarded to the Attorney General’s Office.  Instead of being contacted by someone from the Florida Attorney General’s Office, I was contacted by a doctor Diamond retained who introduced himself as a consultant hired to arbitrate our “allegations.” He blamed my parents.

A staged so-called Quality Assurance contract signing session was recorded. I later learned my parents’ QA agent served four years in jail for burglarizing seven homes, among other charges, yet Diamond’s jury ruled my parents sounded just fine on the recording. 

If the buyer makes the mistake of believing their sales agent, thus not raising a question, the recording is used against the buyer. The buyer is not allowed to record the sales session, and the buyer is not allowed to listen to the recorded closing unless an attorney issues a subpoena. This is unfair. 

Many members have reported that the recording is routinely used against the buyer to dismiss complaints after being coached by sales agents to not saying anything because 1) it’s a new program, 2) I help you on my own 3) they don’t want you buying to make money, and so on.     

Former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods said in Mr Flaskey’s YouTube “it is infuriating to see members paying money to companies that make them worse rather than better.” 

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson warns, “They are preying on people with misinformation…Telling people things that are flat out not true and they are just trying to take as much money as they can from them.” 

Diamond CEO Michael Flaskey grieves for families who lost“$10,000, $12,000, $14,000, $25,000” to exit companies.

I am pregnant with my second child. I have a problem pregnancy and had to be hospitalized at one point during my first trimester. The stress Diamond Resorts brought into my life because of the financial loss my parents suffered has played a part in my baby’s problems. Timeshare medical distress now spans from prenatal to Betty and Frank, ages 88 and 89. 

I end where I began – but adding the other end of life’s spectrum. 

How can this be happening to seniors and pregnant moms in America?   

My motto is based on a concept of unjust enrichment that can be traced to Roman law and the maxim that “no one should be benefited at another’s expense”

“nemo locupletari potest aliena iactura or nemo locupletari debet cum aliena iactura.” 

There is a tendency to blame the victim. AARP Staff writer explains in his book why no one is “smart” enough to outsmart a con.

Understanding the artist behind the scam is a first step in protecting yourself and your loved ones from deceit. After conducting personal interviews with dozens of con artists and studying their personalities, Shadel has found consistent trends in the tactics they use to defraud their prey. What do they all have in common? For starters, a life filled with fast money and women, drugs and alcohol, and lots of lying and cheating. But the most successful cons are also masters of persuasion, using a sophisticated set of psychological tricks and tactics that work time and time again.

Think all victims look the same?  Wrong.  Outsmarting the Scam Artists explains how individual scams are carefully crafted and tailored to meet specific victim profiles.  

That is all for this week with Inside Timeshare, we hope that you have a great Easter weekend and will join us for more news and information on the murky world of timeshare next week.

Friday’s Letter from America: Hilton Acquisition of Diamond


The Radio 4 program You and Yours will not be broadcasting the MacDonald Resorts segment today as planned, this is due to MacDonald Resorts contacting our reader and making an offer of settlement. Hopefully we will be able to publish a successful conclusion in the future.

Back now to our Letter from America.

Welcome to the end of another week with Inside Timeshare, today’s Letter from America is from an old friend, Irene Parker. It needs no introduction apart from it is a subject that has sparked many conversations, the acquisition of Diamond Resorts by Hilton Grand Vacations. Here Irene explores what this means to Diamond Members.

What does Hilton Grand Vacations Acquisition of Diamond Resorts Means to Diamond Members?

How Private Equity has Influenced Timeshare

By Irene Parker

March 26, 2021

Several Diamond Resorts members have expressed bewilderment by the announcement this month that Hilton is acquiring Diamond Resorts. Former deeded owners of resorts purchased by Diamond – Monarch, Gold Key, Sunterra, ILX, Amber and others, were told that they had to give up their deed and convert to points. It is likely they will once again be told they must upgrade to have access to Hilton properties. Overall, Diamond members seem to feel Hilton’s acquisition is a welcome development. The transaction is expected to close by summer.

According to HGV CEO Mark Wang:

But when you think about the power of putting the Hilton brand on …. it will, number one, create a tremendous amount of credibility. It’ll allow us to attract customers, higher-quality customers than Diamond was able to attract.

We’re going to be– we’re launching a new brand called Hilton Vacation Club. And Hilton Vacation Club will be positioned just below Hilton Grand Vacation Club, which is an upper upscale brand. And Hilton Vacation Club will be an upscale brand. And the entry price points are significantly lower, about $20,000 lower to– to enter the system.

What does it mean? How will it work?

According to Hilton’s website: 

Accelerates launch of HGV-branded trust product offering: rebrand Diamond’s properties over time to drive revenue growth in a new customer segment

My Comment: Trust-based means properties are owned by a Trust, but that is of no benefit to timeshare members who don’t “own” anything. Buyers of non-deeded points purchase a right-to-use product. They have no beneficial interest in a Developer’s Trust any more than a member of a Country Club or gym club has a beneficial interest in their club’s brick and mortar buildings. 

My question: Diamond’s properties are already in Diamond’s Trusts. Does Hilton plan to buy legacy (older) resorts, modeling Diamond’s business model?

  • Combining HGV’s points-based deeded product with Diamond’s points-based trust structure will allow the Company to cater to a wider audience, attract more new buyers and drive incremental growth in a capital-efficient manner.
  • HGV’s deeded product provides premium pricing, inventory sourcing flexibility, and the ability to pre-sell projects to support strong project-level cash flow, while giving buyers and owners the value of guaranteed availability.

My question: How is availability guaranteed? According to Hilton members I spoke with, availability is guaranteed by means of an advanced booking window. It’s not the same as owning a fixed week that is a true guarantee.     

  • The introduction of a trust product allows for lower barriers to ownership, reduced inventory delivery volatility and inventory recycling, enabling smoother sales and upgrades while providing buyers and owners network and pricing flexibility.

The biggest question on the minds of many Diamond members is – will there finally be a resale value. Rules change, but at last check if you buy Diamond points on the secondary market, you must buy 50% of the number of points you bought on the secondary market, directly from Diamond to be eligible for The Club, to be able to exchange. Will Hilton be so restrictive?   

Inventory delivery volatility reduction must be because points are of almost unlimited supply and eternal. 

Inventory recycling means foreclosing or taking back points. 

“Smoother sales and upgrades” is something Diamond members are very used to and many are wary of. 

One Diamond member expressed Diamond’s pricing flexibility: 

Kona 11/6/18 – Our agent tried to convince us to purchase Hawaii collection points for $11.40 per point, as opposed to $4.79 presented on Oahu the week before. Manager Brett asked us where the $4.79 came from. We shared the paperwork we had been given. He became rude and threatening saying, “it is illegal for you to have these papers.” The papers had been given to us.   

  • Integrates Diamond’s innovative Events of a Lifetime® experiential sales and marketing platform that drives strong engagement and Volume Per Guest (VPG) premiums with HGV’s owner base

My Comment: It is hoped Hilton will do a better job of informing the person presented with an EOL that it is a solicitation. 

Volume per Guest is a metric that is often used to show efficiency in sales. Total sales volume divided by the number of tours “guests” that each site has. 

Ex. Site sells 200,000 on a day with 25 guests = 8,000 VPG – This is the expectation for existing owners. (Figures provided by an industry insider)

Many on our Diamond member-sponsored Facebook have questioned how this remarkably high VPG has been achieved.

DRI 7,000-12,000 VPG 

Wyndham 3,000-4,000

Bluegreen 3,000-4,000

Marriott 3,000-5,000

Hilton 4,000-5,500

The History and Effect of Private Equity on Diamond Resorts and Timeshare 

It’s not your Grandmothers’ Timeshare

Leon Black founded Apollo in 1990 with partners from Drexel Burnham Lambert, the junk-bond shop led by Michael Milken that collapsed in a scandal.

Apollo took Diamond Resorts private in 2016 for $2.2 billion and made a bid to buy Hilton Grand Vacations three years later for about $40 a share.

In 2018 – Private-equity firm Apollo Global Management LLC is preparing to take Diamond Resorts public …. 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.

HGV, spun out of Hilton Worldwide in 2017, will buy the Las Vegas-based Diamond Resorts (for $1.4 billion) from funds managed by affiliates of Apollo Global Management Inc., Reverence Capital Partners and others in an all-stock deal.

Private Equity v Hedge Funds (Investopedia)

Private equity funds more closely resemble venture capital firms in that they invest directly in companies, primarily by purchasing private companies, although they sometimes seek to acquire controlling interest in publicly traded companies through stock purchases. They frequently use leveraged buyouts to acquire financially distressed companies. Once they acquire or control interest in a company, private equity funds look to improve the company through management changes, streamlining operations or expansion, with the eventual goal of selling the company for a profit, either privately or through an initial public offering in a stock market. 

History Repeats Itself

The first Diamond member to submit an article about their timeshare experience to Inside Timeshare was in 2016. A family of five, with their firstborn off to college, they alleged that they were told if they became Platinum they could offset maintenance fees. The most recent Inside Timeshare article is about a Diamond member who received a $95,678 judgement contesting a $3,995 Sampler trial product. He alleged that he was told he could offset maintenance fees at $.20 per point by charging purchases to a Diamond Barclaycard.

Many Diamond members have reported that they were told that if they did not give up their deed their heirs would be liable for the timeshare. There have been 157 Platinum members who have reported allegations that they were promised the ability to be relieved of maintenance fees, unlock equity, or be able to sell points if they became Platinum loyalty level or bought additional points. 

Do your timeshare math when purchasing a timeshare or upgrading.  Seniors especially need to amortize the buy-in price over their expected lifetime to determine if the outlay is worth the price.   

Thank you, Irene, as usual, you have given us much to think about, let us hope the industry itself wakes up and take notes from what their own members are saying.

Join us again next week as we explore and report on the murky world of timeshare, have a great weekend.

More Breaking News

On Monday Inside Timeshare will be publishing the latest on the Cazorla Group, the majority shareholders of Anfi, it has been announced that the courts have declared the Cazorla Group bankrupt.

Friday’s Letter from America: More Veterans Stories

Welcome to the end of another week with Inside Timeshare and another Letter from America, once again we are highlighting the comments received from our US friends following our article by Adam Siler in last Friday’s Letter from America.

To all Veterans and Serving Personel Adam can be contacted on the following email [email protected]

All other enquiries to Inside Timeshare using our contact page.

Comments Following Adam’s Veteran and Active Duty Service Member Outreach from Six Diamond Resort Members  

See the source image

March 5, 2021

Diamond Resorts CEO Michael Flaskey said on YouTube that the six of us could have “just called Diamond”. He appears with the current Washington Attorney General and the Missouri Attorney General. Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt states, “Exit companies are lying to timeshare members, making them worse off than they were before!”

Many disputes have been resolved, but other families, like ours, have been financially harmed and sadly, some financially ruined.

  1. Tiffany explains how her elderly parents were kept for 11 hours: My parents were told their deeds were worthless; their IDs were held and were made to wait while their sales agent Dawson and QA agent Tim claimed the need to call the developer of Gold Key to get them a special price for points they did not want. If they did not buy points and give up their deeds, my brother and I would suffer dire consequences – maintenance fees rising to over $6,000! After this transaction unknowingly took place, maintenance fees were immediately over $6,000.  The transaction was discovered once my parents received an unaffordable bill, causing my father to collapse. It was not necessary for my parents to give up their deeded Gold Key timeshares. QA agent Tim served four years in jail after burglarizing seven homes, some while occupied and committing acts of assault and violence. Both agents had multiple speeding violations.
  2. Angela in Minnesota: Diamond sells points in Collections. My parents went to Hawaii and were told they should not have bought U.S. Collection points. They went to Florida and were told they should not have bought Hawaii Collection points. They were switched by a Florida sales agent with six complaints directed against him. My parents live on my father’s retired letter carriers pension. He’s a Navy Veteran. They ended up with $2,700 a month in loan payments. Diamond blamed my parents. Our YouTube:
  3. Larry in Kentucky: Brian at Sunrise Ridge Resort in Tennessee talked about DEX Dollars as being part of Diamond’s new exchange program, Destination Exchange. He said we could turn in 50% of our points in October, then in December, we would direct Diamond’s Finance Department to use our DEX Dollars to pay 50% of our maintenance fees. He instructed us to not say anything to the closing agent or they would “push us out the door”. He used the words “equitable gain” as something that could void the contract because they didn’t want people buying points just for equitable gain. He would not give us anything he wrote. He made us write down “move points 50% in Oct. Dec get DEX Dollars to cover Maint.
  4. Bryan in Georgia, 9 years National Guard: We bought points from Tony at Fairway Forest in North Carolina. He assured me I was not attending a sales presentation. Tony said if I bought 14,000 points from him, he could take some of the points and turn them into DEX Dollars or cash. I would get roughly $14,000 to offset my loan. I could then access the equity that would make my out-of-pocket monthly payment about $30 a month. He said he could help figure out an aggressive payment plan to pay off my loan in four to six years if I gave up a Diamond Dream Holiday. He calculated on his phone that he could guarantee I’d get somewhere around $34,000 – $37,000 in 2021. He asked how many points I had leftover from 2020. I said roughly 8,000. He said he could turn that into $5,000. This would cover my down payment for the 14,000 points. He guaranteed I’d have the money by the end of October or November. I told Tony this seemed too good to be true. He said in his position he is able to offer this, but not every agent can. I turn in 14,000 points for cash, and then Diamond can turn around and use my points to sell more points to new buyers. It made sense. Before I went to the recorded signing, Tony said I should not talk about giving points back for a profit. He said that would definitely disqualify the purchase because she would start asking questions. He said to give very generic answers like I wanted to vacation more. I called Tony on October 4, 2020, to turn in 8,000 points. Tony said he could get me $5,000 right away through Diamond, but if I could wait a month or two, he could get me $8,000 going through one of his guys. In late November I had not heard from Tony so I went back to the resort in early December. My meeting got cancelled but they said Tony’s VP Kyle would call me. Kyle sent an email telling me Josh from Tennessee would call me. This way I could teach the scam to the Tennessee centre. That’s probably why I was directed there. Josh called from Tennessee and said the program Tony described was legitimate, but he would have to check into it to make sure he would be giving me accurate information. I never heard back from Josh. I did speak to a manager at Fairway who told me the program would not start until 2021. In January of 2021, a sales agent told me the program Tony sold doesn’t exist. Tony died in a car accident in the early morning hours on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. At age 23 he was charged with a DWI when he totalled his BMW. He was charged with a second DWI at 25. He died at age 27. According to reports, he crashed after leaving a party. I was supposed to have a call with VP Kyle and one or two others, but was contacted by a newly formed “Reconnection Team”. When I spoke to them I was ridiculed, told by the agent he would be laughed out of the office if he cancelled the contract.
  5. Bob in Virginia: I am 84 and my wife is 83. I spent 28 years active duty US Army and four years with the US Marine Corps as a reservist. I am disabled due to Agent Orange. I served in Vietnam. I bought it from Brent in Virginia. Another Diamond member recorded Brent in Missouri lying about being able to pay 50% of maintenance fees with points. Brent was transferred to Virginia. I’m told that I am the sixth Brent complaint. Brent said that if we became Platinum we would not be required to pay maintenance fees. He said two or three times we should not say anything to the closing agent. He said they would know “what’s up” but did not want it recorded. We also bought from Florida sales agents Melinda and Robert (Bobbie) in Virginia. Melinda described in detail at the hotel presentation that it would not be legal to rent to the public unless we upgraded. Melinda explained that we would not have to pay maintenance fees from our personal finances as we could earn $3,000 to $10,000 per week renting. She showed us professional listings in a binder. She would personally assist us like she does for Platinum clients in Florida. We knew Diamond prohibited renting for commercial purposes, but Melinda said the additional points we purchased from her would qualify us to rent to the public to earn enough to pay maintenance fees. She said renting to cover maintenance fees is not considered renting for profit. She showed us how, after renting out a number of units, I would still have points left to travel. Bobbie promised he would help us refinance. Bobbie appeared to be the senior manager of the DRI travelling team. I never received a contract from either purchase. I have no Public Offering Statement in my possession. I thought we were paying about $26,000 for 7,500 points but the cost turned out to be about $62,000. We charged about $15,000 to a Diamond Barclaycard. I did not know we took out a $50,000 loan. As a retired couple, this loan is devastating. Melinda promised to contact me in December of 2020 to set up the rental operation. We did not talk to her until February 4. She said she only told us we could rent to friends and family. That was never mentioned. Why would we need professional listings like the ones she showed us if we were only going to rent to friends and family? We would never exploit our friends or family like that. I’ve had two strokes and two cancer surgeries. The survival rate for stomach cancer is only 20%. Why would I buy 5,000 points when I was already Platinum points with 50,000 points? Melinda did not return our calls until I used a different phone. We did not know until 2020 we had been deceived by Brent because he said we would have to pay our maintenance fees in 2019 like we always did. We are original Gold Key owners. We were told at every update we had to give up our deed or annual fees would go up drastically. They used 10 years as a baseline showing us that over time we could incur $100,000 in fees or more if we did not buy points. Nothing we have been told is true. Melinda, Robert and Brent all have criminal backgrounds.
  6. Cindy in Virginia: Like Bob, I bought from Melinda and Robert. I struggle with depression from a terrible family tragedy. I never recovered. That, on top of the pandemic, caused me to accept an offer to attend a dinner meeting. Melinda asked me why I was attending. I told her I was afraid of my kids being responsible for my Gold Key deed if something happened to me. I had already purchased 15,000 Diamond points previously, but I kept my deed. It was not necessary for me to give up my deed and buy points. Mason, the Diamond representative who called me after I complained, at first acted as if he did not believe me about my grandchild. I sent him a 1997 article about the tragedy that was in the Washington Post. Then he said it didn’t matter because it happened a long time ago. It matters. I lost my first grandchild at 11 months due to child abuse. Mason is called a Hospitality agent. I worked 37 years at the Pentagon as a federal employee. 

It’s not likely Diamond CEO Michael Flaskey will read our complaints. We were told by a Diamond sales agent on our Facebook that we are “greedy liars”. We have also been told that several members did resolve disputes. What makes us less deserving? Only Mr Flaskey can say. We will send him this article along with his comment, “And they could have just called Diamond”. Diamond buyers need to be informed they cannot believe anything a sales agent says. Thank you to Charles Thomas for allowing our voices to be heard.

Once again we are seeing some horrendous stories from many people, these are just a selection. It is amazing that all these stories are so similar, yet they do not even know each other. This definitely points to a very serious problem and it is about time the Timeshare Industry and especially Diamond Resorts took notice. This is not going away, Inside Timeshare will continue to highlight these abuses by Sales Agents no matter which company they work for.  

Next week Inside Timeshare will not be publishing every day due to some upgrading of the interface by my IT guru. We will publish any news of importance that comes in and will publish next Friday’s Letter from America.

Have a great weekend and stay safe.