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Irene Parker

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.


The Tuesday Slot

Welcome to The Tuesday Slot, today we welcome another new contribution from the Valdibieso Family, with their “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”. These features are becoming all too commonplace, so it does beg the question, When will the industry take note and change?

Our very own Irene Parker has reported that the Platinum Protestors, protesting out front of Diamond Resorts Cypress Pointe Resort in Orlando over the weekend, especially on Sunday, had a steady stream of horn honks, thumb’s up, and members who talked about their experiences, and many who asked questions about their concerns. On Friday, May 17, they protested outside the Florida Timeshare Division. One person who works inside the state facility, who asked not to be identified, suggested they protest every Friday. Unfortunately, since the protestors live in NY and AZ, it would be difficult to commute. All in all, it was a major success. A full report will be presented in Friday’s Letter From America.

Don’t Buy a Timeshare Without Checking Good and Bad Reviews

By the Valdibieso Family

May 21, 2019

Our nightmare began after we purchased a Sapphire Resort timeshare in Las Vegas in October 2017.  From the start, our timeshare experience has been one of anger and frustration.

We have joined efforts with Vanessa Hernandez who purchased a Sapphire timeshare the day of the Las Vegas mass murder. Her article is linked below. Vanessa was uncomfortable after signing her contract, so planned to review her contract that evening, but attended the concert that devastated her life. She could not even get out of bed for a long time due to the trauma. Even a horror like witnessing a mass murder did not move Starpoint Sapphire to cancel her contract, despite reported misrepresentations.  

I found 221 Starpoint Sapphire complaints on file with the Better Business Bureau, in addition to a host of complaints on other complaints sites. Starpoint has an A+ BBB rating. The BBB basically assigns a rating on how efficiently a company handles complaints. As you can see, Starpoint Sapphire is quick to respond that you signed a contract so you’re stuck.  

https://www.bbb.org/us/nv/las-vegas/profile/resort/starpoint-resort-group-inc-1086-66568/complaints#176983305

Vanessa and I have joined forces to get the word out to let others know the timeshare you buy is worthless if you need to sell it. Not only is it worthless, it is accompanied by rising maintenance fees. I know of no other product that holds the buyer hostage, making sure they stay vacationed or else.

This is the link to our Facebook:

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

Join our consumer protection efforts. If you bought a timeshare and are happy with it, we understand. Not all sales agents are deceptive. We intend, like so many other timeshare buyers who feel they experienced unfair and deceptive sales practices, to build our Facebook group and start a RedWeek and Timeshare Users Group thread.

Until the timeshare industry wakes up to the fact that they are financially destroying family after family by allowing unfair and deceptive sales practices, and restricting the secondary market to the extent you can’t dispose of it, consumers will be harmed. Publicly traded timeshare companies even warn their stock investors that a secondary market is a risk to THEM. What about us?

Our Timeshare Nightmare

Our Sapphire sales presentation dragged on for hours. To seal the deal they offered us a free trip to Hawaii or Cancun but said we had to sign quickly because they were only giving one free trip to our group.

After we signed a contract, something didn’t feel right. We decided to cancel the contract. When we talked to them about cancelling, we asked how the timeshare could be transferred to someone else and – boom! That’s when we found out about maintenance fees and all the fees that would be needed if we wanted to sell the timeshare. They also informed us that if we could not sell it, we did not have the right to cancel. None of this was mentioned in the presentation. A company representative suggested we put it on Craigslist and hung up. We have tried to contact Sapphire, to no avail. They could care less about misrepresentations.

We were told we would be allotted 5,000 points annually that would allow us to go anywhere. This was not the case. The Sapphire points are not good everywhere. They can only be used at certain places and then only thru RCI. This was crazy because I did not even sign up for RCI. When we attempted to reserve a stay, we were informed that our points would expire on July 10, 2018. We could roll them over, but we could only roll them over one time. The points eventually expired.

All the locations listed in a book that was given to us required over 5000 points. We were also informed we could purchase trips for only $269. That was not the case, because again, we could only book through RCI and they have different rules. This had not been explained.

The free trip to Hawaii turned out not to be free. The sales agent failed to mention all the fees that we would have to pay, or that we would have to fly out from a specific airport, one we did not have easy access to. We would have to pay for plane tickets to the required airport and back. The free trip to Hawaii was what eventually sold us. If we knew about the costs associated with the “free” trip, we would not have signed the contract.

We have never used our timeshare.

This has literally been one of the worst experiences we have ever had in terms of deception and aggressive sales tactics that seem geared to wear you down. They brainwashed us and have caused our marriage to fall apart due to the stress of this purchase.

Only false promises accompanied our purchase.

Excerpt from Vanessa’s Starpoint Sapphire Resort article

October 30, 2018

To be honest, I don’t remember as much as I’d like about the purchase of our Starpoint timeshare October 1 of last year. That night Rogelio and I went to the concert that flipped Vegas upside down. We hid and ran for our lives, hoping to make it out alive. Thankfully we did. We cut our trip short, so I didn’t look over the paperwork as I told myself I would. I couldn’t get out of bed or eat for a month.

I remember feeling pressured and pushed into buying the timeshare, which was why I told myself I needed to look over the paperwork as soon as I got home. The reasons I felt uncomfortable with my decision:

  • They said the timeshare was prime real estate,
  • I was not aware the credit check was being run,
  • They told me to wait 30 days before booking,
  • They promised a free trip (which never materialized).

If you would like to join Mari and Vanessa’s Advocacy Facebook, contact Inside Timeshare and we will put you in touch with two more timeshare regret consumers dedicated to warning the public about the negatives of timeshare, to counterbalance timeshare developers and lobbyists insisting few regret their purchase.

Self-help groups we feel are not industry influenced:

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

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s all for today, thank you to our latest contributors for their story, if you have a story that you would like to share, whether it be a “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” or a positive experience (which we would love to hear about just to make a change), use our contact page and get in touch.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this week’s edition of Letter from America, following on from our previous articles on the timeshare bills put forward by Florida and Nevada, Attorney Mike Finn submits his thoughts on this subject with the introduction by Inside Timeshares very own Irene Parker.

But first, a reminder that today is the first day of the Platinum Protest in Orlando, even if you can’t make it, please enter your support for them on the Diamond Resorts Owners Advocacy page on Facebook. We hope to bring you a report from them next week.

Lawyers and Their Important Role in Consumer Protection

By Attorney Mike Finn

Why You Should Sign our Petition asking a lawmaker to sponsor a Bill in 2021 requiring that timeshare buyers be offered 24 hours to review a perpetual timeshare contract before signing.

By Jordan Raskin

May 17, 2019

Our petition preparing to launch:  

https://www.care2.com/?fbclid=IwAR3w3tungUxAWYjY3fSro_WJBRUKB9pe99LiJ_9ur8T5WZOyC9wHsyswqZc

Provide the timeshare consumer 24 hours to review, at least think about, their decision to sign a lifelong perpetual contract, with no secondary market, often without even having tried the product, and often not allowed access to the booking site until after the rescission period.

This offer could be waived if the buyer chooses, either due to the certainty that the buyer wants the product, or the need to sign because the vacation is ending soon.

This offer should not be buried in the electronic fine print. It should be a separate disclosure presented and signed before the sales presentation. The price per point offer would be required to be maintained for 24 hours.

What’s so unfair about that?  

Introduction by Irene Parker

Never mind a lawyer! We’d settle for our mom, dad, son, or daughter!

Both the Florida and Nevada Bills referenced in Mike Finn’s article below, asking that timeshare exit providers provide buyers 24 hours to review their contract before signing, died in committee: Florida HB 2639 and Nevada SB 348 bill are dead  

SB 1430 Companion Bill to Florida HB 2639 Vacation and Timeshare Plans

http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2019/01430

SENATE – Died in Innovation, Industry, and Technology

How do you separate the wheat from the chaff? There are legitimate lawyers and lawyers with questionable business practices. I have contacted a number of exit company providers to inquire about the volume of calls they received. Two of the major exit companies say they receive between 3,000 to 3,500 calls each month from timeshare buyers desperately seeking release from timeshares they were told would be easy to sell. Each company only accepts less than 200 callers as clients, as the member must meet specific criteria of unfair and deceptive sales practices.  

Before we begin with Mike Finn’s article,  

If you are going to be in the Orlando area this weekend May 17-19 Friday – Saturday, please support our Platinum Protestors. Locations and dates provided: https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-49/

Now onto:

“Why Kill All the Lawyers?”

By Attorney Mike Finn

“Add to that advantage the fact that the purchaser purchases on the same day they’ve been introduced to the product with no ability to consult with or review the multipage purchase contract with their own legal representative and you can begin to understand the owner/purchaser’s situation years later when they ultimately seek to terminate their arguably lifelong contractual obligations contained within their timeshare purchase contract.”

It’s hard to say anything about lawyers that haven’t already been said. They are both revered and reviled as staunch proponents and champions of justice or as avaricious opportunists. The profession is comprised of all types, from the most learned jurists to the slightly seamier side of humanity. We lawyers share the same spectrum of positive human qualities and negative frailties as the rest of our species.

The import of this article is less related to the issues of lawyers individually, but rather to the role of the attorney as consumer advocate within the legal system. I speak to the issue of what removing lawyers, or significantly diminishing their role to effectively represent their consumer clients, does to strengthen or weaken consumer protection in general, as a matter of national policy.

Currently, there is pending in at least two states with a significant timeshare presence, Nevada and Florida, House and Senate Bills sponsored by ARDA, the timeshare industry’s trade association. Ostensibly, per the statements made by ARDA’s political arm, ARDA-ROC (American Resort Development Assoc.-Resort Owners Coalition), the primary intent of these Bills is to enhance consumer protection. However, to some of us on the consumer side of the equation, we suspect there may be a darker, more industry serving purpose. These Bills seek to regulate two separate and quite distinct groups, lawyers and timeshare exit companies.

There can be no argument that some regulation is warranted, specifically in regard to the unlicensed and unregulated timeshare exit companies; however, this ‘shotgun style’ approach of lumping-in lawyers with this proposed legislation will if passed, create some chilling and decidedly consumer-unfriendly impacts on the timeshare consumer/owner.

To further distinguish these totally disparate entities, lawyers are already both licensed and extensively regulated by their respective State Bar Associations. Additionally, as lawyers, (and unlike exit companies) we are specifically trained and educated to handle matters involving contract disputes, as well as debtor/creditor rights issues and other relevant matters that may well arise in the course of a controversy. Without getting too far into the weeds, I think it’s fair to state that the pending State Bills are clearly designed to severely limit and restrict the involvement of both timeshare exit companies and, from my perspective, more importantly, lawyers, in terms of their ability to provide services to timeshare owners seeking third-party assistance in terminating or modifying their timeshare purchase contracts.

To summarize the owners’ plight, many owners didn’t realize that their purchase contracts did not include a way to terminate their contract when they could no longer utilize their timeshares because of life changes, like aging, job loss, divorce, death of a spouse, or other major life changing events. This issue wouldn’t be so troublesome if it were not for the fact that there exists little to no resale value or market for these timeshare interests, trapping owners who cannot continue to derive any benefit from their ownership, but remain legally bound by their purchase contract, subject to annual rising maintenance fees and other contractual liabilities.

The ‘timeshare exit’ industry sprang into existence to fill the market void created when the timeshare developers themselves were unwilling to offer owners relief from essentially ‘lifelong and perhaps beyond’ contracts. This exit industry includes lawyers who focus on consumer timeshare owner issues as part and parcel of their law practices, and exit companies, non-lawyers who claim industry knowledge and apparent ability to act on behalf of timeshare owners in their negotiations with timeshare developers or property owner associations.

The focus of this article will remain on the lawyer and not the exit company. It’s important to distinguish between these two different kinds of organizations and avoid comparing the two. They are completely and totally unlike and should not be combined or grouped together in these Bills. It’s impossible to make any logical form of comparison beyond stating that each seek to represent the consumer timeshare/owner in dealing with the respective owner’s timeshare situation. Combining the two and treating them as equals in proposed legislation is grossly inaccurate and inappropriate. It only adds to consumer confusion!

Attorneys have undergone extensive education and training and have prepared for and passed a state mandated Bar examination in order to prepare themselves for dealing with contested and controversial legal issues. Our legal system is by definition adversarial in nature. Justice involves a process by which parties on each side of a controversy present, through their selected legal representative, their respective position to an impartial determiner of the facts in order to produce a just outcome. Indeed, our very symbol of justice is a robed and blindfolded woman holding a scale aloft in her hand.

Each side, through its appointed legal representative, presents its best case to the referee, hearing officer, or judge and jury. At the end of the contest, the winning side, through presentation of evidence and persuasion, tipped the scales in its favor. This is our legal system, or at least the portion of it that decides controversies. Add to our justice system the requirement that each side starts off with a level playing field. Neither side has gained an unfair advantage prior to the contest commencement. As a condition of fundamental fairness, may the side with the most compelling case for justice win!

What can skewer the ‘level playing field’ aspect of the justice model, is if one of the players gets to the game before the other side, gaining a one-sided advantage. Arguably, that’s exactly what the Timeshare Developer has been able to do. Since the state requires the Developer to register and apply for a license to market timeshares within that particular state, the Developer has prepared its purchase contracts and other disclosure documentation and submitted them to the appropriate state agency well in advance of its initial sale. It’s probably fair to suggest that these purchase agreements were prepared by an able team of lawyers with the Developer’s best interests in mind. In fact, the only remaining task for the Developer’s sales team at the time of consumer purchase is to fill in the blanks on the preprinted purchase contract with the purchaser’s name and other pertinent information.

Add to that advantage the fact that the purchaser purchases on the same day they’ve been introduced to the product with no ability to consult with or review the multipage purchase contract with their own legal representative and you can begin to understand the owner/purchaser’s situation years later when they ultimately seek to terminate their arguably lifelong contractual obligations contained within their timeshare purchase contract.

Now that you can envision, from the consumer’s perspective, the un-level playing field that the consumer finds themselves on at termination time, and add to that the circumstances that would exist if the Timeshare Developers are successful in passing these new laws. These Bills, if passed, would further restrict the consumers’/owners’/members’ ability to seek justice within the legal system, if the lawyers’ ability to represent the consumer is constrained and restricted.

From where I sit, as lawyer representing timeshare owner/consumers, it appears that the timeshare industry is dissatisfied with its already existing unfair advantage over their consumer and still seeks to tilt the field further in their favor. My advice to them (not that I anticipate them appreciating any of it) is to show a kinder, gentler aspect to your loyal owners by either recognizing and permitting an easier contract termination, or, at minimum, not further attempting to restrict their right to effective legal representation as they seek relief from their onerous timeshare purchase contracts.

Respectfully submitted,

Michael D. Finn, Esq.

Thank you Mike and Irene for this week’s edition of Letter from America, these articles are certainly helping many timeshare owners see exactly what is going on in the murky world of timeshare.

If you have any views or comments on any article published then use our contact page we would love to hear from you. Do you have a story to tell, be it a positive one or a “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”, which you would like to share, then contact us and we will help you to submit an article.

Well, that is all for this week, remember the Platinum Protest and show your support, have a great weekend and join us again next week.

The Tuesday Slot

Today on The Tuesday Slot we welcome another new contributor Laura Crow with her very own “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”, with an introduction by Inside Timeshares very own Irene Parker. These stories are now becoming all too familiar on our pages, with new “Nightmares” being received on an almost daily basis. It seems that not a single day goes by without another email pleading for help, many of these are from seniors and veterans. We do have to ask when will the industry change the way it works?

It is now only a few days to go before the start of the Platinum Protests in Orlando, the dates are 17 to 19 May, see the link at the end of Laura’s article.

We are timeshare trapped!

By Laura Crow

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Introduction by Irene Parker

Laura Crow was told the California Attorney General only acts when it is in the interest of the public? Why then, have Arizona, New York, Tennessee, Missouri and Wisconsin AGs, to name a few, launched investigations and negotiated settlements when they received a volume and pattern of timeshare complaints?

Timeshares rank second on the list of complaints to the state in Connecticut in 2018, according to the state Office of the Attorney General

Do you have a story idea? We want to hear from you! Fill out the complaint form on the NBC CT Responds page or call 844-303-RESP, (844) 303-7377. More #NBCCT Responds archive here.

https://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/local/Timeshare-Troubles–What-To-Do-Before-You-Buy-and-Sell-504017151.html

Each state has a different protocol for filing a timeshare complaint. In California and Nevada, timeshare complaints must be filed with the state’s real estate division against a particular agent. Filers should also file a complaint against the principal broker over all the brokers in the state.

Those who feel they experienced unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices should also file complaints with the FTC and the FBI at IC3.gov. Inside Timeshare has received reports of unfair and deceptive sales practices from over 800 families. Many members report being financially and emotionally devastated, having believed false claims told to them by timeshare sales agents, like the common complaints voiced today by Laura Crow. Seniors suffer physical harm as many report loss of sleep, weight loss, and symptoms of, or a recurrence of, cardiac and blood pressure problems over the stress of their timeshare nightmare.

There has been no federal enforcement. Attorneys General who have launched investigations and negotiated settlements are appreciated, but investigations and settlements have been mere speed bumps along an enormous revenue stream.

Please reach out to the FTC and FBI if you experienced unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices:  https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-47/

One of the Wyndhamtestimonials by current and former employees Laura discovered:

“Liars liars pants on fire”

Former Employee – Timeshare Sales in Daytona Beach, FL

Doesn’t Recommend

Neutral Outlook

CEO

I worked at Wyndham Destinations full-time (More than a year)

Pros

Free coffee, nice view, some friendly co-workers, company parties were fun, decent discounts

Cons

The timeshare sales department is filled with a bunch of liars. New hires have to sit through specific training on what is and is not allowed to tell customers. You are in no way allowed to tell customers that the timeshares are a good investment, that points can be used to pay the management fees, or that the timeshares can be rented out during peak periods to give them a return on their money. ALL THESE THINGS ARE NOT ALLOWED, BUT TOP SALES PEOPLE SAY ALL THESE LINES AND EVEN MORE LIES TO MAKE SALES. The top sales team are all a bunch of vultures lying to people to make a living. Customers get beaten down during the process. I’ve seen documents forged and old terms given to customers to secure their signature. If you have a conscience, do not work there. If you like lying to people to make money and can obtain a real estate license and have a clean background, lying to people during a timeshare presentation is much more lucrative than lying to people on the phone. If this is the type of scummy person you choose to be, then Wyndham is a great fit. If you are a salesperson who grows a conscience, there are other jobs at Wyndham you can do, so you don’t need to just quit. Just try to transfer to a different department.

Laura Crow’s Nightmare on Timeshare Street

I am a California resident and have found other California residents online in the same leaky timeshare boat as me. We have all filed a complaint with the California Attorney General and were all told that the Attorney General can’t intervene on behalf of individuals. They only act when it is in the interest of the public. Well, how many members of the public does it take to get some kind of action?

After attending a Wyndham WorldMark presentation four years ago, we left believing we could travel anywhere, any time. Europe was the big selling point. The selling point for my husband was that we could make good money by renting out our timeshare. The timeshare would pay for itself! As many have reported, timeshares are worthless. In no way should timeshares be pitched as an income producing investment. I would advise you to run the other way if you ever encounter sales agents spouting such falsehoods.

We are trapped in a contract that has not delivered the financial gains or freedom our sales representatives assured us it would. Instead, it has turned into a financial burden. We are left with the constant stress of this hanging over us, waiting for the next hit to our credit report.

Wyndham and WorldMark could care less. I will send them a draft of this article, but safe to say they will say something like it didn’t matter what our sales agents said. That’s why the public needs to know a timeshare sales agent can get away with saying anything to make a sale. What product would you buy for $25,000 to $100,000 or more that becomes worthless a second after your contract rescission period ended, should you need to dispose of the product?   

Our experiences with Wyndham are the same as so many other timeshare buyers, irrespective of the company. Instead of boring you with our Wyndham narrative, I will draw your attention to the lethargy and inaction on the part of regulatory authorities, authorities who are supposed to have our best interests at heart.

I understand that the BBB is not a government agency and has no power to enforce the law or compel a business to act ethically, but I wonder how it is possible for Wyndham to have such a volume of complaints (over 2000) and bad reviews, yet still maintain a C+ rating. About the time when I filed my BBB complaint, there was a warning from the BBB about a pattern of complaints concerning sales practices. That warning has mysteriously been taken down. How did that happen? My next step is to contact Alexis Castro at the Nevada BBB to find out.

It was the same story with the CDRE (California Division of Real Estate). Mr Aiu of the compliance division has been good enough to communicate with me but told me cases are judged on an individual basis, so no point mobilizing a group to achieve strength in numbers.

Hmm, where have we heard that before? The Catholic Church sex abuse scandal and #metoo comes to mind. This dismissal plays right into the hands of Wyndham. My complaint basically comes down to ‘he said, she said’ but ‘we said, he said’ is needed. Someone, somewhere, a regulator, a lawmaker, a media outlet; something needs to happen. If women followed Mr Aiu’s advice, we would still not be allowed to vote.

ARDA, The American Resort Development Association has been quoted as saying; “Timeshares are a highly regulated product.” Big timeshare paints a portrait of happy timeshare campers idling on the beach, but there are thousands of complaints to be found on the internet. Comments from current and former Wyndham employees, like the comment above and additional comments below, support my allegations. If you would like to test my thesis, compare the number and nature of complaints about a hotel brand, contrasted with the number of complaints directed against that same company’s timeshare brand.   

There are state and federal laws prohibiting unfair and deceptive sales tactics, yet the timeshare industry is going strong. I read about lawsuits and AG cases against Wyndham, like the $20 million a jury awarded to former Wyndham sales agent and whistleblower Trish Williams. Even that has done little to stop unfair and deceptive sales. Wyndham and other companies pay out some money, toss in some media window-dressing dollars, and carry on like nothing happened.

I am in it to win it. I will be reaching out to the media, starting with NBC. I will continue to search out agencies that may intervene or advocate on my and other owners’ behalf. Until the FTC, the FBI, or more state AGs act, public awareness is our only safeguard. That is why I am writing this article. It is not acceptable for timeshare sales agents to lie, deceive, misrepresent and withhold information about their product in order to make a sale.

Here are more Glassdoor.com anonymous reviews by current and former Wyndham sales agents rating the company. Their comments support our allegations of deceptive sales practices.

https://www.glassdoor.com/Reviews/Employee-Review-Wyndham-Destinations-RVW3171503.htm

Here are some reviews by salespeople at Wyndham. You are enabling this behaviour by

Helpful (4)

“If you have integrity – don’t even think to work here”

Cons

You are 100% on commission. The only way to sell is lying to customers, the quota is very high and management is very unprofessional. On an everyday basis, you will hear from current owners how disappointed they are with timeshare product – it makes very hard to sell a product that does not do any good for people.

“In House Sales”

The way to making real $ is if you are okay with lying to people, otherwise, you can make an average living 40K or so. The biggest issue is that upper management acts like they have blinders on, making employees sign statements that they will not say certain things, while direct managers teach the sales techniques that encourage embellishments! Really?

Nov 7, 2018

Helpful (1)

“Sales Rep”

Current Employee – Outside Sales Representative in New Orleans, LA

Recommends

Positive Outlook

CEO

I have been working at Wyndham Destinations full-time (Less than a year)

Pros

I can’t even think of one

Cons

Wyndham Destinations over promises and vastly under delivers on potential income – the possibility for large income prospects are there though minutely small. The fact is it’s very hard to even make a living wage. It’s timeshare sales so very very few leads are actually even viable. Additionally, management regularly and actively encourages sales reps to oversell what clients are actually buying, to mislead, misdirect and ultimately be dishonest with prospects and do anything to get the sale.

Aug 21, 2018

Helpful (1)

“Vacation Ownership Sales”

Former Employee – Inside Sales Representative in Atlantic City, NJ

Doesn’t Recommend

Negative Outlook

CEO

I worked at Wyndham Destinations full-time (More than 3 years)

Pros

Some of the people that work there are nice.

Cons

Being trained to lie to clients to sell them points to travel. If you don’t lie, there is no way to make money. Taking advantage of older people and ripping off their retirement funds is not my idea of how to make a living. The worst thing is that management rewards the biggest liars by sending them off on a beautiful vacation and calls it “President’s Club”. If you ever meet a President’s Club sales rep, RUN! There is nothing they are about to tell you that is remotely close to being true.

Jun 30, 2018

Helpful (1)

May 11, 2018

“Vacation Ownership Sales”

Former Employee – Sales Associate in Clearwater, FL

Neutral Outlook

CEO

I worked at Wyndham Destinations full-time (Less than a year)

Pros

Can make great friends among certain Co-workers, free meals, beautiful office space, earning potential is attainable if you possess the skill sets.

Cons

Favouritism from management, unethical sales process, you should not have to lie about what you’re selling if the product is as good as you say it is. Draw sucks

“Front Line Sales – Not for everyone”

Former Employee – Front Line Sales Representative in New Orleans, LA

Doesn’t Recommend

Neutral Outlook

CEO

I worked at Wyndham Destinations full-time

Pros

I genuinely liked most of the people I worked with.

Cons

Marketing can bring in some completely unqualified tours so when you work on straight commission, it can be extremely frustrating. Management’s take on it is complete oblivion if that marketer meets (and exceeds) their numbers. This job can be emotionally draining – especially when you talk to people about vacationing all day and then get little wiggle room to take your own time off (again, management will bend over … if you are selling). I never sacrificed my morals to make a sale but, unfortunately, I saw many people that did.

“Scam”

Former Employee – Vacation Sales Consultant in Clermont, FL

Doesn’t Recommend

Negative Outlook

CEO

I worked at Wyndham Destinations (Less than a year)

Pros

Work life balance. nothing else is good about this job.

Cons

If you are heartless and enjoy lying to people including elders and single moms, then maybe you can do very well here.

Save the Date!

The Platinum Protest is this weekend May 17-19 in Orlando. Contact Inside Timeshare for more information. On May 17 protesters will meet outside the Florida timeshare division office.

Contact Inside Timeshare if you would like to join Laura Crow’s efforts. Here are some self-help groups we feel are not industry influenced. There are honest sales agents and many who use and enjoy their timeshare. That doesn’t mean sales agents who deliberately mislead should be allowed to continue unchecked, report after report confirms, especially in Florida and Nevada. Thank you, Laura Crow, as we welcome our newest active advocate for change.

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

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

Well that’s it for today, if you have any comments or would like to share your views with others, then use our contact page, Inside Timeshare would love to hear from you.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to another edition of our Letter from America, this week we ask for your support to the protests planned for May 17th to 19th, this is another in a series of protest that disgruntled timeshare owners have staged. The protest centres on “Unfair and Deceptive Timeshare Sales Practices”, this is a subject of many of the complaints received and also of the many “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” articles we have published.

Following on from our Tuesday Slot and the lawsuit between Diamond & Aaronson here is an editorial by Timeshare Insider.

Irene Parker is not under the jurisdiction of the court over the lawsuit Diamond Resorts filed against attorney Austin Aaronson, so she is not obligated to keep terms of the settlement of Diamond Resorts v Austin Aaronson confidential, as requested by Diamond’s outside legal counsel, attorney Richard Epstein of Greenspoon Marder. However, Irene wishes to respect the wishes of Judge Dalton.

Suffice to say this is what Diamond CEO Michael Flaskey reported to the media:

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/diamond-resorts-pleased-to-announce-settlement-with-timeshare-exit-attorney-in-efforts-to-protect-customers-300846745.html

This is what eye-witness Irene Parker reported:

You decide

Inside Timeshare received Diamond Platinum member complaint #82 yesterday, yet another Diamond Platinum member alleging they were up-sold into insolvency, promising maintenance fee relief programs, or programs that would allow the ability to sell points, programs that do not exist.

Hence, Diamond Platinum Member 82 Protest in Orlando next Friday, May 17 to 19. You don’t have to be Platinum to join.

Save the Date! Our next Platinum 80 Protest is in Orlando

May 17 – 19 Two Locations:

Location 1: Friday May 17 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.  

Florida Timeshare Share Division DBPR Office

400 West Robinson Street, Orlando

Location 2: Saturday Sunday May 18 and 19 – 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Near Disney World

535 S Apopka Vineland Road and Palm Parkway, Orlando

You don’t need to be Platinum to Join Us!

Protesting Unfair and Deceptive Timeshare Sales Practices

By Platinum Protest Organizers

Friday May 10, 2019

When we protested in March in Las Vegas, we protested on behalf of 70 Diamond Resorts Platinum members alleging that they had been intentionally targeted for their loyalty and deliberately up-sold into insolvency. Since then we have grown to 81 Platinum members, many similar if not identical complaints. We believed in programs to pay maintenance fees that do not exist. Others say they were told if they purchased additional points, they would be able to sell points.  

By their own admission, Florida’s Attorney General’s Office and the timeshare division, Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) will take no action unless a member can produce proof. Given Florida demands proof, Florida should change from a two-party state to a one-party state, meaning make it legal to record a timeshare sales presentation without the other person aware. Otherwise, how can there ever be proof? They don’t even let you take what sales agents scribble on paper.

There are many things that cannot be determined by reading a timeshare contract.  One member reported that he was shown at a Virginia sales centre a “Special Sales Double Platinum” booking site, but if he had given up his deed he would no longer be able to book the weeks he had owned for years at the Silver loyalty level. He would not have found this out until after the rescission period, as members report not being allowed onto the booking site until after this period to cancel has passed.

His online Diamond account is a “Special Sales Double Platinum Account” (a descriptive term as there is no such thing as a Double Platinum loyalty level). It shows everything in the system and probably quite a bit more, but did not display what we would have access to using the proposed 15,000 points (for two weeks).     

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. This fits with our members reporting that all timeshare complaints they submitted, DBPR responded, “Verbal representations are difficult to prove.”  

Diamond points sell for around $4 a point. Platinum members own a minimum of 50,000 points. By 2018 maintenance fees had increased to $8,631. Out of 81 Platinum complaints, 42 members report that they were told of maintenance fees relief programs that they later learned did not exist and 16 specifically report that they were told they could pay maintenance fees at $.30 per point.

Only Platinum loyalty level members can pay maintenance fees at $.04 per point. If a member turned in 50,000 points, redeemed at $.04 per point, it would mean they would be credited $2,000 towards a maintenance fee bill of $8,631 with no points left to travel. Members report that when they complain about being told they can turn in points to pay maintenance fees at $.30 per point, Diamond responds describing a legitimate 30/30 program that offers travel discounts. This program has nothing to do with paying maintenance fees at $.30 per point.

Platinum 81 Complaint Statistics:   

Seniors:  54 out of 81 member complaints are seniors, 65%

21 out of 81 are Veterans, Active Duty Service Members, Law Enforcement, 20%

Other Reports of Unfair and Deceptive Practices

  1. If you buy the additional points, you will be able to sell your points. Contact me when you want to sell points. When the member contacts the agent, the email or call goes to the VP who responds that there is no program to sell points.
  2. If you purchase these additional points, you will be part of the Legacy program and your heirs will not be liable for the points.    

We want consumers to Beware and Be Aware. Similar complaints have been directed against other timeshare developers and sales agents as well. Understand:

  • You may be browbeaten for hours by a tag team of three against two,
  • You can record in some states like Arizona and Nevada,
  • Most contracts are perpetual, and,
  • There is no secondary market.
  • Points may list a retail price of $9, but this does not mean points are worth $9. It has been widely reported timeshare points are worth nothing.
  • You don’t have to give up a deeded timeshare for any reason,
  • If you insist on 24 hours to review documents, you can still buy tomorrow.

Diamond members involved in the 2017 Arizona Attorney General’s investigation report that the Arizona AG’s office received over 900 complaints accusing Diamond of violating Arizona’s Consumer Protection laws. Diamond settled for $800,000 and was issued an Assurance of Discontinuance, essentially keeping Diamond under state supervision for six years.

We all actually liked Diamond Resorts and enjoyed using our points. We had built up trust over the years adding to our points. We feel 81 of a company’s highly loyal members, reporting similar to identical complaints, is proof. The fact that Diamond has dismissed us all as misunderstanding is telling. Bear in mind that we are only banding together as Platinum members. There are many similar to identical complaints reported by Silver, Gold, and lower level Valued members.

T-Shirts will be on Sale for $25 to help defray signage expenses.

Thank you Charles Thomas for being our Voice!

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

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

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

If you are able to join them or are in the area, please go along and give them your support, for those of us unable to attend, we will be with you in Spirit. We also look forward to publishing your report on the protest.

That’s it for another week, the weekend is upon us and it is time to relax, have a great weekend and join us again next week.


The Tuesday Slot: Diamond v Aaronson Trial

Welcome to another edition of The Tuesday Slot, today Irene Parker reports on days 2 and 3 of the Diamond v Aaronson Law Firm trial, which ended 3 days earlier than expected with a settlement.

Yesterday Inside Timeshare published the article about the Modern Honolulu Hotel and the redundancy of workers, this has already prompted many comments from our readers. The one factor they all share is their disgust at the lack of compassion and sheer greed of Diamond Resorts. Well, this is a fact we are all too well aware of at Inside Timeshare, as our “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” stories have shown.

So now for Irene’s report on the trial that has kept our readers in suspense.

Diamond Resorts v Aaronson Law Firm Trial

Lawsuit Resolved by Settlement

Anatomy of a Timeshare Trial:  A Summary

By Irene Parker

May 7, 2019

Day 1: https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-48/

The lawsuit Diamond Resorts filed against Austin Aaronson resolved by settlement Thursday, May 2nd on day three of what had been anticipated to be a six-day trial.

The crux of the lawsuit seemed to focus on a man in a grey suit that appeared in a video on Austin Aaronson’s website alleging that Diamond misappropriated maintenance fees. Diamond Resorts owns 10 to 15% of outstanding points. Currently, there are over a billion points outstanding. Members own approximately 85% of the outstanding points. Mr Charles Meltz, attorney for Mr Aaronson, presented the following figures:  

Member assessments budgeted: $141 million

Actual member assessments paid: $146 million

Developer assessments budgeted: $8.6 million

Actual developer assessments paid: $4.8 million

Plaintiff’s witnesses included Steven Wolf who testified that he conducted a forensic examination of 120 Diamond members who had stopped paying loans and maintenance fees. Diamond sells timeshare points as Collections. Diamond’s US Collection, Hawaii Collection and Diamond Resorts International Points were examined, in addition to an examination of maintenance fees and Club Fees that had not been collected.

Each group was broken down into three periods of time:

  • Period A consisted of the period of time from when a Diamond member had retained Austin Aaronson, going forward to July 31, 2018
  • Period B 30 days prior to retaining Mr Aaronson, and
  • Period C, the period of time beyond 30 days, prior to retaining Mr Aaronson.

For example, concerning the US Collection:

Period C beyond 30 days: $242,365,904 in uncollected funds

Period B 30 days prior to retaining Mr Aaronson: $295,455 in uncollected funds

Period A from the time Mr Aaronson was retained: $2,365,904

Total for the four groups in uncollected funds: $4,578,838

Judge Dalton asked if this amount had been reduced to summary judgment. It had not. He ruled that this amount was speculative.

Plaintiff’s witness Steven Wolf is with Capstone Advisory Group, LLC

http://www.mondaq.com/p/873000/Steven+Wolf/Capstone+Advisory+Group%2C+LLC

Mr Wolf’s firm was paid $250,000 for the forensic analysis and $475 per hour to observe the trial from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 30 and May 1 through his testimony that continued through Thursday morning May 2.

Three former Diamond members testified as witnesses for the Plaintiff.

Witness 1 testified that buying additional points did not improve availability. He had purchased a total of 26,500 points. Diamond had sued witness 1 for $170,000, which included arbitration fees. The judgement against witness 1 was wiped clean in exchange for his testimony. Witness 1 confirmed that he was aware of Mr Aaronson’s website that stated the firm had leverage over Diamond resorts due to misappropriated maintenance fees and a breach of fiduciary duty.

Witness 2 testified on behalf of his mother about his contacting Aaronson Law Firm and that he was told Aaronson Law Firm had leverage over Diamond because Diamond was not handling maintenance fees correctly.

Witness 3 was role played, reading a prior deposition. The wife had testified at an earlier deposition. Her husband was retired Army, 100% disabled, exposed to Agent Orange. He suffers from PTSD. She testified that they went to a Branson sales centre and purchased 3,000 points for $16,030.  They wanted to learn how to use the system but were told to come back within 90 days for an orientation. They attended an orientation in November 2015. At the orientation, they were told by Branson sales agent Kimberly that they had not purchased enough points. They ended up buying 27,000 additional points for $72,850 which they could not afford.

This brings to five, the number of Agent Orange disabled veterans harmed by their decision to purchase Diamond points:

  1. 70% Disabled Agent Orange exposed Army Veteran George Yamada who reported he purchased Diamond points as an investment. George is a pension administrator. https://www.opednews.com/articles/Let-s-Honor-our-Veterans–by-Irene-Parker-Fraud-180908-59.html
  2. A 100% disabled veteran, up-sold by a Diamond sales agent Inside Timeshare has received 21 complaints against. This veteran was issued a $170,000 1099 C after his loan was terminated. We pointed him in the right direction so his CPA could resolve the 1099.
  3. Leo Gomez was told he must switch from Premier Vacation Club to US Collection because his resort went bankrupt. Leo only had 30 days left to live when he contacted me, suffering from pancreatic cancer. He did not call to complain. He wanted to know what he could do about the loan. It was not true Leo needed to switch from PVC to US Collection. I own the same points. Leo was 100% Agent Orange disabled. His last words to me were, “I want my story told.” Leo earned two Purple Hearts. https://www.opednews.com/articles/A-Fourth-Agent-Orange-Vete-by-Irene-Parker-Fraud-180917-513.html
  4. A 100% disabled Agent Orange veteran earned a Purple Heart because he had been shot in Vietnam. His dispute has been resolved.

These veterans put their life on the line to protect me. I will do all I can to do my part to reform timeshare because of the 806 families who have contacted Inside Timeshare, 103 veterans and active duty service members. Five Agent Orange veterans so stressed because they purchased too many timeshare points are five Agent Orange disabled veterans too many.

Attorney Charles Meltz asked about the likelihood of someone age 88 meeting the obligations of a ten-year loan.

Diamond’s attorney Richard Epstein of Greenspoon Marder responded,

“Are old people allowed to take vacations?”

This comment follows recent publications describing how the Lusk family, nearly 90, were sold $150,000 worth of timeshare points, as reported by USA Today and Diane Burkhardt’s father sold $250,000 worth of Diamond points between the ages of 86 to 88, after Diamond refused to take back the timeshare that her father had purchased and paid for free and clear at age 85, reported by Consumer Affairs.

Inside Timeshare has heard from way too many seniors who purchased a timeshare from several developers. These seniors are stressed beyond words. Most have maintained a high credit score their entire life, now bracing for timeshare foreclosure. They signed off on high-interest rate loans and sometimes higher interest rate credit cards.

Seniors don’t need this.    

Lawsuit details:

Diamond Resorts International Inc, Diamond Resorts U.S. Collection Development, Hawaii Collection Development LLC, and Diamond Resorts Management Inc, filed a lawsuit against Austin N. Aaronson and Aaronson, Austin, PA.

Case No. 6:17-1394-ORL-37-DCI

Attorneys Richard W. Epstein, Jeffrey A. Backman, and Olga M Vieira of Greenspoon Marder LLP are plaintiffs’ attorneys. Mr Aaronson is represented by Charles J. Meltz of Grower Ketcham, Eide, Telan & Meltz, P.A.

As reported by ABA Journal January 30, 2018:

Diamond Resorts had claimed Aaronson and his law firm solicited timeshare members in an advertising campaign that weaves a false narrative, causing timeshare members to stop contract payments and subjecting Diamond Resorts to baseless arbitration proceedings.

Aaronson had claimed his firm’s advertising was not false or misleading because it constituted opinion or puffery.

http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/judges_refuse_to_toss_suits_claiming_law_firms_interfered_with_timeshare_co

Mr Meltz, attorney for Aaronson, reported how Diamond maintenance fees had more than doubled from 2007 to 2015 from $.07 per point to $.145 per point and that there is no secondary market for Diamond points.

After Thursday’s lunch break, Judge Dalton would not allow Diamond’s next witness to testify. After a consultation, attorney Richard Epstein announced that they had reached a settlement. He then asked Judge Dalton to instruct me not to report details of the settlement. Judge Dalton kindly said to me that I could report that the lawsuit was resolved by settlement.

Two additional Plaintiff witnesses had testified. The first was Kathleen Wheeler, who serves on several Diamond Resort Boards. She is one of four asset managers. The second was Lisa Levere, VP of Operations and Financial Services. Both testified as to the audited care and attention taken to ensure maintenance fees are not misappropriated. Due to the settlement reached, the defence did not have an opportunity to call any of their witnesses to support their allegations that Diamond misappropriated maintenance fees. I was looking forward to hearing how witnesses called by the defence were to support their claims.

I was employed by CASA, Court Appointed Special Advocates for children in foster care. For three years I wrote court reports and edited our volunteers’ CASA reports. I attended all hearings and trials. I miss Family Court, so I have to admit I am a courthouse buff. Following are the trials remaining for the rest of 2019:

Westgate v. Mitchell Sussman, Esq. – 6:17-cv-1467 (MD FL)

July 1, 2019 trial before Judge Dalton (cross-MSJ’s pending)

OL v. RHA 17-cv-1542-Orl-31DCI (MD FL)

August 5, 2019 trial before Judge Presnell (cross-MSJ’s pending)

Wyn v. Totten Franqui Law Firm 9:18-cv-81055 (SD FL)

September 10, 2019 trial before Judge Middlebrooks

I will be there

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

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

Thank you, Irene, Inside Timeshare and our readers really appreciate you giving up your valuable time to attend the hearing and covering this story. One thing is certain, Inside Timeshare will continue to report on Diamond Resorts and any other timeshare company, we do this in the interest of our readers and all consumers. We make no apology about it and do not really care if it upsets the industry!

If you have any comments on this or any article published, please use our contact page, we welcome and value them.

Have you had a “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” if so, we would love to hear from you. If you would like your story to be shared with our readers lets us know and we will be happy to publish.

Start the Week: Hotel Employees to be Laid off in Hawaii

Welcome to the start of another week in the world of timeshare, unfortunately, we begin with bad news. It has been reported that around 78 employees have been given notice at the Modern Honolulu Hotel, a Diamond Resorts owned property.

Modern Honolulu

The Modern Honolulu is a full-service hotel, purchased by Diamond Resorts in April 2018, it is also one of the 21 hotels and timeshares in the network of Diamond Resorts managed or affiliated properties internationally.

Diamond has expressed an interest in either partially or fully converting the hotel into timeshare use. They have also planned on reducing guest services such as daily room service, banquets, meetings and catering. It has also been reported they have not yet received any timeshare registration approval from the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs or any of the relevant permits required to build or renovate hotel rooms for timeshare use.

The layoffs will account for around 30% of the workforce, it will impact many departments such as housekeeping, banquets, pool, in-room dining, reservations and of course the bar, restaurant and kitchens. These workers are being represented by the trade union UNITE HERE Local 5.

According to Gemma Weinstein, President of Unite Here Local 5, “Timeshares have shown over and over again that they hurt Hawaii more than they help. They pay less than hotels, the work is harder, and they provide less jobs. They negatively affect the guests’ experience in Hawaii by charging exorbitant maintenance fees while cutting guest services. Companies like Diamond Resorts are bad for Hawaii.” She also pointed out that this is going to destroy the lives of 78 families.

One worker a housekeeper at the Modern Honolulu expressed her fears that this was going to hurt her family, she holds down three jobs to support them, but the job at the Modern is the only one that provides family medical coverage.

It is also noted that this decision comes very close after Diamond Resorts CEO Mike Flaskey informed Fox News that “his company is benefiting from the Trump administration’s tax cuts and deregulation.” It was also reported that Diamond Resorts in March “failed to issue paychecks to workers on time, resulting in workers incurring fees and penalties.”

Readers of Inside Timeshare are very familiar with the stories of the sales tactics of Diamond Resorts, with the incessant preying on the elderly and the many disabled service veterans we have highlighted. This is just another in the sorry tale of a company that seems to have no morals, just an insatiable appetite for money.

We will keep you updated as and when more information comes in, follow the links below for more on this story.

https://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/2019/05/03/dozens-employees-be-laid-off-waikiki-hotel-converts-timeshare/?fbclid=IwAR1pEMhF0qwr2FAe81n5c5xCUr-f_az49719GUkbvC0Q3F4FWzePHHVwTmY

Tomorrow we continue with the Diamond v Aaronson trial where Irene Parker reports on days 2 and 3 and the early ending of the trial. So join us again tomorrow.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to another edition of Friday’s Letter from America, this week Inside Timeshares Irene Parker reports on day 1 of the trial she attending in Orlando, Florida. This is a case between Diamond Resorts and Aaronson Law Firm, this is yet another law firm being taken to court by the timeshare industry.

So unlike our usual Friday editions, we will forego news from Europe and go straight to Irene’s report.

Diamond Resorts v Aaronson Law Firm Trial

Day 1 of 6: Jury Selection and Opening Arguments

Anatomy of a Timeshare Trial

By Irene Parker

May 3, 2019

Having recently experienced Part I of a deposition that lasted six hours against another law firm that provides timeshare exit assistance, I was motivated to attend a six-day timeshare trial in Orlando District Court that began Tuesday, April 30. The cost of a deposition or a six-day trial is staggering. Ultimately, the timeshare member pays. It’s too bad we can’t just sit down and talk to each other, but I guess attorneys have to make a living.

Diamond Resorts International Inc., Diamond Resorts U.S. Collection Development, Hawaii Collection Development LLC, and Diamond Resorts Management Inc, filed a lawsuit against Austin N. Aaronson and Aaronson, Austin, PA.

Case No. 6:17-1394-ORL-37-DCI

Attorneys Richard W. Epstein, Jeffrey A. Backman, and Olga M Vieira of Greenspoon Marder LLP are plaintiffs’ attorneys. Mr Aaronson is represented by Charles J. Meltz of Grower Ketcham, Eide, Telan & Meltz, P.A.

As reported by ABA Journal January 30, 2018:

The Florida suit was filed against Orlando lawyer Austin Aaronson and his firm Aaronson, Austin. In a Jan. 26 ruling, U.S. District Judge Roy Dalton Jr. of Orlando tossed RICO and malicious prosecution claims by Diamond Resorts but allowed claims for false advertising under the Lanham Act, tortious interference with contract, trade libel and deceptive trade practices.

Diamond Resorts had claimed Aaronson and his law firm solicited timeshare members in an advertising campaign that weaves a false narrative, causing timeshare members to stop contract payments and subjecting Diamond Resorts to baseless arbitration proceedings.

Aaronson had claimed his firm’s advertising was not false or misleading because it constituted opinion or puffery.

http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/judges_refuse_to_toss_suits_claiming_law_firms_interfered_with_timeshare_co

Opening day started with jury selection. Six of the eighteen potential jurors reported a negative timeshare experience:

  1. Lots of pressure from a timeshare presentation in the 80s,
  2. Purchased Marriott 30 years ago, lots of pressure,
  3. Westgate was difficult to exchange and was unsellable. An attorney was contacted. The attorney said Westgate is not sellable. Timeshare is a waste of money.
  4. Negative experience,
  5. Agents are pushy and don’t give up,
  6. An engineer said he had a negative bias.

Judge Dalton explained that Plaintiffs are required to convince the jury that Austin Aaronson is guilty by a preponderance of evidence. Criminal trials require a stricter standard – beyond a reasonable doubt.

The four claims against Austin Aaronson are:

  1. False advertising that harmed the reputation of Diamond Resorts and caused damages,
  2. Tortious interference,
  3. Intentionally publishing disparaging information on a website,
  4. Deceptive and unfair practices.

There are a total of 134 joint exhibits.

Mr Epstein, attorney for Diamond Resorts stated that there are few complaints against Diamond Resorts. He alleged Aaronson accused Diamond of wholesale unsavoury conduct.

Mr Meltz, attorney for Aaronson, reported how maintenance fees had more than doubled from 2007 to 2015 from $.07 per point to $.145 per point and that there is no secondary market for Diamond points. He explained how Diamond Resorts controlled Board of Directors hires Diamond Resorts managers to manage Diamond properties. As to the claim that Diamond misappropriated maintenance fees, both sides will bring in accounting expert witnesses to prove or disprove how maintenance fees were misappropriated.

In a lighthearted moment, Judge Dalton asked one of the Plaintiff attorneys if she was chewing gum. She was. She was asked to leave the courtroom to dispose of her gum.

Judge Dalton instructed the jury not to read newspapers, Facebook posts or blogs about the case. He said in the old day’s reporters attended the trials, but these days they just talk to those who attended as they exit the courtroom. He said he was amazed that when he reads an article about one of his trials, how little of what was reported actually happened in the courtroom. I was proud that Inside Timeshare will be in attendance for the duration of the trial taking copious notes.

Inside Timeshare and our readers just want the timeshare industry to admit that unfair and deceptive sales practices exist on the front end of the sale. I have always said half a problem goes away when confronted, but I doubt this will happen.

I have contacted four timeshare exit providers. Two of the larger firms report receiving 3,000 calls a month from members desperately seeking release from a timeshare contract. These firms only accept 100 to 150 cases as they require a strong case of unfair and deceptive practices. This stay vacationed or else strategy has created a timeshare exit industry timeshare developers want to crush, but Social Media is not going to put this Pandora back in her box. The lack of a secondary market is financially devastating family after family.

Greenspoon Marder contends all is well because Diamond Resorts has 460,000 timeshare members with few complaints. I feel 6,000 families reaching out to just two timeshare exit providers monthly is a real problem. There is no other product that has spawned an entire industry devoted to responding to customers with nowhere to turn, desperately seeking release from unused and unwanted timeshares. Many report they learned they were duped just days or minutes past the rescission period.

In Florida, timeshare division reviewers received 1,600 complaints in 2017 and 1,600 complaints in 2018, mostly about the initial sales presentation, 50% seniors. The AG engaged 42, mostly about timeshare resales. That means 1,600 families annually feel they were duped by a timeshare, there is no secondary market, maintenance fees doubled in seven years for at least one timeshare company, and this is not a problem.

Yes, it is.   

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

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

Than you Irene, we look forward to further reports on this trial and I’m sure that all Inside Timeshare readers are hoping that the outcome will be in Favour of Aaronson. One thing is certain, Diamond does not like criticism, but Inside Timeshare will continue to publish the “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” stories of our readers, be they Diamond or any other timeshare company.

In Spain, Diamond has lost in the courts for selling illegal contracts, along with other timeshare companies, many of them are the big players in Europe. Spanish timeshare law is based on the European Timeshare Directives but has been strengthened to protect consumers of unfair, misleading, predatory sales tactics and illegal contracts. It leads the way in Europe and we may see other countries following suit.

If you have any comments on this or any article or have a “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” story of your own, then use our contact page and get in touch we look forward to hearing from you.

Have a great weekend and join us again next week.  


The Tuesday Slot

Welcome to The Tuesday Slot, this week Irene Parker asks the question Wait! What Timeshare Regulations? But first, we have an update on the last 2 weeks of court cases in Spain, these figures came in late Friday afternoon, just a little too late to include in Friday’s Letter from America.

In total, Canarian Legal Alliance has received 38 sentences by various courts in Spain, these have been against 3 of the major players in European timeshare and are broken down as follows.

In one of the High Court sentences against Anfi, they were also ordered to repay the client the in-house finance including interest, this may just be good news for others who purchased their timeshare using in-house finance. It certainly sets a precedent.

The total amount which will be returned to the clients is an incredible 1,310,533.00 €, plus in most of the cases the return of legal fees and legal interest. All contracts were also declared null and void leaving them all timeshare free.

At least in Spain, there are regulations that protect consumers, so now on with our Tuesday article with Irene.

Women Who Money

Are Timeshares Worth the Money in the Long Run?

https://womenwhomoney.com/timeshares-worth-money/?fbclid=IwAR0bYNP97–z3c_zLuiKII59MamwEsSaCA6exdi6GdNOspnL26F88c09eeg

Wait! What Timeshare Regulations?

By Irene Parker

April 30, 2019

I enjoyed reading Are Timeshares Worth the Money in the Long Run? published by Women Who Money.  I agree with the author’s major points, except “regulations being in place to protect timeshare consumers.” Having heard from timeshare members about how easy it is for a timeshare sales agent to dodge a contract rescission period, I wonder if there is any foolproof way to prevent being scammed. Some things, like actual availability, cannot be discerned by reading the contract. My contract said, “You can sell your points. We will not assist you.” The part about no buyers was left out. I was duped by reading the contract.

House, Senate and Assembly Bills are flying across the country. The timeshare PAC ARDA ROC was successful in extracting consumer protection measures out of Arizona HB 2639, as reported by The Courier Daily.

“They’ve got a lobbying presence here and around the country,” added Amanda Rusing who lobbies for the office, “It was very disappointing to have to remove all of the stronger, pro-consumer provisions.”

https://www.dcourier.com/news/2019/apr/16/opt-out-provisions-timeshare-bill-no-longer-table/

Timeshare members “voluntarily” contribute approximately $5 million annually to ARDA ROC via maintenance fee invoices. ROC stands for Resort Owners Coalition. Why would any organization oppose offering a buyer 24 hours before signing a perpetual contract with no secondary market? Buyers are told that they have to buy the same day.

We are asking legislation be proposed that would allow the timeshare member 24 hours to review a contract before signing. We understand a member may not want 24 hours to review, so this offer could be waived. This offer should not be buried in the tap, tap, tap, electronic fine print. Members often report being held under duress for up to eight hours by a tag team of agents. Some sales centers take your driver’s license and credit card and won’t give them back.  

ARDA ROC introduced legislation in Nevada and Florida that would require those contracting with timeshare exit service providers be given 24 hours to review a timeshare exit service provider contract. This was proposed because they care about their members experiencing deceptive sales practices? Give me a break.

We would think it silly if a bill was proposed requiring those who seek to buy a car be allowed 24 hours before signing a contract. Typically when buying a car, you shop, and a tag team of agents doesn’t gang up on you for hours.

A synopsis of recent Florida, Arizona and Nevada legislation:

Timeshares are regulated by states. Since timeshare buyers typically buy a timeshare in a state other than their state of residence, lawmakers have little incentive to react to non-constituents. Lawmakers need to listen to those who bought a timeshare in their state, not just those who reside in their state.

I found the Woman Who Money article, “Are Timeshares Worth the Money in the Long Run?” on Lisa Ann Schreier’s Timeshare Crusader blog. Having worked in the industry for years, Lisa’s knowledge brings a lot to the table. Lisa is the author of Timeshare Vacations for Dummies.

From Women Who Money   

Regulations now exist to help protect consumers from high-pressure sales tactics. If you buy a timeshare and quickly regret it, you may have options for getting out of the signed contract.

https://womenwhomoney.com/timeshares-worth-money/?fbclid=IwAR0bYNP97–z3c_zLuiKII59MamwEsSaCA6exdi6GdNOspnL26F88c09eeg

Lisa Ann Schreier

Timeshare expert and author of Timeshare Vacations for Dummies

“While it is true that each state has a legally mandated rescission period, the fact of the matter is that 99% of purchasers will not read the contract within that time frame. The days of relying on the salesperson for good, solid information are over. Consumers must go into these timeshare sales pitches armed with a litany of questions and be prepared to walk out without purchasing anything if they don’t receive answers that can be pointed out within the contract.”

http://thetimesharecrusader.blogspot.com/

My husband and I used and enjoyed our timeshare for 25 years with no complaints, questions or Facebook posts. The points-based product does offer greater flexibility. We’re not saying timeshares aren’t good for many, and we know there are many honest sales agents, but I am convinced after hearing from over 800 timeshare members, current and former sales agents, managers and even an executive or two, “pitching heat” is on the upswing.

Timeshare buyers should record their timeshare sales sessions in one-party states where legal. Florida is a two-party state, so you cannot legally record without the other person aware. How is a victim supposed to obtain proof? All our readers’ Florida and Nevada timeshare complaints sent to the Nevada Real Estate Division and Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation were dismissed with “You have no proof.”  I would recommend not buying a timeshare in a two-party state.

One of our Supporters, Sheila Brust, has her “Pencil Pitch” denoting the following figures, with an arrow and “save” written alongside:

  • $8,631
  • -8,631
  • 0

According to Sheilah, the three-page pencil pitch describes how she would be able to cover all her maintenance fees through point usage. A second and third buyer bought from the same sales agent. The Florida DBPR reviewer told Sheilah that she did not understand the program either until she spoke with the company’s attorney. What chance does the average consumer have if a Florida timeshare reviewer, who has reviewed hundreds, if not thousands of timeshare contracts, did not understand the program until she spoke with the company’s attorney?

As far as proof, 83 Platinum members, who don’t know each other, reported similar to identical complaints, often against repeat offender sales agents. I’m told that constitutes proof as it is a good faith investigation and a reasonable conclusion. We have prepared a 130-page summary which is available upon request if a lawmaker or regulator is interested. We can hope.       

We are working on a petition. If you would like to become more involved with our efforts, contact Inside Timeshare. Of the 805 timeshare members who have contacted us, 103 are veterans and active duty services members.

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

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

Thank you, Irene, and also Lisa Ann Schreier for your contribution, if you have any comments or views on any article published, please use our contact page, we would love to hear from you.

If you have been contacted by any company with regards to resale, relinquishment or a claim and you are unsure if they are genuine, again use our contact page and let us know. We will point you in the right direction. Remember, doing your homework will save you in the end from losing your money.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this weeks Letter from America, today Irene Parker sets out instructions on how to file complaints with the FBI and the FTC (Federal Trade Commission). Unfortunately, many of the requests for help Inside Timeshare receives fall into the category of fraud, yet the industry still does not recognise that they need to change.

Before we start a bit of news from the Spanish Courts.

The lawyers from Canarian Legal Alliance have been at it again this week with a resounding 25 sentences issued against timeshare companies.

These have been broken down as 3 issued from the High Court and 22 from the Court of First Instance. With Anfi receiving 24 judgements against them and Club La Costa receiving 1. The Club la Costa case was heard at the court of First Instance in Fuengirola, Malaga and is the very first case to involve one of CLA’s Spanish clients. (Click on the PDF below for the court sentence).

The other cases were clients from the UK and Scandinavia, with most receiving double the deposits paid and the return of legal fees, all contract were also declared null and void.

The total amount awarded in all these cases is a staggering 828,329€. So congratulations to the clients and also the entire legal team at Canarian Legal Alliance.

Now for our Letter from America.

Timeshare Accountability Group™

FBI and FTC Filing Instructions and Talking Points

April 26, 2019

By Irene Parker

When timeshare members feel they have experienced unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices, the member should first reach out to their resort in an attempt to resolve the dispute. If informed, “You signed a contract” or “We are not responsible for what our sales agents say,” file a Better Business Bureau complaint and file a complaint with the Attorney General from the state where you signed a contract.

Unfortunately, some timeshare complaints meet the FBI definition of white-collar crime. If the complaint is of a nature that meets the following description, file with the FBI at IC3.gov or file orally by contacting an FBI field office.

# 1 IC3.gov

Timeshare fraud falls under White Collar Crime/Mortgage Fraud/Financial Institution Fraud/Fraud for Profit. click on the link below to read about mortgage fraud. The general definition of white-collar crime is “deceit, concealment, violation of trust, and bait and switch.”  

Fraud for profit: Those who commit this type of mortgage fraud are often industry insiders using their specialized knowledge or authority to commit or facilitate the fraud. Current investigations and widespread reporting indicate a high percentage of mortgage fraud involves collusion by industry insiders, such as bank officers, appraisers, mortgage brokers, attorneys, loan originators, and other professionals engaged in the industry.

Fraud for profit aims not to secure housing, but rather to misuse the mortgage lending process to steal cash and equity from lenders or homeowners.

The FBI prioritizes fraud for profit cases.

https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/white-collar-crime/mortgage-fraud

To file a complaint with the FBI, select IC3.gov from the three choices available. It’s confusing because IC stands for Internet Crime, but it doesn’t have to be about internet crime. That’s just the name of the portal. You can file a complaint on behalf of someone else. At the end of the form it will ask if you are filing on someone else’s behalf.

https://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx

Some of the information that the IC3.gov online form asks for is not necessary – fields like routing numbers, bank addresses. Don’t worry about having all that information. They are not required fields. Victim bank is the bank from where you made payments or the credit card company. Subject bank is where you send your payments.

If you receive additional information after filing an original complaint, there is a handy box to check that asks, “Is this an update to a prior report?” Start the complaint over, but check that box to add the new information.

Step #2 File an oral FBI report 24/7

You can also file orally by contacting an FBI field office. Contact the field office where you signed a contract. Members have reported some agents have spent one or two hours on the phone with them. One member met with her FBI agent!

When you call the field office, select “Submit a Tip” then wait for the white-collar crime prompt. One person ended up in the wrong pew of the right church told they had to have lost a million dollars or more to file a complaint. That’s not true.

Members report the FBI has been responsive, but the FBI agent needs to be convinced getting a lawyer will do nothing to stop the problem of timeshare fraud for profit. Timeshare companies have armies of lawyers and they can drag a proceeding on forever until the member is broke. It is an understatement to say timeshare attorneys don’t look favourably on the arbitration process.

In Florida call the Tampa Field Office

https://www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field-offices/

Whether filing at IC3.gov or orally, you can provide the name and phone number of other victims, especially if you are aware of similar complaints. That way the FBI can look up other reports directed against the same repeat offender sales agent.

Sheila Brust’s article, “Just the Facts, Ma’am” is about her experience reaching out to the FBI. Sheilah worked for New York Governor’s Office of Employee Relations. The FBI advised Sheila to file with the Secret Service because her allegation also involved credit card fraud.

www.secretservice.gov                                                       

Don’t expect to hear back from the FBI. They don’t work like that. That doesn’t mean they are not listening. It takes volumes of complaints and a pattern of complaints to launch any investigation, whether with the FBI or with an Attorney General.

Filing your own complaint requires dedication and perseverance. Resolutions can be accomplished, empowered with information the member needs to take matters into their own hands. Thinking beyond their own dilemma, members can become one of our volunteer Supporters to help others.

Our Complaint Instructions were revised by a millennial timeshare buyer who followed our complaint instructions to resolve her dispute.

How to File a Complaint revised January 25, 2019

Timeshare member complaints tend to start out convoluted and confusing. We suggest having a friend or neighbor, not familiar with timeshare, read your complaint to see if it makes sense. Provide examples. Expect to be denied. Read the reason for dismissal and respond with a rebuttal.

Saying things like “I can’t afford this” is useless. You can’t go to your home mortgage lender and say “I can’t afford my home mortgage” and expect them to take your house back. You signed a legally binding contract. If there was no deception, you are bound by the contract, although it’s possible to request a contract cancellation due to medical or financial hardship.

We refer to a lawyer about one in ten times when all else fails, or the member does not have the time or energy to follow our process, which is admittedly timeshare consuming. A list of reputable law firms is provided upon request.   

#3 File with the Federal Trade Commission

The FTC online form has a “Timeshare Sales” option. It’s not easy to find. Instructions are in this article. Don’t be discouraged by receiving only a “Here’s some timeshare tips!” response. https://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-13/

Extra Talking Points

You must inform the FBI agent why you experienced unfair and deceptive sales practices. The agent you speak with may know nothing about timeshare basics. Explain the contract is perpetual, there is no secondary market, and when members complain, the company often hides behind the oral representation clause.

Your mission is to convince the FBI that this is not about only a few complaints. This article “Timeshare Foreclosure Explained to Lenders” lists just a few of the Attorneys General investigations and lawsuits, and the St. Louis Better Business Bureau report tells consumers what to watch out for:

Timeshare Foreclosure Explained to Lenders

St. Louis BBB report

https://www.bbb.org/en/us/article/news-releases/18149-dont-fall-for-deception-pressure-and-traps-disguised-as-vacations-a-better-business-bureau-study-of-the-missouri-timeshare-vacation-club-industry?bbbid=0734

Why doesn’t the government do something about this?

  1. There is no federal enforcement,
  2. Timeshare Attorney General Investigations and settlements are usually mere financial speed bumps, comparable to fining an NFL player $10,000. One exception is The Manhattan Club settlement. https://nypost.com/2017/08/17/new-york-ag-reaches-6-5m-settlement-with-manhattan-club
  3. When a member complains, they are shown their initials on the fine print,
  4. Retaining an attorney will not stop unfair and deceptive business practices,
  5. Litigation is time-consuming and expensive,
  6. Arbitration is widely known to be pro-industry. If you lose you can end up paying the resort’s arbitration fees. The resort hires the arbitrators.
  7. The CFPB has been rendered ineffective. Even in the CFPB heyday members could not file a complaint because the borrower often doesn’t even know the name of their lender. You had to select a financial institution from the dropdown menu and timeshare companies are not a choice.
  8. Some lawmakers may be influenced by lobby dollars, as reported by The Daily Courier. https://www.dcourier.com/news/2019/apr/16/opt-out-provisions-timeshare-bill-no-longer-table/
  9. Some state AGs turn a blind eye. At a Florida legislative workshop in Tallahassee March 12 of this year, the spokesperson for the Florida AG reported their office received 1,600 annual timeshare complaints in 2017 and 2018, mostly about the initial sales presentation, 50% seniors, of which the AG engaged only 42 of the complaints, mostly about resales. This spells no enforcement. The Nevada Real Estate Division responded to all our readers with a “You have no proof letter.”
  10. Timeshare members give the ARDA ROC Political Action Committee approximately $5 million dollars annually, often “Opt-Out” donations. We have heard from over 800 timeshare members. Not one could tell us what ARDA ROC even stands for. ARDA ROC vigorously opposed recent proposed pro-consumer changes in Arizona.  

Let us know if you are active duty military, law enforcement, a government worker or a veteran, as we are supported by WhistleBlowers of America. They added timeshare fraud to their March 14, 2018 report before the Committees on Veterans’ Affairs (the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has since been all but dismantled and we changed our name from TS Advocacy to Timeshare Accountability Group):

United in Speaking Truth to Power

www.whistleblowersofamerica.org @whistleP2P

601 Pennsylvania Ave, South Tower, Suite 900 Washington, DC 20004

Statement of

Ms. Jacqueline Garrick, LCSW-C

Executive Director

Whistleblowers of America

Before the

Committees on Veterans’ Affairs

U.S. Senate

U.S. House of Representatives

March 14, 2018

House and Senate Committee Members:

Whistleblowers of America (WoA) was incorporated in 2017, as a newly focused nonprofit service organization providing peer support to whistleblowers, so we are honored to be able to share our concerns with you today. The majority of our contacts are with Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) employees or veterans who have identified waste, fraud, and abuse, medical errors, denials of care or benefits, discrimination, harassment or bullying.  For doing so, they have suffered reprisal and retaliation. From the report:

Fraud and Scams Against Veterans:

Although WoA recognizes that it is not inherent within the VA mission to protect veterans from fraud and scams that could cost them their benefits, it suggests that it could be assistive in educating veterans against these unscrupulous tactics. For example, WoA has had multiple complaints from veterans related to timeshare deceit and bait and switch tactics, which are defined by the FBI as fraud for profit.  Often elderly veterans are mentioned as being targeted by the Timeshare Advocacy Group, TM which fights for active duty and retired military who fear losing their security clearance, career, homes or other assets.  Foreclosures and financial distress because of these misrepresented investments are happening every day to elderly disabled veterans and their families. In the past, VA has cooperated with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) over mortgage and other loan scams that caused financial hardships for veterans.  Home loans and timeshare loans are identical as both are reported as foreclosures. WoA asks that Congress consider a role for the VBA Employment and Economic Initiative (EEI) could play in cooperation with CFPB to educate and protect veterans from unscrupulous financial predators and fraudulent practices.

Consider a donation to Whistleblowers of America if you have been helped by Timeshare Accountability Group™

It’s remarkable that a timeshare member must go through this many stressful hoops concerning a product that was sold to be stress reducing. If you have skills that could help others, consider becoming a Supporter. Contact TAG.

Related articles:

3Rs or F of Timeshare

The Timeshare Tax Trap, February 26, 2019

Arizona HB 2639, March 1, 2019

Arizona HB 2639, March 5, 2019

Florida HB 435, March 15, 2019

Florida HB 435, March 19, 2019

Nevada SB, March 22, 2019

Arbitration October 24 2017

Member self-help 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://www.facebook.com/groups/DiamondResortsOwnersAdvocacy/

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

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

Thank you Irene, this information should prove a great help to many of our readers, it is just a shame that we have to resort to this type of action. One day the industry may just realise that it is through their own greed that they are on the receiving end of so many complaints.

Once again the weekend is upon us, whatever you are doing and wherever you are, have a great weekend and join us next week for news and information on the murky world of timeshare.