Inside Timeshare has been publishing many articles from our friends across the “Great Lake”, only a couple of weeks ago we published the story of Irene and her husband Don being interviewed on the Property Man Show with Bob Massi. Since then the following has occurred, this does seem to be stirring up some controversy among owners on that side of the Atlantic.
FOX NEWS Bi Polar Timeshare Reporting
A treatise on propaganda and media spin
By Irene Parker
May 3, 2017
Okay FOX News – Which is it?
First we have Fox Celebrity Dave Ramsey telling us timeshare has a 98% dissatisfaction rate and that people should run as far away from the timeshare product as they can get.
As Inside Timeshare previously reported, FOX celebrities Dave Ramsey and Laura Ingraham are paid to endorse timeshare transfer agents Property Man host Las Vegas Attorney Bob Massi warns timeshare owners to stay away from.
Next, we have FOX Property Man and our interview with Las Vegas attorney Bob Massi about Diamond Resorts that was pulled from replay immediately after it was aired. Worse, what was intended to be a warning to consumers that Diamond Resorts is the only major timeshare that cannot be listed with a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association, was turned into an advertisement for the timeshare developer’s lobby, ARDA.
In our interview and on Bob Massi’s prior interview with members of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association, Mr. Massi recommended timeshare members or owners contact a LTRBA member if they need to sell a timeshare. You can do that with any timeshare except Diamond Resorts due to restrictions Diamond has placed on the use of points purchased on the secondary market more onerous than any of Diamond’s competitors. The LTRBA members feel Diamond points are worthless on resale.
Our interview will no longer be aired but what will be broadcasted in perpetuity is Diamond CEO Michael Flaskey’s interview with Maria Bartiromo, aired one week later on FOX after our interview, explaining that Diamond Resorts will be taken to a new level.
Our timeshare Advocates are there for timeshare members or owners who feel they were sold by deceit, concealment or “bait and switch” as defined by the FBI as White Collar Crime. Lawmakers and regulatory agencies have, for the most part, turned their back on an industry virtually unregulated, as expressed by Diamond member Nancy Callahan, one of six Diamond platinum members complaining about the same Las Vegas sales center.
Inside Timeshare has a number of upcoming articles submitted by new contributors, angry due to being held hostage by their vacation plan. Diamond’s contract states, “You can sell your shares, we just won’t assist you.” Anyone who has had any experience with real estate would take that to mean you can pick up the phone and talk to a licensed real estate agent. You can do that with any major timeshare but Diamond Resorts. As a former licensed stockbroker, I would have never signed a contract for a product that could not be sold through a licensed broker.
If you or anyone you know has a timeshare experience, good or bad, you would like to share, contract Inside Timeshare or one of our Advocacy Groups.
We seek to provide Diamond Resort 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.
How sad that something that is supposed to be a means to rest and relaxation has turned into a battlefield between timeshare members and developers. My husband and I used and enjoyed or Maui Hill, Port Elsewhere and ILX timeshares for over 25 years without a question, comment or post until we learned we can’t sell our timeshare.
Mr. Massi tried. He really did. But he, like me, is on the losing end of a massive amount of power that will do anything to silence the voices of those who feel they have been victimized by unscrupulous timeshare sales agents.
After retiring from the stock brokerage business, I became a CASA Supervisor, Court Appointed Special Advocate on behalf of children in foster care. CASA is known as a voice for the voiceless. I would be voiceless too if I had accepted Diamond’s offer to refund our money. I would have been just another timeshare member silenced by a CNDA or Confidential Non-Disclosure Agreement.
We were offered our money back after signing a contract based on the availability of New York properties as our daughter lives in New York City, only to learn NYC properties are affiliated so never discounted. It would take approximately $10,000 in Diamond maintenance fee dollars to stay one week in the same hotel if booked online for approximately $2600. The same holds true for Great Wolf lodge, San Francisco and other big city destinations. Ours is one of four complaints forewarned to our Advocacy group about oversold availability. Having signed a perpetual contract, consumers fall victim to the oral representation clause, often described by timeshare attorney Mike Finn as a “License to Lie”. It must stop.
It would appear that Diamond are on the offensive, or are they just running a “damage limitation exercise”?
We leave it to you the readers to decide, your comment on either Inside Timeshare or the advocacy facebook pages are always welcome.
Here we go it’s Friday again, the end of another busy week in the world of timeshare, it does seem to be a world that never sleeps. There is always something new to be reported, be it another “bogus” company or an old company coming up with a new “scam”, the ingenuity of some is beyond belief.
So far this week the news from the Spanish courts has been flooding in, with more owners having their contracts declared null & void and the return of all their money. The intrepid lawyers that form Canarian Legal Alliance have been very busy. Most of these judgements have been from the lower courts, who are applying the Supreme Court rulings with a vengeance, leaving no doubt what the interpretation of the timeshare law is.
Inside Timeshare has also been receiving a great deal of information about one company and their new product, yesterday’s article “New Name Same Company” shows the lengths some will go to appear to be different. Unfortunately for them, some of us can see through their smoke and mirrors, so we shall be keeping a very watchful eye on their activities.
On the “Bogus” law firm front Litigious Abogados and their other associated “lawyers” are still at it, the UK Action Fraud website has been receiving many reports of their activities. Inside Timeshare can also report that the Guardia Civil have an extensive file handed to them for investigation. So we wait with anticipation as to what the outcome will be.
So, now on to this Friday’s article from Irene and Irina, Resale and Rentals.
If you own or are thinking of buying a timeshare – the Bob Massi Property Man show has provided important tips for timeshare buyers and sellers. In Season 2 Florida, Mr. Massi interviewed members of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association. The LTRBA members offered important tips for consumers interested in buying a timeshare as well as tips on how to avoid a scam when a timeshare member or owner needs to sell.
As a follow up to Mr. Massi’s prior timeshare segments, my husband and I were interviewed to express concerns and problems faced by Diamond Resorts International timeshare members. There are many who use and enjoy their Diamond timeshare, but as has been widely reported, rising maintenance fees and the lack of a secondary market can spell disaster for families who need to get out from underneath their Diamond timeshare. Timeshares can cost $100,000 or more so walking away with nothing can financially devastate families.
Our interview airs this Friday, April 21 at 8:30 PM EST on FOX Business. Las Vegas attorney Bob Massi has been a champion consumer advocate for the underdog. While showcasing spectacular homes of the wealthy, he also contrasts the flip side of wealth by interviewing consumers struggling with faulty or predatory lending practices.
Mr. Massi interviewed my husband and me after receiving a multitude of complaints after his segment featuring the home of Jackie and David Siegel. The Siegels own Westgate Resorts, a timeshare company based in Florida. The segment, “The Queen of Versailles” resulted in a multitude of complaints about timeshare. The Queen of Versailles is the name of the documentary featuring the Seigel’s massive 90,000 square foot home with 30 bathrooms, a 20 car garage and a 4,000 square foot clothes closet. The original documentary took Best Director at Sundance. Many wealthy Americans have built large homes, but with enough complaints to prompt a two year Consumer Financial Protection Bureau investigation of Westgate’s business practices, I wondered about such wealth at the expense of timeshare owners unable to sell and sometimes not even able to give back their timeshare.
Mr. Massi’sLicensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association segment warned timeshare owners to work through a licensed timeshare broker. Ironically, FOX Celebrities Dave Ramsey and Laura Ingraham are paid to endorse firms like Resort Release, transfer agent firms licensed timeshare brokers warn consumers to avoid.
A sequence of events led up to our interview with Mr. Massi. My husband and I attended a grueling and demeaning timeshare presentation at Diamond ResortsGrand Beach Resort July of 2015. We had purchased two Diamond contracts with few problems, but when I witnessed the tactics being used during this predatory sales presentation, I became alarmed. I returned to our unit at Mystic Dunes, turned on the television, watched “The Queen of Versailles”, and wondered how the wealth was won.
I wrote to Mr. Massi about my concerns. Never dreaming a response, I was surprised to receive a call from a FOX producer asking if my husband and I would be willing to be interviewed by Mr. Massi. Having just accepted a position as an interim music director, I declined, but was contacted again six months later and agreed to the interview. The producer said they had a multitude of responses to their first timeshare segment, but I was the only one invited to be interviewed, as I was the only respondent who wanted to talk about the positives, in addition to the negatives of timeshare.
To prepare for the interview I contacted LTRBA member David Cortese of Magical Realty in Orlando and asked if he would list our Diamond points. David was one of the LTRBA members interviewed by Mr. Massi. David sadly informed me he doubted that any of the LTRBA members would our list Diamond points as they felt the restrictions the company places on the use of secondary points are more onerous than that of any other major timeshare company.
To me this sounded like unfair business practices and a violation of fair trade. I filed a complaint with the FTC, but they just sent an autoreply pointing me in the right direction. If thousands of people complain, they go to Congress to enact better laws. That hasn’t happened.
Timeshare attorney Mike Finn of the Finn Law Group maintains a steady 500 timeshares cases. Mr. Finn said about 20% to 25% of his timeshare cases are against Diamond Resorts. He said he has never had a Disneyclient. I asked Mr. Finn why legislators have not addressed the harm done to consumers when a perpetual contract does not have a secondary market. A secondary market is not to be confused with a voluntary surrender or exit plan as those leave the consumer who has spent $25,000 to over $100,000, often financed at 12% to 18% interest, with nothing. The timeshare developer takes back the points and resells for full value.
“Instead of shunning the secondary market, embrace it; the developers should invest some of their profits into stabilizing the resale market. Take the lesson the auto, boat and camper industries have long ago learned, that a healthy resale market is essential to the entire industry, from beginning to end there must be a continuous flow, a circle of economic life, if you will. If you can’t set up a used timeshare lot across the street from your project, at least sponsor knowledgeable licensed real estate brokers well offsite so as not to compete directly with your retail operations. Sure you’ll lose some initial business to these brokers, but by indirectly supporting these brokers, you’ll make timeshare interests affordable to the folks who really can’t afford to buy retail, but can perhaps afford to repurchase the interest of your newly divorced initial purchaser (something that you arguably owed the poor gal or guy anyway) and, more importantly perhaps, support the continuing financial health of the resort via the annual maintenance payments now to be made by the new owner, and ever crucial to the future of the resort you built and developed. Timeshare developers could take pride, not just profit, from making family vacations an affordable part of the American lifestyle by opening up that opportunity to even more folks!”
“Timeshare doesn’t need new litigation to assist the establishment of a re-sale market. All they need to do is support it from a market standpoint! They clearly have zero interest in doing that,”Mr. Finn added.
If you or someone you know has a timeshare problem, contact Inside Timeshare or one of our Advocacy groups. Our advocates are members helping other members, bringing our experience and knowledge to other members or owners while providing a clearinghouse of information about legal and legislative issues facing timeshare today.
Timeshare owners worldwide would like to thank Mr. Massi and Business Fox for bringing this important topic to the attention of the public in America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines. Inside Timeshare works with contributors and timeshare members in an ever expanding horizon.
We seek to provide Diamond Resort 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.
So there we have it, the end of another week, Inside Timeshare again thanks Irene and Irina for their contribution, we also thank all who have contributed information to help others. Next week we will be highlighting another military family who have fallen foul of the sharp practices of some timeshare sales agents. These stories are all too familiar, the consistency of the testimonies of different families bares witness to some very nasty sales techniques.
If you have a story to tell or have any information about a company that you would like to share with others, Inside Timeshare would love to hear from you.
Inside Timeshare has written many articles about timeshare transfer agents, but not often does a timeshare developer offer insights from their perspective. Kristie works in HOA Collections at a west coast legacy resort. Her job can’t be easy, so we appreciate Kristie taking the time to answer our questions.
Irene: We are grateful that you have come forward to offer a developer’s point of view. Tell us your biggest concerns.
Kristie: I am excited to have been asked to offer my thoughts concerning this difficult topic and happy to provide any assistance you may need in the future. The biggest problem we see is that only the seller has to sign the deed. One thing that might help alleviate transfer scams is if both the timeshare owner and the resort representative had to sign to sell and receive property. Year to date I have tracked 85 individuals, representing $352,000 in uncollected dues because of what we consider to be fraudulent activity.
We have been able to address many fraudulent practices by working closely with the National Timeshare Owners Association (NTOA). Our establishment met CEO Greg Crist at the TBMA Orlando Conference a few years ago. Since then, we have worked together to stop some of the seemingly never ending fraudulent activity. Greg and his team have always provided positive outcomes. I would encourage every timeshare establishment to reach out to NTOA. They are the best in the industry.
Owners pay transfer companies thousands of dollars to be relieved of their timeshare which in the end often does not relieve them. This negatively affects the current dues paying owner with Maintenance Dues increases due to “Viking ships” that have no intention of paying dues. The term Viking Ships refers to Vikings who put their dead on ships and then shipped them out to sea.
We also work with Dave Heine @ requestmyestoppel.com. His program was set up to try to assist timeshare companies in an effort to stop fraudulent transfer activities by having a place for the purchaser & seller to sign as well as the estoppel & account information pages. His program can be built into any resorts policies. This saves all parties time and money.
Real Life Examples
The following article is about a Waunakee Wisconsin businessman who took over unused timeshares for a fee and will have to refund money to owners and return the timeshares to resorts, according to a consent judgment.
“Most NTOA members are timeshare owners, but twelve HOAs have joined NTOA as non-profit Associate Members. We assist HOA members when an HOA suspects fraudulent activity by working cohesively with the resort under attack while cooperating with and coordinating regulatory and law enforcement agency efforts,” Greg explained.
“Our HOA members agree to abide by NTOA’s Timeshare Owner’s Bill of Rights and Best Practices Agreement. Most if not all legacy resorts, meaning sold out traditional timeshare resorts, fight fraudulent practices on a daily basis. When a deeded timeshare is not properly transferred, the resort must hire a lawyer to resolve “clouded title” issues. This costs a resort from $200 to $2500,” he added.
Our interview continues:
Irene: Question 1 – Have you seen a dramatic increase in owners seeking release or more children and heirs taking over their week?
Kristie: We have seen both. Individuals seek a release because either they don’t want to burden their children or they have stated the kids don’t have the money or the time. Our resort and our owners have matured. Other reasons for release include age, health, finances or are not able to travel like they used to.
If they do transfer the timeshare to the kids, they have stated it’s because they don’t want to give up the property and because of the wonderful memories. They want to keep the family tradition going.
Some of our owners have had great success selling their week and some have had difficulties. Based on feedback, it seems that it is about 50/50, with half selling on their own and half having a licensed resale company sell it.
When a customer calls we strive to give them all the information they need to make an educated decision. We advise customers about the many frauds and guarantees and to stay away from timeshare attorneys. We advise them of the transfer costs and re recording fees and even provide the paperwork they will need.
Question 3 – What are the some of the problems you have encountered when owners seek release through transfer agents?
We see fraud and incorrect deeds being prepared and recorded. It seems that nine out of ten transfer companies are fraud and when one gets shut down 20 more open up. We have seen timeshares that have been transferred to individuals and companies that keep buying them but then never pay dues.
We have new transfer policies in place for all resale companies. All companies requesting a transfer must provide their company information so we can make sure they are a legitimate company. We also cross reference addresses and phone numbers and if we find that the customer has chosen a resale company that is not legitimate we immediately advise the customer.
I am not familiar with Resort Release but I am familiar with radio hosts Laura Ingraham and Dave Ramsey and how they have endorsed certain resale companies. Unfortunately they are endorsing the wrong companies giving false information to clients. They both get paid to endorse companies to make it sound good regardless of the outcome. They are in advertising.
Most resale companies promise to get an owner out of their timeshare, but if it’s a deeded property they have to transfer the deed. The resale company might be able to get someone out of a contract, but they can’t get our customers out of a deed. The deed must be transferred to a legitimate party and all of our transfer procedures must be met for a transfer to be valid.
Question 5 – Are you familiar with Timeshare Exit Team? One of their agents contacted me and asked me to review their program. What is your opinion of this firm?
I would never endorse or advise anyone to use their services ever!! They specialize and advertise “Cancellation of Timeshare Contracts” but we don’t have contracts. We have deeds. We have chosen not to do business with Timeshare Exit Team because of their inability to follow our procedures and because of the quality of work previously sent to us.
Timeshare Exit Team has been involved with two other timeshare resale companies and/or timeshare attorneys that were involved with transferring 18 of our deeds since 2014 to four individuals that have never paid the dues and are delinquent in the amount of over $18,000. Out of the four individuals we were able to track, we learned that they are all associated with each other thru business dealings, contract employees or registered agents. They must assume that the association will eventually foreclose or take the property back but it is very costly to foreclose and we do not accept property back. It seems as long as they get their money they will make an effort, but if it doesn’t work out in their favor they just transfer the deed to anyone without making sure of whom they are selling it to.
Our newest issue is with the US Consumer Attorneys. They also specialize in Timeshare contract cancellations. They have transferred deeds to the same individuals as stated above that have never paid, and seem affiliated with timeshare Attorney Mitchell Reed Sussman.
We were never notified of the transfers and none of the procedures were followed. This seems to be a repeat of the Timeshare Exit Team accounts all over again. We would be happy to work with any timeshare resale company as long as the procedures were followed.
Question 6 – When you deny someone a release, and they foreclose, with no loan, do you or the collection agency file a lien or report this to credit reporting agencies?
The account is considered delinquent 30 days after the due date. We send a few letters before filing a lien on the property. Once the lien is recorded and the customer has received the final notice we send the account to a 3rd party collection agency. They will report the account to the credit bureau. They work the account and report it negatively for a year. After the year we pull the account out of collections and evaluate the account for litigation.
Question 7 – Are there any transfer agencies you feel are appropriate for owners denied surrenders or are they better seeking help from a timeshare attorney?
We refer our clients to a company called The Timeshare Guys @ 877-987-4897. This is a legitimate resale company that we use all the time.
We never refer our clients to a timeshare attorney. Everyone we have dealt with has taken money from our owners and not been able to perform the work they promised they would do. The timeshare attorneys send us letters telling us that their clients will no longer pay the dues and we need to transfer the deed back to the association. That is not our policy and unfortunately our customer paid thousands for something an attorney cannot do. In this situation we refer our customer to the Secretary of State, or State Bar Association to file complaints to try to get their money back.
Question 8 – If an owner is denied a release, how likely is it a transfer agent will be able to release the owner, as some transfer agents guarantee a release and others offer money back guarantees? Is there such a thing as a guaranteed transfer agent?
If our owner is denied a release, a transfer agent will certainly not be able to get the owner released. If they offer a guarantee and money back they are only deceiving the customer. The board members are the only ones that have the authority to release a client and there are policies that must be followed for that to happen and it does not happen often.
Question 9 – What do you charge an owner for a one week deed-back if your resort accepts the transfer?
Usually we charge two times the amount of the dues plus hard costs. Each owner’s request is reviewed by the board and our owner’s situation is taken into consideration. The board will never agree to transfer the deed just because the owner is tired of paying. This is deeded property like a home and is treated as such.
Question 10 – Are transfer agents necessary? If an owner is denied a release, ads say the owner can get released through a transfer agent. The deed goes back to the developer anyway and the owner can be charged $5000 or more.
Our association would rather deal directly with our owners to avoid the transfer agent fee but it seems the customer reaches out to transfer agent first. If the transfer agents were legitimate they would be helpful because they can prepare & file any paperwork.
Question 11 – Are there any other specific company names you can provide that timeshare owners should watch out for?
Kristie: There are so many timeshare resale companies that just pop-up and think they know what to do. I am not sure how they get lists of owners but they get the names and prey like wolves on consumers. Some of companies we have had the most problems with and would advise owner to stay away from are: Tek Solutions, Vacation Ventures, Resort Access, Tanya’s Timeshare, Superhealth Technologies, Sunshine Groves, Sunshine Clearing, Starla Missions, and Fireside Registry, just to name a few. Then we have the deliberate scams that timeshare attorneys and resale companies transfer to – individuals that never pay and never notify us. We usually find out about things like that when the customer gets the bill or we stumble upon it in the recorder’s office.
Irene: Thank you Kristie for answering my questions. It sounds like the popular timeshare slogan “Vacation Planning Simplified” does not apply to vacation un-planning. I learned a lot from Kristie’s answers. It will take some time to digest. Inside Timeshare will continue to unravel the mysteries of our timeshare world.
Mr. Sussman responded as follows:
While I understand their position, the simple fact is that if the timeshare had any value at all….the resort should be thrilled to take it back so that they can resell it for a profit.
Of course, since the timeshare is a liability and not an asset, the resorts refuse to take back what is essentially a lifetime financial obligation.
Senior citizens are especially vulnerable. When for health reasons or simply lack of income they are unable to utilize the timeshare the resorts have zero sympathy, refuse to take back the timeshare and then report the owner as a deadbeat to the credit reporting agencies.
Shame on them and bravo to any attorney, willing to sue or otherwise punish the resorts for taking advantage of the weak and infirm.
If a resort wants attorney’s in the field of timeshare cancellation to not feel as I do, they should simply agree to take back their timeshare when asked by their owner. Not by the attorney. Why should there have to even be attorneys in this field?
If timeshare resorts maintained a policy that would allow owners who are no longer willing and able to travel out of their timeshare, there would be no need for timeshare attorneys or timeshare transfer companies.
Mitchell Reed Sussman
Attorney at Law
The views expressed in this article are the views of the interviewee. Timeshare transfer agents and the problems resulting from fraudulent transfers – as evidenced by the Department of Justice timeshare scam report linked in our article below – is a subject Inside Timeshare will be closely following.
Inside Timeshare would like to thank Kristie for her time and insight, it gives owners / members more information on this mysterious world called timeshare. Also a big thank you to Attorney Mitchell Reed Sussman, his views on owners being able to hand back without the need of an attorney will, we believe, be welcomed by many on both sides of the pond.
We welcome your comments and stories, contact Inside Timeshare if you have something you would like to share. It you the reader who provides the information which will help others.