Welcome to this week’s edition of Letter from America, but first some breaking news from Tenerife. As we already know several companies owned and operated by Mark Rowe, are under investigation in the UK by the Regional Organised Crime Unit, Somerset & Avon Police following raids in the UK and Tenerife. We also know that his company ABC Lawyers Ltd is also in liquidation, now Inside Timeshare has heard that the authorities in Tenerife have now raided his offices in Fanabe. One of the companies based there is Timeshare.Lawyer under the umbrella of Advanced Business Consultants Legal SL. It certainly looks like time is running out for Mark Rowe.
Now for today’s Letter from America, this is not the article we had scheduled as we have delayed publishing the subpoena Diamond Resorts attempted to issue Irene until Tuesday. As you will read in today’s article, Howard Nusbaum, the former president of ARDA, is also a former senior partner at Baker Hostetler, Diamond’s outside counsel in their case against a Florida law firm. This gave us pause. Irene will be doing a little more digging as this adds support to our belief this subpoena is a less than subtle form of harassment. Today’s article offers proof that there is no responsible exit for many fully paid timeshare owners. Baker Hostetler explains why.
When ARDA’s Coalition for Responsible Timeshare Exit Fails:
What Happens Next?
Six out of Eight Legacy Resorts have no Responsible Exit, according to eight “Free at Last” participants, reporting what happened when they sought a responsible exit
August 9, 2019
This is the first of four articles summarizing 21 timeshare members piloting the Free at Last Online Timeshare Support Course, sponsored by the nonprofit Straight-A Guide. The next three articles will report on Travel Clubs, timeshares purchased in foreign countries, and point-based timeshares.
I direct callers seeking timeshare release to reach out first to ARDA’s Coalition for Responsible Exit, or to the timeshare company if the timeshare company does not participate in ARDA’s responsible exit coalition.
Straight-A Guide helps 100,000 prisoners a year transition back to society through self-advocacy. Their customers are prisons. Our Free at Last participants learn how to self-advocate.
Legacy Resorts are single-site, older resorts. Of our eight Legacy owner participants, so far only two were able to work with their resort to take back their unwanted timeshare. One owner was able to deed back to Colorado River Adventures and one owner was able to deed back to Festiva.
There is no responsible exit for Legacy Resorts owners at Eagle Crest, Broadway Plantation, Lehigh Resort Club, and Wyndham Carriage Ridge in Canada, The Seasons in Vermont, or Bellavista. Six out of the eight Legacy resorts have no responsible exit! The only choice for these owners is foreclosure if the resorts will not provide a responsible exit. Three of the owners are over 80 years old and have been paying maintenance fees for decades, two only using the timeshare once or twice over the decades.
Mr. Kenneth McKelvey, founder of Defender Resorts and Chairman of the timeshare PAC ARDA ROC, testified at a legislative workshop held in Tallahassee Florida March 12, 2019, that attorneys and timeshare exit providers are not needed. He made these comments at the Florida legislative workshop:
“Most of the developers I know, and certainly most of the timeshare managers I know, and I managed timeshare properties for thirty years… every single resort had a dissolution policy, every single one! There was a way to get out. You had to come to your management company, and based on what the board of directors instructed us to do in the terms if they had to pay a fee or if they had to be current, whatever those situations were, we did not have one that did not have a dissolution policy and a hardship policy …”
We hear from many seniors forced to endure the demeaning foreclosure process, despite maintaining a high credit score their whole life. Lately, there have been complaints from millennial buyers, as the industry is targeting that demographic. Some seniors tell me they don’t care anymore about a drop in their credit score as they are set, but those in their 30s see their credit score ruined along with their chances to buy a home. The foreclosure process can be overwhelming without support.
The industry calls the vehicle used when a timeshare contract is transferred to fictitious individuals or a fictitious LLC a “Viking Ship,” so-named because Vikings used to stack their dead on a ship, set it on fire, and send it out to sea.
ARDA and the law firm Baker Hostetler published these comments about Legacy Resorts:
COVER STORY • Many legacy timeshare resorts are struggling to survive: why?
Vacation Ownership WORLD contacted some of vacation ownership’s leading figures, as well as experts on the subject, and asked them about a much-discussed matter within the industry: why are so many legacy timeshare resorts having such a tough time and what can be done about it? Many of these resorts are failing due to an assortment of problems that include: a lack of professional management; a lack of adequate reserves; a resistance by the HOA board of directors to impose an adequate assessment for operating expenses; an underperforming or non-existent external exchange relationship; an aging owner base that no longer uses the resort or that wants to exit ownership but is generally unable to; and, diminishing resort maintenance standards. ARDA President and CEO Howard Nusbaum and senior partner in the Orlando office of Baker & Hostetler and ARDA treasurer and Board member Rob Webb offer their viewpoints on this issue. This is the first of a two-part story; the second article on the subject will appear in the next issue.
A quote from an ARDA lobbyist:
“Their value comes from using it,” the timeshare industry’s top lobbyist told ConsumerAffairs in January, admitting that points have no resale value, while claiming that consumers don’t mind this because the value comes from the experience.
Based on complaints from over 900 families, this lobbyist is out of touch with reality. Just two exit companies I spoke with received 3,000 to 3,500 calls per month from desperate timeshare members seeking release.
Legacy Owner reports by Free at Last participants
#1 Unresolved – Robert Kennedy is 81 years old. He seeks release from Eagle Crest in Oregon. In 2017 I published an article in which I interviewed an Eagle Crest collection agent. The interview was in regard to problems Eagle Crest owners experienced when they contacted a fraudulent timeshare transfer company. It’s no wonder Eagle Crest owners are going through this.
At age 81, I have a credit score of 819 but now must face a foreclosure. At our age, we no longer are able to travel as we once could. We will not continue to pay maintenance fees for something we no longer want or need.
Robert sent his request for release to the following individuals:
To: Jerry E Andres, CEO Eagle Crest
Jason Gamel, ARDA President
Ken McKelvey, CPA, ARDA ROC President
Greg Crist, Association of Vacation Owners
After Eagle Crest said they would not help me, I contacted Irene Parker at Inside Timeshare. Ms. Parker told me to contact ARDA’s Responsible Exit program. I went to ARDA’s Responsible Exit Website, but Eagle Crest does not participate. We purchased a floating week 33 years ago and have faithfully paid maintenance fees for 33 years. https://responsibleexit.com/
I would like to ask Mr. Andres why Eagle Crest does not have a responsible exit program. I have grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren. As a result of my experience, they have learned not to get involved with timeshare.
I contacted members of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association. They said they were not interested in helping us. Others need to be warned about the dangers of becoming involved with timeshare.
#2 Unresolved Simon D, Canada
Carriage Ridge Wyndham
To Irene Parker at Inside Timeshare
August 5, 2019
I reached out to Ovations as you suggested. Wyndham Ovations will not accept our Carriage Ridge Resort in Canada. We purchased this floating week timeshare May 2004 for approximately $13,750. We have no loan.
We were told at purchase there would be no problem reselling the timeshare. Ovations will not take it back so isn’t it false advertising to say that they have a program for fully paid members when they don’t? I tried selling the timeshare. No one wants it. Availability has been an issue.
Why are consumers put in the position of being held hostage with no choice but to foreclose? Who, understanding that buying a timeshare is something you can’t get out of unless foreclosed, would buy one? Especially when the buyer is told, like we were, it would be easy to sell.
I will no longer pay maintenance fees. I will be contacting the Canadian Vacation Ownership Association as you suggested. They should know that many Canadians are being harmed and Wyndham should not falsely advertise that the problem of no secondary market for timeshares has been solved. It’s not true. Thank you for the websites you provided. At least I know others are experiencing the same.
This comment was posted on RedWeek:
I was duped into a gifted timeshare from my father. The story is sad…he is retired and was desperate to get out as he lost most of his retirement money in 2007. So he misleads my husband and I. I contacted Ovation to take the deed back from Carriage Hills resort in Canada and they said NO. Referred to Fidelity who advised THEY HAVE NOT SOLD a Carriage Hills unit IN YEARS! 31 units are listed on Carriage Hills website for $1. Many owners are offering $400 gift certificates. Wyndham is the ring-leader. They should offer Ovation. https://www.redweek.com/forums/messages?thread_id=20770&page=last
#3 unresolved – a Medical Doctor
We purchased a Broadway Plantation timeshare in Myrtle Beach, a floating week, a long time ago for about $17,000. I have never used it. I have paid maintenance fees for many years. We were told the timeshare would be easy to sell.
I reached out to ARDA as they say timeshare now has a Responsible Exit program. When I contacted Broadway Plantation they said they do not take back timeshares. If there is a responsible exit, why doesn’t Broadway Plantation have one?
I feel defrauded, cheated and abused by the timeshare industry. Having an every other year timeshare for a single week has been a waste of money. When I tried to use it, there was no availability. I have no intention of ever paying you any more money. I am 70 years old.
#4 Unresolved S E
July 20, 2019
I am helping my father. He is age 83. Bellavista was purchased six or seven years ago. We are current with maintenance fees, no loan. He was delinquent with maintenance fees, he settled for about half what he owed..
At age 87, I have been paying maintenance fees since 1991. I only used the timeshare a couple of times. We purchased Lehigh Resorts in 1991 in Florida. We have no loan. I’ve only used it twice since 1991. When I first bought it the maintenance fees were $300. Now they are $670. They said they would not take it back.
I purchased a timeshare a long time ago at The Seasons in Vermont. They will not take back the timeshare. I have filed a complaint with the Vermont Attorney General.
Melissa was provided with the following in writing at the time of purchase, statements in printed literature and in an email Melissa received from a Sugarbush manager dismissing her complaint:
- Our current owners are renting for premium dollars and receiving a very high rate of return on their investment, because of supply and demand.
- If you rent your unit for less than 15 days/year, the rental income will not be includible in income–thus the income is tax-free and you would still be able to deduct your interest payments.
- The timeshare won’t be difficult to resell due to the lack of accommodations in the Sugarbush area (supply and demand).
- Don’t listen to family & friends because it is an investment and a guarantee that we would take a vacation every year.
In addition to our 21 Free at Last participants, Inside Timeshare has received many complaints from Americano ARC owners. They are required to spend $5,000 to $6,000 for an RCI points-based Travel Club called Freedom 365 in order to be released from their timeshare they bought decades ago. We will address their concerns on Friday when we look into Travel Clubs.
I have grouped our 21 callers into the following groups:
- (7)Legacy resorts (pre-dating points),
- (5)Travel Clubs,
- (2)Timeshares bought in foreign countries,
- (7)Points-based timeshare
Please Sign this Petition to Reform Timeshare:
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.
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Well, that is all for this week, as you will have noticed Inside Timeshare has been a little sparse this week, August tends to be rather quiet as it is the main holiday month, very little news coming from the courts and elsewhere. But keep on checking, we never know when another story will break and as it does we will bring you the news right here.
Have a Great Weekend and join us again next week.