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Mr Jason Gamel

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this week’s Letter from America, we today publish yet another “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” from yet another Veteran, Ron Tzinski. Since we began highlighting these stories, Inside Timeshare has received around 111 complaints from Veterans and how they have been targeted and lied to by unscrupulous sales agents, yet the timeshare companies still allow the deceptions and lies to continue. These are men and women who have given their lives to the service and defence of the country and this is the thanks they receive! Despicable is the only word I can use without the use of profanities.

Part II Timeshare Reinvents Subprime Mortgages

What Wyndham Timeshare Hardship Department?

Veterans Speak Out

Part I Theresa Provides Insights into Wyndham’s Defaults

https://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-35/

http://www.centeronelderabuse.org/veterans.asp

Part III Why centeroneelderabuse.org Suggestions Offer no Help

On July 11, 2018, President Trump signed Executive Order 13844, establishing the Task Force on Market Integrity and Consumer Fraud and identifying the Deputy Attorney General as its chair. The Task Force is part of a government-wide initiative to combat fraud against consumers – particularly the elderly, service members, and veterans – and corporate fraud that victimizes the general public and the government. https://www.justice.gov/fraudtaskforce

By Ron Tzinski, an Army Veteran

June 21, 2019

I am an eleven year Army veteran, retired. I became inactive after Desert Storm when President Clinton decided to reduce the military. I have been inactive since 1993. I have an Honorable Discharge.

I would not be in a dispute with Wyndham had I been told about Wyndham’s Veterans Holidays program. I could have taken advantage of their “Always Low Fees” instead of being driven to foreclosure. I have not made a payment in eight months.  


Always Low Fees, Never Any Pressure

While accommodations are mostly at timeshare resorts, you will not be required to attend a timeshare presentation. Some resorts are already sold out and do not have active sales centers on-site. If the resort is still in sales, at some time during your stay, you will probably be given an opportunity to attend a presentation in exchange for a premium or gift (free dinner, theater/show tickets, amusement/theme park tickets, etc.). Everyone at these resorts is given this same opportunity. If you like the incentive gift and want to attend the presentation, you are welcome to do so. But you are under no obligation and can simply say, “No, thanks.”

Veterans Holidays is a part of Wyndham Worldwide, one of the world’s largest hospitality companies.  https://www.veteransholidays.com/about-us

I bought my Wyndham timeshare in Tennessee October 2016.  October 2017, I talked to someone at the Wyndham Grand Desert about getting out of my timeshare. Instead of getting out, I got talked into buying additional points. They promised that if this purchase was a problem, Wyndham would buy-back the timeshare. They explained the reason for this convenience was because Wyndham self-finances loans. And I was buying a trial product. This made perfect sense.

I am a small business owner on the verge of bankruptcy due to massively decreased income. I have the tax returns to prove it. My family needs dictate that I provide the basic day-to-day necessities for my families now, over a timeshare

I never should have been sold a timeshare in the first place. Even when I bought the timeshare, I made less than $12,000 a year. I’m self-employed. When I bought the timeshare, I wasn’t asked about my income. As Theresa mentioned in her article, she was told a minimum of $75,000 was required to make a timeshare purchase. Also, my wife passed away two years ago, after we had purchased the timeshare. I never even used the points.

I applied for a hardship release. Wyndham started three files on me, but ultimately denied a release. Inside Timeshare sent a draft of this article to Mr Jason Gamel, Sr. VP Legal at Wyndham, and to another Wyndham representative, asking why an annual income of $12,000 a year and death of a spouse would not qualify for hardship. Mr Gamel said at a Florida legislative workshop that Wyndham members need not seek timeshare exit provider services because of Wyndham’s hardship department. You must have to be on welfare to qualify.   

Wyndham does have a release program called Ovations for those without loans:

‘We understand that your situation may have changed since you purchased your timeshare with us and now you’re unable to use it the way you planned. Whether it’s a change in marital status, family needs or vacation preferences, these events impact how and when you choose to travel.’

I just don’t understand the high bar obstacles for release, given Wyndham can take back the timeshare today and sell it to someone else tomorrow for full price. A member can’t even sell the timeshare on eBay for a dollar. Wyndham already has the money I paid until I could no longer afford to make payments. I understand that money is gone. Wyndham is in a win-win proposition, and with no secondary market, the consumer loses.   

‘With Ovation by Wyndham, owners receive the peace of mind that their best interest is being protected, something fraudulent timeshare resale, transfer and cancellation companies cannot offer.’

At least a cancellation company can support you during the demoralizing foreclosure process. Therein lays the rub. You can exit as long as you are paid up. So, what if you are only 2 ½ years into a 10-year loan when your situation changes? And we were told Wyndham self-finances so can easily take back the timeshare. We have no option but foreclosure.

Based on the response we received, Wyndham does not care about me or my situation. I know I am not alone. This Facebook page was started because we need support. At least members deceived can support each other. How sad.

Link to our Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/376743609795740/

I feel that all timeshare companies care about is the money they feel they are entitled to. They care about keeping as many people on the hook as possible. I am sure the units, weeks, and points that everyone is ‘timesharing’ exceed the available inventory. I’m sure that most of the money goes to pay sales presentation incentives and sales staff wages.

We pay a ‘voluntary’ donation to the timeshare PAC ARDA ROC to be our voice, yet ARDA ignores us when we call them out on a violation in their Code of Ethics. Wyndham describes its Ovations program as an award-winning” program. An award was presented to Wyndham by the timeshare lobby ARDA. The president of ARDA is a Wyndham executive.   

I have connected with other veterans. We are now veterans in a different kind of war. The lack of a timeshare secondary market is even more harmful to active duty service members who could lose their security clearances over a foreclosure. Something needs to change, beginning with the non-existent secondary market. It’s a recipe for financial disaster, much like the subprime mortgage crisis.

Afterthoughts by Irene

After reading about Ron’s disappointment with Wyndham’s hardship department, I thought of the legislative workshop I attended in Tallahassee on March 12, 2019. ARDA had proposed a Florida bill that included a provision whereby timeshare exit providers must allow potential customers a 24-hour cooling-off period before signing a contract with an exit company. ARDA and Wyndham were concerned about unfair and deceptive sales practices, yet Ron was told it would be easy to have Wyndham take back the timeshare.

Exit providers and timeshare members wholeheartedly agreed with the cooling-off period as long as timeshare buyers would be allowed 24 hours to consider their decision. This would eliminate the high-pressure “today only or the deal is off” hard sell. The bill ultimately died in committee surely to resurface in 2021.

We are one hundred per cent in agreement that there are many timeshare exit scams, but I’ve been in contact with a few exit service providers who are as sincerely concerned about unfair and deceptive sales practices as we are. “We” are our volunteer Supporters who answer questions for timeshare members filing regulatory and law enforcement complaints for members who feel they experienced unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices.

Sign this Petition for Timeshare Reform. We are working towards 100,000 signatures by 2021. Over 1,200 have signed. You don’t have to be a timeshare member to sign.

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

Marine veteran Jim Sherwood is a 100% disabled Marine Corp Master Sergeant. Wyndham did resolve Jim Sherwood’s request for hardship, so there is a legitimate hardship department. Mr Sherwood’s article was published on March 8 of this year. We appreciate Wyndham’s response to Jim Sherwood’s request for hardship, but Mr Sherwood was at his wit’s end when he contacted Inside Timeshare, after denials following the VA’s report that he and his wife were unable to travel.   

Thank you to Ron for sharing his experience. Our standard disclosure is that we know there are many happy with their timeshare purchase. That doesn’t make up for thousands of families reporting deceptive and unfair timeshare sales practices. We have organized an outreach committee to seek more disclosure for veterans buying timeshares.

Related article: A Legislative Scoreboard

https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-45/

Whistleblowers of America is a nonprofit organization assisting whistleblowers who have suffered retaliation after having identified harm to individuals or the public. Together, we can speak truth to power.

https://whistleblowersofamerica.org/

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

Bluegreen Facebook

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

Wyndham Facebook

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

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

Diamond Resort Facebook

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

Gold Key Facebook

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

Inside Timeshare Facebook Group

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

Thank you, Ron, and also to Irene Parker for her contribution to this article, we would also like to thank all the volunteers who are helping with the advocacy efforts and giving others some hope.

It is such a shame that the timeshare companies act the way they do, they allow their own sales agents to destroy the lives of those who have served, all for what? There is only one word and that is GREED!

Inside Timeshare welcomes your comments and views on this article and any others published, just use our contact page and get in touch with us.

That is all for this week, join us on Monday for Part Six of our exclusive story on Silverpoint Exposed. Have a great weekend.

The Tuesday Slot: More on Florida House Bill 435

Welcome to the Tuesday Slot, we continue this week with more on the Florida House Bill 435 Workshop held in 12 March, once again written by Irene Parker who attended.

As usual before publication we have sent the article to Wyndham and ARDA for comment, but as always these tend to be ignored. As a matter of course we always send the proposed article as we welcome comments from the industry, as it furthers debate and it can accomplish our goals of consumer protection.

Without this debate nothing will ever be achieved and the consumer will forever be at the mercy of the industry. In this respect the lack of response only says one thing, for that we let you the reader decide what it is!

More on the Florida House Bill 435 Workshop held March 12

In response to ARDA ROC and Wyndham’s testimony:

How Timeshare Sales Agents can Dodge a Rescission Period

Why Reading the Timeshare Contract does not Always Help

Why the Delay in Reporting Fraud

By Irene Parker

March 19, 2019

The Florida HB 435 Workshop held March 12 in Tallahassee:

At the Florida HB 435 workshop held 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 timeshare complaints in 2017 and 2018, with about 50% involving senior citizens. She said the majority of complaints were in regard to the initial sales presentation. There have been 700 complaints filed so far in 2019. 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 submitted to Florida’s http://Department of Business & Professional Regulation (DBPR) were met with “Verbal representations are difficult to prove.” This lack of enforcement gives a green light to perpetrators, knowing their company will dismiss complaints with, “You signed a contract,” echoed by DBPR’s response, “Verbal representations are hard to prove.”

Platinum timeshare member Sheilah Brust, who designed our Timeshare Regret T-Shirt pictured above, and other Platinum members, are organizing a protest in May in Orlando, astonished at the figures reported by Florida’s timeshare division. The oral representation sentence in the timeshare contract stating, “I did not rely on oral representations to make my purchase,” buried in an 80+ page contract, gets a workout. Our goal is to alert the public that they should not believe a word a timeshare sales agent says, which is not fair to timeshare agents selling the product honestly.

Inside Timeshare has heard from 735 families. Of the 735, 100 are veterans and active duty service members. Over 200 of our readers have sent complaints to the timeshare lobby and PAC ARDA ROC. ARDA ROC does not mediate complaints, but they have a Code of Ethics. All complaints sent to ARDA ROC but one were ignored. ARDA ROC responded to one complaint, “This has been resolved,” even before the member, with a top security clearance, had heard from the company. The CEO of the company sits on ARDA’s board.  An active duty service member or a defense department worker can lose their security clearance, their job and their career over a timeshare foreclosure. ARDA ROC purports to be the voice of timeshare members.    

On Saturday, March 16, I heard from Platinum member #74, told that by purchasing additional points, they would be able to sell or rent points to offset rising maintenance fees, now over $10,000 per year. A 126 page summary report I prepared of reader complaints, shows a pattern and volume of complaints, often the sales agent a repeat offender. All the Platinum members report being told of maintenance fee relief programs that do not exist or a program allowing the member to sell points, if they purchased additional points.      

Platinum report submitted by Andrea K, Platinum member #74:

Our family has been emotionally and financially devastated because of the last timeshare points purchased. By 2016 or 2017 our maintenance fees had increased. The sales agents said we were the only deeded owners left and that is why they said our maintenance fees were so high. They said they were not sure if it was too late, but they could try to get us converted to points.

In 2017 we went to Hawaii. We purchased $55,000 worth of more points. They said if we purchased Hawaii points, we could easier sell because Hawaii is so popular. He showed me a magazine listing Hawaii timeshares for sale. I still have the magazine. He also said if I have this many points I can rent, especially in January to pay for the maintenance fees. We have learned our timeshare company does not allow us to rent using the internet, and that their points are worthless on resale.  

In 2018 we stayed at Tahoe in California but purchased in Nevada. In Tahoe they said because we had not purchased at our last stay, we lost our $3 price so that we would have to pay $9 per point if we did not buy additional points that day. He said our price lock was lost, but when he checked our records, he said for some reason the $3 was still there. He said I needed to sign a paper to remove the $3 price and in the future I would have to buy points at $9. He should have told us our timeshare points are worthless on resale. These presentations have taken 6 to 8 hours, despite being told they would only be for 90 minutes.

As years have gone by, we have learned that things we were told are either exaggerated or not true.  Many of the reimbursements promised did not yield what they had said they would yield.

Twenty of the 74 Platinum complaints were lodged against the same sales agent over a two year period. According to a lawsuit the agent has filed against the company, he said he was instructed to create reasons why existing members needed to buy additional points. He reported earning over $1 million in 2015 selling timeshare points, $2.4 million in 2016 and $2.4 million in 2017, before being terminated. His replacements are generating similar to identical complaints.

Mr. Ken McKelvey, ARDA ROC Chairperson, questioned why timeshare buyers wait so long to report deception. Mr Jason Gamel, Wyndham Sr. VP, Legal said exit companies are not needed because Wyndham has a hardship department to address members struggling with high interest rate timeshare loans. Both spokespersons said the rescission period provides enough time to review a contract and rescind. Our reader complaints address these objections:

How timeshare sales agents and timeshare companies can easily dodge the rescission period:

  • The buyer is told, “This is a new program, so don’t say anything to quality assurance because I could get fired.”
  • The buyer is told, “This program will be available after January 1.”
  • The buyer is not allowed onto the booking site until after the rescission period. Several buyers report being told airfare is included when booking. It’s not until they attempt to book they learn this is Blarney.
  • The buyer reports being told loans will be consolidated, but then the loan is not consolidated. The buyer does not learn this until the next loan payment, after the rescission period.
  • The buyer is told to wait a few months before refinancing.

Why reading the contract does not always help:

  • Buyers are shown a booklet of resorts, but the buyer is not allowed onto the booking site until after the rescission period. Actual availability cannot be determined by reading the contract.
  • My contract stated, “You can sell points, we will not assist you.” It left out the part about licensed timeshare brokers will not accept a listing for my timeshare points.

Why there is a delay in reporting fraud:

  • The reason that it may be several years before fraud is reported is because a negative life event triggers the need to sell. It is not until that trigger occurs that the buyer, who was sold on the promise that the timeshare is like real estate, easily sold, learns their timeshare is worthless.
  • It is not until a tax preparer, attorney, or grown child of elderly parents discovers predatory actions, such as the retired Navy veteran, living on a letter carrier’s pension, up-sold to $2,700 a month in timeshare loan payments. There have been numerous complaints involving Alzheimer diagnosed buyers.

We are hoping Marine veteran James Sherwood fell through the cracks at Wyndham, and that Wyndham will reach out to Mr. Sherwood. Mr. Sherwood’s wife broke both hips three years ago and has had a total hip replacement. He is disabled. Neither can travel. Wyndham would not accept that Mr. Sherwood was disabled. They demanded proof he could not travel. The VA provided a letter stating Mr. Sherwood could not travel. This was not sufficient. Mr. Sherwood felt it was an invasion of privacy to demand all medical and financial records, especially since he was told when he purchased the timeshare, that the transaction was a real estate transaction and could easily be sold. http://insidetimeshare.com/http-insidetimeshare-com-p5114/

Timeshare members are deeply grateful to Florida lawmakers, who echoed some of their negative timeshare experiences during the Florida HB 435 workshop. For the first time in memory, lawmakers’ voices talked back to the timeshare industry and to industry lobbyists. A timeshare consumer protection Arizona HB 2639 bill is currently being debated, strongly opposed by ARDA. The Arizona Attorney General’s office received 400 complaints against just one company. After a press release announcing an investigation a few years ago, they received an additional 500 complaints, according to members who spoke with the Arizona AG’s office.  

The question I am most frequently asked:  “How do they sleep at night?”

My answer, “Bernie Madoff had no trouble sleeping at night.”

The comment I hear most frequently, “I feel so stupid.”

I answer that the following have reached out to us describing unfair and deceptive sales practices, in addition to the vulnerable:

  • Three PhD economic and criminal justice professors
  • A Florida detective who worked economic crimes undercover
  • A Consolidated Edison contract specialist
  • Lawyers and mortgage brokers

Can it be, after all this time, the consumer’s voice is being heard?

Contact Inside Timeshare or one of these self-help groups if you need help:

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 and all our advocates for all the hard work you put in on behalf of the consumer, without you there would be nowhere for them to turn.

If you have any comments or views on this or any other article published on Inside Timeshare, use our contact page, we would love to hear from you.