For a long time now Inside Timeshare has reserved Friday for our Letter from America articles, which over the years has given consumers on both sides of the “Great Lake” or “The Pond”, depending on which side of it you are on, a glimpse to the similarities owners/members put up with. Even the scams are basically the same, from “Fake” law firms to “Resales”, even the Modus Operandi tend to be the same. Many of these have been highlighted on our pages, some of the emails and experiences have been hard to read, many have been words of thanks.
One of the main points which has been a subject for discussion on these pages are the “SALES” tactics used during the “Presentation”, this has become a thing to be dreaded by so many. The constant “upsell”, with all the false promises.
The tactics we have published in our Letter from America series are, to say the least disgusting, we dubbed them “Nightmares on Timeshare Street”.
In most cases, the “victims” are elderly, vulnerable and sometimes with severe illness, in other stories we have heard how Veterans have been harmed, serving forces personnel have been at risk of losing their positions and security clearance. Others still, have been low-income families, we even had one story of a family losing their home.
But this is not unique to the US, in Europe, we have had our fair share of “Nightmares on Timeshare Street” stories.
One was the recurring story of Mrs B and her very long battle with MacDonald Resorts, a Scottish based company. Then there was the operation running out of Tenerife, which was once dubbed “The Biggest Fraud in Timeshare History”. That is one description Inside Timeshare totally agrees with.
They did not just sell one or two weeks, which is what most people actually need, no, they sold “packs” of weeks and apartments, usually around 6 to 8 in each sale. These were pitched as an “Investment” in “Property”, they would yield an income through rental, then after 2 or 3 years when they “went up” in value, they would then be sold by Silverpoint. You, making a tidy profit, NOT!
Again the smooth-talking, well-trained sales staff and managers loved to target the retired, just retired and about to retire, another group that can be added are those that were being made redundant/early retirement. It didn’t end there, as the court cases and investigations go on, more is coming to light.
In the US regulation is very complex, there are so many laws each dependent on individual states, there is no Federal Law to regulate the industry and protect consumers. The same was the case in Europe, it was a complete mish-mash, there was no Europe wide protection. Then in 1994, the first EU Directive on Timeshare was brought in. Over the years these have been augmented and updated, taking into account the lessons learnt from the past, such as increasing the cooling-off period in all EU Countries. It was also required that they were incorporated into domestic law, not just to regulate the industry but also to protect the consumer.
It’s not perfect, some countries watered them down, some strengthened them, Spain was at the forefront to enable what have become the strongest Timeshare Laws in Europe. These came into force on 5 January 1999, but, as we now know many of the timeshare companies failed to comply with Spanish Law and ignored them.
The result is the legal cases being lost by them on a daily basis, they believed they were “untouchable”, all we can say is “It’s your own damn fault!”
Since Inside Timeshare began the US perspective, we have all learnt one thing, that you are not a lone voice, there are others out there who are going through the same thing. It is a fact, whatever practices are used across the pond, they will eventually be used this side of the great lake and vice versa.
The Fridays Letter from America slot will still be a part of Inside Timeshare, myself and Irene have learnt a great deal from these exchanges, we are also sure that all you readers have as well, we still have a lot to learn, as they say, timeshare never sleeps. The new format will not be weekly but a monthly slot, as Irene is involved in a great deal of important research work, but she will be dropping us an occasional letter. Obviously, if and when important news develops such as the Hilton acquisition of Diamond, that news will be fitted in.
Have a great weekend and join us again next week.