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“Nightmare on Timeshare Street”

Carriage Resorts Annual Meeting Report

Welcome to the last article for this week, as you know Irene Parker is now concentrating on her work with Tarda, so this slot will no longer be called Friday’s Letter from America as it was her one of her twice-weekly slots. Although Irene will continue to submit reports on the timeshare situation in the US when she is able to. For those wishing to follow Irene’s posts plus those from many timeshare owners’s/members, you can do so at the link below. Also please do join and donate to TARDA, they will be working in your interest and need your support.

www.TARDA.org

Carriage Resorts October 21 and 22 Annual Meetings

Will BDO Dunwoody Find Solutions to the Need for an Exit Strategy?

By Irene Parker

October 25, 2019

The Wyndham Carriage Hills annual meeting was almost held October 21 and the Carriage Ridge annual meeting was held October 22 in Ontario Canada. The Carriage Hills October 21 annual meeting was cancelled because the facility could only hold 500 while another 500 members waited outside. Owners were annoyed but felt the chaotic debacle was the best message they could have sent.

The reason for the robust attendance was because the Carriage Board of Directors had notified Owners that they had retained the strategic accounting firm BDO Dunwoody to study the two-fold problem of no responsible exit from the timeshare and the resulting and escalating bad debt. Owners, even those with severe medical and financial hardship, have not been allowed a release from their fully paid for timeshares. They are liable for ongoing annual maintenance fees, as well as their heirs – there has been no responsible exit.

At the Carriage Ridge Oct 22 annual meeting, not much new news was provided other than a statement concerning early-stage negotiations between the two Carriage Boards of Directors and BDO Dunwoody. Board President Marti Ginsherman reported that information as to actual proposals and desired outcomes would not be made available until first quarter 2020.

The U.S. timeshare lobby ARDA does have a Coalition for Responsible Exit. Owners in good standing need only to look for their resort on the ARDA website. If the resort is not found, it doesn’t mean there is no exit. The resort may have a program, but not be a part of ARDA’s program. Usually, there is a charge to voluntarily deed back the timeshare points or deed. Some U.S. resorts are still resistant to any form of exit except foreclosure.

https://responsibleexit.com/

The Canadian counterpart to ARDA is CVOA. They are aware of the dilemma Carriage owners face, responding that a solution will require time and considerable resources. Those considerable resources include the strategic accounting firm BDO Dunwoody which will work with a Transition Team to address problems and solutions.

At the October 22 Carriage Hills meeting, Carriage Ridge board secretary/treasurer Maureen Lee Ah Yen volunteered to head the Transition team and Carriage Ridge owners Lori Smith and Bruce Fleming volunteered to act as the liaison between owners and Transition Team board members.

The most glaring example of the need for a medical and hardship release concerns Stephanie’s grandparents, Gary, and his wife of 53 years Sandra. Gary resides in a nursing home and Sandra lives with her unemployed son. Gary’s entire pension must go towards his care. Sandra suffers from depression, and the worry over finances contributed towards a recent hospital stay.

Published marketing materials provided at the time of purchase stated:

  • Freeze costs of future vacations
  •  Equity $ position
  •  Worry-free vacations

 Maintenance fees have increased from $600 a year to $1,500 over the years. Owners feel they do not have worry-free vacations as the absence of an exit strategy has caused significant stress for many. In addition, thousands of dollars have been lost to timeshare exit providers and timeshare listing services.

Carriage Resorts were acquired by Shell Vacation Club and subsequently, Wyndham acquired Shell. No doubt the argument will be that current owners are not responsible for the original developer’s marketing claims. That does not change the unfairness of owners finding themselves held timeshare hostage.

On Monday Carriage Hills Owner Karen Levins will offer her comments on the current situation and hope for the future.

Thank you, Irene, from all the previous articles on these two resorts and now this report of the Annual Meeting, it is very clear there is a very serious problem for our Canadian friends. In all the years that Inside Timeshare has been running and we include the original incarnation, we have never had a series of stories such as these. They are truly a “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”.

That is all for this week, join us again on Monday with another story of why you need to be careful about who you do business with.

Have a great weekend.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome this week’s edition of Letter from America, in fact, it is a Letter from Canada as we welcome a new contributor Stephanie, with her Grandparents “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” story with Wyndham Carriage Hills and Carriage Ridge Resorts. The title of this story is “Why is this not Elder Abuse?” Inside Timeshare has published many articles on this subject yet we still receive many reports from concerned members and their families, so why are the timeshare companies not taking any notice?

The Carriage Hills and Carriage Ridge annual meetings are October 21 and October 22. While an exit strategy will be discussed at the meetings, any HOA board should be able to allow an exit on severe medical and financial hardship, especially given the severity of Gary and Sandra’s situation. Of note is the marketing flyer presented at time of purchase to Carriage buyers stating, “Freeze the cost of vacations.”

Please remember to donate to the Irene Parker GoFundMe campaign to raise $25,000 for legal fees, in just two weeks over $8,000 has already been raised so thank you to all those who have already contributed.

https://www.gofundme.com/f/irene-parker-diamond-resort-legal-defense-fund?fbclid=IwAR1wj_cAkvvWXcUHXrC1zkDJtSZrlx9j_3RJKE5L7J0bUW7SM1rSwCFvFHY

Why is this not Elder Abuse?

Wyndham Carriage Hills and Carriage Ridge Resort

Grandparents Gary and Sandra Held Timeshare Hostage

By Stephanie

October 11, 2019

My grandparents Sandra and Gary have been owners at Carriage Hills & Carriage Ridge since the 90’s. In 2014 the determination was made that Gary would require more comprehensive care. He was relocated to a 24-hour care unit in a nursing home. He is wheelchair-bound and requires assistance with bathing, eating, washroom & mobility concerns. At the onset, his health deteriorated quickly and continues on that path. He communicates verbally, but he is unable to make decisions or advocate for himself.

Note from Irene

Mr. Jason Gamel is currently the president of the timeshare lobby ARDA.

He testified at a Florida legislative workshop March 12, 2019:

Wyndham Sr. VP Legal Jason Gamel provided testimony at the Florida HB 435 Workshop held in Tallahassee March 12. In response to Representative Newton’s question about Wyndham’s dissolution policies. Mr. Gamel explained that there was no need for owners to contract with an exit service provider because members seeking a loan cancellation due to hardship can apply for a hardship release through Wyndham.

https://insidetimeshare.com/http-insidetimeshare-com-p5261/

ARDA’s Coalition for Responsible Exit

Of 16 boxes pictured on the website, four are Wyndham

1) Club Wyndham 2) Margaritaville Vacation Club by Wyndham

3) Shell Vacations Club (acquired by Wyndham) 4) Worldmark by Wyndham

https://responsibleexit.com/#getting-started

Gary and Sandra

My grandparents, YRDSB teachers with summers off, purchased their Carriage timeshares with the intent to travel. The location of Carriage Hills and Carriage Resorts was convenient. Initially, the value was found in the timeshare. Annual fees were $650 per unit, but by 2019 fees rose to approximately $1500 per unit. This maintenance fee is no longer affordable.

Gary was the breadwinner of the family. Being a pensioned teacher, he supported the household. When he was moved to a 24-hour care facility, his insurance only covered a portion. His pension had to cover the remaining nursing home expense. What remains in his pension goes to Sandra, who does not receive a pension. Sandra is a retired substitute teacher. Sandra resides in their home with an adult son, who is not employed. She is expected to pay for their home, bills, and Carriage maintenance expenses in addition to food, medication, personal needs. There is nothing frivolous about her life. Her joy comes in the form of making beautiful, handmade quilts.

Sandra has long struggled with depression, which until recently had been managed by lifestyle and medication. However, in the last four years, there has been deterioration in her health, and in August 2018 she spent a week in the hospital after an episode.

On June 30, 2019, they reached 53 years married. Sandra sees Gary once a week, but leaving the house even for routine tasks is not easy. Imagine being married for 53 years, and then having so much stress that you can’t make it out to visit your husband. Sandra recently spent eight days in the hospital due to a change in medication and a depression spell. A Carriage Hills and Carriage Resorts exit strategy would be life-changing for her. 

Not offering a voluntary surrender program to Canadians is unfair enough, but will Wyndham not even consider a medical and financial hardship release for a fully paid for timeshare member? Without question, the stress of this timeshare has been a catalyst for Sandra’s emotional and mental state. In regular conversations with family, she shares her worry about being able to afford the fees, and in more recent months, what is going to happen when she and Gary have passed on. She worries about the maintenance fees passed on to my children and me.

Sandra was not the person in the marriage who handled the finances or day to day needs. Gary has a very small life insurance plan and Sandra has no life insurance. She cancelled her insurance plan as it was too much to carry financially. 

Obviously, they are not able to use the timeshare. Gary has no ability to travel and Sandra cannot travel alone or long distances. She is able to get up once in a while to Carriage Hill to use the pool with a friend. Shell Vacation has a portal for online, but at 75 years old, Sandra is not internet savvy. She relies on the help of family to do simple things with the timeshare.

There is no way out of this timeshare. In the unlikely event, a buyer is found, the fee to sell to another is substantial and the lawyers’ fees even higher. Sandra’s wish is to be able to sell back or return the timeshares to Wyndham… even to transfer to a relative is a 1500$ fee and 1500$ x 5 contracts totalling $7,500 is exorbitant. Her wish is to stop worrying about choosing these fees over her needs. She found hope in the Ovation Program offer, only to learn that Wyndham is not offering a responsible exit to Carriage Hills and Carriage Ridge owners. Couple this with the cuts to health and social programs Ontario is experiencing. It is a crisis.

Why is this not elder abuse? 

Carriage Marketing Flyer stated: “Freeze cost of future vacations” 

Prior Carriage Hills and Carriage Ridge reports: 

Carriage Owners 115 – 128

https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-67/

Carriage Owners 91 – 114

https://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-47/

Carriage Owners 61 – 90

https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-66/

Elizabeth’s Analysis

https://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-46/

Jeannie’s Medical Hardship Dismissed

https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-65/

Carriage Owners 31 – 60

https://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-45/

David’s Medical and Financial Hardship Dismissed

https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-64/

Carriage Owners 1 – 30

https://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-44/

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://tug2.com/Home.aspx

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/everything-about-timeshares-wayne-c-robinson/1129749757?ean=2940161600962

Free at Last Timeshare Support Course offered by Straight-A-Guide

https://www.udprep.info/june

Bluegreen Facebook

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

Wyndham Facebook

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

Wyndham Carriage Resorts Facebook

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

Sapphire Starpoint  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

https://www.facebook.com/insidetimeshare/

Inside Timeshare Facebook Group

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

Thank you Stephanie for your contribution, we hope that this article will help to change the way timeshare companies view their members.

As we stated at the beginning the Carriage Hills and Carriage Ridge Resorts AGM are being held on 21 & 22 October, Inside Timeshare is hoping to bring you a full report soon after.

Well, that is all for this week Inside Timeshare wishes you all a great weekend and join us next week for more news and information on the world of timeshare.

Welcome to Cockroach City

Inside Timeshare, today brings you the story of one Norwegian families “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”, with photographs of the “Penthouse” in a “5 Star” hotel they purchased around 20 years ago. As usual, all the promises they were given when they purchased around 20 years ago never came to fruition.

This family were on holiday in Gran Canaria with their 2 young sons and the hotel they were staying at in Playa del Ingles was not up to scratch, in their words “it was of a very poor standard”.

While they were out at one of the local shopping centres they were approached by the usual “OPC’s” or commonly known as “timeshare touts”. The usual “pitch was given along with the ubiquitous “scratch cards”, you guessed it, they won the “star prize”.

They went by taxi to attend the presentation and receive their “gifts” ending up at The Airtours Beach Club, now known as Blue Bay in San Augustin on the outskirts of Maspalomas. This area is very popular with the Scandinavian community and is actually a rather nice area.

On arriving at reception they were duly impressed especially seeing the many plaques showing “5 Star” status. The usual “tour” ensued and they were shown several apartments. After the sales presentation, they purchased a week in the “Penthouse”.

This year they used their timeshare in the “Penthouse” and had a very big shock, the place was falling to pieces and was definitely not “5 Star” standard. Since the year 2000, they have paid well over 20,000€ in maintenance fees and for this year 2019, the cost was over 1,300€. As you will see from the small sample of photographs provided it is looking decidedly shabby and is certainly not a “5 Star Penthouse Suit” more like “Cockroach City”. On top of this, they had to pay for the use of “pool towels at 20€ and the television is old with a pay to view box!

These are just some of the images received by Inside Timeshare

We do know that Airtours Beach Club/Blue Bay has had some very severe problems over the past few years, most of which have been due to financial mismanagement of the resort by previous management companies. Several years ago it was placed in embargo and was due to be auctioned by the court, but it turns out there was interest or bidders, probably due to the financial debt that was attached to the property.

This is not an isolated case, Inside Timeshare has received many complaints over the years about falling standards at timeshare resorts, but this is by far the worst. To be fair, many of the timeshare resorts are of a good standard and well maintained, but for those that are not, it is a serious blight on the industry.