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Ovations

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to another edition of our Letter from America, this week Irene Parker explores the problems surrounding some Canadian Timeshare owners at Resorts taken over by Wyndham. The article also looks at how Quebec is leading the way to protect consumers in Canada. Much of the legislation is very similar to that instituted in Spain, which as we already know has the strongest timeshare laws in favour of consumers in Europe. It does look as though lawmakers in other countries are looking at and using the Spanish model in their bid to protect consumers, this can only be for the best as the industry has failed miserably in this area.

The Hypocrisy of ARDA’s Coalition for Responsible Exit and Wyndham’s Ovation Program for Carriage Resorts Owners

Wyndham’s Carriage Hills and Carriage Ridge Canadian Resorts

By Irene Parker

August 16, 2019

A follow-up to Legacy Resort owners’ lack of a responsible exit

https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-62/

It’s been over a year since Quebec passed a law in June of 2018 challenging the perpetual nature of non-deeded timeshare contracts. It is hoped Quebec’s model legislation will be expanded to include other Canadian provinces. The law does not apply to deeded intervals, which are considered real property in Canada.

Legislative Revision to Quebec Timeshares 

A contract related to timeshare accommodation rights is considered a service contract. You may resiliate your contract for other reasons, and you have other rights and recourses (187.13). The verb resiliation means “To draw back from a contract.” Cambridge dictionary (de résilier un contrat cancelling, termination)

Carriage’s draconian policy surpasses anything I have encountered in America. Wyndham acquired Carriage Resorts from Shell Vacation Club several years ago. Carriage Resorts lack of an exit policy is even more disturbing, considering the new president of the timeshare lobby ARDA, is Jason Gamel, Senior VP, Legal at Wyndham. ARDA’s position is that the problem of the lack of a secondary market has been solved by programs like Wyndham’s voluntary surrender program Ovations, and ARDA’s Coalition for Responsible Exit. 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.

A RedWeek post from a Carriage Resort owner found on the internet (unedited):

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

As reported by a Carriage Resort member to another Carriage member:   

By coincidence, I own at Carriage Hills which is the “sister” resort to Carriage Ridge (Simon’s resort) north of Toronto. Both these resorts are deeded timeshares (not points) and unless Wyndham changed their policy and allowed Ovations to take back Carriage deeds, the owners at both these resorts are “stuck” and obliged to pay their fees unless they manage to sell.

The board of Carriage Hills (and I believe Carriage Ridge as well) takes delinquent owners to court to oblige them to pay through a court ruling. The only way out currently is to sell. They are even taking “delinquent” heirs to court for payment of the late fees and say they have been successful. Simon will not be “foreclosed” – they don’t take back any timeshares at all. The owners’ associations at both timeshares cannot “own” any units and Wyndham is uncooperative. 

Wyndham took over these resorts from Shell Vacation Club several years ago and at that time also closed the sales office because they alleged they could not sell the units. Since that time they also have stopped taking back units from owners wanting out. This is a Facebook group which could be helpful (https://m.facebook.com/groups/152117225452689) for Ridge and Hills owners. They discuss “exit” strategies and appeals to the board to find a solution for owners who want to exit, amongst other topics. 

Unfortunately, I don’t have a good answer for you – at Embarc, because it is points and we are members who own no “real estate”, and because Diamond still takes back points to resell, a member has the choice of 1) Selling at around $10 per point (a fraction of the purchase price), 2) asking Diamond to take back the points or, 3) If they refuse, simply not pay one’s fees and points will be eventually forfeited. 

Carriage Hills/Ridge has no such choices – right now, the only thing one can do is attempt to sell to someone else – on Redweek.com, tug2.com or local Kijiji pages. I myself have listed my unit on the Carriage Hills website and am attempting to sell… There doesn’t however, appear to be a similar website for Carriage Ridge owners. 

Excerpt of email to Irene Parker at Inside Timeshare from Simon

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 were told at purchase there would be no problem reselling the timeshare. 

I will be contacting the Canadian Vacation Ownership Association as you suggested. They should know that many Canadians are being harmed. http://www.canadianvoa.org/ 

Simon D

Quebec Bill 178

Under Quebec Bill 178, a service contract can be cancelled under liberal conditions if the purchaser is not getting the benefits of ownership due to medical conditions, availability, or a host of other reasons.  

Introduced 18 April 2018 Quebec National Assembly

Passed 6 June 2018

Excerpt from the bill: “You may resiliate your contract for other reasons, and you have other rights and recourses.”

187.13 A contract relating to timeshare accommodation rights is deemed to be a service contract

http://www.assnat.qc.ca/en/travaux-parlementaires/projets-loi/projet-loi-178-41-1.html

Quebec’s consumer protection act is not the first time Canada has ruled on the definition of a timeshare. According to a 2017 ruling, the Canadian Court of Appeals defined a timeshare more like a country club than real property.

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-canada/

Spain ended perpetual timeshare contracts.

Spain was the first country to rule that perpetual timeshare contracts are illegal. In Spain timeshare contracts purchased in perpetuity, floating weeks, and points-based timeshares have been deemed unlawful by the Supreme Court.

I attended a Florida legislative workshop in Tallahassee March 12 of this year. Hearing lobbyists explain responsible exits and hardship departments, I learned of two parallel timeshare universes – what lobbyists and developers portray to lawmakers – and what over 900 families report is really happening.

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 Facebook Straight-A Guide

https://www.facebook.com/groups/623703881470577/?ref=share

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

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 Irene, one thing this article does show is at least some lawmakers are taking an active interest in curbing the excesses of the timeshare industry and giving them some rights under law. I don’t know of any other industry where the consumer has no protection with the laws in favour of the industry, this must change and we are slowly seeing that happen.

Inside Timeshare would also like to apologise for the lack of articles over the past few weeks, August is usually rather quiet so Inside Timeshare has taken the time to have a well earned rest. All will be back to normal in the next week or so.

Have a great weekend.

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.