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Quality Assurance

Friday’s Letter from America

It’s Friday and time for another Letter from America, this week another new contributor Elaine L, in her Open Letter to many heads of the timeshare industry explains her “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”. But first some news from Europe.

Yesterday we published the article on SilverpointsCompany Participations” scheme and the fact that they admitted in court that it is indeed timeshare, just after we published we had some more news regarding Silverpoint.

In a case that was won recently the lawyers from Canarian Legal Alliance have had success in securing another “Cash Embargo” against this company, also securing the payout to a German client. This happy client has now received the grand sum of 57,239.67€, which is 15,292€ more than they originally paid to Silverpoint for their timeshare.

Once again this is a tremendous blow to a company that has for many years been making millions from unsuspecting clients, the courts are obviously taking a very dim view of these past transgressions.

Inside timeshare has also received information from another reader regarding timeshare presentations, this time Azure Resorts in Malta, incidentally this is another Silverpoint company. This time it is regarding the QA sessions or what is commonly known in Europe as “button up”. It is the stage where the contracts are gone through with the client and explained.

Apparently these sessions are now being recorded, our reader explained that the person conducting the QA or button up re-words what the sales rep has told the client, such as the timeshare will go up in value and that they can sell it on if they no longer want it. The QA staff explain that they cannot guarantee increase in value or future sale, that is down to market forces. Again this is another attempt to secure the sale and negate any future litigation and complaints.

It must also be remembered that the person conducting these sessions is usually also on a commission for the completion, so it is in their best interest to ensure that the client does sign.

So now on with this weeks Letter from America.

An Open Letter to:

Michael Flaskey, Diamond Resorts CEO,

Robert Clements, ARDA lobbyist and Attorney

Gary Stein, head of Apollo Corporate Communications

Charles Zehren, Apollo Investor Relations

By Elaine L, #83 in our list of veterans, active duty service members, Department of Defense workers who feel we experienced unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices

November 30, 2017

Timeshare sales can pose a national security risk. Just about anyone can get hired to sell timeshare points, and for those of us with Top Security clearances, our careers could be in jeopardy because we believed a timeshare sales agent. When the timeshare sales agent suffers no consequences, the sales agent has been given the green light to sell by any means knowing all complaints are answered in favor of the sales agent.  

 The public needs to know their complaint will fall on deaf ears before buying a timeshare. No matter what the sales agents said, and with little to no enforcement, the buyer will be held responsible for the contract. Diamond should want the public to know this.

According to Social Media reports, the Nevada Real Estate Division (NRED) also  dismisses complaints with, “You have no proof,” so there is nothing to stop a sales agent from making up reasons existing member need to buy additional points.

Our complaint:

Ages 50 and 49 respectively

I have a Top Secret security clearance

October 13, 2018 complaint

At a December 17, 2017 meeting, we asked Davia H about selling the Diamond/ Sunterra timeshare we already owned. We had tried unsuccessfully to sell our timeshare.  We made it clear that our interest was to sell all our interest in Diamond/Sunterra points.

Davia told us that there was no way to sell the Sunterra timeshare because we did not have “Full Club Member” Diamond benefits. She encouraged us to become “Full Club Members” with the promise of being able to sell the timeshare easier.

She said that the points we owned from our original timeshare were worthless and that we needed to upgrade to a “Full Club Member” to receive “benefits that would increase the value of the timeshare to make it worth buying.”  We were quoted a unit price of $8 per unit. We feel that not disclosing that timeshare points are worthless was a material omission.

Davia showed us Timeshareangels.com (a site selling Wyndham Resorts points and timeshares) – she told us she is also a Wyndham timeshare sales agent and said that people were selling points (units) for $4-$6 per unit. Davia showed us examples of listings for Wyndham timeshares. It has been widely reported Diamond points are worthless.    

Davia also said that she would show us how we could make money off our timeshare, if we bought into Diamond’s “Full Club Member” status. Davia advised us to wait six months before trying to sell because the value of the timeshare would increase. She also told us that she knew someone who helps people sell their timeshares and could give us her contact’s information. Given Davia told us to wait six months before trying to sell, it was too late to rescind the purchase agreement. Repeated calls and texts to Davia went unanswered.

Other claims Davia made:

  1. Our management fees would be locked in as “Full Club Members” so maintenance fees would no longer increase,
  2. The value of the timeshare would appreciate over time because of the affiliation Diamond now has with the Apollo Group. Due to the affiliation with Apollo, Davia said we could recoup our cash outlay and the value of the timeshare would continue to increase over time. Davia said the Apollo Group paid way too much for Diamond so were eager to recoup some of the losses.
  3. We could make our points earn money by selling them – she said we could sell our points for more than the $8/point we were paying.

We did not want to buy more points. We only bought points so we could sell them.

3500 points purchased at Cancun Resort in Las Vegas December 17, 2017

Purchase Price: $15,375

Barclays Credit Card opened and charged $14,000

I have filed a complaint with the Securities and Exchange Commission. I will also be writing to Maureen Farrell at the Wall Street Journal, who wrote of Diamond’s upcoming $4 billion IPO. Wall Street needs to hear our side.

Our original complaint sent March 1, 2018 was ignored. Davia used information asymmetry to make money off people in my position. My job and career are at stake due to her charade due to my top security clearance.   

Diamond used the recording of the Quality Assurance against us. The “Hospitality” agent said my husband had asked two questions. The questions were about an assessment fee and how long is escrow. How could we ask questions about the ability to make money or sell points if we didn’t know Diamond points were worthless?

The recording of the QA was reported in a Diamond CLARITY press release to be for the purpose of enhanced training. Several members have reported the QA recording has been used against them. I would like to know if the QA person is penalized financially if a sale doesn’t go through. Diamond does not allow the recording of the sales presentation. For us, there was no Diamond CLARITY promise of RESPECT for the customer, clear, concise, accountable and transparent information.

I sent our complaint to this list of contacts found on our advocacy Facebook page:

To: Michael Flaskey, CEO

Barclay’s President’s Office

DR PR Firm

ARDA

ARDA ROC

Association of Vacation Owners

Hospitality

If a sales agent can say anything to sell points, and the company response is that you signed a contract, then the public must be warned that they should not believe a word a timeshare sales agent says. There are over 2100 members on our member sponsored Facebook page.     

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

Thank you to Elaine for your contribution this week, we are sure it will be recognised by many of our readers, we can only hope that all those it is addressed to actually take notice, somehow I very much doubt it.

If you have had any experience such as those we publish, or have been contacted by any company telling you they can “exit” you from your timeshare or even get you “compensation”, use our contact page and let us know. Inside Timeshare will point you in the best direction and save you a lot of your hard earned cash.

Have a good weekend and join us next week for more “Nightmares on Timeshare Street” and all the other scams that are out there.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this week’s Friday’s Letter from America, this week we publish Part II of Karen Garello’s Secret Shopper report, but as usual we look at what is happening in Europe.

During our daily searches of various timeshare websites and forums this particular article made us chuckle. It was published on the Travel & Leisure Group (timeshare resale) website under information and Timeshare Blog, it is an interview with Gavin Brown and his recent stay at Anfi, he is manager of the said company, obviously written by one of the employees who conducted the interview.

The piece starts out with Anfi Beach Club is known throughout the timeshare industry as a real gem”. It then goes on to describe the location, “Ideally located on a heart-shaped island in Gran Canaria”. Well straight away that brought everyone down laughing, the heart shaped island is a man made island which is situated between the beach and the marina. It does not have the room for the huge resort called Anfi! It does however have sunbeds, a cocktail bar and a restaurant. You can also hire the island for weddings, if you can afford the 12,000€ for the basic package.

heart shaped island Anfi
The heart shaped island at Anfi

It turns out that Mr Brown, who has been in the timeshare industry for years, has never owned a timeshare, (I wonder why?). Mr Brown stated that he always booked with online travel agents and package holidays, but due to sometimes being disappointed with room location and the standards of the hotels, he felt that timeshare resorts offered better standards.

Well, we can agree with that, so why did he choose Anfi? As he put it he has a great knowledge of Anfi, having sold so many resale weeks, so when “A fantastic week and apartment became available at a great price, and I couldn’t pass it up”. Although we couldn’t help wondering if he would have bought at the ridiculous prices direct from Anfi?

He then goes on with a wonderful sales pitch on how great the place is, the wonderful facilities and the great restaurants, with reasonable prices compared to other 5* resorts. Well sorry Mr Brown, but you can get even better food at even better prices by leaving the resort and heading to some of the local restaurants.

The article then ends with “If this has made you consider Anfi Beach Club, or any of the other Anfi resorts, why not call Gavin himself or one of his colleagues to discuss further”?

Could it be they have that many weeks on their books they need to do a sales drive to get rid of them?

The other point to remember is that when you buy resale you don’t get all the benefits as you would buying direct from Anfi. See the link to the previous article on Resale Vs Direct.

http://insidetimeshare.com/?s=anfi+resale

It has also been announced that ABC Lawyers Ltd, another Mark Rowe company has bought Lansdown Financial Ltd, a claims company registered with the Ministry of Justice. This is another acquisition following that of Tucola Ltd and Justice4 Ltd, Mr Rowe is certainly expanding, the question is why?

After all, his past is not what you could call squeaky clean, there has been a lot in the press and on TV about some of his past enterprises, Monster Credits springs to mind. By purchasing a company already regulated by the MoJ it does save him the problem of applying to the MoJ for authorisation, then having to pass the competence and suitability assessment, which is not a simple task.

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/481751/CMR_Applications_for_Authorisation_Guidance_WEB.pdf

Going back to Anfi, although the courts are closed during the month of August, some staff are still working and issuing sentence papers from cases heard previously, this particular case was heard on 6 July. The Court of First Instance in Maspalomas awarded the former Anfi member 42,625€, again the infringement of the timeshare law was the length of the contract, being over 50 years in duration. So Anfi, do you continue to deny that you are losing in the courts?

So on with this week’s Letter from America.

Link to Karen’s first report.

http://insidetimeshare.com/works-industries-not-timeshare/

Timeshare Advocacy Group™

Secret Shopper Questions and a Secret Shopper Report

two meeting

By Karen Garello, Secret Shopper Coordinator

August 18, 2017

Inside Timeshare encourages its readers to submit positive articles about timeshare experiences, so I was relieved to have attended a positive sales presentation at The Suites at Fall Creek in Branson, Missouri. Unfortunately, the presentation was followed by a less than positive customer service experience.

My Diamond saga began when I purchased a trial Sampler program I had not realized I had purchased until I returned home and saw a $3,995 charge to a Barclaycard. Diamond would not reverse the charge.

http://insidetimeshare.com/works-industries-not-timeshare/

Trying to make the best of a bad situation, I decided to attend a presentation as this is required when purchasing a Sampler. After I returned home from a Branson presentation, I attempted to access Luxury benefits but was denied access. Luxury benefits include luxury hotels, shopping and wine. When I contacted customer services at the Sampler department, asking why I was denied access, the customer service agent put me on hold for a long time while he called Branson. After completing his “investigation” he told me the reason I could not access Luxury benefits is because Branson reported me as a “NO SHOW”!!!

Had it not been for our Diamond Resorts member supported Advocacy Facebook, I probably would not have gotten the sales agent’s name, and I certainly would not have prepared a report.

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

Admitting deceit it seemed, the customer service agent said, according to the notes during the presentation (he initially said I had not attended), I had told the sales agent TK I had complained about the unauthorized charge to purchase the Sampler. I pointed out that I had used my American Express for all the charges I made at The Suites. Customer service said they will investigate further and get back to me.

Now onto my original article

buttons

Many timeshare companies already have Secret Shopper programs. Still, it doesn’t hurt for timesharing member Secret Shoppers to evaluate for other members how near or far a timeshare sales agent ventures from his or her script.

I guess I am not that secret of a Secret Shopper in that my name is on this article, so I hope the good experience I had at Diamond ResortsThe Suites at Fall Creek in Branson, Missouri wasn’t because they were aware of my Timeshare Advocacy Group™ position, Secret Shopper Coordinator. I’d like to give them the benefit of the doubt.

My presenter was TK Armstrong. She used to work for Bluegreen but joined Diamond because she said they have more resorts. TK and I talked for about 45 minutes. I went over my Polo Towers experience. She seemed sincerely concerned. She showed me a description of CLARITY™ Diamond’s new Enhanced Quality Assurance program. She was supportive of the program and said she was going to abide by it. She went over the Sampler product I did not realize I purchased until I returned home from Polo Towers. At least I know what I bought now.

We have three new Secret Shoppers. We will not identify them because they are, well, secret. After compiling over 100 complaints from readers who have reached out to Inside Timeshare for assistance, we have determined the most popular complaints involve the following:

  • Maintenance Fee relief program that do not exist,
  • The ability to sell points or weeks when there is no secondary market,
  • The value of travel awards,
  • Misrepresenting the value of using a credit card to offset Maintenance Fees,
  • Stating a lower loan interest rate can be obtained from a bank or credit union in order to escape high timeshare loan interest rates,
  • Oversold availability

We arm our Secret Shoppers with intelligent questions that, maybe because of being on vacation brain, people forget to ask. These are questions of course that any timeshare consumer can ask, so we share them with our readers. Transparency, honesty and accuracy are rated on a scale from one to five with a five being the most honest. Results are tabulated quarterly and sent to our team for review. After we complete our pilot program, we hope to submit the data to the respective resort for review.

Suggested Questions

  • May I take notes?

Qualifications

  • How long have you worked at this resort?
  • Have you worked at other resorts?
  • What did you do before you sold timeshare?

Consumer Protections

  • May I call my lawyer to discuss your proposal?
  • May I take the contract to my room so that I can have an adequate amount of time to review such a major purchase?
  • Are you a member? May we log onto your account so I can check actual availability and value? I am spending a significant amount of money on something I have not even attempted to use.

Resale or Exit Program

  • What happens if I can no longer use or afford the timeshare?
  • If I can sell it, how can I sell it? Who do I call? Can you give me a reference?

Note: Contact a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association to ask about the benefits or lack of benefits buying on the resale market and to see if they will accept a listing for the timeshare you own.

http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

Maintenance Fees

  • Please show me in the paperwork the cap on maintenance fee increases. How much does a maintenance fee go up on average annually? Does it go up every year?
  • Can you provide a five year history of Maintenance Fee increases?
  • Is there anything I can do to offset Maintenance Fees?
  • If I can use my points for maintenance fees, how much per point are they credited?
  • Where in the paperwork can I verify this information?
  • If I offset Maintenance Fees with credit card purchases, please provide an example of the value of a $1 purchase and how many purchases it would take to pay off my annual maintenance Fee? (One member reported it would cost over $270,000 in annual purchases to pay a $2,700 Maintenance Fee!)
  • Can I rent my timeshare to pay Maintenance Fees?

Travel awards

  • If I can use my points for hotels, what is the value per point?
  • If I can use my points for airline tickets, what is the value per point?
  • If I can use my points for a cruise, what is the value per point?

Loans

  • Where in the paperwork does it state my loan interest rate?
  • How much will I pay for the timeshare if I carry the loan for the maximum term?
  • Is there anything I can do to reduce my interest rate?
  • What is the interest and penalty if I miss a payment?

risk

If consumers must take out a loan to buy a timeshare, consider carefully the actual cost of financing a vacation at 12 to 18%. America is a buy now pay later society. I don’t think many financial planners would recommend financing a luxury item without comparison shopping. Well over half of the complaints Inside Timeshare has received involve high interest rate financing.

We hope Secret Shoppers create smart shoppers asking the right questions before plunging into a purchase so many of our readers have come to regret. Societal changes are influencing the wants and needs of today’s traveler. Are timeshares more flexible or less if you are locked into usage and maintenance fees increasing annually.

Our first Secret Shopper, Laurie Sabbagh, offered the first Timeshare Advocacy Group™ Secret Shopper report. She reported some good and not so good observations. Of merit is the warning to timeshare buyers to take the promise of travel awards a step farther and ask, “At what value?” In general consumers should buy a timeshare for its intended purpose which is to vacation at a resort. Here is Laurie’s report:

http://insidetimeshare.com/friday-review-news-across-ocean/

Contact Inside Timeshare if you have interest in becoming a Secret Shopper or would like to share a positive or negative timeshare shopping experience. There are several member supported Facebooks and websites where members can reach out to other members to share experiences. Timeshare Advocacy Group™ posts information from all sites. Our motto, courtesy of Jimi Hendrix, is –

knowledge speaks

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

Thanks to Karen for her Secret Shopper part II, also thanks to Irene as usual for the editing and coordination from the other side of the great lake. We have many more articles coming up in the next few weeks with part II of Hug Your Haters and a piece about the Castle Law Group lawsuit with Orange Lake. We will also be having another article from our Antipodean friends from the other side of the world.

So that’s it for this week, have a great weekend and we will be with you next week.

 

 friday dog