Browse Tag

Sedona

Friday’s Letter From America

It’s that time again, another Friday Letter From America, this particular article has been submitted by Dr. Jeffrey Taylor, it really does shed some light on the Diamond Clarity Programme.

An Almost Nightmare on Timeshare Street

A Diamond CLARITY™ Experience

Shaking hands

By Dr. Jeffrey Taylor

Introduction Irene Parker

June 2, 2017

First the good news: CLARITY™ worked! Diamond’s CLARITY™ program was launched after Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich issued an “Assurance of Discontinuance” having received hundreds of complaints filed by Diamond members who either lived in Arizona or purchased in Arizona.

Inside Timeshare previously reported on an instance in Sedona Arizona when a few sales agents must not have gotten the memo about CLARITY™. Diamond did reach out to those members and resolved the dispute.

Today we are grateful to report an example of how CLARITY™ is supposed to work and did work. Unfortunately, the Taylors previously purchased two 50,000 vacation point packages they allege were sold by similar deceptive tactics spending approximately $150,000 per package. The Taylors hope Diamond will help them resolve the prior purchases applying the same principles of accountability, transparency and RESPECT for the customer.

Inside Timeshare is grateful to Jeffrey and Debra Taylor for coming forward to explain why timeshare is an industry in need of reform. Diamond Resorts is certainly not the only timeshare company under scrutiny. The Taylor’s story is long, but tangled webs often are.

Today’s timeshare story comes from Diamond’s Virginia sales center. Inside Timeshare has received several additional complaints from the same Virginia sales center, including the most recent report written by Marjorie Menacker.

http://insidetimeshare.com/another-nightmare-timeshare-street-client-experience-diamond/

Timeshare Buyers Beware – A Lesson

By Jeffrey Taylor, PhD

My wife Debra and I were original Sunterra owners. Convinced we had to become Diamond points owners after Diamond acquired Sunterra, we gave up our deeded weeks and purchased enough points to become Platinum loyalty level members. We had been having problems with availability and were assured becoming a part of the official Diamond program would resolve the issue. However, after upgrading to Platinum in 2013, we still had problems with availability.

Twice we were convinced we had to purchase additional points and did purchase two 50,000 point packages. We would have purchased a third based on tall tales, but thanks to CLARITY™, the deception was stopped. CLARITY™ kept us from making a third mistake. We are sharing our story hoping others will come forward as Diamond needs to know about the harm being done to families like ours.

How CLARITY™ worked

Our meeting took place at a Diamond Sales Center in Williamsburg, Virginia in 2017. We were having serious issues with Diamond’s program and wanted to meet with a vacation counselor. After signing a contract to buy more points, we met with a Diamond Quality Assurance person named Rick who went over the new CLARITY™ forms with us. In doing so, we realized we almost succumbed to what we feel is deception a third time. Rick asked us to write a letter.

Rick:

Thank you again for the professional way in which you handled the horrible misrepresentation that happened during our owners update yesterday. My wife and I were so upset that it was difficult to put our thoughts together in your office. We have never had a business transaction where things were not only misrepresented, but outright lies were told.

My family has been a member of Diamond for almost 27 years. We have 150,000 points. Our sole purpose in coming to Williamsburg was to have an owners update. We were specifically interested in the ways that we might sell Diamond points and see if there were ways to offset the cost of maintenance costs. We made it clear we had no interest in purchasing new points.

We met with Geoffrey Cash for over six hours. After going over a number of routine items, Geoff got to the point of explaining some “New” programs that were instituted at Diamond on Apollo’s recommendation. He made it clear that Apollo was advising Diamond,  making sweeping changes to improve Diamond’s customer satisfaction. He then started a three hour conversation on a “new” program of maintenance fee offsets. The story we got was that Apollo thought that the value of Diamond points was undervalued, but that now Platinum members could use a 30 cent per point value to pay maintenance fees. Geoff did indicate that the going rate for fees was at 4 cents a point, but that platinum members had this new program. We were told that we could use ANY amount of unused points in November and a check would be cut to pay the maintenance fees. I took Geoff’s calculator and multiplied 100,000 by 0.3 and said, “So if we had 100,000 points left over in November, we could get a $30,000 check to pay fees with”. He said this was correct.

But in being totally honest with us, Geoff indicated there was a “catch”. Apollo could only do this for Platinum members who had a minimum of 100,000 points, but 100,000 of our 150,000 points were “deeded” and another 50,000 were in the Diamond trust. To qualify for this program we would need a total of 100,000 “trust” points. Geoff flatly stated that to be a “full platinum benefits member” we need to purchase 50,000 additional “trust” points in order to benefit from the maintenance fee program. We were shown two pieces of paper with 10 and 20 year projections of the maintenance fee cost now as opposed to the reduced costs over the same time periods if we purchased the additional points. The reduction amounted to about half the fee costs, from $380,000 for 10 years to about $180,000 in the new program.

We rejected a quote for 50,000 points. They came back with a 25,000 point quote. Finally we were presented a quote for 10,000 points and told our “equity” would cover the missing 40,000 points. Geoff went into a detailed written analysis of how the total cost of the 10,000 points over 10 years would be paid for by the maintenance points offset savings. The only reason we purchased the 10,000 new points was to gain access to the maintenance fee offset. We have zero need to purchase additional vacation points. Geoff acknowledged that he understood.

The paperwork that Geoff used to explain and justify getting these new points we found out later were shredded. Why were the sales related handwritten documents destroyed rather than presented to the buyer? We have no proof of what we were told. Geoff told us twice that we should not be concerned if the “finance guy” did not know about the deals we were offered. He said finance people were several months “behind” the sales promotions.

Thankfully Rick, you caught this and prevented us from making a big mistake based on serious misrepresentations.

It appears most of the information we received is seriously incorrect. Debra called the Platinum number this afternoon and tried to verify several key points. Almost everything was not in agreement with what Geoff told us, and the written guides Geoff gave us contradict what he verbally told us. At best this is unprofessional, at worst it’s fraud.

Thank you again for the professional treatment that you demonstrated with us.

Sincerely

Dr. Jeffrey L. Taylor and Debra C, Taylor

Why we purchased two 50,000 point packages for $150,000 each

truth

Thanks to CLARITY™ the 2017 upsell was cancelled, but the 50,000 points we purchased in Williamsburg in 2016 and 50,000 points purchased in Hawaii in 2014 at Ka’anapali were sold employing the same level of outlandish claims.  

The Hawaii Up-Sell

In 2013 we were Platinum members. Availability had not improved. We went to Hawaii in 2014. Here we were told that booking priority came from the DRI collection. We were told the Hawaii collection was the DRI flagship “Premier” collection and being in this collection would solve all our availability problems. We had to purchase another 50,000 points in order to transfer our 50,000 US collection points into the Hawaii collection.

This was the first time we heard about the 30 cent per point maintenance fee reimbursement program (we know now does not exist), said to be part of the new Diamond level above Platinum.

We were also told that “renting” the weeks around Christmas in Hawaii would generate more than enough money to cover the yearly maintenance fees and was routinely done by members. When we expressed concern over how complicated this seemed, the salesman said he could help advertise the rental.

 

The CLARITY™ forms were not available at this time but the policies are the same: I may not engage in any commercial rental activities to rent our Points for cash through online or print advertising to the general public and understand that my membership may be suspended or terminated if I do.

Now we owned a total of 100,000 points but availability did not improve.

The Williamsburg Virginia Up-Sell

We went to Williamsburg for our anniversary in March of 2016 to get some answers. When we arrived we were immediately singled out as “premier double platinum members” and were assigned to their best representative, Brandi.

They explained that Brandi was based at the Polo Club in Las Vegas and was visiting the Williamsburg center to train everyone on the latest DRI offerings. She claimed to have helped develop many of Diamond’s policies.

Brandi said she would get to the root of our problems. We had Brandi go on her computer and log into our account to try and make reservations. Sure enough, there was no availability. She seemed perplexed. In checking our account Brandi was “horrified” to find that there was key information missing from our account that would help in booking resorts. After about an hour she said she knew what the problems were and, unfortunately, there was not an easy fix.

Brandi said the Hawaii Collection points only gave us booking priority in Hawaii. She said our current status in the Hawaii collections was essentially useless in booking US collection resorts. No one in Hawaii told us this fact. In addition, there was still an issue with the original grandfathered points that were not “real” DRI points. Our understanding was that the Williamsburg and Hawaii collection purchases resolved these problems and gave us priority in booking at all DRI resorts. She stated absolutely not. This was devastating news. We had points that were worthless unless we went to Hawaii every year or “rented” points.

Irina Allen has had her 139,000 Diamond points suspended, accused of renting her points. She owns Hawaii points and disputes Brandi’s verdict. “The Taylors could have used Hawaii points to book on the US Mainland as they would only lose the 13 month reservation priority. They could make reservations in any of the US Collection resorts up to 10 months in advance.”

“But gosh,” said Brandi, “You seem like such nice people.” Brandi said she was going to see if she could help because we were so upset. The answer from management was to buy another 50,000 points in the US collection so we could convert the other 100,000 points to the US collection. DRI was going to allow us to do this with only a 50,000 point purchase as opposed to 100,000 points if we did the deal that day. Our choice was leaving with 100,000 useless points or taking the 50,000 point purchase for 150,000 US points total.

We made several points clear to Brandi. We could not afford the maintenance fees over time on 150,000 points and we could not use that many points in a year.

I asked if DRI bought back points or if we could sell them. Brandi indicated that DRI did indeed buy points back. She said the market value of DRI points was $10 a point at that time and going to $12 or more in the future. Since they were selling us the 50,000 points at a huge discount of $3 a point, we could easily sell them on the open market for $3. However, if we were going to sell that low, DRI would most likely buy the points back at the price we paid for them. To prevent people from buying and dumping points, we would need to wait two years before DRI would buy them back or we could sell them.

Note from CLARITY™: Diamond does not offer a buyback program and makes no representation regarding tax deductions, refinancing, or that there will be a secondary market for the sale of Points. Points do not typically appreciate in value.

As far as too many points, Brandi told us about points being just like money and we could get rental cars, cruises, hotels, and travel tours for 30 cents a point in 2017. The same amount per point would be true for maintenance fees. When we pointed out that we could not find this on DRI’s web page, Brandi said the 30 cent deal would be in the 2017 handbook. She knew all of this because she was part of the Polo Club management team who were developing the policies.

Note from CLARITY™ form: Redeeming Points for reimbursement of travel services does not provide the best monetary value for my Points and is typically no lower in cost than spending cash for the same arrangements.

That brings us up to February 2017 in Williamsburg seeking answers because very little that Brandi told us came to pass. Geoff spun six hours of dialog, again telling us our points were not “real” platinum points and we need to buy more. That triggered the investigation and the complaint we sent Rick.

new beginnings

All Diamond members hope CLARITY™ does indeed mark a new beginning. If what the Taylors said they were told is true, it meets the FBI definition of White Collar Crime which is “deceit, concealment, violation of trust and bait and switch.”

Inside Timeshare has been receiving a number of complaints from Diamond members with very similar, and in some cases, identical complaints from highly educated professional people. It’s getting harder and harder to accept that the Taylors and all those featured in our articles are making up allegations.

Dr. Jeffrey Taylor worked 30 years for Perkin Elmer in sales and sales training.   Debra worked as a Special Education teacher until their special needs grandchildren required their support.

The Taylors found Inside Timeshare by finding our member sponsored Diamond Advocacy Group launched February 2017, now up to 300 Facebook members.

We seek to provide Diamond Resort 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/groups/DiamondResortsOwnersAdvocacy/

Here are other Inside Timeshare “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” articles

By Neina Orrillo

http://insidetimeshare.com/diamond-in-the-news-again/

By David Franks

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-5/

Barclaycard and Member stories

http://insidetimeshare.com/timeshare-barlcaycard-us/

By Marjorie Menacker

http://insidetimeshare.com/another-nightmare-timeshare-street-client-experience-diamond/

By Eron Grant

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-4/

By Nancy Callahan

http://insidetimeshare.com/another-nightmare-timeshare-street/

A Filipino Family

http://insidetimeshare.com/anatomy-timeshare-foreclosure/

By Laurie Sabbagh

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

A Military Family

http://insidetimeshare.com/consumer-protection-week-usa/

The Hurleys

http://insidetimeshare.com/timeshare-advocacy/

Irina Allen

http://insidetimeshare.com/timeshare-news-across-atlantic/

Kathie Old

http://insidetimeshare.com/call-change-us-timeshare-industry/

Wyndham Trish Williams $20 Million Whistleblower Jury Award

http://insidetimeshare.com/wyndham-whistleblower-update/

The Peasant of Venice and the Queen of Versailles

http://insidetimeshare.com/peasant-venice-queen-versailles/

Sylvia Saldana

http://insidetimeshare.com/irene-parker-write-barclay-card-usa/

Thanks to Dr Jeffrey Taylor for his excellent views also to Irene who is coordinating the articles from the other side of the great lake.  So all that remains is to wish you all a very good weekend.

friday dog

Friday’s Letter From America

Another week over and another Friday Letter From America from our intrepid travelling writer Irene Parker.

Before we go to Irene’s article, a little news from Europe, we begin with the never ending successes of the lawyers at Canarian Legal Alliance, we begin with an announcement  which came in after publishing last friday’s letter. The Court of First Instance N1 in Arona Tenerife found for the CLA client against Resort Properties / Silverpoint, declaring the contract null and void, this was on the basis it was for floating weeks.

CLA Logo

These contracts according to the Supreme Court are illegal, under law 42/98, the contract must specify a week, date and location. The judge in the case at Arona awarded the client the return of 26,000€ plus legal interest.

On Tuesday 25 April Anfi was on the receiving end of another judgement at the Court of First Instance N5 in San Bartelomé de Tirajana. In this ruling the Judge found for the clients on two infringements of the timeshare law:

  • Contract is over 50 years in duration (perpetuity);
  • It contained floating weeks.

Again the contract was declared null and void and the client will receive 39,413€ plus legal interest.

On Wednesday 26 April the Court of First Instance N5 in Arona found once again for the client against Resort Properties / Silverpoint. In this case the client has been awarded over £25,957 plus legal interest, for a contract which was for a duration of over 50 years (perpetuity).

Yesterday Thursday 27 April, CLA announce another First Instance ruling against Anfi, for a contract over 50 years in duration and the illegal taking of a deposit within the stipulated 14 cooling off period. Over £37,913 plus legal interest was awarded back to this client along with the contract being declared null and void.

It is certainly a case of the lower courts adhering to the ruling laid down by the Spanish Supreme Court in Madrid, it leaves no doubt as to the illegality of many of these contracts with case after case being won, leaving many happy ex-owners timeshare free and reimbursed with money paid.

Inside Timeshare again this week published the latest in the saga of the “fake law firm” in Tenerife, Abel Garcia Abogados, one of the many in the Litigious Abogados family. This time one lucky gentleman decided to do an internet search of this “firm”, he came across our previous articles and contacted Inside Timeshare for clarification. This has saved him from losing thousands of pounds, he also provided Inside Timeshare with the letters documents and emails he received, these have been passed to our lawyers to be included in the denuncia to the Guardia Civil.

Another “firm” was also highlighted, FHA Marketing. Very little is known about this one as there are no entries at company house and their website registrant is hiding behind a privacy service, so it is not known who is behind them. One thing is for certain they haven’t got all their facts right.

So now onto the “Travelling Writers” article.

A Reader’s Response to Nancy Callahan and our Experience at Diamond Resorts Scottsdale Links

guitar

By Irene Parker

April 28, 2017

One of our readers emailed us with a sophisticated comment in response to our article about Nancy Callahan’s extraordinary experience, unaware she and her husband had acquired a $143,000 loan to purchase 50,000 Diamond vacation points. Our reader’s comment is kind of heavy, so I’ll start by sharing our more light-hearted Friday, end of the work week comment about our Diamond Resorts, Scottsdale Links experience, post Clarity.

http://insidetimeshare.com/another-nightmare-timeshare-street/

We checked into Diamond Resorts Scottsdale Links in Arizona a few nights ago. Our unit is spacious and clean. We found good value using our Diamond points in that we used 6000 points to stay two weeks at a Sedona Diamond property as well. It’s surprising how many timeshare members don’t think about timeshare math, converting maintenance fees dollars into equivalent real dollars in order to make a comparison as to whether it would be less expensive to book online.

Sometimes it is more expensive to use points, but in this case, $.23 per point in maintenance fees times 6000 points equates $1,380 for two weeks or $98 per night. Online the cost was $112 per night for a one bedroom unit, but there was also a $13 per night fee and a 13% tax so we are way ahead. Of course, the initial amount we spent purchasing our points is not factored in. The older you are the less advantage buying a timeshare, as there is less time to make up that initial outlay.

We are not asked to attend sales presentations. It takes some convincing, but you can request that your name be taken off the prospect list.

Diamond’s new Clarity program is about accountability and transparency and respect for the customer. The program was recently launched in response to the Arizona Attorney General issuing an “Assurance of Discontinuance” which includes a toning down of the aggressive nature of the sales presentation and, most importantly, requires the sales agent not to deviate from printed sales material.

https://www.azag.gov/press-release/attorney-general-brnovich-announces-800000-settlement-diamond-resort/

Diamond is certainly not alone among their industry peers in needing to improve the integrity and honesty of a timeshare sales presentation. In the case of Nancy Callahan, the agent went pretty far afield of actual policy, as explained by our reader.

I found only one lapse in transparency at Scottsdale Links. Of all places, it occurred at the activity center! I had asked activity representative Brandy if there were any good activities this week. “You’re in luck!” said Brandy. “We have a cowboy guitarist and singer tonight”.

The cowboy singer was Wally Bornmann. Wally started his performance singing Cowboy songs by composers no one, out east anyway, would ever recognize and worked his way up to Gene Autry. He peppered his songs with cowboy stories like when Gene Autry paid $5 for the lyrics of a song when he was traveling cross country that became famous. “It may not sound like a lot, but at $1.67 a mile, it wasn’t bad pay at the time,” explained Wally.

“Do cowboys use Facebook?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” responded Wally.

“Aren’t you a cowboy?”

“No”, said Wally. “I know a lot of cowboys, but I would be at best a cowboy looking in. I have great respect for the work a cowboy does. Only Diamond Resorts calls me a cowboy.”

As a Diamond Resorts member Advocate, I reported this lapse in transparency to Brandy.

“Wally isn’t a cowboy,” I explained. “There’s no need to call Wally a cowboy”. What Wally is, is a gifted “Cowboy Song Artist and Exceptional Storyteller.” Wally played a song he wrote that made me cry, ‘Till Morning Comes Again”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-XBdDT-GiU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aEVzayDyZo4

Fishin’ for Chickens was written by Hobo Jim, the Official Hobo of Alaska!

We have a lot of European readers. Arizona is a real special state that is now more Diamond member friendly thanks to Clarity. Next time our overseas friends hop over the pond, consider Scottsdale Links in Scottsdale and then head up to Red Rock Country in Sedona just south of the Grand Canyon. It’s our favorite place to hike.

The moral of my story is that Diamond has a product and if sales agents would stop overstating availability, understating maintenance fees and loosen the restrictions on secondary points so an owner could sell the darn thing if they had to, through a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association, members would stop complaining so much.

Now on to our Reader’s Response

group table

It is very disconcerting to see that the unfair, unethical and misleading business practices described by these Diamond members’ experiences are not isolated incidents. It is clear that it has become endemic of the entire accepted Diamond sales process, as well as with other timeshare companies.

The misrepresentation of the ‘Legacy’ program as a ‘resale’ option when it is merely a way to ‘share’ a block of points with other family members, the embellishment of the value of points earned through the Barclay Credit Card, including how many points are actually earned, what they may be redeemed for (for example, NONE of the down payment for the purchase qualifies) and the false representation of the amount that may be applied to the maintenance fee.

In addition, the common representation that points have a “Currency Redemption Value” is being made by every ‘successful’ Diamond Sales Agent and is expected by the managers of the business unit. Basically, the actual benefit described in the Member Directory allows a member to redeem “up to 30%” of annual points towards, “up to 30%” discount on travel rewards.

Specific rewards have their own restrictions, limitations, terms and conditions however; what the sales reps are telling customers is that they may redeem their points for .30¢ per point. They tell customers that using this formula that with 50,000 points they can get $15,000 back EVERY YEAR! They use this to upsell, as with these unsuspecting customers in this article; that they will be able to pay ALL their maintenance fees and costs and that actually buying more will cost them less.

It would be bad enough if this were a case of a few outlaw sales reps pitching heat, however; this is encouraged by the industry. Sales agents are coached and compelled to present the product this way and reprimanded, ostracized and eventually terminated for NOT ‘going along with the program’.

Accurately presenting the product leads to lies being discovered by the customers that they were ‘pitching this heat’. It is absolutely disgusting to me that a product that promises to deliver quality family vacation experiences is sold with such reprehensible disdain for honesty and integrity.

Inside Timeshare wants to thank our industry insider for explaining what the Legacy program is and what it is not. Sometimes we hear so many versions of a program we don’t know what to believe.

honest

If you have a question or concerns about Diamond Resorts or any timeshare, contact Inside Timeshare or one of our Advocacy Groups.

We seek to provide Diamond Resort 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/groups/DiamondResortsOwnersAdvocacy/

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

So there we are, another week over and more news from the murky world of timeshare.

If you have any comments or question about any of the articles published or have been contacted by any company highlighted, contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.

Have a great weekend and to Irene, enjoy your vacation.

weekend02

 

Part II: The Three Rs of Timeshare

After we published Fridays article, news came in from Canarian Legal Alliance, of four more sentences at the Court of First Instance in Arona, Tenerife. These were once again against Silverpoint, again this lower court applied the previous rulings made by the Supreme Court in Madrid.

In one case the court ordered the return of 85,000€ plus legal fees and legal interest, the client’s contract was again declared null and void. In another two sentences the clients were awarded with the return of over 25,000€ plus legal interest, with the contracts declared null and void. A rather expensive end to the week for Silverpoint, with no sign of these cases letting up.

The week also started on a bad note for Anfi with CLA announcing another sentence issued by the Court of First Instance in Maspalomas. Once again this lower court ruled as per the precedent set by the Supreme Court that contracts over 50 years were illegal, therefore the contracts have been declared null and void.

Court Masp
Court of First Instance Maspalomas

The clients in this case have been returned with over 14,000€ plus legal interest. They are now timeshare free and are no longer bound by the rising maintenance costs. So what a start to the week for those lawyers at CLA.

So, on with today’s writings by Irene Parker, in this article she explores the three R’s, Resolution, Relinquishment and Refund.

In Spain one of the three R’s is hitting the industry, as we have seen from the opening of today’s article, many owners are receiving back their full purchase price and some, purely because the timeshare companies have sold a product that does not comply with Spanish Timeshare Law or the Directives issued by the EU.

For those who do not have a claim, the other option is relinquishment also known as surrender, unfortunately this does depend on who you own with, some are easier than others. One company that is renowned for not playing ball is MacDonald Resorts, there have over the years been many articles written and published about how they make it very difficult for anyone to get out of their contract. They say they allow a limited number out every two years upon payment of 4 years maintenance fees, this is done on a first come first served basis, so no guarantee.

Some resorts, especially the smaller independent and usually family owned resorts, just allow owners to hand back, in some cases they will even pay back something. This obviously is good for both parties, the member is released and the resort has inventory to sell. Win Win!

Part II: The Three Rs of Timeshare

Resolution, Relinquishment or Refund

Part I of the 3Rs or F of Timeshare

Part III – Two More Rs – Rental and Resale

http://insidetimeshare.com/3-rs-timeshare-part-1/

travel lights

By Irene Parker

April 12, 2017

Most consumers are unaware of the perpetual nature of a timeshare contract. The combination of rising maintenance fees and a mortgage interest rate ranging from 12% to 18% if a loan is attached can spell disaster when the timeshare member can no longer afford the timeshare due to illness, unemployment or age.

We hear a lot about the elderly being targeted, but our advocates have also heard from the young. So far the youngest person I have interviewed was 19 and pregnant when she signed her contract just after midnight. When I explained what a perpetual contract meant, she was shocked.

“A perpetual contract in itself is not harmful,” explained timeshare attorney Mike Finn of the Finn Law Group. When you buy a house or car the contract is perpetual. The problem comes when there is no secondary market as Mike explains in his article, “The Unconscionable Suppression of the Timeshare Resale Market”.

http://www.finnlawgroup.com/learning-center/the-unconscionable-suppression-of-the-timeshare-resale-market

The First R: Relinquishment

Timeshare developers and the timeshare lobby ARDA seem to think voluntary exit programs are the answer. How does this help the family who has spent $25,000 to over $100,000 to purchase a timeshare, only to get hit with a life event that results in not being able to afford the timeshare shortly after purchase? Would you buy a house that could not be sold? The price of a timeshare can easily rival the cost of a modest condo or home.

Howard Nusbaum, CEO of ARDA is quoted in a June 2014 RedWeek article in reference to the lack of a viable resale market, “This is a legacy problem. People buying a timeshare today are buying it from multisite clubs that have management forever and sales teams forever, so the ability to recycle inventory will not be a problem in the future.”  Recycling inventory is the term used when a resort “takes back” your points or forecloses due to nonpayment of a loan or maintenance fees.

Timeshare companies are starting to offer voluntary surrender programs, but surrenders are evaluated on a case by case basis. The money invested in a timeshare can easily run over six figures, so walking away from that kind of money without a fight, when you feel you have been defrauded, doesn’t seem right.

The Second R: Refund

A refund is not easy to come by. Litigation takes years and if you win, there will in all likelihood be an appeal. Timeshare developers know the industry is virtually unregulated and that they are protected by the oral representation clause.

Let’s examine the most common complaints our advocacy group has heard to determine if these tactics meet the FBI’s definition of white collar crime.

Reportedly coined in 1939, the term white-collar crime is now synonymous with the full range of frauds committed by business and government professionals. These crimes are characterized by deceit, concealment, or violation of trust and are not dependent on the application or threat of physical force or violence. The motivation behind these crimes is financial—to obtain or avoid losing money, property, or services or to secure a personal or business advantage.

These are not victimless crimes. A single scam can destroy a company, devastate families by wiping out their life savings, or cost investors billions of dollars (or even all three).

https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/white-collar-crime

The most common complaints:

  • The agent said I could sell my shares,
  • Maintenance fees increase only modestly,
  • You can get airline and other travel awards but the value is zilch,
  • It’s less expensive to book online than to use my points,
  • The contract is perpetual? Who knew?
  • The interest rate is 18%!! I didn’t know till I started paying!

According to the FBI, there is corporate fraud and mortgage fraud. Corporate fraud includes accounting schemes designed to deceive investors about the true financial condition of a business entity by manipulating financial data, share price or other valuation methods.

While the definition above is most often applied to stock transactions, we can draw some comparisons to a timeshare point. Availability of accommodations, the value of travel awards can be overstated and the escalation of maintenance fees can be understated.

Mortgage fraud is a subcategory of financial institution fraud known as “fraud for profit”:

Fraud for profit: Those who commit this type of mortgage fraud are often industry insiders using their specialized knowledge or authority to commit or facilitate the fraud. Current investigations and widespread reporting indicate a high percentage of mortgage fraud involves collusion by industry insiders, such as bank officers, appraisers, mortgage brokers, attorneys, loan originators, and other professionals engaged in the industry. Fraud for profit aims not to secure housing, but rather to misuse the mortgage lending process to steal cash and equity from lenders or homeowners. The FBI prioritizes fraud for profit cases.

The backend of timeshare fraud has been widely reported, but there has been little attention paid to the front end. The industry needs to stop focusing only on the backend of timeshare scams as detailed in this US Department of Justice Timeshare Scam Report and take a closer look at the front end – the timeshare sales presentation.

https://search.justice.gov/search?query=timeshare+scam+report&op=Search&affiliate=justice

Timeshare members who begin their complaint with “the salesman said” are sadly told about the oral representation clause contained in a timeshare contract.

 Wyndham has appealed Trish William’s $20 million Whistleblower award.

In 2010, the plaintiff, Williams, reported that elderly customers were being defrauded by Wyndham salespeople, who were opening and maxing out credit cards without their knowledge and lying about reducing interest rates, maintenance fees and the ability to obtain rental income from their timeshares. She also disclosed an illegal, industry-wide practice of falsely representing that if owners spend enough money, often hundreds of thousands of dollars, Wyndham would buy back the timeshare at full value at the owner’s request.

Evidence presented at trial revealed that Wyndham employees engaged in “pitching heat,” high pressure sales tactics involving deliberate lies and misrepresentations to get people to buy more timeshare “points.” These sales practices included “TAFT” days, which stands for “Tell Them Any [email protected]#*ing Thing” days, where employees were encouraged to say anything to make a sale as long as they didn’t put it in writing. The highest selling sales agent was quoted as saying, “I sold my soul to the devil. I can say whatever I want so long as I don’t put it in writing, that’s why Wyndham has good lawyers.”

https://dolanlawfirm.com/2016/11/wyndham-vacation-whistleblower-verdict/

R3: Resolution

hope

Diamond Resorts has instituted a new consumer advocacy department to help members or owners resolve disputes. A member sponsored Diamond Resorts Advocacy Group works with members and Diamond’s advocacy department to resolve issues. There is always the possibility the member just doesn’t know how to use the booking system. Blanket statements like “You can always book online cheaper than using Diamond points” are not accurate. My husband and I are Diamond owners. We just booked two weeks in Sedona for far less using our points than we could have by booking online.

We wish all complaints could be resolved by better understanding the resort’s program, but that is not always the case.

Our complaint format is included in this Inside Timeshare article. Inside Timeshare readers can use this form when contacting Inside Timeshare or their resort when problems arise. Of course there are many who use and enjoy their timeshare year after year. Those owners don’t need us, yet.

http://insidetimeshare.com/friday-post-look-past-week/

Our Diamond Resort Advocacy Group:

We seek to provide Diamond Resort 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/groups/DiamondResortsOwnersAdvocacy/

Let’s keep working together to improve the industry.

Inside Timeshare is here to listen and respond.

fix prob

Related story

http://insidetimeshare.com/?s=hoa+collections

Inside Timeshare would like to thank all those who help to make these articles, especially Mike Finn of Finn Law Group, who helps Irene with the legal aspect of her writing.

If you have any questions or comments on any article published, contact Inside Timeshare and we will try find you the best answer or solution. You can also join our facebook pages and join the discussions. It is through these that we all find out what is going on.

  • 1
  • 2