Browse Tag

Westgate

The Tuesday Slot

Welcome to this edition of The Tuesday Slot, this week Inside Timeshare publishes one of the last articles from Irene Parker due to the subpoena from Diamond Resorts in their case against Finn Law Group. Irene will, however, be submitting the progress of her GoFundMe campaign to raise the funds for legal representation.

Before we go on with Irene’s article, Inside Timeshare has received the following information from one of our readers regarding SG Abogados, the “FAKE” law firm which is part of the Litigious Abogados Family.

Our reader has been receiving numerous telephone calls regarding Diamond Resorts and Royal Oasis Club along with a Mr Barras (possibly the name they are using as “director”) being taken to court in Santa Cruz, Tenerife. According to the information given Diamond, Royal Oasis and Mr Barras are being taken to court for various reasons including fraud.

Some new names have now also come to light, they are supposedly the UK associates using the email address @sg-ukclaims, they are Andrew Hartley and Richard Lamont.

SG Abogados now claim that they cannot lose the case and will be working on a “no win no fee” basis, however, a fee, the amount is not yet given needs to be paid to the “Procurator” to file with the court. Once the case is lodged with the court all official court papers (FORGED) with be forthcoming.

Our Reader contacted Diamond Resorts and was told that there were no court cases being launched against them by this “law firm”. Inside Timeshare is in agreement as we already know that this “law firm” is fake and nothing but a fraud. More on this story as and when new information comes in.

Now for today’s article.

Diamond Resort’s Subpoena to Irene Parker

My $25,000 GoFundMe Launches Friday

September 24, 2019

By Irene Parker

I will not be publishing my regular articles for Inside Timeshare due to a subpoena I received from Diamond Resorts. Instead, I will publish my progress towards my $25,000 Legal Defense GoFundMe goal. My original goal was $50,000, but after discussion with the two law firms I have retained, and given that I really am a volunteer with no gold coins buried in my backyard, it is anticipated there may even be funds left to donate to a consumer protection organization.

I am not being sued by Diamond, but have become centre stage in what seems a strange lawsuit Diamond Resorts filed against Finn Law Group in 2015, especially since I’m playing such an important role.   

My Timeline

I met attorney Mike Finn late January 2016 after reading Gretchen Morgenson’s New York Times article, The Hard Sell Timeshare Comes Roaring Back. (Highlight the link and right click to open).

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/24/business/diamond-resorts-accused-of-using-hard-sell-to-push-time-shares.html

I contacted California attorney Eric Ridley March of 2016 after reading how Mr. Ridley sued Diamond Resorts, accusing the company of Elder Abuse. Louis Wolff was 81 years at the time of this lawsuit.

Louis Wolff claims Diamond Resorts International Club and six affiliates used high-pressure sales tactics to open credit cards in his name, run up bills on them “before plaintiff even realized the cards existed,” and charged him more than $50,000 for “membership ‘services’ in DRI entities.”

https://www.ridleylawoffices.com/blog/diamond-resorts-timeshare-accused-elder-abuse/

In January of 2017, I contacted Albright Stoddard Warnick and Albright to learn more about a billion lawsuit filed against Diamond Resorts. The judge ruled in favour of the arbitration clause, so the class action did not go forward.

https://insidetimeshare.com/1billion-law-suit-diamond-resorts-international/

Later in 2017, I contacted the law office of Amir Goldstein after finding this lawsuit filed against Diamond on behalf of Fe Jocson. I referred Fe to Amir.  

https://www.classaction.org/media/jocson-v-diamond-resorts-international-club-et-al.pdf

I could go on, but suffice to say the reason for my research was because in 2015 I was invited to be interviewed by the late Las Vegas attorney, Bob Massi, host of the popular FOX television show called Property Man. After a horrific timeshare presentation experience at Grand Beach Resort in Orlando, I saw Bob’s segment about a 90,000 square foot home being built in Orlando by Westgate owners. My husband and I were on our way to Venice, Florida, moving from Kentucky, when we attended the presentation. I wrote a sort of Fairy Tale about it:

“The Queen of Versailles and the peasant of Venice”

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

I even had business cards made

Sometime in the fall of 2016, the Saldana family reached out to me, referred by a licensed broker who felt awful after telling the family Diamond points have no secondary market value. I reached out to a Diamond attorney on the family’s behalf, an attorney I actually liked. I referred the Saldana family to Eric Ridley when Sylvia asked me a legal question I could not answer. Diamond’s attorney resolved the matter, so Sylvia did not retain Mr. Ridley.        

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

I referred Diamond members to Finn Law Group and will continue to do so. Now, however, we have a list of seven law firms we know and trust. I have met face to face with five of them. I have heard from over 1,000 timeshare members, spanning the globe. There were a few from as far away as Australia and Malaysia. I receive timeshare complaints from timeshare members concerning a variety of timeshare companies.  https://www.finnlawgroup.com/

Sometimes members ask to speak to an attorney or ask me a legal question I can’t answer. Often they are at the end of their rope. We promote self-advocacy, but not everyone has the time or temperament to self-advocate.

The lawsuit Diamond v Finn Law Group as reported by the Orlando Sentinel:

Finn and Diamond signed a settlement agreement in 2015 because Finn was bringing so many cases against the company, according to Diamond’s lawsuit.

It says in its latest lawsuit documents that the contract required them to cancel a number of contracts for Finn’s clients, while Finn agreed to stop reaching out to Diamond timeshare owners.

Diamond says Finn disclosed the contract to third parties, violating an agreement to keep it confidential. But Finn responded in court that Diamond failed to cancel some of the contracts it had promised to, while the timeshare company also violated the confidentiality agreement, rendering the contract void.

https://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/os-bz-orange-lake-timeshare-finn-20180404-story.html

Based on the account above, it sounded like lawyers squabbling. I never dreamed I would become the centre of the lawsuit! I’ve retained two law firms. One would have been enough, but I retained the second to help with future plans.

Indirectly, these attorneys are representing you – anyone who has experienced unfair and deceptive sales practices.    

The subpoena I received from the law firm of Baker Hostetler below is nothing short of bizarre. I attended the Whistleblowers Summit this past July and even participated as a panel member in a discussion on ethics and resiliency. I’ve learned any whistleblower worth his or her salt should expect retaliation.  

When I hear from a timeshare member, I direct them to contact their resort instead of contacting an exit company. I provide contacts for the appropriate department and explain the pathway to file regulatory complaints if the member reports unfair and deceptive practices. It is every consumer’s right to file regulatory complaints.  

What Happened to Us 

We purchased Diamond timeshare points, in 2012, only to learn it would cost approximately $8,000 to stay in New York hotels using Diamond points, compared to about $3,000 for the same hotel, same week booked online. I checked year-round. We purchased these points because our daughter lives in New York City. Eventually, after filing complaints with the Arizona and New York Attorneys general, I was offered my money back. I refused to sign the NDA.

I contacted Diamond’s Member Services about the extreme disparity in value. The agent I spoke with explained that those types of properties are for people who bought so many points they don’t know what to do with them all. Having garnered complaints from over 100 Diamond Platinum members who say they mistakenly bought points told they would be relieved of maintenance fees, I understand. 

My daughter Michelle has experience fundraising. I’m hoping she will start a jar: “My Mom’s Legal Defense Fund for Helping Timeshare Hostages” at Daredevil. Michelle raised $30,000 on Kickstarter to launch DareDevil Tattoo Museum. A lot of people seeking tattoos find DareDevil. Over 200 lineup every Friday the 13th as documented by Forbes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TpHYJCmDJjM

The CEO of Airbnb personally helped launch Michelle’s Airbnb “Experience,” a tour of the Bowery. Michelle is the only NY tattooist also a licensed tour guide.   http://insidetimeshare.com/tuesday-slot-airbnb-v-timeshare/

Michelle’s tattoo was featured in a New York Times article when her artefacts were displayed at the New York Historical Society a while back.

Thanks to Diamond, I inadvertently became a contributor for Jim Cramer of Mad Money, Cramer’s investment news service TheStreet.   https://www.thestreet.com/story/13624491/1/is-apollo-returning-to-its-junk-roots-with-its-acquisition-of-diamond-resorts.html

Employing the skills I learned as a CASA supervisor, which included writing and editing court reports on behalf of children in foster care, I started interviewing timeshare members the way I was trained to interview biological parents and their kids. CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates. Our court reports helped judges make a determination as to the best outcome for a child in state care. Listening to a timeshare member is a lot like listening to a mom whose child has been placed in state care. You can substitute “timeshare member” for “child”, Give a Timeshare Member Hope.

Baker Hostetler, the law firm that sent the following subpoena, is closely associated with the timeshare lobby ARDA. This is #1 of 13 demands imposed by the subpoena. Next Tuesday I will publish #2 of 13.   

Subpoena demand #1 of 13

Diamond has demanded the following documents (edited for brevity).  

The first subpoena demanded the history of my life since I was old enough to talk. The judge ordered a “narrower in scope” subpoena so that I only have to produce documents that pertain to the Diamond v Finn Law Group lawsuit.

Definitions and Questions pertaining to #1 of 13    

Correspondence – Letters? I have no telegrams, cables, telexes, facsimiles.

Emails: I’m happy to provide emails, but we have a dilapidated HP printer that gasps when I print five pages. I’m told you can hire a company to help with discovery, so I’ll need to raise money for that too. 

Text messages: I thought they disappeared after a while. I can provide many text messages, but I don’t even know how to do a Facebook screenshot. I will need technological support for this one.

Contracts and Proposals and Agreements: That’s an easy one. I don’t have any.

Minutes: I don’t have any of those either.

Acknowledgements:  noun: acknowledgement

  1. acceptance of the truth or existence of something. “there was no acknowledgement of the family’s trauma”
  2. an author’s or publisher’s statement of indebtedness to others, typically one printed at the beginning of a book.

I ask Mike to review an article if I think I might have written something defamatory. For example, I once used the term Ponzi scheme. Mike said that was defamatory, so suggested Monopoly Money.

Notes: I jot down notes like when I reach out to an expert to ask something like, “What the hell is a Travel Club anyway?”

Memoranda: Definition: I had to look this one up.

Analysis: I have analyzed and tracked Diamond sales agents repeat offenders since 2016. I’m more than happy to provide that information as for years I have been trying to get anyone to listen to me.  

Projections: I don’t have any formal projections, but unfair and deceptive sales practices are on the upswing, based on my research.

Work Papers: I have a spiral bound notebook when someone calls. Is that a work paper or a note? 

Books: I edited All about Timeshares: Before During and After the Sale. The book was authored by a former Navy Journalist, timeshare sales agent and executive, Wayne Robinson. I received no compensation or royalties. I highly recommend this book which can be purchased through Barnes and Noble.

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

Forecasts or Appraisals: Nope

Papers:  Like a White Paper? What’s the difference between a note, a work paper and a paper? 

Records: I kept a record of the first 1000 families to contact me, but I stopped counting after 1,000 because I feel I have enough data. The volume of disgruntled members has increased to the point I can’t keep up.

Reports: What’s the difference between an analysis and a report? Doesn’t a report contain the analysis of DATA?

Diaries: It’s called Inside Timeshare and is available online.  

Statements: I’m more than happy to produce my bank statements. This timeshare ministry is costing me $400 a month in lost piano student revenue.

Questionnaires:  I surveyed the members of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association because I wanted to know why they would accept a listing for any major timeshare except Diamond. Most would not say anything in fear of being sued, so I must redact this report. They said Diamond has draconian restrictions on the use of points acquired on the secondary market.   

Schedules: I’m retired. I have no schedule.

Computer programs or data: I will have to ask my husband. He does all that.

Books of account: My chequebook?

Calendars: I have one of those! 

Graphs, Charts, transcripts: I have none of those, although a Diamond member emailed me transcripts of a deceptive presentation. 

Tapes or Recordings: I recorded Irene and Dale, a Bronze Star Veteran, who has been financially devastated because of their last Diamond purchase. We received 21 complaints against their agent who reported earning over $2 million a year.  

Photographs: One of Diamond’s Platinum members wondered if they could find a courtroom big enough to hold us all.

Pictures or films: Films? We may have one in 2020 suggested by a timeshare buyer whose son is a director.  

Videos and audio recordings: I thought that was tapes and recordings.

“And all other information where data can be obtained, including all underlying, supporting or preparatory material now in your possession, custody or control.”

The term “documents” specifically includes documents kept by individuals in their desk, at home or elsewhere.  

In conclusion:

Those so motivated by greed cannot be expected to understand someone motivated by compassion. These big outside counsel law firms can bury a small law firm, much less a 68 year old lady who has been working for you for free, now at 52 volunteer hours per week. It’s a labour of love. I’m not complaining.  

#1 of 13 – How’s this for a run-on sentence: 

1. Any printed, written, taped, recorded, graphic, electronic, computer materials, from whatever source, whether in draft or otherwise, whether sent or received, or neither, which contains of from which information can be obtained and which is in Your possession, custody or control, including, but not limited to, the original, a copy, and all non-identical copies whether different from the original because of notes made on or attached to such copy or otherwise of any and all writing, correspondence, letters, telegrams, cables, telexes, facsimiles, emails, text messages, contracts, proposals, agreements, minutes, acknowledgments, notes, memoranda, analyses, projections, work papers, forecasts or appraisals, papers, records, reports, diaries, statements, questionnaires, schedules, computer programs or data, books or account, calendars, graphs, charts, transcripts, tapes, or recordings, photographs, pictures or films, ledgers, registers, work sheets, summaries, digests, financial statements, pictures, videos, audio recordings, audio recordings, and all other information where data, records, or compilations can be obtained, including all underlying, supporting or preparatory material now in Your possession, custody or control. The term “document” or “documents” specifically includes documents by individuals in their desk, at home or elsewhere.

To be continued  

Posted on RedWeek by “Janet” on a thread about Finn Law Group followed by Irene’s response:

https://www.redweek.com/forums/messages?thread_id=19198;page=last

This place (Finn Law Group) is a real law firm but shady. If you look at their BBB all the reviews are in 2019 and roughly a week apart. Also, a lady by the name of Irene Parker (diamond advocate FB forum) was referring all the people on her site to him. She claims her process is free knowing she’s not getting anyone out so after they realize this, she sends them to Finn and he charges thousands of dollars. Well, now it’s claimed that he was giving her kickbacks, commissions, and a finders fee. See, lawyers are not allowed to call or use any form of phone solicitation. How perfect was this set up. He probably contacted her to make a deal. You send them my way and I will take care of you. Ie cash money. Problem is, lawyers can’t split legal fees so I’m sure it’s all under the table.

Diamond is suing him and it looks like she is in hot water too. Diamond is shady yes, but so is Finn law group and Irene Parker. She now Is forming a go fund me page to help pay her legal fees. Why not use the free lawyer she claims will help and she is so tight with. Her quote. Last story. I had a diamond timeshare and went through her form to fill out. It’s a joke. I could tell it wasn’t going to work and asked many people if they had results. No responses, but she also chimed in with how many people she helped. Well, I found a local law firm and was able to get out of mine. It took 9 months but I was out. So I go to her forum to share my experience and got blasted by her and was asked to delete my post. She told me that the law group I used wasn’t approved by her. Well hell,I. never mentioned who it was. She knew it wasn’t Finn because she knows every client she refers. Anyway, I left her fb group. I knew right then she didn’t want any of her thousands of followers to maybe ask me who I used. It would have put a damper on her little side hustle. It’s fine if you want to help people and refer them to a law firm, just be straight up and tell what you’re really doing. Truth always comes out and will eventually. Thanks

Last edit by julieb989 on Sep 20, 2019, 07:24 PM.

My Response to this loon: (#1 a positive outcome requires an NDA)

Janet,

Thank you for posting false and defamatory statements. I have forwarded them to Finn Law Group. #1 the FB is not my site. It is a Facebook launched by an economics professor. It has grown to 3600 members. https://www.facebook.com/groups/DiamondResortsOwnersAdvocacy/

I do this because of symptoms of PTSD. My best friend Jayme Simmons lived with me the last two months of her life, in fear of her husband. He shot her in the face three times in front of her two-year-old. I was to testify premeditation but John switched his plea to guilty. He got 7 years. This is not the first time I worked full time for free. I worked for a year for free to raise money to fund my position at CASA, Court Appointed Special Advocates for children in foster care. With the proceeds, I raised from car shows, and a grant, I launched Fostering Futures, a program to aid teens ageing out of foster care, one of our nation’s high-risk populations. I also designed the volunteer program working for two years for free for the Diocese of Newark, at the Aids Drop-In Center.

I don’t get anyone out of their timeshare. I read their complaint, direct them to contact their resort, and if dismissed with “you didn’t say anything on the recorded QA,” we direct them to file regulatory complaints. I have several who have been through our process of helping other members, answering questions about regulatory filings. As a consequence, hundreds of disputes have been resolved.

Your comments don’t bother me. I consider the source. Here’s a testimony from one of the over 1000 families who have contacted me. Over 100 Diamond Platinum members have contacted me. One of them said she hoped they could find a courthouse big enough to hold all of us. About 90 of the Platinum complaints have resolved.

“My dad has had the contract he was upset with rescinded leaving him with his original contract, as he wanted. I was the one who did all the contracting and emailing for him and I truly do not know if that was responsible, the notification came through his attorney. Whether it was the attorney or the emailing, etc., I have no doubt at all that your efforts have changed the climate of the topic and the industry, and in some way affected the positive outcome for my father. Txxx and I will continue to support your efforts and hope that you also find some satisfaction in definitely being the person who interjected hope for a 90-year-old person who was despondent and really disappointed in himself.

I’ve suggested Inside Timeshare publish your comments, Janet.

Irene Parker

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 Group

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

Thank you Irene, Inside Timeshare will be following this case closely and along with all our readers wish you and Mike all the very best.

To all our readers please support Irene with her GoFundMe campaign, she has given so much and she now needs our support.

The Tuesday Slot: Manifesto Part 1

After we published our interpretation of Florida HB 435, Inside Timeshare received the following Manifesto written by an Industry Insider. Part I examines the history of exit companies. Of note is the mention of the role private equity plays in today’s timeshare industry. Private equity firms played a major role in the junk bond debacle of the 80s and the subprime mortgage crisis of the 90s, so it is of no surprise to find private equity firms directing timeshare today. A junk bond or a subprime mortgage had some value for the borrower, but a timeshare contract, often adding up to $100,000 or more, is worth next to nothing should the borrower need to sell.

We look forward to Part II in which today’s author hopes to, “draw public comment for a new Business Proposal to remedy and resolve the issues.”

Florida HB 435 addresses timeshare exit services

https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2019/435/BillText/__/PDF

MANIFESTO

Timeshare Exit Companies and the Future of Timeshare

WHAT DO THIRD PARTY TIMESHARE EXIT COMPANIES (“TPE”) TELL US ABOUT THE FUTURE OF THE TIMESHARE INDUSTRY?

Part 1.

By Anonymous.

Our Questions;

 

  • Are Third Party Exit (“TPE”) companies selling a product that is largely undeliverable?
  • If the product is undeliverable are all remaining TPE’s simply exhausted Ponzi schemes awaiting implosion and bankruptcy?
  • How many Customers in the last 12-48 months have paid thousands of dollars for services yet remain unresolved, un-exited, un-refunded, and are still on the hook for their timeshares?
  • How large is this Exodus?

 

In this manifesto we shall attempt to break down into layman’s terms the causes and effects on the Timeshare Industry at the hands of the so-called third-party timeshare exit companies or “TPE’s” and eventually in Part Two, draw public comment for a new business proposal to remedy and resolve some of the issues.

We shall also reminisce at some of the more notable examples of earlier ill-fated timeshare exit businesses, all of whom reveal the starkest of similarities. In doing so, we will also be commenting on the chest-beater from the Industry in the form of a Sept 17th 2018 public release. Sadly, we shall also be debating the unconventional elephant that still sits in the room.

  • Why is there such resistance to owners exiting a Timeshare?  
  • Why is there no organized, unionized, “brand supported” exit & secondary market offering that satisfies the disposal needs of owners who are aged, retired, unwanted beneficiaries of, no longer travel or are on Federal poverty levels?  

 “On Sept 17th 2108 the Timeshare industry, the American Resort Development Association (ARDA) and ARDA Resort Owners’ Coalition (ARDA-ROC), have united to stop the misconduct of those deceiving timeshare owners into paying for illusory timeshare exit services through fraudulent means”.

I applaud the Industry on the use of the word “illusory’ as defined as: based on illusion; not real.” In what appears to be a long overdue case of karma, the timeshare industry is altruistically defending its long suffering, desperate “exiting and cancelling” owners from paying for illusory exit & cancellation services.  

(We don’t know who is more naïve; the Resorts for expecting that no one can ever get out of a Timeshare, or the deluge of Owners who paid upfront to try to get out!)

We speculate that in the last 36 months a crescendo aggregating to millions of owners had the audacity to want to end their Timeshare experience and as a result many hired Lawyers and Advocates and spent tens of millions of dollars in an attempt to get rid of their timeshares. Most of these fees were paid upfront, and most were promised that fees were 100% refundable if the exit contract expires and one still owns one’s timeshare assuming the Lawyer or Advocate is actually still in business!

Customers are asked to pay $7500 or more ‘upfront’ to be represented or advocated. Most marketers claim that there are magical back passages into resorts that take back the timeshares quietly in a forbidden black market open to only the special few. Marketers support this notion by suggesting that if the resorts were to publicly announce that they take back timeshares there would be an immense exodus of cancellations. No present evidence supports this tall tale.  

The Timeshare Industry is familiar with the exiting, canceling or generally getting out of a timeshare scam. As we can see Timeshares are complex and very sticky to get rid of. The Industry continues putting TPE lawyers and advocates out of business and into bankruptcy, yet the Industry cannot find a solution to the real problem – an evident immense Exodus.

Nothing, other than Moses leaving Egypt could be compared to the TPE Companies assault on popular branded timeshare owners in 2015 – 2018. All the major brands had rolled out vacation club programs with all types of new generation upsells and exchanges. Publicly traded companies in the hotel, recreation, leisure and timeshare industries had begun curiously separating their timeshare divisions into new public companies. Yet at conventions, the Resort Owners, Lawyers and Administrators all reported that their biggest headaches were the Exit firms. Their disruptive activities caused added administration issues, defaults, millions in lost revenues, angry customers all dealing with these flimsy cancellation letters from dozens of Lawyers and hundreds of Advocates interrupting contractual obligations and communication with the customers. They all knew where this would end…owners were paying thousands upfront for services that weren’t going to happen. Owners were routinely signing and notarizing Powers of Attorney to exit companies like they were signing Christmas cards! This wasn’t a cottage industry any more. It was an epidemic that had to be eliminated.

Apollo Global Management, owner of privatized Diamond Resorts (who as Merchant Bankers were possibly the first well-known brand to recognize the sudden disparity in results and the probable cause), began aggressively suing TPE Lawyers & Advocate Company’s in 2015. Apollo has made it known that they are preparing to re-IPO Diamond Resorts

  • The cause; The Timeshare Developer/Owner HOA true concerns are the financial effect that an immense Exodus of Owners and the sudden loss of payment of residual annual fees would have on the bottom line.
  • The effect; The Timeshare Industry has adopted a widely “illiquid” stance based on the capture of customers annual fees. The Timeshare industry survives in a very large part from customers annual maintenance fees.

Where did this idea of how to bilk the Timeshare Industry come from?  

In 2004, Uri Fried, an Israeli businessman and so-called inventor of the Third-Party Exit (TPE) business sent millions of postcards to timeshare owners inviting them to get rid of their timeshares for an upfront fee. Uri had formed over 50 straw buyers LLCs and began transferring thousands of unwanted timeshares per month into his LLCs. For several years Uri’s activity went relatively unnoticed by developers and resorts. Along the way Uri sold timeshares on eBay for $1 thus cementing the perceived market value of second-hand timeshare at one-dollar. None of Uri’s LLC’s ever paid a cent in maintenance to any resorts. Uri ended up serving a couple of years for $1.9m tax evasion.

In 2017 Uri settled all misrepresentation charges with the State of Wisconsin for $132,000 and received a lifelong ban from ever handling timeshares again. None of Uri’s ill-gotten gains were ever recovered.

Uri Fried woke the Industry up to the vulnerability of the Viking Ship LLC exit scam. The Resorts & HOAs were so fragmented. Collectively, they had no clue what Uri was up to. Uri’s customers owned everything and anything. Uri knew he was never going to pay a penny in dues or maintenance, so he stuffed them all into his defaulting LLCs. If the Resorts grew suspicious of the LLC name(s) Uri would simply create new ones.

Eventually the resorts smartened up and unilaterally responded by refusing to honor or acknowledge transfers to certain suspicious names and eventually certain transfer companies. The Developers had falsely believed that some level of organic secondary market had been occurring. As the industry is so hugely fragmented the major developers were fooled for a while.

As we shall see, the Viking Ship LLC model grinds slowly to a halt when the resorts block or refuses customer re-registrations and transfers. However, the TPE’s marketing machines continue “in almost every case” to sell new Customers on getting rid of their timeshares, in order to continue to collect thousands in what surely become ill-gotten fees, thus becoming a Ponzi scheme; whereby new monies pay off older refunds.

After the failure of Uri Fried’s business, an alternative Viking ship business became strongly marketed; Attorneys claiming to ‘cancel’ a timeshare.

On behalf of Owners who retained the firm, Castle Law (and others similar) wrote to the HOA’s and Resorts and in some cases Lenders, a series of scalding, lawyerly stamped, heavily embossed, important looking letters accusing and maligning the Resorts with allegations of much malfeasance, misrepresentation and fraud in the inducement.  

Owners were claiming any or all of the following:

  • Told that this offer is good for today only.  
  • Told that timeshare is in hot demand
  • Told that timeshare is a great investment
  • Told that timeshare – like all real estate will appreciate over time.  
  • Told the timeshare presentation is only going to be 90 minutes.
  • Told the timeshare is in such demand it could always be RENTED for a profit.
  • Told that you are buying pre-construction and this timeshare can be SOLD for a profit after the next “phase.”  
  • Told that this week/resort is such a valuable week to all of the exchange companies that you can trade for “anytime, anywhere.”  
  • Told that this maintenance fee will not increase over time
  • Told you will be attending an “update” to discuss questions (also called a policy change, owners update, etc.… – later it was actually a sales presentation).  
  • Told that this is not timeshare but Vacation Ownership or Vacation Property.  
  • (You) were subjected to high pressure sales tactics or felt that you could not leave the presentation without purchasing timeshare.
  • The timeshare sales agents plied you with champagne (or other alcohol or drugs).
  • The timeshare sales agents assured you, you could cancel if we had second thoughts/buyer’s remorse.  

Attorneys and Advocates, armed with Limited Power of Attorney, filed cease and desists on behalf of owners. Attorneys were demanding that the Resort have no communication with the aggrieved customer (s). Simultaneously, customers were instructed not to communicate with their resort, and to forward any communication from the resort to the attorney or advocate.

It wasn’t long before far less scholarly ‘advocates’ caught on to the jolly wheeze and suddenly millions of timeshare data records were for sale and hundreds of thousands of robo dialed calls an hour were being made to every timeshare owner looking for people who wanted to get out of their timeshares.

Unbelievably, millions of owners wanted out.

In the words of ReedHein dba Timeshare Exit Team CEO & timeshare exit Advocate Brandon Reed;

The reality behind the recent litigation is that resorts are leaving millions of consumers with no other options. Timeshare Exit Team exists because the resorts have created a problem without providing a solution. We hear countless stories from customers who were unable to even give back their ownership. Others have found that their timeshare investment was actually worthless when  they tried to resell it. Owners must have a way to safely and legally end their ownership when it no longer fits their lifestyle. Until that happens, we want to make it clear that we will not be dissuaded from continuing to advocate for consumers.”

Reed Hein are the guys advertising on TV. Estimates show that ReedHein is now the largest timeshare cancellation firm in the USA. We wonder what ReedHein is doing differently from Uri Fried, The Macmillan’s, ACC and other notable predecessors.       

Ok, why isn’t there a secondary market for Timeshare?

The Timeshare Industry publicly abhors any notion of a secondary market almost as much as the Wicked Witch of the West abhors water.

Why? …It’s so simple.

Let’s say you buy a Westgate ‘second hand’ at 90% off current Westgate prices from eBay.

  1. Westgate gets no new dollars from that exchange, Westgate gets a new Customer, the perception of “secondary market” timeshare true value is realized,
  2. Westgate takes on the risk that you will or won’t pay its annual fee’s.

Unlike the auto business, the timeshare core product is the same in “both Primary & Secondary Markets,” the most glaring disparity is price.

All the frontloaded exorbitant sales commissions, fees, marketing expenses and popping champagne are in the primary market versus a vast global array of venue choices at huge discounts available in the Secondary Market.

Sadly, developers use punitive measures to hamper and deter secondary market purchases of Points based/Club, Right to Use contracts by restricting further points accumulation (s), restricting booking access or exchange, restricting access to deed back and contract back programs, voiding visiting guest rental certificates and other contractual privileges. Certain developers’ restrictions have been described as downright draconian!   

The Industry publicly states in countless SEC filings that a Secondary Market would cut deeply into the Industries profitability. We can see why they would be worried.

In SEC filings:

  • “…the resale market for VOI’s (vacation ownership interests) could adversely affect our business” (Bluegreen)
  • “the sale of vacation ownership interests in the secondary market could negatively impact our sales” (Wyndham)
  • “the sale of vacation ownership interests in the secondary market by existing owners could cause our sales revenues and profits to decline” (Starwood)

Source – EDGAR.

In loosely translated SEC language that means the entire industry agrees with the notion that a secondary market should not exist, and they will stamp on the windpipe of any attempt to conjure a secondary market.  

This cannibalistic, illusory industry has a bone through its nose! As the industry makes sweeping, ubiquitous, cannibalizing, business decisions we urge serious consideration to the real threat to the future bottom line. As the Industry has discovered, there is a serious flaw to timeshare. Having built these lavish, illusory, granulated palaces, one must continue to sell to new mug punters who are still naive enough to sit through a bruising several hours long presentation and then when sufficiently punch drunk, pick up a pen and sign complex contracts that one has never read nor had the opportunity to do so, nor to many if read would actually comprehend. This is the sales model of the Primary Timeshare market? Is this the best they’ve got?

Possibly that’s the reason behind the aforementioned public company players in timeshare creating new public companies for their Timeshare only assets. Maybe they also see the writing on the wall of this woeful sales channel and are protecting their other core assets from devaluation.

After all, how many mug-punters could there possibly be?   

In a 2017 Orlando Sentinel News story, Mr. & Mrs. Morrison stated they are horrified by what they did on their last vacation to a Wyndham Resort in Orlando. They paid $25,000 to buy a timeshare, after a four-hour sales pitch that wore down the couple’s resistance and skepticism. Now they’re being hounded by people promising to get them out of the contract — if they pay an up-front fee. They don’t want to pay out any more money and aren’t sure who to trust. “We can’t afford this,” said Morrison, 69, who lives near Ottawa, Ontario. She says Wyndham offered to put them in a program that will eventually allow them to sell their timeshare, but they aren’t sure how long it will take. “Why won’t someone help us and put a stop to this?” she said. Wyndham didn’t respond to questions about the Morrisons’ case.

As if the Industry abandoning its aged, non-using, beneficiary owned and generally unwanted/unaffordable owners wasn’t bad enough, the Industry thwarts every attempt to stop an immense Exodus creating a need for Lawyers, Advocates and evidently miscreants and swindlers.

If Timeshare is an investment in making memories in people’s lives then shouldn’t it know when it has outstayed its welcome?

This of course is all karmically comical as the Timeshare Industry has cut its teeth on brutally sharp practices of high-pressure selling techniques, flogging its wares in well documented grueling four or five hour long “90” minute information breakfasts.

The Industry is undeniably infamous for pitching heat. Sales offices manned with trained professionals are often well trained in manipulative sales techniques. These timeshare hit-men pitch to the giddy, all too often inebriated, vacation-minded unaware prospects. It has been alleged that commission driven sales people often misrepresent overly complex customers contracts, agreements, loan documents, mortgage addendums all of which are tragically packaged by Closers, TO’s (Take Overs), Hail Mary’s and Managers at a table somewhere in a Timeshare sales room. Their only compensation is the commission from a sale.

Can you hear the champagne popping corks now?

The Supreme Court of Tennessee disbarred attorney Judson Wheeler Phillips, founder of the Castle Law Group, on a myriad of charges relating to consumer fraud complaints. In the past few weeks, Castle Law Group has ceased business operations following federal lawsuits brought by developers against Castle Law Group and those acting in concert with the firm.

Wyndham’s pursuit of American Consumer Credit (“ACC”), ACC’s principal, Dana Micaleff and attorney, Michael Saracco, resulted in ACC filing bankruptcy on September 7, 2018. Attorney Michael Sarocco, stated that Canadian entrepreneur Micallef always had “good intentions”, however things fell apart when developers and resorts wouldn’t allow ACC’s clients to break their contracts.

Castle Law & Judson Phillips were among the pioneers of the timeshare law firm and the cancellation business. Castle law had dozens of tertiary businesses who were marketing Castle Law services. These marketing firms fed Castle Law with thousands of desperate owners who were willing to pay $7500 or more “upfront” to exit their contracts.

In order to understand the scale of timeshare in the USA, the Timeshare Industry does about a $9billion a year in gross revenue. About 9.4million ownerships exist. There are approximately 1600 resorts. Average maintenance is approximately $900 a year. The Industry aggregates approximately $8.5billion from maintenance annually.

A typical single resort’s simple deed math would look like this:

  •         Typical Timeshare Resort – Individual Condo Units Per Resort: 500 units
  •         Weeks for Sale Per Unit: 50 weeks 500 x 50 = 25,000 Weeks for Sale
  •         Average sales price per week: $ 25,000
  •         25,000 weeks’ x $25,000 = $ 625,000,000 developer receipts
  •         Plus 25,000 weeks x $900 maintenance p/a = $22,500,000 per year.

In a new improved version of Uri Fried’s Viking LLC scheme; David and Cindy Macmillan sent millions of solicitation postcards and letters to Timeshare owners enticing them to attend informational meetings that led to “exiting their timeshare with 100% money back guarantee.”

The MacMillans ran a bunch of Viking Ship LLCs and their own transfer company in a timeshare transfer operation that resort owners alleged was bilking the industry out of hundreds of millions of dollars over a period of about nine years.

In 2008, spurred on by a failing economy and the USA housing crisis, the MacMillans operated over 65 straw buyer LLCs claiming that in exchange for several thousand dollars upfront, owners could be released from any timeshare contract. The MacMillan’s prize-winning company based in Torrance, California held sales meetings for owners by the bus load. Hundreds would cram in waving their credit cards in readiness. The MacMillan’s charged $6000 or more and allegedly mishandled over 120,000 timeshare contracts before becoming the target of the Attorney General of California. RICO allegations from Plaintiff Wyndham Hotel & Resorts proved undefendable. The MacMillans were banned from the business. They didn’t pay a single cent to the resorts in maintenance. Most of MacMillan’s eager customers found they were still on the hook for their timeshares. David MacMillan filed bankruptcy in 2016. Once again millions of dollars in ill-gotten gains went unrecovered. In a karmic twist of fate, Macmillan’s own transfer agent transferred thousands of the Macmillan’s Viking LLCs timeshares back into the original owners’ names before leaving the scene of the crime and left the Macmillans to take the fall.          

By 2014 Timeshare Exit marketing companies had mushroomed up all over central and south Florida, Tennessee and Missouri. Most of the new crops were marketing firms owned and run by seasoned telemarketing recidivists or by ex-timeshare sales people, some of whom had access to valuable owner data. The marketers, mostly acting as advocates, fed a variety of attorneys and both shared in the customer fees.  

In call center parlance this new business represented a new ‘data’ vertical. Call centers that had previously run ‘data’ looking for mortgage consolidation or debt relief were suitably adaptable for Timeshare Exit marketing. The busted timeshare Resale/Rental telephone scams that had left many recently unemployed in south and central Florida simply redeployed themselves. Some sales people told sad stories of repenting for all the lies they had told while selling Timeshare.    

In Phillips’ case, the Tennessee Supreme Court disbarred Phillips after reviewing upwards of 18 client complaints, many of which made similar allegations of fraud, highlighting a pattern and practice of misconduct. In its ruling, the Tennessee Supreme Court found that Phillips “poses a threat of substantial harm to the public.” Central to the series of complaints were allegations that Phillips and his business partners misled and/or defrauded consumers by taking exorbitant fees from timeshare owners for purported timeshare exit or cancellation services based upon fraudulent and misleading representations.

The ACC case is based on various legal theories, some of which are founded in Federal law, known as the “Lanham Act of False Advertising”. The case remains pending against Micaleff, individually, and Saracco, individually, although an automatic stay has been issued relative to ACC in the U.S. District Court action as a result of the bankruptcy filing. That, however, has not deterred the prosecution of the case. As of today, there is a motion pending against Micaleff and Saracco to punish them for, among other things, failing to appear for a deposition.

The Industries press release further commented;

“The constant pressure that our member companies, owners and federal and state agencies are putting on disreputable timeshare exit companies has again produced a positive result for the consumer,” said Robert Clements, ARDA Vice President of Regulatory Affairs.

“We are committed to protecting our owners to ensure they aren’t taken advantage of,” said Michael Brown, President and CEO of Wyndham Destinations.”

Diamond Resorts implemented an aggressive litigation strategy in pursuit of third-party exit companies for their nefarious and unlawful conduct in an effort to protect the interest of their members who were promised outcomes that could not be legally accomplished.

The number of customers who “wish to exit” an owned, fully paid up timeshare is an immense Exodus. Far higher than was ever imagined or projected by the industry. The elephant in the room is that there is still no safe exit from unwanted timeshares and no robust market with which to capture and reposition the unwanted timeshares.

In light of the recently filed Florida House Bill 435, one must question the fates of the remaining exit and cancellation firms including; Resort Release LLC, The Newton Group & Reed Hein AKA Timeshare Exit Team amongst others.   

It is obvious by the recent advertising budgets expended on TV, Radio and all other assorted media, along with the number of employees and general expenses to run these TPE’s that there are probably millions of Owners who have already paid Fees to exit or dispose of a timeshare in the last 12-36 months that are as-yet unresolved and may begin actions suing for refunds. The Term of a TPE’s contract generally offered is 12-18 months. We are sure many contracts have now been extended far beyond their legal limits. All the previously named TPE’s and Law firms offered a 100% refund upon eventual nonperformance, assuming they were still in business.

By monitoring the largest TPEs on social media and by paying particular attention to present and past customers reviews, it is evident that satisfaction is extremely low and that refunds are aggressively being sought. How many hundreds of complaints like these does it take before another AG steps in or another exit company gets driven to bankruptcy by an aggrieved resort or the FTC?

Here’s what we know.

Exit firms can’t get rid of your timeshare unless the resort ‘wants them back.’ Most Timeshares are indeed worthless. All timeshares come with some form of annual cost. In light of 2018’s vacationing and travelling popular habits, the notion of paying an annual fee is not popular or appears economically attractive.  

It may well be true to say that all TPEs charge upfront fees for truly illusionary services because they now know within a moral certainty that their customers will get nothing for their money.

One would have imagined that Timeshare Developers, being an enterprising bunch, would have figured out how to ‘selectively take in’ enough exits & cancels to quell this Exodus problem. This sensible move would have made the TPEs redundant and quickly ended the third party exit business by allowing worthwhile and fitting exits for owners, for a small fee.  

This, however, further highlights the possible size of the immense Exodus problem.

Thank you to our new contributor, at some point he will reveal himself, but we look forward to Part Two of the Manifesto.

Remember if you are unsure about any company that has contacted you, or that you have found yourself on the internet or from an advert, then contact Inside Timeshare.

If you purchased your timeshare in Spain or upgraded after 5 January 1999 and would like to know if you have a valid and viable claim then Inside Timeshare can point you in the right direction.

 

The Tuesday Slot

Welcome to The Tuesday Slot, this week we welcome another new contributor, known only as “Industry Observer” as he wishes to remain anonymous. The introduction is once again by our very own Irene Parker, who was very excited to have this published, as it is from someone who has watched the industry for many years even though he has never purchased. It is certainly a very welcome independent insight into the timeshare industry and sales presentations.

Firstly a little news provided by Canarian Legal Alliance, they are certainly going to be keeping the courts busy over the next month.

At present they have in various courts around Spain 75 pre-trial scheduled, the three main timeshare companies are Anfi on Gran Canaria, Silverpoint on Tenerife and Club la Costa who have resorts on mainland Spain and the Canary Islands. Pre-trials are basically a formality and a last chance for a settlement to be reached before the case goes to a full trial. At the Courts in Maspalomas, Gran Canaria, 4 judges have been dealing with cases at this stage and issuing sentences without the need to go to a full trial. They have sat on so many cases now that they feel it is a waste of the courts time to set full trials. This has certainly speeded up the process for many clients.

Along with the pre-trials, the are 26 trials to he heard against the same timeshare resorts, again at various courts around Spain. We hope to bring you news of the conclusions as and when the cases are concluded and the judges issue their judgements.

One of the many complaints that Inside Timeshare receives from readers about their timeshares is the number of resorts that are advertising on the internet and the various booking websites.

This was sent to Inside Timeshare from one very angry reader, (see link below), it is for Select Marina Park, Mijas, Costa Del Sol. This is a Club la Costa Resort, which as we know is not a cheap timeshare to buy. It also uses the points system, which has been deemed illegal by the Supreme Court on many occasions, the reason is that it lacks any substance.

What that means is that you do not actually have any guarantee of booking your holiday accommodation, it is subject to availability. Yet this resort is being advertised on hotels.com for a fraction of the cost of the exorbitant maintenance fees that owners / members are required to pay annually, on top of the original extremely high purchase price. Is it any wonder that so many timeshare purchasers want out of their contracts!

https://uk.hotels.com/ho278895/?q-check-out=2019-02-24&tab=description&q-room-0-adults=2&YGF=14&q-check-in=2019-02-17&MGT=7&WOE=7&WOD=7&ZSX=0&SYE=3&q-room-0-children=0&fbclid=IwAR1grWTKZjEyb8FbVqjn5cSw_7EABpY-akPpfUEq9Z51wfQ_LSmrzDgiTVs

Now for our Tuesday article.

Why at Age 70 I Have Never Attended a Timeshare Presentation

Introduction by Irene Parker

Timeshare members are always grateful when a member who has been through the complaint or foreclosure process, thinks beyond their own Nightmare on Timeshare Street to support others. There is nothing more frustrating than groveling before timeshare customer service representatives who dismiss complaints of unfair and deceptive sales practices with, “You signed a contract” or “We are not responsible for what our sales agents say.” Our deepest gratitude to the author of today’s article who has been keeping Charles and me informed of industry developments over the past two years so we can in turn pass that information on to our readers. He has never owned a timeshare.  

By an Industry Observer

January 22, 2019

I have been a timeshare industry observer since 1985. I have concluded that timeshare is not for me. I shun contracts (especially perpetual ones) and I don’t plan very well in advance. For those with disposable income and the ability to plan, timeshare may be a rewarding experience. However, I would advise looking to the resale market for the best bargains. And, I would study the industry before dipping my feet in the resort pool.

In 1985 my wife and I were at North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on our first beach vacation. Upon leaving the supermarket, I noticed a flyer underneath our car’s windshield. Similar flyers were under all the out-of-state car windshields. The flyer offered a $40 gift to preview a new resort in North Myrtle Beach. Husband and wife were required to attend. A minimum income of $30,000 was required, as well as a driver’s license and credit card. Military couples with a certain minimum grade level were also welcome. I thought, “Why do they have to pay people to go see something for sale?”  People don’t get paid to look at houses or condos, and condos were quite the rage in Myrtle Beach in 1985.

I filed this experience in the back of my mind. It would reemerge numerous times in the future. On subsequent vacations to Myrtle Beach, Virginia Beach, Charleston, Orlando, Branson, and of course, Las Vegas, I would become more than aware of the smiling faces of OPCs who wanted to be my friend to get me to attend a tour, open house, remodel, new resort – whatever. Each approached us at a boardwalk or a booth, often a hyped-up boy or girl who had something special to share with me for only a few minutes of my time (90 minutes). I always reacted poorly to these solicitations since #1: I was on vacation and #2: I am not a real estate guy.

Fast forward to 2012 – I was in the midst of closing a company that I had run for 24 years. The economy had been unkind to the printing industry. I had to close the doors to my tiny empire and move to an early retirement. Fortunately, I could afford to do so. In 2013, finding myself with time on my hands, I decided to study the timeshare industry which had been in the shadows of my vacations. Three of my friends owned timeshare in different systems. I had quizzed them on their experiences. One loved his relationship.  The other two had mixed feelings about whether the process was worth it.

I began to google the names of timeshare operators along with keywords – problems, complaints, regrets, and lawsuits. Come to find out, there were a lot of people who bought timeshares that either didn’t want them or felt they had been duped into buying them. As mentioned, many are satisfied with their purchase, but it appeared many families had been financially harmed by their decision to buy a timeshare.

I have spent five plus years spending an hour or two a day on sites like TUG, RedWeek, Inside Timeshare, Inside the Gate, YouTube, and complaint sites. I developed a theory as to how the timeshare companies succeed in plying their trade.

Here are my simple conclusions:

First:  It starts with a bribe. It may be money, food, gambling, discounts, shows, or trips. Prospects are offered something of value by an OPC (outside person contact) for attending a presentation.  David Siegel, Jr. of Westgate timeshare fame, has termed prospects “mooches.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_gFaO11sNY

Second:  It is seldom the promised 90 minutes. The goal is to play a game of attrition. The longer the interview, the better the chance of capitulation – the customers will buy SOMETHING even when there may be an agreed upon pact not to buy. There is a good possibility that the prospects will break down and sign just to get their gifts and get out the door.

Third:  There will be more than one presenter. First is the “greeter” who will become your friend. They need to see your driver’s license and credit card. The driver’s license is to verify the family relationship and the credit card is to run a credit check. The credit check may be an unwanted surprise. The first sales agent will extol all the virtues of membership. If there is no bite, he/she will get approval to lower the price. After the initial sales agent, comes the manager or “closer.” He/she is out to make sure a sale happens. The friendliness will have worn thin. Prices will be reviewed and maybe lowered again. The sale needs to be made. If no sale has ensues, then comes the “survey person.”  He/she will review the presentation, the offers, and reasons for not buying. He/she will try one last attempt to sell an exit package. It may be a “discovery” “trial” or “sample” package. This will allow the prospects the chance to check out the resorts in the system, but requires another presentation. Trial packages are limited in scope and availability.

Fourth:  The whole job of the sales team is to make a SALE and that sale needs to be made TODAY. They know no one comes back later to purchase a timeshare. The sales team is on commission. They don’t eat if they don’t sell.

Fifth:  Truth may take a back door to the need for a sale. There is a clause in most, if not all timeshare contracts, that says the prospect did not rely on verbal representations to make their purchase. How many of us have relied on the ethics of the salesperson sitting across from us when buying a car, boat, condo or house? In Florida timeshare sales agents are licensed sales agents but they are exempted from the ethics requirement! It’s pretty scary if you can’t rely on ethics.

The terms of the contract are in the contract – not in the words of the salesman. The salesman may say that the company will buy back your timeshare. They won’t. He/she may say that the timeshare will go up in value. It will not.  He/she may say that you can go anywhere at any time. Complaints about availability abound. Attorney Mike Finn called this verbal representation clause a “license to lie,” and the beleaguered buyer unwittingly signs voluminous documents containing this one toxic sentence timeshare companies over-rely on.

Sixth:  Most timeshare contracts are perpetual. Once the three to ten day state contract rescission period is up, the buyer may have no other option but to pay the mortgage and maintenance fees if they cannot convince the timeshare company to break the agreement. It can be sold or given away, but the marketplace is almost non-existent. A default can have dramatic consequences on one’s credit score.

Seventh:  Sales people will make sure that no hand-written notes leave the room. False promises are not in the contract. The contract is long and initialed in many places. There are three things to be especially aware of.

  1. There is often a clause that says the company can change the terms and conditions of the contract whenever they want. Why even have contracts when benefits can be changed at any time?
  2. Accommodations are subject to availability. There are many complaints about lack of availability. Actual availability often cannot be verified until the buyer has access to the booking site, conveniently after the rescission period has expired.    
  3. These days contracts are often signed electronically, meaning your initials are stored and then tapped, tapped, tapped on a cheap tablet even tech savvy buyers find hard to read.

Eighth:  Timeshare contracts have a rescission period, which varies by state. It may be three to ten days. There are creative ways sales agents and their company can dodge the rescission period. A new program to be relieved of maintenance fees (that doesn’t exist) won’t be available until after the first of the year. While on vacation, sometimes with the kids, reviewing complex contracts can be a difficult chore. Sadly, even reading the contract doesn’t always disclose some of the pitfalls, like availability.

Ninth:  Roughly 50% of the cost of a timeshare purchase is the marketing, promotion, and commission costs. Think about it. If you list your house for sale, you pay 6% or 7% commission. What would happen to your home price if you had to pay a 50% commission to buy? Add that to the false promise that your timeshare is easy sell and you have a disaster waiting to happen. Sellers are lucky to get 10% of their initial investment back, thanks to the lack of an adequate secondary market. Timeshare developers don’t even want the timeshare back. You may even have to pay the developer a fee to take the timeshare back.

Ten:  Timeshares can be purchased on the resale market for pennies on the dollar. Sites like Tug2.net, Ebay, and Redweek have real people selling real timeshares for bargain prices. You can check with a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association to find out if your timeshare has a secondary market value. They can explain the pros and cons of buying from the secondary market compared to buying directly from a timeshare sales center. Plus LTRBA members have knowledge of all timeshares.

Don’t jump. Don’t believe you have to buy TODAY. Research the company. Research the industry. Social Media is here to stay. Chances are there is a member Facebook page out there for the timeshare you are considering, with members reporting positive and negative experiences you can evaluate. Do your timeshare math to calculate the purchase price, borrowing costs, and annual fees, not to mention special assessments. Check the resale market.

Vacation Smart!

Thank you to our Industry Observer for his observations. Here are a few member sponsored sites to check with to determine if you are jumping into your vacation dream so that you don’t end up one of our Nightmare on Timeshare Street authors:

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

https://everythingabouttimeshares.com/consider-exchange-options/

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

https://www.facebook.com/groups/465692163568779/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1639958046252175/

Thank you Irene for the introduction and a very big thank you to our industry observer for this article and all your information over the past two years.

If you have any comments on this or any other article, please use our contact page, we welcome your insights.

If you need any information about any company that has contacted you, that you have found on the internet or from an advert in a publication, then again use our contact page and we will help you do your credibility checks. Remember, doing your homework is one of the most important ways of saving you from losing your hard earned cash.