Welcome to the last article for this week, as you know Irene Parker is now concentrating on her work with Tarda, so this slot will no longer be called Friday’s Letter from America as it was her one of her twice-weekly slots. Although Irene will continue to submit reports on the timeshare situation in the US when she is able to. For those wishing to follow Irene’s posts plus those from many timeshare owners’s/members, you can do so at the link below. Also please do join and donate to TARDA, they will be working in your interest and need your support.
Carriage Resorts October 21 and 22 Annual Meetings
Will BDO Dunwoody Find Solutions to the Need for an Exit Strategy?
By Irene Parker
October 25, 2019
The WyndhamCarriage Hills annual meeting was almost held October 21 and the Carriage Ridge annual meeting was held October 22 in Ontario Canada. The Carriage Hills October 21 annual meeting was cancelled because the facility could only hold 500 while another 500 members waited outside. Owners were annoyed but felt the chaotic debacle was the best message they could have sent.
The reason for the robust attendance was because the Carriage Board of Directors had notified Owners that they had retained the strategic accounting firm BDO Dunwoody to study the two-fold problem of no responsible exit from the timeshare and the resulting and escalating bad debt. Owners, even those with severe medical and financial hardship, have not been allowed a release from their fully paid for timeshares. They are liable for ongoing annual maintenance fees, as well as their heirs – there has been no responsible exit.
At the Carriage Ridge Oct 22 annual meeting, not much new news was provided other than a statement concerning early-stage negotiations between the two Carriage Boards of Directors and BDO Dunwoody. Board President Marti Ginsherman reported that information as to actual proposals and desired outcomes would not be made available until first quarter 2020.
The U.S. timeshare lobby ARDA does have a Coalition for Responsible Exit. Owners in good standing need only to look for their resort on the ARDA website. If the resort is not found, it doesn’t mean there is no exit. The resort may have a program, but not be a part of ARDA’s program. Usually, there is a charge to voluntarily deed back the timeshare points or deed. Some U.S. resorts are still resistant to any form of exit except foreclosure.
The Canadian counterpart to ARDA is CVOA. They are aware of the dilemma Carriage owners face, responding that a solution will require time and considerable resources. Those considerable resources include the strategic accounting firm BDO Dunwoody which will work with a Transition Team to address problems and solutions.
At the October 22 Carriage Hills meeting, Carriage Ridge board secretary/treasurer Maureen Lee Ah Yen volunteered to head the Transition team and Carriage Ridge owners Lori Smith and Bruce Fleming volunteered to act as the liaison between owners and Transition Team board members.
The most glaring example of the need for a medical and hardship release concerns Stephanie’s grandparents, Gary, and his wife of 53 years Sandra. Gary resides in a nursing home and Sandra lives with her unemployed son. Gary’s entire pension must go towards his care. Sandra suffers from depression, and the worry over finances contributed towards a recent hospital stay.
Published marketing materials provided at the time of purchase stated:
Freeze costs of future vacations
Equity $ position
Maintenance fees have increased from $600 a year to $1,500 over the years. Owners feel they do not have worry-free vacations as the absence of an exit strategy has caused significant stress for many. In addition, thousands of dollars have been lost to timeshare exit providers and timeshare listing services.
Carriage Resorts were acquired by Shell Vacation Club and subsequently, Wyndham acquired Shell. No doubt the argument will be that current owners are not responsible for the original developer’s marketing claims. That does not change the unfairness of owners finding themselves held timeshare hostage.
On Monday Carriage Hills Owner Karen Levins will offer her comments on the current situation and hope for the future.
Thank you, Irene, from all the previous articles on these two resorts and now this report of the Annual Meeting, it is very clear there is a very serious problem for our Canadian friends. In all the years that Inside Timeshare has been running and we include the original incarnation, we have never had a series of stories such as these. They are truly a “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”.
That is all for this week, join us again on Monday with another story of why you need to be careful about who you do business with.
Welcome to this week’s Letter from America, unfortunately, this will be the last one that we publish as Irene Parker no longer has the time. She must now concentrate on her defence in the upcoming subpoena and also her work with the new Organisation TARDA. Today’s article covers another 5 complaints from owners of the WyndhamCarriage Hills and Carriage Ridge Resorts in Canada. These are another example of a “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”.
Wyndham Carriage Hills and Carriage Ridge Resorts
Carriage Owners’ Reports 129 – 133
Will there be a change in holding heirs responsible for maintenance fees on a fully paid for timeshare?
Carriage Hills and Carriage Ridge Annual Meetings are October 21 and 22
“Find Your Resort” will take you to16 boxes to choose from.
Four of the boxes are Wyndham:
Margaritaville Vacation Club by Wyndham
Shell Vacations Club owned by Wyndham
Worldmark by Wyndham
Wyndham’s Carriage Resorts is not one of them. I’m not sure if it is because Carriage is a property Wyndham acquired when they acquired Shell Vacations Club, or because the property is in Canada, but these Wyndham owners are being unfairly held hostage by weaponized Canadian timeshare contract law.
Meanwhile, the Canadian government has issued a warning about buying a timeshare in Mexico. Carriage Resorts marketing flyers promised “Freeze the cost of future Vacations” “Equity $ position” and “Worry-free vacations” yet Stephanie’s grandfather Gary is in a nursing home, pursed for maintenance fees. Maintenance fees have increased from $600 a year to $1,500 a year. Stephanie’s story: https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-71/
Canada issues travel advisory due to high-pressure sales tactics used to sell timeshares in Mexico TheYucatan TimesOctober 12, 2019
Excerpt from my comment:
In response to my Inside Timeshare article back in September, I received 131 emails from Canadian residents, Carriage owners, betrayed by false advertising. On Friday I will publish my 10th article about the tragedy of Canada’s consumer protection turning their back on their residents held timeshare hostage. One symptom of Elder Abuse is Financial Exploitation. No one wants to tamper with incoming revenue so point the finger elsewhere. As the late Indian Jesuit priest and psychotherapist Anthony DeMello said, “I’m pointing to the moon and you’re staring at the end of my finger.” Reading the contract would not have helped Carriage Ridge owners. You can’t blame them for believing the published marketing materials.
I’m told a proposal will be introduced at the upcoming Carriage Resorts annual meetings October 21 and 22 to offer those who wish to exit the timeshare a way out. There will likely be criteria and restrictions that must be met. Let’s hope the Carriage Board recognizes that not even allowing foreclosure, holding descendants responsible for maintenance fees on a fully paid-for timeshare, is draconian, to say the least. Carriage owners anxiously await the upcoming meetings to learn if they really do have a voice.
Dianne mentions in her report that she paid thousands of dollars to advertise with SellMyTimehsareNow. SMTN pirated Inside Timeshare’s keywords so when you search Inside Timeshare you get “Inside Timeshare Sales and Rentals” with a link to SMTN. This is unethical and unprofessional.
Thank you to all the Carriage Owners who have shared their feelings about a drastically restrictive policy that has financially, physically, and emotionally harmed so many. I look forward to meeting those of my new 131 Canadian friends who will be attending the October 21 and 22 meetings.
Carriage Owner #129 Paul E
We bought at Carriage shortly after it first opened. Our hope was that owning in Ontario would give us the ability to use the resort beyond the one week every other year we purchased. What I have come to know is that the contract grossly favoured the developer and left me with virtually no path to exit. I do not want to transfer this burden to my children, and given the condition of the resort, and the changing clientele usually occupying it, we have little desire to use it. We place our weeks with RCI and go elsewhere.
While we are not a hardship case at this point, that day may well come. Maintenance fees continue to rise well beyond the rate of inflation. More and more owners will simply stop paying their fees, leading to even higher annual increases. If not already the case, it will be cheaper for someone off the street to rent a week here than it will be for me to use my owned week. And it is clear that there are thousands of owners like me, or worse. I served on the Board for one year during which time it became clear to me that the Wyndham executives I met with had no interest in resolving these issues. It is so sad to see that a vacation dream for my family has turned into a nightmare!
Paul K, Ontario
Carriage Owner #130 Dianne C
Thank you for highlighting the desperate situation facing Carriage Hills/Ridge timeshare owners. Your article was excellent. I have owned at Carriage Hills since 2000. Easily, this was my worst life decision. I have been trying to get out from under the thumb of Wyndham for many years.
I’ve always paid my bills. It goes against the grain to go into arrears & declare bankruptcy. It would also place an even greater financial burden on the remaining owners who are trying their best to hang on until an exit strategy becomes available. I paid thousands to Sell My Timeshare Now to advertise the property for $1. I have posted on Kijiji for years offering to pay all legal fees for the transfer. I offered to give the mortgage-free title to Wyndham. I offered to pay Wyndham to take it back – All to no avail.
As time passes my financial situation becomes more difficult. As a senior with no discretionary spending, I now squeeze my food budget to save up to pay the maintenance fees for something I do not want & will never use. The Food Bank subsidizes my groceries so I can keep paying into the bottomless Wyndham pit. I am ashamed to take from a charity to help pay for my terrible decision. I am racked with guilt & anxiety. It is nothing short of highway robbery in broad daylight.
Any attention you can bring to this major issue will be much appreciated. Thank you very much.
Regards, Dianne C
Patrick K Carriage Owner #131
Hello Irene and thank you for your time.
My wife Miriam and I bought into this “investment opportunity” back in 1998. The sales pitch made sense at the time as the dues equalled roughly $450 per year. We signed up for a Red week every second year. Miriam was not so sure at the time, but I bought the pitch and talked her into it. How could we lose as it was an easy drive from home and once the deed was paid off we could build a little equity for the future? Sadly, this investment has turned out to be a money grab and at this time there seems no way out but to keep paying, even after death.
We totally understand some may still be enjoying the experience of a week at Carriage Hills. The thing I and others are ashamed of is that we only saw the beautiful accommodations and trusted the sales person’s pitch. We also paid some company roughly $700, trusting their word they could sell for us. Once the check was cashed I never heard another word and then suddenly, just got a voicemail for a while, and then gave up.
Our dues are up to date. I have no intention to default but this will not last much longer as a fixed income is fast approaching. I honestly did not see and refuse to believe our retirement income needs to consider a payment “for life” to a company that in no way is losing revenue as they rent out our un-booked paid for units at a total profit.
Sincerely, Patrick and Miriam
#132 Debra F
My husband and I bought a Red Week every year week at Carriage Hills resort. We purchased in 2001 when our kids were little. We were introduced to the concept of timeshare through friends who owned at Smugglers’ Notch, Vermont.
Initially, we enjoyed Carriage Hills and made several exchanges to various US destinations. There were some good vacations and great memories. However, after purchasing our Carriage Hills timeshare from the Developer, I learned in hindsight that it was an error. There were resale opportunities that could have saved us many thousands of dollars.
In 2003, we exchanged into Waterside by Spinnaker in Hilton Head SC and attended their timeshare presentation. We made it very clear that we had no intention of owning TWO timeshares. We were told that as part of the purchase of one of their weeks, they would sell our Carriage Hills interval. They said they had a buyer, but we would only get around $3,000 for it. They said the paperwork would be delivered by the time we arrived back home. We purchased another unit with the promise that they would sell our interval at Carriage Hills. Within the cooling-off period, I was uncomfortable because here I was again, buying from a Developer. There was nothing in writing about the sale of Carriage Hills. When I voiced my concerns to the sales rep I was reassured that the documents were in process. I have a copy of the letter I sent the sales rep, Ted J. Morris, dated December 2003 in which I referenced the sale and faxed him our deed as he had requested!! So now, we own two.
We are older now, and the kids are grown. With all the changes over the years at RCI, with variable trading power points, needing multiple maintenance fees/intervals to exchange into many of the nicer resorts, lack of inventory etc. and our increasing age and reduced income, we need an exit strategy. I can’t find a buyer for our Carriage Hills unit, and friends can rent there for the same or less cost through travel websites, so I can’t even recoup my maintenance fee via renting. Carrying the costs of two intervals is not sustainable. To my knowledge, there is no exit strategy for that one either. It’s a terrible feeling knowing that we’ve been taken advantage of.
For now, my main concern is trying to find an exit strategy for CH. When I look back at the documents that we were given at the time of the sale, and all the ‘benefits’ of ownership – deed and title, equity dollar position, year-round country club, save, rent, lend, sell, will….the benefits are gone, except for the noose around our wallet.
Thank you for any assistance you might be able to provide to us.
Deborah & Paul F
#133 Diane W
Thank you so much for coming to the Carriage Hills AGM and for meeting with unhappy owners that have no way out. We bought when it first opened, well over 20 years ago. I am sure you have heard from many about the ever-increasing maintenance fees, and the inability to sell or get out. We are seniors now and do not wish to visit CH any longer or to “trade”. Our ability to pay these fees for something that we do not want and will not use is very difficult as we live only on our savings.
We have no children but we do not wish to burden our estate with this “ball and chain” expense. We are fed up with the fact that Wyndham rents these units out to benefit Wyndham. We have two sets of friends that also bought, and feel exactly the same way do, so this email can count for three two-bedroom units, and six unhappy owners. Please Help!
The fact that an exit strategy will be even be discussed at the Carriage annual meetings shows what the collective voices of consumers who have been harmed can accomplish. Get Involved. Make a change where change is needed.
Join our new organization Timeshare and Resort Developer Accountability Inc.
A donation of $10 or more will enroll you as a member of TARDA.
I wish to thank Charles Thomas, and all who have read and responded to my articles. Due to a lawsuit Diamond Resorts filed against Finn Law Group, a lawsuit I have nothing to do with, I must devote my time to raising $25,000 for my Legal Defense against Diamond Resorts GoFundMe. You can find “Highlights of the Timeshare Week” posts on the TARDA website on Fridays beginning in November.
Thank you Irene for all the work you have put into the articles we have published over the past few years and thank you for all the help you have given to beleaguered owners. Inside Timeshare wishes you all the best in your defence and also with your work for TARDA.
Well, that is all for this week, please join us next week for more on the world of timeshare.
Welcome this week’s edition of Letter from America, in fact, it is a Letter from Canada as we welcome a new contributor Stephanie, with her Grandparents “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” story with WyndhamCarriage Hills and Carriage Ridge Resorts. The title of this story is “Why is this not Elder Abuse?”Inside Timeshare has published many articles on this subject yet we still receive many reports from concerned members and their families, so why are the timeshare companies not taking any notice?
The Carriage Hills and Carriage Ridge annual meetings are October 21 and October 22. While an exit strategy will be discussed at the meetings, any HOA board should be able to allow an exit on severe medical and financial hardship, especially given the severity of Gary and Sandra’s situation. Of note is the marketing flyer presented at time of purchase to Carriage buyers stating, “Freeze the cost of vacations.”
Please remember to donate to the Irene Parker GoFundMe campaign to raise $25,000 for legal fees, in just two weeks over $8,000 has already been raised so thank you to all those who have already contributed.
Grandparents Gary and Sandra Held Timeshare Hostage
October 11, 2019
My grandparents Sandra and Gary have been owners at Carriage Hills & Carriage Ridge since the 90’s. In 2014 the determination was made that Gary would require more comprehensive care. He was relocated to a 24-hour care unit in a nursing home. He is wheelchair-bound and requires assistance with bathing, eating, washroom & mobility concerns. At the onset, his health deteriorated quickly and continues on that path. He communicates verbally, but he is unable to make decisions or advocate for himself.
He testified at a Florida legislative workshop March 12, 2019:
Wyndham Sr. VP Legal Jason Gamel provided testimony at the Florida HB 435 Workshop held in Tallahassee March 12. In response to Representative Newton’s question about Wyndham’s dissolution policies. Mr. Gamel explained that there was no need for owners to contract with an exit service provider because members seeking a loan cancellation due to hardship can apply for a hardship release through Wyndham.
Of 16 boxes pictured on the website, four are Wyndham
1) Club Wyndham 2) Margaritaville Vacation Club by Wyndham
3) Shell Vacations Club (acquired by Wyndham) 4) Worldmark by Wyndham
Gary and Sandra
My grandparents, YRDSB teachers with summers off, purchased their Carriage timeshares with the intent to travel. The location of Carriage Hills and Carriage Resorts was convenient. Initially, the value was found in the timeshare. Annual fees were $650 per unit, but by 2019 fees rose to approximately $1500 per unit. This maintenance fee is no longer affordable.
Gary was the breadwinner of the family. Being a pensioned teacher, he supported the household. When he was moved to a 24-hour care facility, his insurance only covered a portion. His pension had to cover the remaining nursing home expense. What remains in his pension goes to Sandra, who does not receive a pension. Sandra is a retired substitute teacher. Sandra resides in their home with an adult son, who is not employed. She is expected to pay for their home, bills, and Carriage maintenance expenses in addition to food, medication, personal needs. There is nothing frivolous about her life. Her joy comes in the form of making beautiful, handmade quilts.
Sandra has long struggled with depression, which until recently had been managed by lifestyle and medication. However, in the last four years, there has been deterioration in her health, and in August 2018 she spent a week in the hospital after an episode.
On June 30, 2019, they reached 53 years married. Sandra sees Gary once a week, but leaving the house even for routine tasks is not easy. Imagine being married for 53 years, and then having so much stress that you can’t make it out to visit your husband. Sandra recently spent eight days in the hospital due to a change in medication and a depression spell. A Carriage Hills and Carriage Resorts exit strategy would be life-changing for her.
Not offering a voluntary surrender program to Canadians is unfair enough, but will Wyndham not even consider a medical and financial hardship release for a fully paid for timeshare member? Without question, the stress of this timeshare has been a catalyst for Sandra’s emotional and mental state. In regular conversations with family, she shares her worry about being able to afford the fees, and in more recent months, what is going to happen when she and Gary have passed on. She worries about the maintenance fees passed on to my children and me.
Sandra was not the person in the marriage who handled the finances or day to day needs. Gary has a very small life insurance plan and Sandra has no life insurance. She cancelled her insurance plan as it was too much to carry financially.
Obviously, they are not able to use the timeshare. Gary has no ability to travel and Sandra cannot travel alone or long distances. She is able to get up once in a while to Carriage Hill to use the pool with a friend. Shell Vacation has a portal for online, but at 75 years old, Sandra is not internet savvy. She relies on the help of family to do simple things with the timeshare.
There is no way out of this timeshare. In the unlikely event, a buyer is found, the fee to sell to another is substantial and the lawyers’ fees even higher. Sandra’s wish is to be able to sell back or return the timeshares to Wyndham… even to transfer to a relative is a 1500$ fee and 1500$ x 5 contracts totalling $7,500 is exorbitant. Her wish is to stop worrying about choosing these fees over her needs. She found hope in the Ovation Program offer, only to learn that Wyndham is not offering a responsible exit to Carriage Hills and Carriage Ridge owners. Couple this with the cuts to health and social programs Ontario is experiencing. It is a crisis.
Why is this not elder abuse?
Carriage Marketing Flyer stated: “Freeze cost of future vacations”
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.