Welcome to this week’s edition of The Tuesday Slot, once again Irene Parker highlights another complaint and explains how it should be written. This is just one in the hundreds that Inside Timeshare has been receiving, all have the same hallmarks, so it does make you wonder that if all these people are saying the same thing, yet none of them knows each other, something must be wrong. The Timeshare Industry needs to take note of these articles and ensure that their sales agents tell the truth. We can only live in hope.
How to Write a Clear and Concise Complaint
Lesson 39 from the Free at Last Timeshare Support Course
All proceeds benefit the nonprofit Straight-A Guide
By Irene Parker
June 11, 2019
The first step in any complaint process is to prepare a clear and concise complaint. Complaints received by Inside Timeshare are almost always confusing, like someone describing a car accident they just witnessed. When a timeshare member contacts Inside Timeshare with a timeshare complaint, to understand the complaint, I frequently ask, “What do you mean by that?” or “Can you provide an example?”
I selected the complaint below as an example of a before and after complaint because the deception reported is brazen and easy to understand. The complaint is an actual complaint.
The member reported that they were told in order to be eligible for the company’s Voluntary Surrender program they would have to buy additional points. This was not true. Another member was told they would have to convert their deeded timeshare to points to be eligible. This was not true either.
A responsible exit program offered by the developer doesn’t help someone who learns they were duped just days or months after purchase.
Tina’s complaint is not resolved so we will not identify the member or the timeshare company. I have changed their names.
Tina said they were told they had to upgrade from one loyalty program to the next to be eligible for the company’s Voluntary Surrender program. They had been struggling to make the high interest rate loan payments. By selling them more points, the sales agent forced insolvency.
To prepare her complaint, I advised Tina not to use words like lie or scam. Put yourself in the reader’s perspective. Emotional words that cannot be proven will turn off your reader. Even if you were scammed, your mission is to write up what happened to explain why you feel you experienced unfair and deceptive sales practices. Highlighted in red are my suggestions and the reasons why I felt my suggestion would make the complaint more clear and concise.
Tina and Tony’s complaint as prepared by Tina
Tina and Tony Smith
Our California address
Our Phone Number
June 5, 2019
To Customer Service, ARDA ROC, CEO, sales agent
Tina had started her complaint with “To whom it may concern.” Send your complaint to specific individuals or organizations. The timeshare PAC ARDA ROC does not mediate disputes but they have a code of ethics.
We are writing to demand that our last two contracts below be cancelled due to fraudulent and negligent misrepresentations that took place in Las Vegas.
Tina and Tony made four purchases. They were so angry they wanted all their contracts cancelled. It is unlikely a developer will cancel all contracts, especially those over a year old. However, if told the timeshare was like real estate and easy to sell, the member doesn’t know they were lied to until they try to sell the timeshare.
We were deeded timeshare owners before we were falsely told we had to give up our deed and buy points. We were free and clear of any loans before buying points.
- In 2013 we purchased 15,000 points with sales agents N S in Las Vegas for $25,750.
- In 2014 we purchased 7,500 points for $24,630 in Las Vegas from Sales Agent J G.
- In 2016 (Contract #xxx) we purchased 7,500 points for $23,925 in Las Vegas for 7,500 points with the same Sales Agent J G.
- In 2018 (Contract #xxx) we purchased 8,500 points for $26,105 in Las Vegas from sales Agent R S and Manager M G (J. G’s brother.)
Our third purchase in 2016 was our second purchase from J G. The concierge said we had to attend a mandatory update meeting.
(They were not on a promotional trip. It was not mandatory to attend the meeting).
He told us if we declined the update they will be forced to have us pay for our stay even though we had booked our stay with points.
I suggested they delete “the meeting had lasted well over 1-hour” because all timeshare meetings are over one hour. Unless the meeting lasted five hours or more, it will have no bearing on a complaint.
We said that we were fine with what we had. We didn’t need any more points. J G said if we don’t upgrade now we will lose special pricing. We remembered he said the same thing in 2014, but the numbers he presented looked so good.
We repeated ourselves and stated we are helping our daughter in college, and we don’t have extra cash. He said, “You can put the down payment on a credit card. This is a one-time deal. You will be losing thousands of dollars if you don’t accept today.”
We said over and over that we are not people who make that much money. I’m a stay at home mom who takes care of foster children and my own children. Our priority with our finances is to help our daughter with college. J G said our points will appreciate just like real estate and said that he uses the interest paid on the loan as a tax write-off.
Points do not appreciate and the interest cannot be written off. It was okay to say we are not people who make that much money in this context, but “I can’t afford it” is not a valid reason for release, any more than you can go to your home mortgage lender and say, “I can’t afford this.”
At our last Upgrade in 2018 in Las Vegas we purchased 8,500 points for $26,105 in from R S and manager M G. The accumulated loan balance is $80,117.99.
It’s best to isolate the numbers because when they get too mushed in a narration they lose meaning.
It was stated that if we pay in full over the course of the period our loan amount would increase to a total of $152,301.30. Our maintenance fees are $6,897.77. We pay our fees monthly with a credit card because it is too much for us.
The member here is referring, I think, to the total amount they would have to pay if the loan went to maturity. It’s not meaningful to mention this amount because the total amount of any loan with interest is staggering. In addition, it’s the buyer’s responsibility to read the purchase agreement. This information is clearly stated on that agreement.
I told them to delete mentioning maintenance fees. Mentioning maintenance fees really has no bearing on anyone’s complaint unless it involves an allegation that the member was promised the maintenance fees would go down if they purchased additional points, but they went up.
This upgrade was done with R S, and his supervisor M G. We again said we did not want to attend. We were on vacation and did not want to be bothered. Again, concierge told us we needed to attend or our stay will be charged.
R S proceeded to show us how much an upgrade would cost. I told him I wanted out of the timeshare. We had heard about and wanted to look into the company’s voluntary surrender program.
He told us that in order to be eligible for The Voluntary Surrender program we needed to upgrade to have enough points to be eligible.
This is real deceit. This voluntary surrender program does not require purchasing any additional points.
He showed us numbers on how much our timeshare company would pay us for our points if we become eligible for the Voluntary Surrender program. We asked why we needed to upgrade to be eligible. He said, “You have to be a Platinum member to be able to get out of our timeshare company.”
(In no way do you have to be a Platinum member to be eligible for this Voluntary Surrender program.)
We stated we couldn’t afford this. We can barely afford to pay for our maintenance fees. He said “What’s another $300 more on your loan payment? That isn’t too much to upgrade in order to be able to get out.”
We repeatedly told the agents that we don’t even have the money for a down payment. He said we could look to see if there are credit cards available. I said, I don’t want to charge this, why do I have to put a down payment? He said, “We need a down payment because there is no other way to upgrade you guys without one.”
He said once we upgraded, we would need to make a couple of payments before applying for the Voluntary Surrender program.
(The rescission period was dodged by telling them to wait a few months before applying.)
He came back and asked if we know anybody that has another timeshare we can put that on your file to become Platinum.
(This is in reference to a program that allows the member to include other timeshares. The points credited count towards Platinum status.)
I said my sister does. (Adding your sister’s timeshare does not qualify.) I asked him if this was normal. R said, yes of course and said to ask his manager M G. M G smiled and nodded when we asked as he was passing by, “Even if we don’t own the other timeshare?”
We made a few loan payments and then applied for the Voluntary Surrender program, per R’s instructions. We got denied because we had a loan. We were not informed the timeshare has to be paid in full to be eligible for the Voluntary Surrender program.
We called the company (on my advice) to ask why we are Platinum members if we only have 38,500 points. Platinum requires 50,000 timeshare points. The agents had said that we are Platinum because of adding my sister’s timeshare. They said it would be part of “Declared Inventory.” The company representative said that she never heard of this and would need to check into it. I was put on hold for so long, I hung up.
We thought and believed that we were signing a contract in good faith and that our agents were honest. They were not. We are a family of 6 with one income. We will no longer fight in silence and will do everything we can to help others in our situation by reaching out to the media and to Representative Katie Porter. I will be filing a complaint against R J G and M G with the Nevada real estate division, the Better Business Bureau, the Federal Trade Commission, the FBI, and others.
Please contact me if you wish to discuss our complaint,
(The complaint should be signed by the family member best suited to deal with this mess)
Tina’s original complaint was one long paragraph. When you read published articles, paragraphs are usually short. When too many sentences run together you can lose your reader. I learned this from my editors at TheStreet, Jim Cramer’s investment news service. One editor often told me, “Don’t bury the lead!” meaning state up front what you want your reader to know. I still hear his voice in my ear when I have buried the lead.
I always suggest you have a friend or neighbor not familiar with your complaint read it to see if it makes sense. Only a handful of the 900 complaints I have read have made sense to me when I initially read them.
Thank you to Tina and Tony for sharing their timeshare financial disaster. We will follow along and let our readers’ know how this family fares.
Timeshare can be a great product for the right reasons and for the right family. When a timeshare member references a volume of online complaints, I tell the member that for every unhappy member, there are 100 who think the timeshare company is wonderful. They may not have been deceived. Just because there are honest agents, it doesn’t mean there are not dishonest agents that should be stopped. Those who have had a positive experience should not judge those who have experienced unfair and deceptive sales practices. There will always be those who blame the victim.
Join one of the timeshare member support groups. If there are none suitable, consider starting one.
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.
Petition to reform timeshare
Diamond Resort Facebook
Gold Key Facebook
Related article: Complaint Instructions revised by a millennial member who resolved her timeshare dispute:
Thank you Irene, all we can hope for is that this dispute is resolved and that Tina and Tony can enjoy a stress free life outside of timeshare.
One thing we must point out, we are not anti-timeshare, we do believe that for many it could be a good product, it is the greed of the sales agents with the blatant use of untruths that is the problem. A problem that can only be solved by the timeshare companies themselves.