Welcome to this weeks Tuesday Slot, today Patty Boyak reports on the trial highlighted in Friday’s Letter from America on 5 July between Candace Czarny and Hyatt. The case centres around the wrongful termination of Candace after being forced to use “unfair and deceptive sales practices”. Branded a whistleblower she found it difficult to find new employment, but she has worked hard to rebuild her life and Inside Timeshare is proud to share her story, after all, that is what these pages are about, to give you the reader a glimpse into the world of timeshare and all that is dirty about it.
Part II Continuation of Whistleblower Wrongful Termination Trial
Candace Czarny v Hyatt and Kent and Allison Drysdale
Part I: The Trial
CASE NO. CV2013-006230
By Patty Boyak
July 16, 2019
I learned a lot this week attending the jury trial of Candace Czarny v Hyatt and Kent and Allison Drysdale that began last week in Maricopa County, Arizona, Superior Court. An Arizona resident myself, I took this opportunity to observe the trial proceedings to better understand the inner workings of timeshare today.
Candace worked for Hyatt in Sedona, Arizona from November 2011 to June of 2012. She previously worked at Diamond Resorts but left Diamond concerned about what she considered to be questionable business practices. Hired by Hyatt to sell timeshare, Candace alleges in her lawsuit that she was forced to employ unfair and deceptive sales practices or face termination. Hyatt did terminate Candace.
Sedona is a small town, so Candace had difficulty finding work after her termination. She moved to Phoenix. Candace had lived in Sedona for 25 years.
Hyatt’s attorney, Mr Kraig J. Marton, challenged the reasons why Candace had remained unemployed since her termination, insinuating that Candace had not tried very hard to get a job, even after moving to Phoenix.
I reached out to Candace outside of the trial. I had not attended Candace’s testimony in which she explained the difficulty she experienced when she sought employment. Candace said that potential employers were turned off because of her whistleblower stigma. Candace generated income from her rental property and worked on re-stablishing a business she had been involved with previously. She has been generating income from that business since 2017. Prior to that time, she had been paying off debt to re-establish her business.
Candace said in Phoenix, she has been living in a 10 x 10 rented room with a view of a block wall, after living in a beautiful home in Sedona with views of the Red Rocks. Candace said she mitigated her damages by scaling back, but she has not sat around idle since her termination.
Mr Marton continued to examine Candace’s work history. Candace responded that the reason she did not apply for other timeshare positions is because she did not want to find herself put in another position in which she would be instructed to employ unfair and deceptive sales practices. She felt the obligation of anyone holding a real estate license is to uphold the principles of integrity that holders of a real estate license should abide by.
Working under the conditions Candace described took an emotional toll. A witness for the Plaintiff, Jackie Garrick, who is an expert in Workplace Traumatic Stress and post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD), described psychological abuse as a “serious injury” justifying a diagnosis of PTSD. Ms Garrick explained that PTSD can be experienced by anyone, not just soldiers who witness harm against others and suffer a moral injury because it violates their sense of ethics. She compared whistleblower retaliation to domestic abuse in which one spouse manipulates, humiliates, isolates, and bullies another spouse. Defence attorney Mr Marton tried to minimize PTSD as if it only related to combat stress, ignoring all research on emotional abuse and identity disruption.
Candace’s attorney, Joshua Carden, next called Larry Stokes as a witness for Candace. Mr Stokes is an economist. He testified as to Candace’s loss of income. He calculated her annual wages as follows:
Loss wages from 8/2012 to 7/2019
$449,186 in back pay
$168,709 in loss front pay
$54,756 in interest on back pay
Grand Total: $672,651
Former Hyatt Sales Executive Mark Schmidt, also a witness for the Plaintiff, testified on July 9. Mark had worked as a timeshare sales agent for 15 years. Candace and Mark’s employment overlapped for a period of about two months, prior to Candace’s termination. On cross-examination, Mr Schmidt was asked about his relationship with Candace. He stated they were friendly coworkers. They were asked about emails they had exchanged as to the possibility of an age discrimination lawsuit against Hyatt.
Mr Schmidt had also been terminated from Hyatt for being a “bad fit” and for poor performance. Mr Schmidt responded that he had worked three tenures at Hyatt and generated $130,000 in sales the last six working days of a March month. An “eligible for re-hire” letter was placed in his personnel file. Mark said the reason for his short work tenures was because he would leave the company if a bad sales manager was hired and wait it out until the sales manager was fired or left the company.
Like Candace, Mr Schmidt testified that he had been terminated because he refused to give false statements to potential buyers. He stated that Kent Drysdale in 2012 instructed agents to sell “First Day Incentives” that were deceptive. Agents would threaten potential buyers, telling them that if they did not buy that day, in the future they would have to purchase a two-week timeshare vs only a one-week timeshare. It was not true that buyers could not buy a one-week timeshare in the future.
One fraudulent practice was that Mr Drysdale trained his sales agents to tell existing Hyatt clients that there was a letter sent to the existing member advising them of an advantageous price, but the letter, in fact, did not exist. According to Mr Schmidt, Mr Drysdale instructed the agents to tell the existing member that they would check their file to see if the letter was there. One of the jurors asked if they could see the letter. Hyatt’s attorney seemed to scramble to produce the letter. What was produced, Mr Schmidt said, was a completely unrelated document. It was an Upgrade Document Declaration. This document was discredited because it pertained to the surrendering of points after a member upgraded. Mr Schmidt added that if the letter existed, Hyatt would have produced it during discovery.
Oh boy, have I heard this “Did you get the letter?” before. I am a member of a 3,300 timeshare member-sponsored Facebook. Many complaints begin, “They said we should have gotten a letter!” If the letter is fictitious, this is unfair and deceptive.
Mr Schmidt stated that Mr Drysdale used to be the Director of Training for Diamond Resorts. He brought up the Assurance of Discontinuance (AOD) and the $800,000 fine issued by Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich after their office received hundreds of complaints from Diamond members. Mr Drysdale had been employed by Diamond Resorts during the period in which the Arizona Attorney General’s office received so many complaints.
In addition to the Arizona complaints, I was aware of former Diamond top sales agent Mary Bowling’s allegations, describing how a deceptive price freeze was employed by Diamond sales agents in Hawaii:
Mary Bowling sued Diamond Resorts, not because of deceptive sales, but because she was terminated when no one else was. She applied for FMLA 2-12-16 and was terminated 2-15-16.
Case 1:17-cv-00562-DKW-RLP filed in Hawaii District Court
Page 10 of complaint
#43 Owners Update is deceptive because it is to sell points.
#44 Customer is told the current “list price” but the agent has to see someone else.
#48 the sales agent has the customer sign a form indicating they were updated and the agent has to have the manager sign off.
#49 the sales manager has reviewed all prior customer contracts and the manager falsely states the customer was given a “price freeze” but none exists.
#50 because of the “price freeze” only today can the customer buy for the discounted price.
#51 the price given is the real price planned from the outset.
#52 the “price freeze” never existed because (a) The special deal available to this customer only is available to anyone and (b) Urgent to buy only for today
#54 this is lucky news for the customer – brand new information!
#55 the sales agent waits for the customer to “step in”
At one point, Candace had provided an example of an observed deceptive sale: “Say the property is $35,000, but the Director of Sales would say that there had been a default, so we got this new inventory we can get you for $29,500. However, $29,500 had been the intended price all along.” Mark Schmidt explained that the difference between a primary residence negotiation and timeshare, is anyone selling a primary residence doesn’t start with their bottom line price requirement, then issue threats and false consequences if the interested party doesn’t buy at the bottom price that day – or will not be able to buy the house the next day at the low price.
Mr Schmidt further testified that price sheet packages were manufactured by Mr Drysdale: a two weeks package and the standard one week package. Mr Schmidt stated that Mr Drysdale would change the prices at will.
Mr Schmidt was asked to describe Mr Drysdale as Director of Sales. He said Mr Drysdale was aggressive and physical. He witnessed Mr Drysdale giving a body check to Joey, another sales agent. Mark stated he addressed his concerns with Human Resources regarding Kent’s behaviour that included CIA like intimidation tactics and deceptive practices. He said Mr Drysdale was enthusiastic about the practices and procedures described in the CIA Manual on Human Manipulation.
Next a witness for Hyatt, Theodore “Ted” was called. Ted was the former Director of Sales during Candace and Mark’s tenure. He had hired Candace and supervised Kent Drysdale. Ted said Candace had little sales experience but was hired anyway due to tough hiring times during the years 2010 to 2011. He described Candace as someone who didn’t want to listen and stated that her personality wasn’t “fun” or personable. He claimed he tried to help her but concluded she was not “coachable” as she did not like to take his advice. He stated she had low performance.
Candace returned to the witness stand. In earlier testimony, it was described how Hyatt employee Shelley instructed Candace to create a “First Visit Incentive” document. This document was reviewed by the potential buyer, but never given to a buyer.
Candace testified that another agent, Scot Steward, did not have a real estate license on file, but was allowed to give tours and transact sales. Mr Steward had been hired by Shelley or Mr Drysdale. Candace took handwritten notes of observed sales and the line rotation, meaning who was up next to meet a potential client. Her notes showed that Mr Steward made a sale, but that Mr Drysdale had limited the number of tours Candace was given, a practice used against an agent who did not play by the rules. There are 3 types of tours: 1) An owner 2) Owns a timeshare other than Hyatt 3) Not a timeshare owner. Candace stated that AM tours always went to the agents on the top of the list (Top Selling Agents).
On Friday I will continue with what happened next. All in all, it was a fascinating experience, and I have a much better understanding of how easy it was to dupe our family. My husband and I experienced deceptive timeshare sales practices. We have joined forces with other timeshare buyers alarmed at the rise in such practices. Deceptive practices seem to be employed industry-wide by some sales agents and managers. That’s my opinion, but the only opinion that counts are the opinions of the nine members of the jury. Join a self-advocacy group if you would like to join our timeshare consumer protection efforts.
Please sign our petition to reform timeshare:
Candace Czarny has joined our list of just a few of the recent Attorneys General investigations and lawsuits. We’re not making this up.
The NY Attorney General investigation into the Manhattan Club resulted in a $6.5 million settlement. https://www.amny.com/real-estate/the-manhattan-club-settlement-includes-6-5-million-in-restitution-ag-says-1.14048559
Colorado Attorney General sued Highlands Resort, Sedona Pines and twelve other defendants for deceptive trade practices. https://businessden.com/2016/12/07/ag-sues-timeshare-firm-for-deceptive-tactics/
Missourians sometimes are targeted by real estate developers and resort communities to buy vacation timeshares. https://ago.mo.gov/civil-division/consumer/consumer-topics/vacation-timeshares
Arizona Attorney General received hundreds of complaints against Diamond Resorts, fined the company $800,000 and issued an Assurance of Discontinuance. https://azag.gov/press-release/attorney-general-brnovich-announces-800000-settlement-diamond-resorts
Tennessee Attorney General announced a $3 million settlement with Festiva, a network of vacation and timeshare companies, for alleged violations of the federal Telemarketing Act, federal Telemarketing Sales Rule, and the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act. https://www.tn.gov/attorneygeneral/news/2016/2/24/pr16-04.html
Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen says his office received 58 timeshare complaints in 2018, including concerns about pressure sales tactics, exorbitant fees, and difficulty reselling. https://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/local/Timeshare-Troubles–What-To-Do-Before-You-Buy-and-Sell-504017151.html
A Florida Whistleblower lawsuit was filed on behalf of ten former Wyndham employees, including eight former sales agents. Plaintiffs allege that they objected to and refused to participate in illegal sales practices. https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-42/
Former Wyndham sales agent Trish Williams, a jury awarded an initial $20 million. https://dolanlawfirm.com/2016/11/wyndham-timeshare-whistleblower-lawsuit/
Candace Czarny v Hyatt and Kent and Allison Drysdale – Former Hyatt timeshare Sales Executives alleged that they were instructed to make certain false statements and omit certain facts when communicating to Hyatt owners and potential clientele in order to make more sales. https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-57/
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.
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Thank you, Patty, for taking the time to attend the trial and prepare this very interesting report, I am sure that all our readers are rooting for Candace, it is time that justice was done.
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