ARDA Timeshare Lobbyist Don Isaacson Opposes Arizona House Bill 2639 – A Bill to Safeguard Timeshare Buyers
ARIZONA TIMESHARE BILL PASSES OUT OF HOUSE COMMITTEE
By Irene Parker and registered nurse, Fran D
March 5, 2019
Arizona has proposed a timeshare bill to protect timeshare buyers, but this bill is being contested by timeshare lobbyists. If Arizona HB2639 passes, it would help to protect consumers from fraud and deceptive sales practices by allowing a 14 day rescission period, among other safeguards. Fran, an Arizona resident, hopes that by sharing her timeshare experience that took place in Sedona, Arizona, and Maui, Hawaii, it will help lawmakers understand what buyers face when purchasing a product improperly presented.
Timeshare members pay $5 million in annual “voluntary” donations to ARDA ROC. ARDA is the American Resort Development Association and ROC is Resort Owners’ Coalition. Out of 717 timeshare families who have reached out to Inside Timeshare, not one member could tell me what ARDA ROC stands for.
Timeshares have little to no secondary market. ARDA ROC has launched 8 Tips to Navigate the Resale Market. I contacted 22 licensed brokers. Not one would accept a listing for my timeshare points, feeling the restrictions placed on the use of secondary points too restrictive. For the members of my timeshare company, there is no resale market. http://www.ardaroc.org/timeshare-resales-resource-center.aspx
Many of the families affected by the lack of a secondary market for timeshares have been financially devastated. The majority of our readers have reported unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices.
ARDA – Is this is our voice?
According to ARDA lobbyist Don Isaacson:
But the bottom line, said (ARDA lobbyist) Isaacson, is that the state should not step in to protect people who didn’t bother to understand the nature of the deal.
“You read the documents,” said Isaacson. “And unless there is fraud, you are bound to that particular purchase.”
Anyway, Isaacson argued that too much is being made of the issue. He said the 250 complaints a year to the Attorney General’s Office pale in comparison to the 600,000 timeshare units owned in Arizona.
What Mr. Isaacson doesn’t understand, is that members are bound by the contract, despite fraud, with the vast majority of complaints alleging deception dismissed with “You signed a contract.” It’s not that buyers don’t understand the product. It’s that they understand the product as it is so often deceptively presented. Three major timeshare companies have received, respectively, over 2,000, 1,000 and 800 Better Business Bureau complaints over the last three years.
When buyers complain, they are typically told they signed a contract. How many people buy cars and houses without relying on reading every word of a contract, relying on the ethics of the real estate or automotive broker? It is only in timeshare that the oral representation clause is so abused and so overused. The industry itself calls deceptive practices “pitching heat,” a term unique to timeshare sales.
There are many ways to deceive, such as:
“This is a new program, so don’t say anything because I could get fired.”
Access to booking is not allowed until after the rescission period, so reading the contract would not help.
Wait until you make a few payments before refinancing – when banks don’t finance timeshares.
Fran’s complaint, recently sent to the Arizona and Hawaii Attorneys General, was dismissed by the company, responding that there were no misrepresentations. You be the judge. She will file complaints with the BBB, the FTC, the FBI at IC3.gov and the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Fran hopes ARDA lobbyist Don Isaacson reads her complaint. She will be reaching out to the following Arizona representatives involved with the bill:
- Bolick, Shawnna (602) 926-3244 [email protected] (Bill sponsor)
- Biasiucci, Leo (602) 926-3018 [email protected]
- Blackman, Walter (602) 926-3043 [email protected]
- Carroll, Frank (602) 926-3249 [email protected]
- Dunn, Timothy M. (602) 926-4139 [email protected]
- Fillmore, John (602) 926-3187 [email protected]
- Finchem, Mark (602) 926-3122 [email protected]
- Grantham, Travis (602) 926-4868 [email protected] (Committee Chair)
- Kavanagh, John (602) 926-5170 [email protected]
- Payne, Kevin (602) 926-4854 [email protected]
- Roberts, Bret (602) 926-3158 [email protected]
- Toma, Ben (602) 926-3298 [email protected]
- Weninger, Jeff (602) 926-3092 [email protected]
Excerpts from the complaint Fran filed with the Arizona and Hawaii AG offices:
- We purchased 8500 points in Sedona Arizona April 24, 2017.
- Purchase price: $29,955.00
- Down payment: $6,150.00
- Amount financed $23,805.00
Sales agent Eric told us that we were buying points at a low rate, less than $ 4 per point, and that “at this price the point value can only go up.” We could sell some points at a profit and keep the original base points for travel. Ultimately getting our entire purchase for free, he called it a “401-V”. He said he would lock the price for one year in case we decided to get more points later to utilize our “401-V”. We have since learned Diamond points are virtually worthless on resale.
The forms were long and extensive. We asked for time to review the documents but were pressured into signing “today” or not get the price per point offered. After seven hours, my husband got upset and left. Eric followed us to our room insisting that we sign. We thought that Eric must be telling the truth, because if he wasn’t, there would be some sort of regulation. We incorrectly put our faith in Eric.
We were referred to ARDA. ARDA’s advice leads members to scams, as licensed brokers will not even accept a listing for Diamond points, feeling the restrictions Diamond places on the use of secondary points excessive.
Virginia Beach, August 2017
The sales agents in Virginia were also very high pressure. They told us what we bought in Arizona was not worth it for us and that we had to purchase another 8500 points in order to keep the price of less than $4 per point. The agent said that after that day the price would be higher. We did not buy. Being deceived into attending the presentation, under the guise that we were getting an education toward our membership was unfair and deceptive. The insistence that we had not purchased enough points made us so angry we did not buy.
Maui, Hawaii, February 12, 2018
We purchased an additional 5,000 points and switched our US Collection points to the Hawaii Collection to total 13,500 Hawaii Collection points.
- Purchase price $56,510.00
- Down payment of $2,731
- Amount financed $47,713.00
We met with sales agent Sequan R. This again ended up being a hard sell when we told him that we were expecting more of an educational meeting. He said he would give us all the education we need as he had left the company to give independent conferences to teach people how to maximize and exit a timeshare through “Timeshare Confidential Seminars,” but said Diamond hired him back to the sell side of the industry. We were again told “You can’t travel to where you want to go with what you have.” We have since learned that 8500 points were enough points to meet our needs.
Sequan told us we could use a program called Club Combinations at least six times a year to rent out to generate income that would offset the cost of our mortgage. Sequan also told us that we are lucky that the agent in AZ locked in the price because points have already gone up to $8.00 per point so we could already sell points and double our money. Sequan said that many more high income level people are coming into this resort for the investment which is why the company started the rental program. He said at that income level people want to see a good return on their investment. I told Sequan I did not have time to spend on rentals because I work a lot of hours. Sequan said that the company would appoint someone to help us so we could start to offset our cost right away. I asked Sequan what if they don’t help us. He gave us his cell number and said to call him if that happens. We called Sequan but there was no person by that name.
Later we called and asked how to rent out our club combinations listings. We were told there was no such program. There was no such thing as a rental program or selling of points for a profit.
Most buyers are on vacation without funds available for a large purchase, so end up signing off on high interest rate loans. We went into debt to invest in Diamond’s timeshare points.
We had hoped for great vacations and the ability to sell some points for profit as had been explained. Diamond’s motto “Stay Vacationed” for us means being held hostage. This vacation nightmare has become a major stress in our lives. Filing regulatory complaints is like having a part time job. I am a registered nurse and have spent many years working hard. My husband has worked hard for 40 years. We trusted the timeshare salespeople as we would trust any real estate broker, relying on the ethics of the real estate industry. It was a mistake.
Please do whatever you can to pass this bill and not allow ARDA, a paid lobbyist, to change your minds!
Thank you to Fran for sharing her timeshare experience. Inside Timeshare sent a draft of this article to ARDA. They did not respond. Of the 717 families who have reached out to us reporting unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices, 99 are veterans and active duty service members. Several of the veterans are disabled, five Agent Orange disabled.
Proposed Florida HB 435, in which developers are worried about members deceived by timeshare exit companies, is supported by ARDA. A recent Florida whistleblower lawsuit was filed on behalf of ten former Wyndham sales agents. The actions of deceptive sales agents also harm honest timeshare sales agents.
IMPORTANT LINKS CONCERNING ARIZONA HOUSE BILL 2639
Press Release: http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-43/
To Track Arizona HB2639: Trackbill.com
Proposed HB Bill 2639
Request to Speak for Arizona Residents
The “Kill Bill” Guide – How it Works
Coalition to Reform Timeshare
Preparing a narration for a governmental agency or a timeshare loss mitigation department is difficult for some due to age related issues or language barriers. We’re here at Inside Timeshare, along with our Supporters, to listen and educate. Contact us or one of these self-help groups we feel are not industry influenced if you experienced unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices.
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.
Thank you Irene and Fran, it is now down to you the readers to do your bit and make your voices heard, this bill is to protect you the consumer, do not let the industry that has walked over you for years do it again.
In Spain, the law is on the side of the consumer, the industry is being taken to the cleaners after years of predatory selling, with many other European Countries with timeshare resorts looking to follow Spain’s lead. This is a result of the European Union issuing several directives on what timeshare is and how it should and should not be sold, which each state having to place this into their own laws, Spain was by far the strongest in its implementation. It took many years to get to this stage, but at least the consumer has the full protection of the law.
LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD!