The Barclay MasterCard and US Timeshare Lending
By Irene Parker
May 17, 2017
Inside Timeshare published an article about Barclays Bank and the predatory nature of timeshare lending. Author Charles Thomas asked me to provide some input on how timeshare credit card lending works in the US.
Barclays Bank article by Charles Thomas May 11, 2017
Linked in the article, Money Marketing reported the following March 2017:
“Barclays Bank consumer credit arm Clydesdale Financial Services is being sued for more than £1.5m by 106 consumers over a holiday home timeshare scheme.”
According to Consumer Affairs, the Barclay Card is rated one star out of five based on 63 ratings out of 585 reviews (May 15, 2017).
Charles provided the following figures as an illustration of how imprudent it is to finance a vacation at 17%. The cause: Sales agents extremely well trained and consumers suffering from a relaxed vacation brain.
These are the figures from one loan agreement over 15 years Inside Timeshare has been given for a 1 week timeshare, it is from Barclays:
Cost of the timeshare £10,900.00
Credit facility fee £65.00
Total amount payable £29,430.00
Interest rate 17.6%
Timeshare is certainly not the only industry that has led consumers into credit card debt up to their eyeballs. As a former investment representative working with approximately 1200 families, looking back, I would say about 10% of the families I worked with managed their money properly. Certainly, rule number 1 should be:
DON’T FINANCE A VACATION AT 12% TO 19%
As if the interest rate isn’t bad enough, consumers also must worry about falsified information used to open the card. Lisa Etienne, a Diamond Resorts buyer, found herself in hot water claiming the company added a 1 before her actual annual earnings, as reported by Amanda Porterfield, CBS58 Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Inside Timeshare has received many complaints from timeshare owners claiming the Barclaycard was used in a predatory fashion. Actions speak louder than words, so I took the time to review the complaints we have received. Out of about 70 complaints, almost half involve a claim of deceptive and predatory lending. Most said they purchased because they were offered buyback or maintenance fee redemption programs that do not exist.
Michael Nuwer, on our Diamond member sponsored Advocacy Facebook, posted the following in answer to one member’s query. Over and over we receive complaints about a 30 cent per point maintenance fee redemption program that does not exist. Members are upsold, told they have to be at a higher loyalty level, often through the Barclaycard, in order to gain access to the nonexistent program. Historically Diamond points have sold for $2 to $4 per point.
“Platinum members can pay a portion of their maintenance fees using their points from November 1 through to the annual bill due date at the current redemption rate of $.04. The non-refundable processing fee is $100.00.” (Page 23 Benefits Guide)
This is an excerpt from the very first complaint I read. Stunned, I vowed I would do something to warn consumers. Since this first complaint, Inside Timeshare in the US and the EU has received dozens of complaints concerning the same tactics described below. Dozens may not sound like a lot, but given how difficult it is for members to contact other members, clearly a pattern exists as you will see later on.
“I am at the Cancun resort in Las Vegas and went to a breakfast where they said they would simply update me about the changeover to Diamond. I was told that I should have been invited to a dinner where I would have been given options due to their (Monarchs) bankruptcy. I have been looking to get out of Monarch for over a year. They said that was not an option and as an owner, I was proportionally responsible for their debt. I felt trapped and signed all the papers to transfer, with no idea how I can pay. I am already in severe debt. They claimed when they ran my credit though that it looked better than most and assured me I qualified for financing. I would have to basically transfer to credit cards, which I can barely make my payments on now. I am really scared though. Please help!”
As Diamond is not able to be sold through a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association, and relinquishments are evaluated “case by case”, members find themselves stuck, running in the “hamster wheel” timeshare trap. The member is foreclosed and points are then resold to the next consumer at full value. Even if a relinquishment is granted, when the purchase is recent, but regretted due to abuse of the oral representation clause, families can find themselves financially devastated.
I revisited the cases of members who contacted Inside Timeshare. We have many complaints about the tactics used at Diamond’s Polo Towers Resort in Las Vegas. Diamond has resolved issues for some of the members, but we continue to receive complaints about this sales center. Sales agent Rick Casper even made the RipOff Reports in 2015.
Plaintiffs Gisele Fournier and Rejean Fournier of Riverside County, California May 12, 2017. Their credit card was allegedly charged $2,000 for the membership upgrade, and the upgrade caused their monthly membership dues to nearly double, according to the Diamond Resorts class action lawsuit. They claim they were pressured again into purchasing a membership upgrade and were reportedly mocked by Diamond Resorts’ agents because they did not bring a credit card to the meeting.
Kathie Olds on December 6, 2016 reported being told she could redeem points for 50 cents a point to pay maintenance fees. The sales agent promised the Olds they could open a Barclaycard to pay maintenance fees without explaining the reimbursement was on only 1.5%.
Fast forward to May 12, 2017 Kathie reported:
Yesterday in St. Martin sales agent Riza Young and her manager said that through travel services we could cash in 20,000 points for $.30 per point to pay for $6,000 in maintenance fees. We were also told at Grand Beach Resort in Orlando that if we bought 10,000 more points for $38,000 we could cash in 20,000 points for $10,000 to totally cover our maintenance fees of $8500 +. Both are total lies! She told us she “hates it when agents lie to us.”
Oddly enough, the Better Business Bureau rates Barclays Bank Delaware an A+, given out of 43 reviews, three were positive, one neutral and 39 were negative. There were a total of 988 complaints.
Our readers warning other readers
Inside Timeshare Chronological Articles
Marjorie Menacker – Marjorie says her Diamond timeshare sales agent said she would not have to pay maintenance fees anymore thanks to a one day secret offer.
Eron Grant May 12, 2017 reported she was told about a non-existent 30 cent buy-back program.
Nancy Callahan April 24, 2017 reported she was not aware until she returned home $17,000 had been charged to a Barclaycard to buy $143,000 of Diamond vacation points. She said she was told to open the card because it would help pay maintenance fees. Polo Towers Resort
A Filipino Family April 13, 2017 reported they are in foreclosure. At a meeting, the sales pitch was, we need to completely get rid of our Monarch points by buying more Diamond points in order to prevent the increase in maintenance fees due to less and less people owning Monarch. Four Barclaycards were opened. Cancun Resort in Las Vegas
A Military Family March 6, 2017 reported “Jose, the Supervisor, recommended we buy more Points as that would lower our Maintenance fees by taking back the Sampler. We were also financing the Sampler, so he said they could keep my monthly payment the same”.
Irina Allen January 13, 2017 reported she must pay $2,400 a month in mortgage payments at 18% and $29,000 in maintenance fees while her account is suspended. She was accused of posting an ad on RedWeek to rent her points. She was also accused of opening an AirBNB accounts. Irina has never had an AirBNB account.
Sylvia Saldana October 25, 2016 reported being told to open a Barclaycard to pay maintenance fees and to buy more points. The Saldana’s gave back $60,000 worth of points and still have a $33,000 home equity loan which their sales agent advised them to take out to reduce Diamond’s high interest rate.
The Hurleys, a retired Canadian military family January 25, 2017 reported their struggle with maintenance fees having been convinced to invest their entire life savings thinking they were buying something better than a second home.
Our Diamond Member Sponsored Advocacy Group February 15, 2017
We seek to provide Diamond Resort 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.
Chicken Soup for Timeshares Soul February 7, 2017 on how to file a complaint
Billion Dollar Lawsuit filed against Diamond Resorts February 1, 2017
Shawbrook and Barclay Bank Inside Timeshare July 11, 2016
Sometimes it is hard to focus on the positives when it feels like the battle is all uphill. All we can do is reach out to those who feel like they are lost and alone to let them know Inside Timeshare and our Advocacy Groups are there for them to reach an outcome, whether positive or negative, through the 3Rs or F of Timeshare – Resolution – Relinquishment – Refund – Foreclosure –
Once again thank you Irene, this article is just one in a long line of how the banks are colluding with timeshare developers and sales agents to line their own pockets at the expense of you the consumer. This type of lending does and has caused endless misery and financial difficulty for many.
In some respects, we believe that this is verging on the criminal, with no thought or concern for those who are affected.
If you have been a victim of this type of operation contact Inside Timeshare or our Facebook Advocacy page.