In today’s article, Irene Parker explains the work of the Advocacy Group and how it can help you the timeshare owner. Since this project has been going it has achieved some fantastic results, some that we are unable to publish, others have been and there are some to come.
This project has brought people together, ensuring that no one feels that they are alone. There is always somebody to help, even if it just to listen to your concerns. So enough from em and on with Irene’s article.
“Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens” Jimi Hendrix
By Irene Parker
June 5, 2017
What is the Timeshare Advocacy Group ™ and who are they?
More importantly, why are they necessary?
Timeshare Advocates, advocating on behalf of those who have fallen victim to what they consider to be deceitful sales practices, go beyond helpful Facebook posts to walk with the timeshare member until a resolution, relinquishment refund, or foreclosure takes place.
Timeshare members can contact Timeshare Advocacy Group ™ if they:
- Can’t get out of their timeshare
- Feel they were deceived or lied to by a timeshare sales agent
- Don’t know where to start
- Don’t know who to call
- Cannot afford an attorney
- Cannot afford maintenance fees
For too long timeshare developers have relied on the use and abuse of the oral representation clause. Of course there are timeshare companies and timeshare sales agents selling timeshares without deceit, trying to survive in a timeshare world where top producers are all too often encouraged to sell by “deceit, concealment, violation of trust and bait and switch” meeting the FBI definition of White Collar Crime. Financial Institution Fraud is added to the mix when credit card lending crosses over to predatory lending.
When timeshare buyers begin their complaint with – “The salesman said” – company representatives are quick to ask for proof of the allegation, a word I have come to detest. In most cases there is no proof, but some regulators are listening. After all, it’s not that unusual for someone who has committed a crime to say, “I didn’t do it.”
More and more, surprised timeshare members who feel they are victims of deceit or “bait and switch”, realizing they have signed a perpetual contract with little or no secondary market, are digging in for the long haul, filing complaints with the FBI when deceived and Attorneys General sympathetic to the cause. Not all are.
Inside Timeshare previously published “Chicken Soup for Timeshare’s Soul” simplifying timeshare attorney Mike Finn’s white paper.
The Florida Timeshare Division acted on only 110 out of 2,360 timeshare complaints between April 2012 and April 2014.
Contrast this with Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s office acting on approximately 400 complaints filed against Diamond Resorts resulting in an $800,000 settlement and an issuance of an “Assurance of Discontinuance”.
The Timeshare Advocacy Group ™ works with print and broadcast media to take timeshare issues before the court of public opinion.
When Timeshare Advocate and former Hyatt and Diamond Resorts salesperson Candace Czarny learned of a May 2017 Arizona AG filing deadline for Diamond restitution eligibility, she wrote and distributed a press release to numerous Arizona publications and news networks. An Advocate who has a complaint in process was told by her reviewer that because of the publication of several articles, the AG office has received an additional 500 complaints. They wanted filers to know they need to be patient.
Hence, we answered the question, “What can one person do to make a difference.”
The Arizona Republic, part of the USA Today Network
The Timeshare Advocacy Group ™ is a group led by the following individuals who feel the time has come to take back our vacations.
Leading these efforts:
- Irene Allen, TAG administrator
- Charles Thomas, Inside Timeshare
- Irene Parker, Inside Timeshare
- Patrice Johnson, Advocate coordinator
- Lisa Ann Schreier, media consultant
- Candace Czarny, timeshare consultant
- Diamond Resorts Member Sponsored Facebook administrators
- Club Intrawest Owners Facebook administrators
- Gold Key Resorts Owners Forum administrators
- Monarch website administrators
- Over 100 timeshare owners and members turned Advocates
- 15 attorneys involved with various timeshare legal actions
This is where we are going. But how did we get here?
It all started with DRIP
DRIP was launched by over 1000 British owners seeking release from Diamond Resorts timeshare contracts.
To my knowledge, Diamond Resorts has never admitted wrongdoing, but the company has introduced a program called CLARITY™ in response to the Arizona Attorney General’s actions. Is it enough? Members are wary but hope to work with Diamond to improve customer relations.
Monarch (DRI acquired) timeshare owners launched a website
At a 2016 annual meeting, it was announced 30% of the remaining 40,000 Monarch owners have not paid their 2016 dues.
A jury awarded former Wyndham sales agent Trish Williams $20 million when she exposed practices she said took place at Wyndham. According to Ms. Williams, Wyndham had TAFT days on slow sales days – Tell them any blank thing to close the deal.
Two additional Wyndham Whistleblowers, reported by Scott Brinkmann
A former Diamond sales agent introduced me to Charles Thomas, publishing investigative timeshare reports for Inside Timeshare based in Spain. This began a lifelong collaborative effort working together towards timeshare reform.
Diamond Resorts Owners Advocacy Group was launched February 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.
Club Intrawest Owners member sponsored Facebook 3,000 members
Gold Key Resorts Owners Forum member sponsored Facebook
The following companies should be thinking about implementing their own version of DRI’s CLARITY™ based on these Consumer Affairs ratings.
The Bluegreen Corporation 1.5 out of 5 stars
Westgate Resorts 1 out of 5 stars
RCI 1.3 out of 5 stars
Shell Vacation Club 1.3 out of 5 stars
Hilton Grand Vacations 1.5 out of 5 stars
Many of the families our Advocates have worked with have been financially devastated by tricks of the timeshare trade. The word we hear most often is “embarrassed” and “ashamed”.
All victims of crimes are silenced, whether child abuse, rape or timeshare – isolated and silenced by perpetrators. The timeshare developers and lobbyist efforts have made it difficult to be released from contracts and difficult to contact other owners. Lawmakers turn a deaf ear to members with eyes wide shut. There is virtually no member representation in the industry.
We want you to know that our Advocates and Inside Timeshare are here for you. Join our efforts and expand our network.
Timeshare companies are starting to take notice, Inside Timeshare has had reports that many are wondering when we will start to highlight them, they are right to be concerned, because by coming together your voice gets louder. When it gets louder, it gets stronger, once it gets stronger the more you can all achieve.
Irene and myself thank all who contribute to these articles, either by writing or just reading the drafts and pointing out anything that has been missed.