Wednesday, October 17, 2018

They Said...Doesn’t Mean You Should Believe

Here are the most common things I hear from unhappy, frustrated timeshare owners. The developers continue to get away with them because of the infamous ‘oral representation’ clause. 

>They said it was an investment

>They said it was easy to sell

>They said to fill out an application to see if we were eligible, but they opened a credit card and charged it for the purchase (or down payment)

>They said we could pay our maintenance fees with this new program, but the program didn’t exit

>They said we could sell our timeshare if we bought more points, but the program didn’t exist

>They said we could pay our maintenance fees by using a credit card, but we would have to charge $200,000 in a year to pay a $2,000 maintenance fee

>They said airfare would be included when we booked a stay

>The sales agent said the last agent did not sell us enough points

>They said we could rent our timeshare, but the resort does not allow this

>They said if we did not give up our deed and buy points, our children’s’ credit would be destroyed if something happened to us

>They said the sales presentation would only be 90 minutes but it turned into 5 hours

>They said if we didn’t change to another program our maintenance fees will go through the roof

>They said that I should not have bought a timeshare in Hawaii because they have hurricanes

>They said that I should not have bought a timeshare in Florida because they have hurricanes

>The sales agent said he would be my personal representative, but he never returned my calls or text messages.    

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Inheriting (or not) a Timeshare

I’m not an attorney so I am not giving out legal advice here, but one question I get asked time and time again is ‘Do I have to inherit my parents’ timeshare?’

The best answer I can provide is ‘maybe.’

If you are on the deed or other legal instrument conveyed by the resort, the answer is most likely YES. 

If you’re not on the deed or other legal instrument conveyed by the resort, the answer is most likely NO. 

From the legal experts that I’ve discussed this with, it seems the best course of action in either case is to send a "disclaimer of interest," along with a copy of the original owner's death certificate, to the timeshare property within a specific time frame -- usually nine months after the original owner's death. 

If you intend to refuse the timeshare inheritance, you must not take advantage of any timeshare privileges because this may cause you to forfeit your right to refuse the timeshare. 

If money is still owed on the timeshare, that presents a whole range of additional steps and in that case, you absolutely should contact an attorney as you would in the case of any other debt that the deceased had. 

Don’t be taken in by the scare tactics that so many of these self/proclaimed ‘timeshare exit’ companies use to get you to cough up thousands of dollars so that your heirs don’t have to inherit an unwanted timeshare. As with most of the claims they make, it just isn’t true. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Certain Similarities

There’s been a lot of teeth gnashing lately about the dangers of those so-called timeshare ‘exit companies’ that promise beleaguered owners a way out if they’ll hand over several thousands of dollars. Much of this teeth gnashing has come from the timeshare industry itself. 

Don’t get me wrong-I abhor those companies that promise a quick solution to a problem that isn’t at all easy to fix. The timeshare industry has had 40+ years to carefully construct lengthy contracts in perpetuity that favor the developer. Contracts are not easy to get out from. And I applaud the timeshare industry for shutting down these bad players. I’d applaud them even more if there were more viable exit strategies for owners, but that’s a blog post for a different day. 

However, with the industry applauding themselves for having played a part in shutting at least one of these ‘exit companies’ down, it brings certain similarities to the surface between ‘getting into a timeshare’ and ‘getting out of a timeshare.’


>Both involve the consumer being ‘invited’ to a presentation I.e. a sales pitch of some kind

>Both involve a multi-hour demonstration of how the consumer can have their problem solved by signing up

>Both require the consumer to make a decision immediately after the presentation, the dreaded ‘this offer is only good today’ pitch

>Both require the consumer to pay thousands of dollars upfront for some service that may or may not ever be available to the consumer

It’s this last point that’s really telling. In the case of the ‘exit company’ weary consumers are forking over thousands of dollars today under the assurance that the company will be able to extricate them from their contract at some uncertain date in the future. In the case of the timeshare itself, weary consumers are forking over thousands of dollars today (and promising to pay more every year in perpetuity or until they rid themselves of it) under the assurance that the company will be able to provide them with their dream vacations year after year. 

In both cases, the consumer leaves the presentation several thousands of dollars lighter and with a head full of dreams. 

The all so sad and familiar tales of woe show up several months later when the owner either receives yet another unwanted maintenance fee bill from the resort because lo and behold the ‘exit company’ didn’t fulfill any of their promises and/or the developer turned down the transfer request or when the owner discovers that they can’t get to Hawaii or Myrtle Beach or use their points to pay for their maintenance fees because lo and behold, their oh so friendly salesperson misrepresented some key factors.

Ever wonder exactly who works as the pitch men for these ‘exit companies’?  Ever wonder where they learned their spiel?  Ever wonder why I tell people to not make any purchasing decision in haste or why it’s not advisable to pay today for some promised service in an undetermined date in the future?  Wonder no more, people. Wonder no more. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The NFL Players Association Has to Approve This?!?!

You’re not going to believe this. I didn’t, but alas, it’s true. This could only take place within the weird world that’s timeshare. 

There’s a salesperson, referred to as a Vacation Counselor, at a Diamond Resorts property-Daytona Beach Regency-by the name of Elgin Davis. Mr Davis is a former NFL player-New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers. Is this the real Elgin Davis, or someone pretending to be Elgin Davis?  Either way, read on. 

A current Diamond owner was on a sales presentation with Mr Davis and reported that Mr. Davis said, “he could get us the  $3.96 per point price, compared to the $9.00 price he showed us, but he would have to contact the NFL Players Association to get it because he is Diamond's NFL Ambassador for the ProBowl.”

Let that sink in. If I were to enroll in every creative writing class known to man, I could not conjure up such a whacked out sales pitch. 

Oh, and lest I forget, the current owner who reported this is over 80 years old and is in no shape, financially or otherwise, to purchase more timeshare. 

And of course, the $9.00 per point is a number pulled out of a hat. The number that should be paid attention to is what is this timeshare ‘worth’ when it comes time to sell. 

I’d like to hear from anyone at Diamond who can tell me if in fact the salesperson really is who he claims to be. I’m more interested in hearing from anyone at Diamond who would like to comment on Mr Davis’ ‘creative’ sales pitch. 

I wonder what the NFL has to say about this?

Monday, September 17, 2018

Anatomy of a Scam

I honestly do not comprehend how anyone with a modicum of common sense could fall for this, but here is a recap of the pitch that a ‘timeshare exit’ company is using: 

“We received an invitation to attend a seminar and so we went out of curosity because we have a timeshare that we wanted to let go of so we went to see what they would say.  

Lo and behold they talked about some open enrollment period from January 2015 to January 2018 where timeshares were to notify you because of some changes that were implemented (still not clear what the changes are but it sounded like it was all about escalated costs that they could now enforce) to allow you to opt out of your contract and be allowed to return your timeshare (of course at a cheaper cost than it would be to keep it).  

They calculated this cost based on 10-15 years of timeshare fees minus equity that you had accrued.  You would only be allowed to do this If you did not a have a signed release from ARDA in your file.  If there was an signed release by you then no they could not do anything and you couldn't return it.  They worked with ARDA and could check immediately to see what was in your file and what timeshares you owned and whether there was a signed document on file   A lot of times they said people signed these releases at presentations not knowing.  

They also indicated that they had a big lawsuit with Diamond and couldn't accept any Diamond properties but that some big changes would happen in December when they won their case for US Collection members to give back their points.”

What sheer and utter nonsense this is. I especially like the bit about ‘a signed release from ARDA in your file.’  It’s like being on ‘double secret probation’ in Animal House. 

People, I know you’re desperate to get out of your timeshare contract and I know that you’re at a disadvantage because you fell for a bunch of lies that convinced you to buy the thing in the first place without doing any research or even insuring that you understood the contract. But for heavens sake-STOP and think for a moment before you throw out yet more money. 

Breathe. Drop me a line. 

Friday, September 14, 2018

Going After The Bad Guys-Some of Them

From a Press Release discussing the timeshare industry’s response to various companies engaged in ‘exit strategies’:

"A top priority for our industry and owners, and for law enforcement and other agencies, is to protect consumers from dishonest individuals or companies trying to take advantage of them," said ARDA‐ROC Chairman Ken McKelvey. "These actions send a strong signal to criminals that fraud and deceptive activities will not be tolerated by our industry and it tells consumers that we take the actions of these individuals very seriously."

Hopefully after this they go after the fraud and deceptive activities used by companies engaged in timeshare ‘entry strategies.’

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

A Rant...Against Consumers!?!?

As someone who has been writing about the timeshare industry for many years, I have joined a number of Facebook groups dealing with various timeshare resorts. I’ve been viewing the recent posts and ensuing comments over the past few weeks and for the most part, kept my mouth shut. 

I can’t keep quiet any longer. As some of you know, I’ve been writing about the industry and attempting to help as many consumers as possible for almost 18 years. I do not consider myself to an expert, although I do my very best to keep up to date with the goings on in the industry. 

A few points:

>Just because you have a computer, a keyboard and have sat through a timeshare sales pitch, or even purchased one,  does not make you an expert. There are too many replies being posted that are erroneous and doing more harm than good.

>Just because you purchased a trial program or a timeshare without doing a modicum of research before plopping down your money and you now decide you don’t want it or can’t afford it does not mean you have an legitimate complaint, especially one that you’re going to file with law enforcement. Don’t get me wrong-I abhor the lies being told by some sales staff and it should cease. However, understand that your seemingly unending practice of believing some of the most outrageous stories known to mankind, only serve to encourage these liars and as you know, the developer relies on the ‘You signed the contract’ defense over and over again.

>Constantly asking ‘How do they get away with it?’ does no one any good. We all know the problem and we all know that they DO get away with it. There’s a much bigger and broader issue here that seems to get ignored. Systemic change is necessary. 

Consumers MUST take some responsibility for what’s going on. The developers that turn a blind eye to, or worse, encourage their sales staff to misrepresent the product, are under no pressure to change their ways because it works. You continue to fill their sales rooms day after day. You continue to allow them to hold your credit cards and drivers licenses hostage to drag out a 2 hour presentation to 4 hours. You continue to sign paperwork that you’ve never read and don’t understand. You continue to blindly accept what the sales person says without asking to see it in the contract. And you continue to buy. And buy. And buy some more. 

Rant over.