Friday, March 24, 2017

What Is ARDA-ROC?

Some timeshare owners are still not familiar with ARDA-ROC and may be unknowingly making voluntary contributions each year through your annual fees accessed by your resort.

I'm not here to tell you if you should continue to make contributions or not...that's up to you.

You can read all about ARDA-ROC here:  http://www.ardaroc.org/roc/home.aspx

You should also read this from Irene Parker writing for Inside Timeshare:

http://insidetimeshare.com/friday-letter-america/

Irene kindly credits me with providing some information.  This information is not my opinion...this information was easily found online.

Personally, I invite Mr. Thomassen, listed as the sole "Owner Representative" on the board to contribute a Guest Post.

The more we know, the more we can grow.


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

A Timeshare Collector Speaks

Here's a guest blog that you'll find interesting.  A view from the other side so to speak:

http://insidetimeshare.com/timeshare-hoa-collections-agent-shares-experience/

Manhattan Club Update

Important update on the ongoing Manhattan Club issues:


In the upcoming hearing on 3/31, Judge Rakower' Court Room in NYC, the TMC defendants' motion seeks release of monies from frozen accounts to pay legal fees.  They are also seeking to use maintenance fees from TMC owners to pay their legal fees.

 

Item #10 Schedule B on the new 2018 TMC budget provides for $2.6 million for administrative costs and this include legal fees.  However, the Timeshare Association is not a defendant in the NYAG's case.  We need a more detailed breakdown of the $2.6 million.    It's vague and ambiguous. We need to see a breakdown.  For all we know they could be budgeting for legal fees.

 

It is also important to note that they are also budgeting $7,000,000 for a reserve for bad debts! Guess who pays that!  The unit owners are subsidizing the consequences of  sponsor malfeasance.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

5 Myths About Timeshare

Whether you own a timeshare, are thinking of purchasing a timeshare, used to own timeshare or find yourself in front of a timeshare salesperson, you're bound to come across some timeshare myths.  Here are the Top 5 I run into:

1)  Timeshare is a less costly vacation alternative to renting hotels.

In rare cases and when purchasing on the secondary market, this may be true.  For the majority of owners, you'll be paying more when you factor in the purchase price, annual fees and exchange/usage fees.  That's not necessarily a bad thing.

2)  Real estate based timeshare is an investment and will appreciate in value.

NO, NO, NO, NO.  A million times no,

3)  You can hire a company to get you "out" of your timeshare because the sales presentation took more than the agreed to 90 minutes.

The length of the sales presentation has nothing to do with the legality or enforceability of the contract.

4)  Brand name timeshares are better than others.

"Better" for who?  Based on what?  Each person has different needs.  Don't fall for generalizations.

I've purposely left off Number 5 on this list.  What's the biggest timeshare myth you've encountered?

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Manhattan Club News

Some of you are aware of the ongoing nasty business at The Manhattan Club.

If you're not, I urge you to do some research; it will serve as a cautionary tale and spur you to pay more attention to what is going on at your resort.

For those of you who are affected, here's some important information:


Court:   New York Civil Supreme

Index Number:  654023/2015

Case Name:        BARNETT, GLENN E vs. EICHNER, IAN BRUCE

Case Type:          Cd-Econtract

Track:    Complex

This is Class Action so will include all owners. Mr. Wasser's group is separate. People don't Have to join Class Action.

This is a separate action from the one that Mr. Wasser is handling.

Owners should continue to contact NYAG's office.

Additionally:


TMC has new counsel—that is why the early February hearing on unfreezing legal fees was postponed until 3/31. new firm, Gibson Dunn .. and the bad news: http://www.gibsondunn.com/lawyers/rmastro;

He is a NYC mover and shaker, and a very expensive lawyer and law firm. It is costing TMC/Urban a ton. This is the law firm that represented the State of New Jersey/Gov. Christie in the Bridgegate case.

Everyone should make sure they have written to the judge objecting to this; and (2) maybe getting some people to the argument on 3/31 even if it might be postponed again. This is a big hearing—if the judge allows TMC’s/Urban’s motion, they may be allowed to be paid legal fees out of owner maintenance fees. In previous briefs filed with the court, TMC has already argued that its legal fees for all defendants are running $50K-$100K/month. Once the discovery gets going, it will cost even more.
Write to:


Honorable Justice Eileen Rakower,
Supreme Court of the State of New York 
71 Thomas St.
Part 15
New York, New York 10013

Questions?

Guest Post-Fake News and Timeshare

Today's Guest Post is from attorney Michael Finn.  As always, respectful comments are welcome.


Whatever your political affiliation, you’ve probably heard of – and groaned at – the idea of “fake news.” It was the political buzzword of 2016, and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere in the months ahead.

For anyone wondering what we’re talking about, here’s a handy primer on the “fake news” phenomenon from Vox.com. The gist of the issue is that many, many parties are taking made-up stories and presenting them as if they are from real, viable sources. While this act isn’t necessarily new, its prevalence and impact have been magnified by social media, and it’s become a huge talking point on both sides of the aisle.

The rise of “fake news” is a confounding legal, political, technological, and ethical question – and it strikes a chord with many of the stories we’ve heard from timeshare consumers over the years.

So, what do “fake news” and the shared vacation industry have to do with one another?

Like the fake news phenomenon, the timeshare hard sell is all about telling consumers what they want to hear: Easy, lifetime vacations! Flawless resorts! Easy to exchange or resell! Pass the value down to your kids!

In reality, it’s easy to debunk many of these claims, from the notion of the points-based timeshare as a real estate investment (a largely false marketing gimmick) to the efficacy of the secondary timeshare market (which is actually all but non-existent, largely due to suppressive actions on the part of major resort developers).

And, what’s more, these bold claims are given a certain level of protection. Just as the wild stories disseminated around the internet are given leeway by the anonymity of their authors and the undiscriminating algorithms of your Google search page or Facebook feed, so are the big, often dubious claims of timeshare developers protected by what Michael Finn has dubbed the “salesman’s license to lie clause.”

We’ve written about the “license to lie” clause repeatedly. In a nutshell, we’re referring to a common clause included in the mountain of paperwork executed at closing that states that the purchaser did not rely on any oral representations when making their purchasing decision.

In many ways, this clause frees up unethical salespeople to say whatever they have to in order to close the deal that day, potentially leading to situations in which a consumer signs up for something on paper that may well be diametrically different from what they were promised in the room. And given that the statutory protections for consumers – we’re speaking here of state-mandated rescission periods and the release of a Prospectus/Public Offering Statement (POS) – are largely inadequate to suit the needs of the average modern consumer, many are left “stuck” with a lifelong financial obligation and very little recourse for dispute. In other words, once the damage of misinformation is done, its effects could last for a long, long time.

As mentioned above, the timeshare aftermarket generally takes place on the fringes of the industry, outside of the direct purview of the major resort developers (who have publicly stated that they see a healthy secondary market as a threat to their bottom lines, and have behaved accordingly). So consumers looking for relief must often wander into some of the murkiest back corners of the internet, where misinformation reigns and scammers run rampant, and every claim seems too good to be true because it likely is.

The key to successfully navigating the timeshare market – before, during, and after your sale – is, indeed, quite the same as separating real news from fake. Always do your research!

Don’t be afraid to consult with a real estate or legal professional with any questions or concerns at any step along the way, and be sure to thoroughly vet any developers, resellers, exchange companies, or any other groups you may come up against in your timeshare journey with the help of the BBB and consumer protection agencies for your state.

Wherever it may be coming from, the best defense against misinformation and exploitation is knowledge and expertise

Friday, January 27, 2017

Transparancy and Accountability

I rarely, if ever, reprint a Press Release from a timeshare developer.  This one caught my eye.
DRI is now embarking on a new program where transparency and accountability are front and center.
Read on:
LAS VEGAS, NV (January 24, 2017) — Diamond Resorts International® (“Diamond Resorts”), a global leader in the hospitality and vacation ownership industries, has announced the launch of Diamond Clarity™, a new national program designed to transform the customer experience for current and prospective Diamond Resorts members. Diamond Clarity™ consists of a series of operational procedures and enhancements, new training and compliance procedures and protocols, and other customer-friendly changes to the sales process.
“At Diamond Resorts, we already excel in customer satisfaction, but we are constantly looking for ways to do even better,” said Michael Flaskey, Chief Operating Officer, Diamond Resorts International®. “Through Diamond Clarity™, Diamond Resorts will not just make a lasting impression, it will make the right first impression. It will increase transparency for the consumer and accountability for our team members, setting a new standard in our industry.”
Introducing Diamond Clarity™
Diamond Clarity™ formalizes a series of new and existing consumer protocols that define how the company engages with current and future members during the sales and documentation process. It is built on two core principles: transparency and accountability, and it begins with a simple PROMISE.
Diamond PROMISE memorializes a series of operational procedures and enhancements in a single document that will be provided to all customers at the beginning of every sales presentation. Knowing their rights, and knowing what Diamond Resorts representatives will and will not do throughout the sales process gives existing and potential members better control of the decision-making process. With this clear, concise and consistent information, consumers can easily determine whether the Diamond Resorts hospitality experience is the right decision for them and their families.
In addition to Diamond PROMISE, the company will roll out four key operational changes across its entire national platform in the near future:
  • Recording Quality Assurance sessions, subject to consent from purchasers, to review compliance with all policies and procedures, and to augment and enhance the company’s sales and quality assurance training.
  • Creating a Consumer Advocacy Channel within the company’s corporate headquarters, to quickly address any issues or concerns members may have. This new platform will allow Diamond Resorts to maintain the highest standards of service in the industry.
  • Increased training of frontline personnel. All sales and marketing personnel will take part in quarterly training exercises to reinforce their awareness, understanding, and compliance with all sales and marketing rules, principles, and practices.
  • Regularly placing “Consumer Engagement Observers” at sales presentations to continuously provide the sales organization with feedback necessary to achieve constant improvement.
“The Diamond Clarity™ program is revolutionary in its simplicity,” said Mr. Flaskey. “A lot of its program elements are things we already are doing and have done for a long time. However, by combining them with new operational reforms and making the entire package more accessible to the consumer, and by applying it practically and prominently in all of our sales and marketing efforts, we are doubling down on our promise to put our members first. With the launch of Diamond Clarity™ we are continuing to improve industry best practices.”
Diamond Clarity™ seeks to build on Diamond Resorts’ already impressive standing with its members. Almost 70% of the company’s sales are to existing members seeking to increase their Diamond Resorts vacation memberships.
So, DRI members, what do you think?  Non-DRI members, would this factor in your purchasing decision?