Monday, December 29, 2014

Consumers' Rule---Remember That

As 2014 is almost over with, I thought I'd end the year saying yet again, that consumers rule.  No obscene amount of money that someone at a corporation spends on a "reputation management" company will change that.

Over the past week, some new commercials have been airing here in the Orlando area for a car dealer.  They feature supposedly unscripted testimonials from consumers about the car buying experience.  Are these truly unscripted?  I don't know.  But, what I like about the spots is that the dealer has the good sense to acknowledge the fact that 99.9% of people don't like the car buying experience.

Acknowledging that there's a problem, or shall we say, room for improvement, is the first step in fixing the problem.  You can't fix what you don't admit to.  You can't gloss it over, you can "fudge" the facts, you can't throw people off the trail with surveys; no matter how expensive those are to least not in the long run.

There's a lesson here for those astute enough to learn it.

Happy New Year.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Visit the UK's Incredible Timeshares

There's a world of timeshare opportunities out there for those who take the time to discover them.  Today we take a look at 5 of the UK's countryside timeshare resorts, courtesy of Callum Davies, of Worldwide Timeshare Hypermarket

UK cities are renowned for their historic attractions from Buckingham Palace in London to Edinburgh Castle in the Scottish Capital but what about the fabled British countryside?

From National Parks to ancient woodland these rural locations take centre stage when booking a vacation in the UK countryside whether its over the holiday period or during the height of summer. Home of natural surroundings and tranquil meadows the UK countryside has drawn many award-winning timeshare resorts out of the city and into nature and illustrates what traditional Britain is really all about.

The top 5 were chosen for their proximity to a bountiful National Park, rich historical culture in the local area and their high levels of quality. These resorts are all affiliated to RCI or Interval International which means your current week can be exchanged for one at these rural retreats below. Furthermore, weeks at these resorts can also be acquired for a fraction of the original developer price on the resale market. Based in the UK, Worldwide Timeshare Hypermarket are Europe's largest resale company who offer all the resorts below and more with prices starting from as little as £995. Established since 1996 they provide a consultative approach to buyers and sellers alike and have hundreds of weeks available on their books. Worldwide Timeshare Hypermarket also have their own exchange system, albeit on a smaller scale to RCI's, offering some great exchange and rental opportunities.

So, if you're seeking a countryside vacation you've come to the right place.

Cameron House

Hugging the banks of Loch Lomond in Scotland, is the Interval International Premier Resort of Cameron House, easily accessible from Glasgow Airport. This TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence 2014 winner presents deluxe 1-4 bedroom lodges that serve as a perfect retreat to escape the hustle and bustle of city-life.

During your vacation here embark upon a Loch cruise listening to tales of the past, explore the Highlands with a sea-plane trip departing from the Loch itself or join a pony trekking excursion into the Trossachs National Park.

Revitalisation is found in the award-winning Carrick Spa, a stones throw away at the sister resort of The Carrick which is also home to the Championship Carrick Par-71 golf-course. Back at Cameron House take on the mischievous Wee Demon 9-hole course, a favourite amongst past visitors. Outstanding dining from the Michelin-Star Martin Wishart Restaurant involves innovative ideas and signature dishes made to order, whilst the Cameron Grill serves up mouth-watering salmon and local delicacies. A world of leisure is captured within the heated adults swimming pool and bubbling jacuzzi overlooking the tranquil Loch whilst a twisting children's slide and splash pool are also provided.

De Vere at Slaley Hall

Located in Hexham, North-East England and surrounded by 1000 acres of Forest and Moorland is the magnificent Edwardian Mansion of De Vere at Slaley Hall. Regarded as a Premier Resort by Interval International the resort offers luxurious 2, 3 & 4 bedroom lodges and apartments for a rustic countryside escape.

Kielder Water & Forest Park is nearby and features Northern Europe's largest man-made lake and if you're lucky you may even be able to spot the Northern lights from the Kielder Observatory. Hexham offers a world of history with Hadrian's Wall, dating back to AD122, running through it and the 1,300 year old Hexham Abbey and Queen's Hall Art Centre both sitting in the heart of the city centre.

The Sophisticated Hadrian's Brasserie serves up heart-warming dishes using local produce or indulge in a refined dining experience at Duke's Grill with a steak and lobster banquet. The 2 superb Championship golf courses of Slaley Hall are complimented by PGA Tuition, a Floodlit driving range and practice game areas. The Spa blends natural products with an ESPA treatment tailored to your needs and a dip in the heated 20-metre indoor pool adds to your relaxation. Take a stroll in the bountiful grounds and steam off within the sauna or use the full-gym if you're in need of more.

Hilton Craigendarroch Country Estate

Situated only 8 miles from the Queens Scottish residence of Balmoral Castle in Royal Deeside is the revered Hilton Craigendarroch Country Estate and its well-appointed Studio to 3-bedroom lodges.

Bring the taste of the highlands home at the Royal Lochnagar Distillery and pick up a bottle of the regions famous 12 Year Old malt. Deeside Activity Park has a wonderful array of outdoor activities to get stuck into from kart racing to clay pigeon shooting and can't be missed with an ex-service tank on the door!

A 2-story fitness centre and House Spa are the premier leisure facilities of this RCI Gold Crown Resort nestled on the edge of the Cairngorms National Park offering rejuvenating treatments and pampering ESPA. Enjoy the lagoon-style swimming pool or take to the court for games of tennis and squash during your stay. Ponder the appetising menu of the Keiller Brasserie which delivers a delectable selection of local Scottish produce and European favourites whilst lighter bites can be had at the Keiller Lounge. A playground allows the kids to run off all that vacation excitement and they even have their own pool fitted with a slide for extra fun!

Rhinefield House

A residence since 1709, Rhinefield House is situated on William the Conquerors old hunting grounds amongst 40 acres of the New Forest in Southern England. Awarded TripAdvisor's Certificate of Excellence for 2014 it now presents luxurious 1, 2 & 3-bedroom countryside apartments.

The New Forest area encompasses 200 square-miles of walking, cycling and horse riding trails and features the quaint English villages of Burley and Brockenhurst where ponies and donkeys wandering the high streets are a common sight. The towns of Christchurch and Lymington add a splash of the coast to your vacation and their pretty marinas provide an idyllic location for afternoon tea. Day trips to Portsmouth's Historic Dockyard, Stonehenge and the famous Salisbury Cathedral are all available whilst London's acclaimed attractions can also be easily reached within 1 ½ hours by direct train from Brockenhurst station.

Awarded 2 AA Rosettes The Armada Restaurant serves delicious dishes to indulge in whilst a private dinner-date can be booked in the Alhambra Room, taking inspiration from Spain's Alhambra Palace. Choose between indoor & outdoor swimming pools, best accompanied with a soak in the jacuzzi or a soothing therapy from the world-class spa. Work-out at the full fitness centre or take to the court where tennis is available as are fantastic croquet facilities if a slower pace is more your style.

Barnsdale Country Club

Experience England's smallest County, Rutland, from the comfort of Barnsdale Country Club. Settled within 60 acres of woodland and parkland neighbouring Rutland Water Nature Reserve are the well-appointed 1, 2 & 3 bedroom lodges and apartments of this Interval International Premier Resort.

The typically English market town of Oakham is nearby so pick up a souvenir at the local shops or experience Norman life with a visit to the late 12th Century Castle. Catch a Shakespearean performance at Rutland's Open Air Theatre during the annual season of June-August or take a stroll through the Barnsdale Gardens that feature 39 pocket-sized themed gardens.

The resort features a luxurious spa which includes a unique Dead Sea floatation tank to accompany the heated indoor pool and soothing jacuzzi. Take a swing at the 9-hole pitch and putt course that overlooks Rutland Water whilst squash and tennis courts are also provided. Dine in elegance at the Brasserie or for a more casual affair the bar menu offers a classic selection of traditional dishes for you to try!

Brilliantly written, Callum.  I'm all ready to book a trip.  For more information about these and other UK timeshare resorts, visit Worldwide Timeshare Hypermarket at

Monday, December 15, 2014

Five and Almost 10 With...Bryan Lunt

Today we meet Bryan Lunt, Chairman and CEO of Absolute World Group.

What was your first job in timeshare?

OPC in Tenerife, someone said to me don’t do this job, it doesn’t pay good money… I tried it and found it was easy and continued to get lots of couples in way back in 1984.

What was the greatest lesson you've ever been taught?
Sales training, why you need to get several No’s before you get to the Yes.

Where is your favorite vacation spot?

I am stuck deciding between two places, Koh Samui in Thailand as well as Noosa in Australia.

If you could change one thing about timeshare, what would it be?
The bad reputation it has from the 80’s and 90’s when many rogue operators were not controlled as they are today. The various shared ownership products are simply fantastic and offer families excellent value for money as well as secure quality accommodations – well at least at Absolute World we do!

What is your favorite color?
Red – after my football team.

Thanks, Bryan.  For more information on Absolute World Group, visit

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Is Timeshare Rescission Fair to Purchasers?

A long time reader of this blog e-mailed me a question last week that bears discussing:

"I'm curious to what your thoughts are on the very short period of time that a consumer has to decide to buy the timeshare or not---generally within the confines of a 3 hour high-pressure sales pitch and the relatively short time frame---generally a week or so that they have to decide to cancel or not vs. the length of time the resort has to allow you to use the product---generally several months at best.  Why the inequality?"


I hadn't really given it much thought before, but this reader raises a very interesting point.  Why the inequality here?

Let's look at other purchases and other "rescission periods" and the reasons one may rescind such purchases.

If I purchase an article of clothing, I not only get to try it on at the store, but I get to try it on in the comfort of my own home.  If I bought a pair of shoes, they may fit, but they may not match the dress.  So I can return them for a full refund.  And while I don't need to provide a reason within the mandated 15 or 30 day refund period, the point is I've had a chance to use the shoes and make an informed purchasing decision.

Other, larger ticket purchases also allow the purchaser to use the product.  You don't buy a $35,000 automobile under the terms "we'll mail you the steering wheel within 3 months, but you only have 3 days to cancel your purchase."  You need the steering wheel to use your purchase.

There's airline tickets and hotel reservations that you pay for now with "delayed usage" of course.  But, if the airplane doesn't take off or the hotel is not what was advertised, you have rescission recourse.

With timeshare, an average purchaser puts down $2,000 (an increasing number pay cash in full, according to a recent ARDA survey) and has an average of 7 days to cancel and receive a full refund.

However, their usage can be months, or up to a year away.  Think about it...the resort has to send the exchange company paperwork to the exchange company and the exchange company has to process the paperwork.  The best case scenario for this is a month...certainly longer than the average rescission period.

Then there's the matter of when the purchaser actually receives the week or points into their account and when the all-important "usage-year" begins.  My conservative best guess on this is 90-120 days.

Am I and my reader missing something here?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Surviving A Timeshare Sales Presentation In 2014

10 years ago, I wrote my first timeshare book; “Surviving A Timeshare Sales Presentation…Confessions From The Sales Table.”  Much has changed in 10 years…I no longer sell timeshare, having long since determined that I enjoy writing/speaking/teaching timeshare to selling it.  Much has not changed in 10 years…the timeshare industry continues to cling to the idea that timeshares have to be sold through often lengthy timeshare sales pitches.

Today, we all know that timeshare sales presentations are not the only way to buy a timeshare. In fact, they may not be the best way.  Yet, every year, hundreds of thousands of consumers willingly or unwillingly sit through one or more of these sales pitches.  As in 2004, the vast majority of them come out more confused than when they went in.

Here’s what you need to know about timeshare sales presentations:

1)     A Rose By Any Other Name

Rarely, if ever, are timeshare sales presentations called timeshare sales presentations by anyone at the resort.  You’ll hear terms such as “resort tour”, “resort preview”, ”information session” “vacation survey”, or perhaps “owners’ update” if you already own a timeshare.  Don’t allow yourself to be mislead…they are all timeshare sales presentations

What does this mean?  It means you will generally see one or more timeshare sales people for at least 90 minutes and usually closer to 2 ½ hours.  You will be shown something and asked to purchase it.

2)     Today Means Today

Timeshare sales presentations are designed to get you to make a buying decision at the end of the presentation.  Not later on that day.  Not later on during your vacation.  Not later on once you’ve had a chance to clearly evaluate the purchase.  (Disney Vacation Club is a rare exception to this.  Their sales people actually encourage you to think about it, rather than make a hasty decision one way or another.)

3)    What The Prices Mean

Generally, the first price that the salesperson will show you means nothing.  In the business, it’s referred to as “taking the clients’ temperature.”  If you say “no” to the first price, there will inevitably be a second price…and often a third, fourth and fifth price.  This can get tedious and frustrating and oftentimes leads to impulsive decisions.

Even when the “final” price is revealed, remember to include finance charges, closing costs, exchange company membership fees, exchange fees, usage fees and annual maintenance fees into your purchasing decision..

4)    You Are In Control, Not The Salesperson

Despite what you may think, or may be led to believe, you are in control of any timeshare sales presentation, not the salesperson.  Consumers have to remember this in all situations.  Nothing happens until you make the decision to purchase, or not purchase.

That applies to even attending the sales presentation.  Yes, many mini-vacations require you to attend a sales presentation.  By that, I mean that you, the consumer, are exchanging your time at a sales presentation for a discounted vacation, theme park tickets, dinner shows or something else.  No one gets tricked into a sales pitch.  If you aren’t interested in timeshare for whatever reason, or can’t agree to keep and open mind, then don’t accept the gifts that are offered in exchange for your time.

So, what does this all mean to you as a savvy consumer?  Timeshares can be life-enhancing.  However, no purchase this important should be entered into on a whim.  If you’re going to a timeshare sales presentation, it pays to do your homework ahead of time.  For a list of some questions you should ask before purchasing a timeshare, e-mail me at

I’m currently working on my next book, based solely on consumer input.  If you’d like to have your voice heard, fill out the form here:

Thursday, October 30, 2014

"Become a Member and You Don't Need a Broker!"

It might not be new or new to you, but I've just discovered the latest way timeshare owners are being preyed upon. 

There's a company that charges a membership fee in order to list your timeshare for sale. Yes, a membership fee. Not a listing fee.  Not an advertising fee. 

While that may be odd enough, a quick look at the listings clearly illustrated the need for owners to get a dose of reality when it comes to understanding the 'value' of a timeshare on the secondary market. 

30,000 WorldMark Points $60,000

2 bedroom Westgate Lakes $30,000 Exchange Resorts Condominiums

2 bedroom Marriott Cypress Harbor $32,000 Exchange Resorts Condominiums

I'm fairly certain that these prices are higher than what you'd find being pitched by the developer, to say nothing of the fact that both Westgate Lakes and Marriott Cypress Harbor are Interval Internal affiliated properties, not whatever "Resorts Condominiums" is supposed to be.

This company charges $98 for "lifetime membership" and $398 to list your timeshare for sale.  I'd like to know how long  the Westgate Lakes property for $30,000 has been listed.

Yet another example of timeshare owners being led astray.  There are legitimate secondary market platforms out there.  No, I'm not one of them,  No, I don't sell timeshare.  However, I'll be happy to point you in the right direction.

Alas, this "membership based company" isn't the way to go.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Why A Consumer Cancelled Her Timeshare Purchase

Remember the post a few weeks ago regarding the insane methods that one frustrated owner had to go through to cancel her timeshare with Silverleaf?

Happy to report that it's done!

Also happy to share her thoughts on some follow up questions I posed to her, and it has NOTHING to do with cost on the primary or the secondary market. This is an important read for consumers and developers alike.

Can you tell me why you originally purchased?
We've always wanted to travel and the extra RSI membership seemed to make international travel affordable.  The stories our salesperson told us about the places she had been with her family sounded fantastic.
What caused you to change your mind about your purchase?
I was sitting up that night looking over the information and noticed discrepancies in some things I'd been told, how I'd understood them, and what the literature was disclosing. I realized that the people, who I thought I'd connected with and trusted, had not  been direct.  Example:  I was told I was getting a great deal on a contract that was being resold, and driving a hard bargain on a single bedroom unit, but the price was within the normal selling range quoted in the material for that exact unit.  They also wowed and exclaimed over some "extra" I'd gotten as part of the "hard driving bargain", but it was actually a standard amenity.  I started to wonder where else I might have thought I understood what they were telling me, but in fact was misled.  I remember thinking that if I can't engage in normal, intelligent conversation, ask succinct and direct questions, and get answers that are clear and complete, then I am not able to communicate well enough with these people to feel confident that we are on the same page about anything.  And I've just made a big purchase from these people! 

Another for instance...I initialed a statement that I had seen the unit in question, but realized I had not.  I had been shown a 2 bedroom unit, but bought a 1 bedroom.  When it was sold to me  I was assured it was "just like the 2 bdrm without the extra bedroom", but the floor plan I looked at was much less pleasant.  And here was a clincher, although it may seem mild.  I asked if I could have extra people sleeping on the floor in sleeping bags and the sales person said, "I do".  But the literature indicated that this could be a way to get kicked out...and still have to pay up!  I realized "I do" was not a lie, but was misleading and that these people were playing me. 

Then I thought I'd check the procedure for cancellation, and it was not "right in there" as I was told when I asked at the signing.  So I phoned the member services  number and got a message that the office in question was unavailable - and then I was disconnected.  I phoned another number and was also disconnected.  This is about where I panicked because I realized I had made a major purchase and the contact information they prominently displayed was inoperable.  

Would it be true to say that you think timeshare may be something you'd look into in the future?

At the moment I would be very leery of the veracity of anyone selling a timeshare. 

There are some important lessons to be learned by both consumers and developers from this tale,  Who will learn the lessons?

Monday, October 13, 2014

LightStream Offers Alternative To Traditional Timeshare Financing

If you've purchased a timeshare, you are familiar with the financing that the resorts offer you.  Let's say they're not the most value driven.  The numbers can look something like this:

Loan Amount                                     $20,000

     Term of Loan                                     6 years (72 months)

     Interest Rate Charged                       15.9%

     Monthly Payment                              $432.74

     Actual Cost                                        $31,157.28

Until now, purchasers had limited alternatives to this.  Recently however, LightStream, a division of SunTrust Bank, has come on the market to offer timeshare purchasers who meet their requirements (such as a good FICO score) significantly lower than average resort-based financing in an simple, online format that generally takes no more than 24 hours.  Now the numbers can look something like this:                       

Loan Amount                                       $20,000

           Term of Loan                                       6 years (72 months)

Interest Rate Charged                          9.24%

Monthly Payment                                  $362.90

Actual Cost                                            $26,128.80

Savings Over Traditional Financing       $5,028.48

To find out more about LightStream, I sat down with Gary Pierce, VP of Business Development at SunTrust Bank
Gary, tell us a little bit about the genesis of the LightStream product and why SunTrust decided to include timeshare.
The online lending division of SunTrust Bank, LightStream is designed to serve clients who want the convenience and value of online banking.  For people who have good credit and a substantial credit history, LightStream can provide unsecured loans at fixed, competitive rates that can be used for virtually anything.  This allows Lightstream to fund purchases where---like for timeshares---loans have traditionally been difficult to find or have been offered at comparatively high interest rates.

What has the response been from the timeshare purchaser since you launched?

The LightStream experience has surprised and delighted timeshare customers.  They’re impressed with LightStream’s fixed loan rates, process ease, flexible terms, and excellent customer experience.  They also like that there are no fees, no appraisals, and no prepayment penalties.

Are there any timeshares or type of timeshares that LightStream is excluding?

No.  Funds can be used for any timeshare purchase in any location.  Loans for $5,000-$100,000 are available to qualified borrowers who have good credit and substantial credit history.  (Borrowers must be U.S.citizens).  Funds are deposited directly into borrower’s bank account, often as soon as the day they apply.  Not only can funds be used for the timeshare’s purchase, but also for associated costs such as insurance, travel, etc.
(EXCLUSIONS ·         Funds must be used for the stated loan purpose ·         Funds cannot be used to finance/refinance an existing LightStream loan)

Can a purchaser be preapproved for this financing before the sales presentation in much the same way someone would be pre-approved for a mortgage?

No.  LightStream does not provide pre-approvals.  However, many people prepare to go into the timeshare market with a LightStream loan already in place.  With funds in their bank account, they’re able to negotiate with the power of a cash buyer.

Because LightStream loans range from $5,000 to $100,000, they are able to be used for any timeshare purchase: primary market, secondary market, and refinancing of existing loans.

For more information, check out or their partner, the National Timeshare Owners Association at

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Should It Be This Difficult To Cancel A Timeshare Purchase?

Some time ago, I received this e-mail through "All Experts" where I volunteer my time to assist consumers with timeshare issues.

I purchased a timeshare from Silverleaf Resorts Inc, on August 17, 2014 and wish to cancel the contract.  It states on the front of my contract that "YOU MAY CANCEL THIS CONTRACT AT WILL AND WITHOUT EXPLANATION WITHIN SEVEN (7) BUSINESS DAYS AFTER YOU SIGN IT, IN WHICH EVENT YOU WILL RECEIVE A FULL REFUND.  SEE PAGE 1 OF THE OFFERING PLAN."  There is no page 1 of my Offering Plan.   So I don't know what I'm supposed be able to learn from going to page 1. 

I have made several phone calls to the corporate offices and owner services and spoken in person with some of the employees but no one will guarantee a procedure I need to follow to cancel my contract within the grace period.  They say "read your contract", but no one will say exactly where I should be looking or reading the contract.

I have written and sent a letter stating my intent to cancel the contract and written "Cancel this contract" across the face of a copy of the contract. I've sent both items to a fax number that was given to me at Owner Services, and mailed both items to the address on the contract, certified mail.  I also plan to send these items via email to an address given to me by Owner Services.  Does this seem adequate to cover my tracks and get this matter settled?

I have also asked a friend to verify in writing that she has looked over the paperwork and also determined that there is no apparent information regarding cancellation of the contract within the 7 days.

Thank you for any advice you have about dealing with this cancellation from a company that just has too many inconsistencies to make me want to stay in contract with them. 
I am pleased to see from your profile that perhaps there are timeshares worth trying...later. one at the office would tell this owner how to cancel her purchase, or for that matter, inquire as to why she wanted to cancel and potentially save the sale.  This already left a bad taste in this person's mouth, but it gets worse.
I volunteered to call the office on her behalf and see what I could do.  I also told this consumer that not all timeshares were like this and gave a "thumbs up" to timeshares in general.
The story continues (with redacted names and phone numbers):
Dear Lisa, thank you very much for offering to call on my behalf.  I've been given so many numbers and names in the past two days that I will try to narrow it down to the pertinent ones!

The phone number for the sales office at the Oak N Spruce Resort is REDACTED.  Today there is a helpful person answering named REDACTED.  My sales agent is REDACTED and his cellphone is REDACTED.  I had verification loan officer REDACTED, who I think has tried to be helpful.  And today I spoke with Office Manager REDACTED at REDACTED.  Her Office Assistant REDACTED is wonderful.  But none of these people could direct me to a page or clause that clearly states the procedure for cancellation of contract during the grace period.

The corporate number for Silverleaf Resorts Inc. is REDACTED.  This number was not working well the times I have called and frequently told me the number I had pressed to get to another department was "not a valid choice".  The member hotline number is REDACTED and you can get to Owner Services through this...sometimes.   Needless to say the number of different phone numbers alone is confusing. 

At this point I have asked for an emailed verification that the cancellation of contract documents have been received in a timely manner, that they meet all requirements of correct procedure for cancellation (since I could not locate any clear information in the extensive documents I was given and no employee would direct me to such), and that the cancellation is being duly processed in good faith with a full refund to be sent to me. 

I wish I could give you more succinct information and an easy way to communicate with this company. If I had been able to feel I could get through and get good answers to my concerns I might have felt I trusted this company. 

The address for Silverleaf is 6321 Boulevard 26, ste 400, N Richland Hills, TX 76180.  I was also given an alternate address of 120 Elm, Suite 4600, Dallas, TX 75270.  The only email I have is

I so appreciate your help.  I am so confused by all the numbers and addresses.  Even if they are closed on certain days I feel there should be one clear way to contact a knowledgeable and authoritative employee  and be assured my calls will be returned in a timely, businesslike manner.

I do look forward to hearing from you.
CRAZY!!!!!!!!!!!!  I counted five (5) people that this one owner was in contact with in addition to the non-working Owner Services number.  I called two of the five people listed, but they refused to even speak with me.  But, it gets worse...

Lisa, I found the mysterious "Page 1" that is referred to on the cover of my  Offering Plan!!  The one that tells how a purchaser can cancel the contract!!

It is on page OS513 of the entire document  (which, by the way numbers no fewer than 1037 poorly copied pages).  It is the 12th or 13th "page 1" out of over 20.  Even the lawyer I consulted today couldn't seem to find it. But then he only looked for 1/2 hour.  I've been looking for 3 days.

I have asked repeatedly for someone to please direct me to the page in my documents that states the procedure for cancellation of my contract within the stated grace period.   No one ever said, "the page 1 you are looking for is on OS513 of your Offering Plan.  It will give you the information you are asking for about how to cancel your contract within the 7 day rescission period.  Glad we could help you with this, and sorry it didn't work out for you." 

I was told "it's in there somewhere", a bit apologetically by some, with annoyance by others.  These were all Owners Services Agents ,  my sales agent NAME REDACTED,  verification loan officer NAME REDACTED, and Office Manager NAME REDACTED.  

There was also a surly clerk I met on Monday named NAME REDACTED who has been there 7 years.  It seems after seven years he might have been asked this question once or twice and might know the answer, but he said he was not authorized to talk with me about that. Since he was the only apparent person in the building I would have expected he had, at minimum, the authority to  be polite and give me a name and phone number to contact.  He was really awful!

**Just for the record, NAME REDACTED, Assistant Office Manager in the sales office, was a peach. She listened to my concerns and followed through on helping me in an effective manner.  They should clone her.  She will be an asset to any company she chooses to work in.**

A purchaser has 7 business days to cancel the contract.  At Oak N Spruce Resort the sales staff is "off" Monday and Tuesday.  For the date I signed the document (a Sunday) that means  I had only three business days in which to contact a person of authority at the resort where I signed up.  This was terrible, especially as no one mentioned that the staff would not be available those days.  I was told I could call the salesperson, but when he learned I wished to cancel he did not answer or return my calls.

Is this company practicing subterfuge, or are they extremely poorly trained?  I'm starting to get angry at how I was treated.

Enough for now.  Just wanted to let you know that there is actually a Page 1 hidden away in the Offering Plan.  Maybe I should share the secret.
Sounds good!

So if they only talk with members does that mean they won't speak to a legal counsel representing a member?

Think I'll file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, and maybe the NYS Attorney General's Office.  Hmm, this could be my new hobby! 

More than twenty (20) "page 1s"!  More craziness.  Shouldn't the cancelation period and policy be easy to find?  And shouldn't someone at the resort have been able to point out "the correct Page 1" to this owner?

This person may in fact choose to purchase a timeshare one day...why did Silverleaf behave in such a way to almost guarantee that it won't be from them?

I'm happy to report that after almost 2 months, this consumer was able to get a full refund of her money and insure that the contract was cancelled,

In Part 2 of this saga, we'll find out a why the timeshare was purchased to begin was for all the "right" reasons and what caused this consumer to have second was not solely related to cost.

As usual with this blog, Silverleaf is cordially welcomed to chime in.


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Five and Almost 10 With...Michael Burns

Today we meet Michael Burns, President of

1.  What was your first job in the timeshare industry?  
After graduating from the University of Washington and planning to go to law school, my father convinced me to come to work for the company he co-founded in the industry, Vacation Internationale, where I worked in the marketing department doing a variety of marketing and sales support roles.  

2.  What is the greatest lesson you've ever been taught in business?  
First impressions are everything, so get it right and make it right from the beginning.  

3.  What is your favorite vacation spot?  
Hands down...the American & Canadian San Juan Islands in the Pacific Northwest.  

4.  If you could change one thing about timeshare, what would it be? 
 Quite honestly, we are doing it at Vacatia and that is to provide real, sustainable solutions for the resale/secondary market in a highly credible, accurate and transparent way with no upfront fees. 

5.  What is your favorite color?  
Most of the time...Blue. 

If you'd like to be included in this series, drop me a line at



Monday, September 22, 2014

Seek Out Those Who Deserve To Be Sought Out

Back in 2011, while attending a timeshare industry meeting, I suggested that the entire timeshare community come out with a strong message. That message being that timeshare owners should NOT do business with any person, company, organization and/or entity that initiated contact.

The people representing various companies within the timeshare community wouldn't agree with me for one reason or another. They had their reasons, I have my guesses as to why.

Back then, as now, I had yet to come across any company that would make me change my stance.

However, it is reassuring that some organizations do in fact echo my stance.   Those organizations are, in my opinion, the ones that are truly looking out for timeshare owners. Seek them out.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Guest Blogger Bobby On Timeshare Sales Presentations

If you've ever been on a timeshare presentation, or thinking of going on one, be sure to read this guest blog from Bobby, a former timeshare salesperson.  Extremely honest and well-written.  Bobby's contact information can be found at the bottom of the post.

So you’re going to go on a timeshare presentation.  You’re not really sure how this happened, but you’re going.  Maybe you got a postcard, maybe you were on vacation and accepted those Disney/Universal tickets, maybe you answered an ad on Craigslist, and maybe someone you know is in touch with a person who runs a resort.  In any event, you’re going.

Shouldn’t you know what you’re in for??  Wouldn’t you like to have some inside information??  Timeshare and travel club presentations have such a wonderful reputation.  How do you do the best for your family??

Back before Wyndham, there was Cendant.  Back before the Cendant organization bought Fairfield to merge with Equivest, there was Eastern Resorts.  Starting back in 2001, I was a top salesperson for Eastern Resorts and went through all those changes.  Timeshare is a great product but it is sold and marketed in a horrible way.  Before I went off on my own as an independent investor, I own 141 weeks, I was the Sales Director at the Newport Bay Club.  I managed to take a lot of the horribleness out of the presentation.  Today, let’s talk about how to make that whole process work for you.

Before even going to the presentation, you have to decide if timeshare is right for you.  It’s not right for everyone – including some owners.  This doesn’t happen as much anymore, but timeshare resorts are pretty spectacular and some couples fall victims to the “ether”.  This is more likely to happen if you have your kids with you.  Do yourselves and your “presenter” for the day a favor – leave the kids with a sitter if you can.  If you can’t, expect the Disney button to get pushed, a lot.

To decide if timeshare is right for you, you’re going to do 2 exercises.  First, ask yourself, “Do we really vacation at least one week per year as a family??”  You do or you don’t.

Following that, I need you to do some math.  You know what you spend per night on hotels when on vacation.  Multiply that by 7.  Multiply that by 25.  Multiply that by 1.47.  Subtract 30,000.  That’s the amount of timeshare you should buy. 

So using Newport, RI’s base numbers, $238/night times 7 = $1666.  Times 25 = $41650.  Times 1.47 = $52,896.  Minus $30,000 = $22,896.  Ideally, you would not spend more than that for a timeshare.  For fear of boring everyone with theory, if you email me privately, I will share how the formula works.  I’m sure some of you have figured it out already.  On the presentation, you should see a version of it except for the “minus $30,000” part.

Ok, so now you’re ready to go.  You have your number in mind.  If you got a card in the mail or contacted while on vacation, the 90 minute presentation will feel like you’re being sold vinyl siding.  In a lot of ways, the timeshare presentation and the vinyl siding presentation are exactly the same.  Try to ignore that if you like the product.  If you’re meeting someone at a resort, the presentation will feel more like you’re buying a combination of burial plots and insurance on a bad day, just hanging out with a friend on a good day.  Again, if the product is right for you, try to ignore if the salesperson is in bad day mode.

In both cases, their goals are the same.  Make a friend out of you, show you a great resort, present a high opening price, and then use a bunch of tricks to make it feel like you “got a deal”.  Everyone in the history of timeshare who bought at a resort will have some story about the deal they got.  Here’s the dirty little secret – you all got the same price.

So if it’s a great product, why all the games??  Marketing cost.

To put you, and every other couple, in the room it can cost $600.  If there’s a “podium speaker” with a whiteboard or a power point and they’re staring at 8 couples, they know there’s $4800 in company cost staring back at them.  I was a podium speaker for a travel club.  I know this feeling all too well.

The company thinks anybody can sell 1 out of 12.  They expect salespeople who stay with the company to reliably hit 1 out of 10.  1 out of 8 can send you to the hall of fame.  At the end of my career I was 1 out of 5.  Everything that is about to happen to you, everything you are about to hear and see, all the games played with pricing is centered on this math.

For this reason, the presentation makes the product sound a little more perfect than it is.  Plan to spend 65-85% of your vacations at your home resort so make sure you’re happy with it.  RCI and II all work fine.  On the presentation, you’ll be asked for 5 dream vacations to reinforce this point.  Problem is real life happens too. 

Same things are true for point systems.  You’ll all kinds of things about “being able to take two weeks after buying only one” and “one week here in Newport is worth 183 days in Fairfield Glade in Tennessee”.  Those things are all true, but 65-85% of the time, real life happens and you will not take advantage of them.

“Hey Bobby, why are you bothering with all this when people are giving weeks away for a $1?”

Yes they are – off season weeks bought because they couldn’t afford the product in the first place or because the weeks are event centered.  Think about weeks that happen when boat shows and art festivals are in town.  All the hot weeks for $1 have been scooped up by investors like me.  We use them for rental purposes. 

I literally get calls every week from somebody at some resort saying, “The Jones’s are in their 80’s, they really don’t want their July week any more, kids aren’t into it, would you like to take it off their hands??”

That’s why we’re talking.  That’s why you need to know after 75 minutes of the presentation are over and they finally show you a price, just like vinyl siding, multiply by .6 and that’s the price you can have it for.  When you say no to the first price, I can’t even get into all the ways they’re going to “set the narrative and do the drop”.  Most salespeople can’t remember the various scripts.

Again, at this point, you know whether you like the resort enough to spend 16 to 20 of the next 25 vacations there.  You also know your bottom line number.  Look at your salesperson square in the face and say, “I know you don’t have the ability to do this, but we will pay X”.

If the salesperson has been trained correctly, the following words will come out of their mouth almost robotically, “So if the price is X, you will do this today??  Which credit card will you use for the initial investment??”

If they say “down payment”, they failed my “naughty words” class.

After you answer in the affirmative, if the salesperson comes back alone with paperwork, you actually could have gone lower.  If they come back with the “manager”, it has very little to do with you.  The manager will have been told by the salesperson the salesperson’s recounting of the story and the manager will not believe the salesperson.

The manager can literally ok any number the computer will accept.  So even if he/she says “we can’t do that”, don’t be surprised when you get up to walk away that suddenly he/she can.  Remember that $600??  Use it to your advantage.  Don’t be ridiculous but use it to your advantage.

If you’re going on a presentation, have two conversations with your partner.  Are you really vacation people??  What is your magic number??  Go on the presentation, see an amazing resort, have an outstanding time.  When you get to the money, remember it’s nothing personal.  The number fits or it does not.  Be in silent control.

Oh, I didn’t mention those “gifts” you got for showing up??  Outside of “attraction tickets”, would they be giving them away if the place was full during those times?, they represent about 4% of that $600.  Yeah, good luck with those.

Bobby can be reached at or you can visit his blog at