Monday, December 29, 2014
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 manufacture...at 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
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.
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.
Monday, December 15, 2014
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?
Where is your favorite vacation spot?
If you could change one thing about timeshare, what would it be?
What is your favorite color?
Thanks, Bryan. For more information on Absolute World Group, visit http://www.absoluteworld.com
Tuesday, December 9, 2014
"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
Thursday, October 30, 2014
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
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.
What caused you to change your mind about your purchase?
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
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:
To find out more about LightStream, I sat down with Gary Pierce, VP of Business Development at SunTrust Bank
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 http://www.lightstream.com or their partner, the National Timeshare Owners Association at http://www.nationaltimeshareownersassoc.com
Wednesday, October 8, 2014
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.
Really...no 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):
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
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 with...it was for all the "right" reasons and what caused this consumer to have second thoughts...it was not solely related to cost.
As usual with this blog, Silverleaf is cordially welcomed to chime in.
Thursday, October 2, 2014
If you'd like to be included in this series, drop me a line at email@example.com
Monday, September 22, 2014
Friday, September 19, 2014
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or you can visit his blog at bobbyo1967.wordpress.com