Thursday, May 28, 2015

Help STOP This Timeshare Bill From Passing In Florida

We received this today from our friends at the Florida Timeshare Owners Association and want to pass it along:

The information provided below is from the office of my District's State Representative, Greg Steube.

The proposed revisions to the Florida Timeshare Act, having now been approved by the Senate and the House, are now being sent to Florida's Governor, Rick Scott, for either his approval, or his veto. Once he receives the bill, HB453, he has up to 15 days to either sign the bill, or veto it.

Many timeshare groups, including ours and the National Timeshare Owners Assn., have voted to object to its passage, due to the extremely harmful and immediate negative effects that the proposed changes would create for all present and future owners of timeshare property located within the state of Florida, as well as, in the future, all 50 states.

This bill was created and submitted for legislative filing by the Timeshare Resort Developers, for their sole benefit, and will directly damage and negate the multiple consumer rights and protections that all Florida unit owners have now, that are currently existing within the present state statutes. This bill, HB453, favors only the Resort Developers, and was also supported by the American Resort Developers Assn., ARDA, and their subsidiary, ARDA Resort Owners Coalition, ARDA-ROC.

In order for us to obtain the Governors veto, all individuals and organizations opposed to this bill, must register their objections to this bill's passage directly to the Governors office within the next few days. This is vital, as the Governor's staff is now keeping records of all emails, and especially, all telephone calls, that they receive advocating for a veto.

I am requesting your participation in our efforts to convince Gov. Scott that a veto is most necessary and that the current law should remain unchanged, in order that we, as timeshare owners, may retain its many built-in consumer protections.

Please contact the Governor's Office, by his direct telephone number, 1 (850) 488-7146, Legal Affairs, and state that you are opposed to House bill #453, and request his veto of this bill. A phone call is preferred.
For those who prefer to email the Gov., his direct email address is:

Please note:  You do not have to be a resident of Florida, or even presently own a timeshare in Florida, in order to have your objection registered with the Governors Office. It is also not necessary to provide your address in order to object.

Every FTOG member should/must be concerned enough to participate in this major effort that will impact you, as well as  family members, and all other timeshare owners, effective July 1, 2015, if not vetoed.

And please remember that "Time is of the Essence". Our "window of opportunity" diminishes every day we delay!
We stand with FTOG and the NTOA on asking the governor to VETO this bill and sit down with the entire timeshare community to work  on a new set of timeshare laws that are fair to both sides.
It shouldn't be a matter of win/lose, but a win/win.
Let's do this!

Friday, May 22, 2015

All Star Guest Blogger Reviews The Cliffs at Peace Canyon

Before I commence my review of The Cliffs at Peace Canyon I would like to give a few reasons why RCI members should consider a visit to the Las Vegas area. The first reason is obvious ie for the gambling in the numerous casinos on the strip and nearby. This may be the main reason why numerous people come to Las Vegas but it certainly is not for me as I have now visited twice for multiple other reasons. Another reason why people should consider visiting this city is for the top rated shows which are too numerous to mention here in my review. The high end shopping at places such as many of the hotel/casinos will be an attraction for others. Other people will enjoy the free shows on the strip such as the water fountains at the Bellagio. Many people will enjoy just walking around and looking at the sights at the fantastic Las Vegas hotels  Perhaps for myself the two main attractions for visiting Las Vegas was the superb warm weather in the spring and fall without the humidity I am used to at that time of year in Florida. Above all for me the principle attraction for visiting Las Vegas is to take trips to places such as the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, Lake Mead, Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park. The last two National Parks were visited on my last trip to Las Vegas and were booked through the timeshare resort with Sweet Tours and what a superb day out it was for us though tiring as it involved travelling about five hundred and sixty miles in one day with a 6-15am pick up from the resort.

I will now commence my review of The Cliffs at Peace Canyon and I would like to start by getting my two negative comments out of the way. Firstly this is one of those resorts where after checking in you are directed to a member of staff from 'guest services' After my fiancée and I had been travelling for about twelve hours all I wanted to do was to get to my unit and rest however we were subjected to the usual invitation to attend a free breakfast or lunch and then have a timeshare presentation to become an owner at the Grand View resort in Las Vegas. I had to say no several times before the lady in question understood that no meant no and we were then able to go to our unit. The second negative about this resort is that my fiancée and myself were not alone in finding the sun loungers to be too firm and uncomfortable. I went up to another guest one day who was sitting on a chair with her feet on another chair. I asked her why she was doing this and she said that it was more comfortable than using the sun loungers in my opinion she was correct in having that view.

I slightly hesitated in making these two negative comments because in every other way this is one of my favourite resorts in RCI. I first visited this resort about twelve years ago and I liked it then and I like it even more now as the units are so spacious and comfortable. I like the fact that both bedrooms in the two bed unit are at the opposite end of the apartment which gives more privacy for the guests. The units have their own washer and dryer which is very convenient. I found our unit to be very quiet but that to some degree depends on who your neighbours are in any particular week.

The pool area is very pleasant with water tumbling into the water on either side of the pool. The pool has a maximum depth of four feet which is unusual in my experience but it was not a problem for me.

I found all the staff to be friendly and helpful especially the young members of staff on 'guest services' as I had some contact with them through booking my day trip to Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks.

The resort has an excellent computer room which you can use at any time of day. This was particularly useful for printing our boarding passes for our flights back home. There is also a fitness room which to my shame I never stepped into even to look at what equipment they have on offer.

As I am British I am not very comfortable driving on what I see as the wrong side of the road!!!!!!LOL hence I try to avoid visiting timeshare resorts where having a car is essential. I don't believe that it is essential to have a car at this timeshare resort as they have a free minibus which will take you to a large supermarket. The main purpose of the minibus is to take you to the strip which is about ten miles away where they drop you off near the Mirage hotel and casino and from time to time they will take you to Fremont Street. This service is an hourly service leaving the resort from 10am and the last pick up at the strip is at 11-30pm. There is a period in the afternoon when there is no service because the driver is having his lunch break. I met three drivers and they were all very friendly especially Steve from England who supports the English football champions Chelsea while this Steve from England supports Sheffield Wednesday for my sins!!!!!!!LOL.

I have often done reviews for Timeshare Insights at timeshare resorts where there is very limited availability several resorts that I have reviewed in England come to mind also the Manhattan Club in New York is another example. This is not the case with the Cliffs at Peace Canyon as RCI has availability for most weeks over the next two years and at a reasonable exchange trading power. Another issue I should mention is this resort makes a charge of twenty five dollars which you pay at check in this is I believe for services such as the internet though there is a further daily charge of one dollar fifty for high speed internet. While I don't appreciate these extra charges which are now quite common especially in California twenty five dollars for the week is far better than the thirty dollars a day daily charge at the Manhattan Club in New York.

I ask myself at the end of every timeshare vacation would I go back and the answer is yes as for me the positives far outweigh the negatives at this lovely peaceful timeshare resort on the outskirts of Las Vegas.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Timeshare Owners Deserve Better

On Wednesday, April 29th, the Florida Senate unanimously passed HB 453, which contains language that significantly shifts more power to timeshare developers and further limits rights that timeshare owners currently have.

The bill originated in the Florida House of Representatives by Eric Eisenaugle was replicated by Senator Kelli Stargel.   According to Lobby, the bill(s) “Revises provisions relating to timeshares, including amendments made to timeshare instrument, public offering statements, release of certain escrow funds, written advertising materials, real estate licensure requirements, fee requirements, multisite timeshare plans, substitutions & deletions of component site accommodations or facilities, etc.”

Sounds like a small amendment, however vague.  However, when the National Timeshare Owners Association got late wind of this bill and took a closer look at it, what they saw alarmed them.  “This legislation is detrimental to timeshare owners and their ownership interests as well as to good developers who have no problem complying with current laws”, says Gregory Crist, the Association’s President. “We think consumers will likely be exposed to certain rouge developer practices that we haven’t seen since the 80s and 90s.  What this could do to the reputation of the industry remains to be seen.” For those of you not old enough to remember, the 80s and 90s was when the timeshare industry gained its less than stellar reputation for honesty and transparency, and to their credit, continues to make strides towards overcoming that reputation to this day.

Prospective timeshare purchasers as well as owners are already at a disadvantage due to language written into all timeshare purchase contracts which state that any and all oral representations made by anyone during an oftentimes 3-4 hour intense  presentation are deemed immaterial.  Basically that means anything told to the consumer by the marketing person, the front desk person, the sales person, the sales manager or anyone else representing the resort means absolutely nothing, even if the consumer relied on it to make a purchase  A license to lie?  You tell me.

The NTOA started an online petition designed to persuade Florida Governor Rick Scott to veto the bill.  It states in part; “The bill allows developers to almost unilaterally decide what constitutes “compliance” and “materiality” with regard to mistakes and omissions in contracts. The bill also restricts owners’ ability to challenge the legality of their contract after the 10-day rescission period required by current law.  As you know, developers already hold all of the cards in timeshare transactions; Potential buyers are subjected to verbal high-pressure sales tactics that, under current law, are not actionable. Developers provide buyers with long and complicated contracts that are very difficult to read much less understand, and which are written to protect the developer.  Beyond that, most timeshare developers don’t even offer, to this day, programs that will allow longtime Florida owners with medical or financial hardship to get OUT of their timeshare contracts while their mandatory maintenance fees continue to increase.”

The cause and the petition have gained support from consumer friendly organizations such as (2.1 million registered users), TUG (50,000 members), TimeSharing Today magazine, the Timeshare Board Members Association, Frank DeBar, President of the Florida Timeshare Owner Group and Florida Real Estate Broker and timeshare reseller Tom Tubbs who says; “The timeshare industry has had more than its fair share of negative publicity through the years.  This legislation has the power to peel back years of consumer protections and return the industry to the “us first, consumer last” or “us vs. them” way of thinking.  It is shortsighted to the nth degree.”  Robert Brooke, President of The Villages Timeshare Owners Group had this to say, “Timeshare owners' rights need to be protected. Lack of buyer/owner confidence will cause the industry to collapse.”

Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel recently wrote; “What should surprise — and gall — you is that the Florida Legislature is trying to pass a law to decrease the industry’s obligation to disclose things and make it tougher for buyers to get out of faulty contracts.”

The bill is being supported by the American Resort Developers Association-Resort Owners’ Coalition which has this to say on it’s website; “The proposed amendments to the legislation would provide benefits for the timeshare industry at large by clarifying current law to include the operations of timeshare plans organized as real estate trusts, which are not currently addressed in the statute. Additionally, the bills propose to make a number of changes that would potentially save owners hundreds of thousands of dollars annually, provide additional detail and transparency to current disclosures and provide new tools for associations.”

The NTOA and the above named organizations and I do NOT see how this bill would provide “additional detail and transparency to current disclosers.”  In fact, we see exactly the opposite, e.g.; The bill allows developers to almost unilaterally decide what constitutes “compliance” and “materiality” with regard to mistakes and omissions in contracts.”

No consumer input was considered by Representative Eisenaugle or Senator Stargel.  Clearly, consumers are the lifeblood of the timeshare industry.  They deserve a better deal than what this set of laws offers them.