Monday, July 9, 2018

You Won’t Believe This Language

I recently found some rather interesting language buried within the mounds of paperwork that consumers are forced to sign on the spot without having the chance to fully read and/or comprehend what the heck they’re signing when purchasing a timeshare. 

I’m reprinting it both for your review and as a caution. 

The purchaser promises to neither slander nor cause harm to the reputation of the seller by any means naming in an enunciation manner, but not limiting to pamphlets, magazines, newspapers, Internet websites, blogs, television or radio. In virtue of the above, the purchaser will not issue degrading statements in respect to the services provided or not provided by the seller nor will he use pejorative adjectives when he publically expresses any opinion, oral or written, related to his experience while practicing or not practicing the membership issued by the club. 

The parts agree that in case the purchaser does not fulfill his obligations established in this numeral, damages will be caused to the seller who will have the power to appear before the competent authorities to practice the corresponding actions with the purpose of being compensated for the damage caused. 

You read that correctly. Even if the developer does not hold up their end of the deal, I.e. ‘services provided or not provided’, the purchaser can’t talk about it or face monetary and assuming criminal charges!!!

What exactly are these guys trying to hide?

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Warning! Don’t Sign Anything

Yet another sad, disgraceful example of horrible tactics used by this timeshare developer. Thankfully, these people realized they were being hustled. 
How many don’t?

We went to an owners update in Williamsburg. When it started we were told that NAME REDACTED could now consolidate the 2 loans that we have with them into one and at the same time lower our interest rate. He said several times that no purchase was necessary, only that it was a win-win situation for us!  

Obviously we had to sign paperwork for them to run our credit.  When the salesman came back into the room, he said it looked like we would save $200/month but they were waiting on the paperwork to print.  He went back out and came back with the finalized paperwork.  

When we were presented the paperwork,  they had us rolling our maintenance fees in for the next 10 years into the loan!  I THINK THEY BELIEVE WE WERE BORN YESTERDAY!  I asked the salesman where our straight refinancing and consolidation paperwork was.  He said this WAS the proposal!  

I told him it was garbage and we were lied to in order to get us to sign for the credit check!  I asked for a supervisor and instead got the manager of hospitality.   I asked for his name and the name of the salesman.  I want to make a complaint as this put a hard inquiry on my credit! This is a horrible sales tactic and they should not be able to get away with it.  Yes, I turned into a witch there with a capital B!

The moral of this story is don’t sign anything, don’t provide your Social Security Number, don’t provide credit card information to anyone. 

Thursday, June 28, 2018

I’m Fed Up With The Excuses!

I think it’s high time that the so-called ‘license to lie’ clause be taken out of contracts. Consumers aren’t given a chance to do any research during a sales pitch, so they must rely on what the salesperson says. 

I’ve redacted the name of the resort. Clever readers will no doubt know who is behind this horrendous story. 

We were defrauded by NAME OF DEVELOPER for $15,500 on 11/18/2016 in NAME OF CITY, Virginia. What happened is that their salesperson made representations to us which were not in the written contract we signed. We found out later that virtually nothing he represented to us at the sales presentation in order to induce us to buy was true. Details follow.

We only went to the presentation to receive the 'attendance reward'. After a few hours of listening to the usual hard sell spiel trying to get us to buy more anyway even though it made no sense for us because we wanted to "sell" what we already owned (for zero, which I have always known as the industry standard practice) , we made our position clear and started to leave.  

At this point our salesman offered us this "great new deal" NAME OF DEVELOPER could offer members who bought more points to become 'silver' members. The deal was that if we became silver members, after three years we would have the option to sell all our points back to NAME OF DEVELOPER for $108,000. He also put this phoney deal in writing (which I have). I was extremely skeptical because I had never heard of a timeshare buying back points. However, after he repeated this 'new deal' for about 5 times we finally decided that he couldn't possibly be flat out lying to our face,  (or if he worked for a reputable company they would rescind the contract), so we signed.  

When we later (6 months) found out that the deal he had offered us was totally fraudulent, we asked NAME OF DEVELOPER (repeatedly, orally and in writing) to rescind the contract because we had been defrauded. 

Their response...."it doesn't matter" what the salesman told us or even wrote down. The only thing they care about is that we signed their written contract. So they don't stand behind whatever the salespeople are claiming. Basiclally, we were told over and over again that "well, you signed the contract", even though the only reason we signed was because of what their salesperson told us which turned out to be a fairy tale. We are talking about major phoney representations, not minor. 

Obviously when salespeople know that when their company doesn't care if they make up a pack of lies to elicit a sale, if they are unethical they will say anything to get a commission. These people are totally unethical if not criminal. We want our contract rescinded and our money back! 


Monday, June 18, 2018

An Open Letter to Timeshare Developers

Dear Timeshare Developers:

I’d appreciate an honest answer from any of you. 

Why do you not buy back your own product when it’s being sold for $1,000, $100 or $1.00 on the secondary market when you can turn around and sell it the very next day or week for whatever grossly inflated price you do each and everyday to unsuspecting consumers?

It’s not like we’re talking about a product that deprecated due to rust or even the fact that it’s outdated. You maintain the product with the owners money and you determine the usage rules. 

ARDA just reported that the average price of a timeshare was $22,180. 

In under a minute, I was able to find these listings on a reputable resale site:

Marriott’s Desert Springs $4,295
Orange Lake North Village $3,000
Sheraton Broadway Plantation $500
Summer Bay Orlando $0 (not a typo)

It seems to me that you guys could turn a nifty profit by snapping these up and selling them for $22,180 or whatever your salespeople try to get. 

But you don’t. Why is that?  Are you trying to give the impression that these timeshares aren’t worth anything?  Because that’s exactly what you’re doing. 

Friday, June 15, 2018

A Cautionary Tale

This is yet another timeshare sales horror story that came to me last week.

I’m reprinting it here, complete will spelling and grammatical errors, and have added my thoughts on what the clear red flags were in the hope that they serve as a warning to you. 

My wife bought a sampler package for Diamonds out of sympathy for a old lady who was selling this for 140 USD package.  MISTAKE #1 DON’T BUY ANYTHING OUT OF SYMPATHY 

She lives in Texas and I am in Europe for the time being, we are from India. We used the package for Las Vegas, where we got an email that we have be in a meeting with them for 2 hour or else we have to pay 1200 USD fine. We had no choice and we agreed to be there. We had no idea what were getting into. I had never heard of Time share or Diamond resorts before. MISTAKE #2 DON’T GET INTO A SALES PITCH WHEN YOU DON’T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT WHAT THEY ARE TRYING TO SELL

In the meeting they were trying to sell as this Diamond resort points, which we denied as we don´t have the money or time to enjoy it. To give you a perspective, my wife widowed mother is suffering from breast cancer, currently living in India and all are money and time goes in travelling to India and bearing the expenses for the Chemotherapy. On hearing this the sales agent lied about the scheme completely. Understanding our situation, he told us that with this scheme she can save money on travelling. Every time she will buy a return ticket to India,she will be provided with an extra air ticket just for the price of 50 USD that she can use within 6 months. He reiterated that she did not have to necessarily use this scheme to enjoy the benefits of luxury resorts; in fact, she could use it for air travel to India and back. On asking the prices of tickets, he showed documents that the prices of tickets would be same (as we pay now) based on points and instead of two times I can travel four times to India. After he showed us those documents, we kind of agreed with his argument. MISTAKE #3 IF IT SOUNDS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IT IS

We spend almost 6 hours arguing with them, but they simply kept on lying about the scheme and got us to buy this 7500 yearly points (loan 27 Thousand USD).  MISTAKE #4 IT WAS TO HAVE BEEN A 2 HOUR SALES PITCH, WHY WOULD YOU SPEND 6 HOURS?  GET UP AND LEAVE

We now realize this was lie when she recently wanted to book a ticket to India through them. They told us that 7500 points are not enough to buy air ticket to India ( one way) and there is no such scheme of getting extra free ticket. MISTAKE #5 DO NOT BUY ANYTHING THAT YOU DON’T GET ACCESS TO IMMEDIATELY SO YOU CAN VERIFY

We are not in a financial position where we can afford paying for this (which is 400 USD per month) as well as expenses for the medical treatment of my mother which is necessary. This scheme is completely useless for us if we cannot use it for the purpose it was sold to us. 
We were sold this scheme on a false pretext which is shameful; trying to reap off a person in our situation who has already enough personal and financial troubles.



Monday, June 11, 2018

Double Points? How About Multiple Lies

I like to think that I'm a creative writer. I could not, even on my best day come up with such an outrageous story as this timeshare sales pitch that was sent my way. 

I’m not using the couple’s real name for reasons that will soon be evident. These people were promised "double point usage" if they upgraded by buying 15,000 additional points. They already had 50,000 points, which gave them more than what they needed to meet their travel needs.

Back in February of this year, they met with their sales rep who informed them of "big changes" in the program due to the company being acquired by a private equity firm some time ago and "to thank them for being members for over 5 years."  

The so-called "double point usage" pitch went something like this:

50,000 points already owned
15,000 points purchased today
65,000 total points
65,000 ‘double points given’
130,000 total points owned annually 

The sales rep casually mentioned that they would be responsible for a whopping $86,310 in maintenance fees over the next 10 years if they didn’t take advantage of this offer. Of course, he had a 'solution' for that.

The ‘solution’ was to purchase 15,000 more points, giving them 65,000. But the developer would then ‘give them’ an additional 65,000 making 130,000 annually. 

Using the original 50,000 would leave them 80,000 which would then be ‘translated’ into $8,000 annually to be used to pay off maintenance fees. Are you as confused as I am?  The $8,000 comes from a ‘redemption’ of $.10 for each of the remaining points. I TOLD you these guys were creative. The $8,000 would be given to them either on a check or a reloadable debit card. I kid you not!  

Believe it or not, this couple fell for this BS.   Their annual maintenance fees are now more than $11,000 and they have new loans totaling $57,000!

Astonishingly, this story gets worse. Flash forward to May when the couple went through yet another sales pitch with the same salesperson. 

Ah, now the program had some changes according to the dear, sweet, trustworthy salesperson. The reloadable debit card had been discontinued due to ‘problems.’

The ‘bonus’ 65,000 points were to have appears on a ‘split screen’ on the couples online dashboard. The developer was still ‘working on’ this split screen feature.

The ‘double points’ never made it to the consumer’s account of course. 

The developer’s answer to this nonsense?  

“I definitely agree that your confusion of that process is warranted. I have spoken to our legal team and sales team and we agree the double point explanation is definitely something that could have been misconstrued or seen as confusing by members or purchasers.

We have made changes to the way that information is given at the time of sale but we have to say the stance we take on this is: because there may have been some confusion on how you may use those points to create a savings for yourself doesn’t make the explanation illegal.”

As reprehensible as this sales pitch is, I find it equally, if not more astonishing that this couple fell for this. The red flags in the pitch are EVERYWHERE!

If it sounds too good to be true, it is.

If something is important to you, get it in writing and ask to see exactly where it is in the contract.

Do not purchase anything today based upon things you're getting in the future.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Where's Your License?

I'm happy to reprint this information which comes from our good friends at Inside The Gate.

Very few consumers bother to find out if the salesperson they're dealing with is licensed and what the licensing requirements for sellers are when purchasing a timeshare,  Remember that the person asking the questions is in control  Make certain that's YOU.

  • MAINE: Maine Real Estate Commission. No license required. FAX 207/624-8637 -Phone 207/624-8603
  • MISSOURI: Under Missouri state law, timeshares are defined as merchandise and fall within the guidelines of Missouri’s Merchandising Practices Act, Chapter 407.600, Missouri Revised Statutes. No Timeshare or RE License required. For more information visit the MO-AG website
    For info about real estate issues:
  • OKLAHOMA: The Securities Commission regulates Timeshare sales and dealers in Oklahoma. No special license required.
  • TEXAS: Texas Real Estate Commission. No special license required.  If the sales agent is an employee of the owner of the timeshare, the employee would not be required to be licensed. [Rule 535.5(d)] Otherwise, the sales agent needs to be licensed
  • VIRGINIA: Virginia Dept. of Professional & Occupational Regulation. No special license required. Phone: 804/367-8526

  • LOUISIANA: Louisiana Real Estate Commission. Must be registered as a timeshare interest salesperson, unless you are already a licensed RE Agent.
  • TENNESSEE: Tennessee Real Estate Commission. Timeshare salesperson license required. A timeshare salesperson must be affiliated with a licensed real estate firm which is affiliated with a registered timeshare development. A license is required to be issued by the Tennessee Real Estate Commission to engage in the activities of a Timeshare Salesperson.
  • UTAH: Utah Division of Real Estate. According to Utah law, all individuals who market, offer, or sell interests in a timeshare or camp resort project in the state of Utah must register as a timeshare salesperson with the Utah Division of Real Estate. To register as a salesperson, submit to the Division:

  • ARIZONA: Department of Real Estate. RE License required. FAX 602/468-0562 – Phone 602/468-1414
  • ARKANSAS: Arkansas Real Estate Commission. RE License required. FAX 501/683-8020 – Phone 501/683-8010
  • CONNECTICUT: Real estate issues concerning timeshares are regulated by the Department of Consumer Protection. RE License required.
  • GEORGIA: Georgia Real Estate Commission. RE License required. FAX 404/656-6650 – Phone 404/656-3916
  • KANSAS: There don’t seem to be any timeshare resorts in Kansas, but for your convenience here is information for the Kansas Real Estate Commission.
  • KENTUCKY: Kentucky Real Estate Commission. RE License required FAX 502/426-2717 – Phone 502/425-4273
  • NORTH CAROLINA: North Carolina Real Estate Commission. RE License required. Phone 919/875-3700
  • NORTH DAKOTA: There don’t seem to be any timeshare developments in North Dakota, but for your convenience: North Dakota Real Estate Commission. (Does not specifically reference timesharing.)

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Aggressive, Mean-Spirted and Unethical

I read an article last night at 2:00 am while the fire alarm was going off in the building next to mine, about how some top executives in the timeshare industry were upset and concerned about the proliferation of companies designed to get people out of their timeshare. 

To quote the article;”...the constant barrage of aggressive ads from lawyers, wannabe lawyers and other sharks offering to help hapless owners was upsetting to the public and, particularly, to owners who were being prompted to question their purchase.”  It continued to quote the COO of a timeshare company that is currently facing legal action from one or more of its sales agents accused of selling timeshare points as a financial investment;”...seeing a dramatically rising incidence of default.” and categorized the activity of these companies as “mean-spirited and, in the opinion of resort shareholders, unethical.”  

I kid you not. The timeshare industry accusing these companies of being aggressive, mean-spirited and unethical. Have any of these guys ever sat through a 3, 4 or 6 hour timeshare sales pitch?  

Dear timeshare industry people:  Rather than complain about the proliferation of companies designed to get people out of their timeshare, how about you stop suppressing the secondary market and devise a fair exit strategy?  

Fondly, Lisa 

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Beware-New Heinous Sales Tactics

We all know that consumers must be cautious during a timeshare sales pitch. Actually, consumers must remain cautious during any transaction anywhere.

Timeshare sales pitches are unique due to the mountains of paperwork that the sales and closing personnel force you to sign without any chance of reading beforehand---it's all about the fake 'one day only' offer.

Lately, I've heard from consumers who find out that the developer opened one or more credit cards in the buyers' name without their knowledge or consent. Here's a link to a story that got media attention:

How does this happen and how can you protect yourself?

Before I get hammered with nasty comments, let me state for the record that the consumer bears some responsibility for this happening. Just as in all the cases I hear about 5, 6 or 7 hour long sales presentations where the consumer was denied food, etc. while these tactics are heinous, I have yet to understand why people don't just get up and leave.

In the case of finding out a credit card has been unwillingly opened, it's a bit easier to understand how it happens. There's just too much paperwork presented in too short of a period of time.

Some tips to protect yourself:

Don't hand over your Drivers License or credit card to anyone
Don't let anyone make copies of those
Don't sign or initial anything without reading it, or at least having an understanding of what the document is
Don't use a tablet or other electronic device to sign anything...insist on paper
Do not provide your Social Security Number
Do not provide any bank account information
Do not give permission to anyone to run your credit report
Do not provide your date of birth

Obviously, if you decide to purchase, some of that information will be required.

It’s imperative for you to maintain control during the entire process. If you don’t understand something, STOP and regroup. If you feel you’re being rushed, STOP and regroup. If signing feels wrong STOP and regroup. If you’re not getting straight answers, STOP and ask yourself if you want to continue. If portions of the paper you’re signing are kept hidden from you, STOP and do not proceed.

I don’t want to sound like an alarmist; most developers do not open credit cards in your name without you knowing. However, even one reported story generally means that there could be hundreds if not thousands of unreported incidents.

Friday, May 4, 2018

A (Not So) Brief History of Timeshare Related Scams

This is an excerpt of a longer piece from Inside Timeshare, published in the UK. 

I find it sad and truthful. I’ve yet to find another industry that continually comes up with ways to scam consumers and more troubling, one that consumers continue to reward this horrible behavior by dropping money and then crying ‘foul.’

When timeshare first started it was a very good concept, the accommodation was superb, far better than what was available through the high street travel agent, but something went very wrong. Greed took over.

Some of the first “scams” were the buying off plan schemes, where all you purchased was a hole in the ground and an architects plan. Many of these were never built with hundreds of people losing thousands of pounds.

The industry itself did little to “police itself”, countries laws where these timeshares were being built were not adequate, allowing many frauds to take place, with the perpetrators getting away with millions.

After the “off plan” scams, the industry through how the product was sold was instrumental in the next phase, the resale scam. As timeshares were being sold as “property” which would go up in value, the resale companies capitalised on this. Offering clients the promise of selling their timeshare for more than they actually paid for it, taking thousands to “list” the timeshare for sale and then disappearing.
Now because the laws have been strengthened, especially in Spain, we are seeing bogus claims companies taking thousands for relinquishments and no win no fee claims. 

Just recently Inside Timeshare has been getting enquiries about one of these companies, RSB Legal. Many have paid them to cancel their timeshare and claim the money back, but they are now no longer trading, they have simply vanished, leaving hundreds of clients out of pocket.

These stories show why you must do your due diligence and homework before going to any presentation, or doing business with any company. Check, check then check again, ask the questions, are they for real, how are they going to claim, can they do what they say they can do, how long have they been trading?

Sadly, for consumers, there are far more opportunities to be scammed than ever before. These scammers are relentless and extremely good at what they do, playing on fear of loss and in some cases, pure intimidation. 

It is getting increasingly more difficult to determine who to trust in this space. I don’t know how long the industry and the extended timeshare community can continue to exist before it all comes crashing down. Will it be rebuilt, or is the end in sight?

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Lies, Lies and More Lies

These horror stories continue to come to me. I get something similar to this at least once a week. 

WHY is this allowed to happen?  WHY is local consumer media loathe to cover these stories?  WHY is ARDA not taking any action when these sales tactics are being reported to them?

‘We were mislead, misinformed, lied to and basically not given important information on several different things during a 6 hour Timeshare Sales Presentation while in Branson, Missouri . 

We said NO several times but that did not satisfy the Sales Personnel. After we thought they accepted our NO, they sent in someone else called the Hospitality Person which we thought would be the end of our excruciating experience where we would get our gifts and leave, but it was not. 

She talked fast and moved us quickly to purchase a so called "Sampler Package" with the understanding we could cancel just like any other Timeshare purchase, but found out later that we could not cancel it according to what they say is Missouri law. We just wanted out the door!!!  

We went back the next day to try to cancel the "Sampler", but were told we couldn't. They put us with one of their higher up personnel who gave us the same old sales pitch convincing us to purchase a Timeshare package and telling us the "Sampler" package would go away...and "unofficially" telling us we could cancel that purchase with the understanding it would ALL go away since we were not happy purchasers.  

HELP, we are presently stuck with this "Sampler" package that's come back to haunt us even though we cancelled the "Timeshare" purchase. We are NOT HAPPY at all with DRI and needing advice on what we can do.’

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Would You Fall For These When Buying A Car?

Consumers purchase a lot of products and services each and everyday. Most, though not all of these purchases, are not impulse buys. Sure, you may buy a candy bar, OK a whole bag of candy bars, a pair of jeans or even a $300 purse because it’s cute.

But when was the last time you purchased anything for $20,000 on impulse? How about buying something for $20,000 after a 5 hour high pressure sales presentation where there’s no possible way to read the terms and conditions before you sign the contract?

For some reason that I’ve yet to comprehend, consumers do this ONLY with timeshare. There’s some ‘mojo’ about buying a timeshare that sways people to do things they wouldn’t otherwise do.

Don’t believe me? Read over these situations. All I did was substitute car for timeshare and oil changes, gasoline and front wheel alignments for annual maintenance fees.

Would you buy the car under these circumstances?

Buy the midsize car and whenever you drive, we’ll upgrade you to a full size one.

Buy the car using our financing and you won’t have to pay for any upkeep.

The only way you’ll be able to sell your car is if you buy this other car, then you can sell them together.

Buy this car and you can drive it anywhere. Until you find out you’re not getting a steering wheel.

If you want to drive the car in another state, you have to buy another car in that state.

If you ever want to rent out your car for a week, call me and I’ll help you do it. You’ll make enough to pay for your gas and upkeep for the year.

You’ll be able to sell this car because we’re running out of inventory. Only to find out that the value of said car is nil.

Buy the car today for the today only price and I’ll teach you how to drive it. But only after your ability to cancel the purchase has passed.

Buy this car and the cost of maintaining it will never go up.

Buy this car today and when you refer your friends to this special website, you’ll get 20% of their purchases in cash which you can use for oil changes.

Buy the car today and if you’re ever not happy with it, we’ll buy it back for what you paid for it, there’s nothing to lose.

Buy another car and you won’t ever have to pay for an oil change.

Buy this car today, but you’re not going to be able to drive it for 6 months.

Every single one of these claims was made to an unsuspecting consumer at a timeshare sales pitch.

While I find it despicable that salespeople are allowed, even encouraged, to say whatever is necessary to get the same and the developer has the law on their side by using the ‘you signed the contract’ defense, consumers MUST take sone responsibility.

So listen carefully the next time you find yourself at a timeshare sales pitch. Would you buy a car under those promises?

Of course not.

So until we can get the laws changed, you have to vote with your wallet. Don’t let this continue.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

You Should Have More Rights

It’s no surprise that I don’t think timeshare is sufficiently regulated. I think the laws, written by the industry, favor the industry. 

So, I’ve developed the following ‘Bill of Rights’ for both the prospective owner as well as the owner. It’s important to remember that these are not the law of the land, but what I believe to be important rights. 

How will these rights become law and not just my suggestions? Easy! You, the consumer need to start voting with your wallet. If a developer isn’t abiding by these rights, don’t give them your business. If you’ve already given them your business then speak up. Write to me, write to your local law enforcement and contact the media. 

As always, I want to hear from you. Anything that shouldn’t be included? Anything that I’ve missed?

The Prospective Timeshare Owners’ Bill Of Rights

The right to receive fair, ethical, respectful and equal treatment without discrimination of ethnicity, race or religion in all matters related to the timeshare, including sales presentations

The right to review any and all documents prior to signing anything 

The right to say ‘no’ and have it be accepted during a sales presentation 

The right to receive a full disclosure of all fees pertaining to the timeshare as well as a five year history of said fees prior to purchasing

The right to NOT surrender your Drivers’ License, credit card or any other form of identification as part of a sales presentation 

The right to fully understand both the rescission period and terms of rescission prior to purchasing 

The right to pay whatever price you’re quoted during the sales presentation for the entire duration of your stay at the resort—-there’s no such thing as ‘today’s only price’

The Timeshare Owners’ Bill of Rights 

The right to receive fair, ethical, respectful and equal treatment without discrimination of ethnicity, race or religion in all matters related to the timeshare, including sales presentations

The right to have access to what you purchased no more than thirty (30) days from purchase 

The right to have any and all monies paid refunded to you no more than fifteen (15) days if you choose to rescind your purchase 

The right to be advised in advance if any meeting you’re asked to, invited to and/or gifted to attend is in fact a sales presentation and the fact that attendance is NOT mandatory 

The right to receive a sixty (60) day notice of all HOA meetings with proxy and explanation of items to be voted on accordingly

The right to receive minutes of any HOA meeting within thirty (30) days of such meeting and/or within thirty (30) days upon request

The right to have the developments' broker name, license and contact information available upon request

The right to have all members of the HOA board fully disclosed at any time including any ties to the resort or compensation provided for this position

The right to know the current delinquency rate of the Resort/ HOA within thirty (30) day upon request

The right to be able to sell a privately owned timeshare interest without unreasonable restrictions placed by the resort, HOA or its management

The right to be informed at least six (6) months in advance, if the developer or the HOA makes any changes to the ownership structure of the project. This includes liens that may be placed upon it, any legal judgments that may be enforced, any changes in the ownership of the holding company and/or any transfer of deeds, licenses and/or leases

The right to have access to the most recent and updated public offering statement submitted by the developer as well as any amendments to the POS

Friday, March 9, 2018

A Frustrated Diamond Owner Shares His Story

How I became a victim of Diamond Resorts, International

My story begins in either 2006 or 2007. I am not sure, because I was in a bad place in life, and most of the records have been lost since then. This is very uncomfortable for me, because I feel like I’m stupid for falling for the scam I now understand timeshare sales to be. I’m embarrassed and ashamed, and only hope my story helps others understand the predatory nature of this industry, and how worthless the product is in relation to what it costs.

I had originally purchased a points based timeshare from Monarch Gran Vacations, and had paid in cash, paid in full, and believed I had purchased a retirement lifestyle and travel for just under $10, 000. The sales pitch was impressive. Monarch owned 8 premier resorts in the western United States, and was affiliated with Interval International, which was described as a timeshare vacation exchange, allowing access to premier resorts worldwide. IN addition, Monarch owners could enjoy “unlimited Day Use” at any Monarch property, without using points.

My grandmother had recently died, and left me with a small inheritance, and I was drinking and gambling in my depression, and wanted to secure some part it for the future. I envisioned the ability to travel about, and stay a night or two at various resorts, and have day use of the facilities. I also attend a convention in Las Vegas every year, and assumed this ownership would make that more affordable in the long run.

I had already been suffering with disability due to chronic back injury, and with no support base, and dependant on narcotic pain medication, I was an easy mark for the timeshare sales teams.
The first year was pleasant enough. I was able to travel to Las Vegas using the points purchased, but was disappointed to learn that the construction at Cancun Caribe had been halted, and there were rumors of Monarch going through bankruptcy.
The second year, I was able to exchange my points trough Interval International, and went to a resort outside of Monarch Collection.

The next year in Las Vegas, I attended the “Owner update meeting”, and was met with the hard sales tactic of being informed that Monarch was indeed in bankruptcy, and that the assets that were being transferred to creditors was the inventory available for booking. With inventory dwindling down to zero, there would eventually be zero availability to use my points, and that my only option to preserve the value of my investments, was to purchase into the Diamond Resorts family, as they were the largest creditor, and had the availability.
This was accomplished with a separate loan with monthly payments, and an increase in the annual maintenance fees.

Over the next few years, the owner updates were roughly the same. There had been a restructuring of the parent corporation, point values were adjusted in the system, and that in order to continue my annual Las Vegas conferences and I would need to purchase additional points, in order to find the available inventory, or see the points I had be insufficient to accommodate my travel needs. They said that there was a meeting that I should have been invited to that explained all this, and that if I wrote a note to the sales manager stating that I was not aware of this meeting, that I could buy the additional points at the reduced sale price.

I feel that I should have known that these were simply sales tricks, but these meetings often exceeded three or four hours, and my need for pain medication made me susceptible to doing whatever I could to end the updates as soon as possible, under the panic that everything I had been paying so far would be valueless as Diamond reduced inventory in order to escalate demand for their points.

In 2016, I was talked into making what I thought was my final purchase, as I had just made the Silver Level. The loan was refinanced again, and I was told by “Paul” (salesman) that I was not financially viable and wouldn’t qualify for the gold level ownership.
I left with a $374 monthly payment on a 15 year loan.

During all this time, I was struggling to continue to maintain my loans with Diamond. I had suffered another accident in 2011, and lost my home to foreclosure while on temporary disability. While my home loan could not be maintained, Diamond was happy enough to accept late payments, and soon brought my loan current.

In 2017, I attended the Owner Update, seriously unhappy with my Diamond Ownership, as I felt I was in way too deep, and my employment situation was not secure enough to continue. During this meeting, Jeff Reiger asked what I was unhappy about, and then proceeded to tailor his sales pitch accordingly.

I told him that the loan was unaffordable, and that without full time work, my savings had been depleted in order to keep current on my loan. I told him that I had been trying to sell my timeshare on the secondary market, and that there was no demand for the ownership, and that I couldn’t sell the points for the same reason. I told him that the $3000 per year in maintenance fees was more than 10 days in any Las Vegas hotel would cost, and that I was struggling with trying to preserve my initial investment. I told him that I was unable to book time in other resorts, due to lack of availability, and that the only way I had been able to secure rooms was in response to the marketing emails where I was committed to attending another sales meeting.

That’s when he offered what appeared to be the perfectly tailored pitch: If I purchased 4.000 points, I would be at a level where I could use the points to pay the maintenance fees, would qualify for a lower interest rate on the mortgage, and most importantly, if I was simply unable to continue, I could pursue the “Exit Strategy”, where Diamond would buy back my ownership at a reduced rate. These points wouldn’t be accessible until after January 1, 2018, at which time I could utilize these benefits. Although he did not have printed documents regarding these options, he stated that the documents were online, and accessible via the tablet computer they issued to owners in lieu of printed catalogues and the resort property directory.

This “exit Strategy” was what I believed could be my way out. I didn’t want more points. He knew that. I couldn’t afford more points. He knew that, too. I was desperate to end my relationship with Diamond, and he used that to hook me into a new contract.
He also told me that he would act as my point of contact with all future dealings with Diamond, and that he could get me discounted bookings anywhere that I wanted to go, and that I wouldn’t have to deal with any more sales people. To sweeten the deal, he threw in a helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon, a Vegas show, and slot comp coupons. After almost 4 hours, I needed to be done.

As it turned out, the interest rate was essentially the same, but the loan was now 10 years, and part of the balance needed to be on a Diamond Branded credit card, offered by Barclay’s bank, at 0% interest. I was told that if I called in January, Jeff would get the 0% extended, and that I could use the card to pay down the principal on the promissory note. In order to qualify, the main loan needed direct access to my checking account for automatic payment via electronic transfer of approximately $560 per month. I went online with the tablet they gave me, and could find no documents regarding the promised, “exit strategy”, paying maintenance fees with points or any form of buyback program. I had been duped.

With my remaining 2017 points, I was able to book a trip to Hawaii, by responding to one of the promotional emails for Kona Village resort. During the mandatory owner update meeting, I continued to refuse any concept of buying more points, expressed my displeasure at Diamond Sales tactics, and was then accused of illegally recording the meeting. The sales manager demanded that I sign a blank form, and when I refused, he said he’d, “take care of it”, and stated that I’d never get a discount booking again. They also refused the promised resort vouchers in exchange for the presentation. This is a breach of both the specific contract, as well as the generally accepted timeshare practice of offering compensation for attending the meeting without obligation to purchase.

In January, I called Jeff as instructed, and asked him to extend the zero percent interest on the credit card, and work on transferring some of the balance to offset the interest on the note. He told me that I needed to call the credit card issuer myself, because he couldn’t do it without my personal information. He said if they would not extend it, that I could simply transfer it to another credit card, or apply for a new card with a promotional interest rate. He then told me that he was going to be unavailable as he was going on vacation. This was the final straw. This was when I realized what a fool I had been to believe anything these people told me.

They claimed my points had value. They told me the only way to preserve any value was to buy more points. They told me that they would make ownership more affordable.  They told me that I could use points to pay maintenance fees. They told me that if I simply couldn’t do it, that they would buy my ownership back. Lies. Every one of them.

With an informal layoff from employment, I faced the situation where I have finally simply run out of money. The last several months the automatic payments have drained my account well into the reserve line of credit that serves as overdraft protection.  With no holiday bonus this year, I was unable to pay the maintenance fees, and had come to terms with the fact that I had wasted over $60,000 over the last ten years trying to preserve what I believed to be an investment in my retirement travel.
I sent a letter to Diamond requesting information on the promised “Exit Strategy” in order to close my account. I received an email stating that no such strategy exists, and that my account and maintenance fees needed to be paid before we could have any discussion regarding my account.

As I sit here today, I am unemployed, struggling with disability, and financially devastated. Diamond collection agents call me every day, wanting me to pay all accrued fees and payments, and don’t care how I get it. When they call, I ask if they are offering me employment, and they say no. They are calling to talk about my account. At first, they told me that I needed to confirm my contact information for security purposes. When I refused, they told me they couldn’t discuss my account without it. So I ended the phone calls. Now, they still call, and when I ask if they are offering me work, they tell me they want to discuss the account, but no longer ask for verification. When I ask about the exit strategy, or if they are aware of promises made by their sales staff, they tell me they are only going to discuss my account. So I end the call.
I have no idea how to proceed, but I cannot pay money that I don’t have. I am sure they will find many ways to ruin what was left of my credit, and destroy any hope for my future, after having bled me of my finances. They don’t care. They are predators. They are going to move on to new victims, and the cycle will continue. But I can no longer participate.