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.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Here’s Your Action Plan

It’s National Consumer Protection Week.

Many of you feel that you’ve been lied to about some, if not all, of the aspects of your timeshare ownership.

I’d venture to guess that most of you don’t know about the American Resort Development Association or ARDA. ARDA is the Washington, DC - based trade association representing the vacation ownership and resort development industries (timeshares.)

ARDA has a Code of Ethics that it’s members (in theory) must adhere to. I’ve written about this Code of Ethics previously. You can read the entire Code of Ethics here: http://www.arda.org/ARDA-code-of-ethics.aspx

Since few timeshare owners know about ARDA and fewer still know there’s a Code of Ethics, I thought I’d do you all a huge favor and let you know what to do if you think you’ve been a victim of a member who has violated that Code.

From ARDA’s own website:

Question: What can be done to a member whose actions are in violation of the Code?

Answer: If a member is determined to be in violation of the Code, ARDA may take the following actions:
•    Privately or Publicly Admonish the Member
•    Prepare a Letter of Censure
•    Place the Member on Probation
•    Suspend the Member from ARDA Membership
•    Terminate the Member from ARDA Membership

Question: Who do I contact if I have questions about the Code?

Answer: After reviewing the provisions of the ARDA Ethics Code, if you have questions, please call 407-245-7601 and ask to speak to the ARDA Ethics Administrator, or e-mail customerservice@arda.org.

There you have it. Get those phone lines and emails blazing. It’s National Consumer Protection Week. Enough is enough. Don’t be silent. Take back your power.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Manhattan Club Update

As you may remember, owners of The Manhattan Club timeshare in New York thought that they were about to receive some long awaited justice when The New York Attorney General got involved in the case.

Alas, this was not the case.

So, I’m passing this information on. YOU NEED TO TAKE ACTION. 

Doug Wasser, attorney who was intimately involved with the AG's case, wants us all to inundate the AG's office with letters, daily if possible.

We need to demand why the case was allowed to be essentially dropped. The Fraud and Misrepresentation were never addressed in the final decision. Owners never received the Offering Plan cited in the agreement. TMC was allowed to use the Power of Attorneys to continue to keep owners in the dark! Now your office has done the same!

The agreement made is totally and completely insufficient. It's a disgrace to the NYS Office of the Attorney General to allow fraudulent sales to occur without resolution for the impacted owners of record during the action!

Send to:
Eric Schneiderman
Attorney General of NYS
The Capitol
Albany, NY 12224-0341

Cite: (Re:)
Court: New York Supreme Court
Index Number:     0451536/2014
Case Name:     SCHNEIDERMAN, IN THE MATTER vs. EICHNER, IAN BRUCE


Monday, February 26, 2018

Hey Diamond-These Tactics Stink

Day in and day out I hear from once happy timeshare owners who are now miserable, angry and in many cases broke because of an unscrupulous upsell. 

Today’s video should serve as a wake up call-If it sounds too good to be true, it is. Do not be fooled into believing some outrageous story about needing to buy more timeshare in order to do anything; whether that be sell it back, pay off maintenance fees, use it for airfare, use it for hotel stays or anything else. 

Salespeople who pitch these lies should be prosecuted in my opinion. Developers who allow it should be put out of business in my opinion. 

Diamond or Apollo if you’re reading this, you’re doing yourself irreparable harm. This stinks. 

https://youtu.be/zAkBlfyhVYQ

Monday, February 19, 2018

And The Hits Keep Coming

The timeshare industry is now trying a new tactic on their social media sites; ‘Timeshare Myths.’

I don’t know whether the stuff they churn out is true or not. Frankly, I don’t care anymore. 

Here’s what I do care about. Major lawsuits. Major lawsuits against major timeshare developers. Major lawsuits against major timeshare developers coming with increasing frequency. 

Here’s the two latest:

http://www.prweb.com/releases/2018/01/prweb15084332.htm

https://www.insidethegate.com/2018/02/major-developer-sued-for-alleged-violation-of-securities-act-of-1933/

WVO being sued for elder abuse and Diamond/Apollo being sued for securities violations. Let that sink in. 

After creating the product and the laws that govern it more than 40 years ago, two of the largest timeshare developers in the world are being sued for some incredibly serious violations. 

And yet, main stream media is loathe to cover this. 

How many more hits can this industry endure before some clever journalist or attorney takes a good long look at the systemic issues going on here?

If you think these two latest suits are isolated incidents, wake up. 




Monday, February 12, 2018

The Inflation Pitch Is Flawed-Very Flawed

Back in 2000 when I started selling timeshare, we salespeople routinely used the ‘hotel inflation’ pitch to persuade consumers to purchase the timeshare. 

That pitch is, to the best of my knowledge, still being used. 

The problem is that it’s flawed. Very flawed. 

We used to use $100 as the price of an average hotel room. So far so good. Then we used an annual inflation rate of 10%. Annual inflation rate. Using that math, over an 18 year period, you’d figure that that ‘average’ hotel room would be going for over $500. 

Statistics from TripAdvisor show that the average hotel room in the US is about $126. Furthermore, a 4 star hotel room in places such as San Francisco, New York or Boston, where you’d be hard pressed to find a timeshare, averages less than $360. 

To make matters worse, the industry likes to put out nifty, colorful infographics comparing the 20 year cost of a timeshare to renting a hotel room. A careful look at their numbers show that they’re using a cost of over $400 to represent the ‘average’ hotel cost. They also ‘conveniently’ forget to factor in the cost of eating when tallying up the cost of the timeshare. 

But I digress. 

The point here is that the inflation pitch you’ll get from the timeshare salesperson is flawed. Use your own numbers. Do you own research before purchasing anything. 

A timeshare may very well cost you more than a hotel room even in the long run. If that’s OK with you, then go for it. Just remember not to fall for a flawed inflation pitch. 

Friday, February 2, 2018

Hey Wyndham, Why The Upsell?

I’m publishing yet another unedited Guest Post concerning the very troubling epidemic of upselling existing timeshare owners. 

When will these developers realize that lying to their owners does them more harm than good?  The best and most effective marketing that any company can initiate is Wird of Mouth. These words anger me and I hope you as well. 


Hi Lisa, I hope you can help me or direct me on my issues with Wyndham Vacation Resorts.  I have been a Wyndham owner for 8 plus years and it has always been difficult to schedule vacations, I had to wait over a year to book and at that with limited selection.  Every time I complained, they had me "update" my package.  Last year we purchased so many points, we could not even use them, which is difficult to use when there are no availability so we just transferred them to RCI, now there's an even worse wait time and more fees.  

Every Thanksgiving we stay at the Glacier Canyon, Wisconsin Dells, as we did this Thanksgiving and once again I complained and once again they found the reason..... you don't have the right deed.  If you deed it with Glacier Canyon instead of Florida, you will be much happier and look at all the availability there is for you.  Not only that.... we will assign you to the "count on me team" who will even book your vacations for you!!!! The same gentleman that "upgraded" our package and promised he will schedule everything for me, I need a vacation, I call him, best to give him some time of course but still he will research it and won't book until I approve the vacation.  

We already discussed dates for 2018, I pulled up my calendar and told him when my kids are off of school so those days are open for travel.  Seven hours they kept us there to "update" our package.  We finally left and they even emailed me the next day that they are here for me if I have questions.

After the 5-day rescind period, we return home and I start emailing them on moving all the unused points or can they book something in Chicago for me as they promised at the signing that they would.  Deaf silence, no reply.  I email the "count on me team" every day and every other day and leave voice messages, still waiting for a reply.  Needless to say, nothing in my "new upgraded package" is available and nothing has changed except my expense of $300 monthly maintenance fees in additional to the new $1,200 a month loan.  THAT'S CRAZY AND I AM SO EMBARRESED THAT I GOT SUCKERED AGAIN!!

I had a booking this January for my daughter's birthday for 2 nites, we stayed there again, and again at check-in, they try to have you go up and listen to their presentation and they will give you $150 gift card.  I told them they can shove their presentation and their gift where the sun don't shine.  The staff said, if you don't like it here, why are you here?  I said that my children and I enjoy the facility, but I certainly don't enjoy the lies that Wyndham is selling.  I told them that I understand it is their job to find suckers but I am done listening to the lies and empty promises and quite frankly that's "breach of contract" as far as I'm concerned.  They tried to call up someone to talk to me but I said I had nothing more to tell them and that I am speaking with attorney to get out of it.  (Not sure if that was the right thing to say but I'm sure they were not moved by my threats).

At this point, we decided to get out of this SCAM.  I have to accept the fact that it will NEVER get better.  I can book quick and much cheaper same vacation on ebay than waiting for them to "fix" the booking or over-booking issues.

My questions is, do I just stop paying?  They have my credit card from where they pull the $300 a month maintenance fees and now are calling me about the $1,200 I signed into, which as of earlier in January I have defaulted.  I also had to give them a $3,000.00 check on the spot for the "closing fees".  So I am out a lot but am ready to be done with this.  I do work for a law firm, spoke with one of the attorney's but even that, I will have to pay something for their involvement.  I'm just wondering, with your experience, what would your suggestion be???

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Yet Another Abysmal Upsell

I couldn’t make these up. 

Help please.  My 88 year old father and his 80 year old wife keep getting sold Points at Diamond Resorts.  Recently my dad said he gave them another $30,000 so he could get out of any more obligations, and so he could use his points to pay his annual dues.  He was confused when the nice man we called just told him that isn’t what he signed at all.  He now has 100,000 points, owes $158k and has over $13k due annually in maintenance fees.  In June they opened a Barkley’s charge account which is charged $4,800 a month for loan payments.  This is money my folks need for their in home care and I don’t know where to turn.  I will file complaints that you have in the files section but need to know if I can cancel the credit card or do I need to be in good standing to get the contracts cancelled and hopefully refunded?  We are in California and I heard there is a triple damages statute or something for elder abuse.   Should I get an attorney involved? I have the paperwork, but it all looks like gobblety-goop and intentionally confusing.  I would be appreciative of guidance. Thank you so much

Monday, January 22, 2018

Enough With The Upselling Already

Today’s Guest Blog comes from a very frustrated and angry Diamond owner. This pattern, and it is a pattern, of continually attempting to upsell owners with more and more outrageous promises MUST STOP. 

Ok, Here goes.  We were/are long time Diamond members with 2225 (ish) points a year.  In January 2017 we went to Orlando Florida on a free stay/meeting.  We met with the DRI rep and told him that our biggest complaint was the maintenance fees.  $700 a year for points we rarely used.  

He told us that if we bought more points to get our total up to 5000 points a year that we would become Platinum members.  Yeah, my maintenance fees would go up because of the added points, but as Platinum we would get access to more options, one of them being the ability to sell back unused points for $.50 a point at the end of the year.  That money could then go towards paying our maintenance fees.  We would also be able to use our points at any hotel anywhere, and in January of 2018 there would be a "cash out" option where Diamond would buy back out timeshare if we were not happy, we would take a loss, but we would be free and clear.  All of this was because Apollo was taking over and things were getting better.  He then offered us what sounded like a good deal on 3000 points to get us to the magic 5000 points a year mark.  so...  sadly... we did it. 

Turns out the new 3000 points became a second account, so instead of one account with 5000+ points, we have the original 2225 and a second one with 3000.  

I cannot even use them on the same vacation, I have tried.  I have been trying to get Diamond to merge them for a year.  There is also no such program to buy back points. at least none they will tell me about, and I have learned that it does not take 5000 points to get to platinum, it takes 50,000.  

It is very difficult to use points at a non Diamond resort and if you try, you end up paying almost as much as you would out of pocket anyway... plus you use points.  As for as cashing out....yeah right.  

So I walked out of that meeting a year ago thinking that my maintenance fees would go down or if I didn't use any points, i could pay all my maintenance fees with the money earned from selling my points back.  instead... I now pay more then twice as much in maintenance fees and of course i am still paying on the loan for the new 3000 points.

This last week I have been talking to Diamond.  They finally said they could merge my accounts.  All I have to do is buy another 2500 points.  What is wrong with these people?  When I told them i wanted to be less invested in DRI, they said I would have to pay the maintenance fees for the rest of my life and if i did not buy the extra 2500 points and merge my accounts, one of those accounts would get passed on to my children.    

This is not a vacation.  this is horrible. 

I know a lot of people that claim they can help are scammers, but I need something!! ... this has to end, I have to get out from under DRI somehow.



What are your experiences with Diamond?

Sunday, January 21, 2018

A Word of Warning

I can not state this strongly enough:

I absolutely encourage you to comment on any and all posts. However, if you choose to include your email address in your comments you are opening the door to scammers. These guys are good in that they know the psychological tricks and language to use to separate you from your money. 

The only recommendation or referral that comes from me will be via email from me. 

Do NOT include your email address in your comment. DO continue to read and comment. 

If you require assistance or are looking for specific information, contact me directly at:

lisaschreier617@gmail.com


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Where Are The Needed Consumer Protections?

Timeshares have long suffered from a negative image, brought on for the most part by the outdated and heavy handed marketing and sales practices that are still in use, despite what those in charge of ‘spin’ in the industry would like us to believe. 

However, as 2018 dawns, it’s becoming clear that the developers and the national association that protects those developers have carefully crafted an environment where they reign and consumer protections are dangerously close to non-existent. 

We’re not just talking one concerning developer practice here, but rather a carefully orchestrated business model that puts consumers at a clear and some would say, illegal disadvantage.

Consider this:

—At least one major developer, has a clause buried in their contract that bans any owner from starting or joining any class action lawsuit, forcing them instead into arbitration which in their case,
they pre-selected the exclusive filing location or venue, making it costly and inefficient for the consumer and is so knowledgeable about the pool of available arbitrators from experience in using them, that they can in part control the outcome by striking any proposed arbitrator that hasn't previously ruled in favor of the developer. The one shot that a consumer can't compete in that game.

To protect themselves, within that clause the developer states that a consumer may ‘opt out’ of that restriction if they notify the developer within 30 days of purchase. Talk to 100 of their owners, and 99 of them are unaware of this. 

Another developer, now exiting the industry themselves and formerly based in New York City, wrote their contracts in such a way that unsuspecting owners literally gave the developer the right to change the Offering Plan several times annually without owners' knowledge or advisement. Changes were made with the New York States Attorney General’s office as well as with New York City Real Property Records to change the type of deeds the owners held. You guessed it; the changes that were made inevitably favored the developer and put the owners at a disadvantage. 

—Then there is the inability to access or use what you purchased until well after the rescission period. In the United States, there is a legal rescission or cooling off period which ranges from 3-10 days. On the surface, that sounds like adequate consumer protection. But dig a little deeper as I did in this article I wrote for Senior.com(https://senior.com/timeshare-industry-keeps-rescinding/) and you’ll see that while almost all developers pressure you to purchase within the scope of a 2-5 hour sales presentation; promising you the price is for ‘today only’, they are under no obligation, legal or moral, to process the paperwork giving you access to what you purchased within that same legally mandated rescission period. Additionally, developers are getting ‘creative’ in how they give you the legal paperwork concerning the purchase and the rules concerning rescission. Several developers now routinely use a CD ROM or a tablet of some sort, both of which are difficult at best to access while on vacation. 

—Check any timeshare contract and you’ll find the ‘oral representation clause.’ This nifty clause, also known as ‘the salesperson can lie all they want during the sales pitch’ clause allows salespeople working on behalf of timeshare developers to say whatever is necessary to obtain the sale during the course of the 2-5 hour sales pitch and be under no obligation to live up to any of it. To wit; one major developer is telling unsuspecting consumers that they’ll be able to ‘cash in their timeshare points’ at $.30 per. When the owner attempts to cash those points out, they are of course told that no such program exists. 

—Most salespeople extoll the many virtues of timeshare ownership, among them being the ‘full bundle of rights’ that being the ability to use, exchange, rent, sell or will their interest. Ah yes, the ability to sell. What they don’t mention is that in the majority of cases, the resale timeshare market is so depressed that there are hundreds of thousands of owners who are listing their timeshare for sale for less than $1,000 and in many cases for nothing after spending upwards of $20,000 for their ‘piece of paradise.’ (In 2016, the average price of a timeshare was over $21,000)

—The American Resort Development Association (ARDA), funded by timeshare developers and exchange companies among others, has a Code of Ethics. (http://www.arda.org/ethics/) However, several high ranking members of ARDA including at least one serving on the Ethics Committee, have been copied on at least 80 and as many as 100 detailed complaints from one consumer advocate on behalf of owners. ARDA’s response? They have ignored every single complaint. What, I ask you is a Code of Ethics good for if it’s not enforced? The answer of course is ‘window dressing.’ It looks good but is in fact empty. 

Skeptics of the premise that the consumer is clearly at serious disadvantage in timeshare matters will fall back on the old adage ‘caveat emptor’ or buyer beware. Defenders of the timeshare industry will point out that more than 7 million people own timeshare. However, even a cursory look behind the numbers will reveal an industry that consistently struggles against a negative image and furthermore, steadfastly refuses to do anything to change that, relying on the fact that consumers can not possibly read, understand and agree to language contained within mounds of paperwork signed while on vacation. 

The timeshare industry has cleverly written their own rules. I’ve yet to find another product that has been able to do that and whose rules of governance so clearly disregard common legal and moral obligations to the consumer. 

For timeshare and the vacation ownership industry to survive, some drastic steps must be undertaken, including sales and marketing methods of attracting new owners along with creating sustainable owner programs that show consumers that they are indeed a real stakeholder.

Why Timeshare Rescission Laws Are Laughably Useless

Everyone knows that in the US and most other countries, there are so-called consumer protection laws allowing a consumer to cancel or rescind the purchase of a timeshare and receive all of their money back. In the US, these rescission periods range from 3-10 days. 

Let’s forget for a minute that most timeshare developers make the consumer follow quite strict and sometimes arcane procedures to actually rescind. Let’s further forget for a minute that at least one well-known developer goes even further and actually hides any and all mention of the rescission period in a ‘secret compartment’ in the myriad of paperwork given to purchasers. 

Let’s focus on the absolute absurdity of the short period of time that consumers have to cancel. 

To wit:

  1. Purchasers are given either mounds of paperwork or worse yet, a CD/ROM with all the terms and conditions. 99% of the time, the purchase is made while the consumer is on vacation. The odds of a consumer reviewing these terms and conditions are incredibly small. 
  2. The Uniform Commercial Code ‘gives a buyer a right to inspect goods prior to accepting or paying for them, and a buyer is not required to pay for goods that he or she does not accept. More specifically, before making payment, the buyer has the right to inspect the goods “at any reasonable place and time and in any reasonable manner.”’  In the case of deeded-timeshare, how many purchasers actually inspect the physical unit they purchased?  Worse yet, how does a consumer inspect a point-based timeshare?
  3. Shouldn’t ‘inspecting the goods’ include determining if the timeshare operates as the salesperson said it did?  You’d expect this from a watch, a TV, a computer or even a pair of jeans. Not so with timeshare. 
  4. The ‘use’ of a timeshare boils down to two options:  using it at the home resort or trading/exchanging to another refuel, whether internal or external. Furthermore, the use of the timeshare requires an ‘account’ of some sort, generally Internet based, to be activated. Not surprisingly, the developer is UNDER NO TIME CONSTRAINTS TO OPEN OR ACTIVATE THIS ACCOUNT. 

So, the consumer has absolutely no method of adequately inspecting anything. No way of seeing how many points it really takes to get that 2-bedroom condo in Hawaii, no way of seeing just how easy it is to get a studio in Daytona during Race Week. Not even a way of finding out how simple it is to come back to the home resort the following July. 

Now of course I hear you asking, ‘how is this possible?  This isn’t fair!’  The answer of course is that the timeshare laws were written approximately 40 years ago and that the terribly clever people in the industry categorized their nifty little product in such a way that the UCC didn’t pertain to it. 

As a matter of fact, those clever people made sure that the laws covering their nifty timeshare product were specific to only timeshare. 


And there you have it. A legal rescission period that on the surface, is consumer protection. In actuality, it’s a total farce. Except the only ones laughing at this face are those within the industry. Consumers are crying.