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:

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

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