Friday, January 14, 2022

Do Better

There’s an article that’s coming out shortly entitled “How To Create A Travel Experience That Keeps People Coming Back For More.”  It got me thinking that timeshare resorts, more often than not, create travel experiences that hinder people from coming back. Almost as if they’ve forgotten that they are in the hospitality industry. 


Here are 5 ways that timeshare resorts make things miserable for travelers:


  1. Insisting that owners, exchangers and renters get their parking pass or other such necessity at the woefully misnamed ‘concierge desk’ which is manned by people whose sole purpose is to get the traveler into a sales pitch during their stay. 
  2. If those tactics don’t work, routinely calling, texting, emailing and even knocking on the door to harangue the traveler into attending the sales pitch.  
  3. Bad mouthing or in some cases actively insulting consumers who choose to not purchase or purchase more at the conclusion of the sales pitch. 
  4. Not being respectful of the travelers’ time during the sales pitch. Even though the minimum required time is in writing, a 90 or 120 minute sales pitch oftentimes turns into a half day of high pressure. 
  5. Not allowing the traveler to think about making the purchase, instead insisting that the decision be made now. There’s only one major developer that doesn’t have this insulting and frankly, crazy requirement. 


So, developers-If any of this sounds familiar, change it now. You have a tremendous opportunity to not only do better, but to set yourself apart from other developers who routinely forget they’re in the hospitality industry. 


Do better. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Another Warning For Timeshare Owners

certainly hope some of you frustrated timeshare owners are taking the time to read this. 

It’s come to my attention that there’s a Facebook group that’s ostensibly about so-called timeshare cancellation. From what I can ascertain, it’s run by, no surprise, a self-proclaimed timeshare exit company.  They’re not using their name however, but individuals are answering inquiries asking owners to DM/PM them.

While this is troubling enough…if you’re going to run one of these pages, at least have the faith in your company to use the company name, there’s something that’s even more worrisome.

It’s timeshare owners themselves.  The sheer number of people chiming in claiming to have ‘the answer’ is troubling, but nothing in comparison to the misinformation being amplified. 

I can not stress this enough…before you entrust the very serious and very complicated matter of exiting your timeshare, PLEASE do your due diligence.  At the very least, contact your developer but NOT the sales department.  Talk to Owner Services or whatever that department is called at your resort.  Even if they don’t offer a reasonable exit strategy, and most of them don’t, they’ll be able to answer a question.  Check online reviews. E-mail me if you want with a quick question.

If you need a reminder as to why you shouldn’t blindly trust an unknown person with such a serious matter…chances are that’s EXACTLY how you got into your timeshare mess to begin with.

Stay safe.  Stay informed.  And stay tuned…big news for you and The Timeshare Crusader will be announced soon!  


Thursday, December 9, 2021

2021 Recap

 I’d like to say that things greatly improved in timeshareland this year. But they didn’t. Again. 


So, here’s my list of the Top 5 Timeshare Related Stories of 2021:


  1. Exit Companies 
  2. Mergers and Acquisitions 
  3. Same Old Sales Practices 
  4. Still A Dearth of Exit Options 
  5. A Giant First Step 


Exit Companies 

Exit companies are not going anywhere. Despite the AGs of several states filing lawsuits against any number of these scam outfits, consumers throw them millions each year. Timeshare Exit Team and Timeshare Termination Team were two of the biggest names. The former pulled their advertising from Dave Ramsey and incurred the wrath of the Washington’s AG. The latter abruptly shut their doors in July leaving thousands of owners up the creek. No doubt 2022 will bring more actions against these two outfits. Despite the media coverage that I and media outlets give these stories, serving as a strong warning against paying these firms a dime, they continue to proliferate. 


Mergers and Acquisitions 

The biggest acquisition news of the year was Hilton Grand Vacations’ of Diamond Resorts. Full details have not been worked out, much less released despite the unscrupulous timeshare sales staff pitching everything under the sun in an attempt to scare and up sell existing owners. Welk Resorts was acquired by Marriott, marking the end of a well known and fairly successful independent developer. I predict more M&A activity in 2022. This is not good news for consumers as it means fewer choices and less chance of a timeshare developer to really break out and do something wonderful. 


Same Old Sales Practices 

Day in and day out, I receive emails and read posts on social media sites about 4 hour sales pitches, credit checks being run without consent and timeshares being pitched as investments. Add to that the fact that owners can’t access their information online until significantly after their rescission period has ended, thereby creating tens, even hundreds of thousands of owners dealing with the harsh reality that the truth isn’t quite what the salesperson said. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…since there’s nothing overtly illegal about these disgusting tactics, educating consumers and stopping them from attending these pitches is the only way to stop them. 


Still A Dearth Of Exit Options

The industry could, if it wanted to, put an end of the entire exit industry. Instead, only a handful of developers offer beleaguered owners a way out. The entire secondary market continues to be suppressed by the developers. It continues to baffle me why any self respecting developer would allow their product that was sold for $20,000 yesterday to be ‘worth’ less than $2,000 today. Or why every single developer doesn’t offer an exit strategy that isn’t an insult. 


A Giant First Step

I conclude this year end post with an item that may be a little egotistical, but one that’s important nevertheless. ARDA, the trade association for the timeshare industry took a monumental positive step earlier this year by partnering with me to create this document https://www.arda-roc.org/important-information-for-buying-timeshare  As far as I know, it’s the first time they’ve ever worked with someone outside their enclave and the first time they’ve ever addressed the oral representation clause that relegates all but the most egregious consumer claims directly to the garbage. There’s a melancholy coda to this story…since that important document was released, ARDA has not taken the opportunity to continue this relationship by working with me on any number of issues despite the fact I’ve suggested a number of consumer facing projects. I continue hold out hope. 


Lastly, there will be some exciting news to announce within a few days. Stay tuned. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

The Case Of The Mysterious $1,000 Bribe


Last week, a Diamond Resorts owner reported that she was offered $1,000 off of her annual maintenance fees if she and her husband attended a 60 minute update regarding Hilton’s recent acquisition of Diamond. 


You know where this is going, don’t you?


Let’s start with the fact that timeshare salespeople know about as much as I do about the details of the Hilton/Diamond deal. Meaning nothing. Nothing has been publicly announced. Timeshare salespeople have absolutely no inside information. 


Now let’s ask if this owner got this offer of $1,000 off their annual maintenance fees in writing. I know you’ll be as stunned as I am to find out that nothing was in writing. By stunned I mean of course about as stunned to find out that the sun rose this morning. 


At the end of the update, which of course was nothing more than a sales pitch revolving around the ‘fact’ that these owners would be at a lower level once Hilton fully took over-which could be alleviated by buying thousands of dollars worth of more points today-no one including the Quality Control person and the VIP Lounge person had any idea about this $1,000 offer. I don’t know about you, but I can’t stop laughing/crying at the titles of those people. Quality Control?  VIP Lounge?  Just another example of how nefarious companies use these titles to give off the air of importance to their customers when in reality, there’s no quality control and no one is a VIP. 


Let me say that the person who offered this offer that doesn’t exist should be fired. Immediately. 


But again, some of the burden falls on the consumer. This person is an owner and already has experience with this timeshare developer promising things that never materialize. And yet, they took the hefty and quite unrealistic bribe without demanding it in writing. 


While the owner in question refused to purchase additional points, they should never have attended the pitch at all. 


The problem of course, as with so many timeshare related issues, is that no actual laws are being broken to my knowledge. Lies are being told, but the only recourse seems to be shining a light on them. Which is exactly the point of this post. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

A Broken Paradigm…But Which One?

Over the weekend, I read the regular litany of complaints about high pressure timeshare sales tactics. 

Yawn. 

Don’t get me wrong…the high pressure, the misinformation, the nonsense of the ‘today only price’, the running of credit without prior approval…I’ve heard every single one of them. And it needs to stop. 


But does it really need to stop?  It’s obviously working for the developers or else they’d stop it. For all the bitching and complaining by consumers, reporters and consumer advocates; it’s still working. 


For every consumer that stands up at the end of the mandated 120 minutes, there are at least 7 that stay for who knows how long. For every consumer that does their advance homework and knows that the $20,000 timeshare the salesperson is hawking is available for $1,000 or less on the resale market. For every one person that understands the resale market, there are at least 10 that think that $20,000 is a good deal because the salesperson originally said it was $45,000. For every consumer that understands that the resort update is a sales pitch and not required, there are at least 12 that go along with the pitch the ‘concierge’ gives them. 


You’d be hard pressed to come across anybody who either hasn’t heard about these antiquated practices or personally encountered them. 


And yet every single day, timeshare sales centers around the country are filled with consumers sitting across little round tables listening to the same tired pitches. And for the past 20 or so years since I stumbled into this industry, an average of 10% of those consumers purchase something. 


So is the timeshare paradigm broken?  Not even close, buster. Not even close. You know what is broken?  The customers’ paradigm. Change that and I guarantee you the developers will change immediately. 

Friday, October 22, 2021

Some Good News…And Some Questions

Earlier this month, North Carolina became the first state to regulate self-proclaimed timeshare exit companies. A few of the key provisions are:


Timeshare exit companies may not advise or suggest timeshare owners to cease making payments on their timeshare obligations


Timeshare exit company contracts must provide timeshare owners with a right of rescission


Timeshare exit companies cannot charge timeshare owners for a transfer or exit service that amounts to foreclosure or repossession


Timeshare exit companies are not entitled to a fee for a transfer or exit service if the timeshare owner procures their own transfer or exit


Written evidence of the transfer or exit must be provided and include the method of transfer or termination, along with legal documents


Timeshare exit companies must escrow the fee charged to timeshare owners


While this is certainly a step in the right direction, I can’t help but think this would be unnecessary if there was a legal provision in place that mandated that every…every…timeshare developer have an exit option for every…every…paid in full timeshare interest.


No more hiding behind the “you didn’t purchase it directly from us” excuse. No more telling media outlets that there’s an exit option when depending on the time of day, there’s a ton of exclusions. No more “here’s the number of a reseller” when an owner calls and wants to be released. 


And the exit option has to be either free or a reasonable amount. What’s a reasonable amount?  No more than one year of current maintenance fees. 


Several questions spring to mind about this. 


>Why has this taken so long?  


>Why was one of the leading timeshare law firms working on this with the North Carolina Real Estate Commission and not ARDA-ROC?


>Why hasn’t the North Carolina Real Estate Commission looked into promises made by the timeshare developers at the point of sale as well?  Namely charging consumers upfront for a product/service that will not be available until well after rescission?  


However, it’s Friday. Let’s end the week on a positive note. This is a good thing for timeshare owners. 

Friday, October 15, 2021

Way Too Little…Way Too Late

Several days ago, I saw a tweet from Responsible Exit…the consortium of a handful of timeshare developers who claim…I say ‘claim’ because I’ve heard both good and bad reviews…to provide a way out for owners…saying “Want to exit your timeshare? Maybe you should consider learning how to best take advantage of the benefits available as an owner. ⁣⁣Contact your developer to learn more about how to get the most out of your ownership.”


I almost spit out my iced tea. 


“Maybe you should consider learning how to take advantage of the benefits available as an owner”?  Seriously?  And then suggesting that the beleaguered owner contact the developer?!?  Are you kidding me?


The same developers who disguise their never ending sales pitches as “information sessions”?  The same developers whose only answer to frustrated owners is to buy more?  The same developers who routinely employ salespeople whose knowledge of the timeshare industry consists of nothing more than what management wants them to know?


Now, there are some developers who do provide owners with some continuing education.  They are to be commended. I recently saw that both Wyndham and Marriott were offering some virtual sessions and of course, DVC is way ahead of other developers. 


But the vast majority of developers collect their money, shove new owners out the door with some phone numbers, a link to their website and some paperwork and then continually try to get them to buy more so that the owners will be able to do what they were initially told their timeshare would get them. 


After years of not getting adequate information, after years of rising maintenance fees and after years of being lured by the unscrupulous self-appointed exit companies; NOW the developers want owners to come to them to learn all about the many benefits of ownership and how get the most out of their timeshare?


Way too little…way too late.