Monday, October 7, 2019

Do Timeshare Advocates Advocate For You Or For Themselves?

It seems as if there is a new self-appointed consumer advocate focused on timeshare issues on a weekly basis. This week I found one that has no names associated with it and not even a street address, just “Las Vegas Blvd.”...I mean, come on. 

I’m not at all convinced that these people/organizations/coalitions have the experience/qualifications/motivations necessary for you to throw your belief or money at them. 

I got my start in the timeshare business 20 years ago and even with all that experience, I don’t claim to have all the answers. I also don’t make empty promises or profess that I have thousands of consumers throwing their support, monetary or otherwise, at me. It’s this practice of making empty promises and making it seem as if they’re the “voice” of the timeshare owner that grates on me. 

The fact of the matter is that timeshare owners do not have a unified voice. Many are very happy with their timeshare. Many aren’t. The happy ones aren’t unified. The unhappy ones aren’t unified, in large part because timeshare companies are radically different in the products they offer, how consumers use the products and the fact that there’s no one source of unbiased information. Believe me, I tried back in 2004 when I wrote Timeshare Vacations For Dummieswhich, despite the fact was written as a way to get unbiased information about purchasing, using and selling all matter of timeshare to consumers, failed in its attempt to be a runaway bestseller. 

So while it’s true that I feel the timeshare industry could use some retooling and that the Federal government should set standards and implement legislation, I want you, the consumer to exercise extreme caution when throwing your support behind a self-proclaimed timeshare consumer advocate-including me. Ask questions. Look for real credentials. Delve into their experience. Most importantly, question their motives. 

And whatever you do, don’t blindly follow the advice that so many unhappy timeshare owners are happy to throw out on Facebook pages. Timeshare, financial and legal advice should come from unbiased sources. That means not from the timeshare salesperson and not from an unhappy owner with an axe to grind. 

Friday, September 27, 2019

Billions in Timeshare Rentals Raises Some Questions

A recent timeshare industry survey found that 47% of timeshare resorts are actively using online travel agencies (OTAs) such as VRBO and AirBnB to rent out their inventory. 

Let that number sink in for a minute. Almost half of timeshare resorts rent out their inventory. A savvy consumer could easily stay in lovely timeshare resorts every single year and never have to outlay more than $21,000-the average price of an interval in the US last year. 

Several questions jump out at me from this survey:

>Exactly what inventory is being rented?  It’s impossible to trace a piece of inventory, I.e. a timeshare room to see if it’s owned by the resort or an individual owner.

>Why is the resort allowed to use third party sites such as VRBO to advertise rentals when individual owners of at least one major developer are barred from doing so?

>How much of those 12.1 million nights (!) amounting to $2.4 billion (!) in rentals came from inventory that individual owners are desperately trying to exit from?  In other words, if the owner is not using the timeshare and the developer is making tons of money renting it out, why do they make it nearly impossible for the owner to get out? 

It seems to me that the timeshare industry is at a critical tipping point. If they allow business to continue as it has for the past 40+ years and continue to let the value proposition of owning continue to be eroded, they’re in for a much bigger shake up than the financial crisis of 2008

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Read This Before You Stop Paying Your Maintenance Fees

Today we’re featuring a Guest Post from Scott Montgomery regarding the dangers of not paying your timeshare maintenance fees  We think this is important because so many scam “exit companies” tell consumers to stop paying.  As a notice, nothing here is designed to provide legal advice.

Mr. Montgomery was admitted to the Bar of the State of Missouri and the Federal District Court for the Western District in 1994.  He has substantial first-chair jury trial experience and has obtained individual verdicts and judgments and settlements for his clients in excess of one million dollars. His law firm has recovered tens of millions of dollars for its clients. Access his blog at 

Have you found that your maintenance fees are always increasing and that paying for your timeshare is increasingly difficult? So, what happens to you if you stop paying your timeshare fees?
Here are at least five things that can happen to you if you stop paying the fees called for in your timeshare contract, including the maintenance fees. 
And they are all bad.
1. The resort can send you into collections and you may receive harassing phone calls, communications, and letters.

2. The resort can report you to the credit reporting agencies and ruin or damage your credit.

3. The resort can send you into foreclosure and you can lose the title to your timeshare, and get   stuck with attorney fees and costs of publication of the foreclosure notice. The foreclosure can be placed on your credit report.

4. The resort can file a lawsuit against you for breach of contract and try to recover all of the fees that are owed under the contract by executing on your assets after it obtains a judgment against you. The judgment will likely appear on your credit report android or damage your credit.

5. Not even Death cancels timeshare fees. The person that inherits your timeshare owes the fees. As a creditor, the resort can file a claim against your estate in probate court.

If you were lied to by the resort during your sales presentation, you may have the right to rescind or cancel your timeshare contract. Only a judge or arbitrator can cancel a timeshare contract without the Agreement of the resort.
If you believe that you were lied to you during your sales presentation, you may wish to contact a timeshare attorney experienced in timeshare law who can tell you whether or not you have a case for cancellation or rescission.
The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertisements.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Some Questions to Ponder

I’ve often said that the timeshare industry seems to operate in an alternate reality from other industries and as such, the “rules” that pertain to other industries seemingly don’t apply, despite the fact that reason and common sense should dictate otherwise. 

Consider these questions:

What other product do you have to pay the seller when you want to give it back, only to have them sell it again to someone else with no differentiation between new and used?

What other industry has created another industry devoted to getting the customer released from the product?  This is NOT like the used car market. 

What other industry sells a product that is clearly not a real estate interest but charges closing costs, real estate taxes and general upkeep?

What other industry markets their product not by extolling the many virtues of it through traditional advertising methods, but by bribing consumers with a product totally unrelated to the product and in any cases, a direct competitor to the product (market timeshare by dangling a cheap hotel stay)?

I believe that the timeshare industry is at a critical tipping point. Their old, outdated marketing methods as well as their product that is perpetual will not work on a younger, savvier consumer. As more inquiries are made into the industry by the media, advocates and the general population, more questions are being raised such as the ones in this post. 

The real question is which timeshare developer is going to take the important first step and change the paradigm?

Friday, September 6, 2019

Why Do The Good Guys Allow This?

Yet again, a long story from a new timeshare owner who was lied to multiple times. 

Again, I’m redacting the name of the developer as well as the names of the sales staff involved. Perhaps you’ll be able to figure out which “gem” of a developer is at fault. 

We are seniors who went to a "new member update" at the Hard Rock hotel in Stateline, Nevada. Before we went we were told that the reps in this office were really good and would help us to understand our brand new membership (1st lie). The sales rep we met with told us he didn't receive commissions but was a full-time employee of REDACTED DEVELOPER NAME working in customer relations and working for our best interests (2nd lie). He told us that previously he worked in the credit card division of a major bank (can't be sure but this is probably lie #3). He told us that when we signed our original contract we didn't get all the points we were entitled to (4th lie) and that he would make sure we got them (5th lie). He came back with a contract and said not to worry that this "duplicate" contract would just replace the old one (6th lie). He told us a duplicate deposit of $4432 was necessary for the replacement contract (7th lie and fraud) and we would get our original deposit back (8th lie). When we asked for proof that we would get our deposit back he called a "colleague" at REDACTED DEVELOPER NAME (putting him on a speaker so we could hear) who indeed "confirmed" that we would get our original deposit of $4432 back in about 2 to 3 weeks. (9th lie, as well as being totally fraudulent). He told us not to tell the REDACTED DEVELOPER NAME employee who would go through the contract with us anything as this was such a good deal she didn't want it to go through and would probably try to stop us from getting the points that we should have been entitled to in the beginning (10th lie).

We stopped signing the contract in the middle of it and asked to speak to our salesperson again. We told him our concerns about signing the contract and he reassured us that it would just replace the other one and to go ahead and sign it, that everything would be fine - lies, dammed lies too numerous to mention. He told us we could use our points to pay off our maintenance fees (lies). He gave us his phone numbers to contact him (never answered and never responded to any voice messages). So now we have two contracts, huge debt and much higher maintenance fees than we were anticipating.

We contacted the Nevada attorney generals office and spoke to a lawyer there. She told us that there was nothing that could be done - since we signed a contract and have no proof of all the lies we were told. We haven't stopped being depressed about this whole incident and find it very hard to trust anyone or anything.

I simply do not understand why these tactics are allowed in any company or any industry. If I were working for another timeshare developer I would do whatever necessary to separate my company from companies that operate in such a deceitful manner. The more stories like this that come to light, the more the industry as a whole suffers. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Long Lasting and Powerful Ether

It’s no surprise that I frequently look around Twitter to see what’s new in the world of timeshare. If you don’t already follow me there, I’m @LisaLooksAt. 

Oftentimes, those of us not engaged in timeshare selling wonder how consumers purchase a pricey timeshare without a good understanding of how it works, what the pros and cons of it are and/or the fact that many timeshares can be purchased on the legitimate secondary market for a tiny fraction of what the developer is charging; which can be a boon provided the consumer both understands and is accepting of the usage restrictions. 

On Sunday I spotted this tweet:

I just became a #WorldMark by #Wyndham #TimeShareOwner today 8.24.19 on my own!!! Yay, I mean I honestly am proud to say I own something besides my car! If I ever have no place to live, I can use always book my timeshare that can last me a few weeks lol 😂Perks of TimeShare

I decided to engage this person by asking a seemingly innocuous question:

Did you buy it from the developer or on the secondary market?

I received this response which clearly indicated to me that she did not have a decent grasp on what she purchased:

Hi, I’m not sure what that means. I would believe I got it directly from the them with my welcome box and they have like a whole sales department. I don’t know the difference

Trying to be helpful and perhaps open her eyes, I sent her this:

All I’m saying is that if you purchased it from the developer, most likely at the resort, you owe it to yourself to check out the secondary market. 99% chance you’ll find what you bought at a tiny fraction of what the developer charged you

Unbelievably I received this response which demonstrated more ether induced giddiness and left me with no doubt that when the ether wore off, say in a year or so, this person will become fodder for the multitude of companies who will promise her a way out of the financial joke she’s dug for herself:

oh gotcha, well based on what I was sold, I think it was explained clearly want I was purchased. Besides the purchase is a peace of mind that I have a place for family/friends to stay anytime as many times they visit me, w/o using my credits on my timeshare.

I have to hand it to her salesperson, this is some long lasting and powerful ether they pumped her with. 

Friday, August 16, 2019

Anatomy of a Timeshare Exit Scam

I pulled this complaint off the Internet. It’s against one of those self-proclaimed exit companies offering a 100% Money Back Guarantee. I’ve redacted the name of the company for two reasons:  First, I don’t need them knocking on my door and secondly, the names of these companies are pretty much interchangeable. Scam companies all operate the same way. 

How many red flags can you find in this tale of woe?

I let REDACTED NAME handle the process of relieving my time share with **** ***** ****** starting back in September of 2017. I chose them due to a 100% money back guarantee and 100% guarantee of relieving the time share with in 18 months. 

I mainly dealt with Anthony "Tony" D***** and at times Robert Mo****. I also spoke with two ladies, Jen and Amy. Over the coarse of time, I spent $44,880 with them and was guaranteed a $97,625.86 return. 

I have received nothing from anybody. They actually did relieve me of my time share, which where paid for, only was paying maintenance fees and membership fees. In stead of **** ***** buying back the time share deeds, REDACTED NAME became the third party and sold the two deeds, I have yet to receive and financials on these, I don't know what they sold them for. I have been told I have to sign a disclosure form about not discussing with the press, newspaper, etc. about the financial returns or anything to deal with **** ***** ******* before finalizing MBO and settlement. I called Tony two weeks ago to follow up on this he doesn't return my calls. I went out and found the complaints with the BBB on this company and realized I am not the only person going through the same thing. I tried calling them on Monday and Wednesday last week and no one would answer the phones. On Thursday last week, all phone are now disconnected. There is no doubt this company turned out to be scam artist. In order to be so convincing, they had to have real estate license and work for a timeshare company in the past to know everything they knew and to be convincing in the process. 

I don't know if you can get this resolved or not with these people. I don't know if they got caught or closed shop and disappeared. Please help if you can, all I am trying to do is get back what I have spent and a financial settlement on the sale of my two deeds if possible.

Here’s another one:

I entered into a agreement with REDACTED NAME to rid myself of a timeshare. I paid them $1500.00 upfront and was promised that all would be resplosed in 180 days. 

Since I have received numerous phone calls from a Robert M and an Anthony M proclaiming great progress has been made but they needed money for the closing, etc, SI I "studiedly sent them $14,000 plus for this. and to date. 

Anthony M has called me a couple of times informing me that I will be receiving funds in the amount ranging from $27,000 to 41,000. Nothing has happen. And no response to my emails or phones calls.

I know I’ve repeated this many times, but since people kept getting ripped off, I’ll repeat it again:  DO NOT PAY ANYONE UPFRONT TO GET OUT OF OR SELL YOUR TIMESHARE. There are legitimate ways of getting out of a timeshare that you still owe on, but it’s extremely difficult. 

If you don’t owe anything on the timeshare, I’m baffled as to why you’d pay to get out of it. Call your resort. List it for $200. Rent it for the maintenance fees. Anything but paying upfront.