Archive for the 'Timeshare Hell' Category

CNN – The Timeshare Trap

Saturday, January 31st, 2009




The Timeshare Trap - Frustrated with fees, timeshare owners struggle to donate, sell or give away vacation property.

April 3, 2002: 1:01 PM EST By Sarah Max, CNN/Money Staff Writer

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) – If you’ve attended a timeshare sales pitch for free Sea World tickets or a round of golf, you know how easy it is to walk out with not just the freebies, but a lifetime of annual vacation shares as well.

Trouble is, it’s not so easy to dump that timeshare down the road.
(click HERE to read Full CNN Money Article )

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CAPE TIMESHARE BECOMES NIGHTMARE

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

( CLICK HERE TO WATCH VIDEO )
Cape Timeshare Becomes Nightmare
Team 5 Investigates uncovered a timeshare nightmare on the Cape and one man who, owners said, owed them thousands. Now they’ve uncovered a whole new nightmare development — traced to the same financially troubled developer.
SEE FULL STORY


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Diamond Resorts International Charging very high management fees which represent a complete rip off. Lancaster Nationwide

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

Diamond Resorts International (formerly Sunterra, formerly GVC)

have decided to increase the yearly management fees to a ridiculously high level which makes the timeshare ownership no value for money. You either pay the fee or loose everything including the initial payment for being a member.

They will not buy back the points or ownership.

There is no limit to how much they can charge each year and people are powerless to do anything to stop them. I was promised good value for money, no rip off merchants, no scams but it turns out that Diamond Resort International are modern day pirates.Please be aware of this company and don’t be taken in by the sales talk. There has been a steady yearly increase in the management fee’s until last year when it greatly increased, they also insisted on as payment during the year (small print again !) which is within their rights to do so. This year the fee’s increased by 35%.

Remember the name – Diamond Resorts International.
by Andrew Stanley / United Kingdom
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Entanglements Sows Seeds of Confusion – Bluebeard’s Castle / Wyndham ?

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009


Entanglements Sows Seeds of Confusion

To confuse federal and state authorities about the affiliations between the entities that develop the interval time-share properties and the actual companies that manage the properties, and the various subsidiaries, it is common within the time-share industry to create companies with similar names, and shuffle subsidiaries like dominoes or playing cards. When heat is pressed against one-card, the shuffler simply rotates (changes the company name and owner) to another hand. It is this technique that keeps law enforcement agencies and consumers from investigating the fraudulent patterns of ownership.

Consider these facts with respect to BlueBeard’s Castle Hilltop Villas III. As of January 1st, 2007, Fairfield Resorts, Inc. has been listed as the owner/developer of BlueBeards Castle Hilltop Villas III. In the spring of 2007, this same company purchased Wyndham Vacation Resorts, Inc. Wyndham Vacation Resorts, Inc has a principal address of 8427 South Park Circle, Orlando, FL 32819. In fact, Fairfield Resorts, Inc. also has a principal business address of 8427 SouthPark Circle, Suite 500, Orlando, FL 32819. The company that issues the deeds to purported owners of the time-share units has the same address as the purported developer.

However, instead of retiring the Wyndham Vacation Resorts name as is typical when a majority owner takes control, and desires to spread the successor’s brand name, the old and subdued Wyndham Vacation Resorts, Inc is still prevalent upon the fairfieldresorts.com website, and most stationery.

In recent times, there are numerous instances when a consumer has contacted Fairfield but instead they are told that the company has been sold to or bought by Wyndham Vacation Resorts. Consumers with unsettled complaints are referred to either the “new” company or some company claiming to be an affiliate of the “new” company.

At the same time that fairfieldresorts.com is displaying images and symbols that suggests the website is owned and operated by Wyndham, an affiliate of Wyndham Worldwide Corporation, called Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, LLC, operates a nearly identical website at http://www.wyndham.com/main. This website makes no mention as to whether or not it is owned by or associated with Fairfield Resorts, Inc. no exact street address is listed, however when one attempts to contact the company, the website refers a reader to http://www.wyndhamworldwide.com/ instead of fairfieldresorts.com, the website of the alleged purchaser.

In clicking on websites that Wyndham Worldwide claims to be official affiliates, the fairfieldresorts.com is not amongst the ones listed.

Equivest St. Thomas, Inc. is a subsidiary of Fairfield Resorts, Inc., claims a telephone operator employed by Fairfield. Fairfield Resorts, Inc. also operates its own title and recording business at the same address used by its other subsidiaries.

Despite its questionable customer service record, SPM Resorts, Inc. has been expanding its business partnerships. The Timeshare Beat, an online research website featuring timeshare news, claims that SPM Resort, Inc. has taken over management responsibilities for The Blue Tree Resort at Lake Buena Vista in Orlando, Peppertree By The Sea in Myrtle Beach, SC, and Outer Banks Beach Clubs I and II at Outer Banks, NC.

Aside from commentary from numerous consumer-oriented websites, public files from a Consumer Proctection Agency paint an unflattering image of SPM Resorts, Inc., and its executive officers, as well as details of alleged unsavory and/or illegal acts that the company is apparently willing to do collect upon a perceived or fabricated debt.

Consumer Allegations of Fraud, Deception, and Identity-theft Unanswered
According to public records, at least one consumer has alleged a billing and identity-theft scheme against persons associated with SPM Resorts,Inc. On or about JULY 19TH, 2006, public records indicate that a consumer sent a certified letter to SPM RESORT MANAGEMENT, 1051 SHINE AVE, MYRTLE BEACH SC 29577 to the attention of “Tom Anderson”, an alleged Executive Vice-President of the company. The consumer demanded documentation that evidenced the legality of the billing practices of SPM Resorts, Inc. In other words, why was SPM Resorts, Inc. sending invoices to persons who claimed they had no relationship with the company, who claimed they did not own or buy any time-shares associated with the company, who claimed they had no outstanding loans with the company or their affiliates, and who stated they did not wish to be associated with SPM Resorts, Inc? None of the questions were answered or responded to by Mr. Anderson or SPM Resorts, Inc.

CLICK HERE FOR FULL STORY * * *

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TIMESHARE HELL – The 90 Minute Sales Presentation -

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

Timeshare Hell – The 90 minute sales presentation
January 20, 2009 by Andrew Kulyk

The call was innocent enough.

My friend and travel partner Peter Farrell and I were on our latest Ultimate Sports Road Trip adventure, down to sunny Florida. We were staying at Sheraton Vistana Villages, which is a beautiful and opulent timeshare resort located on I-Drive close to all the theme parks. Now I used to own a place there, but sold it just a few months ago, so I knew the ins and outs of interval ownership, and many of the tricks of how to maximize ones experience.

I answered the phone last week, and a sweet gal named Dana said, “We’d like to extend you an exclusive owners VIP check-in upon your arrival.”

“Well, Umm… I’m no longer an owner.” I explained to Dana how much I enjoyed my three year stint at Vistana, and why I decided to sell when I did. “No matter,” she replied. “We’d still like to give you the VIP treatment, and an invitation to attend an Owners Update, where you will learn all about the exciting things we’re doing here at Sheraton and for joining us we will give you 5000 Starpoints.”

OK now they had my interest… 3000 Starpoints gets you one night at any Sheraton “Cat-2? property, which means almost all Four Points hotels. So for USRT purposes 5000 points is a valuable bonus. “Sure” I replied.

Little did I know that this would be my first foray into Timeshare Hell.

The VIP check in didn’t come off because of a flight delay, but the welcome gifts turned out to be a $4 bottle of champagne, discount coupons for honky tonk eateries on the I-Drive strip, and some sample packets of drugstore stuff, including a “Pepcid AC”, which could be the best item in the bag, useful after going through their presentation, as I would later find out.
It then dawned on me that this “Owners Update” was just a veiled way of enticing people into a sales pitch for timeshares. I had told Dana that I had just sold my timeshare, that I had no intention of buying anything, but her sole job is to recruit saps to attend their pitches, and that is how she is compensated. She could pull up to the City Mission and pick up a busload of winos for all her bosses care. Her job is done!

So now knowing what I would be up against, when the morning of my appointment arrived I took a deep breath and went into the sales presentation center to match wits with a well oiled and schooled sales machine.

A nicely dressed man named Bill greeted me; he looked a lot like Habs coach Guy Carbonneau. There was a long breakfast buffet table in the sales center, but he never offered me any food, so I just got up and helped myself. We sat down, and he started probing as to why I sold my timeshare, and what my travel plans were moving forward.

Right there I wanted to impress him with my command of his product, so I shared with him how I bought my timeshare, how I sold it, what I paid for it, what I sold it for (I pretty much broke even no small feat). I told him that timesharing really didn’t work for me, as I spend most of my time on sports trips, far away from exotic beach locales.

At this point Bill starts sharing one of the beauties of Sheraton ownership – the ability to convert your timeshare to Starpoints every other year, and be able to then book any Sheraton hotel using those points. Surely that would fit my needs, no? The hook is one has to buy the timeshare from the developer (meaning from Bill). Buying resale does not qualify for this program.

OK, now he had at least a bit of my interest. Mind you, I know exactly what the timeshares at Vistana fetch on the open market, so I figured perhaps a slight premium to the developer and we’re good to go, right?

Next we went on a tour of the new units, and truth be told they are fantastic. Granite countertops, sunken jacuzzi, plasma TV’s, al top of the line amenities.

So now I am thinking, gee maybe I should get back into this after all at some point down the road.

Things went downhill fast.

Back to the sales center we went, and a Manager named Sayeed joined us at the table. He started scribbling an array of options, packages, timeshares, prices, then proceeded to cross out numbers and replace them with new numbers. Then arrows… oh the arrows! Arrows to this number that number the sales offer sheet was covered with a slew of figures and facts that would make anyones head spin.

When I told him I sold my timeshare, and explained some of the flaws in the Sheraton program, like the difficulty of exchanging one’s unit within the network, or the antiquated non-real-time reservations system on their web site, or the rapidly escalating annual assessment fees, Sayeed became very irritated. “Well, obviously, you’re not the kind of candidate we want to have as part of our Sheraton family so there’s no use wasting my time with you,” he huffed before storming away.

Bill and I sat silently for a moment, and then Sayeed returned… the act I then saw unfold could have been like a high school production of Othello. Sayeed started talking to Bill – “Did you tell him about the 50,000 bonus starpoints he gets for buying today?!” “Did you tell him the conversion fee for star options is waved if he becomes an elite member?!” “Did you let him know he can be priority waitlisted for exchanges to St. John’s or Atlantis?”. I kept my poise and told him “I told Dana, then I told Bill and now I’m telling you. I have no intention of buying a timeshare. Why would I sell my timeshare just four months ago, go through all the hassle of escrow, title search closing etc, just to buy back in four months later?”

The kicker was when Sayeed (and Bill) revealed their pricing… a 1 bedroom premium unit at Vistana Villages in prime season, with a 67,100 point value was offered to me at the “bargain” price of $18,500. The VERY SAME unit is listed from a private seller, right now, on eBay with a “buy it now” price of $3,499. And as of this writing that unit remains unsold.

So if you’re looking for trouble at a timeshare sales pitch and looking to agitate, just start quoting resale prices. Better yet, bring printouts of eBay auctions. This revelation sent Sayeed into a frenzy, and he stormed away from our table in total anger.

I told Bill I would keep his pricing and info and consider all of this, but incredibly, the minute I turned my attention away from the table, Bill removed, no, he stole the papers with the figures from my packet. I repeatedly kept shuffling through my stuff looking for the documents, but they were gone.I confronted him asking where those sheets were, and he replied he did not know.

Now Bill said, “Well thank you for giving your time. Sherry will be sitting with you to do a brief survey of your experience this morning, then she’ll take you to gifting and you’ll be on your way.”

Sherry shows up, asks me to fill a short name and address form, and from there we go into the survey, which take all of 15 seconds. Then she gets into the real reason for this phase of the torture. “I’d like to introduce you to our “Explorer” renter package. We have two available – one for $1495 and the other for $2995.” And again the offer sheet is laid out, and the figures, and the arrows, start flying furiously. 8 days 7 nights with 50,000 starpoints, or 4 days, 3 nights with 60,000 starpoints, and this bonus and that coupon! Sign now now now, and you have 12 months to pay interest free we charge your credit card! And if you use your Amex card you get a 50% bonus! And Disney tickets! And a buffet!

My head was hurting… So I ask, “What if I buy your package, then when I’m ready to book you don’t have my dates available?” “No problem!” And more numbers. And more arrows. “We guarantee or we give you 10,000 starpoints. But today is your lucky day because it’s MLK day you get a 15,000 point guarantee!!!” (That’s what ML King must have been referring to when he said he had a dream… bonus starpoints at the Sheraton.)

I told Sherry I absolutely would not be plopping down $1500 for a 7 night stay which I would have to commit to using in 12 months (which by the way, I could buy the same stay online at one of many rental sites for about $500-$700). She forlornly said OK and then walked me over to the gifting counter so I could get my 5000 points and depart.

So who shows up at the gifting counter? Yep… Bill was back! Production of Othello, Part Deux… “So Sherry, I know Andrew is a sharp and astute consumer and jumped all over his chance to snag one of our explorer packages, right?” “Noooooo” replies Sherry sadly. “I tried to get through to Andrew buthe just doesn’t understand!!! It’s all so unfortunate.”

I let these two finish their show, then just looked at the gifting lady to fill out the form for my 5000 starpoints, and turned to the two and said “I’m going to go now and make my way to Sunrise for my hockey game. Goodbye.”

I walked out the door. Free at last! Free at last!

But who followed me out the door… Yep, Bill. And what happened next was akin to the type of experience you would have if you were buying a bag of smack or a blowjob in some back alley.
“I shouldn’t tell you this, I could get fired” warned Bill. “Come… walk with me” he said in a hushed voice.

We walked the sidewalk outside, in the shadows of the fourth phase of Vistana, still under construction. “How do you think we’re going to fill all these villas, before they are sold” Bill asked me. “Easy” I replied. “Put them onto the Sheraton reservations system, Expedia, Travelocity and sell them just like all your rooms.”

I got some convoluted reply as to why this couldn’t be done. If there had been a piece of paper I’m sure it would have been explained to me with numbers and arrows. Then the kicker… “I can get you into a program called the Grand Vacation Club. Now it’s not a deeded ownership, but for $2519 you get a weeks use each year and there are no other taxes, assessments or fees. it’s all free.” Again he implored to please please not tell his bosses or he’ll be in trouble.

I reply, “Can I have your card? Can I have your email address? And where are those sheets with all those figures from earlier I really need to digest and analyze all this data to make an informed decision?”

FINALLY he admits that he did retrieve those documents out of my packet, as they need to keep those sheets as “internal Sheraton documents”. He scribbled down his CELL PHONE number and told me to call him there, all the time shifting his eyes from side to side, purportedly to see if anyone was observing this clandestine liaison we were having.

At that point I just said good bye and wished him well, tossing his cell phone number in the first trash can.

The point of all this story? Despite the efforts of the timeshare industry to clean up their act, and big hospitality corporations like Starwood, Marriott and Disney getting into this, there is still a seamy underbelly to this entire business. These scumbags prey on people when they are on vacation, when their guards are down, selling dreams, vacations and lifestyles in a setting where urgency is the key, where people aren’t allowed to research the value of what they are buying or carefully think out if the product is right for them.

Is owning a timeshare a good thing? Absolutely! For some at least. And there is value to the asset in some situations. But just go online and you will find an ocean of thousands upon thousands of people who are desperate to sell their timeshares at any price, because they made a poor purchase decision in the heat of the moment, are now overwhelmed at the maintenance costs, or just cant use the product. It is a huge buyers market, as I learned when I sold my unit, having to use crafty and shrewd methods to find a buyer.

If you want to buy a timeshare. always BUY RESALE. If you ever get invited to a “90 minute sales presentation”, do your research BEFORE you go.

Best tool is eBay… find the name of your complex, search for active and expired listings and the prices they fetched, and be ready to give the Sayeeds of the world their headache for the day.

And laugh hard as they fork over their money, or gift card, or point incentive for your attendance. I know I did!

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ABC News – Timeshare Scams

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

Diaz: Time Share Scams
(READ FULL ARTICLE CLICK HERE )
Beware the ‘Heat Merchants’

By Arnold Diaz and Glenn A. Ruppel

First in a SeriesJuly 27 2008

SHARE
Vacation time shares sales are a booming business. More than 3 million Americans own a piece of a time share vacation resort, and many of them are very satisfied with their purchase. Fortunately, this is no longer the industry that was once infamous for salespeople who operated with the instincts of a Great White Shark.

But while your chances of being fleeced have greatly decreased, insiders say there are still enough unethical salespeople — known as “heat merchants” — out there that vacationers need to be wary.

How They Find You
These hard-selling salespeople use high-pressure tactics to sell overpriced time shares — aided by misrepresentations and even outright lies.

How do vacationers end up in these salespitches? Typically they’ve responded to a mailing promising them a cheap travel package — usually including hotel stay and a short cruise.

Or in many vacation areas, so-called tourist information storefronts bring in travelers, and then convince them to visit a nearby resort for a sales presentation in exchange for a freebie of some kind — tickets to a local attraction, for instance, or dinner at a nearby restaurant.

When you buy a time share you’re getting a week of time at a vacation resort, which you have the right to use year after year. You can return that same week each year, or you may be able to exchange it and stay at a different resort at another destination.

When you show up for the resort’s presentation, you may be in for more than you bargained for. So to prepare you in advance, here’s a list, along with some quotes from actual sales pitches at prominent Florida and South Carolina time share resorts that demonstrate some of the most common misrepresentations and questionable statements you may hear.

Remember that, even if your salesman isn’t a full-scale heat merchant, there’s a good chance you’ll hear at least some of these whoppers along the way — it’s just standard operating procedures in many resort sales offices.

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SMART MONEY’S ARTICLE – Escape from Timeshare Hell "

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

Escape From Timeshare Hell

Updated on November 5, 2007.

DESPITE THEIR UNWILLINGNESS to travel just weeks after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Dowell Multer and his wife made the trip to their mid-October timeshare at the LaCabana Beach and Racquet Club in Aruba. “Things had changed a lot,” Multer says. “It was a much quieter place.” The couple vacationed there for two more years before deciding they did not want to return.

But after three years on the market, Multer, who is now 73 years old, still hasn’t found a buyer. Granted, there was interest from companies that specialize in timeshare resales, but they all demanded hefty upfront fees. “One person wanted $1,500 upfront and swore up and down it’s a great market,” Multer says. Another asked for $599, promising to advertise the property world-wide. A third wanted $300. Multer politely declined. Yet, with the $900 maintenance fee due each year, he’s desperate to sell. “Right now, we would be very happy if we could just give it away to somebody,” he says.

The Multers aren’t alone. While there are no official statistics on the number of timeshare owners looking to unload their investment, the sheer size of the marketplace suggests there are thousands — if not hundreds of thousands — of unhappy timeshare owners looking to get out.

With timeshares, you typically buy the right to stay at a resort for a week each year, as long as you live. (And because this is a deeded property, your timeshare will be passed over to your heirs after you die.) That may sound great at the developer’s presentation: Buying a timeshare from the developer directly usually comes with incentives like discounted weeks at the resort or free lunches, and is often something of an impulse purchase. But it also means you’ve bound yourself to an annual maintenance fee, which can run as high as $1,500 and can increase if the timeshare management decides to do improvements upgrades on the property.

Needless to say, life doesn’t always agree with such arrangements. People’s circumstances change and, for one reason or another, they can no longer use their timeshares. That’s where reality kicks in: Selling the timeshare is tough. Unfortunately, recouping your original costs — especially if purchased from the developer — is next to impossible.

Successfully unloading your property is a matter of adjusting your expectations and knowing what your options are when it comes to the sale. Here’s some advice:

Start with your resort
When trying to sell your timeshare, going to your resort is a logical first step: Some resorts have buy-back programs, where they will offer to buy your timeshare week or points at a certain price. The practice, known as “right to first refusal,” is meant to help preserve the value of timeshare properties, explains George Marine, a real-estate investor and timeshare owner from Long Island, N.Y. What it basically means is that if you want to sell your timeshare, the resort will offer to buy it back at a certain price, typically lower than the purchase price but still higher than what the owner may get at the resale market. While most brand-name resorts — such as Disney and Marriott Vacation Clubs — have right of first refusal clauses in their contracts, how often they exercise it will vary by resort.

If your resort doesn’t have a right of first refusal or any other resale program, they may at least refer a reputable broker or resale agent.

Find the right marketplace
However you approach the resale of your timeshare, one thing’s for sure: Never pay an upfront fee to a broker. “This is a wide-scale scam,” says Caroline Lindholm, president of the Greater New York Timeshare Owners’ Group (GNYTOG). “There are so many agencies out there that will take $395 or so, and promise you the moon. And the prices [they say you can get for your listing] are totally unrealistic.”

Pat Teal, a 72-year-old timeshare owner from Myrtle Beach, S.C., learned that the hard way. Back in 2003, she contacted several resale companies about selling her timeshare at the Fairfield Beach Ocean Ridge in South Carolina. She was quoted a $300 upfront fee, which she paid using a credit card, and a $200 commission after the sale was complete. But two months later she called to inquire about any interest in her property, and the company had disappeared. “I kept calling and calling, but I couldn’t get a hold of them,” she says. (According to Better Business Bureau records, the company — Freedom Resorts International in Hudson, Fla. — has gone out of business.) Teal figured out her $300 fee was a lost cause, but imagine her dismay when her credit card was charged another $200. She appealed the charge with the credit-card company and her $200 was refunded, but still, the experience was sobering. “I would be more than happy to pay a commission, once the timeshare sold, but I hesitate to pay money upfront again,” she says.

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South Park Cartoon not far from Timeshare Truth – Who’s Laughing ?

Thursday, January 15th, 2009


Watch this South Park clip which talks about the “Timeshare Conspiracy” ! It is entertaining however it is not far from the truth. It is entertaining however hits home for many timeshare owners and those who have come in contact with the timeshare industry.

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