TImeshares

TIMESHARE HELL – The 90 Minute Sales Presentation -

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!

http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/digg_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/reddit_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/delicious_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/blinklist_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/furl_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/google_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/myspace_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/facebook_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/yahoobuzz_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/mixx_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/twitter_48.png

ABC News – Timeshare Scams

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.

http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/digg_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/reddit_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/delicious_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/blinklist_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/furl_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/google_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/myspace_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/facebook_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/yahoobuzz_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/mixx_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/twitter_48.png

Vacations for Life – To Good To Be True – Royal Holiday Vacation Club

January 28th, 2009

CLICK ON THE PICTURE or
HERE TO WATCH INSIDE 20/20 Investigation on Royal Holiday

Vacations for Life:

Too Good to Be True?

Royal Holiday Vacation Club Subject of Numerous Customer Complaints

If you think buying a timeshare in Mexico sounds like more trouble than it’s worth, the Royal Holiday Vacation Club has a deal for you. It offers something completely different — let’s call it the un-timeshare.

Cancun
The Royal Holiday Vacation Club offers members points to be used to book hotel stays.

More Photos

A promotional video produced by the company says, “Welcome to the exciting world of Royal Holiday … a great way to have luxury vacations without breaking the bank.”

Based in Mexico, Royal Holiday is doing a booming business signing up vacationers at busy sales offices around the Caribbean. It isn’t selling property; it’s selling points and promises. A typical member pays roughly $11,000 to join the club, plus a yearly fee of about $465. For that, a member gets points that the club says can be used to book luxury vacations.

Related

Royal Holiday calls its Vacations for Life plan an alternative to the complaint-riddled timeshare business. But a “20/20″ hidden camera investigation inside the club’s sales operation in Cancun raised troubling questions about how Royal Holiday sells memberships and delivers on its promises. According to angry complaints placed both in the United States and in Mexico, hundreds upon hundreds of the club’s members wish they weren’t.

“We love to travel,” says Natasha Rajtar of Albany, N.Y., who signed up with her husband, Jason. “And we thought how cool over the next 30 years to be able to travel the world with our children.”

A Royal Holiday promotional video says, “Today we can share a secret with you, one that guarantees luxury vacations in first class hotels around the world.”

What is Royal Holiday’s real “secret”?

“20/20″ interviewed a cross-section of the growing number of members who say Royal Holiday misled them about how the club operates, and the availability of vacations they’d want. They say the only thing royal about their membership was the way they were ripped off.

John and Robin Chomko, who are from the St Louis area, joined in the Dominican Republic in 2006. “They’ll tell you anything,” John says of the Royal Holiday salespeople. “They’ll lie, I mean, they lied completely to us.”

http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/digg_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/reddit_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/delicious_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/blinklist_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/furl_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/google_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/myspace_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/facebook_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/yahoobuzz_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/mixx_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/twitter_48.png

ABC Report with Dave Ramsey – Are Timeshares Worth the Cost ?

January 27th, 2009

ARE TIMESHARES WORTH THE COST ?
Radio Host Dave Ramsey explains why he thinks timeshares are a bad investment !

This is a Great Video that was broadcast on ABC Money Matters Program.

(click here to WATCH VIDEO )

http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/digg_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/reddit_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/delicious_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/blinklist_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/furl_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/google_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/myspace_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/facebook_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/yahoobuzz_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/mixx_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/twitter_48.png

ABC 7 News Report on Trendwest / Worldmark / Wyndham

January 26th, 2009

Trendwest Reservations Tough To Get

Tuesday, February 27, 2007 7:21 PM
Feb. 27 – KGO (KGO) — Trendwest is one of the largest timeshare companies in the world, with about a quarter-of-a-million owners. But has it become too much of a good thing? 7 On Your Side’s Michael Finney has the results of a year-long investigation.
Trendwest bills itself as an affordable way to gain access to more than 60 vacation resorts, mostly in the western U.S. The company is undergoing a name change and is also known as WorldMark by Wyndham. But as our 7 On Your Side investigation reveals, reservations at many of the most popular resorts can be nearly impossible to get.

Images of coastal beauty, mountain settings and peaceful surroundings dominate a DVD given to perspective Trendwest owners.

Here’s how the program works: Trendwest owners buy credits or points. The credits are automatically renewed on the owner’s anniversary date at no additional cost. Those credits are used to redeem stays at any one of Trendwest resorts, or can be traded outside the networks through Resort Condominiums International (RCI) — that’s a vacation condo exchange service. Owners must also pay maintenance fees, which average $400-$500-dollars each year.

Recruiters sit in a booth right outside the company’s office in San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf. Tourists agree to attend a 90-minute presentation in exchange for a free or heavily-discounted tour of the city.

On one day in December 2005, two ABC7 News employees with a hidden camera are the ones being recruited by Trendwest.

Name withheld, ABC7 News undercover: “Which cities are hot?”
Name withheld, Trendwest representative: “Monterey, Carmel, Napa is a real hot place to go.”
Name withheld, ABC7 News undercover: “Yeah.”
Name withheld, Trendwest representative: “Tahoe.”
The places mentioned are some of Trendwest’s most popular resorts. They come up again once the actual presentation begins. So does Hawaii.
Name withheld, Trendwest representative: “Next week, December 28-January 4, I’m going to Maui, okay? I book my vacation in advance with my credits.”

We talked to many people happy with the program.

Jack Crandall, Billingham, WA: “Trendwest Resorts for us have worked out really well.”
Stephon Joseph, El Cerrito: “We stayed in a very nice place, very exclusive — big two-bedroom in Orlando.” But we also found plenty of dissatisfied customers, too. Manuela Milavici of San Francisco was a former Trendwest owner. She says she decided to sell her ownership at a loss because the resorts she wanted to book were usually unavailable.

In her nine-years of ownership, she said she typically ended up going to the company’s less-popular resorts, like Clear Lake, because those were the only condos that had openings. She did, however, go to Hawaii once.

Manuela Milavici, San Francisco: “It was not worth it for me. I don’t know. It’s a harsh word to say cheated, but in a way it might be true.”

Theresa Farrell had a similar experience trying to book a trip to Disneyland.
Theresa Farrell: “I think what it is, they sell so many memberships, there’s just not the opportunity that they say you’re going to have.”

Steve Wiley worked for Trendwest for 13 years. He’s suing Trendwest for wrongful termination and age discrimination.
Steve Wiley, former Trendwest employee: “They’re selling more time than they have available to sell. Their selling more points than can possibly be in the system.”

If that were true, Trendwest would be in violation of state law.

Using public records filed with the Department of Real Estate, we broke down the numbers, figuring out the amount of Trendwest units available for use by its owners. We then asked statistician and Laney College professor Bill Lepowsky to analyze the data.

Bill Lepowsky, statistician and Laney College professor: “If you were to buy into Trendwest, you can certainly expect to book some resort, somewhere during some time of the year. As to whether you can book the resort that you want during the season that you want, during the month that you want, that’s not necessarily the case.”

There are only 33 units in Monterey. Lepowsky says less than one-percent of Trendwest’s quarter million owners would be able to book a week there in any given year.

In Pismo Beach, it’s also less than one-percent; in Orlando, it’s just one-percent; in Hawaii, about seven-percent; in Las Vegas, nearly eight-and-a-half-percent.

In all, there are more than 250,000 owners competing for time at about 5,300 condominium units. None of this is ever mentioned in the presentation.

Teri Lee of San Leandro sold her ownership at a loss a few years after she bought it. She says the sale’s pressure to buy was intense.
Teri Lee, San Leandro: “At our age, we shouldn’t had been taking on debt at that point. We were trying to get out of debt.”

Trendwest tells its employees only to market to those with a minimum of $50,000-dollars in income. But some may slip through the cracks.

Name withheld, Trendwest: “You guys combined make $50,000 or more?”
Name withheld, ABC7 News undercover: “Combined? Not really.”
Name withheld, Trendwest: “Yes, you do.”
Name withheld, ABC7 News undercover: “Okay.”

Back in 2003, the state attorney general’s office fined Trendwest $800,000-dollars and ordered it to refund an estimated $2-million-dollars. The state accused Trendwest of deceptive sale practices and illegally denying consumers the ability to cancel their contracts.

The owners of Trendwest declined an opportunity to respond to this story in an on-camera interview, but in a written statement, Wyndham Worldwide said it offers “A flexible product with a wide variety of accommodations and vacation options.” It says its reservations are available on a “first-come, first serve basis.”

The company says all “owners are provided all financial information” about the sale, and that its employees are held to the highest ethical standards.

Bill Lepowsky: “The people that Trendwest would be right for are the people who, first of all, have a certain degree of flexibility in their vacation plans, are not dead set on one particular place. They don’t buy Trendwest saying, ‘I know I want to go to Hawaii during the month of July, and that’s what I’m going to do,’ because that might not happen.”

The Department of Real Estate says such sale tactics are common but unethical. Meantime, a timeshare reseller tells us if you ever do buy a timeshare and then try to sell it, you can expect an average loss of about 50 percent.
(Copyright ©2009 KGO-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)
http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/digg_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/reddit_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/delicious_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/blinklist_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/furl_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/google_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/myspace_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/facebook_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/yahoobuzz_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/mixx_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/twitter_48.png

WESTGATE HAS MORE LAYOFFS !!

January 22nd, 2009


Orlando Timeshare Company Has More Layoffs

Friday, January 16, 2009
ORLANDO, Fla. — One of America’s largest time-share companies has eliminated another 1,000 jobs during the past month.

Orlando-based Westgate Resorts once employed about 11,000 people. President David Siegel said it was down to about 7,000. The cuts were nationwide and some jobs were eliminated through attrition.

The company was facing a financing squeeze because of the nation’s severe economic downturn. Siegel said the cuts would affect all areas of business, from administration to marketing, sales and construction.

He said Westgate will be able to do business without access to the still-frozen credit markets by funding the operation with their own money.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/digg_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/reddit_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/delicious_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/blinklist_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/furl_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/google_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/myspace_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/facebook_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/yahoobuzz_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/mixx_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/twitter_48.png

NEWSWEEK – The Trap in Time Shares

January 17th, 2009

The Trap In Time Shares

Warning to all vacationers who-on impulse let a sales agent talk them into buying a share. It’s easy to love these holiday , but only as long as their pleasures suit style of life. If your taste ever changes, a time share can hang around your neck like an albatross. In most cases, there’s no certain way of pulling free.

One reason time shares are so popular is their close fit with the baby boomers, who want a family vacation spot but can’t afford a home of their own. Instead they buy a slice of a home-say, a single week at a summer resort. Led by luxury offerings from such brand-name hoteliers as Disney, Marriott and Hilton, U.S. sales this year are expected to reach a record $2.5 billion.

Price tags on new time shares are not low. Two-bedroom units average $9,500, up to a top of $18,000. Annual fees (for maintenance and taxes) average $350 and can reach $770. But you’re not locked into the place you buy. Swaps can be had for a similar week at a unit somewhere else.


So what’s not to like about this deal? Mainly, its perpetuity. At some point in the future you may not want this holiday anymore-because your children are grown or your spouse has died. But you can’t store a time share down in the basement next to your dusty exercise bike. Annual maintenance fees continue. To escape them you have to sell-and that’s when you learn that a time-share resort is easy to join but tough to leave.

_B_A glut:_b_At many resorts, “used” time-share weeks are a glut on the market. In almost all cases, they can’t be resold for anything close to what you paid. You’re doing well if you get even half the original price. Where there aren’t a lot of weeks for sale, you might luck into 80 percent or more. But time shares in older, less spiffy resorts, or in undesirable weeks of the year, often draw no bids at all.

That stands in sharp contrast to the pitch of many sales agents, who lead you to think that resales are easy. Officially, the industry deplores that line. “Time shares should not be purchased for investment or resale,” says Tom Franks, president of the American Resort Development Association (ARDA). Developers who permit salesroom hype are playing a hypocritical game: tsk-tsking the deceptions in public while privately hauling money to the bank.

http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/digg_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/reddit_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/delicious_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/blinklist_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/furl_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/google_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/myspace_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/facebook_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/yahoobuzz_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/mixx_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/twitter_48.png

AG Announces Lawsuit Against Florida Timeshare and Vacation Companies

January 17th, 2009

LOCAL NEWS:

AG Announces Lawsuit Against Florida Timeshare and Vacation Companies

October 14, 2008

Attorney General Corbett announces lawsuits against Florida timeshare & vacation companies accused of advertising, real estate, and telemarketing violations

Bluegreen1-250x275HARRISBURG – Attorney General Tom Corbett today announced lawsuits today against four Florida-based companies accused of illegally marketing vacation packages, using “free” airline ticket offers and other worthless prizes to lure consumers into aggressive and deceptive timeshare presentations.

Corbett said consumer protection lawsuits were filed against Bluegreen Corporation, Bluegreen Resorts, Bluegreen Vacations Unlimited, Inc. and Great Vacations Destinations, Inc., all of Boca Raton, Florida. Bluegreen contacted consumers by phone and through kiosks at shopping malls, fairs, and festivals throughout Pennsylvania, and also operates full-time sales facilities in Hershey and King of Prussia.

“Virtually any consumer with a checkbook and a pulse allegedly qualified as a ‘winner’ in these promotions,” Corbett said. “Unsuspecting consumers who believed they were contest winners were actually drawn into a high pressure bait-and-switch campaign designed to push timeshare vacation packages costing thousands of dollars.”

Corbett said more than 5,700 Pennsylvania residents purchased Bluegreen timeshares, with many paying $20,000 to $40,000 or more for packages that violated Pennsylvania’s Consumer Protection Law, the Real Estate Licensing and Registration Act, the Telemarketer Registration Act and other consumer regulations.

Phony Prizes
Corbett said that Bluegreen representatives allegedly called consumers who believed they were entering contests and other promotions promising cars, cash and vacations.

According to the lawsuit, consumers were told that they had not won the “grand prize,” but had been selected to receive other items, like free airline tickets. Consumers were also promised free gasoline and meals when they collected their prize, if they attended a 90 minute timeshare presentation.

Corbett said the lawsuit alleges that consumers who were contacted by Bluegreen were not actually randomly selected prize winners. Instead, virtually everyone who entered the contests was contacted and falsely told that they were a prize winner.

In one case, Corbett said a consumer informed a Bluegreen representative that the person they were trying to reach did not live at that address. The consumer was told that it wasn’t a problem – they would give her a prize too.

Bluegreen-Airfare1-366x244High Pressure Sales and False Advertising
Corbett said that in order to collect their “prizes,” consumers were required to schedule an appointment with a Bluegreen sales representative. In some cases, consumers who believed they would be attending a 90 minute timeshare presentation were actually subjected to relentless marketing pitches that lasted five hours or more.

According to the lawsuit, numerous deceptive statements were made to consumers during these presentations in an effort to get them to sign contracts immediately, including phony claims that prices would increase the next day, misrepresentations about when and where consumers could travel if they made a purchase and false statements about certain fees being waived.

Corbett said that some consumers bought vacation programs because they were told they were entitled to a one-week stay in Hawaii, only to learn afterward that the program they purchased could not be used in Hawaii.

According to the lawsuit, consumers who sat through the timeshare presentations received “prizes” that were nothing like what they had been promised. The “four free airline tickets” were actually booklets that offered two airline tickets with each hotel room reserved, at high prices, in a limited number of cities. In some situations, consumers were required to commit to a 10 night stay at overpriced hotel rates before being able to select a local airport for their flight.

Corbett said “free” gasoline and meals that consumers were promised turned out to be coupons or certificates with lengthy terms and conditions. For instance, consumers who were promised $40 in free gas were required to submit written requests to obtain a series of gas coupons. The coupons required consumers to pay for their gas first and then mail a receipt for reimbursement, with each coupon limited to a $5 purchase, with no more than one purchase per month.

Illegal Contracts
Corbett’s said contracts used by Bluegreen failed to properly inform consumers of their right to cancel their purchase. Pennsylvania law requires that consumers have five days to cancel any timeshare or campground purchase. Bluegreen is also accused of violating a state law that requires all consumer contracts to be written in easy-to-understand terms.

Bluegreen-Hershey-366x244Do Not Call Violations
According to the lawsuit, Bluegreen made numerous calls to consumers who were on Pennsylvania’s Do Not Call list, allegedly basing those calls on referrals from other customers. Additionally, the companies are accused of making repeated calls to consumers who clearly told them not to call again.

“Bluegreen took advantage of hardworking Pennsylvania residents eager to find an affordable getaway,” Corbett said. “Using deceptive contests, relentless sales presentations and misleading contracts, consumers were pressured into paying thousands of dollars for vacation packages that don’t meet their needs or their budgets.”

Corbett said the lawsuits seek restitution for consumers who suffered financial losses because of these deceptive or illegal practices.

Additionally, Corbett says the lawsuit asks the court to void all illegal consumer contracts and give consumers the right to cancel any agreement that did not include the state-required notice of cancellation.

The lawsuit also seeks up to $1,000 in civil penalties for each violation of the Consumer Protection Law, or up to $3,000 for each violation involving a senior citizen.

The lawsuits were filed in Commonwealth Court, in Harrisburg, by Senior Deputy Attorney General David Sumner of the Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.

Corbett says the investigation began after consumers contacted his office to report these practices. He encouraged other consumers who have problems with Bluegreen to file a complaint by calling the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-441-2555 or submit an online consumer complaint.

Corbett offered the following tips to consumers considering a timeshare:

  • Take your time.
    Treat a timeshare purchase like the purchase of a home or any other significant commitment. Don’t let high pressure sales tactics and long presentations force you into a hasty decision.
  • Do your research.
    Check the market and the value of the vacation property before you buy and investigate the seller, the developer and the management company. Ask for references and contact current owners to verify their satisfaction with the property.
  • Know the cancellation period.
    Pennsylvania provides a five-day cooling off period for buyers to change their mind and cancel a timeshare contract. Consumers must notify the seller in writing via certified mail or return receipt mail.
  • Recognize that timeshares can be difficult to resell.
    Buy a timeshare only if you plan to use it. It is an option for future vacations, not an investment.
  • Consider extra costs.
    Most timeshares require consumers to pay annual assessment fees, maintenance fees and taxes, closing and broker commissions, and finance charges. Some fees can rise dramatically in the future so it’s important to ask if there is cap on future fees.
  • Beware of scams.
    If you are offered a prize as an incentive to attend a timeshare presentation, ask for details and watch out for hidden conditions and fine print. Keep in mind that the value of promotional gifts may be low in comparison to the fees and charges associated with a timeshare purchase. Any ‘free’ travel or vacations you are offered may have blackout dates and other restrictions.
  • Read everything before you sign.
    Carefully review contracts and all other paperwork before you sign anything, and get all special promises about discounts, waived fees or other promotions in writing.

http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/digg_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/reddit_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/delicious_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/blinklist_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/furl_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/google_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/myspace_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/facebook_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/yahoobuzz_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/mixx_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/twitter_48.png

New York Times – TIME-SHARE RESORT INDUSTRY EXPERIENCING GROWTH PAINS

January 16th, 2009


TIME-SHARE RESORT INDUSTRY EXPERIENCING GROWTH PAINS

Published: September 27, 1981

Time-sharing, the new rage in vacation real estate, has attracted thousands of satisfied customers across the country. But left strand ed on the beaches and slopes are some unhappy buyers, who in the worst cases, lost all their money.

Some 300,000 families, mostly middle and upper income people, have bought time-shares since the concept of purchasing rights to a hotel or apartment unit at a resort for a specific week or two each year was introduced in this country in the late 1960’s. After a slow start, the industry began to expand dramatically in the mid-1970’s.

In the last six years, the number of time-share resorts in the United States has grown from 45 to about 550, according to Carl Burlingame, author of a magazine on time-shares and a book on the subject.

Industry surveys show a high satisfaction rate among time-share owners – 82 percent. A major attraction is the inflation protection that comes from locking in a portion of the family’s vacation costs for the next 20, 30, 40 or more years.

Moreover, as the industry has grown in size and sophistication, it has attracted major institutional lenders as well as first-class developers.

The industry’s success, however, has not been accomplished without charges of fraud and deception. The most well-known incident in the industry involved the old Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colo., where 2,100 people bought time-shares before the developers went bankrupt in 1979. At an average price of $5,000, the purchasers were buying rights to new, luxurious condominium units around the old hotel. The units were never built. however. A court appointed trustee has tried to find another developer to take over the project.

In July, New York Attorney General Robert Abrams sought to bar sales in New York of time-shares from Tree Tops, Inc. in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania because of the company’s failure to register in New York. As part of the consent judgment in the case, about 550 New Yorkers who bought time-shares at Tree Tops will have the opportunity to get their money back. Units at the resort sold at prices ranging from $3,500 to more than $8,200.

Harry F. Lee, Tree Tops’ Pennsylvania attorney, said the company plans to properly register in New York. He said Tree Tops had written to Mr. Abrams’s office asking about requirements in New York, but never received an answer.

After consulting with New York lawyers, Tree Tops took the position that it was not selling real estate, but pre-paid vacations and it need not register in New York. Like some other time-shares, Tree Tops owners do not take title to a deed.

Mr. Lee said Tree Tops decided against time-consuming litigation and chose instead to agree to stop sales to New Yorkers and offer refunds.

Earlier this year Mr. Abrams’s office got the court to bar the sale of time-shares on the cruise ship ”Romance.” The attorney general contended that Little Cruise Ship Ltd., based in San Diego, and the company’s agent, Carlino & Phillips Advertising Inc, of Plainview, N.Y., misled buyers about the size and capabilities of the ship and failed to register properly.

Robert S. Robbin, assistant attorney general in charge of the Bureau of Real Estate Finance, said that complaints about time-shares are growing, reflecting in part the recent change in law allowing time-share sales in New York.

”The sales procedures are aggressive and that’s going to generate complaints,” he said. Time-sharing is ”still in the early stages and we’re trying to avoid problems by stopping problem practices early.”

Last month, a Federal judge in South Carolina sentenced John G. Mitchell, a Nashville lawyer, and Harry Morgan, a Tennessee businessman, to 15 years in prison for their roles in a time-share scheme. The men are appealing their convictions on conspiracy and mail fraud charges stemming from the sale of time-shares for a resort in Myrtle Beach that was never built.

John Clifford Ryan, an assistant U.S. Attorney in South Carolina, said investigators found about 127 people who had purchased timeshares in the promised project, which was called Resort Club Vacation Inc. Units sold for about $4,600.

READ MORE ABOUT THIS STORY

http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/digg_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/reddit_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/delicious_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/blinklist_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/furl_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/google_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/myspace_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/facebook_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/yahoobuzz_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/mixx_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/twitter_48.png

SMART MONEY’S ARTICLE – Escape from Timeshare Hell "

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.

http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/digg_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/reddit_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/delicious_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/blinklist_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/furl_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/google_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/myspace_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/facebook_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/yahoobuzz_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/mixx_48.png http://sellingtimesharestoday.com/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/twitter_48.png