Aging Couple in 80’s Can’t Escape a Timeshare Agreement

Aging Couple in 80’s Can’t Escape a Timeshare Agreement

Those that purchase a timeshare unit for the first time rarely think about an eventual need to escape the binding agreement. Thomas and Huguette Game learned this the hard way when medical conditions halted their ability to travel in 2014. Now that they’ve spent the past 6 years trying to escape a timeshare agreement, they wish they hadn’t upgraded in 2006. Unfortunately, this is the story of many timeshare owners today.

During the initial presentation, most attendees are led to believe they’re investing in a piece of paradise only to discover unexpected limitations down the road. While the sales team is to blame for painting an unrealistic picture, the owner’s decision to invest further (in order to make it worthwhile), is normally what sends them in a downward spiral. 

In Thomas and his wife’s case, they upgraded their package at the Carriage Hills Resort because they could only use the week every other year. Since they were aging, traveling more was appealing. Little did they know that they’d have to continue making payments once health concerns limited their ability to travel. While they thoroughly enjoyed the experience, they didn’t appreciate the lack of compassion from the Barrie, Ontario timeshare.

“We were happy with it, it was a good system,” Mr. Game said. But it made no sense for him to have to continue making payments on something they couldn’t use. “We want to get rid of the title and the responsibility.” But a desire to escape a timeshare agreement and the ability to do so is a whole different story. Since the Game’s have compounding contracts, they’ll have to treat them as separate entities in order to cancel, amongst other things.

How the Timeshare is Making it Rough on the Aging Couple.

The association that represents Carriage Hill’s fractional owners (CHVOA) has continuously reiterated that the resort doesn’t buy back units. So far, the only solution they’ve provided is for owners to find buyers themselves. They’ve apparently been looking into “exit strategies for owners” since 2018 but have yet to find a viable “exit from ownership at this time.” In a newsletter they remained firm by stating, “(CHVOA) does not own any deeds, does not take back any deeds, and will not relieve any owners of the obligation to pay for annual assessment.”

What further complicates the matter is the simple fact Thomas and his wife aren’t even sure who owns the resort. They say it belonged to Shell Vacations Club, which may have been purchased by Wyndham. For a good part of this decade, the Games have been sending handwritten letters to the resort and CHVOA, pleading to be released from their obligation. They never imagined escaping a timeshare agreement would be so discouraging.

According to the couple, annual maintenance fees have really taken a toll on their finances. Paying anywhere from $400-$1400 per year with a limited income and medical uncertainty can be quite the burden to bear. Now that they’ve exhausted their efforts to find a buyer, they’re seeking help. For years now, Thomas says, “We’ve had no takers.”

So What Are They Going to Do?

“I’ve lost so much sleep over this,” said Huguette. You can tell she’s tired of stressing about it. “I wake up at 4 a.m. and I can’t get back to sleep because of this.” The couple told reporters that they were willing to lose their equity in the units if that’s what they have to do to escape a timeshare agreement. Mr. Game said they simply want to get rid of the title and its responsibility once and for all. “It’s like they put a big ball and chain behind me,” he said.

Thomas and Huguette aren’t alone. A growing number of owners are currently running into problems when it comes to using their units. But for some, they have no choice but to find a way to escape their timeshare agreement. Finding a middle ground with owners that have physical limitations is different than managing owners with severe medical conditions

This is what makes the Game’s situation rather sad. Thomas recently had open heart surgery and Huguette is legally blind. While Thomas can drive around locally, he is extremely limited because of his wife’s ailment. Hopefully timeshare companies will take the time to help aging couple’s like this and find alternative solutions to fill their units. Milking them for every dollar, while they hold onto their lives just doesn’t seem right.

How Will Timeshare Companies Handle the Coronavirus Pandemic?

How Will Timeshare Companies Handle the Coronavirus Pandemic?

As we enter a time in history that most have never seen before, luxury items tend to lose their luster. Although the closing of restaurants and local entertainment venues forces us to avoid indulgence, we’re also forced to look at our expenses. When it’s difficult to obtain basic needs like food, water, milk and toilet paper – our priorities shift tremendously. While some simply reallocate spending habits towards hoarding supplies and planning for Armageddon, many don’t have that luxury. What they pay for takes all they have. Delivery services and other added costs to obtain these basic needs only make matters worse. Especially if they’ve lost wages because of the Coronavirus.

Now that travel has pretty much reached a standstill (and halted internationally), people’s livelihoods have drastically changed. While some are able to adapt, others can’t. Businessmen have the advantage of video conferencing and avid vacationers can take a break, but what are timeshare owners to do? If the economy shifts outside of their control, should they have to pay for something they can’t use? It’s easy to assume they’re going to be extremely concerned with paying for a luxury item that removes thousands of dollars from their budget every year.

How Will Your Timeshare Respond?

So the real question is, how will timeshare companies respond? Will they pardon owners or force them to adhere to their contract? Will they only see it as their loss or will they have compassion? While the implementation of operational protocols and the gathering of facts is important, what about touching base with the hand that feeds you? When you think about it, vacation ownership has got to be one of the most handicapping expenses right now. To date, reasonably resolving owner complaints hasn’t been a strength of timeshare companies.

older-woman-makeup-blue-demin-shirt-thumbs-down-to-getting-sick-in-isolated-location-for-now

Will Vacation Owners Be Reassured?

If you’ve been checking your email lately, you’ve probably received a number of updates from all kinds of businesses and organizations. Whether they’ve been informative, reassuring or annoying, the effort is there. It shows that they care. Timeshare owners deserve the same. No matter how you’ve been impacted by the Coronavirus, you shouldn’t have to bear the burden alone of something beyond your control. 

Have you been contacted by your timeshare? If not, you may want to reach out to them with your questions to gain an understanding of how they are reacting to this pandemic and how it impacts you as an owner. You have the right to be concerned here. Unlike most U.S. businesses, timeshare travel should have seen this coming with the way the rest of the world was responding to the Coronavirus. It hasn’t been uncommon to see many organizations step up to alleviate the effect of the pandemic.

Others Take Action, in Full Communication.

Due to the recession concerns, the Federal Government even slashed interest rates to nearly zero in an attempt to invigorate the economy. Lending institutions and creditors have followed suit by proactively sending out correspondence that acknowledges possible instances where customers may find themselves facing financial difficulties. The willingness of banks to discuss assistance is extremely encouraging.

TRAVELING

Travel companies are prepared for loss and currently offering discounts on future endeavors or rewards in the form of points. Airlines are also advertising “no change fees” and cutting up to 50% of their schedules as travel bans continue to expand. As airport customers begin screening for the Coronavirus, health officials are urging people to stay home.

man-walking-through-airport-concerned-with-the-impact-of-coronavirus-on-travel-industry

LOCAL BIZ

Businesses that remain open are taking extra measures to ensure their environments are sanitary. Restaurants are taking advantage of free delivery services while drive-thrus are closing their eat-in services. Medical and dental offices have heightened their safety procedures and have increased the use of medical grade equipment.

TIMESHARES

Has your timeshare informed you of what measures they’re taking during this time? If you’re currently traveling or planning to use the timeshare in the near future, have you been provided with any safety measures, guidelines or tips? Sadly, it’s been well-documented that many timeshare company’s ignore buyer complaints. But we hope history doesn’t repeat itself and that resorts step up by taking action. Responsibly ensuring that owners have safe accommodations will go a long way.

What Can Owners Do During a Pandemic?

Just the other day, politicians began proposing that every American receives a $1,000 stimulus check to ease the economic impact. Markets are being impacted, financially hindering many families across the country. Why should timeshare owners have to think about using this boost to avoid repercussions from the resort? One of our most recent clients signed up for our services because she wasn’t able to garner help from her timeshare company.

As a caretaker, changes in her work environment forced her to face a hard reality that wasn’t expected – unemployment. Losing her ability to work made canceling the timeshare contract now an easy decision. Vacation owners that count on income from tips, commissions or wages from non-essential businesses are experiencing a lot of unknown right now. Aside from your average hard-working American, those with preexisting conditions are forced to implement even further precautions to avoid the Coronavirus.

middle-aged-woman-at-laptop-thinking-about-ailiments-from-disease-and-impact-on-quality-of-life-and-productivity

Is your timeshare company taking notice? If they’re more worried about their losses then they should take notes from those serving society amidst a crisis. It could easily reverse their trajectory. The Coronavirus isn’t just affecting the timeshare industry. Mind you, their sales were $9.6 billion in 2017. At some point, they’re going to have to face the music and do something for owners with fixed weeks, confirmed reservations during travel bans or owners experiencing new financial hardships. 

The Reality of Timeshares and the Coronavirus.

The fact of the matter is, entire countries are being shut down and quarantined right now. Schools and local businesses are being forced to close their doors. The CDC has urged Americans to halt all gatherings of 10 or more people (SC is limiting groups to 3). Even if you aren’t following the news, you’ve most certainly noticed the change. Most supermarket shelves are empty as people frantically barricade themselves from the Coronavirus. 

While the main concern should lie in a massive influx of hospitalizations, one can’t help but notice that quality of life has dipped quite a bit. At the same time, the pandemic has also given people a unique opportunity to reconnect with others or even themselves. In times like these, finding the blessings in life can really be life changing. 

Listen, we know that finding peace can be difficult to accomplish when costly payments on a luxury item only adds to financial stress you’re going through. So if you’ve found yourself in a new financial hardship because of the Coronavirus, we encourage you to contact the timeshare directly. You may never know how they’re willing to assist you financially if you don’t ask. This virus is impacting everyone right now. 

The biggest question is, will they be willing to change their policy to assist those affected by the pandemic? It would seem as though financial solutions to make ownership more affordable would be a good initial idea. As we walk into a potential recession, what other choice do they have? If a majority of vacation owners are unable to make payments, it would cause a devastating effect on the industry – and everyone involved.

retired-husband-and-wife-arguing-over-finances-of-purchase-they-can't-use-anymore-timeshare-weeks-regret

What Might Timeshare Companies Do?

As we saw during the Great Recession, the first thing Americans stopped buying were luxuries – or anything that wasn’t deemed a necessity. Are timeshare companies going to ethically work with their owners on deferred payments, restructured installment loans or offering other forms of relief (for owners unable to use their timeshare)? Or are they going to continue their aggressive path by threatening clients with legal action and damaged credit as history shows?

If we were to speculate here, we can assume timeshare companies will push the narrative that the market will eventually settle back down. Based on the breadcrumbs, they may try to buy themselves as much time as they can before taking action. Unless there are terms regarding a pandemic in the buyer’s contract, relief may not be granted. While there is a possibility that discounts will be given, it’s hard to understand how timeshares will be able to supply the bottlenecked demand after weeks (or possibly months) of travel restrictions

Thousands of owners to date have stated their timeshare failed to provide promised availability for while they were expecting flexibility, how will they recover from this? The Coronavirus is something timeshares should address quickly. How could a legal battle play out if they force loyal customers to pay in a time of crisis? How far will they be willing to go to ensure it doesn’t get ugly? What are they going to do for owners that paid their maintenance fees for 2020? Like we said before, there is an easy way to avoid any conflict here. Take care of the consumer.

MARK CUBAN SETS THE PRECEDENT 

If you are following the news you may have seen the respectable interview with Mark Cuban, owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks. Christ Cuomo from CNN stated how Mark had an option and he chose to pay employees as the NBA suspends the season due to the Coronavirus. His response was, “It wasn’t in the policy, it wasn’t an option, it was the right thing to do”. The network calls those helping others in this difficult time “AmeriCANS.” At the end of the day, these types of decisions will aid the economy tremendously. Will timeshares be willing to invest their earnings back into the customer?

infographic-for-us-consumers-from-cdc-encouraging-to-stop-spread-of-germs-and-infections-of-coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic-in-america

A Response Regarding the Pandemic is Inevitable.

It’ll be interesting to see how everything plays out and if timeshare owners are rewarded for their years of steady payments. If you’ve found yourself at a crossroads with your timeshare, we’d be more than happy to answer any of your questions. Our team is knowledgeable in the industry and can be trusted to consult you on alternate routes if cancellation isn’t in your best interest. For those interested in our qualification process, you can proceed with the link below.

This Book Explains How Salespeople Close Timeshare Deals.

This Book Explains How Salespeople Close Timeshare Deals.

If you own a timeshare package, then you’re probably well aware of the smooth-talkers in the podium room. Sadly, many like you wish they would have just said “No.” While the presentation itself can be quite riveting, the experience rarely lives up to the hype. This is because timeshare companies pay cunning salespeople to persuade unsavvy consumers. It’s not necessarily due to a poor decision by the consumer. Since you might view this as a bias remark, don’t take our word for it. Rick Pons, a former timeshare swindler full of regret, recently wrote a book about the disreputable practices of the timeshare presentation

Over the years more and more former timeshare employees have exposed the deceitful practices of the sale. Most of which take legal action for their forced involvement in deception. But Pons’s book titled, “Lying For A Living,” actually goes into detail about the lengths some salespeople go to close timeshare deals.

Pons Describes the Timeshare Work Culture.

Cancun, Mexico is one of the most competitive timeshare destinations in the world. Here, recruiters are always looking for young and eager people to help sell weekly intervals. This is where Pons was targeted nearly 17 years ago. When speaking with Consumer Affairs about his first impression of the industry, he recounted, “It’s really not a job for everybody.” 

“I first started in marketing where my main responsibility was to pre-qualify couples and convince them to attend a sales presentation,” he said. “It may sound simple but it’s actually almost as hard as actually selling them a timeshare in the sales room.” In other words, sales teams are literally incentivized to slowly talk people into making the purchase

It’s a relentless yet fine-tuned process that pays off – if you’re willing to endure. Think of it like a car salesman trying to persuade someone to buy a car they can’t see. Because of the disadvantage here, dangling gifts and offering special perks normally convinces people to attend a presentation.

Pons subtly admits the first few months changed him a little. He mentioned being devoured by “fear of rejection” and “constant backstabbing” from everyone involved. Even the harsh working conditions and “moral dilemmas” wore on him over time. When asked what he had to do to close timeshare deals he said, “If you have to lie, you lie.” If this is true then it doesn’t sound like timeshare companies are too interested in employee development.

Sales Teams Do Anything to Close Timeshare Deals.

Without giving away too much of the book, Pons illustrates the sale of a timeshares as an emotional experience. In short, sales teams will do or say whatever they can to build and sustain rapport. Every person involved plays a key role to close timeshare deals. 

The first person to make contact is often called “the liner.” Their role is to simply make sure the target (or couple) has a great time. Pons recalls, “You obtain as much information about them as you can.” Whether it be during breakfast or throughout the tour, fact finding is said to be important. The liner then relays their findings to other members of the process so they can develop a game plan together.

When one salesperson asks for too much or becomes overly aggressive, another can step in to salvage the timeshare deal by playing the “good cop” role. Some even go as far as “pitting the couple against each other” to close timeshare deals. In his book, Pons says that nearly any type of emotional advantage is considered. 

He even confirmed the false promises we frequently mention in our articles. Claiming that the interval will pay for itself or that resale and rental opportunities are advantageous are flat out lies. But if they have to lie, then they should lie – right? After years of involvement, Pons realized this type of career just wasn’t for him.

How Does This Book Help Consumers, in General?

Although Rick feels terrible about his involvement, he now sees his mistake as an opportunity to spread awareness. He believes the industry’s reputation has gotten so bad that salespeople don’t even sell them as timeshares anymore. “All inclusive, vacation and fractional ownership clubs” are often used to mask perception. Because of this, he urges aspiring travelers to use caution if they find themselves intrigued.

At this point, he just wants consumers to know how they’re being persuaded so they can make a wise purchase decision. “Timeshares sell dreams, the dream of a perfect family vacation and in most cases they do it when the families are in relaxation mode, when people are on a vacation and their defenses are down,” he said. So buyer beware.

How Should Timeshare Companies Invest Their Earnings?

How Should Timeshare Companies Invest Their Earnings?

If you read last week’s blog about the siege of the cancellation industry, then you should know that timeshare companies aren’t exactly strapped for cash. But for whatever reason, they continue to milk owners of hard earned money in order to fund foolish distractions. Every year tens of millions of dollars are poured into defamation attempts, misguided lawsuits, marketing tactics and commissioned sales teams. All of which only benefit the resort. This fact should cause most people to wonder why capital isn’t being used to eliminate buyer complaints. Instead of deflecting reality, why don’t timeshare companies invest their earnings in customer satisfaction and an improved product? 

Well, that’s a good question. It’s also one that we aren’t going to be able to completely explain because it doesn’t make sense to us either. Truth be told, the answer requires a lot of dot connecting – that involves shadow partners with hidden agendas. At the same time, practical reasoning lies in power and money. When you’re able to control the marketplace with prominent government figures, businesses and investors at your back, greed tends to steer the ship. Before the timeshare market dries up completely, those involved want to make sure they’re able to collect every last drop of potential profits.

If It Continues To Break, They’ll Have to Fix It.

Still, you’d think that the repercussions of some of their actions would change their tune. A number of class action lawsuits have required settlement payouts. Sales law fractions have definitely been costly – to reputations and bank accounts. The cost of refute, deflect and overcome cancellations with new sales strategies has got to be exhausting. But apparently, they believe this is what’s best for them. So, we’ll let it be. 

In the meantime, we thought it would be fun to speculate a little. If timeshare companies invest their earnings in the customer experience, this is what it would probably look like.

woman-semi-smiling-sitting-in-coffee-shop-with-voc-mug-thinking-about-better-timeshare-experience

If Timeshare Companies Spent Money Properly…

When it comes to taking care of customers, especially those that single-handedly keep you in business, you’ll probably want to begin rewarding them in some sort of way. Loyalty should be a priority in this industry because new travel options come about rather frequently. As we go through these concepts, you’ll see that the next order of importance should be to repair the overall experience. From initial advertisements to first time complaints, the industry as a whole has got a lot of improving to do. Otherwise the desire to get out of timeshare contracts will presume.

1. STOP LIMITING PRIME INVENTORY.

At most timeshare resorts, some of the best condos are held for higher paying retail customers or corporate partnerships. The next tier of units then tends to be reserved for third party retailers for less than vacation owners pay in annual dues. This inevitably limits their most loyal customers while they’re stuck in a perpetual agreement. 

Some would say it creates quite an unnecessary stir. Why not just give timeshare owners the choices they were promised? Moreover, they need to stop selling intervals to lower income families and lying to them about the cost. Find people that are willing to pay more and eliminate the need to book through third parties.

2. STOP OVERSELLING THE PRODUCT.

For a while now, it’s been known that timeshare companies invest their earnings in selling point programs to new users. This inevitably overpopulates usability and diminishes the resale value. Think about it. Any business that has a greater demand than supply profits tremendously. The difference with timeshares is, there is an excess of supply in the resale market and no demand.

man-in-bright-orange-vacation-style-shirt-thumbing-down-travel-package-with-no-return

When products, services or memberships are in scarce supply, the demand goes up. This not only results in an upheld value but also an increase in value. This is true even when depreciation is expected. Since this is rather confusing, allow us to present you with an example. 

Most new automobiles depreciate about $5k-$7k as soon as you drive them off the lot. However, if you purchased a GT Shelby 500 back in 1969 and kept it in mint condition, you’d profit tremendously by selling it today. This is because there was a limited number of these cars produced, or limited supply. If production of this model overpopulated the auto market, the 500 would have naturally depreciated. Barrett Jackson (a premier car auction in Scottsdale, AZ) recently sold a GT Shelby 500 for $165,000. 

HOW IT WORKS.

The demand in the timeshare realm has to do more with availability, and it is being grossly oversold. Timeshare companies are selling what appears to be an infinite amount of points or “flexible” interest and the actual desired availability is limited or non-existent. This is where the popular response “it’s not available, try again next year” was conceived. A lack of availability devalues the resale value which wipes out any demand, destroys the resale market and allows timeshares to remain in control. 

Overselling flex or floating weeks and point memberships ensures they’re able to keep everything booked at maximum prices while timeshare owners consistently foot the bill. If they can make additional revenue by competing on the retail market at the expense of their owners, they will. Since owners are locked into perpetual agreements, detrimental repercussions loom if they choose to breach their contract. 

They understand their owners will pay like clockwork. Customer satisfaction is not a factor in the resort’s bottom line. It’s why timeshare companies invest their earnings in themselves. If they’d stop overselling products and start delivering quality programs and inventory, then it’ll provide hope for the resale market. Until then, it remains bleak at best.

business-man-standing-at-balcony-of-huge-resort-alone-looking-off-in-distance-wondering-how-he-can-make-more-money

3. INVEST IN CUSTOMER SERVICE.

One of the biggest opportunities for timeshare resorts is finally making the transition from a sales operation to a customer service one. Improving the way they care for current owners would drastically improve retention and the industry’s reputation. Today, customer service teams are nothing more than incentivised salesmen. Instead of looking to service the vacation owner, they’re eager to close another deal.

In case you weren’t aware, sales reps are paid anywhere from $150K-$200K to simply sign people up at the initial presentation. When you take time to understand how their handsome commission structure works, you’ll clearly see why they’re so willing to lie to your face. Many of the vendors that run these seminars operate by their own rules in order to get paid. Building rapport and getting your signature is all they’re after. 

The entirety of this process is extremely costly and customer service is nowhere to be found. Paying incentivised sales teams instead of quality problem-solvers doesn’t exactly set their customers up for a positive experience. Eliminating these tactics and focusing on hiring people with experience and integrity can help the industry turn things around. Serving the customer would bode well, nonetheless.

person-on-desolate-beach-no-waves-in-winter-jacket-attire-having-terrible-vacation-alone-thank-to-timeshare-spending-habits

4. ELIMINATE SALES PRESENTATIONS.

Aside from disclosure, there is a ton of opportunity to improve on the front end. If timeshare companies invest their earnings in an automated process to pitch the experience – in an ethical manner – then they could save millions of dollars. While this requires a total pivot regarding operations, it could provide a lifeline for owners regarding a reemerging resale market. Instead of profiting by converting angry buyers (that were sold on over promised details), they could profit off of satisfied owners willing to pay for actual conveniences and heightened travel experiences. 

In reality, these events involve a number of other costs that aren’t necessary to grow the business. Travel arrangements, marketing gimmicks and other expenses add up! But timeshare companies don’t have to pay for this. If they weren’t so focused on the hard-pressed sale while focusing more on transparency and creating a desirable product, then acquiring new customers wouldn’t be as difficult as it is today. Most importantly, it will stop feeding the scumbags that act out of greed.

5. REBUILD EMPLOYEE TRAINING.

Taking better care of timeshare owners and improving the sales process is key. But implementing change is imperative in order to sustain. This is why we believe the next step would be to start building a foundation of quality talent that turns timeshare travel into a premier experience. Now that we’ve helped the timeshare industry (in this exercise) save capital by eliminating wasteful approaches, they’ll have the capability to pull this off. But it’s going to take some time and a consistent effort.

Removing all the bad seeds and inserting good ones would give timeshare companies a chance to start creating quality training programs and a work culture that people are proud of. Oftentimes, former timeshare employees are the masterminds behind industry scams and fraud. Sadly, they’ve been trained on deception by the timeshare itself. If timeshare companies ever want to diminish the desire to cancel vacation ownership, then they have to clean house and implement better processes and policies.

boss-lady-in-glassess-firing-employee-pointing-to-the-door-not-hearing-excuses-for-misconduct

Better Spending Would Turn Timesharing Around.

When timeshare companies invest their earnings in realistic solutions, a positive change will subside. If customer service becomes a priority and beneficial contracts are offered instead of onerous agreements, then there is hope for timeshare travel. At this point, it’s safe to say most aren’t too thrilled about oppressing contracts that collect beyond the grave. Especially when they know where timeshare companies invest their earnings.

Pursuing indefinite restitution for timeshare buyers and pleading with timeshare companies to alter their strategies should tell you all you need to know about VOC. Although our clientele consists of disgruntled owners, we pivoted out of a competitive industry to make a difference for those in need. At the end of the day, we’d like to improve the timeshare industry as a whole. It has caused a lot of problems for a long time now. If we’re able to help travelers enjoy vacationing without the fear of hidden inconveniences, then the battle has been won. 

There is no hidden agenda at our cancellation company. Our attorney based process is proven and each of our clients have exited our program fully satisfied. While we too long for the day of happy vacation owners, we also understand we have a long way to go before that becomes a reality. In the meantime, any of our consultants would be glad to go over all of your options with you. 

Truth be told, sometimes contract termination isn’t the best solution.

Highlands Resorts, Another Christie Lodge Vendor, Sued for Sales Deception.

Highlands Resorts, Another Christie Lodge Vendor, Sued for Sales Deception.

Last summer we interviewed a couple that claimed to have been misled in 2018 after attending a free breakfast while using their timeshare week at Christie Lodge. They found themselves on the hook for additional payments, missing guarantees and upgrades they couldn’t use. Although this particular case of misconduct involved Wyndham, it’s not the first time Christie Lodge has been tied to ambiguous sales practices. Dating back to 2013, the Highlands Resorts in downtown Avon, Colorado used similar high-pressure tactics that limited disclosure in order to persuade consumers.

For two and a half years, the marketing company lured nearly 3,000 consumers to different Christie Lodge resorts across the country for timeshare presentations. The bait consistently included a number of bogus travel discounts and free gifts – similar to Gary and Drue’s complaint. Lisa Siegert, Christie Lodge general manager, stated that Highlands Resorts sold around 1,300 timeshares for Christie Lodge. Unfortunately, according to the complaint filed by the CO AG these may have been under false pretenses over that time period. Once buyers realized they weren’t going to receive what they were promised, a deceptive trade practices lawsuit was filed in Denver County Court

After reviewing buyer’s claims, the state of Colorado determined that Highlands Resorts and Todd Herrick (the owner, residing in tourist-happy Telluride, CO), “Intentionally deceived, misled and financially injured consumers.” But the purported deceitful operation didn’t act alone. The lawsuit states that Highlands Resorts paid third party telemarketers (that weren’t legally registered) to dishonestly undercut law-abiding competitors. Because of this, the state also decided to sue Greg Penrod (key salesman) and the vendors he was working with. 

Understanding the Timeshare Sales Ploy.

Shortly after being hired, the complaint states that third party sales teams started mailing out random postcards and cold-calling Colorado residents. When those that were solicited took interest, they were told they could claim free vouchers and travel packages by attending sales presentations. These were hosted at select Christie Lodge resorts and managed by Highlands Resorts. These seminars were said to be 90 minutes long and well-worth the return. Little did they know, the harmless exchange would turn into a pressure-filled environment that didn’t give them much choice but to give in. 

The longer that each attendee stayed at the presentation, the harder it was for them to say, “No.” The closer they got to walking away, the more aggressive and enticing the sales pitches became. It would be hard for anyone to decline a $1900 luxury vacation package for 90 minutes of their time. According to the lawsuit, potential buyers were offered vouchers for “free” cruises and airline tickets. Even though these gifts were for limited dates in predestined locations, the complimentary perks, discounts and cash deposits (towards travel expenses) seemed too good to pass up.

Those that remained skeptical were offered further cost reductions and perks for making the purchase that day. Highlands Resorts purportedly told them that if they didn’t buy right away, the same deal would increase to $25K. This really put the pressure on consumers. It’s no wonder why the sales company was able to close so many attendees.

The Demise of Highlands Resorts Was Inevitable.

After investigation, the state of Colorado found that the “same day” offers never actually expired. They also stated that Highlands Resorts feared that if a consumer left the sales presentation without making a purchase, they would never return. Wow, what a strategy. Today, victims now see that the offered “discounts” were actually a ruse that caused them to second guess their initial concern. In the end, the lawsuit states that they paid an average of $7000 for the timeshare package at Christie Lodge. 

According to the original complaint, Highlands Resorts at Christie Lodge, LLC shut down their Colorado operation in December of 2015. This occurred about ten months after the investigation began by the Colorado AG.

By using our site you agree to the following Terms of Service.