Destination Timeshare Wedding Asks Guests to Pay For Cancun Trip.

Over the past year or so, our news articles have shown that a majority of timeshare companies and third party relief agencies will do or say anything to close the deal. For the most part, every transaction flows from the initial sale. Whether timeshare owners are spending more money to make the purchase worth it or escape perpetuity, the result rarely plays out the way they expected. Since many buyers never truly enjoy the experience, you’d think timeshare developers would improve their product. But they don’t – and a recent Reddit post about a destination timeshare wedding could be telling us how they’re deceivingly adapting to sell more weekly intervals.

What Is Reddit and How is it Used?

Reddit is a fairly new platform that aggregates a number of topics, posted by its users, and ranks them based on popularity. Unlike other social platforms, where trends and news is dictated to users, Reddit highlights what people really want to read. Like most user generated platforms and chat rooms, timeshares are a hot topic. While bias remarks and inaccuracy is a concern, the platform does provide a lot of insight and information on the timeshare experience. Based on a post earlier this month, it seems like the lure of a destination timeshare wedding is being used to fill sales presentations for a resort in Cancun.

The Details of the Destination Timeshare Wedding.

After finding herself concerned with a wedding invite that her boyfriend wanted to turn into a vacation, Katie turned to a friend for advice. Upon hearing the details of the trip, the friend agreed that her hesitation was valid. Aside from expecting their guests to pay for airfare and lodging, the couple getting married told invitees they’d have to attend a timeshare presentation in order to come. After agreeing the concept was pretty “tacky,” Katie allowed her friend to create a Reddit post to justify their initial gut feelings.

At first, Katie’s indecisiveness had more to do with her personal finances and the cost of the trip. She also wasn’t too happy about taking time off of work to attend a Monday wedding on 4/20 (AKA “weed day”). Her friend even informed her that people normally receive something free for attending a timeshare presentation. It was obvious she knew nothing about this method of travel because she was seriously considering going for her boyfriend’s sake. But once online users started commenting on the post, her perspective more than likely changed drastically.

Online Feedback Sheds Light on Some Truth.

One user chimed in by saying, “I refuse to sit through a timeshare even when they offer free rooms and dinners etc. I am not going to sit through one to attend a wedding when I get nothing out of it.” Some proposed ideas on how to manage the situation. “Tell your friend to encourage her boyfriend to go by himself.” Another wrote, “[I] might consider staying somewhere else (probably cheaper and no presentation – which by the way drag on forever, are incredibly boring and use high-pressure sales tactics).” Others simply “want an update after the wedding.” I think we all will want to see how this plays out. It’s a fairly unique situation.

WHAT TO MAKE OF THIS SITUATION?

While an opportunity like this may be tempting, Katie’s friend gave her solid advice. “I told her I’d put my foot down and not go because that’s absurd to ask of your guests.” It almost seems as though the bride and groom are setting themselves up for a free vacation or some sort of reward by organizing a mass presentation. When you think about it, there’s a good chance that some of the guests attending their destination timeshare wedding will sign up for a weekly interval

Since the ceremony has yet to happen, it’s hard to tell what the plot is here. But it’s safe to say that selling timeshare units is the focal point. Hopefully, Katie goes with her gut on this. The longer she allows people to influence her, the harder it’ll be to say no. The last thing you’d want to be is vulnerable during an aggressive sales pitch that other guests are buying into.

Is This The Future of Timeshare Sales?

If timeshare companies are now rewarding their owners for signing up friends and family, things could get a little hairy. Not only does this add an extra layer of protection for them when it comes to contractual disagreements, but it’s another way for them to point the blame. If you’ve been invited to a timeshare presentation, do yourself a favor and research what it entails. Knowing what you’re getting yourself into beforehand can save you an awful lot of regret in the long run.

Timeshare Exit Team Gives Client a Refund After a News Story in St. Charles, MO.

Timeshare Exit Team Gives Client a Refund After a News Story in St. Charles, MO.

Like many vacation owners, Ron Russelburg eventually grew tired of his timeshare contract. Once his kids were all grown up and the family was somewhat dispersed, he didn’t have much of a need for the travel package anymore. After looking for an affordable way to offload the timeshare, Russelburg determined selling his weekly interval at the Calypso Cay Resort in Orlando, Florida was the best solution. This is a fairly common decision that’s often misunderstood. But once he came across an advertisement for the Timeshare Exit Team, he was ready to take action.

In an interview with KMOV4 in St. Louis, Ron explained how Timeshare Exit Team’s guarantees really convinced him that selling his property was a good idea. Although the relief market is quite muddy, he acknowledged that confidence in a beneficial outcome really encouraged him to go forward with the sale. This was in October of 2017.

Guarantees Encourage Timeshare Owners to Pay.

After discussing the process with the well-known, reputable cancellation firm, Ron said he felt good about proceeding with the transaction. According to Russelburg, the salesman insisted that Timeshare Exit Team would find a buyer within 180 days. But he was first advised to work with the company to eliminate his annual maintenance fees. So he agreed to pay a few thousand dollars in upfront fees to get the ball rolling. 

By February of 2020, Russelburg’s frustration with the effectiveness of the sale reached its tipping point. Aside from the guarantees to remove maintenance fees, 27 months had passed without any scent of a sale. So he contacted his local news channel for help. His main cause for concern was the reluctance of Timeshare Exit Team to follow through with their promises. “It was their guarantee that if it didn’t work out we could get our money back. It would be no harm no foul,” he said.

Why Would Timeshare Exit Team Do This?

When the Missouri journalist asked him why he’s yet to receive a refund, Ron replied by saying, “That’s a good question.” Thousands of vacation owners are not only trapped in their timeshare contracts, but left without answers by relief agencies. Sadly, many of these “guaranteed” services are scams. What makes this story interesting is that Timeshare Exit Team has had some success helping consumers get out of timeshare contracts in the past. 

At the same time, convincing someone that you can help them sell a timeshare, then charging them to cancel annual fees seems a little odd. Once the interval of transferred to another owner, the original buyer shouldn’t have to worry about annual responsibilities. Nonetheless, Russelburg was out over $4k with no resolve.

When the St. Louis news station reached out to the Timeshare Exit Team for answers, a refund was initiated within a few days. This is encouraging because it shows that the company isn’t willing to inconvenience a customer in order to make a few thousand dollars. At the same time, it’s fair to wonder if a refund would have transpired had Mr. Russelburg not gone to the media for assistance.

Timeshare Exit Team’s Refund Statement.

Due to the negative attention caused by the public media, Timeshare Exit Team released the following statement: “Since 2011, [we have] successfully helped more than 20,000 consumers find a path out of their timeshares. Most of these people were unhappy with their timeshare purchase and faced numerous traps, loopholes and maintenance/other fees. Unfortunately, there was some confusion by this customer regarding the time frame detailed in our contract and a separate agreement that one of our third-party vendors had made with her. 

Timeshare Exit Team has never had a 180-day guarantee and we’re very sorry for any frustrations this may have caused. We have clarified this and she has relayed that she understands [our] time frame. We completely understood their frustration at this process, made unnecessarily complicated due to the hurdles that developers put up to keep people stuck in their timeshare, and have reached out to make it right. We offered to find another exit option for them, which they declined, so we are providing them with a full refund.”

Truth be told, Ron paid for a straightforward service and a very specific outcome. Whether Timeshare Exit Team made guarantees or not, we can’t miss the big picture here. Resale just can’t be viewed as a realistic option to get rid of a timeshare. Participating In this type of relief can ruin a company’s reputation fast if they’re not careful.

Another Conspirator Sentenced for Orlando, Florida Timeshare Resale Con.

Another Conspirator Sentenced for Orlando, Florida Timeshare Resale Con.

Last summer, we covered a large scale scam where Daniel “Wolf” Boyer paid dozens of co-conspirators to sell fraudulent timeshare resale services to vulnerable owners. While a majority have already pleaded guilty, the investigation presumes. Paul Michael Marciniak is the second primary co-conspirator to receive his sentence. After the group of greedy entrepreneurs he joined fleeced more than a thousand fractional owners for over $3.3 million, you can’t blame consumer protection agencies for doing their due diligence to ensure justice is served. The well-known Florida timeshare resale con is rounding out to be quite the ploy.

How Did the Con Men Pull it Off?

Boyer, Marciniak and their team of con artists solicited timeshare owners with offers to sell their timeshare and remove the financial burden for nearly 2 years. The telemarketing scheme used personal data illegally to contact their victims and aggressively pressured them to quickly hand over thousands of dollars before the interested buyers found another property. 

The problem was, there was never a potential buyer – or any opportunity to sell for that matter. This has come to be known as “the buyer’s pitch.” Everything about the sale funneled towards a limited opportunity that never developed. While this allowed them to bamboozle a lot of people, it didn’t take long for consumers to catch on.

What Eventually Gave the Con Away?

 When assessing timeshare exit companies, it’s always best to initially examine public business information. With scams, you’ll often find noticeable inconsistencies, mirages and even duplicate information. That’s right, some people actually use the names of legitimate businesses to operate the fraud. Some end up using multiple aliases as a way to continue defrauding consumers. While a Florida timeshare resale con like this may seem valid at first glance, a little bit of research can go a long way. Unfortunately, tons of people didn’t catch this glitch.

Boyer and Marciniak’s operation was ironically listed under a number of business aliases that include: First Capital Financial Services Corp, Beneficial Business Solutions, Holiday Advertising, Vacation Funding Partners LP, Great West Funding and Property, People, Travel. In order to use these company names, accomplices scoured the internet for inactive businesses that were once licensed to operate in different states. 

This allowed them to purchase and promote the entities as their own, across the entire country. By using old company information and reviews, they were able to build trust with unhappy timeshare owners. They even went as far as buying local phone numbers so those they solicited wouldn’t be caught off guard. 

While it may have seemed like Boyer and Marciniak had sustained businesses nationwide, they were actually running a ghost scheme from their headquarters in Orlando, Florida. The Florida timeshare resale con was even renting interim office spaces and using false identities to carry out the misconduct. But the paper trail eventually caught up to them in the long run.

Marciniak Pleads Guilty, Joins 17 Others in Prison.

So far, 20 people have been charged for pleading guilty to mail and wire fraud. Paul Michael Marciniak, who has now been deemed as one of the main suspects, will spend 5 years and 10 months in federal prison for his selfish decisions. Aside from handing over $3.37 million as a restitution payment to the victimized timeshare owners, he’ll also receive 3 years of supervised release. Now that Paul’s involvement has officially earned him jail time, only three co-conspirators are waiting for their sentence.

The Acadia Village Resort is Leasing Back Timeshare Intervals From the City of Ellsworth.

The Acadia Village Resort is Leasing Back Timeshare Intervals From the City of Ellsworth.

When vacation owners walk away from resort obligations or legally cancel the contract altogether, most don’t realize the impact it has on the city in which the interval is hosted. A number of towns across our country have suffered from the inadequacies of timeshare travel. In recent years, the Acadia Village Resort, a once coveted property that’s located just south of Graham Lake in Maine, has not only struggled to retain timeshare owners, but attract them as well. This has caused the city of Ellsworth to seriously consider chasing timeshare companies out of town. 

Timeshares Can Make or Break the Economy in Small Towns.

But before explaining their reasoning or what’s been proposed, we have to understand how bad business by timeshare companies can handicap an economy. When it comes to The Acadia Village’s timeshare structure, each week (interval) that’s sold for every condo is considered its own individual property. Since the resort was constructed with 39 timeshare units, that means there are over 2,000 available weekly intervals. Each of which comes with their own tax bills and deeds. When these aren’t filled or being fulfilled, municipalities are left with years of unpaid taxes. 

In Ellsworth, city officials have been facing hundreds of foreclosures after acting as realtors just to acquire the abandoned, dwindling timeshare units. They’re tired of cleaning up the mess and simply want to revitalize tourism in the area by providing travelers with quality lodging that makes sense. “We own upwards of 300 timeshare units,” said City Manager David Cole. “This is not our business to be in. We’ve found ourselves marketing them on the city website and the scroll. We’re trying to figure out ways to move these units. The primary objective is getting them back on the tax rolls.” Now that they have a little leverage in the situation, the city is contemplating what to do with it.

The Community Wants to Get it Right.

In their most recent meeting, the city’s councilors listened to a number of testimonies by some of the resort’s owners and staff. Here, they confirmed they can’t hold dissatisfied timeshare owners responsible when they feel as though they’ve been scammed. So, they wanted to figure out how everyone could win. Even though the city of Ellsworth could have easily implemented an ordinance that held the timeshare company liable for the tax burden, they unanimously approved a plan to lease the foreclosed units back to Acadia Village in exchange for an agreed share of profits. 

While the community thinks the Resort is holding the town back, they believe Acadia Village can help them get tourists back so the bustling economy returns. “You’d still be engaging in the foreclosure process; the management of the units, however, would still be transferred over to Acadia Village,” says John Hamer, the attorney representing Ellsworth. 

He continued, “If one of the units were to be sublet, Acadia Village would keep 25 percent of the proceeds while the rest would be remitted to the city. That split would be “50/50 in the case of a sale,” he said. “This would be a long-term type of lease to see whether Acadia Village is able to do better marketing, perhaps, than the city. It’s the marketing effort that’s most important to the city.” Since city officials aren’t equipped to successfully market the weekly intervals, they’re counting on the timeshare resort to step up their game.

“If they’re able to collect enough taxes, enough money to cover all the taxes, then everyone’s happy, the taxes are paid,” said Hamer. “Unfortunately, if there’s a case where they’re not able to collect the total amount of taxes due for all the timeshare units, the managing entity would be required to make up the difference.” We’ll keep you posted on how it all plays out. But if history continues to repeat itself, the city of Ellsworth could be in a worse position than when they started. Sounds an awful lot like most fractional owners.

4 Timeshare Lies That Resorts Commonly Tell Potential Buyers.

4 Timeshare Lies That Resorts Commonly Tell Potential Buyers.

For those that have bought a timeshare, the ownership experience can carry quite the mixed bag of emotions. People either enjoy it or they regret the decision. Truth be told, it all starts with the sales presentation. When buyers are fully aware of all the purchase entails, it makes it easier to find contentment. But when they’re sold on false hopes, then higher costs and minimal availability, regret tends to be the result. When a salesman from the timeshare lies about the reality of the product while leaving out pertinent information about the contract, buyers feel rather forsaken to say the least.

When you think about it, buying a timeshare is no different than any other large purchase. An informed decision that matches expectations will be a satisfactory one. An expensive, impulse decision that was too good to be true would leave a bad taste in anyone’s mouth. While it’s never a good idea to make an uninformed purchase of this magnitude (interest, fees and mortgage usually exceeds $40K), it’s hard to fault the consumer when the timeshare lies.

Misleading Consumers is Extremely Damaging.

When a retailer has the ability to lock uneducated buyers into perpetual (lifetime) agreements, a higher level of responsibility needs to be expected. If the travel opportunity is so great, then selling people on the concept shouldn’t be difficult. You shouldn’t need to lie or hide details in order to close a deal. Some people have no business owning a weekly timeshare interval. The simple fact that consumers are pressured into buying something they’re not even seeking out – for a misleading price – is downright criminal.

One unexpected expense can easily push most people over their budget and into financial hardship. So in order to help them avoid haste, we thought it was a good idea to break down four ways timeshare companies convince potential customers with lies. If you’re not aware of the strategy behind this, you could be easily swayed into a disastrous situation. No matter what the resort tells you, the signed contract terms are the only thing they’re legally bound to. Broken promises happen frequently here and if you’re unaware of common timeshare lies, misconduct is extremely difficult to prove.

aging man with beard looking borderline angry after finding out news about potential lie

Why Lies About Timeshare Travel are Common.

Timeshare sales teams know that once the rescission period (a trial period that lasts 5-7 days in most states) is over, new owners are officially bound to whatever they signed that was in writing. Any undocumented guarantees, hypothetical scenarios or suggested possibilities cease to exist. This gives customer service teams a chance to position up-sales as solutions. When the timeshare salesperson lies and the owner can’t prove it, they’re often forced to spend more money just to make the purchase worth it

When they can’t use the property the way they envisioned, many find themselves at the mercy of the resort. It’s hard for them to say “No” even when they don’t have the money because thousands of dollars are already going to waste. Pride and hope often gets in the way here. So, preventing a bad decision starts with asking the right questions. Once you know how and why the salesman of a timeshare lies to you, it’ll be easier for you to identify deceit, confidently say “no” and walk away. Hopefully this article equips you to act accordingly.

Lie #1: Cheap Travel Options Are Available.

When it comes to assessing the sales strategies in the timeshare marketplace, the ideal target audience is pretty clear. Resorts usually crave to speak to those who rarely even think about traveling or lavish vacations. These groups of people tend to be 35 and older with an average annual income of $50K. Most of which aren’t privy to the history of timeshare travel and don’t have a lot of extra funds laying around for a nice family vacation every year. 

So why do they target people with limited funds and zero travel aspirations? Because the timeshare lies about the product being an affordable, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that isn’t actually out of reach. They know how to make it seem like it’s a deal not worth passing up by leaving out potential limitations, costs and fees. But first, they have to gain their victim’s trust by showing them a smashing good time.

senior citizens jumping up in the air on rocks by seashore vacation front lured by timeshare lies throwing hat in air

Creating Appeal Before the Deal

Every year, timeshare companies advertise free gifts in order to lure hundreds of thousands of ideal customers to their destination resorts. The only thing they require is that each guest attends (or endures) a “brief” timeshare presentation. Wining and dining consumers that rarely experience a pampered lifestyle creates an uncommon sense of euphoria. 

This opens a consumer’s mind to possibilities. It’s like getting your spouse drunk to elicit a reaction that benefits you. By the time attendees are told an affordable getaway is at their fingertips, the excitement of the new experience blinds them from their intuition. In the midst of bliss, escaping for a week all of a sudden becomes appealing.

Undisclosed Dollar Amounts.

In reality, buying a timeshare is rarely what it seems. Far too many people end up finding this out the hard way. During the sale, specific number amounts are normally highlighted or pointed out in order to mislead the buyer. What tends to be left out are annual maintenance fees, potential special assessments, interest and even taxes. What was said to be $359/month all of a sudden becomes $525/month after the first year is all said and done. That’s $6,500 and an unknown liability cost for mediocre accommodations for a week. Does that sound like an affordable travel alternative to you? Since maintenance fees rise every year and special assessments are spontaneous, there’s no telling how much the overall cost will be. 

When the purchase sends a buyer into financial hardship, additional costs and penalties can devastate their livelihood. Something that was sold as a way to bring the family closer together can end up tearing them apart. Even if the timeshare lies and claims the total cost won’t exceed $19K, most vacation owners end up paying close to $41K by the time they’re repayment term ends. This is assuming all payments were made on time. It also doesn’t consider the simple fact buyers are on the hook for maintenance and assessment costs for life. So, the true “all in cost” (at maturity) is closer to $56K.

Timeshare Lies Prove to be Costly.

When it’s all said and done, forking over six figures for an annual trip isn’t unrealistic. Even for a median income household. This is crazy to think when far cheaper options are available. If buyers knew the cost would play out this way, it’s safe to say most would have walked away. But since they were told they could afford it and lied to about the financial commitment, many are forced to adapt to a financially handicapped situation. All for the sake of a few thousand dollars in commissions paid to a sales representative with no conscience.

pointing fingers like guns sales teams for timeshare companies confidently lie about sales packages to consumers

Lie #2: Timeshares Are Investment Opportunities.

Since we’ve discussed this a number of times in other articles, we’re going to keep this short and to the point. A timeshare is not an asset, it’s a liability. Think of it like leasing a car. You can’t resell the vehicle and it’s only costing you money to use it. There isn’t much that’s advantageous about it from an investor’s standpoint. The fact of the matter is, timeshares hold zero resale value – now and in the foreseeable future. If anything, they’re depreciating faster than ever before due to improved travel options and other advancements that the timeshare industry is failing to adapt to.

Buying a vacation interval isn’t even comparable to the purchase of a new car that depreciates when you drive it off the lot. It never carries any value. The market is so dense and competitive that it’s nearly impossible to ever even get in front of someone looking to rent or buy one. So when the timeshare lies and mentions resale or rental as a fallback or investment option, don’t believe it. A weekly interval should never be mistaken for a business opportunity.

Supplemental Pipe Dreams.

The resort wants you to believe that the more you buy the more you’ll be able to make. The low risk, high reward sales pitch works when people think they can earn supplemental income while vacationing for free. Especially those with limited incomes and not a lot of spare change. It’s extremely appealing to them and often used to combat their initial remorse. But a mediocre interval during a limited week will never be able to compete with timeshare marketing strategies or premium vacation homes that are visibly listed on AirBnB or similar.

depressed-middle-aged-woman-sitting-on-couch-alone-in-dark-space-wondering-if-shell-ever-be-able-to-sell-her-timeshare

Lie #3: Booking Priority and Convenient Availability.

One of the biggest lies timeshare companies tell involves availability. Nearly every day, we talk to someone that was told a specific week or destination was going to be available and it wasn’t. It’s just another way sales teams use verbal affirmations to get people to sign the dotted line. Buyers that are on the fence about the purchase usually want certain guarantees before agreeing to the deal. When they’re able to lock in a date that the entire family would appreciate, the pot becomes too sweet to pass up.

But the Actual Deal is Usually Sour.

In reality, first dibs for bookings almost always go to third party online travel retailers like Expedia and Priceline. Although new owners may have been led to believe they had priority booking, it’s highly unlikely. You’d have to make a substantial investment to guarantee a specific date – at which point you are drastically overpaying for something you can reserve through one of the aforementioned third parties. Resorts profit far more from retail travelers during peak seasons. They’re not going to hand over these dates to clients that are already obligated to pay.

If the buyer doesn’t figure this out within the first week, the trial period will end and they’ll be stuck with limited dates and destinations for good. Misleading statements and guarantees about availability can really put a damper on the entire experience for the consumer. Especially when the scheduling department for the timeshare lies further by claiming another vacation owner booked the week first. Ironically, this sets the resort up nicely to pitch an upgrade for the desired dates.

interesting-middle-aged-woman-with-white-husband-speaking-to-sales-staff-about-potential-timeshare-relief-options

Lie #4: “Beneficial Interests” Add to the Family Legacy.

If you stay at a timeshare presentation long enough, sales teams know how to start tugging on your heart strings. After a few hours they start trying to make attendees feel as though they’re letting loved ones down by passing up an amazing opportunity they may never come across again. Whether they’re referring to children, extended family members or a close group of friends; the timeshare company knows how to pull information out of you and use it against you.

A Legacy Pitch is a Red Flag.

Telling a proud father that his kids deserve an annual trip is a good way to chip away at the sale. One of the more famous ways they go about doing this is what’s called a “legacy pitch.” This leads potential buyers to believe they’ll be able to leave their kids a piece of vacation property (otherwise known as “beneficial interest”) for future use once they pass away. This tends to be pretty convincing for aging couples nearing the end of their lives.

Unfortunately, it’s just another way the timeshare lies about the actualities of the bargain. While the offer is normally sold as a points program through a trust, in most cases, the contract language states the owner doesn’t actually own anything at all. The trust owned by the timeshare does. However, the owner is on the hook for the mortgage, maintenance and assessment fees. What ends up happening is, the children of the deceased buyer end up absorbing the burden down the road and the resort begins requesting liability payments from them.

younger-blonde-woman-on-phone-by-computer-and-bills-arguing-liability-of-timeshare-after-parents-passed-away

Avoid the Lies and Focus on the Facts.

At the end of the day, the only reason a timeshare should be purchased is for the travel experience. However, participating in minimal research and simple comparisons will show this to be a poor financial decision. While the purchase is sold as an affordable expedition with ideal dates that are too good to pass up – you must understand that you’re paying a premium to vacation this way. Nothing is guaranteed unless it is in writing. If you feel as though your emotions and personal relationships are being used to leverage your decision, it’s always best to walk away.

The truth is, it’s very hard to identify timeshare lies and deception at the point of sale. But when you know what to ask and how to confirm pertinent details, you’ll always be able to make a confident decision. The last thing you should want is to enter a never-ending sales cycle that continues to prey on your desperation with false hopes. If you’re stuck in an unfavorable agreement, we’d love to help you exhaust your options with the resort before helping you find a favorable outcome. We provide free consultations that explain how to get out of a timeshare or you can begin the qualification process below.

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