Today, the arena of timeshare relief is vast. This is mainly because travelers have begun to devalue timeshare ownership. But it’s also due to the fact there is now a variety of travel options to choose from. More than ever before, buyers are now looking for ways to get out of timeshare contracts. In turn, this opens the door for predatory entrepreneurs to make some fast cash. Over the past few months, we’ve covered a lot of stories that point out the level of deceit within the industry. Although some cancellation companies actually provide ethical solutions, many are fueled by greed and look to con desperate consumers. Sometimes, a timeshare exit lawyer is even tempted to go after a piece of the pie for themselves.
This was the case when the founder of Castle Law Group decided to foster his own timeshare relief program. After illegally obtaining the information of fractional owners across the country, attorney Judson Wheeler Phillips reached out to a number of current owners, claiming he had the know-how to cancel timeshare agreements. But he wasn’t exactly interested in providing them with a solution.
How the Timeshare Cancellation Lawyer Received Disbarment.
After processing 93 federal lawsuits and consumer fraud complaints against the so-called timeshare exit lawyer, the Supreme Court of Tennessee found that Phillips was actually fueling a handful of cancellation scams. He compiled user data by making financial arrangements with other companies that failed to persuade timeshare owners with their schemes. Phillips then teamed up with marketing companies to target his victims. Working with a legal office more than likely appealed to his co-conspirators. This most certainly improved their chances.
Under Castle Law Group, Phillips would charge victims an up front fee for his services. This amount is said to be around $7,500. Once he received the funds, he would split it with others involved – with cuts determined by their involvement. He would then claim to represent his victims by writing a letter to the timeshare company requesting a cease in all communication with his client. Once he collected his dues, his co-conspirators took over the rest.
Legal Representation is Different Than Guaranteed Services
On the surface, the deceit may be obvious. But Phillips’ operation wasn’t the same as most timeshare exit strategies. He was charging clients for his representation. He wasn’t necessarily making any guarantees, rather playing a legal role. This proves how powerful marketing and strategic sales language can be. Owners assumed they were relieved from their timeshare obligation but they were basically paying an amateur timeshare exit lawyer to make a cancellation requests. When their timeshare obligation remained, Phillips claimed he did what he was paid to do.
While Phillips has yet to be required to repay his victims, he has received a disbarment from the Board of Professional Responsibility of the Supreme Court of Tennessee. The way he went about targeting timeshare owners was enough to strip him of his professional license for the time being. The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled that Phillips “poses a threat of substantial harm to the public.” They disbarred him after receiving “18 disciplinary complaints and 91 additional pending disciplinary complaints” from Orange Lake, Westgate, Diamond and Berkley Resorts. The decision said that, “Mr. Phillips consented to disbarment because he could not successfully defend himself on charges alleged in a Petition for Discipline.”
Timeshare Scams, In General, Are a Growing Problem.
Orange Lake Resort’s President and CEO, Tom Nelson believes timeshare exit companies are the problem. He stated, “In most cases, these fraudulent groups charge exorbitant fees and instruct owners to stop payment on their contractual obligations, placing them in additional financial peril.” Although many timeshare companies are the one’s actually creating peril, he does have a point.
While it’s hard to tell if Phillips was really trying to help people, most timeshare scams are a lot more sophisticated than what the timeshare exit lawyer was selling. Not every cancellation service is misleading. At the same time, we can appreciate the efforts Orange Lake is making to slow criminals with bad intentions down. Nelson plans to continue aggressively pursuing “companies and lawyers that prey on consumers,” in order to protect his owners. Although he might hold a little bias towards his Horizon program, we do encourage all of our clients to exhaust all of their options with the resort first and foremost.
Phillips isn’t the only legally inclined professional claiming to be a timeshare exit lawyer. Thousands cater to disgruntled vacation owners looking to get rid of timeshare contracts. When buyers are unable to sell or rent their property, attorneys are usually seen as the next logical decision.
Hiring a Timeshare Exit Lawyer Can Be Misleading.
While most legal teams do provide competent services, many don’t have the knowledge or expertise needed for executing a proper cancellation. Besides, litigation can be quite costly. A majority of consumers can’t begin to compete with the legal teams of major timeshare organizations. Claimants can fall tens of thousands of dollars in debt before realizing they can’t even afford to proceed. Timeshare companies know how to drag out the legal process, forcing timeshare owners to fold or go broke.
Since we’ve spent a lot of time explaining the timeshare system and how deceit runs rampant, we wanted to start taking a more authentic approach. Far too many of our clients have been taken advantage of and we hope their stories can make a difference. Although educational articles give buyers a better perspective on the industry, real-life experiences help them understand how expensive a bad timeshare decision can be. More importantly, for those in the midst of a bad decision, they need to know they’re not alone. So today we wanted to highlight one of our clients stories to explain why they were so eager to cancel Wyndham timeshare expenses shortly after their purchase.
Tens of thousands of timeshare owners across the U.S. experience buyer’s remorse. Most of which believe they’re trapped in their contractual obligation. What some endure throughout their purchase is absolutely devastating. This occurs because far too many owners lack clarity. The same can be said during their pursuit of relief. Incompetent exit services tend to place them in even more debt and disbelief. The decisions made after the purchase is what traps most users. Many feel like they have nowhere to turn because they’re constantly getting burned. It can be a frustrating, hopeless place to be to say the least.
The good news is, some are finding resolve by trusting in our companyfor relief. Our qualification process helps timeshare owners understand we’re on the same team – even when it’s difficult for them to put their faith in anyone else. Not everyone needs to legally cancel their timeshare contract. For some, it’s not even their best option. There might be a way to find a mutually beneficial resolution with the timeshare company. You just have to work with a company that believes in helping you find the best solution. One that’s willing to advocate for your consumer rights, not your money.
Each of our clients extend us a level of trust that we don’t take lightly. Once we confirm your eligibility and you commit to our timeshare cancellation services, we take pride in communicating every step. Not only is it our job to reassure on the front end, but to continuously remind our clients they’ve made a good decision. We can’t blame you for being skeptical or bitter. Providing you with clarity promotes peace of mind until your timeshare obligationis officially no more. In the end, it encourages our clients to share their stories with other owners. We hope that telling their story at least saves someone from similar heartache.
The Naccarato’s Wyndham Timeshare Experience.
In October of last year, Gary and Drue Naccarato were asked to attend an owner’s update meeting when they checked into their resort in the Pocono Mountains. Their Pennsylvania timeshare, through Christie Lodge and RCI, offered them a free breakfast to do so. They didn’t expect it to take very long. But when they arrived, they were surprised to see the meeting was for Wyndham. “We asked what the update was for and the reply was to update on the all the changes within Wyndham, many new hotels and resorts, the purchase of RCI and other business changes. We did not own into Wyndham, but had a timeshare through Christie Lodge and RCI.”
Gary remembers the experience quite vividly. “The presentation turned into a ‘sales’ pitch to get us to purchase a timeshare with Wyndham.” He went on to explain how the breakfast quickly turned into a late lunch. “We were held hostage for over 6 hours and had 3 friends waiting for us back at the Condo. We only had one vehicle and they were not happy when we finally made it back,” Drew recalled. At that point they realized their “vacation day was pretty well gone!”
As the morning went on, they didn’t give into the pressure sale. “We said no to every offer they came up with telling them we were not interested.” But no matter what they said, Wyndham didn’t stop trying. “They would counter with perks and offers, ‘no more exchange fees’ or ‘yearly fees to RCI.” But the Naccarato couple didn’t budge. Things took a turn though as Wyndham’s offers became more appealing.
False Claims Persuade the Couple to Sign a New Contract.
In a letter that Drue and Gary wrote to Wyndham, they repeatedly voiced their concerns with a certain salesman named “Ed Scro.” Later on during the 6 hour presentation, the Nacacarato’s adamantly claim he began waiving expenses. A portion of the letter states, “Ed even wrote these 2 amounts down on a piece of paper and crossed them off to show we would not pay the exchange fees or the RCI membership fee again! I asked at the time how could they offer this and the salesman’s replied ‘because we own RCI.’” When the couple talked to us, we noticed how betrayed they felt by his lies.
“Ed talked about using our points to pay for the maintenance fee monthly, and to use our points for a few nights stay on short trips, and use the rewards points for 1⁄2 off tickets to parks, restaurants, plays, airfare, etc.” We could use cash to get a 3-4 bdrm resort for $319 or $219 for 2 bedroom or $119 for 1 bedroom for a full week!” The letter itself shows how amazing the offer was to them at the time. It’s almost as if they couldn’t pass it up – so they didn’t.
How Gift Incentives Were Nothing More Than a Mirage.
Gary went on to tell us they were promised “a free 2-night stay for attending the presentation,” but the app they needed to redeem the offer wasn’t working. Ed supposedly told them that he would call them the next day to straighten things out. But instead of calling the cell phone numbers they gave him, Ed decided to call their home phone to leave a call-back message. “We were just beginning our vacation and Ed knew that.”
They assumed he took care of it but he didn’t. Even worse, they didn’t realize this until they returned home a month later. “The message Ed left was ‘calling back like I said I would.’” Gary discussed how Ed really tried to play off the mistake. He said he “called again on the home phone 2 days after the presentation to tell us we were given a bonus week by Ron Myers and if we were still in town to stop by and pick it up.” Talk about bad timing, Ed. This is when they began to discuss canceling the Wyndham timeshare altogether.
Drue ended up calling the resort and even stopping by the office to redeem their free offer. But no one seemed to be able to get the app to work. She was even referred to a few supervisors with no prevail. Neither Dulce or Phil ever called her back, which were the personnel with higher authority that they were referred to have their issues rectified. “Needless to say we never got the 2-night stay,” she said. But little did they know, the entire timeshare experience would turn out similarly. In his voicemail, Ed told them a quick start team would be calling to help them set up their first vacation. While they wanted to remain optimistic, they admit they became pretty skeptical at this point.
Actual Costs Didn’t Match the Sales Presentation.
Although a “quick start team” never called, a number of salesman did. Like many new timeshare owners, the Naccaratos didn’t know the cost of their vacation would be significantly higher until they made their first reservation. You can probably imagine how understanding Wyndham was when they heard of Ed’s failed promises. Drue remembers, “some empathized, others made no comment; but [both] still tried to get us to book a vacation.”
After the resort refused to honor her claims, she decided to call Ed back for an explanation. “I questioned him on the fact that he told us we would never pay another exchange fee with RCI, and he said well you would pay it if you booked through them. I told him he never mentioned that in the sales pitch. It was supposed to be a perk that we didn’t have to pay because Wyndham now owns RCI. He didn’t have an answer,” she said.
When Drue brought up the bonus week they couldn’t redeem (because he called their home phone), he told them “he would mail it out.” After a few weeks went by she called again and he said the same. While they awaited answers to multiple questions, Ed continued to buy himself time. This is more than likely to get passed their rescission period and solidify his commission. After the cancellation period is over, the contract becomes final (in most cases). After additional calls for an update, she told us he disconnected his phone. “To this day [the free trip] has never come!”
Trying to Make the Most of Their Wyndham Timeshare.
They recall a Valerie Thomas calling them in December of last year with a great travel deal they wanted to pursue. “We were given several options of places and prices, with a $250 cash back by way of American Express for $150 and a free night stay some other time valued at $100. Some options were to bring friends or family members. I was interested in the Orlando option to take my daughter and her family.”
After setting up most of the reservation, Valerie told Drue everyone traveling would be “required to attend a 2 hour presentation.” Even though the resort told her she could get babysitting services for the kids, Drue decided to opt out altogether. She requested a link to review her options but Valerie told her she’d have to prepay to get it. This frustrated Gary and Drue so they decided to take some more time to take it all in.
A few weeks later, Valerie called Drue back to remind her the deal expired at the end of the year. Solicited sales with time closes rarely ever prove to be fruitful, as will be shown in their experience below. “She wanted me to pick one and I could change to a different option if I wanted to.” After paying $229 on her credit card, she waited days for the link with her choices. Drue said, “I called [Valerie] and she said she would find out what the problem was.” Nearly a week later, Valerie told her they misspelled their last name in the email.” Either way, the Naccaratos still weren’t able to choose where they vacationed. “We never received any other vacation option links.” They only received a booking confirmation to San Diego on January 7th. “I picked San Diego just to get the link for all.”
What Inevitably Caused Them to Cancel Wyndham Timeshare.
All of this caused the Naccaratos to immediately review the purchase. Gary said, “I read through the terms and conditions and read that I had to cancel in writing to the address on the email within 15 days of purchase.” Their purchase date was 12/29/18 so they “created a cancellation letter and sent it registered mail on the 8th.”
The New Year’s holiday falling on a Monday and Tuesday already hindered their ability to opt out. It’s almost as if Wyndham planned to persuade them during an inopportune time. Nonetheless, they received the Naccarato’s letter on January 14th and denied their request once again. This confused Gary because he was told by the Post Office that the letter would be delivered “within a couple of days.” Since the 7th was a Monday, his confusion was warranted.
While this was disheartening to say the least, they were determined to find a way to get out of the Wyndham timeshare. After looking further, they realized they weren’t even eligible for the package Valerie offered them. The Terms and Conditions stated “persons having attended a CLUB WYNDHAM sales presentation within the last 6 months are ineligible.” They attended their presentation on Oct 1, 2018, which would have made them ineligible according to the language in the Terms and Conditions.
Shortly after, they realized Wyndham had charged over $1000 in maintenance fees on their Barclay credit card. A payment option they specifically told Ed not to use “until the loan was paid off.” Since he told them the fees wouldn’t be billed until April 1st, this was a big surprise to them. What made this revelation interesting was that Wyndham changed their method of billing without the Naccarato’s knowledge. “They said I had chosen to go paperless. I never talked to anyone or saw anything where I gave them permission for my statements not to be sent,” Drue said.
At this point they were more eager to cancel Wyndham timeshare obligations than pay the company another penny. Gary went on to say the “resort deals” they were promised were “rarely available, if ever.” It allowed him and his wife to understand how they’re really “saved for non-Wyndham customers.” As the bigger picture sunk in, they developed a sense of urgency to cancel before things got even worse.
The Couple Finally Contacted VOC for Timeshare Relief.
When the Naccaratos finally contacted us for assistance, they were fed up with the “deception, lies and fraud.” In a dispute letter they literally wrote, “Please help us get through this nightmare!” The desperation was evident and for good reason. Aside from the unexpected “financial burden,” they told us the Wyndham timeshare created quite a bit of stress in their lives. The more they looked into the purchase, the more misconduct they found.
In a final attempt of restitution, they wrote a letter informing of their decision to cancel the timeshare. It said, “We have hired a company to rid us of this timeshare, and we would ask for your forgiveness of this debt since we have not used any of Wyndham’s services.” The Naccaratos are awaiting a response to their request.
As experienced fractional owners, we’re sure they’ll find something that works. But they most definitely have been scarred by their Wyndham experience. In the end, they hope their vulnerability will help someone avoid a similar experience.
Timeshare Deceit Needs to be Addressed.
Bait and switch tactics can really sting when you believe someone with selfish intentions. Far too many timeshare owners are misled during presentations. But not all should be blamed for poorly informed decision-making. The timeshare itself needs to be held responsible for fully disclosing the details of their products. The Nacarrato’s would have avoided canceling the Wyndham timeshare if the sales presentation wasn’t a lie. There’s no room for deceit when this amount of money is involved. Alongside regulatory agencies, we’ve made a commitment to addressing the deceit of the industry.
For more information on our timeshare cancellation services, you can schedule a free consultation or proceed with a qualification form below. Otherwise, feel free to watch or read about additional client testimonials.
A few weeks ago, we published an article regarding the state of timeshare sales presentations in Arizona. Since the early stages of timesharing, contract disclosure has been a problem in the industry. Although many lawmakers with stakes in fractional ownership wanted to fault buyers for making impulse decisions, the State of Arizona agreed that disclosure laws were necessary. They also determined that extending a buyer’s right to rescission (cancellation period) was needed as well.
Today, tens of thousands of timeshare owners claim they would have never made the purchase if they knew what it really entailed. Whether this is their fault or not, they now have added protections that force timeshare companies to provide more information on the front end and additional time to make the decision final. What many people don’t realize is that 3rd party agencies prey on timeshare owners.
The passing of this law is a big deal for consumer advocates who have been stating the obvious for quite some time now. Buyers now have a better chance to get out of something that can be perpetually difficult to deal with. Aside from post-purchase advantages, the law also applies to anyone planning on attending a timeshare presentation. Arizona residents are nationally protected. Sponsor and Republican, Shawnna Bolik believes the decision makes the state “a national leader in enacting consumer protections for timeshare buyers,” and that the bill help “curb deceptive practices by some in the timeshare industry.”
Opposed Arizona Lawmakers Removed Quite a Bit From the Bill.
While consumers definitely won here, timeshare representatives were able to strip some of the original provisions by persuading lawmakers to combat the proposal. Senator Michelle Ugenti-Rita once again stood with the opposition. In the end, they were able to keep the law from including an ability for consumers to cancel in the first year without penalty or after 10 years or once the property was paid off. They also removed disclosing 30 year cost estimates and a proposed 24 hour cooling off period. They believed they dodged a bullet here.
During the discussion, the ARDA gave their two cents by reiterating that timeshare owners are responsible for thousands of jobs and play a big role in the Arizona economy. Even if it’s against the consumer’s will, the ARDA seems to believe their obligation is important. Either way, Peter Roth (ARDA’s spokesman) stated that the law is “a good balance between responsible consumer protections and a healthy business environment. The timeshare industry is committed to being a leader in the tourism industry.” Looks like they’ll continue to help the industry do whatever it takes to make the most money within the rules.
A Breakdown of the New Timeshare Sales Law in Arizona.
Moving forward, all timeshare companies are required to give buyers a copy of their contract and disclose the following in writing:
Promises made by sales teams are not binding agreements.
A timeshare purchase is deeded ownership and is not an investment property.
A timeshare agreement can be voided if there are blank spaces in documents.
Arizona Governor and Attorney General Finalize the Bill.
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich was in favor of the new timeshare sales law because of the rising number of accusations by consumers. A $25 million settlement with Diamond Resorts in 2016 inspired him to take action. “Buying a timeshare can obligate a consumer to a lifetime of annual fees that can increase without limit.” He believes “consumers deserve to know the truth when considering whether to purchase a timeshare and need time to think about whether buying a serious investment such as a timeshare is right for them.”
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed the new state law last week (5/19) and it is expected to be implemented by the end of 2019.
Timeshare ownership can be a pleasant experience that allows people to conveniently travel every year. But because of greed, not every purchase plays out this way. Despite the industry being around for more than half a century, earning trillions of dollars in revenue along the way, the future is starting to look bleak. As timeshare companies do their best to hold onto fractional owners, many buyers are jumping ship. The problem is, some are drowning in debt due to scams that overpopulate the relief market. Just when property owners think they’ve gotten their head above water, another wave comes crashing down on their optimism.
Although lawmakers have implemented a number of regulations and law enforcement agencies are cracking down on consumer fraud more than ever before, scam artists continue to target the vulnerability of timeshare owners. No matter how many fraudulent operations are exposed, the momentum of misconduct in the timeshare industry remains in tact. While the internet provides criminals with an array of opportunity, telemarketing has been the preferred choice for defrauding fractional owners over the years.
Another Florida Scam That Claimed to Sell Timeshares.
Nearly 10 years ago, Mark Gardner and Tammie Lynn Cline got together in a Florida boiler room to develop a fraudulent resale operation that targeted disgruntled timeshare owners. They brought in a man by the name of Sheldon Lee Cohen to be their president of operations – and to more than likely fund portions of the concept. Universal Timeshare Sales Associates (UTSA) was launched quickly thereafter and a call center full of Orlando telemarketers were ready to execute the scam. In an attempt to cover their tracks, the duo claimed the headquarters of their timeshare resale company was in Beaverton, Oregon.
Their strategy was to make as many unsolicited calls as they could to timeshare owners throughout the United States. Once they were able to get a decision maker on the phone, they told them that they specialized in selling timeshares and that they had a buyer ready and willing to take the property off their hands. All UTSA needed from the owner was a few thousand dollars to carry out the transaction.
Since many timeshare owners had previously given up on getting rid of their timeshare, this was a huge sigh of relief. For those reluctant to believe UTSA could sell timeshares that easily, Gardner and Cline persuaded them with additional deceit. Members of their staff and other co-conspirators would pretend interested parties were present and already had the money in escrow. When that didn’t work, they falsely claimed to have additional buyers ready to move forward within the next 90 days. Interesting enough, a good number of people handed over between $1,600 and $2,200 in fees to proceed with the sale.
When UTSA’s promise to sell the timeshares fell through, hundreds of timeshare owners were left reeling for answers. Instead of dragging along the scam like other fraudulent operations do, Gardner and Cline decided to deny refund requests, cease all communication and dispute all credit card charge backs.
How the Florida Timeshare Scam Artists Were Caught
Over time, numerous complaints were filed and the scam got the attention of the FTC and Florida’s Attorney General. Both filed a federal civil action against the duo and their co-conspirators in May of 2013. 13 months later, the district court entered a permanent injunction against them regarding telemarketing misconduct. The case was also investigated by the FBI and Roger B. Handberg (Assistant U.S. Attorney) was in charge of prosecution. Cline and Gardner were indicted January of 2015 and sentenced in October of the same year.
When it was all said and done, Tammie Lynn Cline pled guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and served 30 months in federal prison. Mark Gardner pled guilty to money laundering in addition mail and wire fraud. He was sentenced to 87 months in federal prison and both are required to pay back $1.2 million each in restitution. According to Lee Bentley, the (former) U.S. Attorney General, the resale scam ended up stealing about $1.6 million from their victims.
Fraud victimization can occur whether you’re searching for a solution or a scam artist is searching for you. These days, the internet is still a Wild Wild West of sorts and consumers are getting burned in a number of ways. But no matter how people become victims, they’re always caught off guard. It wouldn’t be a scam if they didn’t believe in the solution at one point. Once the unexpected reality sets in, it’s normally too late for them to respond.
Con artists are experts at manipulation and know how to leverage misinformation. It’s very difficult to know what’s really real. Today’s scams are so meticulous that unless a mistake is made, the likelihood of reparation is slim to none. At the same time, the amount of misconduct in the timeshare industry leaves many people vulnerable – and not just timeshare owners. This was the case when two Florida men recently pled guilty to their timeshare resale hoax in Tampa.
Details of the Fraudulent Resale Operation.
In 2015, St Petersburg residents, David Bell (55) and Troy Cater (30) were recruited to manage a telemarketing scheme that targeted people looking to sell their timeshare or piece of land. Through 2018, both men played a key role in calling people who believed they’d been victimized by their timeshare company. Posing as real estate professionals, they claimed they had a pool of buyers looking for a property just like theirs. They did the same for others looking to offload a parcel of land.
After building trust, they told their victims that they couldn’t proceed with the sale until advanced payments were received. These consisted of legal, closing and transfer costs as well as title searches and courier services. Troy and David spread these payments out in order to extend the scam and maximize their harvest. They would pay accomplices to continue contacting the victims for more advancements until they caught on. After collecting the money via wire transfers, the Florida boys paid every conspirator based on their level of involvement.
Phase 2: Legal Services for Timeshare Resale Fraud.
Once their resale opportunities dried up, Troy and David created a phony legal service to retarget their victims with. From here, the men and their co-conspirators used email to recontact those they already stole from with a friendly offer to pursue the resale operation for fraud. They promised to reach a settlement with the fraudulent operation if their victims hired them for representation.
The same advanced payment approach allowed Bell and Cater to continue hustling their victims. People lost their retirement savings and even their houses because they paid hundreds of thousands of dollars towards a phony litigation process. After numerous complaints were filed regarding the scam, the FDLE, St. Petersburg PD and the FBI got involved.
Filed Charges for the Florida Timeshare Resale Hoax.
After being prosecuted by Rachel K. Jones, the Assistant US Attorney, a number of men were charged with misconduct. Mark Boring (47), Martin Steele and Gary Kinard were all involved in the recruitment of Cater and Bell back in 2015. All have pled guilty to wire fraud conspiracy and aggravated identity theft. In February, Kinard was sentenced to 7 years, 11 months in Federal Prison. In March, Boring was sentenced to 7 years and is required to pay a $75,000 money judgement in addition to a $895,011 restitution. Steele is currently awaiting his hearing.
David Bell and Troy Carter have each pled guilty to money laundering and will forfeit a total of $41,000 in fraudulent proceeds. Regarding victim restitution, Cater will be on the hook for $145,961 and Bell for $268,356. Both Florida men also face a 20 year sentence for their involvement in the timeshare resale hoax. Along with Martin Steele, they currently await their sentencing.
If you feel as though you’ve been victimized by your timeshare, please use caution when selecting a relief program. If you’re ever in doubt, you can always give us a call for insight on scams in the timeshare industry.
Every year, tons of timeshare scams are exposed across the country. But every time a fraudulent operation ceases, another one establishes itself. If you’re wondering why, you have to analyze the way people are lured into ownership in the first place. The deceit surrounding the industry could very well stem from the misleading tactics used by timeshare sales teams themselves. Once uninformed buyers are under contract, they quickly realize timeshare ownership isn’t all they thought it would be. This is because they were persuaded, not necessarily intrigued. Trying to find resolve with the resort normally leads them to even more deceit, forcing owners to look elsewhere for relief. This is where 3rd party timeshare exit solutions continued the trend. At the same time, not all are unethical.
While a majority of owners first look to resale for relief, they eventually realize contract cancellation is their best option. The seller’s market just doesn’t exist and far too many platforms make promises they can’t keep. After a certain amount of time, cancellation becomes very appealing to them. Many exit companies are no different than selling agents. To make matters worse, predatory agencies use buyer desperation to their advantage. This has regulatory agencies and lawmakers working overtime to combat the misconduct of fraudulent timeshare exit solutions. The problem is, politicians that benefit from the timeshare industry now want to do away with exit solutions. They’re trying to put companies like ours out of business for good.
Pro Timeshare Lawmakers Dislike Exit Teams.
Earlier this year, House Bill 435/SB 1430 was proposed to eliminate timeshare cancellation programs altogether. Some lawmakers feel as though consumers should be held responsible for the purchase they made. That they shouldn’t be allowed to cancel after making the commitment. What makes this concerning is the fact many owners want to cancel because they feel like they’ve been lied to. It’s not about changing their minds. What makes things difficult is that timeshares typically involve perpetual agreements. This means, the purchase agreement goes on forever. Doing away with their ability to exit creates an obligation to always pay for the rest of their life.
If owners are unable to cancel after viewing the property and exit companies are under siege, where do unhappy buyers place their hope? House Bill 2639 was meant to do away with timeshare perpetuity but recently failed for similar reasons. Nonetheless, the minimal rescission period remains. Timeshare owners have less than 2 weeks to decide if they want to cancel prior to experiencing their purchase to determine if it’s all it was presented to be. Unfortunately, the main complaint we hear is that the product was oversold and the owner is unable to use their time. If they don’t cancel within rescission, the resort will inform them that they’re responsible for a lifetime worth of payments. Removing perpetuity altogether would have been a huge win for the consumer, however the politicians who benefit from the timeshare industry came out on top with this vote.
How the Bill Manipulates the Purpose of Timeshare Cancellation Programs.
The ARDA-ROC, who represents over 1.5 million timeshare owners, is being challenged by at least two timeshare cancellation companies to challenge the bill. They’ve proceeded to hire a handful of powerful lobbyists to fight the “common sense” regulations that HB 435 presents.
Kevin McKelvey, Chairman of the ARDA-ROC, had a few things to say about their intentions. “These exit companies are strongly against this bill because it eliminates their ability to take upfront fees, in many cases in excess of $5K, until the service they promise is delivered.” His reasoning is very ironic because of the outcome of HB2639. If timeshare owners can’t test the property before the contract is affirmed then why should cancellation services have to be rendered before payment is required? It’s a reverse psychology ploy.
McKelvey believes that, “These firms use much of this money to market to new customers and not for (actual) services.” In reality, this is exactly what timeshare companies do to drive new acquisition. Because of these false statements, many people believe companies like ours have bad intentions. In reality, the purchase itself is where the misconduct occurs. A lack of ethics forces timeshare companies to spend on marketing to overcome their deceitful measures. They’re even willing to put more money and resources towards proposing a bill to ensure leverage is in their corner. It’s truly unfortunate.
What the House Bill Claims About Timeshare Exit Solutions
Timeshare exit solutions are challenging the proposition mainly because it’s not geared towards consumer protection. At VOC, we provide a free initial consultation to all who inquire. We inform the disgruntled timeshare owners of their options, what they can expect and qualify them for our services before on-boarding any new client. Ethical exit programs do exist. Legislatives are trying to use the bill to remove the influence that cancellation companies have on their buyers to say enough is enough to the oppressive timeshare industry. Timeshare developers don’t want to be held accountable for the promises they make.
The bill goes on to list a number of irrelevant perks. It’s said to give timeshare owners with cancellation interest “meaningful rights.” It’s also meant to protect their funds by requiring escrow or prohibiting payment advances until services are executed. The proposal claims that it prevents misleading or false representations used by timeshare exit solutions to recruit buyers to pay for cancellation services. But what about their misleading approach and the false claims timeshare companies are making? You can actually view the attorney representing talking in circles in this video(Scroll to the 02h:16m:00s time marker)
McKelvey went on to say, “We need to protect our owners from becoming victims. A top priority for our industry and owners, and for law enforcement and other agencies, is to protect consumers from dishonest individuals or companies trying to take advantage of them.” The thing is, they’ve already been taken advantage of, which is the consumer’s purpose to seeking outside help. The timeshare companies wish to have full control over their fractional owners. Timeshare exit companies who seek to negotiate an amicable release on behalf of the client are viewed as a threat to the timeshare’s residual income and upsell opportunity, both of which are at the expense of the owner who feels was taken advantage of.
Thank goodness the probability of this bill passing is slim. It could really put timeshare owners between a rock and a hard place for a long time. This probably won’t be the last time we see an attempt to keep timeshare owners under perpetual agreements for good by limiting beneficial resources available to them. We will make our best effort to keep our blog viewers up to date with newly proposed bills and legislature as the battle for good vs evil continues.