Whistleblower #4 of 6, Gina Mori v Diamond Resorts Case No: 21CV-0601
Whistleblower #1: Tiffany Birch v Wyndham, February 3, 2023
#2 & #3: Former Bluegreen Manager Denise Mecke, Former Wyndham sales agent Julia Havey, March 24, 2023:
Next Week: Whistleblower #5: Michelle Jabeur v Diamond Resorts and the Thompson Family in Pennsylvania
Former Diamond Resorts Quality Assurance agent, Gina Mori, filed a lawsuit against Diamond Resorts in October of 2021 alleging deceptive sales practices. Ms Mori’s lawsuit is unique in that she opted out of the arbitration agreement that Diamond requested from their employees in August of 2018. Whether pertaining to timeshare members or employees, developers cherish the privacy that binding arbitration provides.
After Inside Timeshare and the Diamond Resorts Hilton Grand Vacation Advocacy Facebook Group have received a steady stream of complaints from Diamond members who report that they were told they would lose benefits or see maintenance fees increase if they don’t buy into the new HGV MAX program. Other complaints, especially about nonexistent equity, the heir scare, or understating loan payments, are identical to what Ms. Mori reported.
Diamond was acquired by Hilton Grand Vacations in 2021. Hotel News Resource (HNR) is an ad service, according to their website. HNR Principal, Thomas Wahl, is based in Guadalajara, Mexico, according to his LinkedIn profile. In a March 24, 2023 article, Hilton/Diamond points the finger at exit companies. Hilton Grand Vacation spokesperson Charles Corbin, offered the following commits about how Hilton Grand Vacations/Diamond Resorts is dedicated to protecting members from fraud. https://www.hotelnewsresource.com/
“For far too long, the timeshare exit companies have gone unchallenged,” said Charles Corbin, chief legal officer & general counsel of Hilton Grand Vacations. “This ruling holds them accountable for their false claims and illegitimate services. We hope this ruling will educate the public and alert more regulators to these ongoing scams, which are detrimental to consumers looking for options to exit their contract. While the vast majority of our owners love their vacation ownership, we understand that life circumstances can change, and HGV is committed to helping owners find the right solution for their needs. We will continue to use all legal means to protect our owners from fraud.”
The suit filed by Diamond alleges that Pandora Marketing (d/b/a Timeshare Compliance) and Intermarketing Media (d/b/a Resort Advisory Group) and their attorneys, JL Sean Slattery, Carlsbad Law Group, Del Mar Law Group and Slattery, Sobel and Decamp engaged in false advertising, tortious interference with contract, California unfair business practices and civil conspiracy.
GINA MORI, Plaintiff, vs. DIAMOND RESORTS INTERNATIONAL MARKETING, INC. SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA COUNTY OF SAN LUIS OBISPO filed October 26, 2021
According to the lawsuit, Gina Mori worked in the timeshare industry for a total of 16 years, 11 at DIAMOND. Her most recent role was as a Quality Assurance Representative. She seeks damages resulting from an alleged violation of the Labor Code, wrongful termination, and violation of the business and professions code. Also, Prayer for Relief: For injunctive relief as provided by law, including, but not limited, to immediate cancellation and refund of all contracts with customers procured by fraud, elder abuse, or other misrepresentations;
Excerpts from Ms Mori’s GENERAL ALLEGATIONS
As a Quality Assurance Representative, MORI’s job was to perform what DIAMOND called “Button-Up Briefing Reviews” with customers. As part of this review, MORI was to go over aspects of the sale with the customer, including what they liked or disliked about the process and presentation, what type of sale it was, whether the salesperson “correctly handled” the sale, and whether the salesperson talked about the fact that customers had an absolute right to rescind their purchase entirely within seven days.
One of the salespersons MORI oversaw in her role as Quality Assurance Manager was DIMITRIY TSIBULSKIY. TSIBULSKIY had previously worked as a salesperson for another timeshare company, Wyndham. While at Wyndham, TSIBULSKIY had earned a reputation as a salesperson that companies should “be careful with” because he engaged in high-pressure, abusive, and illegal sales practices. On information and belief, DIAMOND was aware of TSIBULSKIY’S illegal and/or unethical sales tactics but employed him anyway.
Another salesperson MORI oversaw in her role as a Quality Assurance Manager was MICHAEL “MIKE” BROWNE, who worked as the Sales Manager at the San Luis Bay Inn.
On November 26, 2019, MORI sent an email to BROWNE, BLAIR, PERCY, and YOUNG, wherein she recounted fraud. Specifically, MORI reported that the customer had been (falsely) told by DIAMOND that they had to purchase a product from DIAMOND on that day in order to avoid an $8,000 assessment on their existing purchases from DIAMOND. This was false.
MORI reported several fraudulent schemes that salespersons had created for DIAMOND, including, but not limited, to the “buyback” scheme, wherein customers were falsely told that DIAMOND would buy back unused points from the customers.
Another scheme was the “equity” scheme where owners were told that after 24 months they could recover their “equity” as either a lump sum or a monthly check from DIAMOND.
Another scheme was falsely telling customers they could use their “points” to pay for yearly membership fees.
MORI received an email from a customer requesting a cancellation of their purchase contract. The customer reported that he was 76 years old at the time. MK told MORI that he was sold 3,000 points as a “special program for older people who cannot take vacations due to disabilities or old age.” MK reported that the salesperson told him he could cancel his membership after 24 months and recover his “equity” as a lump sum cash payment from DIAMOND. MK then wrote, “we now understand there is no such program.”
On February 24, 2020, MORI reported to BLAIR and copied YOUNG, BROWNE, and PERCY, that an elderly couple had been told by TSIBULSKIY that their monthly payment of $862 was for both their mortgage and their monthly maintenance fees. This was incorrect. During the Quality Assurance review, MORI informed the couple that those were separate payments and that the mortgage and the maintenance fees each month would total $1,645 – nearly double what they thought it would be. The couple was also falsely told they had to purchase a specific program to avoid forcing heirs to inherit the ownership. MORI informed DIAMOND’S corporate and Human Resources offices that this constituted a misrepresentation.
Rather than address these concerns, MORI was disciplined by DIAMOND and given “coaching” as if she was in the wrong. MORI was told not to directly answer customers’ questions, and instead to respond to customer questions with a second or third question of her own so that the customers would forget their original questions. MORI was also told to be “agreeable” and to work with the sales team to ensure their information “matched.”
MORI was suspended on March 21, 2020.
Another sort of whistleblower
Former Diamond Sales Agent and top producer, Rick Casper, filed a lawsuit against Diamond back in 2018 in which he admitted that he “created” problems or reasons why existing members needed to buy additional points. We have heard from 23 of Rick Casper’s former customers. Several named Dan Percy in their complaint. Mr Percy was named in both Ms Mori’s and Mr Casper’s lawsuits. According to the internet, Daniel Percy currently functions as Senior Director of Sales and Marketing – Northern California at Hilton Grand Vacations.
Rick Casper v Diamond Resorts & Daniel Percy
Case 2:18-cv-01455-GMN-NJK, filed August 3, 2018
Plaintiff CASPER became one of Defendant DIAMOND RESORT’s top sales producers, generating and earning individual earnings from sales commissions of approximately $450,000.00 in 2014 (an eight-month period); in 2015, approximately $1.5 million and, in 2016 and 2017, approximately $2.4 million dollars each year.
- Defendant DIAMOND RESORTS required CASPER to educate owners on their ownership points and discovery information about the owners to create a reason why these owners needed to purchase even more Diamond Points.
- At the instruction of DIAMOND RESORTS, Plaintiff CASPER was asked to identify or facilitate issues that were “wrong” with the owners’ current ownership points.
- ….. Once DIAMOND RESORTS corporate returned the proposed contract back to CASPER on-site, DIAMOND RESORTS required CASPER to personally escort owners to the Quality Assurance (QA) Department, where another set of company representatives repeated the contractual review process and signed the owners.
Mr Casper stated that he was not disciplined after Diamond received multiple complaints about him until he reported a sexual assault he says took place at a company-sponsored event, alleging that Mr Percy assaulted his fiance.
Upon information and belief, Defendant PERCY had not been fired but had been laterally transferred to the same position he held in Las Vegas, Nevada to another Diamond Resorts property in Hawaii.
In particular, DIAMOND RESORTS specifically instructed CASPER and other timeshare salespersons, under threat of termination or discipline, to misrepresent certain meetings to existing DIAMOND RESORTS owners as “owner update meetings,” when in fact these “update meetings” were “sales presentations” in disguise whereby existing Diamond Resorts member point owners would attend believing they were attending an “owner update meeting” about their investment, only to have a meeting that was presided over by a commissioned sales person, such as CASPER, who would then, at DIAMOND’S specific direction, attempt to high pressure sell these existing owners, certain upgrades and additional Diamond Resorts products as additional investments in their point ownership.
The price of speaking up
Speaking Truth to Power is a term I learned when attending a Whistleblowers Summit in Washington D.C. Anyone who suspects and reports corporate wrongdoing needs support. Whistleblowers of America exists to support, network, and offer resources to those who will surely experience retaliation in their attempt to protect the consumer, or in the case of government whistleblowers, citizens.
Thank you, Irene, this is another prime example of why “Whistleblowers” are so important for consumers, especially in timeshare. It is an industry which is sold on deception, from the moment you are accosted by the OPCs right through your entire timeshare “experience”, you will be subject to many falsehoods, most perpetrated with the connivance of the developers themselves. No other “holiday product” has this level of deceit or the number of employees who have “Blown the Whistle” on these despicable practices.
There will be some, probably the developers or their lackeys, who will say they are doing it for “personal financial gain”, nothing can be further from the truth in the cases we have highlighted. For someone to take the steps to “blow the whistle” is not a decision they are going to take lightly, the possible consequences can be personally devastating, not just from the loss of the job and the financial perspective, but also for future prospects.
In all the cases we have highlighted, the “whistleblower” has gone through the internal company procedures, and these have been met with indifference, with the “whistleblower” being told in no uncertain terms to shut up or get out! What a great response to receive, don’t the employers, in this case, the timeshare companies, care if their business is tared because of unethical sales practices? It would appear not.
Without the testimonies of these “whistleblowers,” your complaints as a consumer are just “sour grapes” on your part, as far as the timeshare developers are concerned, the blame is placed on you for not understanding and having the intelligence to understand what you are purchasing. Their sales agents can do no wrong.
AIT will continue to highlight these practices and will also publish reports of “whistleblowers” testimonies, especially those which end up in court. All timeshare consumers owe a great debt to these people, who sacrifice their livelihoods because they have a conscience.
That is all for this week, it has been a very difficult one as we have been on Yellow Alert for very high temperatures, and lots of Saharan sand and dust in the air, which we call a “Calima”. The sky is a dirty sandy grey colour and the air is so thick with dust, even wearing a “Covid” mask doesn’t help much. So myself and Baby Dog have been stuck indoors with windows closed, he is getting restless and is being a little mischievous. Have a great weekend and join us again next week.