By Sheri in Minnesota
After reading Donna’s report, the 14th family in a series of articles reporting timeshare sales agents pitching an unfeasible rental strategy, I decided to submit this article. There have been ten Westgate owners to report being told they could rent to offset maintenance fees, and even loan payments, a Club Exploria owner who testified at a deposition, and two other developers have been reported. My husband and I were convinced we could sell our existing week and rent bonus weeks by our sales agent at The Colonies in Williamsburg, a Vacation Village Resort. This brings the total number of developers allowing agents to sell points as a rental investment to six.
Donna has proof that the Director of Sales at Worldmark by Wyndham’s Mission Valley Resort in California instructed her and her son on how to rent to offset costs. It is hard to imagine any corporation could act with such total disregard for morals or ethics, given Donna’s circumstances. Donna is a resident of Utah and a single mother of four. Her daughter, at age 27, functions as a 1½-year-old child. Her son, age 21, is profoundly deaf. She was staying at Mission Valley because it was near the hospital where she was scheduled for surgery.
While Donna was recovering at the resort, after her surgery, the Director of Sales met with Donna’s son to further explain how to rent. Donna could not leave her room. As her son was notetaking, Chez wrote his personal password for his Interval International (II) account on notebook paper.
On the notebook page the Director of Sales wrote in his handwriting:
user – kxxxxxxxx
pers – Where2next
Donna later learned that Interval International has nothing to do with Worldmark. She provided Worldmark text messages between the Director of Sales and her son as he tried to implement the strategy. Wyndham’s legal team, according to her complaint liaison, said that they denied her complaint because the written proof provided was communication between the Director of Sales and Donna’s son. Therefore, the evidence was inadmissible because her son was not a signer of the contract. Donna asked for the denial to be stated in writing. She never received written confirmation of this decision.
Wyndham has a program called Wyndham Cares. From the Scambuster tab:
Protect yourself. There are many third-party timeshare exit companies using misleading info, false advertising, and scare tactics to scam you.
Wyndham Vacation Owners over 1,000 complaints and this Current Alert
A pattern of Complaints: BBB files indicate that this business has a pattern of complaints concerning misrepresentation in selling practices. Consumer complaints report that the verbal representations are inconsistent with the written agreement. According to complaints, claims include representations that the purchase is an “investment” and the same as “real estate” in that it will increase in value. Owners report mandatory meetings that they are led to believe are to introduce new features and benefits but result in a sales presentation to purchase or upgrade their points.
I challenge any morally responsible corporate executive to read what happened to Donna and applaud Worldmark’s decision.
According to Donna,
In October of 2021, I stayed at Worldmark’s Mission Valley because it was close to the hospital where I was scheduled for surgery. I live in Utah but I had to have the surgery in California because my condition was complicated by a bleeding disorder. I was invited to attend a meeting to learn about changes to Worldmark’s website. Group presenters talked about 4000 credit weeks and as they were ending the presentation said, “Don’t forget to ask your personal representative about how to pay for maintenance fees!” They had written on a whiteboard four ways to pay annual fees.
After the presentation, I was assigned to “educator” James who first explained, “We don’t do sales here.” James reviewed my account and agreed that 20,000 credits satisfied my family’s needs. I asked James about the credit weeks. I have been a Worldmark member for 20 years and had not heard of such a thing. I knew that it typically required 10,000 to 15,000 credits to book a week, so being able to book a week for 4,000 credits was appealing. James said he wanted to get the Director of Sales to explain because he knew all about them.
Director of Sales Chez explained that 4000 credit weeks were part of a program called Interval International, but I would need to purchase a minimum of 10,000 credits to take advantage of credit weeks. He described other benefits that I didn’t need. He called the program 45 Interval International. I was aware that I had RCI membership through Worldmark. Chez said II properties were “more upscale” and could also be rented for a higher price because their properties were in greater demand.
I told Chez that the cost and higher fees were above my ability to afford. I have an extremely limited budget, caring for two severely disabled adult children. My daughter is diagnosed with Lennox-Gastaut seizure disorder, a progressive disorder not well treated with medication. I am her sole caregiver. My son is 21 and is profoundly deaf. My husband abandoned us ten years ago. The timeshare has been a financial burden ever since. Chez went into detail about how I could easily rent the additional 10,000 credits.
I was feeling stressed because of my surgery scheduled for the next day. I had trouble following his rental strategy. I mentioned that my son, who is profoundly deaf, was arriving the next day to help care for me in recovery. Chez offered to meet with him to show him how to rent out credits. After three hours, I agreed to purchase the additional credits, ONLY because I could cover the cost by renting, taking advantage of 4,000 credit weeks, and the benefits of Interval International.
I wanted to review the contract before I signed it, but I had a doctor’s appointment. I asked if they could print a hard copy of the contract. Chez went to the backroom to check. When he returned, he said that the people who print it out were at lunch. After my doctor’s appointment, I went back to get the contract. Chez said the printer was down. I didn’t receive the contract from DocuSign until after 7 PM. I could not read it because the print was too small on my phone. The closing agent, Valeria, called and said I had to sign that day to get the price offered. Since I had to stay in the hospital for two days after my surgery, I asked Valeria if she could send the printed copies to my room. She said she would. She didn’t.
Chez had said we would receive “activation codes” for the new program in a few weeks (after the contract rescission period). We never received codes. My son tried to set credits up to rent on Airbnb, but Airbnb froze my account suspecting this was timeshare fraud. My son texted Chez questions about the process. We have text messages and notes in Chez’s handwriting, as my son took notes while Chez instructed him on how to rent. My son said Chez asked him several times if he was being recorded. He asked me the same. During the presentation, he moved me to a private room when he talked about renting.
I called Interval International and learned that they have nothing to do with Worldmark. I learned by reading Sheri’s article that renting to cover costs is not only unfeasible but illegal in some states. It is selling timeshare as an investment, a word that was mentioned more than once.
After two months of frustration, I went back to Mission Valley on December 16th to see if I could get answers. I spoke with a sales rep and with a manager, Autumn. They wouldn’t answer direct questions. The agent tried to sell me 10,000 more credits. He said since I wasn’t happy, he could talk to me about a deal for 10,000 more credits. I exploded. It was total disrespect after I had been conned out of $25,249 and driven to default on the 20,000 credits I’ve had for 20 years. Autumn kept pushing the idea of using credits as a rental investment. She specifically said, “If you are not happy with the upgrade, just rent it. People do this all the time with great success. Use it as an investment.”
My husband Ed is a 100% service-connected Disabled Vietnam Veteran. I’ve learned a number of timeshare developers target veterans with discounted stays, like Wyndham with their Veterans Advantage program, I understand that we are one of the hundreds of veteran families harmed. I decided to become more involved.
Debbie in North Carolina and I submitted our reports at the same time to After Inside Timeshare. My Colonies sales agent promised us the ability to rent. Debbie purchased from Hilton Grand Vacations (HGV). As promised, a representative from HGV did reach out to Debbie and they are working to resolve her concerns.
The Colonies at Williamsburg is a Vacation Village Resort. Our sales estate agent gave us the name of her personal friend, Ed McGee, a real estate agent at Vacation Services International to sell our Westgate week so that we could afford to buy a week at The Colonies. She also said Mr McGee could rent our Colonies bonus weeks. We paid him money to take out listings. Nothing happened. We learned his suggested listing price of $39,000 for our Westgate week was ridiculous, as was listing the bonus week to rent for $2800.
We filed complaints with the appropriate regulators. We advised Donna to file complaints with the California Real Estate Division and with the Utah, Florida, and California Attorney General‘s offices. She has submitted a report to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as they advised. They said to select on the CFPB website, “Tell Your Story.” Donna will file a complaint with the BBB. The Federal Trade Commission needs to be informed. Timeshare Sales were #9 on their Top Ten Scam list in 2020. Timeshare Resales were #10.
Where are the regulators? Where are the lawmakers?
How can so many families be harmed with so little action taken to stop it, or at least slow down the harm?
It takes a volume of complaints before a regulator takes action. Be sure and file formal complaints if you have been harmed. We’re doing our part to warn the public by publicizing our experiences. Let us know your timeshare experience, bad or good.
Ten families reported Westgate sales agents sold them on the ability to rent to cover costs.
US Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit’s ruling Club Exploria v Aaronson Law Firm. One witness stated they were promised the ability to rent to offset the cost of their timeshare. https://afterinsidetimeshare.com/?p=615
Thank you Sheri for your time in compiling this article, we would also like to thank Irene Parker and all the other volunteers for their contributions in highlighting a very severe problem in the timeshare world. The “investments” pitch is one that many consumers in Europe have fallen for in one way or another, from the rental & sales for profit by Silverpoint and associated companies, through to the “fractional investments”. These have been subject to many court cases in Spain right up to the Supreme Court, the developers whose sales arms “pitched” them, were ordered to repay massive amounts and all contracts were declared null & void, their greed was curtailed and many of the sales companies are now in liquidation. The sales industry in Europe is all but gone, we just wait to see what ideas they come up with next?
That is all for this week, Baby Dog is getting ready for his busy weekend as you can see, so from all at AIT and Baby Dog, have a great weekend and join us again next week.