Following Michelle Jabeur and the Thompson family’s April 21st article, Dominic’s son Michael today shares his father’s Diamond Resorts experience. Dominic is a California resident, and an Army veteran. He served with the US Artillery and as a personnel specialist. He also served over six years with the California Army National Guard Reserves.
One of the sales agents involved with one of Dominic’s transactions, Sales Agent 1, was reported by ten other Diamond members over a period of years, including Diane Burkhart. As reported in 2019 by Consumer Affairs, Diane’s father purchased $250,000 worth of timeshare points between the ages of 85 and 88. He also is a veteran. The ten reports are summarized below.
Dominic’s Timeshare Journey
In 2017, my father, Dominic, was convinced to give up his Pacific Monarch deed that he purchased over 30 years ago before Diamond acquired Monarch. He bought Diamond points in 2017 and also in 2018. Hilton Grand Vacations (HGV) acquired Diamond in 2021.
Since turning 84, my father has made three additional purchases that led to an insurmountable level of debt. He has had to seek medical attention because of the distress. He has health problems that make travelling difficult. Monthly loan payments of $5,500 depleted funds he needed for personal and household expenses. He had no choice but to stop making payments. A man in his 80s should never have been saddled with $360,000 in vacation debt in just three years.
At age 84, Dominic met with Diamond Sales Agent 1 on September 28, 2019, at Riviera Beach Resort in California. Sales Agent 1 and Sales Manager 1 promised him he would have “Legendary Status” if he bought an additional 13,000 points for $44,428, financed at 17.9324%. We later learned that there is no such thing as Legendary Status. He was offered an incentive to come back that Christmas.
On December 26, 2019, my father met with Sales Agent 2 (BC) and Sales Manager 2 at Diamond’s Cancun Resort in Las Vegas where he made his fourth purchase, 10,000 points for $46,500. The down payment was $14,100, and the balance was financed at 13.37%. Sales Agent 2 said that the timeshare could be returned to Diamond Resorts upon his passing, but never disclosed that his loan needed to be paid in full. He scribbled claims on a piece of paper which he was told had been “accidentally” destroyed when my father asked for a copy.
Dominic said Sales Agent 2 told him his children would inherit a valuable asset because his Diamond account had “equity” of $397,000. He asked if he could go to a bank and use his equity as collateral for a loan. It was implied that it was tied to Diamond Resorts International stock shares because the company was going to become a publicly traded company.
Dominic said Sales Agent 2 advised him on how to answer questions he would be asked by the Quality Assurance person by instructing, “You should be agreeable to everything that person says, so say yes to everything asked.”
On May 28, 2020, at age 85, Dominic was contacted by phone. Salesperson/Telemarketer 3 mentioned the equity that had been built, saying now was the time to cash in. He asked why he would want to do this with COVID spreading. Salesperson 3 brushed off his concern saying, “You should be thinking about your children as they would benefit for years to come.” He seemed to care for our family, so my father agreed. This little upgrade, his fifth purchase, was for 54,500 points. He put down $21,000, financing the balance at 11.0702% (an additional $86,829.50 in finance charges). His original $600 maintenance fee surged to $18,000 per year in 2021. Before he stopped making payments, his loan balance was $360,000.
Sales representatives never explained Diamond points have no resale value. All the sales presentations as described by my father were extremely high-pressure. Once, he wanted to consult with my sister but they wouldn’t let him.
My father fought off two ulcers with cancer cells in 2015, has massive swelling in his feet and in August of 2022 was admitted to an emergency room for 10 hours. He seems more forgetful, his mental acuity is slipping, and coherency is a concern.
Ten other Sales Agent 1 reports:
Complaint #1: Diane Burkhart’s father, as reported in Consumer Affairs
Five Diamond Resort contracts were signed since my father turned 86, before I started looking into their affairs. He sent a letter from their doctor on December 21, 2016, asking to be released from their first contract. They had no loan. My mom could not travel due to scoliosis. A letter from his doctor sent in February of 2018 mentioned memory loss and dementia, and that my parents were not equipped to understand contracts or make important financial decisions.
In December of 2017, at Diamond’s Riviera Shores Resort in Capistrano, at age 88, my parents purchased 40,000 additional points for $116,000 which brought them to a total of 100,000 Diamond points. The down payment of $23,280 was charged to two credit cards. Their loan balance increased to $158,000 and annual maintenance fees increased to $13,000. My father said that he was told he could pay all his maintenance fees with points if he purchased additional points, but when we contacted Diamond we were told that he could only offset $2,000 toward the fees. We were confused when the nice man we called told us that wasn’t what he signed. My father lives in a nursing home. His wife passed away in May 2018.
Disabled Vietnam Veteran, Ages 70 and 68, Original ILX owners
On May 3, 2017, Sales Agent 1 at Riviera Beach Club, stated that the value of our points could be applied towards maintenance fees. He also spoke of the opportunity to earn an additional $2,700 towards our maintenance fees by using the Barclay Credit Card. What he failed to advise was that we would have to charge over $270,000 annually to earn $2,700 towards fees.
He advised us that the additional 15,000 points, making us Gold members, would be worth $9,000. He said if we stayed Silver we would be stuck with the contract, as well as our heirs, but if we upgraded to Gold, our heirs would be released. This was not true. We were told that the bank would contact us with an interest rate change to 6% from the contracted amount of 12.2441%. That never happened. Imagine our shock when we called to inquire about paying maintenance fees with excess points and were told we could not. Our loan is $49,900.
Complaint #3, California
Platinum, Eight contracts, Sunterra original owners
We purchased 10,000 points from Sales Agent 1. He told us that as Platinum members there is a program to sell back points so they can be used at $.30 per point to cover maintenance fees. The truth was $.04, which is worthless. (The 30/30 program for Platinum members was the name of a travel discount program)
We purchased 7,000 points on August 8, 2016, for $22,975 at Riviera Beach & Shores Resort, Capistrano Beach. I told Sales Agent 1 I wanted to sell points online to pay for maintenance fees and loan payments. He said it wasn’t allowed but he would privately show me how. He gave me his cell number. He told us when we upgraded, we would have access to multi-million-dollar homes that we could rent out @ $10,000 a week. He said he would show me how when I called. I called numerous times. He never answered. He said he used to be a financial advisor.
When you buy cars and houses all your life, you don’t expect what happened to us. We upgraded at Diamond’s Riviera Beach Club in California ONLY because they said our heirs would not be liable for maintenance fees if we gave up our Monarch deed. Sales Agent 1 told us he would have to look at our contract, but our heirs would likely be responsible. I told him I would be willing to hire an attorney to fight that. He indicated it would be futile as DR has top-notch attorneys and we would not win. He said if we upgraded we could avoid those issues. We would have an annually renewable contract that we could walk away from at some future time. We purchased the upgrade for $13,000. We later learned that our heirs could have disavowed the timeshare. Diamond responded that they are not responsible for what sales agents say.
On 10/22/16 at Dana Point Riviera Shores Resort, the presenter, Sales Agent #1, said we were not full members. He said we should have received a letter to go to full membership. We never received a letter. He gave us an option that would only be good right then, but we would have to buy 1,500 more points for $6,975. He said upper management would not want to give us this deal. He informed us that what we had was worth nothing and that we would have to upgrade to be able to use any benefits. We later learned that wasn’t true.
Complain 7, 82, Korean American, California
In 2015 we gave up our Monarch deed that we had for 20 years. We were told there is no cap on maintenance fees for people who hold a deed. Our agent said we could sell points easily for about $15,000, but it is almost impossible to sell a deed. He gave me the name of an internet company and from his iPhone gave me the following contacts:
Steve Likins – Hilton Head & timeshare sales, 843-816-1900
Jimmy ; 706-839-7798
Timeshare Resale USA.com; 407 345 9333
We got in big trouble on 05.02.17 when we attended a sales presentation by the swindler Salesman 1 at Riviera Beach & Shore Resorts. He took us to his office so I thought he was important. He said if we become Silver we can cash in points to pay maintenance fees at $.20 a point. We cannot pay maintenance fees at $.20 per point. I confirmed more than five times with his agreeing there should be some $250 left after paying our new maintenance fees of about $2,800 with his writing down on paper, which he refused to give me. (There was a 20/20 travel discount program for Gold members). What else the guy present to us if we upgraded to Silver Member for about $20,000:
- Barclay Mastercard, DRI will put $1,000 cash into our Credit Card account as an Honored Silver Membership. It was a lie.
- A Silver Member can exit from the Timeshare at any time without any obligation.
We stayed at Riviera Beach on 12/18/17 and applied for a presentation with the intention of meeting the guy. I met the manager who explained that what was in the brochure was different from the Sales Agent #1 presentation. When I was so angry and yelled to bring him, he got out of his office and avoided me.
I experienced a presentation at Cancun Resort. She introduced herself as an advisor, not a salesperson who said that if Diamond Resorts go public and if we purchase 5,000 points by paying about $15,000 more, then our equity will be $90,000 in the market. When I asked if she could guarantee, she said she CANNOT GUARANTEE, but the value of my timeshare in the stock market will be $130,000 and EQUITY is $90,000 and can be sold in the stock market. She got the OK from the manager and prepared the contract, but I was exhausted. She left a text message to come to the sales office the next day at the Apollo office. I did not attend.
If you heard from other owners about Diamond going public on the stock market and about EQUITY, which may be another deceitful sales tactic.
Complaint #8, December 18, 2019, California
Sales Agent #1, in June of 2017, informed me that Diamond maintenance fees for someone with the number of points I had could go up to an exorbitant amount of money if I did not become a Legacy member with 100,000 points so that the points could be divided evenly between my two children. I didn’t need more points. I had more points than I could use, always rolling points over.
My first contact with Diamond was when Monarch filed for bankruptcy. This began “owner updates” ending up with 7 contracts. I was always told that I had to purchase additional points only to find out that the reasons I was told to do so were often not accurate. I was promised Sales Agent #1 as a personal counsellor but was never able to contact him. His exact words to me as my new Platinum counsellor were, “You’ll never have to go to updates again because I will take care of you.” I will be another senior forced to default.
Complaint #9, age 69, CA, Platinum, Original Monarch owners
October 14, 2020
I purchased from Sales Agent #1 in April of 2019 but was rescinded. He said the same thing as the prior sales agents. By this time I knew that what I had been told wasn’t true. In Cabo we were told we could cut our maintenance fees in half by joining an “Elite Collection” and if we bought more points our heirs would not have to inherit them. Our Hawaii agent threatened huge maintenance fees if we did not convert. I wanted to downsize so I attended a presentation in Cancun in November of 2018 with a sales agent who said she had a waiting list of buyers that would purchase for a minimum of what we paid. We purchased 9,000 points for about $28,000. I made multiple calls. No response.
Complaint #10, California
August 7, 2021
We enjoyed our Diamond points, but sales agents kept telling us to buy points to fix things. The goal was to lower maintenance fees but maintenance fees increased. Sales Agent 1 at Riviera Beach Club on August 27, 2016, said we would never be able to sell our timeshare if we were not Silver. We had just purchased points a month before. We bought 2,000 points for $7,360.
On July 11, 2019, we purchased 3,500 points at Polo Towers. That agent convinced us that the reason we could not use points to offset our maintenance fees at $.30 a point was that we were not true Gold. There is no such program.
Another sales agent said we could refinance because he would send us a deed that would show $340,000 in accumulated equity. He said he was from the corporate office and handled contracts like ours. If we “wrapped” our contracts, maintenance fees would go down. He said 3,400 gifted points would be added to our “equity” so that basically the 15,000 points we retained would be paid off. Instead of being gifted points, we learned we purchased 3,500 points for $30,200. He also said we could refinance or sell points. He gave us a timeline of things to do. He said to call Barclays in February of 2021 (after the contract rescission period expired) to refinance and then go through the Transitions program in November of 2021. He had to know that we would not be eligible with an outstanding loan. They guaranteed that maintenance fees would go down to $3,600. They did not. The total amount financed, including prior loans is $99,256.15. We have no choice but to default.
I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I am currently in remission but worry about the future. We both have diabetes. Our health is failing and the stress of this loan weighs heavily on us.
Thank you, Irene, once again we have the story of another case of “Elder Abuse” and to cap it all it is another Veteran. Our title banner asks “How can this be RIGHT?” Our answer is NEVER.
This is criminal activity on the part of sales agents, it is a scam, it is a fraud, all the definitions of those two words confirm it, not our definition but that of all the major dictionaries, in fact, the US definition in the Cambridge Dictionary is very appropriate, “a dishonest or illegal plan or activity, esp. one for making money”.
The word “Dishonest” is key, it may not be “illegal” to “embellish” the truth, but if the aim is to get as much money out of someone as possible regardless of their situation, then that is dishonest and therefore constitutes a fraud, which is illegal. So how do they get away with it?
Your guess is as good as mine, but we do know the developers use every trick in the book to place the blame on the consumer, with the biggest get-out clauses being, “We are not responsible for what our sales agent says” and “you signed the contract”. ARDA also blames the consumer, for “not understanding what they have purchased”, in other words telling everyone who purchased timeshare is ignorant. Nice way to treat those who pay your wages.
Those who run and own this industry have succumbed to greed and they don’t care how they show a profit, this is not business it is robbery, and the sooner the law is clear on what they can a can’t do we will see many more of these horrendous stories on our pages. Yes, the “Nightmares on Timeshare Street” will continue.
That is it for this week, we hope you have a great weekend, Baby Dog has been fascinated with our annual visitors to our Pomegranate tree, a pair of nesting Collared Doves.