Westgate has figured fairly prominently in our US articles recently, judging by some of the comments and messages received, it appears their antics are causing quite a bit of outrage among readers. This has also been seen in comments on other forums where the articles have been shared, some of these comments from UK readers have also noticed similarities in the sales pitch, reminding them of Silverpoint, a similarity AIT found when editing.
In the article “Westgate Resorts Sues Former Owners!” Larry Lobbyist certainly put the proverbial cat among the pigeons, it also triggered many negative comments about the industry, one which featured prominently in private messages was “MAFIA” tactics. This also brought similarities to those suffered by owners of MacDonald Resorts, most notably those of Mrs B, a series of articles over five years published in the predecessor to AIT.
That series followed her legal battle and summons to court following the legal transfer of her timeshare to another person, thankfully after many years, it is now over and in her favour.
Timeshare developers and resorts taking “owners” to court is not new, in Europe, it was always believed and told to prospective purchasers that if maintenance fees were not paid after three years, it would be “repossessed”. On the whole, this was true until one developer decided that rather than roll over and lose the maintenance income, (reputedly Petchy Leisure), the contract had no end date so decided to take “debt recovery action”.
Others followed suit, but few cases were ever taken to court, not for the reasons you may think, it was purely the threat and receipt of debt collectors which cleared the “debt”. The stigma attached to having a “County Court Judgment” against you, the implications of never getting a mortgage and other finance was enough to make them pay. With the older generation, this stigma was even greater.
The referral by readers to “MAFIA” tactics is actually a perfect analogy, legalised extortion is what we call it, instead of using violence and force, the threats of costly legal bills bring the same result. Win, win for the resorts.
In the second article “Westgate Buyer Jackie’s Rental Business is Timeshare Trapped”, the similarities to Silverpoint were more evident, the indication of “investment”. Whether it be for rental income and/or purchase with the intention of selling with a profit at a later date, Silverpoint offered both.
The word “investment” may not appear in documentation, although it is freely used by sales agents, you don’t want a timeshare, you have no intention of buying one, but something which is portrayed as an “investment”, that may be worth considering. Gotcha!
This happened to one UK client with Silverpoint, her testimony in court clearly showed that is what she was being sold, the Supreme Court ruled in her favour and declared it was timeshare and not an investment. That case went on to make legal history in Spain and opened the doors for many more cases.
The way Jackie had been pitched the rental aspect in order to persuade her to purchase is so close to Silverpoint had we not known the name of the resort or location, Silverpoint would have been our first guess. But that is not the only similarity with Silverpoint.
Many of the contracts relating to the “investment packs” and especially the replacement, “Company Participations Scheme”, had a clause which prohibited the “purchaser” from “disclosing the existence of the contract, the parties involved or any details to any third party”. This also prohibited the “purchaser” from using their own legal representative, they also had no “right” to know the identities of the other investors in the “company”.
The threat of legal sanction if this clause was broken was very evident.
Just from this clause alone, alarm bells ring, why cannot a purchaser seek independent legal advice over a contract if it is all above board?
One answer is very simple, they knew what they were doing was bordering on the illegal, and that has since been proven.
The second was the threat of legal action by the specialist timeshare lawyers already on the “investment” cases. The last thing they wanted was a client taking the contract to one of those and facing even more court action. Unfortunately for Silverpoint, one client did take his contract to a specialist firm, which began the surge of cases against this product. A bit of a backfire from Silverpoint?
The arbitration clause provoked one of our colleagues at another publication, in his comments to AIT on the subject he had this to say:
OK, the licence to lie is to be expected but that arbitration clause shows complete contempt for owners. Makes you realise that timeshare developers in the USA are on the back foot by attempting to head off any third-party help owners may require.
I wonder if this clause has been sent to all Westgate owners? regards the clause quoted in the article below:
“Declining the new terms cancels out all owner benefits. If you decline these terms you will not be able to use your loyalty benefits until you accept terms. You will be able to get back to this page from the Loyalty Page.”
Not sure about USA law but for sure this would constitute an unfair term in the UK, to me its bordering on blackmail. I wonder what Finn Law would make of it.
No doubt Siegel was one of those kids who said “If you don’t play by my rules I’m taking my ball home”
That says it all, especially the quote from the website, if that is not “extortion” what is?
Timeshare is now being truly exposed for the dirty industry it is, the contempt for consumers and the law until it suits them is all too evident, and the industry is on the run. In a recent article on this topic, the TCA very simply explains how Spain has basically killed the timeshare sales industry. It is simply explained and shows how short-sighted the timeshare industry is, a worthwhile read especially if you are new to our pages.
We hope you all had a great weekend and for us the weekend was time to relax with a few birthday wishes to give out, one was very special, it was the First Birthday of Baby Dog, actually named Zeus, a name from Greek mythology. Zeus is known as “ruler, protector, and father of all gods and humans”, at home he certainly behaves that way.