“In Texas, you can’t buy a drink until you’re 21 years of age, yet an 18-year-old can buy two assault weapons on his 18th birthday,” said a commentator, whose name I did not catch.
It’s very difficult to change a culture when lobbyists have the upper hand. America has become a culture of violence. Graphs don’t lie.
I’m often asked, “Why do you do this?” My answer is, gun violence. More specifically, survivor’s guilt. Some survivors feel guilty that they survived when others died. Others believe they could have done more to save the lives of others.
Charles Thomas posted on Wednesday, a single rose, after learning of the Texas atrocity when 19 elementary school children and two teachers were murdered a few days before the end of their school year. Golden State Warriors NBA coach Steve Kerr expressed his outrage, asking, “How would you feel if this happened to you?”
It happened to me. It’s the reason why I forfeited my retirement, working alongside a team of volunteers I call “Big Brothers and Big Sisters” as they are those who resolved, or may not have resolved, their timeshare dispute. They have stayed on to support others. Volunteers answer questions about regulatory filings for veterans, government workers, active duty service members, the young, the old, the sophisticated and the vulnerable.
Derrick Higgins is a retired investigator whose career included working undercover for a state agency. He lost $6,000 to an exit company, misnamed Consumer Law Protection. What chance has the truly vulnerable?
All who reach out are unsuspecting. A vacation plan may not seem a serious matter, but deceptive and unfair sales tactics have led to financial insolvency, deterioration in physical health, and even bankruptcy.
Two days ago, I received this Facebook message: I am so lost and even thinking about suicide because of this timeshare thing.
Yesterday I turned 47 years older than my best friend Jayme Simmons would have been, had she not been shot in the face three times by her husband, John Moore, of Venice, California, in front of her two-year-old daughter. Prior to the homicide, her husband had served a 30-day prison sentence for harming Jayme and her mother. The sheriff advised Jayme to live somewhere else. She and her daughter moved in with me.
I was asked to testify to premeditation, but her husband switched his plea to guilty to get a lesser sentence. It worked. The judge sentenced him to seven years. I became a victim’s advocate that day. Following my career in the investment world, I volunteered first as a CASA worker, Court Appointed Special Advocates for children in foster care and then as a paid supervisor, writing court reports, or editing volunteer court reports to help judges and interested parties determine the best outcome for a child in state care. I attended all hearings and trials.
Timeshare developers need an Ombudsman that will function as an alternative to hiring what I call robot auto-deniers. If there is one thing we’ve learned, it’s that people need a safe place to turn to when a dispute arises. It’s not easy navigating regulatory processes to determine which agencies to report to, or even how to begin to resolve a dispute. The good news is that there are developers who are listening instead of defaulting to the oral representation clause that buyers unwittingly initial, agreeing that they did not rely on claims made by a sales agent.
Among the over 2,000 timeshare members and owners who have reached out, over 300 are veterans. More than a few suffer the wounds of war, including Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and my old friend, PTSD. Active duty services members can lose their security clearances, and even be separated from service, if they default on a timeshare loan. One recent dispute concerns an active duty service member who purchased a minimum number of timeshare points. Their loan was $10,000. They lost in arbitration. The judgment against them was $66,000. The difference is mostly the resort’s attorneys’ fees. As many as five time-keepers can be assigned to argue against even a small dispute. There has to be a better way.
We inspire to be a bridge between timeshare members and developers, asking the developer and their lobbyists to stop parroting the auto-response, most people love their timeshare. Of course, there are people happy with their timeshare. My husband and I owned four timeshares off and on for 25 years without a complaint or Facebook post. But even one active duty service member separated from service because of a timeshare is one too many. One suicide is one too many. An attorney once told me she was contacted by a daughter whose father’s suicide she attributed to his timeshare default. People sometimes tell me their marriage is suffering because of a bad timeshare purchase. There is never one reason for a divorce or a suicide, but certainly, money can be contributing factor. A Bronze Star veteran had a heart attack when his daughter asked him questions I had asked her that she could not answer. He had been driven into a reverse mortgage and said he felt like he was losing his home every time he walked in the door. His agent, a well-known sales agent that earned $2.4 million that year, admitted in a lawsuit he deceived existing members. A 90% disabled Vietnam veteran and a Navy veteran both filed for bankruptcy because of their timeshare loan default. It’s just not right, especially when it’s the same agents’ names we hear over and over, spanning sometimes years.
There’s too much suffering in the world. My reward comes from hearing the sound of voices turned from despair to hope, from suffering to recovery. A detective told me, “You never forget a homicide.” That’s true. Channel your grief and anger outward to help others, to lead those harmed towards a path of healing, whether the obstacle to peace is something as tragic as a homicide, or as troubling as a financial disaster.
Related article: Timeshare Lobbyists
Thank you Irene, I would like to wish along with all our readers a very Happy Birthday to Irene, hence publishing this article a day early.
To all the people of Ulvade, you are not alone.