Our title shows that the lack of truthful information for owners makes them the perfect target for the “sales agents” and those on the periphery of timeshare, the scam companies. It is a curse every timeshare owner has had to deal with from the very beginning, AIT has highlighted many “dubious” sales practices which have resulted in significant financial losses. Our recent “military predatory lending” series has revealed many lies from the sales agents themselves and putting serving military personnel at risk, the second of six articles will be published on Friday.
One very good example of this lack of information and its consequences was the Hilton acquisition of Diamond, not just in the US, but also in Europe. From the moment the announcement was made public the many forums were full of questions, what did this mean for Diamond members and how would they be affected were the most common. The lack of information to members was very telling, we at AIT got a distinct impression that even the two companies hadn’t a clue what was going to happen.
Not long after we began to receive information from members that they had been contacted to “invite” them to attend an “important update”. There were also reports from these “updates”, not good to say the least.
The pressure was on to sell the “upgrades” so Diamond members received better “benefits”, scare stories of what they would lose if they didn’t do it now. We need not go on, you all know the story.
The sales agents used the uncertainty of the situation to line their own and Diamond’s pockets, with “upgrades” which were not required by the consumer, and all under the noses of Diamond & Hilton. Yet we found no evidence that the two developers did anything to make the situation clear to members, on the contrary, it appears this only encouraged their agents even more.
Over the “Great Lake” in Europe, this was not a problem, there were no sales being conducted, Diamond had closed all sales decks and all sales staff were made redundant several years earlier. However, this did open the door to the scammers and their cold-calling antics.
Almost immediately the cold calls began, all were basically the same theme used by the sales agents in the US, the only difference was there was no “upgrade” being sold, so the “product” was exit & claims.
They used the uncertainty and lack of information to members to their advantage, coming up with “scare” stories of how members would lose all their rights, and that Hilton members would have priority on reservations. Their Diamond membership would be worthless (isn’t it anyway?) unless they paid huge amounts to Hilton and convert.
Then they offer the solution, pay them several thousand pounds or euros and they will “cancel your contract” then they will make a claim to get your money back for mis-selling. We should add that the claim would not be through the courts and it is done on a “no win, no fee” basis once you pay for the exit. Don’t need to say where that is going.
Again, during all this, we found no evidence that Diamond members in Europe were being told the “truth” or being warned of these scams.
Staying in Europe and the Wyndham takeover of 12 Club la Costa resorts, with the news breaking on 25 October 2021, it was also headlined as a “strategic partnership”. This news did come as a great surprise to many, especially the members, it also opened up a lot of questions on the forums, just like the Diamond Hilton news.
As with Diamond, no sales were being conducted by CLC in Europe, so nothing from sales agents as all sales decks had closed long before and the SALES companies were placed into liquidation. Both these events began an immediate campaign of cold calls, each complementing the other.
The pitch with the liquidations was simple: members were told they were all losing their memberships, and the Wyndham “partnership” fuelled this flame as proof of CLC “disappearing”. The solution was “exit & claims”.
Recently we had the news regarding Barclays Partner Finance and the FCA in the Azure case. Within hours of the announcement that BPF would be refunding all Azure clients involved in the validation order case, also including all other Azure clients going back many years, the cold calls started. The race was on to get as many clients and rake in as much money as possible.
The pitch was very simple, it would be a very complicated process, so “professional and legal” help would be required, again hinting at a “no win, no fee” scenario. We don’t know the full extent of the “scam” as all those who have contacted AIT told the callers in no uncertain terms where to go. They already knew the truth.
These are short but good examples of how not providing truthful and accurate information to consumers place them at risk of being scammed. The scammers and rogue sales agents are relying on this to get your money.
To give credit where credit is due, BPF did announce in the press not to take on the services of any third party, they would contact all those involved. They also gave a projected timeline as to when this would be complete. Club la Costa was also very quick to get the correct information to members, it was only a few days after the liquidations were announced when they explained that no memberships were affected. It was very much the same with the Wyndham announcement, how it would affect members was explained.
Moving now to Friday, last week we published Report 1: Navy, Chief Petty Officer, 14 years served, and a summary of six reports all scheduled for publication.
This is our second of the six reports and concerns a Marine Veteran, 26 years served, on active duty when a Hilton Grand Vacation timeshare was purchased, it is following an all too familiar pattern. The introduction and editing are by Irene Parker.
On Monday we missed our Baby Dog picture, no excuses, it was forgotten and Baby Dog was not at all happy so he posed for this “hide & seek” picture.