By Maria, a Westgate Buyer
Westgate Resorts Timeshare Hostages Facebook Group, launched 12/2021, 2,651 members
One of the most common complaints from timeshare members and owners is that their timeshare sales agent assured them that it would be easy to rent to cover costs. Some members said their sales agents proudly showed them their eBay or Craigslist listings. Others reported that they were referred to a specific rental company. The strategy is unfeasible for the average timeshare buyer, and it is illegal in Florida to sell a timeshare as a rental income investment opportunity.
Following our article about timeshare furnishers (companies that furnish information to credit reporting agencies), Westgate buyer Maria shares her experience about how her family experienced a drop in their credit score because they relied on their sales agent’s promise that it would be easy to rent. Families that count on the ability to rent find themselves with little choice but to default because they could not otherwise afford the timeshare.
Timeshares loans are financed at 12.99% to 19.99%. Promising the ability to rent to offset high-interest rates is unrealistic. Anyone’s life can take an unexpected turn, so with no ability to sell if a loan is outstanding, consumers should think twice before financing a timeshare. Banks do not finance timeshares.
Caveat Emptor or Buyer Beware
Last year a group of Westgate owners raised funds through a GoFundMe to file a public records request with the Florida Attorney General’s office. Of the 551 Westgate owners that reported $4,162,062 in losses (many left the amount blank), nearly 50% complained about being promised the ability to rent.
It always comes down to proof. Developers rely on the infamous oral representation clause, buried in the contract’s fine print, to dismiss complaints, but a volume and pattern of complaints presents reasonable suspicion – a lower form of proof noted on the illustration above, but proof nonetheless. The Better Business Bureau notes 580 Westgate complaints over the last three years, as of today.
Breakdown of Westgate Resorts complaints:
29 mentioned being veterans, 3 mentioned being active duty military
251 mention “rent”
88 mention “profit”
111 mention “investment”
Maria shares her Westgate experience
We stopped making Westgate Resorts loan payments at the end of 2021. Westgate reported missed payments to Experian beginning in May of 2022. When collection agents call, I explain why we are not paying. I have a strong justice streak. I’m not letting it go.
We bought a one-week timeshare at Westgate’s Las Vegas Resort and Casino in 2021 for $19,000. We financed $18,000. Our sales agent, Edgar, advised us to list our unit on eBay to rent out if we were not able to make maintenance fees or loan payments. When we went to sign papers, Edgar said we would be asked a question about why we were buying and we should say that we were buying for vacation time.
We asked to be released from our timeshare after finding too many obstacles to renting but were told they would not help. There was no way for me to confirm that we had been advised to rent to earn income during the contract rescission period. I could not even access our account until it was too late to cancel. I was provided with a tablet, but they said I could not log in for a month.
We know of another Westgate buyer who had also been told the timeshare was an income-producing rental opportunity. She launched a Facebook page to promote renting. She gathered 243 followers, but she said no one inquired about renting.
When Westgate would not help us we turned to the internet and found Anthony “Tony” Diehl from American Savings Network. He said their firm could release us if we bought a travel club. We learned this was not true. There offer we received in an email:
Subject: Fwd: GUARANTEED TIMESHARE EXIT Tony 702-818-0021
American Savings Network, Inc.
28581 Old Town Front St. #209
Temecula, CA 92590
- 100% money-back Guarantee
- Resolution within 6-12 months (not 2 YR)
- Credit repair of all derogatory items in regards to your timeshare (extra fee)
- Possible full or partial tax write-off
- Full Divestment of timeshare & all liabilities for you and your HEIRS!!
Our Attorneys will use the Legal System to get your Timeshare Obligation CANCELLED Directly With Your Timeshare Developer
We declined Tony’s offer having learned getting money-back is not easy to do.
The Florida Attorney General was of no help. They don’t seem concerned that so many timeshare buyers are harmed by timeshare companies.
If there are 551 consumer complaints from Westgate buyers, filed with the Florida Attorney General, why has there been no investigation? They will purse exit companies. I found this online:
Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “I am proud of my Statewide Prosecutors for securing restitution for Florida victims of this fraud.”
“This company knowingly defrauded victims in Orlando and statewide, most of whom were elderly, using a scheme to sell or rent their timeshares,” said Gueldner. “I’m happy that we were able to give some of the victims the satisfaction of getting their money back and knowing this individual will be spending some time in jail.”
The Complaint filing process.
As we reported last week, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission have been listening. The CFPB spoke at oral arguments at the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Jacksonville, Florida on October 3rd and 6th this month. Even if the Attorney General’s office is not pursuing an investigation, it’s still important to file – for the record. Links to file with the CFPB and the FTC are included:
Other related articles – Timeshare Companies with Complaints about Renting
Comedian John Oliver talked about how Westgate sales agents are trained to lie:
Developers with complaints about being sold on the ability to rent to cover costs include Wyndham, Bluegreen, The Colonies at Williamsburg (Vacation Village), Branson’s Nantucket, and Club Exploria.
Twelve Westgate families alleging they were advised to rent to offset costs
Nine Westgate Families (2 – 10) March 4, 2022
Westgate by Abdur Rashid (11) April 22, 2022
Jackie’s Vacays Westgate (12) June 10, 2022
Sheri (The Colonies at Vacation Village) March 18, 2022
Exploria v Austin Aaronson 11th Circuit Court of Appeals (1) March 11, 2022
Thank you, Irene, once again you have highlighted a dilemma which many seniors are facing, default or pay hoping whichever decision they make is for the best. There is a very good reason why this is a difficult decision. For many the idea of defaulting is against their moral principles, and more importantly, they are from a generation where any legal action to recover any default is viewed as a stigma.
Over the years writing as Timeshare Insider, we have published many stories regarding debt collectors for UK owners who default on their maintenance fees, loans to purchase the timeshare are the responsibility of the issuing finance company, it is not linked to the timeshare. One of the very first to use the legal system to “enforce payment” of arrears was Petchey Leisure, previously if maintenance was not paid after three full years the timeshare was generally “repossessed”. Other developers soon followed suit, the most notorious of all has been MacDonald Resorts. The tactics they developed with their “law firm”, ensured very few cases went to court, they just simply paid up with the fear of having a County Court Judgement. I’m sorry to say that the cases that did appear before the County Court were all found in favour of MacDonald Resorts. Such is the fear among that generation of a CCJ.
The one point which always seems to come up when speaking with members who contact AIT, is valid, “If my timeshare is worth what they told us, why don’t they just take it back and sell it?” A very good question which no developer has yet been able to answer.
That is all for this week, once again the best-laid plans went for a burton so sorry for no mid-week ditty, not sure on next week. We hope you all have a very good weekend and remember, Stay Calm, it’s only a timeshare.
Baby Dog has spent the whole week sleeping, and with the heat and humidity he was exhausted.