Updated March 3, 2023, originally published 29 April 2022
Yesterday Charles talked about how Facebook suspended his account accusing him of breaking “Community Standards” by doing what? It turned out to be mistaken identity. We all can make mistakes, especially huge conglomerates. I can recall having one post removed for breaking Community Standards, yet never looked into what this means. Apparently:
We remove content that contains credible threats or hate speech, content that targets private individuals to degrade or shame them, personal information meant to blackmail or harass someone, and repeated unwanted messages.
This can sometimes happen if the link you’re sharing has previously been shared on Facebook (by you or anyone else), and someone who has seen the link has reported it as a violation.
According to META: https://transparency.fb.com/policies/community-standards/
As I wrote last April, as social media pertains to timeshare buyers, social media serves to increase consumer awareness about the oral representation clause, and the recorded closing, which is unfair if the consumer is not allowed to record the sales session. Our volunteers have heard from far too many financially devastated families reporting horrific timeshare buying experiences.
Timeshare members disputing a transaction are often dismissed by referring the member to the oral representation clause that is buried in the body of a voluminous contract. If the developer really wanted a purchaser to be aware of the fact that you cannot rely on statements made by sales agents, this clause would be disclosed at, or prior to, a timeshare presentation. Timeshare industry lobbyists amended the Timeshare Act in Florida allowing all documents to be provided electronically, now burying the oral representation clause in electronic fine print.
The National Association for Attorneys General warned in 2020 that there is little protection for timeshare buyers:
Unfortunately, the current landscape of the timeshare industry has exposed significant inadequacies in protection for those seeking to purchase, lease, or exit their timeshare contracts.
Those who are unable to resolve a timeshare dispute by working directly with their resort should report their experience to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). https://www.ftc.gov/media/71268
March 5 – 11 is National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW)
Consumers can also “Tell Your Story” to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
Member/Owner Support Facebook Groups
On April 29, 2022 there were 14,365 members that had joined the various self-advocacy Facebook Groups listed below. As of March 3, 2023, that number grew to 16,145, a 12% increase.
Vacation Village Massanutten Timeshare Unfortunate Owners – 60 members
As of March 2, 2023: 123 members
(Founded 10/2021) https://www.facebook.com/groups/1309724916165817
Justice for Manhattan Club Owners – 123 members (11/2021)
As of March 2, 2023: 145 members
The Manhattan Club Disgruntled Owners
https://www.facebook.com/groups/116892578330143/ – 610 members (2010)
As of March 2, 2023: 625
Unhappy Wyndham Owners – 125 Members (12/2018)
As of March 2, 2023: 121
Diamond Resorts Hilton Grand Vacation Advocacy – 7590 members as of 7/25/22
As of March 2, 2023: 8,022
Diamond started recording the closing session after the Arizona Attorney General received hundreds of complaints and issued an Assurance of Discontinuance. Other developers quickly followed suit. If you are told what to say or not say on the recorded closing, it is a red flag. Purchasers are encouraged to record the sales session in states where it is legal to record without the other person aware. There are thousands of Florida timeshare complaints, but it is illegal to record in Florida.
Gold Key Owners’ Forum – 291 members (10/2015)
As of March 2, 2023: 286 members
Bluegreen Timeshare Hostages – 860 members (2012),
As of March 2, 2023: 941 (limited to those disputing a complaint)
Westgate Timeshare Hostages – 740 members 7/25/22 (up from 386 members) (12/2021)
As of March 2, 2023: 1,937
Carriage Hills and Carriage Ridge Owners – 3,966 members (2/2018)
As of March 2, 2023: 3,945 members
A group of determined volunteers forced the sale of Wyndham’s Carriage Hills/Carriage Ridge Resorts, releasing 14,000 owners. The resorts would not allow an exit under any circumstances.
The only defense is consumer education and awareness. Thank you to Facebook Group admins and supporters of efforts to enhance awareness so that if a timeshare is purchased, it is purchased for the right reason, instead of causing often irreparable financial harm.
Reigning in Repeat Offenders – A Lecture at the Penn Program by CFPB Director Rohit Chopra
As Charles mentioned in his summary last year, there are also Facebook Groups consisting of fraudsters with impressive criminal records. Our volunteers have rescued dozens from one group. Always remember to stay alert and remember what your mother taught you – Don’t talk to strangers, especially the ones who call you to tell you they have a buyer for your timeshare.
Thank you, Irene, social media platforms do have a place as we have seen with all the self-help groups, but it also has its dangers as we have already seen in some groups. They are also a very useful tool for scammers, who troll these groups looking for likely victims. Some are set up with the sole intention of generating leads for sale. A recent example is a post that has appeared on my Fb due to friends reacting to it, it is giving away a “free holiday” in a draw, all you do is type “done” in the comments, and you then get an automated reply that your application is almost complete but first you must validate it by going to a link. As I have been following this, the comments have been getting very humourous and the reply is the same for everyone. It is a lead-generating site, nothing more nothing less.
One point which also became very apparent when the account was suspended, was the impact on communication. To me, Facebook is a tool, a quick way of sharing pictures and information between family and friends, but being unable to use Messenger, a very quick and easy way of keeping in contact hit home. We all have other communication apps, but it seems that everyone uses Messenger, so when this tool for communicating is removed and has nothing to do with any posts on Facebook, apart from being on the same account, you are effectively cut off from the world. People who don’t have the other apps are now denied any communication with you, like some of my elderly family who use Messenger because it is so simple to use along with our situation of not having to make expensive international phone calls.
Yes, these social media platforms are useful, but the biggest downside is the power and control they have over their members, who after all keep their coffers full by attracting “advertisers” who pay. The question is: Have they become too powerful?
That is all for this week, the article by Les on Wyndham maintenance fees has been postponed due to communication between the parties, so it would be wrong for us to publish it at this time.
Baby Dog has been showing some disturbing signs recently, then it dawned on us, he is approaching two years old, which makes him a teenager in human years, say no more, and have a great weekend.