We have all made some kind of complaint about goods or services which have not fulfilled the promise or purpose when purchased, with the vast majority of these complaints being made by email. The first response is usually an automated one just to say “we have received your email and we will respond in due course”. At least we know they got it, whether anyone does anything about it is another matter.
When we do eventually receive an answer to our complaint it invariably amounts to nothing, filled with excuses and what we call “Canned Responses”, all designed to end your complaint there and then.
They usually begin with platitudes such as we are so sorry that you have had cause to complain, our staff are working to resolve this matter or we are unable to uphold your complaint. The latter will be full of their own reasons why they reject the complaint, more often than not more excuses with the inference that you, the consumer, are the ones actually at fault.
No matter which timeshare developer you are with, the responses will all be similar, but there may just be another way to reply.
Recently our friend Benn Dover, a Westgate Timeshare Hostage, published their own version on Facebook to Westgate, using the very “Canned Responses” they themselves have used. Having read the letter AIT asked if we could publish and here it is.
RE: Disgruntled Westgate Owner / Issue # 0000000
Thank you for your all correspondence submitted to the many agencies we have filed complaints with. Allow us to provide our complete response below.
We are terribly sorry you failed to read and comprehend our previous response. We appreciate your feedback regarding Westgate’s position, and we apologize for any inconvenience you may have experienced due to our complaint. It is unfortunate that verbal communication during our presentation is not possible to validate. Please remember that we did not claim that we were forced to stay, we merely wanted to point out how overwhelming that day was. However, keep in mind that if we wanted that great low price we were obligated to stay and make our decision that day.
As for the closing process, let us assure you that we recognize that Westgate’s process is designed to make sure potential owners are worn out, confused, and most importantly pertinent information is never disclosed. We understand that we were within our rights to stop the transaction altogether but unfortunately, we were verbally misled regarding what we were signing. Our contract was misleading, and information was missing, and we had no way of knowing that we were being deceived. As the consumer, which you have reminded us, that it is up to us to review the purchase
terms to ensure that what we acknowledged and agreed with matched the information relayed in the documents. Please note that we have NEVER entered a contract where we felt we were being misled by what we were being told or by what we were signing and if Westgate were a reputable company this would have never happened. We signed a document that stated we were getting all information in paper form, but Westgate never intended for us to receive everything in paper form. Instead, the POS was in CD-ROM form, which contained the most important information, and those CD-ROMs were intentionally placed in undisclosed pockets that we knew nothing about and were not told. As we now understand, we were also provided a mandatory rescission period, which is set by the State, wherein we were able to review the purchase documents at our own pace. Unfortunately, that information was on the CD-ROMs, and making an informed decision was not possible. Please understand that Westgate could have done several things to ensure that this never happened. First by verbally mentioning the rescission period, second by showing us the CD-ROM, third by telling us of the importance of that CD-ROM. Instead, we were under the impression we would receive a CD-ROM that would just contain a backup of our contract. One might think, based on Westgate statements, our mistake was trusting the employees that were walking us through the closing process.
As far as the recission period, the rescission period was not long enough for us to figure out
1) Renting our own unit was difficult, not as simple as we were told.
2) Renting for maintenance fees was not possible, as we were led to believe, and
3) Selling to get out of maintenance fees was not possible, yet we were told it would be high demand and easy to sell. The recission period was not long enough to find the CD-ROMs were not the right ones. It took us almost 10 years to discover things that were impossible to know within the rescission period.
With reference to rental or resale, allow me to clarify, Westgate has repeatedly pointed out that we are free to rent or sell it at our discretion. However, the Acknowledgment of Representations document previously provided simply discloses that Westgate does not assist with either endeavour. We completely understand why Westgate will not help with this endeavour because it is virtually not possible.
Although Westgate’s claim about the Public Offering Statement (POS) being time-barred, because we upgraded in 2011 and purchased again in 2012, be advised that in all our documentation and CD-ROMs we gathered throughout all (purchase, upgrade, and 2nd purchase) we never received a Westgate of the Smoky Mountains POS. We have 1 POS for Park City, UT, and 2 with Amendments from 2006. There is a problem with Westgate’s closing process if we had 3 separate transactions and never received a POS for Westgate of the Smoky Mountains. Please note that in the Receipt for Timeshare Documents, we acknowledged that the POS was to be provided to us on the day of sale in paper form, therefore we had no reason not to believe we had all we needed in paper form. There was no indication given regarding the importance of the CD-ROM and the fact that it was in a secret pocket tells me that Westgate did not want us to know the importance.
Please be advised that due to unclear and defective contract documents and because the CD-ROMs were fraudulently concealed, the statute of limitations is tolled until the action is, or could have been, discovered through the exercise of due diligence, which in our case was 2020. Therefore, our contracts are invalid, and cancellation and refund are warranted.
Westgate, while we are cognizant of your point of view and that you feel offering owners the chance to participate in the Legacy Program is a way of touting that Westgate cares, it only offers temporary false hope. We understand that there is no benefit for Westgate to accept our deed back. It is to Westgate’s advantage to continue receiving our maintenance fees and continue to resell our unit. Although Westgate may disagree, we ask you to understand that our position remains as previously set forth; your denial does not change the lies, deceit, and unethical practices. While Westgate cannot provide us with the resolution we desire, we appreciate knowing that we are decent people and do not have to live with the lies that Westgate has told.
Disgruntled Westgate Owner
Even after reading it several times it certainly brings a smile, turning the tide so to speak, we just wonder how it was received, more than likely put into “file 13”, the trash bin.
It is not just the timeshare developers who are using this technique, recently our friend in the UK who is battling BPF and FOS has received a reply from the FOS investigator regarding her case. She has sent several requests to BPF and the FOS under the Freedom of Information Act, requesting all correspondence and documents between BPF, Silverpoint and the FOS. These include all information on the loan agreements and all information regarding due diligence by BPF in granting the loan.
According to the FOS investigator, they “hold no documents”, BPF or Silverpoint did not provide the FOS with any documents or information. The investigator then went on to say:
“As these complaints relate to the allegations Silverpoint breached the contracts, rather than any affordability concerns, information about the lending decision was not required by our service to reach a fair outcome, so it was not requested from BPF or Silverpoint.”
Now considering the complaints have all included the fact about income v expenditure reports, proof of income and affordability, it makes the mind boggle as to how this investigator can make decisions based on no information at all. In other words, a “Canned Response” to cover the fact they have not got a clue as to what they are doing.
So what can we deduce from these “Canned Responses”?
There are really only two reasons, they either do not have the staff to deal with complaints so a standard letter is used to cover for their ineptitude, or they just don’t really care about your complaint at all. We actually suspect it is a bit of both.
The main rule is to never give up, this is what all businesses want you to do by making any complaint the biggest hurdle since the Great Flood. Keep at it, make a nuisance of yourself, bombard them and all the authorities with complaints, and eventually, someone will take notice. Use the same techniques that Benn Dover has used, don’t see it as a chore, rather see it as a bit of fun and getting your own back.
We leave the final word on this subject to Baby Dog, always trust the pooch!