From the very moment, you are approached by an OPC on a street corner or from a booth, the deception begins, they may only be small “porkies” told by the guy trying to get you on the “presentation”, but it is an indication of what is to come. From the deceptive sales practices at the point of sale right through your life with timeshare, you will be bombarded with false statements and promises.
Many of our articles have reflected this, especially the horrific accounts given by our Veterans and Seniors and how they have been deceived by unscrupulous sales agents. The countless stories from other owners/members and how they have been lied to just to “upgrade” them, we are seeing this with all the talk on Social Media regarding Hilton & Diamond.
As if this was not enough, we have those on the periphery, many being ex-timeshare employees. Over the years these have come in the guise of resale companies with their promise of a quick sale for big money to a “guaranteed corporate” buyer. Now predominantly we have the “exit & claims” companies, all with answers to everything, with a new one emerging almost every week.
The one thing that all have in common is that the lies, untruths or whatever you wish to call them, are very inventive indeed, but all rely on one fact, you the consumer are unlikely to know if it is the truth or a lie.
This is all changing with social media, recently we covered the Westgate Lakes protest by the Westgate Timeshare Hostages Facebook Group. At the time of the protest Mark Waltrip, the Chief Operating Officer for Westgate issued a statement claiming the protesters were jumping on the “bandwagon” of a recent shooting at a Westgate Resort. Something that was totally untrue.
We all know the protest is about deceptive sales practices and the impossibility of exiting the membership. Yet Westgate seems to ignore the fact it is their own sales agents committing these offences and do nothing to stop them. To be fair it is not just Westgate, the vast majority of developers do the same.
Over the past week another daily protest has been staged at Westgate Lakes, “hostages” have been holding daily vigils highlighting the deception being employed by Westgate sales agents.
In an attempt to deflect the signs being displayed by the protesters, Westgate had a banner erected stating I Love Westgate. Of course, they do, they make millions from it.
One of our contributors Larry Lobbyist posted the following article on Fb, How do you get away from your timeshare? By Randy Meier a Guest Columnist writing for the Clinton Herald. (Please note EU residents are unable to access this without the use of VPN)
Randy Meier is the director of Seniors vs. Crime a Special Project of the Florida AG. In the article, he highlights the many problems faced by seniors, problems we have been publishing for a very long time. It is not a long piece, but it does convey the seriousness of the problem.
The various Fb posts on this story, all carry the same comment:
“The Florida timeshare division, DBPR, had started to refer timeshare complaints to our office. I was told I could keep my position only if I never talked to a timeshare member again. That’s because we were effective helping people.”
With this statement, we have to ask why this threat, why is the Florida AGs Office not taking the hundreds of complaints about timeshare seriously?
Don’t hold your breath for an answer, I could give you one but I don’t think the AG would like it.
Another area of timeshare on social media is the “exit & claims” companies, generally cold calling with offers of “guaranteeing” an exit or relinquishment of your membership. This is usually coupled with, especially in the EU, a “financial claim” against the timeshare.
The “porkies” these cold callers use can only be described as very imaginative, in Monday’s article we had a new player on the block making this wild claim:
“In most cases, the timeshare company will agree to release the customer, and pay out a claim instead of risking an adverse court decision.”
A timeshare company voluntarily pays out because they are scared to go to court and receive an “adverse” decision. That has got to be the biggest joke of all time.
On the various groups and forums, we follow, there are some wonderful comments from the people receiving the cold calls, all expressing what they have been told. This is a great insight into what tactic the scammers are using to convince their mark.
One conversation involved a consumer who has had a claim with Barclays Partner Finance already resolved. He informed the caller of this along with the fact that BPF had not only cancelled his loan agreement but also taken over and cancelled his membership as part of the deal.
Not deterred by this the cold caller promptly stated “they have no authority to cancel your timeshare.” The consumer fed up with these people just hung up, but we have a question if BPF doesn’t have the authority, who gave it to you?
In another thread, the timeshare owner was told that they need to act now to cancel their contract and get their claim in because, by the end of the year, there will no longer be any timeshare in Europe.
Some of these tactics use true events, quite often high-profile court cases or the announcement that BPF would contact all Azure and Silverpoint owners with BPF loan agreements. In this instance consumers were all told it was not BPF, it was a scam using links to the BPF website, but they can do the whole claim for you, not just Azure & Silverpoint, but every other timeshare company in Europe.
With social media, these lies are revealed a lot more quickly, before social media it could be a year or more before you find you had been scammed, now you have a better chance of avoiding it earlier. But it can also have its downside, what you see can also be seen by scammers, we all too often see people posting personal information about their timeshare, even in closed & private groups. Scammers will and do create fake profiles and infiltrate your groups, it is just another method of getting their leads.
There really is only one policy when it comes to timeshare, treat everything you are told by sales agents, cold callers and whoever else is trying to get your money as a lie from the start. Then do your own homework and find the truth.