Michelle Jabeur is a former Diamond Resorts/Hilton Grand Vacations salesperson. She worked at Diamond’s Virginia Beach sales centre prior to filing a lawsuit against Diamond Resorts in 2022, Case 1:22-cv-00340-MSN-IDD. Michelle said Diamond offered her a settlement, but it would have required her to sign a non-disclosure agreement. She refused. She then was rehired by Hilton Grand Vacations, but quit after two weeks of training, disturbed by practices she said she witnessed. She thought she had been hired to sell a Hilton product. When questioning why all the paperwork said Diamond Resorts, Michelle says she was told, “You work for Diamond, get used to it.”
In her lawsuit complaint, Michelle described deceptive tactics employed by one of Virginia’s In-house Director of Sales. The person Michelle named has been mentioned by five Diamond members who reached out to us, including the Thompson family in Pennsylvania. They have been financially devastated as a result of their decision to purchase a Diamond timeshare. They describe their experience below.
The person Michelle spoke with at the Attorney General of Virginia’s office informed Michelle that their office has received THOUSANDS of timeshare complaints. They said she was a “treasure chest” yet, to our knowledge, no action has been taken against any timeshare company.
Our Diamond/Hilton Grand Vacations Experience
By the Thompsons, ages 68 and 62
If you buy a timeshare, YOU NEED TO RECORD THE SALES SESSION in states where it is legal to do so. If you don’t record, the recorded closing (contract signing session), can be used against you. This happened to us. Michelle Jabeur told me that during her sales training with Hilton Grand Vacations, the Quality Assurance person assigned to train new hires instructed, “We have 46 pages of documents to get through, and we can get through them in 18 minutes – if they don’t ask any questions.” We were instructed to not ask questions. Our complaint was dismissed because “you didn’t bring up your concerns on the recorded closing.”
Michelle said that in the timeshare industry, “front-line” salespeople are supposed to sell initially about $20,000 worth of points. The buyer is told they are required to attend an orientation within 90 days of purchase. At the orientation, the “in-house” sales team is supposed to make a second sale, likely to take place before the first points purchased have been used. The In-house sales team often blames the prior (front-line) sales team for mistakes made, as the reason why there needs to be an additional purchase. This is EXACTLY what happened to us
Our second purchase was not necessary. We were forced to default. It feels like thousands of dollars have been stolen. I lost almost one year of salary with my school district. We sent our report to Hilton Grand Vacation CEO Mark D Wang, Stan Soraka, (former) Executive Vice President and Chief Customer Officer, and Diamond representative Sarah Cunningham. Ms Cunningham called us. I was shaking after speaking with her. My head was pounding. She stated in writing that I could not review her offer with a third party. In other words, I could not even have an attorney review our situation. The offer was worthless.
The unnecessary purchase took place at the required orientation on March 4, 2019. We met with Alec, who asked why we were there. We told him we were informed that we had to attend an orientation. Alec said we didn’t need an orientation. I was infuriated. I had taken two days off work and we had met with an ice storm on our way, requiring an extra night stay.
Alec informed us, “We don’t sell timeshares. We sell Vacation Clubs.” After reviewing our file, he asked, “Why did you purchase this package? It’s only good for ten years, so only suitable for an elderly couple with health ailments.” Alec introduced us to his manager (The same person Michelle named in her lawsuit). The manager also asked, “Why would you have purchased this?” We asked if we had been lied to, “Do either of us look elderly and not able to travel?” Both replied “Absolutely not!” and chuckled. “The agents who sold you this will definitely be in a ton of trouble. They could lose their job because they cost the company well over $100,000 by selling a mistake.” He said the agents should have known better, and that higher-ups would be mad about what it would take to make it right. We were in shock.
They asked if we knew what the fees were for. We were told they were maintenance fees. Alec laughed and said, “No, those are not maintenance fees, they are for taxes, etc.” They were maintenance fees and we later learned that the ten-year product is actually an advantage because maintenance fees are not lifetime.
Alec and his Manager produced paperwork showing what we would need to purchase THAT DAY in Virginia to “upgrade” to lifetime status so we could go anywhere. Our Florida agents at our prior purchase told us we could stay anywhere. Alec said what he would offer us was out of the norm because of having been wronged, so we would be able to purchase at a crazy low price. He instructed us not to tell anyone. He reiterated this over and over.
We decided to keep what we had. Alec then said, “Well you do know that you can only stay at four places?” He pointed to the locations on the prior contract. We later learned we were not restricted to only four locations.
Thinking what we had purchased was a mistake, we bought 15,000 additional points for $31,111. Our net purchase price, after trading in our $13,130 “mistake” was $18,610. Agents opened two Diamond Barclay Cards charging $9,305 on each card.
We had been planning to use our points to go to Hawaii for our 40th anniversary. It was to be a Christmas gift. We were excited to tell our kids, but after being belittled, we felt like fools. Why were we responsible for a mistake made by Diamond’s sales agents?
Alec had spent all afternoon and well into the evening bragging about how he was doing us a favor. While we were waiting in the lobby, another couple walked past. The husband rolled his eyes and said, “We were given a blow.” They must have also been told they bought the wrong product. Overhearing this, Alec reminded, “Remember, don’t mention the price you are able to purchase at because of the Florida mix-up.”
When we went to sign the contract, the closing agent said everything would be the same as what we discussed with Alec. After seven hours, we were stressed and weary and had been advised not to talk about anything we had discussed.
After later learning that there was nothing wrong with our first purchase, we attempted to end our contract. We contacted MANY people. Refusing to pay for an unnecessary purchase. we stopped paying and now receive calls and emails demanding payment from different numbers. We have also received a threatening letter from Hilton’s law firm for past-due maintenance fees. I have close to 2,000 emails.
I am overwhelmed with stress. We charged the purchase because we did not want to finance it at Diamond’s high-interest rate. I will not be able to retire as planned. The reports following ours were submitted by other Diamond members who experienced the same In-house sales manager. We never went on any vacations using Diamond points.
Not knowing where to turn, like most people, we turned to the internet. We signed up with Timeshare Answers (Integrity) paying them $2,995. When nothing happened, I reached out to After Inside Timeshare. Irene Parker provided Integrity’s BBB profile showing many complaints and a BBB rating of F.
Five Diamond Resorts In-House Director of Sales complaints that resolved
Manager Complaint #1, Platinum member since 1999 (Sunterra)
We met with DR sales agent Marc on January 19, 2019, at a hotel for nearly ten hours. There was relentless pressure and stalling, saying they had to talk to people in Las Vegas about equity in our account. We attended to learn how to sell points. According to Marc, there were people in Las Vegas who specialize in selling and transferring points. Marc got a manager he called the “Head Honcho” to speak with us.
Marc’s manager provided us with our “inside equity statements” supposedly transmitted by the Las Vegas people. The statement indicated that at my current membership level, my points were virtually worthless. The first printout had ZERO dollars but if I were to be a member of “The Club®” the equity could be worth up to $550,000. I asked for copies of the equity statements. They refused, saying they “weren’t supposed to show them to members.” I asked if I could take a picture. He said no. We later learned Diamond points have no resale value.
The agents told me about Diamond’s Transitions exit program but advised me not to go that route because I would lose equity. Marc said that if I went through him, he could put me in touch with other members who would buy my points. When I threatened to contact Transitions, the agents said they didn’t want me to because I would be walking away from a lot of money if I did not buy 3,000 points to access my equity.
The manager said I needed to apply for the Diamond Barclay Credit Card to earn points to offset payments. This was of so little help I cancelled the card. I succumbed thinking I had a way out and a means to recover some value from my 50,000 points. THIS WAS THE ONLY REASON I AGREED TO BUY. Instead of enhancing my existing membership, a new account was established. I received phone calls because I was a “New Member” but when I explained that I was already Platinum, they hung up.
Manager Complaint #2 & #3 (Two couples purchased the same number of points), #2 is a Platinum member
Sales agent Brent was recorded in Missouri fabricating a maintenance fee elimination program
January 5, 2021
To Michael Flaskey, Diamond CEO, Hospitality, ARDA, ARDA ROC, Association of Vacation Owners
We purchased 4,000 points for $25, 916 in July of 2020 with the understanding that they would NOT be used for vacation, but to convert into “Vacation Points” that could be used to pay maintenance fees. Their exact words were, “You will never pay maintenance fees again.”
Brent explained that Diamond was looking for people our age because we have about 20 years of good travel left. He showed us articles about Apollo and Diamond going public. He said Diamond didn’t want negative publicity, so came up with a way for members to not have to pay maintenance fees anymore. He gave us a 20-year projection showing that we would be paying about $100,000 over 20 years if we didn’t upgrade, but if we purchased “Vacation Points” it would be like “paying maintenance fees ahead saving thousands of dollars in the long run.”
Our other sales agent, who we later learned had been arrested in the past for identity theft and forgery, explained it as earning points to pay fees at the end of the year by using the Diamond credit card to earn points. We learned that credit is only credited for 1% of purchases.
Our friends were brought back before we signed the papers. It was mentioned several times that we could not verbalize that this contract was designed to eliminate maintenance fees, because “everyone would want in on this.” We were to tell the closing agent that we were buying points to promote family time, a better selection of resorts, and flexibility. Brent had us write this down and then gave us the thumbs up after reading it. The manager came and asked us why we were buying. One of us said, “So we don’t have to pay maintenance fees anymore.” He put his head in his hands and laughed, asking us again, to which we recited like puppets what Brent had instructed us to say.
When I got my maintenance fee bill in December I contacted the sales agent that had been arrested in the past for forgery and identity theft. She said she NEVER would sell us points to pay maintenance fees. The manager’s caller ID was a pizza restaurant! He said he listened to the tapes and there was no evidence I was coerced. What happened was orchestrated. We know exactly what we heard. As Platinum owners, with points left over at the end of each year, we would NEVER have had a need to purchase more points. We had expressed this numerous times.
Diamond has a Clarity promise of Respect promising consumers clear and concise information.
Comment from Couple #3 that accompanied Couple #2: Gold Key Owners for 20 years
January 1, 2021
When I attempted to speak with Brent, he said he could not talk to me because his wife is dying of pancreatic cancer, but we learned he was transferred to Diamond Dinners.
Manager Complaint #4, a senior, resident of Virginia, Former Gold Key Owner
To Diamond Resort Consumer Advocacy, Michael Flaskey CEO, Prosek, DR PR firm, Association of Vacation Owners, ARDA ROC, AARP
In Richmond at a hotel, in April of 2016, we were told we had to buy 7,500 additional Diamond points because or, our maintenance fees would jump to $3,000 if we didn’t. Our maintenance fees were about $1,000. After speaking with the manager we bought the additional points. Fees are now $5,100. We were told our unused points would cover maintenance fees if we upgraded. We learned we are not eligible. The sales presentation lasted from 8:00 am to 5:00 PM. We will have to brace for foreclosure. Our loan is $66,000. We are devastated.
Manager Complaint #5, 2/13/18, a Navy veteran
We went to a Roanoke group meeting at Sheraton. They said you could earn points that would offset all your maintenance fees with Barclay card purchases and that our condo was worth $32,000 in points. If I did not buy that day it would cost $8.69 per point for 8,500 points ($73,865) later. They said that if I had gone through the meeting process before like I should have, I could have bought the points for $4. The manager, described as the “Head Man” gave the presentation. He physically got upset and threw the papers down when we refused to sign.
Related article – Timeshare Buying Do’s and Don’t
Thank you, Irene, once again we see the same old story, lies, lies and more lies from sales agents acting under orders from their bosses, who then hide behind the old slogan, “We are not responsible for what our sales agents say“. The testimonies from the whistleblowers we have featured clearly show that a culture of lying is prevalent, those who have a conscience and speak up are told to do it or get out, and there is no middle ground. You either comply or your life will be made a misery, word will have filtered down from above, give them the worst tours going, and see how long they last when they don’t sell.
Does that sound like blackmail?
We always expect any salesperson to embellish their product, most of the time they are just minor and can be considered laughable, but with timeshare and the lies that we have catalogued in all our testimonies, it has gone way further than “EMBELISHING”. I would personally call it a “Conspiracy to Commit Fraud”, veiled by legalities.
That’s it for this week, we hope you all have a great weekend, not sure what Baby Dog will be doing if he wakes up, he had a very busy week visiting and going to the beach, alright for some! So join us again next week for more insights into this crazy world you all paid to join.