By Sheri in Minnesota
A Vacation Village at Williamsburg timeshare that Ashley and her husband purchased was far removed from what they thought they purchased. Reading the contract would not have helped Ashley, and the contract rescission period was of no help. The timeshare is not usable because what Ashley bought cannot meet her family’s travel requirements.
The Bait and Switch
Ashley submitted her article in June, stating that what they were sold was inadequate for a family of six. On August 29 she attempted to book a week. Owner reservations informed her that there is a Y in her unit number that means “Yellow” season. Yellow season buyers must book within the first 18 weeks of the year. Ashley said that there is nothing in her contract referencing seasons, and multiple sales agents never mentioned anything about seasons. With kids in school, the timeshare is useless.
The final offer made to Ashley at the pick-up-your-prize station was dramatically lower – $3,995 for a 4 BR unit! Ashley said she asked the agent, and the “QA” closing agent, if what she was being offered was the same as what her first agent offered. Both replied, “Yes, whatever Isaiah told you is the same, except for the lower price.”
Yahoo Finance reporter Abigail Fisher, remarkably, recommended timeshare stocks because they are harmful:
We find evil companies to be a very rewarding hunting ground to uncover long-term stock winners…. Today we look at another set of evil companies that use high-pressure sales tactics to trick consumers into signing complex long-term contracts ……
We reached out to Vacation Village for comment. There was no response.
The Secondary Market for Timeshares
Ashley and I were not aware of a secondary market for timeshares. Timeshare resale brokers with the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association do not charge an upfront fee. They function like traditional primary residential market brokers, paid after closing.
If Ashley and I had contacted an honest resale broker (beware of dishonest ones), our timeshare nightmares could have been avoided. We would have received unbiased opinions and I certainly would have been told that the $39,000 Westgate listing price suggested by Ed McGee at Vacation Services International (the real estate agent my Colonies at Vacation Village agent referred me to), was ridiculous. She said that Ed could “easily” sell my Westgate timeshare so I could afford to buy at The Colonies – and he could rent out my bonus week. Ed charged me $299 to list my Westgate week for $39,000, and $199 to rent my bonus week. Both attempts fizzled. Reading the contract would not have helped me either because the Vacation Village contract states you can rent. Vacation Village dismissed my complaint despite proof that I was sold based on being able to easily sell my Westgate week and to rent. https://afterinsidetimeshare.com/?p=517
Timeshares can be purchased on the secondary market for a fraction of the cost. For most resorts, secondary restrictions that may apply are insignificant compared to the cost of buying a timeshare directly from the developer. A resale broker informed me that her firm won’t even accept a listing for a Vacation Village timeshare because there are too many unwanted units on the market.
In 2020, the Federal Trade Commission listed Timeshare Sales at #9 on their Top Ten Scam list ($18 million) and Timeshare Resales ($13 million) at #10.
Ashley’s Vacation Village Experience
On August 2, 2021, we toured Vacation Village at Williamsburg. The prior day we had been shown a 2 BR condo at The Colonies. It looked like two 1 BR condos. There was a kitchen in both units. I learned this concept is known as a “lock-off” to afford privacy. I asked Isaiah, “If we buy a 2 BR condo, would this mean we would have two 1 BR condos?” He said yes. I asked if there was a capacity limit. He said no. We had three kids at the time so we could use the pull-out sofa bed for the kids so all of us could stay in a 1 BR unit. We later learned there is a capacity limit, rendering our strategy useless. We can’t split up our family into separate units. Our oldest child is eleven years old.
Isaiah met us at our unit because we had a flat tire. Our car had to be towed to Walmart. I asked Isaiah if he would give us a ride to Walmart after we were finished. He said he could because we were his only tour that day.
Isaiah proposed that we purchase a 4 BR unit (four 1 BR units). He explained that we could book at four different locations for $159 if we booked all four weeks at once, as the four weeks would collectively be considered one deeded week. He mentioned that if we didn’t want to use our unit, we could rent it out to make our money back. He also said we could sell the unit if we could no longer use it.
We declined three offers. The lowest offer was $7000. Isaiah next drove us to a building to pick up our prize. He said he would wait for us to take us to Walmart to pick up our car, but as soon as we got out of his car, he left! We told the representative about Isaiah abandoning us. She said, “Oh, he had other tours.” They did arrange a ride.
We were directed to a room with another lady who offered us a 4 BR condo for $3,990. We agreed to purchase a biennial 4 BR unit. Our down payment was $250, plus four additional down payments of $150 each, totalling $850. I asked again about the 4 BR units being broken up into four 1 BR units and also about the capacity limit. She responded, “Whatever Isaiah told you will remain the same.” I asked multiple times and she confirmed multiple times, stating that the only difference is that the price is lower. Now I know that the Y in our unit number means Yellow season. We have to vacation in the summer. All our agents said we could vacation at any time. Nothing in the contract mentioned seasons.
I asked our loan officer, Jerry, the same questions over and over, and was told again that whatever Isaiah told us was what we were purchasing. Jerry told us that tour guides don’t make commissions, so Isaiah would not care whether we purchased or not. However, since Isaiah presented the first offer, I would think he has to be a sales agent. If so, then even the loan officer was not truthful.
We signed electronically. It was difficult to read the contract. The only person in the cubicle with us when we signed was Jerry, yet it says the documents were notarized by Stephanie Cator. I had not been feeling well. I did not know I was pregnant with our fourth child. I was leaning left and right, getting dizzy and nauseous. I had not eaten and it was after 1 pm. I felt uncontrollably tired. I could hardly keep my eyes open.
When I attempted to book our first stay, I was told I would have to pay $159 for EACH of the four weeks and that we would have to have two bedrooms because of a capacity of three per room. Since our oldest is eleven, the timeshare is useless.
We also were not aware that, despite being shown a unit at the Colonies, the unit we purchased is at Vacation Village at Williamsburg. We found this property to be far inferior.
Sheri advised me to file a complaint with Owners Resolution at Daily Management (DM), the management firm for Vacation Village, the Better Business Bureau, and the Virginia Attorney General. Vacation. Both Vacation Village and their parent company Eldorado Resorts have a BBB rating of F.
Vacation Village – Daily Management – The Berkley Group – Eldorado Resorts
Sheri said she received correspondence from the Florida Attorney General stating The Berkley Group is being investigated. According to LinkedIn, The Berkley Group is a private resort development firm owned by more than 2,000 company employees. Under its Vacation Village Resorts and Affiliates brand, the Berkley Group has a worldwide owner base that exceeds 450,000 families.
Vacation Village has a BBB rating of F
Daily Management, Inc. is a timeshare property management company listed under Eldorado Resorts Corporation, affiliated with Vacation Village.
Eldorado Resorts Corporation also has a BBB rating of F. Daily Management has an A+ rating.
The life lessons we learned are that no one should attend a presentation if you can’t believe anything an agent says. I also learned that timeshares are hard to sell. How can it be prudent to buy anything that holds you, hostage? I joined the Vacation Village Disgruntled Owners Facebook Group. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1309724916165817
Related article: How to Write a Timeshare Report and File Regulatory Complaints
Other Contract Omissions
Westgate owners have complained about agents selling units to rent for income. Reading the contract doesn’t help them either because the contract states the owner can rent. https://www.facebook.com/groups/westgatehostages/?ref=share
The Oral Representation Clause, or as I prefer to call it The Teflon Clause because it doesn’t matter what you were told it doesn’t stick, “We are not responsible for what our sales agents say”.
How many times have we heard that, we have lost count of the number of times we have published it, and each time we ask the same question, How can they not be responsible for what their employees say, it is their product that is being sold?
Could Volkswagen claim they are innocent of the emissions scandal, by saying it was their sales agents that lied pointing out an Oral Representation Clause?
Laughable really, who supplied the technical data sales agents used, VW did?
So that leaves us the question of who is giving these sales agents the pitch, they are all very similar, it has to come from somewhere. Is it from the very top, or a little further down the ladder? It makes no difference really, they are the employers and should be held accountable.
That is all for this week and have a great weekend, Baby Dog is looking forward to another visit to the dunes.