Welcome the second in our Westgate Timeshare Hostages reports, this week we take a quick look at 9 cases, one of which has been removed due to a resolution. These stories are not the only ones we have received or heard, there are many many more, a problem that plagues the timeshare industry, any other industry would have cleaned up its act by now, we are talking about how they allow their sales agents to say whatever they like to ensure a sale. We have all heard the response “WE ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT OUR SALES AGENTS TELL YOU”.
It is a wonderful get out clause, no responsibility and the agent is free to do and say whatever they like, all to the detriment of the consumer. As our Heading Banner says, due diligence is the most important tool in a consumer’s armoury. Use it!
Westgate Owners Report Agents who Promote Renting
Westgate Owners David and Jackie Siegel’s 90,000 square foot home called Versailles
The trailer for the documentary Queen of Versailles https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQW9Ks0GZUQ
A lawsuit alleging Westgate violated the Military Lending Act (MLA)
According to the lawsuit:
….a failure to pay financial obligations often results in the loss of that security clearance and concomitant involuntary separation from the military.
A lawsuit filed alleging Bluegreen violated the MLA:
Last week Benn Dover explained that they were happy with their purchase of a Westgate week until they were encouraged to buy a second unit to rent to cover maintenance fees for both units. Today eight of nine families, also reporting that they were encouraged to buy a unit to rent, tell of their failed attempts to rent out units. One of the families reported that they have resolved their dispute. A military family was sold a 4 BR unit despite the family consisting of only a couple with a small child. A default will put a security clearance in danger. Timeshares are financed at 12% to 17.99%.
In court documents concerning a lawsuit Westgate filed against an exit company, Westgate’s’ corporate representative stated in a deposition that Westgate’s default rate was “probably” 30% (in 2021). According to Joint Pre-Trial Statements:
Westgate had not sought deficiency judgments as a matter of policy and is not entitled to under Florida law and the law of almost every state.
ARDA-ROC encourages judicial foreclosure according to letterhead minutes of the April 10, 2019 ARDA-ROC meeting at ARDA’s World annual conference.
“The best thing we can do with exit (is) judicial foreclosure, ruin the credit and enforce the contract,” McKelvey said.
ROC stands for Resort Owners Coalition, advocating for owners. Kenneth McKelvey is Chairman of ARDA-ROC.
Nine Additional Families Harmed because of Purchasing a Westgate timeshare, Including an Active Duty Service Member
#1 Maria in Colorado
Westgate sales agent Edgar said that we could put a room up on eBay to rent out to cover our maintenance fees and loan payments. When we went to sign papers, Edgar said that the agent would ask a question about why we were buying. He told us that we needed to say we were buying to take vacations. I was provided a tablet, but they told me I could not log in for a month. We bought a one-week timeshare in August of 2021 for $18,900 at Westgate Las Vegas Resort and Casino. We financed $18,144.
I learned it is not feasible to rent a timeshare to cover costs. Not being able to afford the timeshare, I will be forced to consider default. Not knowing what to do, I reached out to an exit company. Anthony Diehl with American Savings Network said he could get us released. After Inside Timeshare advised me to reach out to Westgate through ARDA’s Responsible Exit website. ASN’s advertisement and offer:
Subject: Fwd: GUARANTEED TIMESHARE EXIT Tony 702-818-0021
American Savings Network, Inc.
28581 Old Town Front St. #209
Temecula, CA 92590
- 100% money-back Guarantee
- Resolution within 6-12 months (not 2 YR)
- Credit repair of all derogatory items in regards to your timeshare (extra fee)
- Possible full or partial tax write-off
- Full Divestment of timeshare & all liabilities for you and your HEIRS!!
#2 Samantha in Georgia
To Westgate Legacy,
My partner and I don’t have time to vacation. We were sold on the promise that the timeshare would pay for itself through Westgate marketing in that we could rent it out for income if we could generate referrals. We did our part by launching a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Opulent-Getaways-107947185001899
We did not generate any referrals, despite gathering 243 followers. We looked for Getaways offers to sell. We spent money on ads. Sales agent Derek told us he would always be available to help us market our unit, yet never answered our calls. I purchased a 2BR loft September 2021 in Orlando at the Townhome or Vacation Villas for $25,000. We financed by Uplift $24,204.74 @ 17.99%.
After learning that renting to offset costs is unfeasible, and left with no choice but to default on our Westgate loan, I contacted Westgate’s Legacy department: https://responsibleexit.com/who-we-are/westgate-resorts/
#3 Enlisted with the International Guard with a security clearance
Our sales agent Harry said they had a deal because someone was giving up a week that had an original price of $75,000. Agents said that if we ever wanted to sell we could. Harry told us that one owner rents her unit online on AirBnb and that Westgate doesn’t touch any of the rental income. They explained how we could buy Getaways and sell them. They said theoretically, we could rent out Getaways every week of the year. Harry explained that Westgate has a policy prohibiting renting, but there was a loophole that would allow us to rent so that we would get the money instead of Westgate. The variable rental rate mentioned was from $49 to $399, but they said we could turn around and rent it out for $1,000 or whatever the market would bear. They said it was our property and that we would be entitled to income year round.
We bought a 4 BR 4 bath week unit with “Unlimited Getaways” for $50,954 on September 14, 2021, at Westgate Lakes in Orlando. We financed $44,711. Our monthly payment is $667 per month.
We booked a week in 2022 planning to rent to pay maintenance fees for 2022. Our agents said that Westgate would reimburse us from the money Westgate would make from renting our unit out, which would be more than what we would owe in annual fees. We were told the maintenance fee would be under $1,100, but it ended up $1,666.
While waiting for the closing, Harry said we should not mention anything we discussed. He said he wanted to go out to dinner but when I called him he did not respond. He offered to give us any assistance we might need.
There are only three of us. We didn’t need a 4 BR unit. Were it not for the ability to cover fees by renting, we would not have purchased. We contacted Westgate when we could not come out ahead. There were too many extra fees and obstacles. Westgate said they charge $400 for each reservation. Three or four Westgate representatives provided different answers when we asked for help.
In January of this year I called Westgate Legacy at 800-351-0461 and emailed Legacy@wgresorts.com rather than retain an attorney. They were no help. Due to my career at stake, I have now reached out to a law firm.
If you are debating whether or not to contact a timeshare attorney to help you transition out of vacation ownership, contact the Westgate Legacy Program as your first step. Designed to help assist owners find safe and secure exit options based on their individual circumstance and ownership, the Legacy Program is the only developer-guaranteed release option. The Legacy Program at Westgate Resorts works directly with owners to discuss all of their various options in an effort to determine the best solution for each individual situation.
We filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and the Florida AG. I also sent our complaint to: Westgate Legacy, ARDA ROC, Association of Vacation Owners.
#4 Carolyn, age 60 in Ohio
September 25, 2018
In 2013 I bought a Studio 1 BR Westgate unit in Orlando. In 2015 in Gatlinburg they wanted me to buy a six-bedroom unit for $130,000 that they said was worth $190,000 available at the lower price because I was VIP. I said no. Next, I paid $12,000 to upgrade to a 2 BR. Five times I said no. After two or three hours you get worn down. They said I could trade or sell our week, or Westgate would help us rent. There were never any takers. I also purchased a 1 BR Las Vegas unit. They said I could rent it out to athletes because they were building a new stadium nearby. They did not build a stadium. The purchase price was $10,000. I never used the unit.
I went back to Gatlinburg October 2017 and learned my Gatlinburg unit burned down. They took my Vegas 1 BR unit and my Gatlinburg 4 BR, and I purchased a 3 BR Gatlinburg unit. They charged me $65,000 financed @ about 12.5%. I stopped making payments in January of 2018. They said I could refinance, but the bank would not. I filed a complaint with the Tennessee AG. Westgate responded I was bound by the contract.
#5 The Dashiell’s Westgate Experience
September 25, 2018
I purchased a Westgate Lakes timeshare two years ago. The salesman kept telling us over and over how the timeshare would “pay for itself” by generating rental income that would pay for maintenance fees and loan payments. He mentioned that we could write it off and refinance at my bank to get a lower interest rate. We thought we had low risk, especially since he said the timeshare could easily be resold.
Everything we were told contradicted what was in the contract! We tried to make the best of it, but after two years without making a dime we tried calling Westgate. They said I would have to find a buyer. There is no rental program. There is no resale program. We are done. Westgate spent months informing us by email that they were looking into our contract. They did not reply until we filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. Westgate responded that they had replied to us by letter (they had not), stating that “timeshare sales are highly regulated” and, pointing to the AOR document with my initials, added that they “absolutely hold its employees responsible for the things they do and say, however, supporting documentation is required.” What documentation would there be? The BBB closed our case. We are hoping that the Attorney General will help.
#6 C V in New York
Our salesperson Anthony said I can come and stay whenever I want and rent weeks on Airbnb to make money. He promised Westgate would buy back the property if I ever needed to sell. My husband was with me. We believed him so much. He also told us not to tell the attorney while signing papers what he said about doing an Airbnb business because the signing would be recorded. I bought a 2 BR Villa unit in Orlando at Westgate Towers on December 21, 2021. Our purchase price was $23,029. The amount financed was about $20,000.
I spoke to the attorney that gave me the deed. She said I had only two options. I could find a buyer or pay off the loan and request surrender.
#7 A Florida family – resolved
#8 Regina in New York
I bought an every other year week in 2019 for $6,000 in Orlando. The amount financed was $5,400. The day I signed the contract, I went back to ask my Westgate agent Victor about cancelling. Victor said I could not cancel. He said I would need to find a buyer. I stopped making loan payments two years ago. I had no choice.
Victor said I could sell the timeshare but licensed brokers won’t even accept a listing. There are few buyers. After I filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and with the Florida Attorney General the harassing calls stopped.
#9 Theresa in New Jersey
We bought an every other year Westgate week in Orlando at Westgate Lakes in July of 2021. We could not use it until 2023. Our purchase price was about $9,000. We financed the entire purchase through Westgate. Our agents said it was a foreclosure. They said we could rent the timeshare for income to pay it off. If Westgate does not cancel our contract we will consider defaulting.
No wonder Westgate has a lot of foreclosures.
Siegel’s Westgate Resorts Ltd. sold a property at 6177 Lake Ellenor Drive in Orlando, to Orlando-based nonprofit Christ For All Nations Inc. for $4.1 million.
“Queen of Versailles” Jackie Siegel and timeshare mogul husband David pay $5M for waterfront North Palm Beach house
As usual, thank you to Irene and our volunteers in the US for all the work they do on these articles and in helping consumers. Many are often attacked when commenting on some forums with truthful advice, but in the end the people that matter do get the help and information they need, so keep up the good work.
That is all for this week, the weekend beckons and so does Baby Dog, Just heard me say on the phone weekend and this is the look, have a great weekend.