News That Gives Timeshares a Bad Rap

You've all heard horror stories about timeshare scams; promises not kept, heavy-pressure salespeople… on and on the bad news goes. There are many reputable businesses and good people in the timeshare industry, but we often only hear about the scammers and crooks. This isn't all bad; awareness keeps us on our toes and educates us as consumers and business people.

Most Frequent Timeshare Scams

  • Paying Full Price for a Resale Timeshare
  • High Pressure Salespeople
  • "Nigerian" type transfers 
  • Paying a large up-front fee to sell or rent your week 

Timeshare Companies in the News for Bad Behavior

A few specific complaints have surface recently and are finding their way around the internet:

Festiva Hospitality Group – High Pressure and Broken Promises 

Unfair and deceptive practices in connection with Festiva's points-based "vacation club" are the charges of a suit against Festiva Hospitality Group by Louisiana's Attorney General, Buddy Caldwell. "Festiva served up broken promises to Louisiana consumers," stated Caldwell, whose office received over 98 complaints about Festiva. The suit alleges that Festiva used high pressure salespeople to sell consumers "points" for membership in a vacation club and promised consumers they could use the points anytime at any number of Festiva resorts. After signing a 40-year contract, buyers found it impossible to book a vacation because of a lack of accommodations at the resorts, especially at prime locations and peak times. Buyers, were promised they could save their "points" for another year, but when they tried to do so, were told by Festiva that they couldn't carry over the points. Buyers also received unusually high maintenance fees and special assessments, and were told they couldn't cancel their contract.

 Calypso Bay Resorts – Unexpected Fees Surprise Owners 

Complaints from owners at Florida's Calypso Cay Resorts regarding problems with higher-than-expected fees were reported by the Consumer Affairs News Service. One owner felt it was wrong of the resort to charge a maintenance fee every year if he only owned every other year. He claims he was never told he would have to pay a maintenance fee in "off years" and says, “our affordable vacation is not very affordable now."

Another owner calls Calypso Bay a "rip-off" and says the resort promises that you can deposit your weeks if you can't use them before they expire. When an owner then tries to deposit or use the weeks, they charge a fee to deposit and a fee to change a week. When you try to reserve a week, there is nothing available, but the resort offers a getaway for another fee for the same week you deposited and are trying to use.

Global Exchange Vacation Club – Lies and Harassment 

There are claims of lies and harassment from owners at Global Vacation Exchange in another recent Consumer Affairs News Report. One owner had serious complaints about a Global Vacation Exchange package he purchased, "I am sick over the whole thing and the way I have been treated, the way I have been talked to and clearly the way you all lied, scammed, beat and cheated your way into my bank account."
The owner was told that $349 for a 3-bedroom condo was the most he would ever have to pay for a week stay anywhere in the world. Global Vacation Representatives told him he couldn't talk to anyone about a trip or price until he made an $800 down payment. Then when he tried to make his first trip reservation, he found out it was much more than the promised weekly price of $349. He questioned why he should pay Global $8,000 down and more money every month that he didn't take a vacation, when it would cost far less to just buy a package from a general tour operator. When he tried to get his $800 refunded from the company, he was told he couldn't and then was repeatedly harassed by club representatives with phone calls threatening to go after his credit and destroy it, and add on a foreclosure.

Summer Bay Resort – Sinkhole Nightmare 

After several vacation units fell into a sinkhole collapse at Summer Bay Resort in Florida's Four Corners area in August, the timeshare company promised the owners that they would "make them whole." But according to the affected owners, that didn't happen. Owners were told that the company wouldn't reimburse them for their loss of personal property. In a quote from UPI News Service, owner Maggie Ghamry who claims losses of $10,000 said, "They told us they'd make us whole and this isn't making us whole. It's definitely blind-sided us." It wasn't just the property losses, but the trauma of the event. One owner was in the bathtub when the sinkhole happened, and stated that, "water started jumping, and the tub moved as the building started to twist.

The Orlando Sentinel reported that a letter to owners from Summer Bay Chief Executive Paul Caldwell stated that under Florida law "a public lodging establishment is not responsible for the loss of personal belongings, but the victims might be able to recover their losses under their personal homeowner's insurance policy." This doesn't hack it for the owners at Summer Bay Resort who feel they got "sunk" by the resort.
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