Wyndham Timeshare Fraud Victims – Make Your Voices Heard

To  victims of Wyndham Timeshare fraud and to those responsible for oversight of Wyndham - Myra J. BiblowitBrian Mulroney, George Herrera, James E. Buckman, Michael Wargotz, Pauline D.E. Richards, Stephen Holmes, Franz Hanning and Ryan Morettini:

Its very evident that Wyndham would rather pay lawyers than its own defrauded timeshare owners.  Wyndham has taken a strategy of using procedural loopholes and legal tricks to delay and dismiss legal actions.  Countless elderly timeshare owners have bravely filed suit against Wyndham over the last year.  These suits seek to obtain a refund from Wyndham for money fraudulently taken through high pressure coercive sales schemes.

Unless you have sat through a Wyndham sales meeting (called “owner update” meetings by Wyndham), it’s hard to understand how horribly difficult they can be on seniors.  Wyndham’s overarching scheme is superbly simple.  The timeshare owner enters the meeting unsatisfied with their current timeshare situation.   Wyndham takes the position that since there is no way to get rid of the timeshare (and thus the monthly liability), seniors only choice is to upgrade the timeshare (buy more points).  Every upgrade is then sold with the promise that it will fix their timeshare ills.  Of course, that is rarely true, and the poor timeshare owner becomes part of the Wyndham grind mill of endless upgrades and program changes.

Many who fall victim to Wyndham’s endless upgrade schemes eventually find the only way to stop the madness is to challenge Wyndham in court.    That’s when Wyndham adds insult to injury.   They employ very high priced lawyers to make such litigation as painful as possible on these brave owners, eventually forcing them to drop their suits or settle for pennies on the dollar.  These harsh, uncompassionate and expensive tactics have intimidated countless timeshare owners (and their lawyers) from filing what are extremely valid claims against Wyndham.  Thus, Wyndham believes it’s more profitable to pay lawyers money than to refund their ill-gotten gains to defrauded seniors.

So what can these elderly victims do?  They can start speaking out loudly to everyone, certainly calling and writing regulators, government authorities, and the media – everyone who will listen.    However, there is a better way to get your voice heard.  Wyndham is a public company designed for one purpose – to make money for its shareholders, the largest of which are Wyndham insiders and institutional investors.  Those ultimately responsible for the company are its directors.  Wyndham’s Board of Directors is made up of insiders, those also in management positions with Wyndham, and outside directors, usually reputable people who are really the only check or balance on corporate corruption by the insiders.

While we should appeal to all Wyndham directors, it’s likely that any inside director (in this case only Stephen Holmes, Wyndham’s CEO) is likely already aware of the fraud being conducted, and is either ethically accepting of such conduct, or has allowed their financial interest in Wyndham to overshadow any moral dilemma they may have.

However, while the outside directors likewise have a significant financial interest in Wyndham through lucrative stock options, they generally are kept in the dark about the micro day to day sales schemes that result in the lion share of Wyndham’s revenue.  While they may review Wyndham’s quarterly and/or annual financial data, they are likely unaware of the policies, practices and methods that generate such significant timeshare revenue.

Interestingly, in the case of Wyndham, all of the directors are actually outside directors save Mr. Holmes.  Consequently, our proposition is that everyone begins a dialogue with Wyndham’s outside Directors, those whom we hope and expect are wholly unaware of the horrible and unfortunate timeshare fraud being committed in the name of Wyndham’s corporate profit.

Pursuant to their fiduciary responsibility to the company, they need to know what is happening to our parents and grandparents.  They need to understand the diabolical methods employed by Franz Hanning and his minions to generate such large returns from the timeshare division.   It is our hope that with such knowledge, the directors will immediately take steps to both stop the illicit sales activities, and begin repaying those seniors who have lost their life savings to the whirl pool drain that is Wyndham Vacation Ownership.

The following directors should be contacted by everyone who has been victimized by Wyndham:  Myra J. Biblowit, Brian Mulroney, George Herrera, James E. Buckman, Michael Wargotz, and Pauline D.E. Richards.  Help these good people understand your plight and what is happening.  It is our assumption that none of these honorable professionals would want their names attributed to such underhanded scams and secret schemes.  If we all speak out to these people, it is our hopeful belief that finally positive steps will begin to take place – the reformation of the timeshare division, and right the wrongs done to these elderly owners.

If you also want to make your opinion known to those more directly involved in Wyndham’s timeshare fraud, the following would be a good place to start:  Franz Hanning is the President and CEO of Wyndham Vacation and Ryan Morettini is the Vice President of Wyndham’s Legal Department.  There are also a number of other in-house and outside lawyers who could be contacted.  Some of the contact information for the above individuals can be found either on Wyndham’s website or via Google.  Good Luck!

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Wyndham Must Settle Elderly Legal Claims

One doesn’t have to search the web long to find what appears to be thousands of very angry Wyndham Timeshare Owners.

Dozens of Consumer Complaint Forums are filled with too many posts to count.   Each of them from irate Wyndham Timeshare owners that all tell the same story – they were coerced to buy more points because of Lies, Lies and More Lies.   Here’s a small sampling:

http://www.consumeraffairs.com/travel/wyndham_vacation_resorts.html

http://www.bbb.org/central-florida/business-reviews/vacation-timeshare/wyndham-vacation-ownership-in-orlando-fl-20000283/complaints

http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/specific_search/wyndham

http://www.complaintsboard.com/?search=wyndham

http://wyndham-hotels-and-resorts.pissedconsumer.com/

Apparently Wyndham executives have turned their sales force lose on our senior citizens, letting them say anything to sell more timeshare points.  Both the officers and directors will feign ignorance until some government agency finally decides to hold them accountable.

Many of these seniors have finally started to fight back, suing Wyndham for what is a companywide organized and intentional program to defraud the elderly.

There are also numerous news stories running around the country, but Wyndham still keeps on selling worthless points, hoping for a few more profitable quarters till they’re corporate greed is discovered.

http://www.jrn.com/newschannel5/news/newschannel-5-investigates/consumer-alert/Elderly-Claim-Timeshare-Company-Scammed-Them-282987871.html

Well, it’s about time someone starts holding Wyndham’s officers and directors accountable.  After all, they’re the ones making millions from these poor elderly victims.  Historically it’s been the little guy at Wyndham, the sales people,  that get punished, even though the managers and officers in the back rooms of Wyndham encouraged and promoted such deception and coercion.

No – its time to call the officers and directors out – place blame squarely on Wyndham’s esteemed Board Members and Executives  – the well-respected wealthy elite who quietly reap the big bucks from Wyndham’s organized fraudulent activity by selling more stock each quarter for hugely inflated gains.

The following people should be held responsible:  Stephen Holmes, Myra J. Biblowit, Brian Mulroney, George Herrera, James Buckman, Michael Wargotz, Pauline Richards and many more.  Each must do everything possible to stop Franz Hanning and the horrible sales schemes and scams that prey on our elderly parents and grandparents, and return the illicit gains to those seniors defrauded by your company! 

Also, we are calling on all the attorneys at Wyndham to stop fighting against these poor elderly seniors that did nothing but rely on the misrepresentations of your sales people to their very destructive detriment.  You add insult to injury when you drag out their administrative or legal claims – acting like the 5 Billion Dollar Wyndham is actually the victim.  You should be ashamed!   Therefore, Scott McLester, Gregory John Bendlin, Charles Bott, Thomas Alan, Ryan Morettini and all the other Wyndham lawyers need to start having some compassion on these poor people!  You’ll find that becoming part of the solution and not the problem will always be in the best interest of your client – Wyndham.

 

 

 

 

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Wyndham’s Board Must Act to Settle Timeshare Fraud

Wyndham’s Board of Directors Must Act to Stop the Timeshare Fraud

The following is an excerpt from the lawsuit of Patricia Williams v. Wyndham Vacation Ownership, et. al. being litigated in the San Francisco County Superior Court.  The facts set forth in the Complaint reveal what is widespread throughout Wyndham.  The very same fraudulent sales schemes are being repeated at virtually every Wyndham Resort.  These practices constitute an organized pattern and practice to defraud senior citizens in violation of numerous state and federal laws.  Consequently, Wyndham’s officers and directors should be held accountable for what appears to be rampant criminal activity throughout its timeshare organization.  We call on Stephen Holmes, Scott McLester, Franz Hanning, Ryan Morettini, Myra J. Biblowit, Brian Mulroney, George Herrera, James Buckman, Michael Wargotz, Pauline Richards to immediately stop this behavior and reform Wyndham’s timeshare business.  We also call on the Board to voluntarily take steps to pay the defrauded seniors back – including settling the lawsuits brought by these poor elderly claimants.  You now are on notice that this activity is occurring throughout your company.

Excerpt from Williams v. Wyndham:

“Ms. Williams attended training during the first few weeks of working in San Francisco.  During the training, Susan Berstein indicated to Ms. Williams that illegal and/or fraudulent claims or promises were being made to sell timeshares.  Ms. Williams immediately reported Ms. Berstein’s observations and the fraudulent conduct to Vice President Tara Dow.  Ms. Dow did nothing except threaten to fire Ms. Bernstein .

When [Ms. Williams was conducting tours], Ms. Williams overheard other slaes associates making illegal and false representations to various customers.  It appeared to Ms. Williams that many of these illegal and fraudulent statements were being targeted towards seniors. 

This conduct was also witnessed by co-workers.  For example, owners were told that if they increased their points, they could do so at essentially no cost.  For example, some owners were informed if they increased their points to the Presidential Reserve level, Wyndham would buy back the points or essentially refund the owners moneys if the owner waited at least eleven months to sell the points back.  All of the Plaintiffs heard Anita Howell tell owners that they were going to have “guaranteed buy-back” if they were enrolled in Presidential Reserve.  In reality, the program was something different and instead of a buy-back program, it was a “right of first refusal” program where the owner would first have to find a buyer and then Wyndham could buy the property instead.  This fraudulent practice was widespread in San Francisco and Plaintiffs are informed and believe that it happens at other locations too.

Klaleh York made similar fraudulent statements to owners in an effort to induce them to purchase additional points.  Other member services representatives falsely represented that they were going to be reducing the monthly payments for owners or that maintenance fees would be “capped,” when in fact such payments were actually being deferred or they were subject to increases.  These “lower monthly payments” schemes in reality were simply a way to fraudulently induce customers into buying more services and borrowing more money.

Several associates also misrepresented the actual amounts the owners were currently paying for monthly payments so that they could be encouraged to purchase more points.  Ms. Williams was aware owners were being billed through Bill-me-later when they were being told that there were not purchasing anything additional.   Ms. Williams is informed and believes that the owners were billed through Bill-Me-Later so that the owners would not be able to ask for a refund of their money.

Ms. Williams was also aware of slaes associates selling timeshares without a license, which she is informed and believes violates California real estate law.  Ms. Williams complained to her manager Robert Parker, but nothing was done about the improper sales.

The fraudulent conduct was sanctioned by Wyndham as part of the process to drive sales.  In fact, a technique was adopted where Anita Howell started to close deals for other sales associates using the same misrepresentations that Ms. Williams had complained about.  In October 2010, Ms. Williams became aware that Ms. Howell was committing credit card fraud with some elderly clients by getting them to apply for more credit without their knowledge.  It appeared to Ms. Williams that the fraudulent practices and misrepresentations violated California law and that Wyndham was illegally taking advantage of vulnerable seniors. 

In fact, sales representatives were informed when older patrons would be coming in.  They were encouraged by managers to target seniors and direct the “guaranteed buy Back” and “lower monthly payments” schemes at the older ownersOwners were also falsely promised rental income in case they wanted to avoid making their payments.

Ms. Williams was encouraged to engage in the illegal and fraudulent conduct in an effort to drive additional sales. She refused noting that the conduct was unethical and that it violated the California Real Estate Board regulations and that she believed it violated California law.

In August 2010, Ms. Dow hired a new manager, Steven, Savino, who had previously worked at the Williamsburg office.  Mr. Savino started conducting training meetings in which he taught employees how to use unethical methods for selling timeshares, [and how to]manipulate customers [by going into] ethical grey areas.

In October 2010, Ms. Williams became aware that Anita Howell was committing credit card fraud on the elderly.  She would have owners sign documents that were credit card applications but she told them they were papers to renegotiate their loans with Wyndham.  The Ms. Howell would maximize the credit people had on their credit cards and use those funds to purchase additional timeshare points without proper authorization to do so.  Ms. Williams became aware of the extent to which Ms. Howell was defrauding seniors who were owners.  She would lie to owners about the fees that they were actually paying and deceiving them into purchasing additional products that actually increased their payments, when she was falsely claiming that their payments would go down.  Ms. Williams complained about these practices to various managers in the San Francisco office.

Numerous supervisors and managers were aware of the fraudulent practices and targeting seniors.  Among these were Robert Parker, Linda Tanner, Jim White, Steve Savino, and Vilen Kazaryan. 

Ms. Williams confronted Ms. Howell about her fraudulent practices, and she asked, “how can you do this?” But Ms. Howell who was known as a “sales machine” responded that “you can’t have a conscience in this business.”  Ms. Williams complained about Ms. Howell to the Director of Sales, but was told to “keep your mouth shut or you will be fired.”

“…the fraudulent practices were often directed at senior owners due to their perceived vulnerabilities.”

The very same fraudulent sales schemes are being repeated at virtually every Wyndham Resort.  These practices constitute an organized pattern and practice to defraud senior citizens in violation of numerous state and federal laws.  Consequently, Wyndham’s officers and directors should be held accountable for what appears to be rampant criminal activity throughout its timeshare organization.

We call on Stephen Holmes, Scott McLester, Franz Hanning, Ryan Morettini, Myra J. Biblowit, Brian Mulroney, George Herrera, James Buckman, Michael Wargotz, Pauline Richards to immediately stop this behavior and reform Wyndham’s timeshare business.  We also call on the Board to voluntarily take steps to pay the defrauded seniors back – including settling the lawsuits brought by these poor elderly claimants.  You now are on notice that this activity is occurring throughout your company.  Failure to act in resolving this conduct would be a breach of your duties to Wyndham’s shareholders as well as Wyndham’s owners.

Also, we are calling on all the attorneys at Wyndham to stop fighting against these poor elderly seniors that did nothing but rely on the misrepresentations of your sales people to their very destructive detriment.  You add insult to injury when you drag out their administrative or legal claims – essentially calling parents like mine liars.   Therefore, Scott McLester, Gregory John Bendlin, Charles Bott, Thomas Alan, Ryan Morettini and all the other Wyndham lawyers need to start having some compassion on these poor people!  You’ll find that becoming part of the solution and not the problem will always be in the best interest of your client – Wyndham.

 

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Wyndham’s Timeshare Schemes – Why Wyndham Timeshare Owners Upgrade

 

Wyndham’s Timeshare Schemes – Why Wyndham Timeshare Owners Upgrade – Pain v. Pleasure Tactic  (Reprinted From Real Estate News)

When I first started researching the timeshare industry in general, and Wyndham’s timeshare division in particular, my reaction was similar to most – how could these people continue to buy such trash.  Its one thing to be duped into buying the “Discovery” program, but these same people continue to upgrade (buying more points) against what they will confess is their better judgment.

When I was first told by Wyndham timeshare owners that Wyndham’s timeshare business was built on fraud and deception I was very surprised.  After all, those of us who are not familiar with timeshares or Wyndham’s timeshare business know “Wyndham” to be a high end hotel brand.  But when one looks more carefully at Wyndham, one finds some very interesting facts.  First, over half of Wyndham’s revenue comes from its more controversial timeshare division.  In fact, if you add to that its Vacation Exchange division, comprised mostly of RCI (an equally controversial timeshare exchange business), one finds that a small percentage of Wyndham’s revenue is actually generated by its higher end hotel division.

So that seems to explain why so many people, almost one million, would even consider purchasing a Wyndham timeshare – they walk in thinking they are being pitched by a reputable high end hospitality company.  However, Wyndham Vacation Ownership (WVO), Wyndham’s timeshare brand, is run by a very different brand of people.  WVO is run top to bottom by sales people – the types of sales “experts” that can sell the proverbial ice to the eskimo.   Because that’s really what they do – they sell more and more timeshare points to people that already own plenty of timeshare points.

The following fact may surprise many readers.  Over 70% of all Wyndham’s timeshare sales are to EXISTING timeshare owners.  At first glance I thought this must mean that Wyndham’s members really enjoy owning Wyndham timeshare points – right?  That couldn’t be farther from the truth.  In fact, Wyndham always quotes an old ARDA report that claims 83% of all timeshare owners are pleased with their timeshares.  Wow – 83%.  That almost seems impressive except for two facts.  First, ARDA is the trade association (lobbyist) for the big timeshare developers like Wyndham – so its not exactly a neutral source.  Second, Wyndham should actually be embarrassed by this statistic (they use this same study in every annual report apparently to evidence to their investors that their owners love them).  Since Wyndham has about a million owners, this study reveals that at the very least 170,000 don’t appreciate being Wyndham timeshare owners.

But – it gets worse.  After a little research one discovers that this ARDA data was actually submitted by their clients – the timeshare developers.  One now has to wonder just how much this 83% was inflated.  Take Wyndham for instance, their data comes from their very own client surveys – allegedly completed by timeshare owners following a purchase.  But…that’s not all together true.  Upon interviewing numerous current and former Wyndham sales representatives, one begins to hear the same sordid practice.  The majority of sales people interviewed said that they, the sales person, actually complete the survey.  Encouraged by their managers to ensure high ratings, the sales people fill out the customer surveys.  Well, there we have it.  The number of dissatisfied Wyndham timeshare owners is probably a multiple of the 170,000 (my guess is over 300,000 dissatisfied owners).

But, all this digresses from the purposes of this paper – answering the question of WHY Wyndham timeshare owners continue to buy more timeshare points.   After all, these timeshare junkies know that timeshares are largely worthless – but they just can’t seem to stop themselves.  This timeshare schizophrenia (failure to recognize what is real or false) is hard to understand until one really delves into the details of the timeshare system itself.

After researching Wyndham’s timeshare division, the reasons for this self-perpetuating addiction to timeshare upgrades slowly began to reveal themselves.  This research will be presented in 10 parts, each designed to explain and support one contention.  The following begins our findings.

Number 1 – Psychology of Pain and Pleasure – The first reason Wyndham timeshare owners continue to upgrade their timeshares are what we’ve entitled the Pain v. Pleasure Tactic.  Every timeshare owner was asked why they would continue to subject themselves to the long and arduous high pressure sales meetings.   Everyone’s response is generally the same – they are forced into these meetings every time they try to use the timeshare they’ve already purchased.  In other words, these owners go to use their timeshare at a Wyndham resort and are coerced and badgered until they attend what is normally called an “owner update” meeting.  I’ve yet to find an owner that says they in any way appreciate these update meetings.

These meetings have nothing to do with helping the owner use their existing timeshare, and everything to do with selling more timeshare points.  In fact, these “meetings” routinely last hours longer than promised, using every sales manipulation tool in the text book to convince the owner they simply MUST buy more points.   In the words of several owners, “they can make your vacation hell if you refuse to attend these sales meetings.”  Remember, these owners are there to use their timeshare for vacation – the pleasure end of the equation.  They resolve that they have to endure some pain (the sales meeting) in order to get on with their vacation (the pleasure).

Any Wyndham owner will tell you though that these meetings still aren’t that simple.  We’ve been told by countless owners that the sales tactics used by Wyndham are far beyond anything they have ever experienced.   What was amazing was how consistent each owner’s story was no matter where the resort was located.  Whether in California, Florida, Nevada, South Carolina or Missouri – the stories were strikingly the same.  Many of the lawsuits against Wyndham attempt to list the numerous bait and switch techniques used by Wyndham sales people.  One lawsuit, however, seemed to sum these techniques up the best – that Wyndham will simply “say anything to get you to buy more points.”  In fact, there are recordings on YouTube of Sales Managers telling their agents just that – tell the customer whatever you have to get them to buy more points.

One particular technique is especially difficult to overcome however.  These largely elderly owners are routinely shamed, intimidated and ridiculed into purchasing more points.  Wyndham is the only company I’ve ever researched whose sales staff routinely put down other Wyndham resorts and sales representatives to sell more points.  Owners are told that the last purchase really screwed up their accounts, and that the only way to fix things is to  . . . buy more points.  That in order to qualify for a “new” program, whether its Club Wyndham Access, Pathways, or some new VIP level, that just happens to fix everything wrong with that customers timeshare – is to upgrade.

In other words, Wyndham has become an expert at upgrading their own timeshares because what the owner was originally sold was simply wrong, inappropriate, not sufficient, etc.  These poor owners are consistently told that the previous sales person really lied to them, and that the only way to fix things is to . . . buy just a few more points.  So what begins as an owner update meeting normally ends with the owner signing another stack of 30 or 40 documents (usually over 100 pages that Wyndham is banking on the owner never reading till the rescission period expires) to purchase another 154,000 Wyndham timeshare points.

The Next installment of “Why Wyndham Timeshare Owners Upgrade” will be released next week.  In the mean time – STOP BUYING POINTS!

Reprinted From Real Estate News.

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Elderly Say Wyndham Scammed Them

Jennifer Kraus. CBS News Ch 5

When you think of vacation timeshares, you may think of high pressured sales pitches.

But NewsChannel 5 Investigates found dozens of senior citizens who claim Wyndham Vacation Resorts goes way too far during its sales meetings.

Some of these seniors who are now suing Wyndham say they used to enjoy their Wyndham vacations, but then Wyndham changed its sales tactics.

Everytime they went on a trip, they were forced to attend what the company calls owners update meetings — and that’s when, these seniors tell us, their dream vacations and their lives turned into nightmares.

Among those victims: Mildred Folds.

“Nobody in my family knows — nobody,” Folds told NewsChannel 5 Investigates.

That secret is that the 76-year-old widow is deep in debt and owes more than $175,000 after she claims she was repeatedly tricked and harrassed into buying ttimeshare points through Wyndham Vacation Resorts.

The company locations around the world, including here in Nashville, Crossville, and the Smokies.

“I won’t live long enough to pay it off,” Folds said.

Houston and Brenda Garvin said the same thing happened to them.

“If I had it to do over, I’d never do it again,” Houston Garvin said.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked, “How much do you think you lost?”

“Over $600,000,” Brenda Garvin answered.

Both the Garvins and Mildred Folds are now suing Wyndham, the world’s largest timeshare company, alleging fraud, theft by conversion, negligent misrepresentation, along with violations of the Tennessee Timeshare Act and Consumer Protection Act.

They claim they were pressured into buying more timeshare points than they could ever possibly use or afford.

“So how many points did you end up buying?” we asked the Garvins.

“Two and a half million,” Brenda answered.

And Mildred Folds?

“3 million, 266, I think,” she told us.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked attorney Ben Gastel, “So why are they buying more points than they need?”

“I think that’s really the basis of our lawsuit,” he replied.

Gastel now has 70 clients with claims against Wyndham, including the Garvins.

“Certainly, most of our clients are elderly. There’s a substantial number of them that are on social security. Certainly, most of them are pensioners,” Gastel explained.

And every time his clients took a vacation at a Wyndham resort, he said, they were forced to attend high-pressure sales meetings that lasted hours on end.

Mildred Folds insisted those meetings were nearly impossible to leave.

“I’m sitting there literally like this saying, ‘I’ve got to go.’ ‘Well, just go ahead and sign this. Go ahead and sign this and then you can go,'” Folds recalled.

Folds also claims in her lawsuit Wyndham sales reps told her things to convince her to buy more points that ended up not being true.

“If I would just sign it, then they could lower the interest rates,” she stated.

“Is that in fact what happened?” NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked.

“No, no,” Folds replied.

She said Wyndham’s salespeople also told her the company would buy back any extra points she didn’t use. That too, she later found, wasn’t exactly as it had been explained.

“Were you surprised to discover that?” we asked.

“Very surprised!” Folds answered. “Not only surprised, but — he may need to bleep this out — I was mad as hell that they would pull this trick!”

And the Garvins described similar meetings.

“Every time you’d go, it was something different. They’d tell you, ‘Why did you do this? Why did you do that?’ Well, we did it because we trusted ‘em and thought they were telling us right,” Brenda Garvin said.

Every Wyndham rep, the Garvins said, recommended changing to yet another plan which brought with it, higher costs.

“Would you say these salespeople are saying and doing whatever it takes to close the sale?” we asked the Garvins’ attorney.

“Well, it would certainly appear that that’s what is going on,” Gastel answered.

In fact, a whistleblower lawsuit filed in California by former Wyndham employees claims that that’s exactly what Wyndham tells its salespeople to do, though the company denied the allegations in court.

“It done about broke us,” Brenda Garvin shared.

She and her husband recently had to simply walk away from their timeshare points, losing their entire investment, after they could no longer afford the $3,500 a month payment.

“It makes you feel bad when you think you’ve done something this stupid,” Houston Garvin said.

And Mildred Folds said, “Yes, I’m embarrassed that I let myself get caught like this and then I get so angry at Wyndham for putting me through this.”

Folds gets $2,300 a month from Social Security and her pension, yet her payment to Wyndham is a staggering $3,800 a month.

“How am I going to make it? What am I going to do next?” Folds wondered aloud.

She has resorted to selling her homemade jams and jellies as well as her mother’s secret recipe yeast rolls.

But it’s becoming clear to her that it’s simply not enough.

“Am I going to lose my home? Am I going to lose everything I’ve got?”

NewsChannel 5 repeatedly reached out to Wyndham to get some comment or statement. We started last week with the corporate office in Florida and even contacted their local attorneys here in Nashville.

So far, there’s been no response to any of our calls or emails.

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Wyndham Defrauds Elderly

Timeshare Investigation: Bridgeport Woman Says Wyndham Cheated Her

High pressure sales tactics have always dogged the timeshare industry, and one local senior says, she thinks they target the elderly on purpose.

She says, she also found it difficult to say no, and now she’s in the middle of a tug of war between Wyndham Vacation Resorts, and her money.

Mildred Folds of Bridgeport, Alabama says, she’s on the brink of bankruptcy in her golden years, all because of Wyndham, one of the largest timeshare companies in the world.

Now, this spry, 76-year old senior, is fighting back.

Mrs. Folds has always loved the visits to her timeshare property at the Wyndham Resort at Fairfield Glade near Crossville, Tennessee, except for one thing.

“At Fairfield Glade,there’s absolutely nothing to do,” she says, “unless you fish.”

She began staying at the Wyndham Smoky Mountain Resort near Sevierville, Tennessee and that’s when her ordeal began.  She says, salespeople were always after her to buy more timeshare points to be able to stay.  “You’ve got to buy more, you have to buy more,” she remembers from the meetings, “to do what you need to do and want to do.”

She tried to resist, but says the sales people kept pushing to get her signature for more points.  “30 or 40 times, everything that you have to initial or sign,” she says.  “You don’t have time to read it.”

Before she knew it, Mrs. Folds had more than 3 million timeshare points, and a world of debt.  Her monthly income is $2,300 dollars from Social Security and a pension, but she owes $3,800 dollars a month to Wyndham.

She’s so embarrassed that she has not told her family about what happened to her.  “I feel ashamed that I led Wyndham literally talk me into these things,” she says.

Mrs. Folds is suing Wyndham, charging theft by conversion, fraud and violations of Tennessee’s Consumer Protection Act.  Her attorney, Judson Phillips, says she’s not alone.

“How many people are out there like Mildred?” he says, “I wish I could give you an answer.  Actually, I can give you an answer.  Far too many.”

Phillips says, he has not heard one word from Wyndham’s lawyer, but we did.  Attorney Gene Podeska told us “this is on-going litigation and I am not permitted nor interested in making a comment to you at this time.”
Lori Ford with Wyndham Vacation Resorts thanked us for reaching out to them, but was, “unable to comment on pending litigation.”

Mrs. Folds has canned goods stacked up in one corner of her living room, ready for sale.  She also has her knitted items good to go, too.  She sells these items to support herself.. all because of her obligation to Wyndham Vacation Resorts.

“You don’t sleep well at night, I promise you,” she says.  “You get up walking the floor wondering, how am I going to juggle to get everything paid?”

Adding insult to injury, Mrs. Folds could not stay at a Wyndham timeshare even if she wanted to.  She says, all those three million points are going to maintenance fees.

Maintenance fees for a timeshare, she cannot use.

The purchase of timeshares and the sale of timeshares, both generate a lot of complaints at the Better Business Bureau.  The agency says, evaluate your own needs when meeting to buy or sell points for a timeshare, and do NOT let sales people dictate what your needs are.

If they try high-pressure, get up, and walk out.

 

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Wyndham CEO Sells More Stock, Makes $3.2 Million

Wyndham Vacation’s CEO Franz S. Hanning unloaded 39,751 shares of Wyndham Worldwide stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, August 25th. The shares were sold at an average price of $80.00, for a total transaction of $3,180,080.00. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at this link.

Shares of Wyndham Worldwide (NYSE:WYN) opened at 80.94 on Wednesday. Wyndham Worldwide has a 52-week low of $58.53 and a 52-week high of $81.28. The stock has a 50-day moving average of $77.81 and a 200-day moving average of $74.11. The company has a market cap of $10.118 billion and a P/E ratio of 20.36.

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Lawsuit Claims Company Sells Timeshares Using Illegal Practices

Berkley Group Inc. of Florida allegedly violates federal and Florida consumer laws when it tries to get people to purchase timeshares, says a recently-filed lawsuit.

According to the complaint, Berkley Group violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and Florida’s Unfair Debt Collections Practices Act from 2011 through 2013. Specifically, the complaint alleges unfair debt collection practices, the use of recorded voices multiple times to entice consumers to buy the timeshares, and invasion of privacy.

After being advised that the Finn Law Group represented the timeshare owners, Tatyana Yeremenko, Yuriv Yeremenko, and Karen Davis, and to direct all correspondence through the law firm, the company allegedly ignored the repeated requests and continued to contact clients directly.

“Our main goal is to get the clients released from what we see as an unfair lifelong contract obtained via deceptive business and sales practices,” says Michael Finn, senior partner of Finn Law Group in Largo, Fla.

The Yeremenkos purchased a timeshare unit in Grandview Resort in Las Vegas. Davis bought a timeshare unit at Vacation Village at Parkway resort in Kissimmee, Fla. After the purchases, the timeshare owners were called using an automated dialing system to collect debts.

The lawsuit, Yeremenko, et al. vs. The Berkley Group Inc., et al. (Case No. CACE-13-028175), was filed in December 2013 in Broward County, Fla. The Berkley Group has not filed its response, says Finn, but he expects a motion to dismiss to be filed soon. If the court denies the motion to dismiss, Berkley Group would have to file an official response to the allegations.

Pattern of consumer complaints

Because of a pattern of allegedly fraudulent business practices, the Better Business Bureau revoked its accreditation of Berkley Group in November 2013. The BBB cited a pattern of complaints from consumers alleging high pressure and misleading sales tactics from Vacation Village Resorts, which is owned by Berkley Group.

Consumers reported they were not free to leave timeshare presentations after several hours and that the sales representative created a false sense of urgency to buy timeshares. More than 200 complaints have been filed with the BBB against the company.

The company responded to the complaints by saying they do not show evidence of misrepresentation or wrongdoing and that Berkley Group will not release timeshare owners from obligations. Berkley Group said representatives of the company a meal with families invited to resorts. These representatives provide details of ownership programs, but that families are not pressured to sign.

Consumer groups, FTC advise caution

The FTC and the Public Interest Research Group urge consumers to beware of timeshares and prepaid vacation plans. Ed Mierzwinski, consumer program director at PIRG, says, “Some timeshares are good products, but most aren’t. That’s why they are often sold with a lot of high pressure, deceptive tactics.” He advised consumers to refrain from buying during a sales presentation and to think through the purchase.

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Can a Timeshare Hurt Your Credit?

Can a Timeshare Hurt My Credit?


With summer upon us, and the much-deserved vacation time that comes with it, I often get questions from friends about timeshares. Is it a good idea? How will it affect my credit? What should I watch out for?

As anyone who has had the pleasure of sitting through a timeshare sales pitch can attest to, they sound like the perfect way for just about anyone to buy in to a vacation property. And who doesn’t want a vacation home? But before signing on the dotted line, make sure you understand what you may be getting yourself into.

So, What Is a Timeshare?

A timeshare is a form of shared ownership of a property by several owners. You have the privilege to use the property for a particular span of time each year. Typical timeshares include ownership of a condo, cabin, hotel room, RV or houseboat. There are two types of timeshares: a deeded interest where you actually own a share of the property; or a right-to-use interest that grants you use of the property but no formal ownership.

The tricky part of timeshare ownership that many do not realize upfront is that you have the responsibilities of a full-time homeowner, yet you only have fractional usage — and possibly not even property ownership.

Don’t sign on the dotted line before you consider these lesser-known responsibilities of timeshare ownership that have been known to cause folks credit trouble.

1. Timeshare Association Fees

Just as you may have homeowner association dues, special assessments, taxes and utilities on your primary home, you may have the same type of obligations for your timeshare. Also, if for whatever reason you can no longer pay or you become delinquent on your dues, taxes and fees, the timeshare association can put a lien on your ownership share of the property. This can obviously hurt your credit as well as affect your ability to sell your timeshare or use your credit for other purchases like a new car.

2. Mortgage Payments

If you decide to mortgage your timeshare ownership you will have to make your mortgage payments until the debt is repaid. If you get behind on your timeshare mortgage you can be foreclosed upon, just as if you stopped paying the mortgage on your primary home. A foreclosure will severely damage your credit and will remain on your credit report for seven years.

3. When It’s Time to Sell

I have had numerous people tell me about their difficulties in selling their timeshares when they either no longer want them or cannot afford them. For example, a friend bought a $20,000 timeshare and has been trying to sell it for $10,000 and still can’t get rid of it. She’s considering just giving it away so she can be free of the responsibility, the mortgage and all the fees. But then she may also have a mortgage on her credit report stating “deed-in-lieu.” So while she thinks this sounds simple and is only a loss of funds from the sale, it will affect her credit. In fact, according to a FICO study, a deed in lieu of foreclosure can cause a big drop in credit scores – sometimes nearly as bad as a foreclosure.

Keeping current on all your credit obligations, on time and as agreed, is crucial to maintaining good credit. Whether you have a timeshare or are considering one, it’s a good idea to stay on top of your credit so you can be aware of problems as they come up, and take care of them before they do greater damage to your credit. You can check your credit reports for free once a year through AnnualCreditReport.com. There are also many resources that give you your credit scores for free, including Credit.com (where you can also get a breakdown of what’s affecting your credit and how you can improve it).

So be smart when considering the purchase of a timeshare, and make sure you fully understand your rights and responsibilities. And in the meantime, enjoy the summer!

For More Information see Allyance Partners.

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Aftermarket Prices of Wyndham Timeshare Points

The following spreadsheet contains an analysis of all sales of Wyndham timeshare points on eBay over a two week period.  We had heard from numerous sources that it was impossible to sale Wyndham points in the open market.  We had also been told by industry experts that if someone was willing to buy your points (usually a mega-renter or resale company), they would require the seller to pay several months of maintenance fees as well as closing costs.  Wading through the above, and all things being equal, we still wanted to know the going aftermarket price being paid for Wyndham timeshare points.

Therefore, after considerable work by our brilliant analyst, we were finally able to ascertain that the market price for Wyndham timeshare points is a whopping $3.25 per thousand (1,000) points ($3.25/k).  See spreadsheet.  This price does not take into account that the seller is likely to pay all sale and closing related fees (including 3+ months of future maintenance fees on the points being sold).

Therefore, considering the average price for Wyndham points is $150/k are higher, the open market price for Wyndham points is phenomenally less expensive (98% cheaper) than buying points directly from Wyndham.  Consequently, based on our diligence, it would seem horribly ill advised to buy Wyndham Timeshare points directly from Wyndham. Master ebay sales of Wyndham timeshares