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attended LTRBA meeting in orlando today

TUGBrian

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This was a meeting of the LTRBA (licensed timeshare resale brokers association http://ltrba.com ) hosted at the Marriott Cypress Harbor Resort (kudos to marriott for providing the meeting location). In attendance were about 60 members of the LTRBA and some distinguished guests including representatives from Marriott sales, Hilton sales/resales, Westgate, and Disney. Also attending were members of various Florida Law enforcement agencies who deal with the current timeshare scams. DPBR, Atty Generals office, and even a state legislator who spoke and took questions on the proposed new Timeshare scam bill!

Sadly it was made very clear that the AG's office, as well as the other offices...that they for the most part, only pursue these scams as a CIVIL matter, and other than the FTC really have no teeth to go after these items on a criminal level. It was also made painfully obvious that the civil fines levied against these scammers is for all intents and purposes WAY less than they are making scamming people. I really feel for these individuals as I truly believe they want to shut down all of these scammers, but lack the manpower, resources, and ability to put them in jail over their crimes. (even the AG's office). Everyone agreed that education is going to be a far better solution to curbing the scams.

More on that point, it was expressed to all 4 of the developer reps that more notice needs to be given to their owners warning them against these scams! More kudos to marriott as they were far and away the most proactive in warning members with warnings against upfront fees on their website, in emails, in print mail, etc etc...they seem to have a grasp on how big this problem is and are taking steps to warn owners! Hilton claimed they have a message about upfront fee scams on their website (after you log in)...and I dont recall disney or westgate mentioning anything of the sort...but I could be wrong.

Last to speak was the state representative Eric Eisnaugle who is working on the proposed timeshare scam bill (note this is different from the arda proposed model resale act). He mentioned at length this new bill is going to be written to allow the AG's office to more easily prosecute and shut down these scammers as they pop up and rip people off. as of right now the amount of time and effort they have to put into shutting these people down gives them so much time to make a fortune, then just start up a new business name. I truly look forward to seeing this bill in its final form and hope it gets passed!

Despite this however, the LTRBA's push to have developers take a more proactive stance in EDUCATING its owners is really going to be most beneficial in terms of curbing these scams IMO. (one story the AG rep told was about a guy who was ripped off for nearly 200,000 dollars over the course of 2 years by the SAME COMPANY)...Until we truly make it common knowledge at every level in this industry that paying upfront fees to "sell" your timeshare is a HORRIBLE idea...these scammers will continue to remain well ahead of the law enforcement agencies trying to shut them down.

Big thanks to Judi Kozlowski and the rest of the LTRBA for inviting me, and putting together yet another successful meeting to allow all so many people involved with putting and end to these scams to get together and help solve the problem!
 
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ronparise

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I dont want to take away anything from the LTRBA, the AG the or the developers, because education is absolutely necessary, and certainly a good start; but...What then???

So now Im educated, I wont pay an up front fee, I can tell the difference between a scammer and an honest dealer.....But I still cant sell my timeshare. What do I do now??
 

LannyPC

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Everyone agreed that education is going to be a far better solution to curbing the scams.

more on that point, it was expressed to all 4 of the developer reps that more notice needs to be given to their owners warning them against these scams! More kudos to marriott as they were far and away the most proactive in warning members with warnings against upfront fees on their website, in emails, in print mail, etc etc...they seem to have a grasp on how big this problem is and are taking steps to warn owners!

I've been thinking that all along. Educate, not legislate. If you educate the owners then it won't matter whether these scams are legal or not. They will be "starved" out of existence rather than legislated out.

I echo Brian's comments about "Kudos to Marriott (and other resorts that are education and warning owners)". And my position is (many might disagree with me but, hey, that's what these forums are for) the resorts should be forced to educate owners via e-mail, monthly newsletters, notices and bulletins at the resorts, etc. It's just a real shame that some of the resorts in their newsletters and e-mails only tell owners of "opportunities" such as discount rentals, discount attraction tickets, what's happening at the resort, discount purchases at the resort, etc.

My guess is (again, I'll probably get a number of people disagreeing with me) many resorts are reluctant to warn of these upfront fee scams because it would just expose the "scam" these resorts are running selling properties for $15,000, or so, that can be bought/sold for pennies on the dollar. It would be like the kettle calling the teapot black (or however that cliché goes).
 
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TUGBrian

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there were two "excuses" mentioned in the meeting as to why owners arent notified with the regular maint fee letters and such.

they were:

1. cost (i actually offered to pay for an insert warning owners of upfront fee scams)

2. "there is too much info that already gets sent with the maint fee bill, we didnt want to add more clutter"

both these didnt hold any water with me, but at least now with marriott on board doing all of these things and more...hopefully more major resorts (and minor ones) will follow suit and get their heads out of the sand.
 

DeniseM

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I wonder why Starwood wasn't there - especially with their corporate offices in FL.
 

TUGBrian

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im not sure if they were invited and declined, or werent included in the invite...i can ask though!
 

theo

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My $0.02 worth...

I wonder why Starwood wasn't there - especially with their corporate offices in FL.

Funny, I was instead wondering why Westgate apparently was there... :rolleyes:

With the possibe exception of Celebrity (a.k.a. Legacy Vacation Club, with corporate headquarters located right there in Orlando), I can think of few (if any) timeshare developers with more or better reasons to hide from public view, discussion and / or scrutiny... :shrug:
 

ronparise

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And where were my friends from Wyndham

I want to be careful to distinguish between the POA's and the developers, But I agree with LannyPC...The developers cant educate their buyers, because an educated buyer wouldnt buy at all...After all, if I know that the only way to dispose of my timeshare is try to pick out an honest dealer from a scammer, and that the honest dealer will tell me (honestly) that my timeshare may be worth only as much as a few pennies on the dollar ...would I buy in the first place? I doubt it

The POA's on the otherhand must educate their owners, and not just about the resale market and scammers. They need to show their owners the value of what they own and how to effectively use it, which means lessons on RCI and the exchange companies

My point is this ...many owners feel that their time share is a liability, not an asset and they are desperate to get rid of it...Show me its value and I may be willing to buy another week or at least not be so eager to walk away from it.

But Im back to my same question that I asked in the above post

After education...what then? there is still a need for everone to get behind a secondary market model of some sort.
 

Talent312

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Hilton claimed they have a message about upfront fee scams on their website (after you log in)...

You do not need to log-in to see and click this link on Hilton's log-in page:

IMPORTANT NEWS
Resale / Listing Service Alert:
Be informed in the event you are contacted by a
company offering to sell or rent your timeshare.


The link takes you to a page that is unfortunately so verbose that a casual reader is likely to get lost and conclude that its just a bunch of chatter.
 
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LannyPC

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there were two "excuses" mentioned in the meeting as to why owners arent notified with the regular maint fee letters and such.

they were:

2. "there is too much info that already gets sent with the maint fee bill, we didnt want to add more clutter"

So I guess knowing that you can get a discount at the resort's front desk for the Knights of Arabia show is more important than protecting yourself from these upfront fee scammers.:shrug:
 

Judi Kozlowski

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Can't Sell My Timeshare

I dont want to take away anything from the LTRBA, the AG the or the developers, because education is absolutely necessary, and certainly a good start; but...What then???

So now Im educated, I wont pay an up front fee, I can tell the difference between a scammer and an honest dealer.....But I still cant sell my timeshare. What do I do now??
The Developers need to come up with an exit program. That is not an exit program that gets you to come back if you don't buy today. That is an exit program when you are ready to sell. It may not be what you want to see when you decide you are done but it needs to be available for people to have an option when they are ready to sell. That is just my opinion.
 

Judi Kozlowski

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Educate not Legisilate

I've been thinking that all along. Educate, not legislate. If you educate the owners then it won't matter whether these scams are legal or not. They will be "starved" out of existence rather than legislated out.

I echo Brian's comments about "Kudos to Marriott (and other resorts that are education and warning owners)". And my position is (many might disagree with me but, hey, that's what these forums are for) the resorts should be forced to educate owners via e-mail, monthly newsletters, notices and bulletins at the resorts, etc. It's just a real shame that some of the resorts in their newsletters and e-mails only tell owners of "opportunities" such as discount rentals, discount attraction tickets, what's happening at the resort, discount purchases at the resort, etc.

My guess is (again, I'll probably get a number of people disagreeing with me) many resorts are reluctant to warn of these upfront fee scams because it would just expose the "scam" these resorts are running selling properties for $15,000, or so, that can be bought/sold for pennies on the dollar. It would be like the kettle calling the teapot black (or however that cliché goes).
Just an fyi Marriott is stepping up to the plate and if you go to www.hgvclub.com which is the Owners website you will immediately see the warning about upfront fee scams.
 

Judi Kozlowski

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Ltrba

there were two "excuses" mentioned in the meeting as to why owners arent notified with the regular maint fee letters and such.

they were:

1. cost (i actually offered to pay for an insert warning owners of upfront fee scams)

2. "there is too much info that already gets sent with the maint fee bill, we didnt want to add more clutter"

both these didnt hold any water with me, but at least now with marriott on board doing all of these things and more...hopefully more major resorts (and minor ones) will follow suit and get their heads out of the sand.
Our group www.LTRBA.com is recommending to all of the Developers and HOA's to tell their members not to talk to tele marketers regarding timeshare.
Hang up. The only reason they are calling you is to rip you off. Our group offers Sellers a method to sell their timeshare without paying upfront fees. If we can't help them we try to give them alternatives. None of us use telemarketing to sell timeshares. We want to educate Owners. Timesharing Today www.tstoday.com is also trying to educate the HOA's. It is an uphill battle but we will win.
 

Judi Kozlowski

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Starwood

I wonder why Starwood wasn't there - especially with their corporate offices in FL.
Starwood was invited. No response. Starwood chooses to work with an upfront fee company rather than Licensed Timeshare Resale Brokers that don't charge upfront fees.
 

Judi Kozlowski

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Westgate

Funny, I was instead wondering why Westgate apparently was there... :rolleyes:

With the possibe exception of Celebrity (a.k.a. Legacy Vacation Club, with corporate headquarters located right there in Orlando), I can think of few (if any) timeshare developers with more or better reasons to hide from public view, discussion and / or scrutiny... :shrug:
Westgate has some very nice resorts. We are working with them to try to make their resale product a better product. They are trying.
 

theo

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Clarification...

Westgate has some very nice resorts. We are working with them to try to make their resale product a better product. They are trying.

My comments about Westgate were specifically directed toward their ongoing skeevy practices in both sales and in reservation policies and treatment of owners --- not in regard to the physical quality of their resorts.

I don't doubt that Westgate is "trying". I am, however, a bit worried about what they might "try" next...:rolleyes:
 

Judi Kozlowski

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Westgate

My comments about Westgate were specifically directed toward their ongoing skeevy practices in both sales and in reservation policies and treatment of owners --- not in regard to the physical quality of their resorts.

I don't doubt that Westgate is "trying". I am, however, a bit worried about what they might "try" next...:rolleyes:
Hmmmm My thoughts exactly. Scary
 

ronparise

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There is nothing inherently wrong with telemarketing, or direct mail, or radio ads. There are plenty of reputable companies using all these techniques. And there is nothing wrong with a real estate broker charging an up front fee for their service. I am a licensed real estate agent and I use the phone and I can (and have) charge(d) a retainer before I go to work

Its just that the companies we hate so much have latched onto these methods to attract prey for their illegal activities(scams)...lets be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater, or blame the car, instead of the drunk driver that wrecked it

In my view there is nothing wrong with using the telephone to find folks that have a need for the product or service Im selling, and to charge them for that service before I actually deliver it (as long as I actually deliver it)

What's wrong is to take the money and not deliver the service. Thats the crime. And I know educating timeshare owners will ultimately drive the bad guys away, but.....

And I know I sound like a broken record (records? remember them?)

.....There is still the problem of the unwanted and unsalable timeshares..not to mention the ageing owner base that the industry has to address. As Judy has said here: "The Developers need to come up with an exit program" and I would add, so do the POA's...I hope licensed real estate agents are part of the solution but the problem needs more than education and a few honest salesmen to solve
 
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