Mr. Gomez is a Vietnam veteran, Army, 100% disabled from Agent Orange. Mr. Gomez earned two Purple Hearts. Today he battles a timeshare company.
You wouldn't think buying a timeshare would be financially devastating, but since I started writing articles about deceptive timeshare practices, I have heard from 584 U.S. timeshare members and readers. All but a handful allege unfair and deceptive trade practices. Of the 584, 78 are veterans, active-duty military and law enforcement. Many of the vets are disabled. Four, like Mr. Gomez, are disabled from Agent Orange.
Mr. Gomez called me last Tuesday and said he was struggling with a $23,000 timeshare mortgage. After listening to his comments about the inability to pay his timeshare mortgage, I concluded there had been no deception. A timeshare mortgage is just like a home mortgage in that you can't go to your home mortgage lender and say, "I can't afford this." Mr. Gomez said he had switched some old points into a newer category of points. At the end of our conversation Mr. Gomez mentioned his pancreatic cancer. I advised him to request a release based on medical hardship. He has been informed his pancreatic cancer is terminal.
That night I woke up with one of those lightning-bolt moments. I called Mr. Gomez first thing the next morning and asked WHY had he switched from the old points to the new? He said it was because his resort had gone bankrupt.
I know for a fact that it is not mandatory to switch from the old points to the new. Mr. Gomez went on to tell me the sales agent in Las Vegas knew he had pancreatic cancer because he had explained to the agent why the four-hour presentation was so tiring. He was suffering the aftereffects of his treatment. "They said our maintenance fees were $2,200 for 2018 and would go up to $3,000 January 1, 2019, if we did not convert," he added. Mr. Gomez's maintenance fees will go up much more than this because of the additional points he purchased. I seriously doubt his prior maintenance fees will increase this dramatically. I own the same points.
I have been accused of creating timeshare complaints. Yes, you could say I created this complaint. Without my informing Mr. Gomez it was not necessary to switch from one set of points to the new, he would not have been aware of the deception. The resort can wiggle out of this complaint by telling the customer the sales agent said they "should" convert.
I don't get directly involved with negotiations and settlements because I am not a lawyer. In the case of Mr. Gomez, I wrote a letter to the credit-card company on their behalf because $4,500 was charged to a timeshare credit card. They have already responded. They are "looking into it", but Mr. Gomez has not heard from the timeshare company.
The volume of timeshare complaints submitted by readers has established the following facts and opinions:
- Fact - Many of the 584 families are financially devastated by their decision to buy a timeshare. I have listened to many tears.
- Fact - All but a few complaints have been dismissed with, "You signed a contract."
- Fact - All complaints sent to the Nevada Real Estate Division and the Florida Timeshare Division, DBPR, have been met with the above defenses. Other states have taken complaints seriously, based on the volume of complaints and the similar nature of the complaints.
- Fact - There are several repeat-offender sales agents, with multiple complaints. One sales agent had 15 complaints directed against him over two years; he reportedly earned over $1 million per year.
- Fact - Not one of the 584 families knew their timeshare had virtually no secondary market.
- Fact - A significant number report having been ripped off by a timeshare exit company.
- Opinion - Lawyers with no timeshare experience have no business taking a timeshare case.