Posts filed under 'Timeshare Owners'

Timeshare & The TSA – Vacation Ownership in the No-Fly Zone

Apparently, now not even Rep. Ron Paul can fly without being accused of being a terrorist, and being subjected to the depredations of the TSA. It’s no wonder, then, that more and more American timeshare owners won’t fly to their vacation destinations. This can be costly for those who own timeshares far from home, and are forced to exchange their week every year for closer drive-to vacations. Some owners have even asked me whether it may be advantageous to sell their distant timeshare and buy a resale within driving distance, while others feel being abused by the TSA is a small price to pay for safe travel to spend a week in their luxurious timeshare property. Here are the top 3 reasons I won’t fly with my family:

  1. Airports Have Become Prisons – Perhaps it is a reflection of the somewhat puritanical nature of Americans that no one wants to admit they’ve seen the inside of a jail. But, whether for an “incident” in college or an unpaid speeding ticket, many of us have been through central booking. When you arrive at jail: You have to remove your shoes and belt. Your pockets must be emptied into a tray. You have to produce identification. You must submit to a pat-down by someone wearing rubber gloves. By the time you’ve been processed into the holding area, your mental state is one psychologists refer to as total compliance. Clearly, the entire process of flying in America (post 9/11) is the psychological equivalent of being incarcerated – only voluntary; a post-modern Stockholm syndrome! Perhaps we should re-classify “frequent fliers” as “repeat offenders.”
  2. Your Wife and Kids May be Molested While You Watch – As a man, it’s hard to say which is worse: Having to watch impotently while your wife gets groped by a TSA goon, or watching your kid cry while she wonders why Daddy won’t make the mean man stop touching her. I’ll take a pass on both, thank you. Visiting Scottsdale just isn’t that important.
  3. The Moral Hazard – Not long ago I found myself waiting in a TSA line, standing behind a scruffy young man whose black clothes smelled of clove cigarettes. He was carrying an old backpack stuffed with video game gear. As we approached the metal detector, this young man was pulled to the side and made to unload his backpack and submit to all manner of secondary screenings, while I was permitted to pass through undisturbed. In that moment, I found myself actually happy to see this kid getting hassled instead of me… When that moment passed, I was overcome with guilt; guilt over not speaking up for this innocent young fellow whose only “crime” was looking a little different and loving video games. It’s this hazard, this moral hazard of hoping someone else gets picked off the queue, and of looking the other way while fellow Americans are mistreated, that poses the biggest risk to our humanity. As the German citizens of the 1930’s found, the slope from freedom to fascism is indeed a slippery one.

Given that both candidates for President in 2012 support continuing the TSA, it’s a safe bet that its assault on Americans’ civil liberties will continue, at least for a while. For timeshare owners that share my concerns about flying, selling a timeshare that can’t be easily driven to is probably a sound idea.

Recently, a neighbor of mine here in Atlanta decided to list her Napa Valley timeshare for sale, and perhaps consider a resale in the nearby Hilton Head Island area. The good news for her, and anyone in her position, is that today’s resale market is not only full of great deals, but bustling with activity like never before. With sophisticated new internet platforms for buying and selling timeshare resales, both buyers and sellers are increasingly choosing the resale market… And, if enough of us choose not to fly with our families, financial pressure on the airlines may eventually end the TSA, making the skies friendly for Americans once again.

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2 comments August 30th, 2012

Timeshare in the News: The Good and The Bad

During the last week, timeshare resale related stories have appeared in the news twice – which is actually a lot for a niche industry! Additionally, both stories relate to previous posts here at Helptimeshare.com:

The Good

Back in May, I pointed out the threat posed to timeshare owners by timeshare recovery companies. Yesterday this issue was highlighted in an article by Diane Lade of the Sun Sentinel. In it, she states that the “Florida Attorney General has received more than 600 complaints in the past 12 months” regarding recovery companies. While it’s great to see these fraudulent entities receiving some attention from the media and regulators, I have to wonder how many thousands of timeshare owners have been victimized in the four months since I originally reported on the problem. Lade goes on to point out that some timeshare resale companies have “closed down but then reopened as a timeshare recovery business” – an astute observation echoing my post describing a recovery company as “a failed timeshare resale company.”

According to Lade, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumers Services regulators are hard-at-work investigating “about 20 timeshare recovery businesses.” Hopefully, these efforts will protect timeshare owners from being conned out of their hard-earned money. …and Kudos to Lade and the Sun Sentinel for calling attention to this phenomenon!

The Bad

On September 3rd, an article by Jon Burnstein (also of the Sun Sentinel), provided some follow-up information on the ongoing timeshare fraud saga of Timeshare Mega Media. In what the FTC has called a “naked fraud,” Timeshare Mega Media contacted timeshare owners claiming “we have a buyer for your timeshare.” According to Burnstein, the operation collected an “estimated $5 million in less than a year,” before closing their doors in May 2010. Not to sound like a broken record, but HelpTimeshare.com reported on the “It’s Already Sold” scam back in February of 2010.  Apparently, our warning went unheeded by some 10,000+ consumers in Florida alone… More to the point of why I consider this a ‘bad’ story, Burnstein repeatedly refers to Timeshare Mega Media as a “timeshare resale company.” He goes on to refer to the timeshare resale industry as “fraud-riddled,” and states that “many of the unscrupulous resale companies operate the same way.” I suggest that, for anyone in the media, using this sort of language is, at best, irresponsible: Timeshare Mega Media was clearly anything but a timeshare resale company. According to Burnstein’s own article the company was no more than a criminal front, operated not by timeshare industry professionals but by felons and associates of major crime families.

Please, call them “fake” timeshare resale companies or something, but a distinction needs to be drawn by the media between criminals and timeshare resale companies. There is nothing to suggest Timeshare Mega Media, or its affiliates, had any connection whatsoever to the actual timeshare resale industry. No one in the press refers to the Swiss Watch Industry as “fraud-riddled,” though fake Rolex watches are still a-dime-a-dozen throughout the U.S.

4 comments September 7th, 2011

Timeshare Recovery Companies Pose Threat

Timeshare recovery companies pose a new threat to timeshare owners; undermining resale values, and negatively affecting public trust in the secondary timeshare market.

Timeshare resales are still relatively new; after all, timeshare itself has only been in America for around 30 years. Added to that, there was no affordable way to mass-market anything prior to the advent of the Internet, or more specifically before Google defined the modern search engine. For all intents and purposes then,  the secondary market for timeshares is about 10 years old. As with any emerging market, timeshare resale has faced obstacles and impediments, along with some spectacular successes. Owners that decide to sell find themselves faced with conflicting information, an abundance of uncertainty, and, yes, some scams to be avoided.

While most objective observers will admit that timeshare scams are the exception, rather than the rule, they exist, and many an unsuspecting owner has been led astray by silver-tongued fraudsters. Thankfully, the timeshare resale market is evolving and growing. Legitimate and committed companies are making a difference every day. That said, owners still have to be careful… Many have paid fees to have their timeshares advertised or marketed, but are still waiting for a buyer. During this time is when I think owners are most vulnerable, and this is the very vulnerability that timeshare recovery companies exploit.

Just what is a timeshare recovery company? Typically a failed timeshare resale company with some sort of loose association with a law firm. These recovery (or timeshare advocacy) companies cold-call timeshare owners offering to ‘recover’ funds paid to a timeshare resale company. The catch is that their services require the owner to pay yet another upfront fee. If that sounds fishy to you, then you’re not alone. In a recent case involving a timeshare recovery company that came before the U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida, the Judge included the following in his report:

The Court views Plaintiff’s description of its business with some skepticism. The intended customer base includes individuals who previously made disappointing purchases of time share units (often as the result of sophisticated sales techniques) and who thereafter availed themselves of high priced resale services that failed to deliver as promised. Such individuals must be seen a vulnerable population. Plaintiff’s business includes inducing these individuals to purchase yet additional services with respect to their time shares.

Beyond the dubious nature of timeshare recovery companies, the strategies these firms encourage owners to use in order to pursue a refund often constitute criminal behavior! Owners are given form letters, and told to sign and mail them to the timeshare resale company in question. These letters regularly violate state and federal extortion laws, contain slanderous statements, and constitute defamation; making the timeshare owner themselves criminally liable, and subject to prosecution.

There are free and legal ways for owners to address grievances with resale companies. By getting involved with timeshare recovery companies, owners have nothing to gain and potentially everything to lose… Consider yourself warned.

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6 comments May 26th, 2011

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