Mainstream Media Show Split Personality
The March 2016 Consumer Reports includes an article entitled, “Timeshares Come of Age.” The sub-headline states, “These vacation ownership arrangements are attracting younger, more educated, more affluent buyers, thanks to consumer-friendly changes in the industry.”
The 4-page article points to the “rocky reputation” the industry was marked by in the mid-1970’s because of consumers being lured to attend multi-hour, high-pressure sales presentations, by the offer of enticing gifts. It goes on to report that industry insiders say that “the industry has become much more consumer-friendly and transparent, and that is largely because of the entrance of major hospitality brands into the industry. Consumers can now avoid the in-person sales pitch by going online to research timeshare properties and even contact sales reps by phone and chat sessions.”
Consumer Reports covers a lot of ground on the trend away from fixed weeks and that consumers should not consider a timeshare purchase as a real estate investment. Randy Conrads, Co-Founder of RedWeek.com, is quoted as saying that. “It’s a lifestyle investment, not a financial one.”
The demographics of new buyers, the economics of ownership and the challenges of selling a timeshare are discussed and the article points to timeshares that are being offered for sale at $1 on many popular resale website. It concludes with mention that owners who “really want out” can turn to companies who charge thousands of dollars to help negotiate the owners’ termination of their obligations.
Now, comes along a January 22, 2016 article written by reporter Gretchen Morgenson of The New York Times with a headline that reads, “The Timeshare Hard Sell Comes Roaring Back.” Morgenson’s account is focused on Developer Diamond Resorts’ sales presentation and indicates the high-pressure sales tactics may still be alive and well. One owner said that an offer of a $100 gift card was made, but she ended up enduring a 5-hour of Diamond representative pressuring he to give up two of her timeshares deed for a $30,000 purchase of Diamond’s ownership points. The owner who declined the offer, was handed documents and the end of the presentation, one of which was a copy of a voided charge on her credit card for $4840.00 for which the owner had not given approval.
Jeff Weir, a Diamond owner and Chief Correspondent for RedWeek and contributor to TimeSharing Today, is quoted as saying, “In my experience, Diamond is much more ambitious, aggressive and downright nasty in their sales presentations compared to Marriott and Westin.” He went on to say that Diamond just has an amazing reputation of being tough on people.”
The article does include comments from David F. Palmer, Diamond’s chief executive indicating that Diamond does try to bring fun to its customer interactions, both before an initial sale and once a member buys in. “Our lifetime subscription model creates a series of systems where you can track that engagement and make sure you are constantly providing a series of experiences that exeed their expectations over many,many years,” he said.
Morgenson interviewed another owner, Walter Hunter. Hunter is a member of the homeowners’ association board at Daytona Beach Regency, a Diamond Resort in Florida. He said that he was pleased with Diamond as the management company. He acknowledged maintenance fees have significantly increased under Diamond, but said, “We are convinced that they are doing a good job.”
The extensive article contains a great deal of relevant information and can be found HERE.
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