I attended a timeshare presentation on 8th October 2008 at the Cypress Pointe resort (owned by Diamond Resort International). I had been invited to this presentation, as I was on my final vacation from an "explorer package deal" that I had previously purchased through Sunterra. (This was a 3 year programme, where I had 4, 000 points per year to purchase vacations). During my 3 years under this package I declined to purchase the points based timeshare on 2 occasions as it was too expensive at £9, 500 for 5, 000 points per annum, and I refused to attend the presentation on the vacation prior to my final vacation in Florida. Each time I attended the presentation the sales team had a file on me which held all of my details and the quotes that I had been given -previously this was to enable them to try and offer me better incentives to buy.
When we attended the presentation on 8th October, we advised that we hadn't purchased due to the cost in previous years. At this point we were given figures that had a dollar value on one side and a sterling value on the other. During this quotation we were offered 4, 000 points per year and membership to interval international for $14, 129 and were advised that this was £7, 064. We had no reason to disbelieve the sales team at this time, and due to the reduction in price we agreed to buy. We were not advised that the cancellation period was within 10 days; however I must advise we did not question this as it was our intention to buy. We agreed to pay a deposit of $4, 239, and we were advised that we had an outstanding balance of $9, 890. Again we were advised that this equated to £4, 900. When we signed the attached contract we were advised that we could save a further 5% if we closed by 7th November. As a result this would be $9, 536 and again we were advised that this would be £4768.
We came home and raised the £4, 900 thinking this would cover any change in the exchange rate, and we sent our details to Diamond to conclude the purchase. Diamond contacted us on 15th November, to advise that our credit card company would not release the payment. When we investigated why we found the following out:
The transaction would have cost £6635, and the funds were not available
We reviewed the exchange rate of 8th Oct 08 and found it to be $1.74 to £1, not the $2 to £1 quoted by Diamond via oanda.com (My own bank were offering $1.67 to £1 on that day
At this stage I advised Diamond that I had could not raise the additional £1, 735. At this point Diamond tried to force me to close the deal, and advised that if I cancelled I would lose the $4, 239 deposit already paid. At this stage I advised them I wished to cancel and I followed this up with an e-mail (requesting my deposit be returned as well due to mis-representation.
I also feel the need to point out that if we had been quoted the correct exchange rate on 8th October 08, this would have equated to a GB Pound value of £8, 120, which is clear from our file we would not have accepted, as this is a similar pound/point ratio as the £9, 500 for 5, 000 points. I have requested the written quotation details from various different people and to date this information has not been provided. It concerns me that this is not available, when it has been available when I have visited previous resorts e.g. Vila De Golf in Portugal and Sunset Harbour Club in Tenerife. I believe that it is not available as it shows that I have been mis-represented in the sale of this product.
As this whole episode was causing me undue stress I contacted Stephen J Cloobeck's (firstname.lastname@example.org) office (chairman of Diamond Resorts International) and at this stage a member of the hospitality team became involved. I advised her that I could close at £4, 900 and no more as I couldn't raise the additional required funds. Following an internal conversation with a director at Diamond they offered to conclude at the rate of 6th November, which at $1.59 to £1 would have cost £5983; again this is more than I could raise. I explained to both of them that I could not raise the funds and that I was hugely embarrassed by this situation. I asked for the weekend to seek some additional advice and it was agreed that someone would contact me on Monday 24th November at 6.30pm UK time.
During the weekend of 22-23rd November I received some legal advice and I was advised to make the Attorney General and The Department of Real Estate in Florida aware of my situation. I did this via e-mail on 23rd November 2008. The initial feedback from them is that it will take 30 days to review the situation. I don’t believe I have the luxury of this amount of time. As a result I have e-mailed someone from www.floridabar.org as advised by the Department of Real Estate.
As I could not raise the additional funds and going into a loan agreement with Diamond Resorts International was not a cost effective option I advised on Tuesday 25th November via e-mail that I would like to cancel and again requested that my deposit be returned due to mis-representation. At this stage I advised Diamond Resorts International that I would be seeking assistance from the following should they decide to not return my deposit:
Florida Attorney General – no response to date
The Department of Real Estate in Florida – no response to date
The Judge at the Sunday Mail – no response to date
BBC1’s Watchdog - no response to date
If need be a lawyer in the USA
I was advised that my case would be reviewed and they would come back to me after the holiday period in the USA. I was also advised that my account would remain on hold until this was investigated. I received an e-mail from this morning (2nd December) advising that he had taken my account of hold, and that I could not cancel as this option had never been offered to me. To make matters worse they took my account of hold and started to collect the money from a loan agreement on the 26th November. As I can’t pay the outstanding amount I have closed the account. I sent an e-mail to asking why this had happened and they have indicated that it was a mistake and it the fnds will be returned but that I cannot cancel and lose my deposit.
In my next communication with them, I refer them to two contract clauses which indicate that you can default and lose your deposit. I ask if this option to cancel and lose the downpayment is being honoured or not, and advise that if this is being honoured I would like to exercise this option with immediate effect. The response Ihave received is that I cannot cancel.
I also sent a final complaint e-mail to Stephen Cloobeck, to which the hospitality manager to.
I am concerned that Diamond keep lying to me, shifting the goalposts and doing what they want. Effectively they have:
Made up an exchange rate to sell me the product
Advised I could cancel and lose my deposit – then deny this
Advised that my account was on hold, but continue to take payments
Advised that Stephen Cloobeck will intervene if needed, but he never responds to my e-mail.
Again I would like to reiterate that I bought the timeshare in good faith, and by raising the £4, 900 I believe I have demonstrated this. However, had I been given the correct exchange rate, I would never had purchased the product and I believe that the team in Florida were aware of this when they mis-quoted me.
Initially I need help to ensure that this timeshare is cancelled and then if required to try and reclaim my deposit. I really hope that you can help with this situation.
Many thanks for taking the time to read this and for any assistance that you can offer.