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Starwood / Time Share

1 Orlando, FL, United States Review updated:

I am a citizen of Colombia, South America and on 29 January 2009 I was on vacation in Orlando, FL. While staying at a local hotel I was approached about purchasing a timeshare. The seller of the timeshare was a spanish speaker, Lisbeth Frontaner. I decided to purchase this timeshare and signed a contract written in english. I do not speak or read english but the seller told me that she had informed me EXACTLY what was in the contract. I signed the contract and paid $3, 090 as an initial payment and would pay monthly installments until I paid off the total payment of $14, 900. On 26 February 2009 I was called by Fabiola Kindt who said that Lisbeth Frontaner was no longer employed with their company and the she would be my new representative. She also informed me that I owed $1, 600 for maintenance and remodeling fees and that I would need to use my timeshare by the end of the month or lose this years benefits. I was never told that I would have to pay this fee. When I told her that I thought their company was not acting in good faith she put her boss on the phone who said that I better figure out a way to pay nhe money. On 1 March 2009 I called the company and asked for Lisbeth Frontaner and was told she would return my call. She returned my call and said that she did not know who Fabiola Kindt was. I informed her that I felt tricked into purchasing this timeshare and that her company was changing the terms of the contract. The company should return the downpayment of $3, 090 and terminate my contract. I have sent a power of attorney to the U.S. to friends who can act as my representative in this matter. In this moment anybody respond my calls or my emails.

Md
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Comments

  • Pe
      22nd of Apr, 2009
    0 Votes

    Starwood Vacation Club appears to be on a "slippery slope" in the time share world. This business requires an organization that is above reproach and operates in a manner that builds trust, not betrays it. See www.cabogateway.com/rentals for more indication they are going down the wrong path.

  • Ti
      10th of Jun, 2009
    +1 Votes

    I agree. STARWOOD VACATION OWNERSHIP IS THE BIGGEST RIP OFF IN THE UNITED STATES. I "own" over $100k of their time. Yes, two weeks (counting the "lockoff" separately, I "own" three weeks of time in the company's premier property in Kaanapali, at the Villas on Maui, Hawaii). Here's how they get your money upfront: While vacationing there (we were on our honeymoon), they pressure you into going on a "vacation presentation." They claim it takes only "about an hour" of your time. It took more like two hours. We were so impressed we bought "site unseen" (the development was a steel frame under construction). They bring you to the best model unit in the facility, oceanfront, masterfully decorated and situated. Then they bring you to the sales office with the HARD sell. The sales people are nice but the ones who have the ability to make the deal are agressive and rude. Well, long story short, I have lost thousands of dollars of vacation time because what they don't tell you at the blissful sales presentation is the land-mine of pitfalls, tricks, rules, and ripoffs built into their system. One example (and I have many): We vacationed there after reserving our little condo almost a year in advance (if you don't do that they give you a nice view of the parking lot and highway REGARDLESS of what you paid for). One day into the vacation, my mother died and we had to return to California. What happens to the rest of the week? POOF! They take it and re-sell the room at their sole profit and YOU LOOSE. Other tricks? Yes. The booking system is confusing and complicated. Do not believe it to be as easy as the salesman describes. Many of their booking staff in Florida are young, inexperienced and argumentative. When you ask them to work with you they tell you No, No, No, we cannot do that. THEY actually play victim. The homeowner's annual "maintenance" fee coupled with the cost of airfare and on-site expenses (one small example: they don't let you bring your own alcoholic beverages to the pool area- claiming Hawaii State Law... you have to purchase their $9.00 watered-down drinks). It would literally be more cost effective to spend your money on a week at the Ritz Carlton and be treated like a king. Other tricks? Yes. If you do have to unfortunately cancel with relatively short notice (regardless of the situation- turned out to be a serious health condition) they make you re-book the week before December 31st of that year. Then, IF and only IF they can accomodate you, you guessed it, PARKING LOT view! (I bought all ocean-view property!!!, or so I thought). Another trick? Yes. I was so happy the day we bought our first unit, we talked our friends into going on the sales presentation. They, like us, bought an ocean-front unit. After two years (they are obviously smarter than me) they realized it was an incredible rip-off and talked me into buying it from them at a discounted price. Thinking I was buying my third week of ownership, I went through with it only to find out in the small print the developer reserves the right of first refusal for re-acquiring their property. I forgot that part of the sales presentation ... oh actually it did not come up. So now, I've been working with Starwood Portfolio Services in Kissimmee Florida trying to get the unit put into my name on their MyStarCentral website but I have hit nothing but roadblocks and resistance for many weeeks. The staff will NOT return calls, they transfer you all around the company, and of course for those of us on the west coast, they clost at 2PM our time. Starwood has a terrible website feedback system. You are basically talking to an anonomous website and get ABSOLUTELY no response. Finally, DO NOT BELIEVE the salesman when he explains the convenience of the exchange company (They use Interval International). It is a bigger nightmare than Starwood itself. Their employees are even ruder. I realized that one of my weeks I "banked" had an expiration date while I tried to book it. Of course that was something I learned on January 21st, two weeks after I unwittingly let it lapse. The Interval employee started "lecturing" me that they didn't even have to hold it that long at all, they were doing me a favor... Oh my Lord, what has this country come to? I consider myself a reasonably smart guy, career job, Doctorate degree, but I was such a sucker. I was never told that the weeks exchanged had an expiration, but of course it's MY fault (according to Interval) because it's all explained somewhere in the printed materials... I have another week I banked with Interval last year, and in January 2009 I requested a vacation in June 2009 (this week). Guess what, I have yet to hear from them. So, if you have continued to read this far, thank you. I am not just one sad case, rather I believe after figuring out all of their tricks and scams, they are masterful at taking your hard-earned cash and then sending you into a maze of rules, regulations, fees, penalties, limits, and any other word I can think of that is the anthesis of the "heavenly" vacation you thought you were buying during that "one hour" sales presentation. At least the cup of coffee was good. Don't do it!!!

  • Ro
      15th of Oct, 2009
    0 Votes

    I can symphatize, they are pretty aggressive in their sales pitch, however you have the right to cancel within (i think) a week without any cost, they pay back the downpayment and so on.
    I do agree that the website is unbelievably bad, and that they should treat their customers with more respect.
    I own 2 weeks at Vistana Resort, and they have changed the Staroption value of the units after we paid for renovation of the units.
    Now as an home resort owner you are actually of worse then other non home resort owners, being charged 49.000 and 41.000 options for One bedroom premium and regular one bedroom units. This is just crazy. Not only that, but this new "rule" is nowhere to be found in documents or on the website.
    I am very surprised at the lack of professionality at this company. A point of advice, use RCI instead of II. It might cost a bit extra, but the choice of resorts is much better, and each of my 2 bedroom lock-offs i can use to get 2 weeks in RCI. which means that at most times i can vacation for 4 weeks at Vistana resort in a 2 bedroom unit. Or most other resorts, as RCI has a much better range of resorts then II.
    Good luck.
    Rob

  • Li
      1st of Mar, 2010
    0 Votes

    I agree that the sales tactics are heavy-handed, to say the least. My husband is an impulse buyer, and I am not. I saw my parents have issues with time shares in the past, so was reluctant to buy a time share but Starwood puts so much pressure on you that you actually have to be rude, stand up, and walk out. One thing that they don't tell you in their sales presentation is how very difficult it is to exchange locations or weeks. For example, we bought a 2-bedroom unit at the Sheraton Vistana Villages in Orlando, and were told that because it was a floating week, we could exchange for any other week during the year, and we could exchange for any other resort in the system. Well, that is crap. If you call Starwood, even with the 8-month lead time allowed for non-home resort booking, you are told, no there are no other vacancies at ANY of the other resorts for ANY of the weeks you are requesting. So, for the last 3 years, we have dutifully gone to Orlando, where we 1) either wait for 3 hours after the posted check-in time to actually get to our unit because the folks before us had "late checkout" (our very first year and our second year), or 2) we take another unit, which...you guessed it...is right by the highway so all you hear is the traffic on International Drive. Last year, we actually got in at 5:30 p.m. (check in was 3 or 4) because we didn't want to have to wait for our unit, only to be told it still wasn't ready and wouldn't be ready until maybe 6:30 p.m. or so. So, we took an older unit in the front of the complex by the highway (not one of the Key West villas in the back, which was what our actual purchase had been for) and thankfully, were able to be moved two days later when I complained about the ridiculous noise.

    The following day, we were invited to an "owner's breakfast", which I balked at, but my husband said they would just be updating us on changes in the resort. That's B.S. It's actually yet another sales push to get you to buy even more Starwood point options. We had a very pushy Russian woman who was pretty irritated with me when I finally took over and just said, NO, after she had pushed us for about an hour to buy more points. When I indicated that we are unable now to book other weeks or resort locations, despite our best efforts, because NOTHING seems to ever be available, she said that was because we had not bought enought points and should buy more which would give us more buying power (we have 80, 000 now, but apparently since we bought 4 years ago, that 80, 000 is now worth virtually nothing...weird, huh?) This is a load of horse poop, so we walked out. So, after a couple of years, we will sell this albatross, and never do it again. We use it for a week away to Orlando, and this year have banked a week through Interval, so we'll see how that works out. I would recommend to anyone NOT to do business with Starwood on the basis of misrepresentation.

  • Se
      1st of Feb, 2011
    0 Votes

    STARWOOD TIMESHARE DOES NOT HONOR IT'S TIMELINE FOR USING POINTS OR EXCHANGING
    Be careful in regard to getting your points converted or transferred. I called on the last day and couldn't get through. I waited on the line then the line got dropped. I called back and got a recording that said that they were closed. I discovered that Starwood is on EST (I'm on PST) and that on the last day to deal with your points, which is 12/31, that they closed a half and hour early. I called the following Monday to resolve this issue and was told there was nothing they can do. -I was told a supervisor would call me. It's February 1st and I've yet to get a call although I've followed up with three successive phone calls. I'll be sending them a letter requesting use of my 2010. If they still don't reply, I'm going to sue them. BEWARE!

  • Co
      12th of Feb, 2011
    0 Votes

    My wife and I purchase a prime week with Starwood Hotels at the Sheraton Mountain Vista in Beaver Creek Colorado almost ten years ago. This is a prime week and always allows for a great week of snowboarding. We've only stayed there and haven't ever tried to transfer anywhere else so at lease we haven't dealt with the issues I've read through previous post's.
    Anyway, we called to inform them we would be taking advantage the week we own which is always the 12 week of the year. We called over 3 months in advance just to find out our week is unavailable and that a unit will not be available for almost a month later, which is the last week the resorts are even open. Obviously, this is also one of the busiest and worst weeks to try to ski.
    I’m still trying to figure out how they can give away a week that we own. What is the point of purchasing a specific week if it’s not available? If anyone’s up for a civil suit I’m game. :) Even if we don’t win at least they know we’re not all just going to sit back an let them make up the rules as they go.
    I am glad I read everyone’s' post so I can become acquainted with any future issues I may experience.
    Good Luck.

  • La
      7th of Sep, 2011
    0 Votes
    Starwood - Dirty
    Starwood
    United States

    As a frequent user of Starwood hotels i must say i was unpleasantly surprised in a recent stay when my room was not well cleaned and the staff was rude.

    You cant charge the prices you charge if you dont have a best in business environment. that means everything from the room to the employees.

  • Pa
      9th of Feb, 2015
    0 Votes

    My husband and I have been Starwood vacation owners since 2005. I still don't understand the system. The language is confusing - star options, star points, banking, conversion, blah blah blah. CONFUSING. And I still go to the "owner updates" where they say they won't try to sell you something but its a Q&A. I always have more questions than answers, so we go. We get points for going so that's good. But the pressure to upgrade from a 3 star to 4 star owner (I really don't understand the benefit) is so strong. If the sales person can't convince you to drop $20, 000 to upgrade your membership, the sales manager comes in and puts the nails under your fingernails. Two hours of this---and I still don't understand this program. Its the most confusing maze I've ever encountered!

  • La
      10th of Nov, 2015
    0 Votes

    One thing ive learned over the years is you have to always be careful with timeshares most of them are scamming people in one way or the other. They got my parents sit through their presentation while on vacation and convinced them to buy into a timeshare. Im sure it wasnst that difficult because my parents are pretty naive and are not hurting for money. To make a long story short they bought into the sales pitch. They ended up getting lied to about places they could use and ended up paying all kinds of fees. It was basically just a money trap for them. So I did what I could to help them get there timeshare cancelled with emailing, calling, and whatever I could do. I was not getting anywhere so we decided to look for lawyers that could possibly help them. After a lot of research and talking to different law firms we narrowed it down to Aaronson Law Group and Finn Law Group! My parents liked Aaronsons plan to take care of it and that they specialize in timeshare cancellation so thats who they went with! They took care of there case in just over 2 months which included the documentation, rescission, and credit restoration which was very important to them. Of course it was not free but my parents said it was worth every penny to get rid of this nightmare! I know there are people in similar situations so if you are I recommend you check some timeshare cancellation lawyers. Just make sure you do your research. I hope this information can help someone in need! Any questions about our experienced are welcome. These timeshare scams are absolute nightmares and i would not wish this crap on even my worst enemy!

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