Wyndham Vacation — wyndham timeshare fraud
Wyndham’s Timeshare Schemes - Why Wyndham Timeshare Owners Upgrade – Pain v. Pleasure Tactic When I first started researching the timeshare industry in general, and Wyndham’s timeshare division in particular, my reaction was similar to most – how could these people continue to buy such trash. Its one thing to be duped into buying the “Discovery” program, but these same people continue to upgrade (buying more points) against what they will confess is their better judgment.
When I was first told by Wyndham timeshare owners that Wyndham’s timeshare business was built on fraud and deception I was very surprised. After all, those of us who are not familiar with timeshares or Wyndham’s timeshare business know “Wyndham” to be a high end hotel brand. But when one looks more carefully at Wyndham, one finds some very interesting facts. First, over half of Wyndham’s revenue comes from its more controversial timeshare division. In fact, if you add to that its Vacation Exchange division, comprised mostly of RCI (an equally controversial timeshare exchange business), one finds that a small percentage of Wyndham’s revenue is actually generated by its higher end hotel division.
So that seems to explain why so many people, almost one million, would even consider purchasing a Wyndham timeshare – they walk in thinking they are being pitched by a reputable high end hospitality company. However, Wyndham Vacation Ownership (WVO), Wyndham’s timeshare brand, is run by a very different brand of people. WVO is run top to bottom by sales people – the types of sales “experts” that can sell the proverbial ice to the eskimo. Because that’s really what they do – they sell more and more timeshare points to people that already own plenty of timeshare points.
The following fact may surprise many readers. Over 70% of all Wyndham’s timeshare sales are to EXISTING timeshare owners. At first glance I thought this must mean that Wyndham’s members really enjoy owning Wyndham timeshare points – right? That couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, Wyndham always quotes an old ARDA report that claims 83% of all timeshare owners are pleased with their timeshares. Wow – 83%. That almost seems impressive except for two facts. First, ARDA is the trade association (lobbyist) for the big timeshare developers like Wyndham – so its not exactly a neutral source. Second, Wyndham should actually be embarrassed by this statistic (they use this same study in every annual report apparently to evidence to their investors that their owners love them). Since Wyndham has about a million owners, this study reveals that at the very least 170, 000 don’t appreciate being Wyndham timeshare owners.
But – it gets worse. After a little research one discovers that this ARDA data was actually submitted by their clients – the timeshare developers. One now has to wonder just how much this 83% was inflated. Take Wyndham for instance, their data comes from their very own client surveys – allegedly completed by timeshare owners following a purchase. But…that’s not all together true. Upon interviewing numerous current and former Wyndham sales representatives, one begins to hear the same sordid practice. The majority of sales people interviewed said that they, the sales person, actually complete the survey. Encouraged by their managers to ensure high ratings, the sales people fill out the customer surveys. Well, there we have it. The number of dissatisfied Wyndham timeshare owners is probably a multiple of the 170, 000 (my guess is over 300, 000 dissatisfied owners).
But, all this digresses from the purposes of this paper – answering the question of WHY Wyndham timeshare owners continue to buy more timeshare points. After all, these timeshare junkies know that timeshares are largely worthless - but they just can’t seem to stop themselves. This timeshare schizophrenia (failure to recognize what is real or false) is hard to understand until one really delves into the details of the timeshare system itself.
After researching Wyndham’s timeshare division, the reasons for this self-perpetuating addiction to timeshare upgrades slowly began to reveal themselves. This research will be presented in 10 parts, each designed to explain and support one contention. The following begins our findings.See the Top 10 Worst Complaints in Orlando, FL
Number 1 - Psychology of Pain and Pleasure – The first reason Wyndham timeshare owners continue to upgrade their timeshares are what we’ve entitled the Pain v. Pleasure Tactic. Every timeshare owner was asked why they would continue to subject themselves to the long and arduous high pressure sales meetings. Everyone’s response is generally the same – they are forced into these meetings every time they try to use the timeshare they’ve already purchased. In other words, these owners go to use their timeshare at a Wyndham resort and are coerced and badgered until they attend what is normally called an “owner update” meeting. I’ve yet to find an owner that says they in any way appreciate these update meetings.
These meetings have nothing to do with helping the owner use their existing timeshare, and everything to do with selling more timeshare points. In fact, these “meetings” routinely last hours longer than promised, using every sales manipulation tool in the text book to convince the owner they simply MUST buy more points. In the words of several owners, “they can make your vacation hell if you refuse to attend these sales meetings.” Remember, these owners are there to use their timeshare for vacation – the pleasure end of the equation. They resolve that they have to endure some pain (the sales meeting) in order to get on with their vacation (the pleasure).
Any Wyndham owner will tell you though that these meetings still aren’t that simple. We’ve been told by countless owners that the sales tactics used by Wyndham are far beyond anything they have ever experienced. What was amazing was how consistent each owner’s story was no matter where the resort was located. Whether in California, Florida, Nevada, South Carolina or Missouri – the stories were strikingly the same. Many of the lawsuits against Wyndham attempt to list the numerous bait and switch techniques used by Wyndham sales people. One lawsuit, however, seemed to sum these techniques up the best – that Wyndham will simply “say anything to get you to buy more points.” In fact, there are recordings on YouTube of Sales Managers telling their agents just that – tell the customer whatever you have to get them to buy more points.
One particular technique is especially difficult to overcome however. These largely elderly owners are routinely shamed, intimidated and ridiculed into purchasing more points. Wyndham is the only company I’ve ever researched whose sales staff routinely put down other Wyndham resorts and sales representatives to sell more points. Owners are told that the last purchase really screwed up their accounts, and that the only way to fix things is to . . . buy more points. That in order to qualify for a “new” program, whether its Club Wyndham Access, Pathways, or some new VIP level, that just happens to fix everything wrong with that customers timeshare – is to upgrade.
In other words, Wyndham has become an expert at upgrading their own timeshares because what the owner was originally sold was simply wrong, inappropriate, not sufficient, etc. These poor owners are consistently told that the previous sales person really lied to them, and that the only way to fix things is to . . . buy just a few more points. So what begins as an owner update meeting normally ends with the owner signing another stack of 30 or 40 documents (usually over 100 pages that Wyndham is banking on the owner never reading till the rescission period expires) to purchase another 154, 000 Wyndham timeshare points.
The Next installment of “Why Wyndham Timeshare Owners Upgrade” will be released next week. In the meantime – STOP BUYING POINTS!
Note: I believe the fraud depicted in this article is a routine pattern and practice at Wyndham. Sales fraud has become inherent throughout Wyndham Vacation Ownership and needs to stop. It is time for the Board of Wyndham to take a stand against this corporate corruption. Failure on the Boards part to root out these practices constitutes a breach of their fiduciary duty to Wyndham’s shareholders, and in our opinion makes them culpable for the company’s fraudulent practices. Each of the following are jointly and severally liable – Stephen Holmes, Myra J. Biblowit, Brian Mulroney, George Herrera, James Buckman, Michael Wargotz, Pauline Richards, and all Directors and Officers of Wyndham Vacation Ownership including Franz Hannng and Ryan Morettini.
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