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Timeshare Scam from Westgate Resorts

Part III in the ongoing story of attempting to fight back against Westgate Resorts rip-off time share scam.


Part III in the ongoing story of attempting to fight back against Westgate Resorts rip-off time share scam. See our previous story on Vegas time share scams.

In the previous installment I described how Westgate Resorts in Las Vegas used dishonest practices to sell us a time share single-week package for Miami Beach, Florida. We bought the package with the assurance that we could easily book the week we wanted (for my brother’s wedding in March). Previously, I described how things went wrong. For the past two weeks I’ve made an attempt to fight back against Westgate, and do all in my power to get them to own up to their lies and blatant deceit and give us the vacation we purchased.

Fortunately, we never purchased the $30,000 time share in Las Vegas Planet Hollywood Resort (which is now selling for just under $10,000 here). We did however, buy a one week package for $495. We assumed this compromise was indeed a good deal, used to entice customers to upgrade to the full package. We were assured by our sales representative Sonia that this was the case. She was a nice lady and didn’t for a moment appear be a con-artist. In hind-sight she was so effective in her lies because she appeared innocent and kind. Where the previous sales efforts of Hikoo and Melissa failed, Sonia succeeded perhaps because as a unique foreigner from South Africa she in now way appeared deceptive.

Miami Beach
Miami Beach, Florida

We had completely digested the lies Sonia had fed us had, when we finally discovered them (nearly one month after our purchase). Not until after the 30 day processing lag when we first attempted to book our vacation, did we discover innocent sweet dark eyed, dark hair and foreign Sonia, was in fact a bold-face-liar. Sonia had told us we were buying 8 days and 7 nights. The contract, however, sated “4 nights.” I do blame myself besides Sonia for this oversight. Anyone spending any amount of money, based on an agreement, should read a contract in its entirety. If anything is unclear in a contract, don’t ask for an explanation, instead simply don’t buy. Everything in a well written contract should be crystal clear. Contracts for purchasing agreements should never be confusing, (my dad is a realtor and he has told us this). If there is nothing confusing about the agreement (buying a one-week vacation) there should be nothing confusing in the contract. The contract should be brief and easy. Westgate’s contract for purchasing a (supposedly) one-week vacation is four pages. Sonia was talking to us about South Africa as we were signing the agreement. She never bothered to point out what the contract actually stated. This was lesson number two: don’t be friendly while signing a contract.

With this said, I wasn’t about to complain to Westgate about Sonia’s sales tactics. Yes, I was lied to, but everyone living in the United States (especially me) should well know that what is in black and white is what matters, not what verbally agreed upon. We (believed) we had bought four nights five days for $495, I could still live with this. My relief in not purchasing the entire time share package helped me to forgive Sonia and realize my own ignorance.

So why have I been fighting Westgate for the past month? Because our contract states in two places that the arrangement is for “4 nights”, yet they keep telling us they don’t offer a four night package only a three night and seven night package. So because there is no such thing as a four night package, we need to understand that we only have three nights, despite what the contract states. Unbelievable? Its true, I spoke to three different Westgate representatives, we have booked our vacation for August, yet each representative has told us the carbon-copy ink impression on our contract is inaccurate and we only have 3 nights. I spoke to two Hispanic women when I called the first two times. I didn’t want to raise hell to these women, so I asked to speak to their manager. The second lady told me I should fax them my contract, and if it does say “4” nights I will get my four nights. I did one better than this and scanned two pages of the contract where the number “4” is so clearly written.

Finally, I sent the e-mail along with links to my previous stories. This was still not enough. I then spoke to a gentleman named Louis, who told me, despite the evidence, it didn’t matter. They don’t offer a 4 night package. I was begining to wonder if this was a common routine. I asked to speak to his manager, Louis said he would have his manager Freddy call me. I said to Louis, “They have told me before they will call and they never did. So I don’t believe you.” I was angry, the entire time on the phone with Louis. “Freddy will call you. I’m sure he will when he gets off the phone.”

Nearly a week went by before I was contacted by Freddie (Manager of the Wesgate Resorts call center). When I finally got a hold of Freddie he again repeated what the others had told me, “I’m sorry sir, but what the contract means is 4 days and 3 nights.”

“My contract reads ‘4 nights’, there is no ‘3’ anywhere. The number “4” and after that it reads “nights”. Pull up my scanned copy of the contract if you don’t believe me.”

I then spouted off the entire story about how we had been completely lied to, believing we had bought seven nights. Telling me now that my contract is wrong is unacceptable. I’m not going to accept being lied to then blatantly deceived.”

I was yelling at Freddie. Freddie wanted to calm me down.

“So what do you want me to do about it sir?”

“How about I either get what’s in my contract or you give me my money back?”

Freddie agreed to generously give us the fourth night, as written in the contract. He said we should receive a confirmation letter in the mail soon. One week later we still haven’t seen a letter. Who knows if he really added the night or if he is just betting that I wont call back again and wait on hold for an hour just to fight over getting our fourth night.

The entire saga has made me consider the nature of big corporate power. I’m not an anti-corporate activist. However, I have come to understand a new fact of life in dealing with dishonest corporations. This lesson has made me understand how and why our courts are so filled with class-action law suites; where greedy lawyers line up for the opportunity to go up at bat against a big corporate powers.

Westgate Resorts is one of the largest timeshare companies in the world. With every person you deal with, there are 100s of others who could also be speaking to you. I imagine the span of cubicles and offices must be vast. The representative speaking to you might offer their first name, but in dealing with such a giant as Westgate, its clear that employees believe that there is almost no accountability for their actions or words. I don’t believe that all timeshare companies are evil, or that even Westgate has evil intentions as a corporation to rip-off as many people as they possibly can. However, Westgate functions under a giant bureaucracy where every person, office and resort is an additional layer of padding for real accountability. There is always another rung in the ladder. No doubt, Westgate Executives believe that very few will be willing to make the climb to where the buck stops. Few have the money and few want to hire a lawyer to hold their feet to the fire.

My final words to Freddy were, “You have my contract in hand. Would you please go back to Sonia, or her boss, and ask her why she is lying to her customers to get the sale?”

“Yes sir, I will, that is not how we want to operate here.” I’m sure Sonia got an earful from Freddy.

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