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First American Title Company... SCAM?

Forum: Buying, Renting, and Selling Timeshares

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First American Title Company... SCAM?

It seems that paying via a cashier's check for the second half of a timeshare rental fee when you have nothing in hand to guarantee you are getting something is a mistake. I asked for an explanation of why you are not allowed to pay via credit card (where I do have some insurance) and was given a very short, nasty response by First American "because that's our policy".

Can anyone tell me why you can not pay via credit card? Is this typical? I have never taken a vacation and had anyone tell me I have to pay "cash" for a travel expense.

On a side note, the owner we are dealing with is very good. Certainly no complaints there.

Avatar for angelab357 angelab357

2 years ago
May 03, 2011

Very simple answer...

angelab357 wrote:
Can anyone tell me why you can not pay via credit card? Is this typical? I have never taken a vacation and had anyone tell me I have to pay "cash" for a travel expense.

On a side note, the owner we are dealing with is very good. Certainly no complaints there.


First American Title is a reputable company; there is no "scam" here.

You are obviously using an escrow service for a rental. Don't shoot the messenger, but because a renter could just later "dispute" a credit card charge, final payment by that method is not an actual or substantive guarantee of funds. THAT is the one and only reson why First American Title (and every other escrow service on Planet Earth, by the way) will NOT accept a credit card payment to conclude a rental. You may not have liked the delivery of the message, but it is indeed "just their policy". However, it is also the policy of every other escrow service dealing with rentals as well.

NO ONE wants to deal with even the POSSIBILITY of a renter occupying a week, and then calling their credit card company at the END of the occupancy to dispute the charge. Disallowing credit card use for final rental payment eliminates that possibility entirely.

Last edit by ken1193 on May 03, 2011 03:17 PM.

Avatar for ken1193 ken1193

2 years ago
May 03, 2011

First American Title Company... SCAM?

Thanks for the explanation. I kind of thought that might be the case, but get really nervous when a firm I am trusting my money with won't give me an answer and is rude. A courteous response from First American would have been appreciated. So the risk is all on the renter Who in this case has already spent about b$7000 on transportation to Hawaii and $1500 on a rental unit and still has nothing in hand to guarantee a unit is being reserved in their name. The renter (me) is now being asked to send cash?? Seems the renter has all the risk.

The owner has the risk of having to collect if a renter defaults or something, but the renter may show up with a family of 7 including an infant on the busiest week of the year in Hawaii and have no place to stay. It just does not seem balanced and certainly a little reassurance from First American would have been nice. This is only a small deal for them but a $10 - 12,000 vacation for my family.

Our experience directly with the owner has been wonderful and I would strongly recommend to the next person that they NOT use First American if they can avoid it. Giving them $200 so they can be rude to me and offer me no reassurance is DEFINITELY A MISTAKE.

Kind regards.

Avatar for angelab357 angelab357

2 years ago
May 03, 2011

Some rental thoughts...

angelab357 wrote:
Seems the renter has all the risk....

The function and purpose of an escrow service is to ensure that the money component is in the hands of an uninvolved, objective, third party. It is certainly NOT true that the renter carries all the risk, since the owner doesn't even receive payment from the escrow service at all until several weeks AFTER the rental has already taken place. For this reason, many owners simply refuse to have an escrow service involved at all with their rentals, even if the renter is the one paying the escrow service fee! Keep in mind that an owner has to have already paid their annual maintenance fee long in advance, usually at the beginning of the calendar year. Waiting until weeks AFTER a rental is already completed to receive the rental payment is simply unacceptable to many owners.

Your rental could perhaps have been handled a bit differently:

A formal, mutually signed, rental agreement (which is a contract, legally binding upon BOTH parties) could have been executed directly between the owner and the renter. Such short term lease agreement contracts are "a dime a dozen" and are readily available all over the Internet, for free.

It could be argued that an "escrow service" need never have been required or involved here in the first place. For example, if you had successful communications directly with the owner, you could have provided a 50% deposit along with a signed rental contract. The owner could then easily have obtained (and then provided to you) documentary proof that the reservation was made in your name and return a copy of the signed contract back to you. By a mutually agreed date, clearly and specifically identified within the contract, you could have provided the owner with the remaining balance due. Thereafter, you could also very easily confirm the reservation being in your name, with a single phone call to the resort. Yes, there is some measure of trust involved --- and that's a personal decision for both owner and renter to make. A rental contract and travel insurance would still have been simpler (and a lot less expensive) than involving an "escrow service".

As an owner, I generally use (and I only VERY rarely rent out) my timeshare weeks. When I do rent out a week, the matter is handled directly between me and the renter. I have never felt any particular need or reason to complicate matters with the additional expense and / or involvement of a distant, third party "escrow service". Then again, perhaps you and / or the owner in this case harbor a very different viewpoint, which is certainly your prerogative...

Last edit by ken1193 on May 04, 2011 04:01 AM.

Avatar for ken1193 ken1193

2 years ago
May 03, 2011

First American Title Company... SCAM?

I don't believe that American Title explaining to you that "because that's our policy" (that they don't accept credit card payments) is rude in the least ..... they are a reputable company and all companies have policies that have to be adhered to.

Many people feel more comfortable using a reputable escrow company and that's their prerogative.

Avatar for jayjay jayjay

2 years ago
May 04, 2011

You are certainly entitled to your opinion on what constitutes friendly and helpful vs. "I don't owe you an explanation..." You should definitely use them if you like. That is your choice.

I am working with an owner who has been polite, helpful in providing all answers and then some, and has even followed up with me to make sure I have everything I need. For that reason, I will go directly to this person the next time my vacations take me his direction. I would even pay this person more for the same thing I could get elsewhere because he has established a trusting, cooperative relationship with my family. First American did the opposite and so I will not ever use or recommend First American Title again. It is that simple, and that is my prerogative.

Avatar for angelab357 angelab357

2 years ago
May 04, 2011

Some rental thoughts...

Thank you for your thoughtful response. I guess it is a bit scary for both parties especially when there is significant distance between them.

Having never rented a timeshare, we were the ones that asked for the escrow in the first place. I can tell you with certainty that if we were to rent from this owner again, we would work directly with him. He has exceeded our expectations for being helped, informative, and professional. I am fairly certain, based on your helpful response to my question, that those renting from you would have a similar experience.

Thanks again for shedding more light on this subject.

Avatar for angelab357 angelab357

2 years ago
May 04, 2011

Some rental thoughts...

angelab357 wrote:
Thank you for your thoughtful response. I guess it is a bit scary for both parties especially when there is significant distance between them.

Having never rented a timeshare, we were the ones that asked for the escrow in the first place. I can tell you with certainty that if we were to rent from this owner again, we would work directly with him. He has exceeded our expectations for being helped, informative, and professional. I am fairly certain, based on your helpful response to my question, that those renting from you would have a similar experience.

Thanks again for shedding more light on this subject.

And thank you, for your very kind words...

It can indeed be a bit daunting (and also somewhat risky) when renting a timeshare --- for a whole multitude of reasons. I find that when there is some direct "person to person" communication between owner and renter, then a mutual confidence and comfort level can usually be attained. That said, a formal rental agreement is still always advisable, specifiying dates, unit size, payment terms, cancellation / refund policy, etc.

One of the biggest dangers for timeshare renters, particularly "first time" renters, is being unaware that an "advertiser" might not actually own the week at all in the first place. Some people will acquire (by deposit / exchange)a week from an exchange company like RCI or Interval Intl. --- and then try to rent it out for profit, as if they actually owned the week (...which they don't). This practice is overtly and specifically prohibited by BOTH of the aforementioned exchange companies, but people still try to get away with it (and some succeed in doing so). However, if the resort or the exchange company discovers the prohibited rental of an exchange, they can cancel the membership of the violator AND they can turn away the would-be renter at check-in! This has been known to happen! That's precisiely why it's very important in a private rental to always confirm, directly and independently with the resort itself, that the "advertiser" is indeed actually the OWNER of the week being rented. I always immediately recommend to a prospective renter that they "check me out" by contacting the resort to confirm my ownership --- BEFORE signing a rental agreement OR sending any payment to me. This always helps to get us off on the right foot toward mutual trust.

Anyway, I hope you greatly enjoy your time in Hawaii.

Avatar for ken1193 ken1193

2 years ago
May 05, 2011

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