Important Update Affecting Resale Purchasers

Forum: Sheraton Vistana Resort

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By Ken T.

Important Update Affecting Resale Purchasers

Finally, I've found a posting with people who feel the same way about the Sheraton Vistana Resort assessment fees!!!!!!! I thought I was alone. I agree with the other people who have written in to this forum, the owners need to form a group to let the board know we DO NOT AGREE as to what they are doing. I own in Spas and my assesment is $1,600 on top of the $700 in matinence fees I pay each year. I can't understand how they want this kind of money UP FRONT! I received letters about how SVR was going to do renovations, but none of them stated that the owners were reponsible until we got the packet showing what the revovations would look like. I immediately called to express my concern and got the same response most of you probably got. In short, "pay it or sell it". I also wrote to them on their web site and got a very generic, pre written letter back. We looked into selling but it would cost us so much to sell it plus having to pay this assesment it wouldn't be worth it. I have two kids and I'm about as Joe Average as you can get. I have seen their is alot of information out here on who to call, email, and write too but are their any contacts that may be better than others? Also, has anyone heard any updated information on this topic? I am just so relieved that people feel exactly how I do. I would be happy to be a part of any group that bands together to fight this and would do what I can to help out. Ken Tringali

Avatar for Ken T. Ken T.

10 years ago
Apr 26, 2009

By Shirley C.

Like so many have reported, these folks are out of touch and there is no way many of us can accept this increase. I checked my documents and there was nothing about a reburshing fee. When I called, I mentioned this and was told, by a rather nasty individual, 'that you have to pay the maintenance fees ,which this is. If you don't ,they will foreclose and it will affect your credit.'

After this threat, he told me that the Board approved this years ago and that I was responsible for voting them in. He even suggested that I should have travelled down to Florida and met the board before they were voted in if I questioned their decisions.

I have 2 units in the Cascades. The 3 installments total over $1500 each week. I did not receive anything on what this refurbishment would look like.

I, too, offered to just give SVO the timeshare back. They've certainly made a ton of money off me already. As stated by others, they refused. I am paying nealy 15% on the loan and have less than 2 yrs left to payoff. I asked if they would refinance given the current rates, etc. Their reply.. no. They did say others have been asking too. I wrote to them and did not receive a reply. So basicaly I am being ignored.

Not only is this a bad time for so many, but from what some have stated regarding the changes, it's not worth the price they are demanding.

I'll be sending a letter to SVO (again) and the Florida AG.

I'd love to be part of a group and bring these folks a reality check. Shirley Cieszka

Avatar for Shirley C. Shirley C.

10 years ago
May 02, 2009

By Ken T.

Important Update Affecting Resale Purchasers

Dear frankp141: I have used you letter as a template to send off to the AG Office. It was very well written and I have pluged my own informatin in. I am new to this site and I'm glad I have found people in the same situation as I am. I see you haven't been out here in a while, are you still going forward and trying to fight this?

Thanks... Ken---

Avatar for Ken T. Ken T.

10 years ago
May 02, 2009

By Ken T.

Dear Shirley This is a copy of the letter I've sent to the AG Office and Sheraton Vistana Resort. It's a step in the right direction I hope! Ken---

To Whom It May Concern: This is a copy of the letter sent to the AG Office about the ridiculous, unfair assessment fees being demanded of owners at Sheraton Vistana Resort:

Dear Mr. McCollum, Attorney General State of Florida,

I and several timeshare owners have a serious dilemma; the Starwood Vacation Ownership Company (parent company to multiple Sheraton Vistana Condominium Associations) is trying to collect between $754 and $2042 per timeshare holder for renovations in addition to the annual maintenance fee of $700. This is ridiculous especially at a time when the economy is doing poorly, banks are failing and businesses are closing. I received letter upon letter about how Sheraton Vistana Resort was going to do renovations but no where in any letters that I got did they state that the owns were responsible for paying. It was not until I received a packet about what the renovations would look like did they let me know I was responsible. I know many other owners have written letters to you about this and are very upset about this situation. In speaking with Sheraton Vistana Resort, I came to find out that they have received calls from numerous owners, angry and upset about this situation and we have been met with rude "pay up, shut up, or sell" type of answers. I know many people who own timeshares and never once have they been asked to pay anything above and beyond their annual maintenance fee. I think it is important that the AG's Office be made aware of this situation as I (and others) feel that this extra fee being levied by the Board is excessive and a result of years of mis-management. No one should be expected to pay $700 annual maintenance and then another $1,600 in additional fees!! Myself, like most owners, are hard working, Joe Average people who have to "save-up" just to take a weeks vacation with their family. I know when my maintenance is due and make sure I have the funds to pay it on time. What I would like for the Attorney’s General’s Office to do is to stop Starwood Vacation Ownership from collecting this “renovation fee” until an investigation can be done to discover what Starwood Vacation Ownership does with the annual “maintenance fee” each timeshare owner pays. Secondly, discover if Starwood Vacation Ownership is justified in collecting an additional $1,600 above the annual maintenance fee. In other words, as one of many upset people who are stuck with ownership in these timeshares, I would like someone to take the side of the owners and stop the wasteful and arbitrary spending by these associations under the Starwood Vacation Ownership.

Thank you for you time and consideration,

Kenneth J. Tringali

Avatar for Ken T. Ken T.

10 years ago
May 02, 2009

By Jessica L.

I just bought a deeded weekly timeshare on ebay for 25.00. I did have to pay 300 to close on it. The location is in the spa section. Annual use week 5. Seems like I got a really good deal! Does anyone know much about the spa section? Has it been renovated yet?

Avatar for Jessica L. Jessica L.

10 years ago
May 08, 2009

By Ken T.

Hi-- No, Spa section has not been renovated yet. I own in Spas. Has your renovation fee been payed, this is in addition to your yearly matenince fee. If not, you will have to pay $1,500 plus or else the theatening letters will start coming. This is what most people are going though who own in SVR.

Avatar for Ken T. Ken T.

10 years ago
May 08, 2009

By Jessica L.

Kent270

I do know about the fees. I only need to pay for 1 of the renovation fees. The amount is 542. Plus my yearly fees of 632. Do you know if you can request a unit that has already had a renovated? Since we have paid for the fees. The resort looks beautiful, and can't wait to go in January!

Avatar for Jessica L. Jessica L.

10 years ago
May 09, 2009

By Ken T.

The resort IS beautiful. Very close to Disney. We love it there! The renovations haven't started yet. They are due to begin in 2010. The $542 is the first of 3 installments you need to pay unless you worked something out with the seller when you bought it. The next payment is due in June.

Avatar for Ken T. Ken T.

10 years ago
May 11, 2009

By Jessica L.

The old owner paid 2 of the fees. I just need to pay the last one. Do you know if their are only 3 installments of the renovation fees?

Avatar for Jessica L. Jessica L.

10 years ago
May 11, 2009

By Peter

There are only three installments

Avatar for Peter Peter

10 years ago
May 17, 2009

By Judy G.

Important Update Affecting Resale Purchasers

my mother and myself bought vistana 1986 and have paid all the maintenace all these years now my mom who is 74 gets a demand from vistana for 1800.00 in fountains with 1 month to pay it,then we get one to pay right away.what did they do with all the money?i also contacted the united states attorney general but have not received a response.vistana told us if we do not pay it they will destroy our credit.

Avatar for Judy G. Judy G.

10 years ago
May 24, 2009

By Jeffrey C.

Important Update Affecting Resale Purchasers

They are not lying. They will destroy your credit and when you refuse to pay they will get the timeshare back for a song and a prayer. They should be ashamed of themselves doing these kind of renovations in this economy!!!! Bought in the fountains in 1990 and got the same surprise.

Avatar for Jeffrey C. Jeffrey C.

10 years ago
May 25, 2009

By Peter

Important Update Affecting Resale Purchasers

judyg162 wrote:
... my mom who is 74 gets a demand from vistana for 1800.00 in fountains with 1 month to pay it,then we get one to pay right away ... vistana told us if we do not pay it they will destroy our credit.

I'm not certain why you had only one month, the special assessments have been discussed and publicised for quite a while, but perhaps this is because other phases were assessed and Fountains notices are the newest. It is possible though a letter from Vistana was not read because it appeared to have boring annual information and thus the one month notice was a suprise. I did notice in my notes that Fountains did not appear to have an announced assessment as of Mar-09 so the one month notice may have been the first info. Any other Fountains owners available to concur there were no other letters where the assessment might have been mentions before the billing notice anf first bill arrived?

It sounds like you might be confusing the total assessment with the first of three payments as well. Was the one month notice for $1,800 and the next bill $600? The one month notice should have specified three payment dates.

Avatar for Peter Peter

10 years ago
May 25, 2009

By Ken T.

I got the same song and dance about our credit being ruined. This whole thing is a JOKE!! My parents have owned a timeshare on Cape Cod for 20 years and never ONCE have they had to pay anything above their yearly fee (although it has gone up) . Every few years they had new furniture, different carpets, and new kitchen tables and chairs. Vistana is telling us about all the "up grades" we'll be getting. I own 1 week out of the year...let me say it again, I OWN 1 WEEK!!! Like I give a rats A$$ if I have granate counter tops, a brand new couch and perfect wall decore to match my plush carpets. What's happening here is they want people who own weeks to bail out of this so they can start selling the units under a point system. They can make a hell of a lot more money this way. The middle class average people are being pushed out to make way for the high class eilete.

Avatar for Ken T. Ken T.

10 years ago
May 25, 2009

By Peter

Basically all timeshare owners are bound to the terms of their HOA, which includes the HOA's ability to report late/failed payments to credit agencies regardless of whether the owners feel the fees are acceptable. It kind of comes down to "if you don't like it, sell your unit". The only way I can think of to challenge excess assessments is for owners to gain control of their board, fire the property management company, and use a new company to hopefully provide superior management. This could cause your resort or phase to lose affilitation with SVO or worse, lose use of critical common facilities or pay SVO higher fees for use of critical common facilities.

I called the FTC who referred me to (since I'm in CA) California Consumer Protection Agency / California Atty General 800-952-5225, but the FTC said in all likelihood any bill unpaid can be reported to credit bureaus after 30 days overdue. I called the CA agency and they were less than helpful "we can't provide legal advice or comment" but they did eventually say the 30 day rule was the primary trigger and more detailed inquiries would have to be made thru the Department of real Estate or ask a lawyer.

for those of you who want to do some reading, here is the Fair Credit Billing Act http://www.ftc.gov/os/statutes/fcb/fcb.pdf

Having said all that, I am an owner who prefers to have more attractive units. I feel special assessments show how the Board has failed the owners in properly anticipating costs for the facility and properly controlling costs. I do not own at Fountains but I suspect Fountains is SVO controlled and not owner controlled, resulting in higher management fees and expenses than would be incurred under an owner controlled board.

Avatar for Peter Peter

10 years ago
May 26, 2009

By Jeffrey C.

Peter, I understand about wanting nice but how far do we have to go? If you wanted nice you (not you personally) could buy in the cascades or whatever the name is of the newest section. Most of us are just regular old middle class people that like going to FL once a year (specially when its cold up here) and the accomadations where more then fine for the 1 or 2 weeks we were there. Christ, most of the time isn't spent in the unit anyway. In this econony they are just giving us good screwing!!!!!

Avatar for Jeffrey C. Jeffrey C.

10 years ago
May 26, 2009

By Paul S.

Hi everyone, Management is pulling the strings and board members are jumping. When I applied to be on the board, I was asked how I felt about the assessments. I was not for them, hence I was not chosen to run for the board. This is not an open election, where all candidates are placed on the ballot, and you select your choice.

Florida timeshare law states that you cannot return your week to the company.

Florida law is protecting big business, not the little guy. I can't see any solution out.

Read your contract carefully. Maybe one of the areas has a protective clause in it.

Askelly

Avatar for Paul S. Paul S.

10 years ago
May 27, 2009

By Ken T.

Hi everyone. I just received this letter from the Florida Attorney General's Office. Just wanted to let people know I got a reply and pass on this information...

Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum received your email regarding your concerns with Starwood Vacation Ownership. Attorney General McCollum asked that I respond. I apologize for the delay in responding to your email. Our office is experiencing a large increase in our phone calls and correspondence at this time.

Attorney General McCollum is concerned with all potentially unfair and deceptive trade practices that mislead consumers. By law, this office exercises statutory authority to address consumer fraud under Chapter 501, Part II, Florida Statutes, known as Florida's Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Our office focuses its enforcement efforts on business practices by companies which harm numerous consumers in more than one judicial circuit. We use complaints to develop information about patterns of business activity which may indicate the need for formal investigation or action by our office to protect the broad public interest. Please note that our office does not mediate individual consumer complaints.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provides specific information about the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, including what debt collectors can and cannot do, and instructions on how to dispute inaccurate debts. The information is available online at the website below, or you may contact the FTC by mail at FTC Correspondence Branch, Washington, D.C. 20580, toll-free telephone (877) 382-4357.

http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/menus/consumer/credit/loans.shtm

http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre18.shtm

The Division of Florida Land Sales, Condominiums, and Mobile Homes, which is part of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR), regulates the creation, sale, and operation of timeshare plans in the state of Florida pursuant to Chapter 721, Florida Statutes, the "Florida Vacation Plan and Timesharing Act."

For complaints or inquiries relating to timeshares, please contact DBPR. Contact information as well as frequently asked questions about timeshare plans, is available on DBPR's website at:

http://www.myflorida.com/dbpr/lsc/timeshare.html

You may also wish to contact the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Consumer Services (DACS). DACS is the clearinghouse for consumer complaints and has a voluntary mediation program to assist individual consumers. You may contact DACS at:

Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Consumer Services 2005 Apalachee Parkway Tallahassee, Florida 32399 Telephone: (850) 488-2221 Toll-free within FL: (800) 435-7352 Website: http://www.800helpfla.com/

Please consult a private attorney for any legal guidance you may need. An attorney can give you the legal advice which our office is precluded by law from giving to private individuals. The Florida Bar offers a Lawyer Referral Service which you may contact toll-free at (800) 342-8060. If you cannot afford an attorney, you may be eligible for low cost or pro bono assistance through a local legal aid office. The Florida Bar can assist you with this process.

Thank you for contacting Attorney General McCollum's Office. I hope this information proves helpful to you.

Sincerely, Samantha Santana Office of Citizen Services

Avatar for Ken T. Ken T.

10 years ago
May 27, 2009

By John M.

Important Update Affecting Resale Purchasers

I feel the same way and I know other people do too. Can I suggest that we get together an owners group and seek legal advise. Kind regards. John (UK).

Avatar for John M. John M.

10 years ago
May 28, 2009

By Jeffrey C.

Kent, A bunch of us got the same letter months ago when we tried contacting the AG of FL. Makes you feel warm and fuzzy all over to know how much the AG cares doesn't it?? Thanks for trying to keep the pressure on though!! As to John in the UK. John, another vistana owner (Kurt) and myself have contacted lawyers in regards to a class action suit with little success. One wanted 5000.00 up front just to get started and another one was very hesitant to go up against what sheraton might be able to throw at him.

In other Vistana news my friends. Those of you that have been paying attention to this will know I was one of the first to suggest we contact AG of FL and to go after Vistana. I have refused to pay the assessment fee as you all know and have made it clear to sheraton that I will under no circumstances pay it. Well, last night I went out and got the mail and had a very large envolope from Vistana with a warranty deed and a fedx overnight mailer with an offer to buy my timeshare back and make me whole. My prayers answered!!!!! The offer was much larger than I expected. $210.00 yes thats right two hundred ten dollars and no cents and a free mailer thats probably worth another 5 bucks. WOW, with that money I might just go buy another timeshare. I tossed it. I'm in till the end!!!! Jeff

Avatar for Jeffrey C. Jeffrey C.

10 years ago
May 28, 2009

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