My Silverleaf Timeshare Experience

One visitor to our site shares his experience with Silverleaf timeshare, and the research she did following the timeshare purchase. Here’s her story:

Silverleaf TimesharesI bought two units from Silverleaf in 2010. In both sales presentations the salespeople told me the units were an investment I could realize income from, and would be a great business and investment opportunity, and by renting the units out (anytime at any resort they told me) it would be good advertising for Silverleaf and good income for me.

In the first presentation the salesman even told me that they “aren’t timeshares, they’re vacation rentals just like owning a family vacation home”. He also told me I could write the loan interest and rental income off on my taxes(!). These were complete lies, and the high-pressure sales tactics were unbearable and intrusive.

The FTC lists timeshares as securities because of their nature, and I am sure the salespeople are not licensed to sell securities, so sniff-sniff I smell securities fraud. If the timeshare industry’s products (timeshare units) are so great, why do they have to overwhelm and lie to people to sell their product, and why are there literally thousands of furious timeshare owners telling the same stories about being lied to and posting angry videos all over the internet?

If they had told the truth, I would NEVER have made those purchases, and it was the biggest financial loss of my life. What a scam! What flim flam! I’m gathering data and personal experience stories to publish a book about this shameful part of the so-called “vacation industry” and the effect it is having on so many people. May God bless and heal America and the good people of our country shattered by corporate greed!!

Do you agree? Should timeshares be listed as “securities”? Have you also been part of a high pressure timeshare sale? Share your comments below or contact us to share your story on the site.

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17 Responses to “My Silverleaf Timeshare Experience”

  1. Jim says:

    So we were just at a festival today and were approached by reps from KEYLIME COVE RESORT and their “vacation resort” in Sherridan Illinois. They said it was new and they haven’t even started advertising yet so we’d be getting in on the ground floor. They said that we do have to go through a 90 minute tour of the property but that we could stay from 10am to 10pm with our family and grandkids. Sounded pretty good because we know of Key Lime Cove up in Gurnee Illinois.

    They took a $40 deposit which is supposedly refundable on the day when we have our appointment. After reading some of these comments here – considering just canceling and requesting my refund now. I’d appreciate any additional comments or insights.

    Thank you
    JIm

  2. Jennifer says:

    After the bombarding by sales people, I came home and decided I had been taken advantage of after the worst trauma in my life.so I stopped the payment of my check on the down payment of upgrading my timeshare. The sales rep is now trying to contact me through voice mails and texting(when I tried to contact him I was told he was off that day, with a client, and even told he didn’t work there). He has let me know in a passive aggressive manner he has my credit card number and he would like to tell me the consequences for not living up to the contract. I have stopped my credit card and blocked his calls. I have asked him twice to further contact me no more. If he contacts me further I will contact the BBB. Do you know what repercussions I may experience?

    • R says:

      Did you send in a rescission of the upgrade agreement in time, or is it too late?

      You might want to check your credit report through the Federal Trade Commission link.and see what shows up. You get one free search per year per credit reporting company.

      My guess is that if you did not send in a rescission in time, and you stick to your guns about not paying, you may still lose your deposit, the timeshare company will harass you for awhile, but eventually they will go away. It is, of course, possible that you may take a credit hit, but if you do not need to buy a car on credit or get/refinance a mortgage for awhile, you should be able to weather it.

  3. Owners are bound to pay expensive fees every year, even if they don’t use their timeshare weeks, and the worst part is that the fees keep increasing year by year.

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  5. JerriLynn says:

    Janet,
    We will be attending one of these presentations in a few weeks. How do you suggest we go in prepared. We are not planning on buying by the way.

    Thanks

    • R says:

      JerriLynn,

      We just did a presentation as part of a deal to get a discounted hotel stay. My first recommendation would be to bring a sweater or jacket as we found the air conditioning was pretty powerful. If you are in the U.S., check relevant state laws concerning timeshare sales as well as prohibited sales practices. Check prices on Timeshare User Group, sellmytimesharenow.com, and even Hotwire.com for rental prices on equivalent accommodations. Have printouts of all the above materials with you.

      There is a posting about “How to Survive a Timeshare Presentation” here. It has good advice as well. Be fairly boring. Remember that these guys are going to talk FAST when they talk numbers. They will make big projections as to what your future vacation spending will be. If you have school age children, remember that for better or worse, they grow up and then you are not limited by school year schedules (which reduces your vacation costs). We used Priceline for our recent vacation (other than the deal we got that required the timeshare presentation) and saw that we averaged slightly more than $50 a night (including taxes and fees) for our accommodations. Give them numbers like that when they ask what you spend, and you will totally pop their sales pitch. (For more about how to use Priceline and Hotwire effectively, check betterbidding.com.) Otherwise, do NOT give them too much personal information; they will use it against you.

      Most importantly, keep in writing the conditions of the presentation. When time is up, TIME IS UP. Do not be afraid to walk out on them. Check your credit card statement for anomalous charges and be prepared to contest them.

      We were lucky that the 120 minute presentation was really 120 minutes. I was ready to threaten them with state law (in this case, Wisconsin) concerning illegal practices in case they dragged things out. The timeshare company may have sensed that I was a bit more educated and savvy and decided to cut their losses in my case. My sixth-grader had hours of fun afterwards dissecting what was wrong with the things the salesmen said and did.

      Timeshares may well be good for some people, but I think that they do not fit my lifestyle. Given the amount of money (like buying a car), don’t you want to be able to compare features of different competitors? Compare new versus used? See if it is better to check realtor.com prices, buy a condo outright and rent it when you are not using it (and using the cash for your future vacations)? Heck, people spend more time comparing cell phone plans! Why should timeshares (or general vacation planning) be any different?

      Good luck, and let us know how it goes.

    • Robert says:

      Best advice is not to go. No one goes planning on buying, but they have a way of making it sound like they are your best friends and are offering you the greatest thing ever.

  6. Sarah says:

    Janet, you are quite correct. In Texas there are no licensing requirements to sell timeshares, and licensing requirements to sell timeshares vary widely state-to-state. In Texas, to sit for a real estate licensing exam it requires 5 to 7 30 hour courses approved by the Texas Real Estate Commission. I am unsure about the broker’s exam but it involves more courses that also must be approved by the TREC.

    Per Wikipedia–> “The United States Federal Trade Commission provides consumers with information regarding timeshares.[19] Timeshares are also known as Universal Lease Programs (ULPs). Due to the nature of timeshares, they are considered to be securities under the law”. –> en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeshare. Again, if these timeshares are securities, the sales people are not FINRA licensed to sell securities. (FINRA is the Financial Industry Regulating Authority. Here is the link to more info about them: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Financial_Industry_Regulatory_Authority In timeshare sales presentations the words “investment” and “income” are widely used which implies clearly that if a customer “invests” in a timeshare s/he will derive “income” from this “investment”. That is one definition of a security.

    Florida recently passed a very tough new law effective July 1, 2012 to protect consumers from timeshare resale fraud–> prweb.com/releases/Timeshare-Law-Florida/Stops-Resale-Fraud-2012/prweb9302521.htm

    I also read in USA Today on May 2, 2012 that the FTC and the US Attorney for the southern district of Illinois indicted 22 people for timeshare resale fraud in an investigation that is ongoing with the FTC. Seven people pleaded guilty and were sentenced to prison. The others are awaiting trial. Here is the link to that article: usatoday.com/money/perfi/housing/story/2012-04-26/timeshares-sales-scams-consumer-complaints/54669954/1
    and for a column written the same day about timeshare sales tactics: usatoday.com/money/perfi/columnist/odonnell/story/2012-05-01/what-you-need-to-know-about-time-share/54670008/1

    This supports what the former US securities attorney I spoke with alluded to when he said, “Who knows? Maybe the government is going to start cracking down on this.”

    Thanks to all of you for your comments and support. I hope and pray others read this dialogue. I believe the people who speak out about this and tell their stories will help others who have had the same experiences with this woeful and failing industry and its deplorable behavior toward its customers in its desperate attempts to bolster revenue figures. The timeshare industry is struggling like many other businesses in a rapidly changing world, but they need to change the way they do business, as they are playing their violins on the deck of the Titanic and they are going to sink if they keep doing these things.

  7. Sarah says:

    I am the author of the above article (I’m not sure why they called me a “he”)and I have indeed complained to the Texas State Securities Board and they requested my documentation which I am assembling at present. I also am filing a complaint with the Texas Real Estate Commission simply to draw attention to the fact of the sales people calling these timeshares “real estate” and for clarification of this. If these are securities, the salespeople are not FINRA licensed to sell securities and if they aren’t they are being represented as such, and if they are “real estate” they do not have real estate licenses either.

    I have filed complaints to the Attorneys General of Texas and Missouri, and the BBB which was no help at all. I also conferred with a former US Government securities attorney who worked for the SEC, the FTC, and the FBI. He advised me that the timeshare companies “are criminal organizations run by criminals” (his exact words–could he be alluding to organized crime??) He also advised that these organizations are able to direct funds into unknown accounts and that litigating this would be extremely expensive and time-consuming.

    My objective is to shine a light onto this and get clarification from state and federal authorities regarding timeshare sales tactics. One of the timeshare operators’ tactics is to train their salespeople with a “training manual”, then verbally tell them to do other things (like lie and commit fraud), then when they are called on it, the operators bring out their training manuals and say that is what they are using for training. I personally know a timeshare sales person who was fired for using the training manual instead of what he was being told to do.

    There is also rampant documented drug use among the sales forces of multiple timeshare companies and we wonder why they act so weird in those sales presentations. I agree with Janet, it is incredibly evil, and unfortunately, people usually don’t go to great lengths to cross the psychological brainwashing tactics they use, but some of us do get it and we are doing what we can in small ways to help others.

    • Janet says:

      Hi Sarah, I believe you, especially about the criminal organizations and drug use. During presentations, my husband and I sometimes entertain each other trying to guess our sales rep.’s “drug of choice.”

      I don’t know about organized crime, but we had a rather bizarre experience following a timeshare presentation we attended in Key West. Our rep. was an exceptionally friendly, easy-going guy, who accepted our “no” w. As we left, he was just getting off work, told us his car was in the shop, and somehow, we ended up giving him a ride home. During the ride, he regalled us with stories about the history of Key West. He was a great storyteller, so when he invited us in, we figured “why not”? Boy, oh boy, were we ever sorry!

      His “home” actually consisted of a barren room, with 3 bunkbeds, that he shared with 5 other guys, along with a bath, they all shared with 3 other rooms, just like theirs! Couldn’t help but ask why they would actually live in such conditions, and he casually explained that it was a condition of his parole! In fact, him and his fellow roommates were all prison paroles, recruited for their jobs in prison, and so was everyone else who lived in that building! They weren’t all sales reps., but they were all employed by the timeshare company.

      I stood frozen in shock, as they proudly displayed their prison artwork they had fashioned out of toilet paper for us, and then invited us out on their (company) catamaran for a party and late night fishing excursion, OMG! I didn’t even hear my husband’s excuse, or remember much about how we made it out of there, because I was too busy replaying scenes from horror movies in my head!

      I had just figured that with high cost of living in Key West, low wages, and lack of decent affordable housing, that companies in the tourism industry were so desperate for employees, they had to resort to rather unorthodox recruiting methods, but after reading what you were told about criminal organizations? Makes sense 🙂

      • Sarah says:

        Hi Janet, Why am I not surprised to hear timeshare companies are recruiting sales people on parole from prison. Everyone needs a second chance but if the timeshare companies have to go to those extremes to employ sales people there is something quite wrong with this. I have little empathy, as those sales people went to prison for committing criminal acts, and the recidivism rate for return to prison for similar or escalating criminal behavior is quite high, 67% rearrested within 3 years and 52% reincarcerated.
        http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0933722.html.

        I am absolutely convinced that the sales people at the first presentation I went to were doing drugs, as I’m a retired ER and psychiatric nurse and I know what things look like. Besides, no one could stand the deafening noise, hyped up urgency and excitement at those presentations without being in an altered state. Our brains are simply not wired for that and we don’t have the gears for it. A former timeshare sales person I know personally has photos and a narrative about the “company parties” and serious drug use by his fellow salespeople.

        You were wise not to go on the little catamaran late-night party boat “fishing excursion” because you can bet they were whoopin’ it up out there not very safely, and something tells me the boys were not complying with the terms of their parole. I bet their parole officers would love to hear about that one!

        I would also bet my dead grandmother’s ermine that there is money laundering and more on a global level going on with these timeshare companies and indeed, some research I did recently pulled up news stories from Europe a few years ago about timeshare fraud that Scotland Yard, Interpol and the authorities in the Canary Islands and across Europe were involved in that ended up with three homicides. The actors involved were caught and sentenced to very long prison terms.

        I love these stories. They just get better and better….

      • Robert says:

        Janet,. I don’t believe your story for a second, but you do have a very creative imagination.

  8. R says:

    This post brings up a question: Are timeshare salespeople required to have any kind of license (such as a real estate license or some other license in the state in which they are operating)? I figure that knowing who the authorities are in the state in question, and how to complain are good things to have in your arsenal.

    We signed up for a discount stay at Wisconsin Dells that has turned out to have a 120 minute timeshare sales presentation requirement. My wife and I are dreading it, as we swore many years ago never to go to any of these things again. This site has been a great help and I have learned where else to go on the internet for tips as well as to look for resale and rental prices. Thanks for all you do.

    • Janet says:

      In Texas, there are no licensing requirements, but in many other states, Timeshare reps. are either required to hold a real estate license, or are required to be registered under the developer’s license. Wisconsin actually has a special license, just for timeshare salespersons, and they are licensed and regulated by the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services. The website can be found at this link: http://drl.wi.gov/prof_docs_list.asp?profid=121&locid=0

      As far as the difficulty of obtaining a real estate license? Well, some years ago, I worked for a real estate broker, who needed another broker in order to open a 2nd office. I didn’t even have to take a single class, instead, I studied for exactly 3 days, by reading a book titled “1001 Questions and Answers for the Real Estate Broker’s Test”. On the 4th day, I sat for the test, and passed, with an above 90 score in both the National and State portions! I wasn’t just an agent, but an actual Real Estate Broker, fully licensed to open my very own office! As difficult as it may be to believe it was that easy, it was.

  9. Janet says:

    I wish I could agree that they’re securities, but I just can’t. I don’t see how they could possibly qualify as such because I don’t consider buying securities as a total and complete rip off.

    I do however agree that, especially considering the disreputable sales tactics utilized, timeshares qualify as total “scams”–in my personal opinion of course. I’ve never bought one, but my husband and I attend timeshare presentations — all the time. I regard doing as “scamming the scammers” by not only attending and accepting their “freebies” but warning as many of our fellow attendees in the process. We don’t just do this with timeshare presentations either, but attend all kinds of “scam” seminars and presentations. For us, it’s not a waste of our vacation time, because it is one of our very favorite, and most relaxing past times. We love touring the properties, crunching the numbers, and even showing the sales reps. the many printouts we bring along, clearly demonstrating how much cheaper the same exact timeshare intrest is selling for on the resale market (if, at all), along with bringing printouts of the heartache and financial devestation suffered by so many as a direct result.

    We don’t just consider it shameful, but rather, pure evil. As soon as we start attempting to convince the sales reps. to consider whether the psychological “brainwashing” tactics they’ve been trained to use on others, have been used on them, their sales managers quickly show up at our table to hand us our “freebies” and escort us to the door.

    I don’t really recommend this course of action for others though. We’ve studied the psychological tactics employed in these presentations, for many years, to the point where we pretty much know what they’re going to say, long before the words leave their mouths. Very few people go to those lengths, which gives the timeshare operaters a considerable advantage over them.

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