Frank and Betty Lusk are two retired Christian missionaries who are 90 years old. Frank, who was also a music teacher, and Betty, who was a librarian, were traveling, enjoying a peaceful cruise in the Caribbean. They had no idea what was about to happen to them.
On the last day of the trip, already back at the pier where they had left, a charismatic and pleasant salesman convinced them to buy a timeshare. This is how Frank and Betty spent their retirement money to purchase a $150,000 Diamond Resorts timeshare.
Everything looked magnificent. They were sure that it would be the best investment of their life. “They called it a dream vacation,” Frank said the salesman had told him. “It was a nightmare. It was the dumbest thing we could do,” said the former missionary. Both had borrowed, even with their own nursing home, to buy this timeshare that would annually deduct $19,000. Realizing the mistake they had made, they desperately sought the support of a timeshare exit company to end the contract.
A visible hoax by Diamond Resorts
The Lusks relied on the experience they had been given by using timeshares for many years. “We’ve enjoyed the timeshares,” Betty said. And not only they, but their children have enjoyed trips to Scotland, Hawaii and the Caribbean, staying at various timeshares. A couple of missionaries said that these contracts were cheaper and more direct.
In fact, during 2018, all of their contracts were paid on time. The only one that became insolvent was one with a value of $50,000. It was about the timeshare they purchased with Diamond Resorts, in Las Vegas.
The missionary couple said they felt cheated by Diamond Resorts. During a sales presentation in September last year, according to the Lusks, the company made use of hardball tactics. They accused Diamond Resorts of not adequately explaining how all the costs associated with a timeshare work and not complying with the legal deadline to meet the cancellation request.
Diamond Resorts, through Bruce Miller, its spokesman, said they are faithful to their transparency and accountability policies. However, about the Lusks’ case, Miller responded that at Diamond, “we strive to provide excellent customer service and a transparent sales process at all times.”
During their most recent cruise, on September 2018, Diamond Resorts offered the Lusk couple a reception on a private island with a relaxing dinner. The reality was completely different. A vendor was waiting to offer them a new timeshare valued at $150,000. Within the offer, they included a 10% discount. The tactic used by the seller was to tell the Lusks that with the purchase of that timeshare, their debts would be forgiven once they died. It would be like “life insurance.”
Betty Lusk said that this idea never gave them full confidence, but the salesperson “really convinced us to achieve this.” The timeshare contract is nothing like what the salesperson promised them. That contract also included the high maintenance fees that the seller never mentioned in his negotiation.
The subsequent reaction of the Lusks
Immediately after they descended from the cruise, just on the day of their 68th wedding anniversary, Betty and Frank decided to send a certified letter to Diamond Resorts. They regretted buying the timeshare.
In the letter, they requested the cancellation of the contract signed during the cruise. It should be noted that the letter was sent within the rescission time established by the legal framework. “We don’t want to be taxed with more debt at our age,” the Lusks wrote in their letter.
Almost instantly, the seller called them and managed to convince them again. “I wish you could believe it, but he did, he convinced us again,” said Frank. “We trust each other too much.”
A couple of days later, former Christian missionaries wrote a second letter demanding the immediate cancellation of the contract. “Maintaining this contract would lead us to bankruptcy,” they said in their letter, where they accused Diamond Resorts of elder abuse.
“This letter is to confirm the cancellation of your vacation ownership interest with Diamond Resorts (…). We sincerely hope you choose Diamond Resorts in the future to provide you with invaluable memories.”
These were the words contained in a letter received by the Lusks in December 2018. In it, Diamond Resorts confirmed that the timeshare contract had been successfully canceled.
The elderly couple could not be more relieved. However, the bills kept coming. Given the perplexity and confusion of the facts, the former missionaries decided to call the company. But customer service executives informed the Lusks that their contract was still active.
Timeshare Exit Team, a light at the end of the tunnel
Faced with the desperation felt by Frank and Betty Lusk for the vile deception perpetrated by Diamond Resorts, they decided to hire Timeshare Exit Team.
Timeshare Exit Team is a company located in Seattle, owned by Brandon Reed. It is a company dedicated to helping timeshare owners legally cancel their contracts, with a history of more than 30 thousand clients.
When Brandon Reed learned what the Lusks had suffered at the hands of Diamond Resorts, he was enraged. He cataloged the case as a complete scam. Thus, for an initial sum of $10,000, Timeshare Exit Team began the process to get the Lusks out of the contract. In case of not being successful, the company has promised to make the reimbursement of the initial payment.
However, according to Reed, the initial fee to deal with a case with a contract as large as that of the missionary couple can cost $50,000.
Recently, Reed founded the Coalition to Reform Timeshare. This group ensures the creation and application of stricter regulations against timeshare companies. Their goal is to prevent these companies, such as Diamond Resorts, from having people sign life contracts.
The other side of the coin
Timeshare companies, in addition to other consumer protection associations, alert their users that many exit companies charge excessively high fees to start the contract cancellation process. They even claim that some exit companies are a scam. Miller, the spokesman for Diamond Resorts, asks its users to “communicate directly with Diamond in case an outside company contacts them” to offer them the option to cancel or transfer their timeshare. “Diamond Resorts does not work with these fraudulent companies nor is it affiliated with them,” Miller said. On the other hand, Reed states that “the timeshare industry is similar to a great killer.”
The fight for legislation
The history of Frank and Betty Lusk, as well as that of many other timeshare victims, have motivated several legislators to create a bill that regulates the timeshare industry. Also, it is expected that the legislation will include giving consumers more grace time to cancel their contract.
Attorney General Mark Brnovich “receives several hundred complaints in his office every year regarding timeshares,” said Shawna Bolick, Arizona state representative. Therefore, Brnovich fully supports the initiative of the bill promoted by Arizona legislators.
The Lusks are confident that the Arizona government will take more actions to protect consumers, especially the elderly. On the other hand, they urge those who are considering “investing” in a timeshare, to re-think about it a couple of times.
Do you want to know how to protect yourself from Timeshares?
There are several tactics that you can use when you are negotiating a timeshare. Remember that timeshare companies can use persuasive techniques to sell you a timeshare before you can receive something in return. To protect yourself from the timeshare, you can:
- Record (secretly) the negotiation on your cell phone. Keep it in your shirt pocket, jacket or pants, with the voice recorder active. Thus, you will have evidence at the time that the seller offers you something that is not included in the contract.
- Talk with your family in advance and decide when to leave the negotiating table. For example, when the presentation of timeshare becomes very pressured by the seller, do not hesitate to get up.
- Ask the timeshare company to provide you with a total budget in writing that includes: total cost of timeshare plus maintenance fees, utilities, and other associated fees.
- Do not sign any contract before reviewing it carefully. Even, if possible, hire a lawyer to review it.
- Do not believe in those sellers who tell you that timeshare is the best investment you can make.
There are numerous timeshare scams every year. Contact our team so we can help you determine if a timeshare exit company is legitimate, and we recommend working with timeshare exit companies that offer escrow, so you pay no up-front fees. Know your legal right so you can exit your timeshare contract legally. Read over our website and fill out the form on the right or contact us through Live Chat for a free informational consultation. Read the full article at Azcentral