Starwood Vacation Ownership – Starwood Vacation Ownership Shereaton Broadway Plantation…

My wife and I were walking around Myrtle Beach in December of 2007 and were constantly being approached by a young girl trying to give us a free gift card. After being approached multiple times we decided to see how to get the card. We were told we had to attend a quick ninety minute meeting the next day, but we were not told what the meeting would be about. This quick meeting turned out to be a three hour high pressure sales presentation that caused us to miss plans we had made with family. The presentation was about becoming an owner of a vacation property. We were never told it was for a timeshare. In fact, we even asked them directly and we were told that this was NOT a timeshare. The sales representative was named Dennis Donham. He exclaimed that this was a dream come true and would improve the way we vacation for the rest of our lives. He said we could take our families anywhere at any time and it would cost less and be a much easier way to vacation. He claimed that they had limited availability and we should take advantage of ownership while rates were still low. If we were unhappy, we could get 90% of our investment back within the first year. This was a lie. We called the resort to get some of our questions answered within the first days of our purchase, and were unable to get any answers. Nobody would call back regardless of how many times we called and left messages. Finally we were able to make contact with someone in the office and we inquired about cancelling our contract but we were told we could not do so until we had the deed and other paperwork. By the time the deed arrived it was too late. We decided that because we were owners now, we should at least use the property. This turned out to be much more difficult than we expected. When my wife and I would try to make reservations, more than six months in advance, there was never availability. They told us to call at least six months in advance, but it had to be much farther in advance than that to get booked. We were also told we could exchange our location to go anywhere else we might want, at any time with no hassle. Every time that we tried to book at another location, there was no availability, no matter how far in advance we called. Before the end of the first year of ownership we went to the resort to speak to someone about cancelling, as we had been told that we would get 90% of our investment back within the first 12 months. Thats when we were teamed up with John Rye who told us that it was not possible to sell back to the resort, we wouldnt get 90% back and convinced us that the best thing to do would be to invest in an upgrade, He told us about a water park that was going in. He explained how wonderful it was going to be and how much our grandchildren would enjoy it. He convinced us to upgrade to Phase IV because you had to be at least a Phase IV owner before you would be allowed to use the water park. John convinced us to trade from an all season type of ownership to a summer season so we could utilize the new water park when our grandchildren were out of school. Phase IV was under construction when we purchased it. We have still never used it since its completion. We were also told that we could let our family use the timeshare any time. Well, that may be well and good, but there was never any mention of age restrictions. We tried to make arrangements for our daughter, who was 18 years old, to use it. We were told that unless she was 21 years old that she couldnt use it without adult supervision. Then, to top that, we also found out that even if our daughter was 21 she wouldnt be allowed to use it because she was single at the time. Only couples, who had a combined income of over $50,000 annually, could use it, and then they would have to attend a presentation. NONE of this was explained to us, and had we known this we would have never bought. Its obvious that the only thing Starwood Vacation is concerned about is making a sale. Another area we were misinformed is in regard to maintenance fees. These were never really explained to us during the presentation. When asked, they said it was just for taxes, cleaning and mowing the property and they would minimal in cost. When we got our first bill at the end of the first year it was $800. When we asked what it was for, they just said that we were responsible for paying no matter what and the resort never explained why the fees were so high. These fees have grown even more and are now up to $1,100. This may be a mute point, but what was really upsets us it that if we ever decided to stay more than once a year, wed have to pay an addional fee for cleaning, on top on what were already paying. It was also stated that we could help pay for our ownership by renting the property. We were convinced to purchase a larger unit because they are much easier to rent since there is more room for more people to enjoy. We tried to do this on Craigslist, but it never even got a hit. The sales representative also stated that we could decrease our payments with lower rates by refinancing with a third party. When we tried to do this with a bank, there were red flags that didnt allow us to do so. I might have known some of these things if I was able to ask questions at the original presentation. We were left in a room for over two hours and any time that we had a question, the representative would make an excuse to leave the room and upon return he would change the subject and never answer any questions that we had. We were extremely aggravated at this, but were made to believe this was a deal we couldnt pass up. When we finally sat down to sign papers they would not explain what the contract said and just ask for a signature and quickly flip to the next page. We did not have time to read any of the documents. It was a point and sign situation. Once we were done, they quickly put everything in a packet and sent us on our way. Starwood Vacation Ownership has been misleading in a number of ways. This has not been the ownership we believed it would be. If we would have known all the facts about this ownership, we would have never made the purchase. In March of 2011 we wrote to SVO and was essentially told, “too bad, so sad.” Don’t buy a Starwood Vacation Property. I wish we never did.

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