Diamond Resorts Using COVID-19 Crisis as Reason to Buy More Points
Coalition to Reform Timeshare Staff | April 27, 2020
This Diamond is all Coal: Leader in High-Pressure Timeshare Sales Now Using COVID-19 Crisis as Reason to Buy More Points
- Coronavirus or no, Diamond Resorts continues to confound, demonstrating anti-consumer behaviors that should embarrass Disney, Marriott and other Industry Leaders
Diamond Resorts, the undisputed leader in high-pressure sales to senior citizens, is using the COVID-19 crisis as a reason for owners to buy more timeshare points.
Diamond’s pitch: “Can’t travel? Too bad. Can’t afford your timeshare? No problem. We will lower your monthly payments if you JUST buy more points.”
Under a headline that declares, “We’re Here for You,” Diamond said in an April 14 email to owners that it will offer “financial relief when you need it” during the COVID pandemic.
“While you may not be checking into one of our properties today, we have not stopped working to enhance your membership experience. To that end, we’ve identified ways to provide financial relief to members through refinancing options.
“Speak to a vacation counselor today to see if you qualify.”
The email was sent to existing Diamond owners with timeshare mortgages, which typically run for 10-year terms with annual interest rates of 15% percent or more. For a typical buyer in 2020, that mortgage would turn a $20,000 timeshare buy into a $40,000 mortgage debt.
Given the context of a global health and economic crisis, the pitch sounds good, not much different from a typical mortgage refinance offer that banks routinely send customers. But the true purpose of the solicitation only becomes clear in the fine print at the bottom of the email.
“This advertising material is being used for the purpose of soliciting timeshare sales.” Minimum purchase, 2,500 points at a price point of $9.74 per point. Doing the math, that equals $24,350.
Calling this simply deceptive advertising would be somewhat misleading – this is more like a world-class example of completely deceptive advertising.
We called Diamond owner services to ask how a $25,000 purchase of new timeshare points would provide “financial relief” to customers. They did not return several calls.
But the COVID-19 news relating to Diamond isn’t all bad. In a very charitable move, Diamond emailed owners April 8 that it would provide free rooms to first responders and medical personnel in critical coronavirus cities. As of April 20, the company reported booking 7,250 rooms for the frontline fighters against the virus. Unfortunately, however, Diamond managed to stomp all over that positive messaging by soliciting owners — during a financial crisis — to spend more money on timeshares they may never be able to use.
Too bad Diamond didn’t offer consumer options that would fit the spirit of the time, such as:
- Extend all 2020 usage options for five years so owners don’t lose their travel benefits.
- Forgive all cancellation penalties for 2020.
- Forgive 2021 maintenance fees for all owners who cannot travel in 2020.
- Better yet, refund 2020 maintenance fees for owners who cannot travel.
- Provide no-cost exit programs for owners who cannot afford to continue their memberships and contracts.
- Send a $1,000 gift card to all families whose travel was cancelled by COVID-19.
- Have CEO Michael Flaskey, donate his entire 2020 salary to a compensation fund for employees, or guests, who contract the virus.
We urge all resorts to consider these options, and to put their time and resources into programs that HELP their customers in these difficult times.