Holidays in Hell
Everything but the rat poop: Why couldn't you have put this article ("Unfair Share," January 25) out three months ago? Where were you when I was having to stress over my impulsive purchase? Well, thank God that someone might be saved from this hassle after reading your article.
About three months ago, a friend and I went to the Canyon Lake Silverleaf resort after receiving a voucher for free airfare. Needless to say, we purchased the deal. Everything that you mentioned in your article happened to us, apart from the rat feces and cat hair. We never even got a chance to visit a condo. We paid a down payment of $856 for a red plan. I will not go into how they pressured us. However, they did mention equity. Not only did they try to sell us the time-share, they wanted to hire us.
Soon, we were finding strange charges on our credit cards. When we called billing, they told us that our property was still under the old owner's name. He had been behind on payments; so, the computer naturally just charged us. Of course, that department could not get it all set straight. Instead, we were to contact the original salesperson on the deed. We even tried to cancel the contract within the six days. However, when we called, we were told that it would be impossible since we were not in the computer yet. One of us called some Silverleaf department every day. No one ever returned our calls except a woman who kept hassling us about our new owner's meeting.
Fed up and angry by the third month, we wrote a letter to the CEO. Thank goodness, we kept good records of all our conversations and charges. He nullified our contract and reimbursed our credit card. Of course, we did have to threaten a lawsuit and a BBB report. So, all is well. I just hope everyone who reads your article takes heed. It worked out OK in the end. But what a pain in the butt.
No free paradise: There were a couple of kind words in your article on Silverleaf Resorts, but they are pretty much buried near the end. Lest people think there aren't many, we, too, are happy time-share owners, and have been for more than 10 years. The Endless Escape program has been very beneficial for us and is what sold us on Silverleaf above other time-shares. Our son went to military school, and we were able to use the condos for extended weekend visits. My husband traveled with his business and used them in lieu of expensive and uncomfortable hotel rooms. When we want to get away from it all, we call and often find a spot. We never found rat turds on the beds, thank goodness, or dead ducks floating in the pond. We bought in East Texas--Holly Lake--in the spring when the flowers were gorgeous, the air was crisp and clean, and the hosts were gracious. It's a change of pace from hectic jobs and city life.
However, I don't want to spend the money for a full-time residence in the country with all the associated headaches of ownership. Besides, Silverleaf has five resorts in Texas and two in Missouri we can choose from, so we don't get bored with the same scenery and sights. Plus, we've traded it for time in Mexico, Jamaica, Florida, and both coasts, ending up with places that range from exotic bungalows to full-blown houses. I suppose there are people who are not meant for this kind of program, and they probably need to be clear on that before they head out for the presentation and their free gift.
And then there are people who are bound and determined to find the negative in anything. The promise of a free TV, vacation, or money got them there, so maybe these are people that want paradise for free as well and aren't going to be satisfied no matter what. If Silverleaf proved to be an "Unfair Share" for some, you need to point out in equally large print that it's a More-Than-Fair-Share for others. Can you put that on the front of your next issue? And no, I'm not affiliated with them in any way...don't own their stock and don't work for them. I'm just a happy owner.
Turned my stomach: Thank you so much for this article! My first office job was at Silverleaf Resorts, and it absolutely turned my stomach. The number of people calling in to complain about the bait-and-switch tactics was shocking. I did not, thankfully, work as a telemarketer, but I did get the privilege of handling the customer calls while the telemarketers took a "motivation meeting break." It was horrid. I lasted barely two months. I'm pleased that attention is being brought to this duplicitous company. Bravo!
Throw 'em in jail: Your story on the time-share condominiums brought back memories when we foolishly bought a red time-share at the Villages. We visited there one weekend and learned that no one wants to trade for a condominium in East Texas. We then spent the next three years with the help of the state attorney general's office in Austin trying to get out of this mess and get our money back. The Villages were rough 20 years ago; they must be bad now.
We know one person who bought a time-share condominium and came out ahead. She bought a red time-share in Orlando, next to Walt Disney World. She never had a problem exchanging/trading her week there for a week elsewhere around the world.
The only solution will be when the courts decide to stop their silly little fines and start putting administrators and salespeople in jail.
Donald N. Wright
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No Such Thing
Fine and fascinating: There was a small factual error in your otherwise fine and fascinating article about Cora Cardona ("Cora! Cora! Cora!" January 25). Clara Hinojosa is not director of the "Mexican Cultural Institute." There is no such organization. She is director and founder of the Mexico Institute.
Timothy A. O'Leary
Board member, the Mexico Institute and Teatro Dallas
Editor's note: We apologize for the mistake.