Hilton Grand Vacations mess
First, an apology: This is a long post about Hilton Grand Vacations. It is not designed for quick reading. Sorry about that. It may be long, but there is a very valuable ending to this long story. So please follow all the dots.
This post is for people who feel they have been mistreated by Hilton Grand Vacations (HGV). Perhaps you bought a timeshare sold by Hilton Grand Vacations thinking it was a ticket to worldwide travel, but you found out you were stuck with a timeshare in one place and a lot of declined reservations. All your attempts to travel to other places were met with disappointment because there was no room anywhere other than your home timeshare space.
The Hilton name is one of the top two or three brand names in the world. It is recognized just about everywhere you go. It usually is thought of as a high quality brand. What’s going on? You might have thought you were in the hands of a high quality outfit. But your Hilton Grand Vacations experience was less than you expected. Far less.
Many people complain about their treatment at the hands of Hilton Grand Vacations. If you put the words “Hilton Grand Vacations complaints” in your browser’s search bar you can easily discover hundreds of complaints. There are several websites which are devoted to disappointed HGV owners. Most of the complaints are by people who feel HGV promised one thing and delivered another.
Many people try to get out of their HGV contracts. They discover that HGV doesn’t let them go easily.
There are a few ways out of the HGV contract. The most drastic way out is to stop paying. In addition to receiving a mailbox full of notices from HGV and their collection agency, the most obvious consequence of this way out is a big hit to your credit rating. This is not something to be taken lightly.
The way out that a lot of people use is to go to one of several agencies which buy unwanted HGV properties. This can be done with or without lawyers. The problem with this course of action is that the price at which HGV properties are bought is a fraction of the price at which they were sold to you by HGV. Probably a third or less than what you paid. Plus the cost of the lawyer. Many people go this route to get out from under the prospect of continuing monthly payments and annual fees.
This website suggests there are other things which can be done. They are not guaranteed to work but, if done by enough people, just might get HGV to change their ways. Maybe get your money back. And, who knows, maybe get HGV to pay you some penalty money too. All for the price of a few letters or emails sent to the right places.
When we signed our contract with HGV we really had no intention of using our original timeshare property. We signed to be able to travel worldwide and stay at HGV destinations for the low prices promised. In the space of a few months we discovered that it was nearly impossible to nail down a reservation anywhere outside our original location. We had many phone conversations with HGV representatives, some pleasant, some not so pleasant. Didn’t matter. HGV never came through.
Then we discovered the reason none of our attempts to make reservations worked:
HILTON GRAND VACATIONS SELLS FAR MORE MEMBERSHIPS THAN IT HAS AVAILABLE SPACES. If every timeshare owner stayed put in the timeshare space they purchased originally, there might not be a problem. BUT IF TOO MANY PEOPLE WANT TO TRAVEL TO THE SAME POPULAR DESTINATIONS AT THE SAME POPULAR TIMES, ONLY A TINY HANDFUL OF LUCKY PEOPLE WILL BE SATISFIED.
For example, we found out that getting a reservation inin August means you must call at midnight precisely nine months in advance of your planned vacation date. If you call at one o’clock instead of midnight, all spaces will probably be taken.
A little more snooping around lead us to some hard numbers. Thewebsite for Holdings on May 15 2016 reported “Through the timeshare segment, it [HGV] consists of over 45 properties comprising approximately 7,150 units.” In an early 2015 telephone conversation with the person who was later identified to us as the head of Hilton Grand Vacations Compliance, we were told there are about a quarter million HGV members.
So, for example, there may be 100-200 units available in New Years Day in or any August day in Hawaii.on Day. Of the quarter million HGV owners only a maximum of 200 can get New York City bookings on that date. Similar stories with similar lopsided numbers fit other desirable places at desirable times, such as
These numbers suggest something more dire. They suggest that HGV knows that it is selling promises which are impossible to keep.
Note that HGV never warns in advance (at the original sales presentation or in any subsequent mailing) of the probability of getting any specific reservation. You may think you have a good chance of getting a specific reservation if you call in advance the same way you call any hotel in advance for a future booking. No way. There are specific wrinkles you need to know, with a very narrow window of opportunity. HGV doesn’t warn about probabilities and doesn’t tell you in advance how to solve their reservations puzzle.
We are not lawyers and no lawyer has reviewed our ideas. We just know something is very wrong here.
Perhaps lawyers would handle these matters differently. We have decided to MAKE A FEDERAL CASE out of this.
A few years ago predatory lender.” In this historic case the term describes how banks were picking on the bones of their prey, the people who could not afford the loans the banks gave. Many banks paid serious penalties for their predatory lending practices.economy had a serious problem. Banks were giving mortgages to people who could not afford them. This caused a lot of people to default on these mortgages. The legal term often used to describe the behavior of the banks is “
People buying timeshares are generally well off, so the lender for the timeshares is not predatory in the way banks were in the example above. But anyone looking at the numbers, looking at the performance, looking at the multitude of complaints on the internet surely knows that HGV makes promises it cannot keep. In this case, we use the term “predatory lender” to describe how HGV lures people to buy timeshares by making impossible promises, then threatens to harm the buyers’ reputations if they don’t continue to pay for damaged goods.
To our understanding, Hilton (and maybealso, but we’re not sure) is he “bank” (or financing institution) behind the loans for these timeshares. Moving on the assumption that HGV is issuing loans for timeshares memberships which they know cannot be completed as described, we take the following two steps:
There is a federal agency named the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau. It has a complaint form on its website. We have sent a complaint describing how HGV has financed this deceptive timeshare sale. Not only did the sale “pitch” used at our original sales meeting promise worldwide travel. Every single mailing we have received since then underlines the promise of worldwide travel. But HGV, which financed the deal, doesn’t deliver.
A second federal agency to which we have written is the Securities and Exchange Commission (which also has a complaint form on its website). As of this writing HGV is a division of Hilton Worldwide Holdings (NYSE stock symbol HLT). HLT has applied to the SEC to spin off HGV and make it a separate stock issue. The SEC is reviewing the applications. HGV‘s website says it doesn’t expect the SEC review to be completed until late 2016. There’s plenty of time before the SEC review is finished. We feel it is useful for the SEC to know the difference between HGV‘s presentation and its reality.
Then there are Attorneys General of individual states. You have to do your own search for your state’s Attorney General and the AGs of states which handle your HGV contract (where your timeshare property is located, where its papers are processed, etc). As of this writing we have submitted complaints to two State Attorneys General and a complaint to the Law Department of one State complaining about how one of HGV‘s legal representatives did something that might cause that person to be disbarred.
One person registering a complaint might not do the trick. Chances are much better if many people let the appropriate agencies know. Please take the time to write. Join the crowd letting their stories be known. (If you don’t feel comfortable about your writing skills, there are places in the internet, such as the websites called http://fiverr.com or http://upwork.com, where you can hire someone at a very reasonable fee to write for you).
IF YOU WANT TO BUY HGV FOR REDUCED PRICE TRY THESE OFFERS
UPDATE: June 28 2016: Here are two URLs of federal agencies that might be interested in reading your story:
The SEC has jurisdiction over whether Hilton can spin off HGV as a separate stock from its main stock HLT.
And don’t forget your state’s Attorney General, as well as the State Attorneys General of the states in which Hilton Grand Vacations offices are located
Assume no one else is writing complaints similar to yours. This bit of advice is to encourage you to be as original as possible. You don’t want it to look as if your complaint is part of an organized group. Do not rely on other people to do the complaining for you, unless you hire a lawyer to represent you or hire a writer if you’re not confident of your writing skills.
Check Out The Competition
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UPDATE: June 26 2016: Webmaster received a favorable response to this complaint from the office of the New York State Attorney General. BUT their office will put further action on hold because…well, not enough people have complained, so their office will devote its limited resources to other complaints which had more numerous complainers.
WHICH MEANS people who have gripes against Hilton Grand Vacations and similar programs MUST send complaints to appropriate government agencies to gain more attention. If you have problems with HGV or similar timeshare companies WRITE WRITE WRITE to agencies like the Securities and Exchange Commission and state Attorneys General. Many government agencies have complaint forms on their websites. Please don’t blindly copy and paste the information on this website. Tell YOUR story. Make YOUR case. Let them know why HGV must be stopped now.
The following is the text of a complaint this site’s webmaster sent to the Securities and Exchange Commission concerning Hilton Grand Vacations, a division ofHoldings:
This complaint asks the HLT). Our opinion is HLT’s subsidiary HGV is a predatory lender that should not be approved for listing by the SEC.to oppose the planned spinoff of Hilton Grand Vacations (HGV) from Hilton Worldwide Holdings (NYSE stock symbol
On February 26 2016, Hilton Worldwide Holdings announced among other things that it plans to spin off its timeshare business Hilton Grand Vacations as a separately traded public company. It said appropriate registration statements will most likely be sent to the Securities and Exchange Commission in the second quarter of 2016.
CONTINUE READING AFTER BREAK
The parties sending this complaint signed documents on April 30 2014 to pursue possible purchase of a Hilton Grand Vacations property. In the more than two years since that signing we have corresponded frequently with HGV to try to resolve our dispute over this property. HGV may have commenced a collection action against us.
HGV timeshares are commonly sold at mass sales gatherings to people invited by Hilton. Prospective buyers are lured by reduced-price Hilton Hotel stays. They must attend sales presentations as a condition of their reduced-price package.
The sales meeting we attended began with the question “Where in the world would you like to go for your vacation?” The emphasis of the sales “pitch” is the possibility of vacationing many times in places all over the world. The Hilton name stands behind this worldwide offer, attendees are assured.
Please note: the sales pitch was not about the qualities of Hilton Grand Vacations buildings, amenities, timeshares; it was about the opportunity to vacation in multiple places in coming years.
If a sales “pitch” attendee is impressed enough to want to buy a timeshare, she/he is immediately ushered through an elaborate contract-signing procedure. Lawyers and notaries representing Hilton encourage buyers to put their signatures on stacks of documents.
People who sign these stacks of documents are given the impression that the property sales will be financed by a combination ofand American Express resources. .
Neither in any oral presentation we witnessed nor any written documentation we received since then are the chances of actually nailing down a successful booking discussed. Invoking the Hilton name leaves the impression that booking a date in an alternate place is about the same as making an ordinary Hilton Hotel booking. But that sweet dream does not fit HGV reality.
We attended a sales meeting on April 30 2014. Unfortunately, two experiences in the next few months demonstrated that very few timeshare sites are available to HGV members in desirable places at desirable times. HGV is not a seamless alternative to Hilton Hotels, and the numbers are distinctly not in favor of casual booking.
The Google Finance website for Hilton International Holdings on May 15 2016 reported “Through the timeshare segment, it [HGV] consists of over 45 properties comprising approximately 7,150 units.” In an early 2015 telephone conversation with the person who was later identified to us as the head of Hilton Grand Vacations Compliance, we were told there are about a quarter million HGV members.
So, for example, there may be 100-200 units available in New Years Day in Pasadena or an August day in Hawaii.on Thanksgiving Day. Of the quarter million HGV owners only a maximum of 200 can get NYC bookings on that date. Similar stories with similar lopsided numbers fit other desirable places at desirable times, such as
Again, HGV never warns potential timeshare buyers of their likelihood of success for any alternative booking. Note also that a person seeking an ordinary reservation at a Hilton hotel inon Thanksgiving pays nothing if the hotel turns them away. An HGV member pays anywhere from $125 on up per month for about ten years whether or not they get a reservation on any date.
Another informative exercise is to search on Google(dot)com for “Hilton Grand Vacation complaints.” At least a hundred HGV buyers’ complaints can be found at first pass on any day. Many of these complaints describe the frustration of being shoehorned with a quarter million competitors into 100-200 spaces.
Surely Hilton is aware that only a vanishingly small percentage of its timeshare buyers will actually be able to exercise the opportunity to vacation in popular places at popular times. Yet the possibility of vast choices is the sales “hook” used to land HGV timeshare buyers over and over.
During our April 30 2014 sales meeting we were encouraged to make our monthly payments via a specialwhich we were encouraged to apply for. We were told American Express card holders get points as credits for regular payments, and these points somehow reduce future payments. The end result, we were assured, is that most HGV/American Express buyers complete their property purchases in less than ten years. This trade-off was confirmed in a later telephone conversation.
In an even later conversation with HGV this payment-reducing arrangement was scoffed at. The final word to us on this matter was that the only way to pay for the HGV property is direct payment, perhaps using an American Express card, but certainly not with any point-reducing bonus.
We feel it is a predatory practice for a lender to dangle an attractive cost-savings procedure under the noses of potential buyers only to yank this procedure away once the ink dries on the contract.
At the time of the April 30 2014 sales meeting one of the writers of this complaint was 72 years of age, while the other was well beyond voting age. We were lead to believe that the likelihood of getting financing approval by their lenders was as good for us as it would be for potential borrowers of any other age. At the same rates. Our ages didn’t matter.
One of us described how a recent dispute over late payments reduced their present credit score. Again, didn’t matter. We were assured we would get credit approval despite blemished records.
The financing institutions behind HGV were willing to ignore two obvious warning signs in the path to placing a loan. Again, this raises a question of how predatory this lending scheme is.
It was suggested above that a simple search on a computer search engine will reveal hundreds of complaints against Hilton Grand Vacations. While on the computer one can also go to the well-known auction platform Vacation properties. Usually on any given day a few dozen HGV properties are offered for sale on eBay.and search for Hilton Grand
Some of the HGV properties for sale on eBay are only partly paid for, while some others have been completely paid for (except for future annual maintenance fees) It is also easy to find more than a half dozen advertisers who offer to act as intermediaries to buy and sell their own and other people’s unwanted HGV properties.
There is quite an extensive aftermarket for HGV properties outside the Hilton purview. The open market values HGV properties at far below their Hilton offering prices. The sales prices outside the Hilton website is one third or less the prices of equivalent properties sold by Hilton. Some of the third-party sales agents have BOGO deals on unwanted HGV properties. BOGO = “buy one get one [free].” Some people will go to any lengths, even selling at huge losses, to rid themselves of nuisance HGV properties and their nuisance annual fees.
Owners of HGV properties need “points” to swap for vacations. As well as buying and selling HGV properties one can go to eBay to buy and sell HGV “points.” Needless to say, prices outside the Hilton sites leave Hilton’s prices in the dust.
Hilton Grand Vacations has over seven thousand units needing owner/occupants. Potential unit buyers are invited to prestigious Hilton hotels to witness sales pitches which offers them an easy way to satisfy their itches to travel. According to our initial salesman, approximately 30% of the people who attend these sessions go on to buy HGV property.
When HGV timeshare unit buyers try to book spaces in special places at special times they discover the Hilton name on the door doesn’t mean they will get a room. For example, to be booked in Hawaii in August one must place a call to the reservations number precisely at midnight nine months to the day prior to the desired vacation day. Really, the window of opportunity closes within an hour or so of midnight. A quarter of a million other people want your place in line too.
Who knows what other tricks HGVers need to know to get desirable bookings at competitive times. They weren’t warned.
While they sit and stew at their unrequited reservation misfortunes, timeshare owners still have to pay their monthly payments. If they complain about being mislead by HGV sales pitches, management reminds them they signed a note, the note says they must pay, and anything else was not in writing so it doesn’t count.
The writers of this complaint went to the extreme measure of stopping payment to HGV. We complained about the unavailability of reservations. HGV management responded that the only issue they were concerned about was the timeshare sales contract. As far as they were concerned the ‘vacation’ part of Hilton Grand Vacations was hearsay and unenforceable.
In other words, the only issue that mattered to them was the property sales contract and how that created an obligation to be fulfilled by the buyer. They lent the money, we signed the contract and all the rest is chatter.
We believe this constitutes predatory lending, which we believe should not be rewarded by the SEC.
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