On April 20, 2008, we were invited on a tour to visit LHVC, as we were originally staying at the Villas Jazmin, Costambar, Puerto Plata, D.R. (http://www.villasjazmin.com). It appears that LHVC has made a deal with smaller resorts/hotels in the area, in efforts to lure new members with an upgrade to their resort once a purchase has been made. This tour must have been established prior to arrival, as it was listed on our week's itinerary. During our sale's pitch, representative gave us the following false facts. First, we were informed that they would purchase our existing Hollywood Beach Tower Timeshare. Our sales representative left the room numerous times to consult with his manager about pricing, Finally, the supervisor (Jesus S. Garcia-Tallaj), haggled the price and offered to take $5,000 off our purchase for ownership of our existing timeshare. We were given instruction to fax or email proof ownership once we returned to the United States. Secondly, we were informed that with Lifestyles we would no longer have a maintenance fee and we would only pay when we traveled. This material fact was heavily relied on, because we pay an RCI maintenance fee annually for our timeshare property. With more in depth research we have discovered that a proper sale of a timeshare requires a lawyer and legal papers to be signed. Being that LHVC is in the timeshare business, they should know that, so it appears that they never intended on purchasing our timeshare.
Furthermore, we were falsely told that we would not need RCI to book vacations. Representatives told us that LHVC were the new trend in Timeshare industry and that they would be taking over all RCI properties soon. We were informed that we could just book all of our vacation through them. We would be assigned one agent who we could either call or email. During their pitch, the RCI and other travel guides were constantly waved in our faces and we were told that we could go to any of the sister resorts with ease. Also, the amount of money that could be made was a huge part of the sales pitch. They encouraged us to create a website to invite friends and family to purchase the use our membership. They directed us to a website (http://cascadesvipvacations.co.uk/), created by Platinum memberships, who were currently selling the use of their membership to others.
Well, when we first joined (4/20/08), there was a picture of a couple that was running this site. Now, it appears to be a single woman by the name of Debbie. This website appears to be another form of deception and I would NEVER advise a loved one to visit this resort without knowing what they were getting into.
Another issue was that we were not pleased with their customer service department. On 5/1/08, our initial customer service representative (Nadira Garufi), indicated that we would be receiving a Welcome Package in the mail in about 6-8 weeks from the date of purchase. The email also indicated that the company preferred to use email as the method of communication, because a record could be made of all communications. On 6/23/08, we got an email from a Vance Paul who was introduced as our New representative going forward. We then inquired to him about our Welcome Package, and his response was that it would arrive in 8 weeks. By this time it had already been 9 weeks since our date of purchase. Mr. Paul's response to our earlier vacation inquiries was that there were no accommodations available, but they had provided us with courteous weeks to be placed in our RCI bank. This caused us some confusion, because we were under the belief that we did not need RCI weeks since we already had unlimited weeks with LHVC according to them. Mr. Paul was not timely and/or did not thoroughly respond to my emails, therefore we requested a new representative on 7/10/2008.
On 7/14/08, we were assigned Kristina Novakovic. Once again we inquired about our Welcome Package and she told us there was a delay in the production and we should expect to receive it in 2 to 3 weeks. There were several other emails sent where major contract points were explained, ones that should have all been explained during the sale of the contract. On 9/23/2008, we received an email introducing yet another customer sales representative Vicky Nyland. We finally received our Welcome Package in the mail on October 15th, 2008, although the Conditional Membership Certificate and Welcome Letter were dated May 2008. This date obviously inaccurate, as we were told that there was a delay in production on July 14th, 2008.
LHVC responded to our demand letter with an email instructing us on how to either use their Re-Sale Program, or how to transfer ownership of our timeshare to them. Well, we did not feel comfortable using their Re-Sale Program, because when we asked for an established application or a list of terms, they could not provide us with either. The transfer of ownership we originally thought had happened, required a legal document called a "Quit Claim Deed". We found out about this process only after receiving our maintenance fee bill in October (meaning we were still owners), this prompted our own inquiry to our existing timeshare company.
To make matters FAR worse, although we had formally told LHVC to stop the monthly membership withdraw, on 1/20/09 Lifestyle Holiday Puerto Plata withdrew the same monthly membership fee anyway. While the transaction was pending, they were listed as a Standard Cross Collection. Note: Previous debits posted on the 9th of each month, and were listed under Escrow Agency Distrib NACI. So, we were livid! After sending an official request to stop debits, they took it anyway under a different name. If that is not criminal activity, I don't know what is??? Also, how is an Escrow Agency doubling as a Collection Agency? To combat this, we had to shut down that debit card to really ensure that no more deductions would occur.
Right now we are trying to gather as much information about this group as possible. One of the victims has obtained a Private Investigator and they have come very far. We have started a group on Facebook (The TRUTH about Lifestyles Holidays Vacation Club (LHVC) & Escrow Agency), and really want to build a community. Please join to share your stories As we learn more about this company, we will keep everyone updated. In order to make this a Federal case, Class Action Lawsuit, and attract international media attention, we must have the numbers that reflect this to be a serious issue, one that must be addressed! THANK YOU!