Last April my mother saw a booth at a fair in Longview, TX where they were advertising free trips to Vegas. They promised her a free trip to Vegas if she came to the Villages and sat through a 90-minute presentation. This 90-minute presentation turned into a full day. At the end of it, they had talked her into a time share, "upgraded her" to two weeks, promised her she could come any time she wanted during the week, and that this was for the Lake Palestine resort. Of course they sped the papers right by her, talking all the while.
When she got home she discovered that she had bought a timeshare in BRANSON, MO, despite the fact that she had reiterated to the saleswoman over and over that the only place she would ever go was Lake Palestine. They invited her out for a "free weekend" and of course put us up in the nicest condos, the ones in the front and close to the pool and beach. During this "free weekend", they said she needed to be down at the office for a short presentation where they would go over her stuff and explain any questions she had.
This short presentation turned into half a day! In order to "fix" her problem of having Branson instead of Lake Palestine, they offered to upgrade her for only something like $5,000 more than she had already paid. I believe she had already paid half of the total amount due, and with this $5,000 the total she had already paid (using her Discover card, which ended up really helping her in the end) was about $14,000.00. She had financed the rest at 0% interest with them, and paid her Discover off at the end of the month.
We called to book one of our weekends on Mother's Day and they tried to give us a condo down by the harbor. This is a seedy looking area and also there is no gate - you can just drive right up to the condos. We didn't discover this until we got there, and we complained loudly and managed to get the condos we had been shown before. (Interestingly, this time we were in a different building, and the carpet was stained, a cabinet had fallen off in the kitchen, etc. - not the same as what she was shown when she was buying.)
When we checked in, they immediately said we needed to go down to another desk and set up our "orientation appointment" or some such nonsense. The guy told us when we had to be there and my sister and I looked at him and said, "yeah, yeah". When we got into the condo we took the phone off the hook and we did not go to their little meeting.
After seeing all the tricks they had pulled and knowing that there was nothing in writing that said they couldn't put us in the harbor area, or even in cabins instead of condos, I helped my mom dispute the charges on her Discover card. Meanwhile, I had gone through the papers and exercised her right to NOT have arbitration. When they got the dispute from Discover, they started calling her and she told them she wanted her money back.
She was even willing to leave them with about $1,000 to cover the two stays and the paperwork. They told her this was not possible. So we stuck to our guns with Discover and when they came back and argued, WE came back and argued. They eventually, thank God, credited her back with the full amount she had paid! It was a miracle and such a blessing.
One of the papers she had to sign was saying she would not talk badly about Silverleaf on the internet or with anyone. Well, guess what? I didn't sign the paper and I saw the whole thing - and helped her handle it. So here I am to talk about it. Also, after giving her all her money back, they began calling and harassing her for her payments! They even sent a registered letter which we refused and let go back, and finally they went away.
No matter how much you have paid them or how much you think they have got you ... complain and complain LOUDLY. We wrote to them telling them we were contacting an attorney (which we were about to do), that we were disputing it on the card, etc. I also had already complained to the BBB, the Texas Attorney General and I believe the FTC. Just bombarded them with complaints and told Silverleaf we would continue if we didn't get our money back. So don't give up - fight these people. The more noise you make, the more they want to squirm away. Also, don't forget, the more complaints the Texas Attorney General gets, the more likely his office will investigate and get some *real* trouble going. They need to be put out of business, period.