Report: #128117

Complaint Review: Westgate Resorts

  • Submitted: Wed, January 19, 2005
  • Updated: Wed, June 29, 2005
  • Reported By: Cumming Georgia
  • Westgate Resorts
    2801 Professional Parkway
    Ocoee, Florida
  • Phone: 800-544-8698
  • Web:
  • Category: Resorts

Westgate Resorts - Tried to reach a resolution most of 2004 - my true experience. Ocoee Florida

*Author of original report: Please read if you have plans to visit Westgate - HOW TO BEAT THE TIMESHARE SALES STAFF AT THEIR OWN GAME!

Show customers why they should trust your business over your competitors...

Note: I meant this to be an update to my original post dated 3/21/2004 but was unable to do so due to a change of my email address.

I had been duly warned by a Westgate employee Westgate will never settle your claim. It has deep pockets. Another employee advised Westgate has a large legal staff. Its function is to dot all I's and cross all T's. Maybe I should have listened. However, having survived two tours in Vietnam with the 101st Airborne Division, it is not in my nature to simply roll over and quit.

It has been over a year since my stressful experience at Westgate Lakes. Several months into the dispute, I realized there would be no satisfactory resolution in dealing with Westgate. I was at a loss as to what agencies to contact. The Internet was helpful. I had seen complaints against several Westgate resorts with the posters expressing plans to write to the BBB, Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Attorney General, or to contact an attorney. Here is my experience along with lessons learned. If, by relating my experience, I can assist even one family in avoiding a similar experience, I will feel that I have not suffered in vain.

Attorney - If you engage an attorney to review your documents in order to determine if you have a legitimate claim or not, hold off on having the attorney contact Westgate if you also plan to contact the BBB or a government agency. I was unaware that agencies cannot assist you if also contact an attorney. Since our attorney's opinion did confirm our belief that a breach of contract had occurred, we had him contact Westgate to attempt a resolution. It was agreed his involvement would cease upon completion of his opinion and Demand Letter to Westgate. I would strongly suggest you contact regulatory agencies before you contact an attorney.

1. Westgate Lakes was rated unsatisfactory by the BBB as of April 18, 2004. Westgate Resorts has since joined the BBB and its rating is now satisfactory.
2. BBB's response to my complaint: We are in receipt of your complaint regarding your recent experience with the subject. We are sorry we are unable to assist you with this matter, as Bureau policy prohibits the processing of complaints already in the hands of the court or an attorney.

Federal Trade Commission
This agency cannot resolve individual complaints but can act against a company if it finds evidence of a pattern of deception or unfair practices. No response.

Office of the Attorney General - My letter of complaint was forwarded to DBPR for resolution.

DBPR (Department of Business and Professional Regulation)

Most timeshare complaints are forwarded by other agencies to the DBPR for action. Westgate representative first tried to suggest to investigator that my case file be closed as they were in negotiations with our attorney when in fact they were not. Several months later Westgate representative informed the DBPR it had no intention of otherwise dealing with the Division on this case as its policy being that once a private attorney is involved these actions are separate from any dealings with a regulatory body. The DBPR found that though the evidence could suggest that misrepresentations did occur, the evidence is not clear and convincing and the case was closed.

I have received a copy of the case activity log and all correspondences relating to my complaint spanning a period from 5/11 to 10/13/04 through the Freedom of Information Act. I will review what I've received and will investigate other options, maybe a Federal agency.

Westgate's Sales Staff

Believe me, a dispute with Westgate Resorts is an uphill battle. To avoid getting into a dispute situation with Westgate in the first place, do not accept everything the sales rep tells you as the gospel truth. It might seem reasonable that Westgate should be held accountable for whatever is promised to prospective owners but unfortunately that is not the case.

In a response to an inquiry from the BBB of Central Florida regarding a complaint from Lisa's bad experience at Westgate Resorts, a CFI employee responded to the BBB in defense of the aggressiveness of its sales staff as follows: Our sales staff is selected from hundreds of applicants. They are then thoroughly trained in both product knowledge and customer courtesy. The sales presentation is admittedly aggressive and persistent and we apologize if Ms. Shea was offended. We are, however, justifiably proud of our staff and believe that they contribute significantly to our unprecedented success in both the local business community and the international timeshare industry.

On the other hand, you will find in Westgate's own Public Offering Statement: You should not rely upon oral representations as being correct. Keep that statement foremost in your mind. You simply cannot believe everything you are told by this thoroughly trained sales staff. You can be misinformed, either in error or by design. If the representations are not in your documents, you are simply out of luck.

You know, we as careful consumers will investigate features, cost, etc. on anything from digital cameras, TVs, cars, or even pets, so why should we be expected to sign on the dotted line at a sales presentation then and there? Is it unreasonable to take the time to carefully review or to have your attorney review Westgate's documents for accuracy before you sign? Good luck on that one. You will probably be told that whatever is offered is a one-time offer and besides, there is a 10-day cancellation period. So be it. Here's a great opportunity to get up and walk (run) out.

A better idea If you like the resort, purchasing from a private owner might be the way to go. Internet posters have claimed to have purchased a timeshare week for as little as of the resort's price. Just be sure maintenance fees are up to date.

As indicated in my earlier post, Westgate's sales rep and his manager did assure us that even though the units in Building 300 are part of the floating use program, an exception would be made for me to purchase fixed. I made it clear I would only purchase fixed in order to have the same week and units every year. Since we were upgrading before the building was even built, we were shown an architect's drawing of where our units would be located and how we would have an unobstructed view of the lake even though the building would not be located lakeside. Let me be clear on this point. I am not saying my sales rep deliberately misrepresented the facts. He and his manager did go to a higher authority before making the offer. My Warranty Deed indicates FEE SIMPLE and specifically: Together with the right to occupy, pursuant to the plan, Unit 366A, 367B, during Unit Week(s) 52, 52 during assigned year WHOLE. I was told, and this seems to confirm, that I have these specific units during specific week 52.

For now, Westgate and I are stuck with each other. I'm appalled to still find myself in this relationship. Here are my options to consider:

1. Selling. A Westgate employee suggested I simply sell. My question is who would be interested, especially since I would not sell to anyone without first providing full disclosures?
2. Donating to a charitable organization. Wouldn't it be a hoot if organizations declined my offer and I couldn't even give it away?

Forewarned is forearmed. Be aware. BEWARE!!!

Cumming, Georgia

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This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 01/19/2005 05:25 PM and is a permanent record located here: The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year. Ripoff Report has an exclusive license to this report. It may not be copied without the written permission of Ripoff Report. READ: Foreign websites steal our content

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#1 Author of original report

Please read if you have plans to visit Westgate - HOW TO BEAT THE TIMESHARE SALES STAFF AT THEIR OWN GAME!

AUTHOR: Carl - (U.S.A.)

I'm sure there are some Westgate owners and guests who are wondering what the heck all the negative comments on Westgate properties are all about. In spite of the fact that the property and customer service continue to degrade year by year, I too would still be somewhat satisfied had I not experienced first hand the tactics employed by Westgate in dealing with a contract dispute. I don't think anyone would continue to have positive feelings about Westgate if certain details were misrepresented before purchase or upgrade, and Westgate's management basically refuse to make things right.

I found this traveler's rating on a trip advisory site. It is quite lengthy but well worth reading for anyone planning a visit to Westgate Lakes. The writer actually LIKES the place, but provides advice on how to avoid being sucked in by the sales staff. Although this comes too late for unhappy Westgate owners who have legitimate issues, hopefully the following will benefit those who will be taking advantage of promotions, exchanging from another resort, or booking through an agency.

May 10, 2005 Medford, OR

Please read this before you book here! We stayed here in February of this year. Timeshare properties are an animal of their own. Folks must understand that when staying in a timeshare unit, you DO NOT get maid service, as a general rule. It's like staying in your own home. You want it done? Do it yourself! You have a washer and dryer...use it! It is not a hotel.

As well, the buildings are numbered appropriately and laid out well. They are easy to find. The desk clerk will sneakingly send you over to someone else under the guise of getting some information from that person that is vital to your stay. Don't go for it. Once you check in, you are done. No need to see anyone else, EVER. Simply walk out the door and find the unit yourself. You don't need a personal "whatever" to drive you around and show you your room. They are only feeling you out to see if you have the means to attend the 2 1/2 - 3 hour pitiful-looking breakfast with strings attached. We own several timeshares all over the world. Don't give in to their aggressive behavior. Folks that are unfamiliar with timeshare presentations will find this place rude, pushy, aggressive, and downright nasty. Know why? They do it to themselves. Do you really think a $100 certificate or park entrance fee is worth 3 hours of you and your wife's time listening to some hard-sell pitch. Get real. You could have taken the kids to a Sunday brunch, had a better time, and not missed anything. Instead, they let some person who does not care a lick about them, get them fired up and mad, ruining their day because of a little self-imposed confrontation. I have sat through at least 9 of these presentations at one time or another, at one resort or another. It gets easier every time. I remember a time in Hawaii when we sat in our first 90 minute meeting disguised as a 3-hour debate from hell. I said no. They brought over Guido who was a 450 pound linebacker from Samoa. He closed his fists, leaned over the top of my shoulder, placed those football-sized fists flat on the table, looked me dead in the eye and said in a low, guttural, imposing voice, "Why don't you want to buy"? It was as if I said anything wrong, he would come across the table and grab me by the throat and kill me in front of my wife.

Needless to say, now, I buy where I want, when I want, and with whom I want. The first key is understanding that Orlando is NOT A GOOD BUY! We are members of Interval International. Any time of the year, on any given day, I can find about 100 rooms/villas that are available for what they call "instant confirmation". I can deposit one of my crappy little studios without a kitchen and get a 4 bedroom villa with full kitchen and private balcony that would run $3-400/nt. Notice that there are rarely any availabilities in Hawaii? Why? They are snatched up immediately by those folks that deposit their home unit first and request a different unit for a given time or date based on the unit they deposited. Deposited units get first stab at any availabilities that come up before they are put up for "instant confirmation". By the time the Hawaii units get to "instant confirmation" time, they are already spoken for. That's why there are so many units available in Orlando, any time and all the time! They have way over built this area leaving too many units for which these nasty sales people need to find owners. They are not this way in high-demand - low-supply areas. They don't need to be. Some people will believe these Florida sales folks when they tell the customer that these have good trading power. THEY DO NOT! They are a dime a dozen and I can get anything I want with a crummy studio from the Ukraine somewhere with men standing outside with machine guns! There are way too many units in Orlando to cause anyone to want to buy here! There is no need to waste one's time doing so!

Anyway, the last time we stayed here, we had a 3 BR unit as well. We will be back again on December 10th of 2005 in a 4 BR. We already have it reserved. We like it and know the game. Nobody gets to us and we do our own thing. Everyone somehow has claimed the idea that they have to be courteous to the nasty sales staff and engage them in conversation that ends in doom for your day. Simply don't engage them nor ask just anyone for just anything. You'll get tagged! If someone approaches you with an offer of a breakfast or freebie, turn and walk away like they never spoke a word. Don't get hung up on trying to answer because you feel you MUST BECAUSE YOU WANT TO BE COURTEOUS! It's a trap.

If you follow this advice, you will avoid any sales pitch. If you want the freebies, go directly to them, know that it WILL INDEED BE A 3 HOUR TOUR, pretend you're "Gilligan", tell them you want only the freebies, sit and listen, then offer NO EXPLANATION as to why you won't buy...NONE! You don't owe anyone an explanation! You told them up front you were there for the freebies, get the freebies and leave! Simple as that. It has been that way for us for the last 7-8 times we sat through them. With that said, these tours get old and we would now rather spend quality time with our family and pay a few bucks more in the long-run for fun things. But is gives us peace of mind to know we now have the choice. Make a deal with the sales person prior to entering the presentation. Let him know where you are right from the git-go. Schmooze him/her, get the gifts, and then leave promptly. Also, ask them up front about the time involved. Let them know that at that time, you will be leaving. They'll tell you that you must sit through the entire presentation in order to get the gift. This is where you negotiate the time. Pin them down as to the time. Get them to give it to you in writing or don't go! There are a million ways to pin these guys down before you go in.

Anyway...The rooms are fantastic. We always get a 3 or 4 bedroom that sleeps from 12-16 people. There are only 3 of us! Call a month prior to arrival and ask them for a placement where you want to be. Somewhere over the Citrus Breeze pool is always nice. Be sure to ask for a unit that the balcony faces the Disney Park, and get one of the upper floors so you can see the fireworks. While you are on the phone, ask them about any construction, remodeling going on, you can ask for a unit far away from that stuff. They will usually help you. It's the folks that wait until they arrive to ask for that stuff that get into trouble. Confirm and double confirm everything. If you don't see it in writing, it aint so! Just know that going in. Sometimes, we request a unit just adjacent to the playground just for our son. We like to stay in the room and watch him out the balcony or window. You can get pretty much anything you want if you know how to play the game. Bring rollerblades or a bicycle, or something. These driveways are great for that! Bring a small bag with all your favorite DVDs. We always bring 20-25 movies with us in an overnight bag. We also have a portable DVD player in the event that our child wants to watch a movie on another TV when we are home at night and want to watch something ourselves. He also takes the DVD player on the plane! He has a great set of headphones to listen in total secrecy.

Get your park tickets from the Disney website before you go. You will save money and time in the long-run. They are a bit cheaper. Get several day tickets. The unused days never expire! It's one less thing you have to go to the front desk for when you arrive. Buy your Disney trinquets and stuff at Wal-Mart or similar instead of Disney World. You'll pay 1/2 price for the identical item.
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