Sunterra time share scam as promoted by Thomas Cook

Posted in the Nevada Forum

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CAT

UK

#1 May 1, 2006
My husband and I are victims of the now well known Sunterra scam. We bought into all the lies told us at the initial presentation as at the time we thought we were dealing with a respectible company. We now know to our cost exactly how the scam works.
* Franchise companies such as Caledonian resorts are set up to sell Sunterra holidays, their only product.
* Holidays are grossly misrepresented and sold as a flexible alternative to fixed week timeshare.
* Victims are deliberately missold points to get what they are assured is a luxury, anytime, anywhere holiday
* Victims are given no documented information during the cooling off period and their inquiries go unanswered.
* Victims eventually realise there is poor or no availability and that they do not have enough points for the holiday they were promised
* Victims are then invited to buy more points to make the scheme workable.
* The dilemma is then a) Does the victim buy deeper into the scam to get the holiday they were promised? or b) Do they walk away and leave Sunterra with £5K to £10K and the holiday to resell to further victims?
* The annual management fee continues to spiral outwith the victims control.
* Despite cheques paid to Sunterra they refuse to accept responsibility for the lies told by the fanchise company.
* When enough victims catch on and try to pursue the franchise company it goes into liquidation having taken massive sums for itself and Sunterra.
* The franchise company sets up under another name for example Pegasus
* Sunterra continue to use the same fly-by-night companies.
* Sunterra does not have a shop front and refuses to acknowledge customers complaints making dialogue impossible and after sales customer care non-existant.
* Members and potential victims are not allowed to meet and barriers to communication are raised. Eg., the members web site is edited by pro Sunterra individuals whose job it is to stifle negative comments, promote Sunterra and prevent active and meaningful debate.
It is also now possible that when you take a Thomas Cook holiday to their resorts you may be introduced to this scam at their welcome meetings which are being attended by Sunterra sales personel representing themselves as the sister company of Thomas Cook. Thomas Cook take no responsibility for any agreement between customers and Sunterra but they do take an introduction fee from Sunterra for finding them another victim. The whole industry frankly stinks.
To those of you who are thinking about joining Sunterra, based on our own dealings with this company, I and many others would advise you to think again. To those of us who have been duped, we will gain nothing by staying quiet. Sunterra uses applied psychology in it's disgraceful tactics to make us feel embarassed, stupid and naive. We are not. We based our judgement to buy on lies told to us by an unscrupulous company. Don't let these crooks get away with it. People are starting to speak out. Please do likewise. You have more support than you think.
Thank you for your attention
CT
Annette McGibbon

Wishaw, UK

#2 May 1, 2006
Hi, My husband and I have been fighting our battle for 10 years with Sunterra as we were led to believe our 40 points would get us a holiday any time, any where, any size of apartment.
When we went on our free holiday we were told 40 points was not enough, you can imagine how we were feeling.
On our return we complained and complained to deaf ears, no one was interested.
Whenever we tried to book using our 40 points we were told no availability so we gave up in 1999 and put the whole thing down to a bad experience and a hard lesson learned.
In 2000 we read in the news paper about other families in the same situation as us and if interested to get in touch with The Timeshare Consumers Association who then put our case forward to Lawyers in Glasgow and we became a Group Action which helped to fund two test cases to be put forward in The Court In Edinburgh.
We were advised by our legal team, to be in the Action all management fees had to be paid to date but not to use our holidays or attend any presentations as this would look as if we were accepting the contract.
After about 3-4 years of paying management fees and legal fees we were told it would take each family around £2000 to take the case further and some people felt they were out of pocket enough and decided not to pay out any more money SO because there was a conflict of interest our legal representatives decided to drop the case as was their right advised by the Law Society.
Here we are back at stage one only more out of pocket.
My advice to others STAY CLEAR OF THIS COMPANY and donít be taken in like we were.
Annette
Davina

Dubai, UAE

#3 May 8, 2006
Dear Anette,

The 40 points were the first part of the alledged designer fraud suit now gathering pace in both the UK and Spain.It was a deliberate and manufactured ploy by Sunterra Europe.A low points package via an agent with a an exagerated usage is presented in order for you to say yes there and then.Once you say yes, you are now trapped!You are then enticed to visit the resort where you are told by the second half of the deception team,not enough points you need to buy more.Apart from prison sentences,we hope all the houses and sports cars bought by Nicholas Benson and co from the proceeds of this organised crime are confiscated and used to begin paying back the thousands of innocent families caught up in this scandalous conspiracy.Thomas Cook will not get off light either!!Duped as well.
SUE L

UK

#4 May 17, 2006
HI I WAS DRAWN IN MY SELF PAYING 16,000 FOR 100 POINTS 2001 I HAVE JUST IGNORED THEY REQUEST FOR MANAGMENT FEES AND I AM NOW TRYING TO SELL MY POINTS IN SPAIN NOT ONLY IS IT MANAGMENT FEES BUT WHEN YOU USE A RESORT YOU HAVE TO PAY ELECTRIC WHEN YOU BOOK OUT SO I NOW BOOK 2 WEEKS ANYWERE AND RAFFLE THE HOLIDAY AT 5POUND A TICKET IT PAYS MY MANAGMENT FEES
WILLIAM T OCONNOR

Blackwood, NJ

#5 May 26, 2006
I AM HAVING THE SAME THING WITH SUNTERRA. ALL THE RESORT ARE BOOK-UP. I AM GOING TO SELL.
CAT

UK

#6 May 27, 2006
Unfortunately William you will probably now find that you can only sell your points to a Sunterra member for a very reduced sum. I wish you well. Let us know how you get on.
Regards
CT
D_Jennings

Casper, WY

#7 May 30, 2006
This is what seems like a clasic scam with legal "loopholes". It seems as though you pay with no option. We even tried listing this with "Condo Traders" to sell it off. The original owners of this system owed us for $2000 of airfare so when we reached an aggrement with them Sunterra refused to accept it and almost put our credit in jepordy. sigh...
martin cotton

India

#8 Jun 1, 2006
same problem tell you lies to get you to buy the points try to book holiday not enough points or booked up they cant lose cant get holiday you want within a certain time scale you lose the points still have to pay management fees cant sell just stop paying fees the goverment wont act working class people wanting to better ourselves with decint holidays like a lot of people cant afford to lose so much money for nothing in return never again will i be conned by legalised crooks
martin
Looking to Sell

Litchfield Park, AZ

#11 Jun 5, 2006
I can't believe I was duped into this Sunterra scam. I want out so bad. Does anyone know who I can contact to try and sell this thing?
never mind

UK

#12 Jun 17, 2006
Ask about the large amount of funds that are unaccounted for from Broome Park and how the monies that were spent, were spent!! And the investigation into former senior directors. The dodgey way that sunterra got round the voting syste at agms. And that Nick Benson was always aware of most things that went on.
Beth McDermott

Changsha, China

#13 Jun 22, 2006
My huband and became victims several years ago when this ****** group was owned by Epic Resorts in Fla. I could not agree with all of you more. Is there any one who can help us?
For the past two years we have been teaching ESL in China and love it here. But it does limit our ability to make phone calls to the states.
Beth McDermott

Changsha, China

#14 Jun 22, 2006
My husband and I becames victims of this group when it was owned by Epic Resort several years ago.
For the last two years we have been teaching ESL in China and love it here. But it does limit our ability to make phone calls to the states.
I could not agree with what all of you have said.
Is there any help for all of us to were just to plain trusting?
shareholder

Spring Valley, CA

#15 Jun 23, 2006
This company is spiraling down a deep drain right now...the CEO was just put on leave and there are major accounting and tax issues. The stock price has been cut in half.
Former Employee

Las Vegas, NV

#16 Jun 23, 2006
I am a former member of management in Vegas. No matter what the problem, the answer is always NO. NO, you can't save your points over. NO you can't reserve at that resort (its ALWAYS booked.) NO you can't have a refund, etc etc... SO sad, given how much money people put out for this.
I don't know how many times I tried to go to bat for the members to resolve a customer service issue.. Of course, never with any success.
I feel terrible for anyone who decided to buy ANYTHING from Sunterra... your hassle is only beginning.
Phil Phine

Warrington, UK

#17 Jun 24, 2006
Beth McDermott wrote:
My husband and I becames victims of this group when it was owned by Epic Resort several years ago.
For the last two years we have been teaching ESL in China and love it here. But it does limit our ability to make phone calls to the states.
I could not agree with what all of you have said.
Is there any help for all of us to were just to plain trusting?
Beth you could try doing a search for Timesharetalk. co. uk where there is a whole area dedicated to Sunterra, and they seem to be pretty even handed in the way they treat posters with problems.
CAT

UK

#18 Jun 27, 2006
Beth
You could also try www.scambustersuk.com which will give you links to several interesting sites which may be of interest to you.
Big Bertha

Motherwell, UK

#20 Jun 27, 2006
Wonder what the outcome will be at Sunterra Europe AGM tomorrow. What questions will be raised and what answers will be given?
Taking into account all the goings on over the past few months not only at Citrus House but in the US, shold be good.
Phil Phine

Wick, UK

#21 Jun 27, 2006
Big Bertha wrote:
Wonder what the outcome will be at Sunterra Europe AGM tomorrow. What questions will be raised and what answers will be given?
Taking into account all the goings on over the past few months not only at Citrus House but in the US, shold be good.
I would love to be a fly on the wall at the pre conference dinner that the directors have. The two so called members directors should be hung out to dry if it's proven that they knew about some of the frauds that are allegedly going on inside Sunterra Europe.
Laura Stirling UK

UK

#22 Jul 6, 2006
My husband and I attended a meeting last year, and were persuaded to take the 3 year option, i.e. paying so much per month to what turned out to be GE Finance. Shortly thereafter I asked if we could take our free holiday soon, and was offered a number of options. Since then I have been trying to get a holiday ANYWHERE in Europe and constantly get the message on ther website "no full week available etc.,".
Does anyone know how we can get out of the agreement with GE without being credit blacklisted?
scambuster

UK

#23 Jul 7, 2006
Tell your MP,MSP and local press,the more you shout the better just don't keep quiet about Sunterra,thats how they continue to spread their scam like a cancer on unsuspecting families

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