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Silverleaf Resorts and TimeShares - the horror stories about the Silverleaf timeshare and resort system.
First let me say that I do not write this as any childish attempt to "flame" Silverleaf, I do it to try to warn other innocent people. Nobody deservers to go through the ordeal that Silverleaf will put them through, and it is my fervent wish that people take this warning seriously.
I've considered that Silverleaf's practices might be some sort of scam or fraud, but for the life of me I can't figure out how they benefit. Basically what they do when you purchase one of their timeshares is drag the process of actually transferring ownership out by almost a year! I purchased a timeshare in November of 2000 and it is now June of 2001, 8 months later, and I still do not have ownership or use of my property. What I do finally have is paperwork to fill out that claims I will receive ownership in another two months (60 days). The only way I can see that Silverleaf would profit financially from this practice is that during that year they would almost always manage to take posession of your week by default and then make it available to be rented by them to someone else (until you own it you can't use it, and the person you paid for it doesn't think they own it any more so they aren't going to try to use it, so nobody will use the property that year and Silverleaf will pocket the money for the rental).
Here is a generic timeline of events as I have figured them out so far:
- Day 1: Purchaser buys property from previous owner, who immediately contacts Silverleaf to transfer the property.
- Silverleaf states that their usual amount of time to respond to an initial request for transfer is three months (90 days).
- Day 90: At the end of that three months, they look at their books and say "Oh my, nobody has paid dues on this property in three months, we better put this paperwork in a drawer somewhere until dues are paid". What they do not however do is notify anyone of the "hold up". I figure this must happen with all their property transfers (who pays dues when they don't have a bill?) and so this buys them maybe an extra month before the purchaser gets upset and calls (not that the purchaser will actually get through the phone system when they do call, and it isn't an 800 number).
- Day 120: Purchaser sends three months worth of dues
- Silverleaf Resorts submits the paperwork to the county for processing, claiming it will be about 30 days (but it is more like 60 days).
- Day 180: Silverleaf Resorts gets the paperwork back from the county and notices that the dues haven't been paid for a few months (remember, there is still no bill for the purchaser because the property still belongs to the original owner as far as Silverleaf is concerned). They put the paperwork in a drawer again and wait for you to notice that something is wrong and attempt to run the gauntlet of their phone system again, buying them even more time.
- Day 240:Purchaser eventyally figures out there is a delay (again) and sends another couple months of dues
- Silverleaf promises to jump right on it and get the paperwork out to you. In reality you can expect to wait another 45 days.
- Day 285: The paperwork arrived at my house today. I read the paperwork and it clearly says that when I have returned it to Silverleaf they will complete your transaction in "approximately sixty (60) days". Wanna bet that at the end of 60 more days they will say "oh look, they haven't paid the dues that we haven't billed them for yet, better stuff this paperwork in a drawer and see if they can get through the mine field we call a phone system".
- Day 345: If Silverleaf keeps their word and returns the deed within 60 days the new owner now owns the property.
Other interesting and important facts about Silverleaf Resorts timeshares:
- ONLY the person whose name appears on the contract can check in!!! Silverleaf's contract (which you don't get to read until day 285) states that they are "Sorry but no exceptions will be made to this condition", that means that if you can't make it this year you are UNABLE TO GIVE YOUR WEEK TO FAMILY OR FRIENDS because only the person who owns the timeshare can check in. This is iron clad, right out of their contract language that I now get to read and sign.
- If you don't notify Silverleaf in writing 30 days before the week that you own that you intend to use your week, they will put it into their internal pool of available reservations for them to "give away" (Read: rent at reduced rates, they don't give away Jack).
- They call this pool of "unreserved" times that people have forfeited the "Bonus Time Program". Their contract clearly states that their Bonus Time Program not being affiliated in any way with RCI/II. I don't know how that reads to you, but to me it sounds like if they drop your week into "Bonus Time" that you are unable to trade outside of a Silverleaf resort, you can't trade your week with RCI or II because Silverleaf has given it away to someone else.
- But the truth is actually much worse, their web site states that one of the advantages of ownership is "Exchange it: for time in quality resorts within the Silverleaf system.", it doesn't say anything about being able to trade with RCI or II or anybody else outside their system. They make a great show of having the exact same rating system as the major timeshare trading companies such as RCI, indicating that certain weeks are "Red" certain weeks are "Yellow" and certain weeks are "Green". To me that meant that I was buying a timeshare that was a top level week when traded within the RCI system. In one place on their web site I saw that you could trade weeks "internationally", but all that means is that if Silverleaf owns resorts in any other countries you can try to trade for that location. Just another one of many deceptions on the part of Silverleaf.
Needless to say, since we don't "own" the timeshare yet, we can't take advantage of it, and we certainly can't make reservations for it or check into it because the previous owners name is on the contract and Silverleaf is very "Sorry but no exceptions will be made to this condition" about letting non-owners check into your timeshare so our week. So our week, which is in fact this week, has been forfeited into their "Bonus Time" program for someone else to enjoy. We didn't even particularly want to take advantage of it, we purchased it with the intent of trading for other weeks in other locations through the big timeshare brokers.
The problem with their phone system is that every time we have tried to call it either rings forever with no answer or you get put on hold for an hour at a time on your long distance dime (my experience is about 50% no answer and 50% perma-hold). If you absolutely must communicate with these people I suggest email.
I asked the purchaser about all this and she explained that she had similar complaints about Silverleaf's terrible customer service.
That about wraps up what I have so far. If you have a similar experience, feel free to write me and I will add other pages to this site with other peoples Silverleaf horror stories. I will also attempt to setup reciprical links to any other sites containing information about Silverleaf. I hope this warning reaches you in time. Dave@DavesPlanet.net
A former salesperson from Silverleaf was kind enough to write me this letter, I encourage everyone to admire the level of professionalism shown by Silverleaf sales representitives.
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