JACKSBORO (WATE) – Imagine taking out a $12,000 loan on a timeshare and then finding yourself unable to use it and take a vacation. That happened to a Campbell County couple.
Timeshares are a big business in East Tennessee. You only have to visit Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge once and you’ll likely run into a timeshare salesperson. For many years, fixed-weeks timeshares were popular wherein you pay for a certain number of weeks per year.
Many are now selling timeshares based on points as it’s said to be a more flexible alternative. In a points system, you can add to or build up your points by buying more of them or exchanging them for a more exotic location. Jerry and Tessa Hayes just wanted to take a vacation with the points they had bought.
The hard-working couple enjoys life and often has their children and grandchildren join them when they go on vacation. Last February in Pigeon Forge, they were approached by a salesman as they were leaving a restaurant.
“He wanted us to sign up for a timeshare,” said Jerry Hayes.
“He said there was two, three or four bedrooms,” said Tessa Hayes.
Jerry Hayes said the salesman showed them units that Capital Resorts had recently built in Pigeon Forge. He said they then were escorted to this sales office and given more information about timeshare opportunities.
“This is our vacation getaway. They gave it to us when we went down there,” said Tessa Hayes.
The couple said once they signed up for the timeshare, they were given an owner’s charter certificate, signed by the sales director, offering vacations in Florida, Missouri, Nevada and Tennessee.
“But we never did get to take them,” Tessa Hayes said. “They wouldn’t let us take them because they said we didn’t have enough points.”
Jerry Hayes said he and his wife were shown a travel demand index, a chart that explains Capital Resorts points system which provides your eligibility for a vacation. Tessa Hayes says they had 51,000 points.
In February, the couple put nearly $2,00s down on their timeshare. Jerry Hayes says he took out a loan for nearly $11,000 with an annual percentage rate of 18 percent and a monthly payment of $200. In May, Jerry Hayes said he and Tessa returned to the sales center in Pigeon Forge at Capital Resorts’ request, where they were given more information about accumulating more points.
“They wanted to sell you another 51,000. That would be like a second mortgage,” he said.
The couple said they couldn’t afford to spend another $12,000 to buy an additional 51,000 points.
“To get in a place like Myrtle Beach or Orlando, Florida or Pigeon Forge, you probably have to have at least 100,000. Then we have club dues, $400 in club dues, and maintenance fees,” said Jerry Hayes.
Capital Resorts’ property in Pigeon Forge is new and very attractive. The couple figured with the money they had spent they’d be able to vacation here. They tried to take a vacation in August but were unable to. With no timeshare rooms available in Pigeon Forge, the couple said they took their family to the Days Inn.
“We wound up paying for one ourselves for a vacation, plus we have this timeshare that is absolutely worthless,” he said.
Unable to take a vacation, Jerry and Tessa Hayes said they have talked with Capital Resorts several times over the last four months, but were told the same thing – they didn’t have enough points.
WATE 6 On Your Side contacted Capital Resorts and had several conversations over the last two weeks. A company spokesman said he reached out to the Hayeses and believes their “issues are ironed out.” He said Capital Resorts agreed to waive the couple’s maintenance fees through the end of 2017.
He said Capital Resorts agreed to credit back their points through 2017, explained again how a points-based timeshare works, and the spokesman said they will help the Hayeses take a vacation to their liking. The couple said they’re pleased with the outcome. The couple said with their points they may plan a vacation to Orlando next summer.
Since there are two kinds of timeshare ownerships, the traditional weeks program and the points program, the significant difference between them is the length of stay. Points members may exchange as brief as a single night stay. According to “Timesharing Today,” an industry newsletter, points offer greater flexibility when booking a vacation between location, unit size and length of stay.
The Hayeses believe they have a better understanding of their timeshare agreement.