Silverleaf Resorts, Inc., has been around for more than a decade. They've used a marketing scheme aimed at lower middle class families, promising far more than they ever delivered. They've lured people with the promise of "free gifts" to meetings at resorts where they've applied a number of tactics, some unethical and some illegal, to persuade families to buy a timeshare property. Unscrupulous salespeople manipulated prices of timeshares to convince buyers they were getting a "good deal." They sold deeds in "blue" and "white" zones at "great prices" explaining to prospective owners that the time could be exchanged with RCI for better locations and times, and promising buyers they would be able to upgrade when they'd paid off their blue or white deed. Upgrades meant applying the full value of their deed as down payment to a *red" deed and/or a different location to give them better access and benefits." An upgrade carried with it all the benefits and perks it held originally, many of which are no longer offered but are guaranteed within the deeds themselves. The "ultimate" upgrade they promised was for "Presidents Club" deeds offering even more perks and exclusivity. Timeshares were sold not only as recreational and vacation opportunities but as investments which could be passed down to children, etc., as any property can be passed on.
Up until 2011 Silverleaf properties were of marginally equal value to the money paid. This is especially true for "blue" and "white" deeds. Benefits of ownership, including unfettered access to resorts any time of year without cost and free access to RV/Campsites, enhanced the value of timeshares. The promise that a timeshare could be upgraded added value. The option of swapping time with RCI was possible. Finally, the timeshare was owned, not leased. Thus, in spite of its marketing and sales practices, Silverleaf in general balanced costs with value. This is no longer the case.
The sale by stockholders of Silverleaf Resorts Inc. to Cerberus Capital Management, LP was an abandonment of owners and a slap in their face. In spite of how Silverleaf seduced and manipulated families to buy properties they could barely afford in the first place, before Cerberus came into the picture Silverleaf did honor the promises of free access to resorts and RV/Camping sites. Customer service at resorts was courteous, at least. There was no attempt to gouge owners out of additional money via usury prices and fees. And the promised option to upgrade remained intact. With Cerberus came a ruthless determination to milk profits from owners by charging for services guaranteed to be free. They now charge fees for access to resorts. Silverleaf has reneged on the promise that deeds could be upgraded. Prices charged by vendors have been inflated. Moreover, the very nature and practices of Cerberus Capital Management, LP, in the past places the viability and value of deeds, especially blue or white deeds and those at "getaway" resorts, at extreme risk.
Silverleaf now caters to higher income, upper class owners and buyers at the exclusion of people who were once its primary market. It has chosen to focus on the wishes of upper class owners rather than the average families, many of them minorities, who hold thousands of blue and white deeds and/or deeds at "Getaway" resorts. Fees and limitations are not only a source of additional income for profit-hungry Silverleaf/Cerberus but a not-so-subtle means of excluding certain populations by making their day visits unaffordable and the value of the deed not worth the payments being made. Thus Silverleaf/Cerberus is actively involved in deliberate racial and class discrimination against its those who own timeshares with the company.
Silverleaf/Cerberus has begun to promote their "Diamond Club" program with gusto, an effort to sell a second unit to owners who hold one already. Stirred into their sales pitch is a "Plus Plus Program" which is a package of benefits that should be free and are included in many older deeds already for an additional and exceptionally high price. Many, if not most, of the timeshares they are trying to sell as second units are repossessions. In other words, their lower income owners, the ones they suckered into buying more than they could afford, are now defaulting and loosing their entire investments. Those deeds are being stripped of their original benefits and turned back into this "Diamond Club" push which sells those benefits as an added bonus for more money! The target market for this "Diamond Club" program is owners of higher income strata. This is another indication that Silverleaf is moving towards becoming a playground of the elite even as it walks upon the backs of those who made it what it is.
There are indications that Silverleaf/Cerberus will end sales of timeshares altogether within a year or two, opting for leases instead. If such is the case then the question of what happens to owned units comes into play. Will Silverleaf/Cerberus continue to push out lower income/minority families using fees, charges and etc., so the units they default on can be leased? This seems likely.
Then there's the question of which properties will Silverleaf/Cerberus hold valuable and which ones are likely to go on the chopping block. Silverleaf/Cerberus is in the process of adding properties in high volume destinations such as Las Vegas and the Wisconsin Dells. The focus is, yet again, upon high volume, high price for wealthy owners (and leasers). Resorts classed as "getaway" are in remote locations unlikely to draw the crowds or the type of ownership Silverleaf appears to be focusing upon. How soon before owners of timeshares at a "getaway" resort find themselves holding a property being sold off? And what happens to those deeds then?
The fact is that owners of Silverleaf timeshares who are not wealthy are getting royally screwed. The line dividing happy owners with those who feel insulted and defrauded is clear. Which side of this line owners fall upon is mostly determined by the owner's bank acount. It's not a new story but it's a growing trend in America. Silverleaf has gone the way of most companies, joining the ranks of rich corporations opting for profit to the exclusion of honest, working Americans upon whose backs Silverleaf was built. It's unfair, to say the least. But it's more than that. The change of ownership and policies make Silverleaf a sham and a fraud. It places Silverleaf in breach of contract with owners. And it makes Silverleaf and its management liable for losses owners have incurred due to Silverleaf's callous disregard for their rights as owners.
This blog exists to encourage owners and those who have lost property to Silverleaf collections not to walk away but to join in a voice of one to protest, to inform the public, to demand redress, and to seek restitution. We, the "bread and butter" of Silverleaf's existence, should not fade away into the night with the bootprints of Silverleaf management upon our back. We should take our stand. We should demand our voice be heard. Otherwise we may as well burn not only our deeds but the Constitution itself because we will be surrendering our rights as citizens to corporate monsters such as Silverleaf/Cerberus has become as far too many Americans have done already.
silverleafprotest at Wordpress.com
Product or Service Mentioned: Silverleaf Resorts Vacation Ownership.
Monetary Loss: $2500.