WILLIAMSBURG-Virginia Beach resident Vivian Deal thought she purchased a great deal when she bought a timeshare six years ago at Westgate Historic Willamsburg in Williamsburg.
Deal says plans for newer amenities at the complex lured her in. She also thought it would be a nice gift to leave to her children and grandchildren because she was due to have brain surgery and didn't know if she would survive.
Today, she's frustrated that the amenities were never made by what is one of the largest timeshare companies in the country, Westgate, based in Orlando, Florida.
Her daughters have been fighting to get back part of the $18,177 Deal paid for the timeshare.
"They promised this indoor pool, an interactive water park. It was supposed to be a true resort," says Pam Lapish, Deal's daughter.
Through her tears, she says she feels her mother was cheated.
"tt's just really sad. I feel like they stole her dream. She worked hard all of her life."
Shortly after Deal bought the timeshare, a "Coming Soon" sign was posted on the property off Richmond Road, spelling out the very amenities Deal was told would be added. But there is still no interactive water park and indoor pool.
Deal was stunned by the small size of the putting green-- about two feet by seven feet.
There have been other struggles. Her contract allows for one week a year at the resort, but Deal says it's almost impossible to get the week she wants. She's also had trouble trying to trade a week in Williamsburg for one at another Westgate location. At one time, she was told, it would cost $7,400 to upgrade to a Myrtle Beach location.
Westgate's founder and current CEO is David Siegel. Siegel and his wife Jackie are the subjects of a documentary due out late this month about their struggle to build a 90-thousand square foot mansion. It sits half finished in Florida after the ailing economy threw the Siegels into difficult financial times. Siegel disputes the accuracy of the film.
Company Vice President of Operations Jared Saft told 13News he would be happy to talk to Deal about her issues. Saft also says there are still plans to add amenities to the Williamsburg resort, although he would not specify what kinds or when they'd be built.
In the meantime, Westgate is working with Deal to trade her timeshare for a another or to deed it back to the developer.
Lapish says her mother just wants her money back.
All/Pros Realtor Teresa Brooks of Virginia Beach used to sell timeshares and is not a big fan of them. She warns anyone who's in the market for one to do their homework and to realize that if it's not in writing, there's no legal recourse.
"They bring people in that can barely afford to buy anything. They provide financing in house and if you've got a job and a pulse, you're going get the financing," says Brooks.
She says most people don't know that if you're trying to get rid of a timeshare, you can deed it back to the developer. If you go to a re-sell company, which is often connected to the original seller, you'll be charged a fee.
"And they don't guarantee success. I've never known anyone to make money off a timeshare."
Deal believes it's the developers who make the money. She does the math and realizes that if her timeshare was sold for all 52 weeks of the year for the same price she paid, it would net Westgate $945,000.