September 21, 2012 — “Al, we are not only proud members of the American Resort Development Association (ARDA) but our President & CEO Greasy-Bob sits on the Chairman and Trustee Boards as well. In fact he wrote the ARDA Code of Ethics and we contribute each year to all ARDA Charities. And, Al, the best part of doing business with us ‘today’ is that ARDA 100% guarantees all our products and services with a money back offer that works like this…”
So here’s the scoop. For you ARDA ‘office folks’ reading this, the previous paragraph is just an example of what any ‘heat merchant’ (con artist) can tell (sell) every prospect with whom they speak (pitch) every day in order to persuade them to purchase timeshare related products/services from their company(s) under the guise, in part, of being ‘card-carrying’ ARDA members.
Sadly that is exactly what is happening. There are more than a few timeshare type companies that boldly display the ARDA logo on their websites, etc. and instruct their sales reps to tell prospects that the company is a ‘proud member’ of the Association when nothing could be further from the truth. And some of these companies have ratings with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) as low as an ‘F’.
Nearly two years ago I was sent a tip to check some postings on ripoffreport.com and other online complaint services regarding a very well known (former) high-profile timeshare executive & his new venture with what appeared to be a vacation club. They were promoting & selling the benefits of the shared ownership lifestyle but at a cost as low as 20% of what developers charge for a similar slice of paradise.
As I followed up on the lead I discovered the tip was true and that the newly formed company was also using the ARDA logo on their promotional materials and had their reps pitching said affiliation to their prospects. Some of the Execs with the company had also approached real ARDA members (companies) attempting to strike ‘deals’ and told those members that they, too, were ARDA members.
Then, while snooping around further I came across a link at the ARDA website that listed that company and other known “Companies Using ARDA Logo Without Permission”.
ARDA posted a list of those companies with this tag: “The following companies have the ARDA logo on their website or consumers have reported being told they are affiliated with ARDA without permission and should not be considered members of ARDA.”
As I said, that was two (2) years ago. I checked again this week and discovered that that company (among others) is still up to their old tricks, still using the ARDA logo, etc.
I don’t know about real ARDA members but if I were a dues-paying member in good standing I’d be a tad teed off that for what is likely years now ARDA, right under their nose, continues to allow these companies to use the Association’s good name, reputation and logo.
So here is what you do ARDA. Assuming, as the Association website suggests, that the importance of an ARDA Logo, the ARDA name and branding, etc. is darn near unparalleled in the known Universe, you should get one of your high-powered ARDA member law firms to write up and send these 19 companies (which “…should not be considered members of ARDA) a demand for payment. (I’d go for $1 Million per letter/company)…
And tell ‘em in said letter that if payment is not received in full and within 5 business days you’ll sue the pants off each one of ‘em for copyright infringement violations and everything else the ARDA legal team can come up with!
Naturally, these companies won’t pay the ‘big bucks’ without a fight but at least you’ll get their attention and they’ll likely stop the practice poste haste and at least take down the ARDA logo.
And who knows, maybe a few of ‘em will even join the Association and pay the required dues like all other ‘dues-paying’ ARDA members! Assuming, of course, they’re the kind of companies ARDA would want as members…
To send tips, comments, suggestions, agree and/or disagreements etc. email Scoop: [email protected]
Contributing sometimes extravagant, bombastic, emotional, pompous or even pretentious writings about the timeshare industry, Scoop covers an array of industry related subjects each week including inside information, tips, scandals, interviews, forecasts as well as new (good or bad) products and services--- and, of course, all the 'Good', the 'Bad' and the 'Ugly'.
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