time to talk1

Los Claveles: Opposition Press Release

Inside Timeshare has received the following press release from the Los Claveles opposition, we publish in the interest of neutrality, as we have said before, both sides must be able to voice their opinion.

You may not agree with the content, that is your prerogative, but it does call for all sides to come together and settle this dispute for the benefit of the club.

los claveles opposition logo

PRESS RELEASE

Los Claveles report a record surplus

While the dispute rages on, setting owner against owner, Señor Germán Castro, the Managing Director of WimPen has written to all Los Claveles owners with the latest set of accounts showing a record income and a record surplus.

He also offers an olive branch to owners and says, “We are also the first to want an AGM to be convened of all parties, so that everyone can be summoned and vote, and so that everyone can have the right to offer their candidature to become members of the Committee and propose agenda items, for the benefit of all Club members, so they can decide on their administrator and their future. WIMPEN will be the first to respect this decision, provided that everyone can freely and democratically exercise their right to vote and that an impartial external moderator is appointed to preside over said AGM”.

“This is exactly what we need,” says Roger Barrow, who heads up the working group opposed to the way the current committee are handling the dispute. “This is the only way to get a resolution to the dispute without building on the mounting legal costs for all sides. We believe the current chair and committee are leading us up a path to disaster, and we need a way out”

Sue Mackenzie, the working group’s accountant said, “Snr Castro reports that the reserves have grown 119% in the period 2013 to 2016, an astonishing result in these days of struggling timeshare resorts.  Ivan Pengelly’s decision to sell his shares to OnaGrup, who he judged were best placed to improve the community’s income, has been fully justified.”

“It is notable that in 2016 for the first time, it has not been necessary to make a provision for bad debts. Costs have remained level over the whole period, with the exception of the massive legal bill for legal; services and arbitration of over £100k of owners’ money, created by the committee’s actions”, continued Sue Mackenzie.

“With the exception of Los Claveles, all the other WimPen resorts AGMs have agreed a new 3 year contract for WimPen with an overwhelming majority” adds Roger.

So what happens now? A decision on the appeal is still awaited, and there are legal proceedings in Spain to be resolved. All this is going to take time and more expense. “Have owners approved these legal costs?” asks Roger, “On whose authority was this expenditure agreed? We need this full general meeting very soon, then we can all settle down again and enjoy our holidays at Los Claveles.”

Señor Castro ends his letter to owners wishing all a Happy Christmas and saying, “We ask you all to think of the Club and create a prosperous and positive future where everyone can enjoy their holidays, without conflict and in a friendly atmosphere.”

Inside Timeshare calls on all concerned parties to take heed and make the right decision to get together and discuss this matter and resolve it for the benefit of all club members. Only you can do this.

come together

sa face flag

Timeshare and South Africa: Lawsuits on the Way

In January 2017 Trudie Broekmann, a lawyer based in Cape Town South Africa, specialising in commercial, corporate and consumer law, published a column in Personal Finance on the IOL website.

She began with the news that the National Consumer Commission had released details of a public inquiry about to be launched into the vacation-ownership industry, commonly known as timeshare. It was to be conducted by a panel of experts and chaired by a retired judge, it was expected to last around six months.

trudie broekmann
Trudie Broekmann

She began with one simple question, Why all the fuss?

She explained there may be happy owners of timeshare, but if they knew the “exploitative nature of what they bought into”, she believes they would have changed their minds. To us in Europe and in the United States this is a very familiar scenario. As an attorney who specialises in consumer law, she explained how she had been approached by clients who wished to terminate their timeshare contracts.

The problems she outlines with the timeshare industry are very familiar to us, they are as follows:

  • What consumers buy seems to be worthless
  • Misleading marketing
  • Non delivery of services
  • One-sided contracts
  • Unfair tactics
  • Contracts in perpetuity
  • Non-Compliance with the law

She then went on to say that the contracts she examined turned out to be “void in terms of the law”. She explained, “This meant I did not have to cancel them, although there were sufficient grounds to do so. In such cases, a consumer does not have to pay a cancellation fee, or pay the management fee upfront, before he or she is permitted to cancel the contract or rely on the voidability of the contract”.

Under the Consumer Protection Act which came into effect on 31 March 2011, the law provides clients to have all the money paid for the timeshare returned. This would involve court action, very similar to what has been happening in Spain under their Timeshare law 42/98.

She also stated that she was considering a joint or class action on behalf of her clients.

On 20 November 2017, Pretoria News reporter Georgina Crouth, published the article Time almost up for timeshare industry. In this article it is explained that Trudie Broekmann is not waiting for the outcome of the commissions hearings, but has announced that she plans to launch a class action lawsuit early next year.

She will be demanding the full return of clients money, as the contracts are illegal, not complying with the Consumer Protection Act or the Property Timesharing Control Act.

For the full articles follow the links below:

21 January 2017

196https://www.iol.co.za/personal-finance/columnists/whats-wrong-with-the-timeshare-holiday-points-industry-7462

20 November 2017

https://www.iol.co.za/pretoria-news/time-almost-up-for-timeshare-industry-12082070

These reports certainly show that timeshare problems have no borders, consumers the world over are now starting to question what these companies have sold them. Lawyers are now taking on these cases, especially as the laws come into place which protect the consumer.

In Spain, these laws have been in existence since January 1999, but it has taken many years of hard work to get the courts to rule in favour of the consumer. One reason is the financial power of the industry, but that is now on the wane.

Inside Timeshare will be keeping an eye on this story, as and when we get more news we will publish.

 

alone

The Tuesday Slot with Irene

In this week’s Tuesday slot Irene Parker looks at another military family who have fallen foul of deceptive sales practices. As usual Irene sent a draft of the article to Bluegreen for comment, at the eleventh hour, Bluegreen responded.

They have offered to cancel the loan, so fair play to them, Inside Timeshare thanks Bluegreen for taking note. The article has been changed in light of this, but is being published as a warning to other consumers to be aware and do their due diligence. Irene will also be writing a follow up article on Bluegreen’s response to the BBB.

Another Military Family Wages War against Timeshare

Will Bluegreen Honor those whose sacrifice is so great?

Terry and Linda Carter

soldier

By Irene Parker

December 12

Terry Carter served his country in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was discharged for medical reasons. Burdened with caregiving, Linda Carter reached out to Inside Timeshare for help. The family alleges they were sold a Bluegreen timeshare by deceit and a “bait and switch” told the timeshare would be easy to sell for a profit.

After filing a Better Business Bureau complaint, Linda was informed December 11, 2017, their loan would be cancelled, but they would not receive a refund. One reason listed was because they had used their points. What does use of the points you had been paying for, have to do with being told you bought the timeshare on the promise that the points would be easy to sell? This is one of the most common complaints voiced by our readers.

The oral representation clause included in all timeshare contracts states: “I did not rely on any oral representation to make my purchase.” This translates to “Never believe anything a timeshare sales agent says.” The family tells their story hoping to warn others to think twice before buying any product that can’t be sold, or if sold, brings only pennies on the dollar.  

Linda was initially upset because she thought a loan cancellation would only stop the phone calls, but the hit on their credit would prevent them from obtaining a loan through the VA to buy a house. The representative ended their conversation saying she would love to help them book a vacation though! Linda was astonished. Terry has been diagnosed with blood cancer common among vets living near a burn pit.

I told Linda about the class action lawsuit Mike Finn of the Finn Law Group initiated that resulted in over 11,000 Bluegreen members getting foreclosed changed to “charged off” on their credit report.   

“Several developers are using a similar trust based hybrid product like Marriott’s. I think Bluegreen may have initiated it originally, but don’t hold me to that. Yes, the products are very similar. I felt Bluegreen was intentionally hurting their defaulted owners with their credit reporting as ‘foreclosures’, when I knew this was incorrect for the same reason as the allegations in the Marriott lawsuit, namely that the interest the ‘owner’ ends up with is personalty, not real estate. You cannot accurately call a personalty repossession a ‘foreclosure’ as there’s no legal procedure to ‘foreclose’ on personalty, according to UCC codes. My efforts to get Bluegreen to change were ignored; hence our litigation which resulted in at least 11,000 individuals getting foreclosures redacted from their credit reports. However, in our preparation, at the last minute, we researched the Florida timeshare act and realized Florida had anticipated our move! The statute was modified to define the Bluegreen timeshare plan as “real estate”. It was like legislating a duck into a goose,” as Mike explained in our Marriott article about the racketeering lawsuit filed against Marriott Vacation Club alleging Marriott charges closing costs and other fees associated with real estate, when the product is a right to use product, like a gym membership.

https://www.finnlawgroup.com/learning-center/timeshare-vs-vacation-home

A lifetime is a long time to bet nothing will happen to make the timeshare unaffordable. Inside Timeshare has heard from 237 angry and desperate timeshare buyers of which 222 allege they were sold or up-sold by deceit and bait and switch. Almost all allege they were told their points would be easy to sell.

Terry’s story

After 9/11 Terry volunteered to go to Iraq. He was close to retirement so he felt it was the last thing he would be able to do for his country. After he got in country, he again volunteered with six other guys to be on a team deployed to Basra where the British had a FOB.

A forward operating base (FOB) is any secured forward military position, commonly a military base, used to support tactical operations. (Wikipedia)

Terry was the lead man for the C-RAM program.

C-RAM: Counter Rocket, Artillery, and Mortar, abbreviated C-RAM or Counter-RAM, is a set of systems used to detect and/or destroy incoming artillery, rockets and mortar rounds in the air before they hit their ground targets, or simply provide early warning. (Wikipedia)

He and his guys would monitor incoming fire. Basra was one of those places where they were the only Americans so it was hard to get medicine and supplies. Terry and the guys lived in tents next to burn pits where the British burned anything that could be burned. He received a letter stating that he lived next to the pits.

Then there was Afghan. Terry was there for eighteen months until he was sent home after a diagnosis of blood cancer. He also served twenty years in the National Guard. Terry is 55 years old.

I really don’t know what else to say – he lived army ‘til he couldn’t anymore.

thankyou

Terry and Linda

There are two more words to say.

Linda and Terry’s complaint sent to Bluegreen November 16, 2017

We were told in Gatlinburg at a group presentation that Bluegreen points were an investment and could be sold for a profit. My husband was diagnosed with blood cancer in 2014. We can no longer afford the timeshare and now know the agent lied about being able to sell Bluegreen points. We are not concerned that we cannot make a profit as the agent claimed, but have learned Bluegreen points are virtually worthless should a member need to sell. Bluegreen agents should not sell points based on the points being an investment. There were several in the room who heard this claim as it was made in the group presentation and in our individual meeting. Also, Cammie said all we had to do is when we got back home was go to our bank as we wouldn’t have a problem getting a lower interest rate. This was not true. Banks will not finance timeshare. Please help us.

Linda Carter

Thank you to Linda and Terry for sharing their story. Our advocates feel that until deceit and bait and switch on the front end of the timeshare sale is acknowledged and addressed, nothing will change.  

Business etiquette advice for customer service representatives (Article link not included as the article had “We Buy Timeshares” ads all over it)  

  1. Return calls promptly. Respond to messages as soon as possible, especially if the issue is time-sensitive. If the phone message relates to a complex issue that will take time to assess, have the courtesy to touch base with the person, acknowledge receipt of the call and let them know you are working on gathering the specific information. When possible, provide a timeline for when you will get back to the caller. For example, “I received your message inquiring about when our next shipment will be available. I have several phone calls in to our distributors, and I anticipate hearing back from them at the first of the week.”

customerphone

Inside Timeshare does return phone calls and emails promptly. Contact Inside timeshare or a member supported self-help group if you have a timeshare concern or would like to share your story.

https://www.facebook.com/timeshareadvocategroup/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/DiamondResortsOwnersAdvocacy/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/180578055325962/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/465692163568779/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1639958046252175/

 

If you have any comments about this or any other article published, or you are looking for help and advice on any timeshare related matter, contact Inside Timeshare. We are here to give you the truth and the best advice possible.

  

 

letter-from-america

Friday’s Letter from America

It’s Fridayyyyyyyy! So welcome to another Friday’s Letter from America, Irene once again looks at Customer Service, this time with a positive outcome. But as usual a quick round up on timeshare news in Europe.

One of our long standing readers has sent in the following information, it concerns a long running dispute many owners have been having at Club Jardines del Puerto in Puerto Banus. Costafield Management have pulled the plug on the club 3 years early. It will close on 31 December 2017, after this no members will have any right to occupy.

It looks as though FNTC will be selling off the properties, they will also have to comply with the constitution which demands a 50/50 split between members and the developer.

Our reader also asks this question, How can a small thriving club in the centre of one of the most popular prestigious resorts in Europe become “financially unsustainable”?

More on this as we get the news.

The same reader also asked if we knew anything about MRL (MacDonald Resorts Ltd) taking owners to court for alleged unpaid maintenances fees in Manchester. At present we have found no reference to this in the press, although it must be said that cases of this nature do not tend to be publicised. But knowing the reputation of MacDonald Resorts, we would not be surprised in the least.

Further to the article about Anfi, yesterday saw 2 new sentences from the courts against Anfi.

At the Court of First Instance No 2 in Maspalomas, the judge declared the Anfi contract null and void. He also ordered the return of over 32,000€ plus legal interest.

The second sentence from the Court of First Instance No 1 in Maspalomas, also declared the contract null and void with the return of over 19,000€ plus legal interest.

So contrary to what Anfi say, the courts are finding against them, invoking the Supreme Court rulings, of which there are now 77, 32 against Anfi.

On the story of Los Claveles, there are now some very interesting comments being posted. These are measured and put forward opposing arguments in a sensible manner. Inside Timeshare welcomes these, but will not tolerate abuse or accusations against named people, especially ones of a criminal nature. Inside Timeshare has given a neutral forum for this debate, in the hope that an agreement can be reached. It is up to you the members to come to this agreement.

Now for this weeks Article from Irene Parker.

Grandview at Las Vegas – a Vacation Village Resort

A Positive Customer Service Outcome

cust serv

By Irene Parker

December 8, 2017

Was this a customer service representative showing compassion towards a former Marine, or a willingness on the part of Grandview at Las Vegas to support their customer over their own sales agent? Either way, it was a first for me in the way Grandview handled a timeshare owner alleging they were victimized by deceit and “bait and switch”, which may allow this timeshare buyer to put a wrong decision in the rear view mirror. Grandview is part of Vacation Village/Eldorado Corporation owned by The Berkley Group.

Jeff Diehl contacted Inside Timeshare asking for advice concerning his two bedroom unit at Grandview in Las Vegas purchased January 2017, alleging he was fraudulently sold by a sales agent making exaggerated claims. What was unusual about Jeff’s report is the specificity. Many complain saying they were told they can rent their unit or points for income, but Jeff knew the name of the sales agent, Marylou G, the specific amount promised – $2,000 to $2,500 per week for his fixed week and for eight more weeks using their equivalent 80,000 points. Jeff had told Marylou this was the only way the family could afford the week.

Rather than leave it at what Jeff had been told about renting, I advised Jeff to do a little research by checking TUG Timeshare Users Group to find out what a Grandview week would bring in rental income. Jeff found only one rental ad for $525 that had been listed since March 26, 2017, with no response.

After Jeff wrote out his complaint, I called the number listed on Grandview’s Better Business Bureau’s report and spoke to a Grandview representative. At this point, I am usually told the resort cannot talk to me so I was surprised the agent asked if I had a loan number and a phone number for the owner. I did. When I explained all of the above to the representative, she said she would call Jeff. I emailed Jeff and told him the name of the representative who said she would call. What usually happens next is one or two weeks of being ignored passes, prompting Better Business Bureau and other regulatory filings.

wow

A first! The representative called Jeff the next day informing him his loan would be cancelled.

As I mentioned, Jeff is a former Marine. He is also disabled. The specific data Jeff provided made it difficult to deny the sales agent told him something that was not true. This would not have prevented any timeshare resort from pointing to the oral representation clause found in the fine print of a volume of documents that allows a sales agent to say anything under the sun to close a deal. To soften the blow, some are told, “If something was important to you, you should have had it added to the contract,” perpetuating the hamster wheel called recycled inventory, as described by one former timeshare sales agent.

Jeff should not have to proceed to the next step which would have involved filing complaints with any or all of the following:

Jeff had initially included predatory lending in his complaint saying,

“Just a quick note to say that the reason I included predatory lending in my complaint, is that the definition of this type of lending says, that when a lender makes a loan to a consumer who cannot afford the loan, in order to benefit themselves, but harms the consumer in the process, this is predatory lending. So, I believe you misunderstood why I included the 17.9 % loan rate.”

I informed Jeff that all timeshare sales agents sell timeshare in this fashion so making this part of his complaint was meaningless.

Jeff also is demanding monies paid be refunded as he alleges the timeshare was sold by deceit, violation of trust, and “bait and switch” meeting the FBI’s definition of White Collar Crime Financial Institution Fraud. At the time of publication, Jeff had not yet heard if his monies paid would be returned, as he would have to contact the corporate office, which Jeff plans to do.  

Before we place Vacation Village up there with Inside Timeshare’s favorite timeshare, Disney, more due diligence is required.

Vacation Village has a Better Business Bureau rating of F. Two sources tell us The Berkley Group is being investigated by the Florida Attorney General’s office. According to Berkley’s LinkedIn page, “The Berkley Group is a private timeshare resort development firm owned by more than 2,000 company employees. Under its Vacation Village Resorts and Affiliates brand, The Berkley Group has generated a worldwide owner base that exceeds 500,000 families.”

https://www.bbb.org/south-east-florida/business-reviews/timeshare-companies/vacation-village-resorts-in-fort-lauderdale-fl-4003645/reviews-and-complaints

Grandview at Las Vegas, owned by Eldorado/Vacation Village has a BBB rating of B, so maybe this resort is trying to improve its customer service.

https://www.bbb.org/southern-nevada/business-reviews/resorts/grandview-at-las-vegas-in-las-vegas-nv-66863/reviews-and-complaints

Remember: BBB ratings are not a guarantee of a business’s reliability or performance.  BBB recommends that consumers consider a business’s BBB rating in addition to all other available information about the business.

https://www.bbb.org/council/overview-of-bbb-grade/

Inside Timeshare has heard from 227 timeshare member readers, of which 212 allege they were sold a timeshare by deceit and bait and switch. If you need help or just the support of others in your situation, here are some member sponsored self-help groups:

https://www.facebook.com/timeshareadvocategroup/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/DiamondResortsOwnersAdvocacy/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/180578055325962/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/465692163568779/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1639958046252175/

roundabout

Thank you Irene, at least this is one family that has had a positive outcome.

On Tuesday we will publish another article from Irene, this is titled:

Another Military Family Wages War against Timeshare

Will Bluegreen Honor those whose sacrifice is so great?

This is a short but hard hitting article, it shows the disgusting lengths sales agent will go just to “close a deal”. For those who are ex-serviceman or those who support them, you will find this article will make your blood boil.

That’s it for this week, if you have any comment about this or any other article published, Inside Timeshare invites you to send it in.

If you need help with any timeshare matter, or just need to know which firms you can trust, Inside Timeshare will be pleased to help.

Have a great weekend and see you next week.

friday dog

 

IQueEsLaVerita

ANFI Step Up the Spin

On 8 November Inside Timeshare published an article about ANFI sending emails to Norwegian members, which included a video by a Mr Malterud, a former client of Canarian Legal Alliance. They have now been sending the same email to UK ANFI members, in an effort to stem the tide of claims in court against them. Inside Timeshare received several enquiries about this. (See previous article below).

http://insidetimeshare.com/anfi-legal-battle-hots/

In the letter, which is signed by the ANFI CEO José Luis Trujillo, it attempts to warn UK members about Canarian Legal Alliance, with a quote from Mr Malterud:

“CLA posed as a law firm.  I was naive, and believed them, but eventually learned that this was not serious.  I felt misled.  I would strongly recommend staying far, far away from CLA”.

The letter also includes the video interview with Mr Malterud and Anfi Club Norway.

In a rather desperate attempt the email was sent out late Friday afternoon, ready for the weekend, in the hope that CLA would not be able to respond until Monday. This move seems to have backfired.

Inside Timeshare approached CLA for a statement, the spokesperson responded with this statement:

“CLA was alerted to the email by clients who have claims either pending filing at court or waiting for trial dates. Thanks to quick action by CLA staff, a statement was emailed to all clients in rebuttal of the ANFI claims.”

Inside Timeshare then asked what was the response from their clients:

“Many clients replied to our statement in favourable terms, thanking us for the prompt and full explanation. They also stated that they had the utmost faith in CLA and realised that it was a move by ANFI to scare them into withdrawing their claims”.

Once again we see ANFI spreading misinformation in order to save themselves, it shows how desperate they are.

In their Statement to their clients CLA included a video of an interview with one of their lawyers, EVA GUTIÉRREZ, Lawyers Registration Number 4350, this interview was aired on National Spanish Television News broadcast by TVE. See the link below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-HthsLC83QM&authuser=0

evag
EVA GUTIÉRREZ

Eva has been registered as a lawyer with the Colegio de Abogados of Las Palmas since 2008, so is very much an experienced and genuine lawyer, contrary to the statement in the letter from ANFI. Below is a pdf of her registration on the national database of lawyers.

Censo de Letrados _ Abogacía Española

On the CLA website under lawyers, you will see the main lawyers including their ICALP Registration Number, these can be checked using the official National Lawyers Register.

http://www.abogacia.es/servicios-abogacia/censo-de-letrados/

This will put no doubt in anyone’s mind that CLA are a legitimate law firm, with many victories under their belt, including 77 Supreme Court rulings against timeshare, 32 of which are against Anfi.

Only yesterday  Wednesday 6 November they secured another victory for one of their UK clients at the High Court in Las Palmas. The judge declared the ANFI contract null and void, ordering ANFI to return £32,000, the client was also returned legal fees and legal interest.

gavela

One now has to ask the question, what are ANFI hoping to achieve by spreading these falsehoods?

Are they just destroying their own reputation?

Have they now also left themselves open to legal action on an unprecedented scale?

We leave it to you the reader to decide.

As usual time will tell, we will be keeping a close watch on any further developments regarding this issue and keep you informed.

Anfi CEO’s Letter to Members: Desperation or What!

If you have any questions regarding this or any other article, Inside Timeshare will be pleased to help.

(For those who do not know any Latin, the quote on the title picture translates as “AND THAT IS THE TRUTH?”)

news

The Tuesday Slot with Irene

Welcome to the first Tuesday Slot with Irene of December, this week Irene gives an update on an article from October, but first some important news from Europe.

Last week Inside Timeshare had some unconfirmed news on a raid in Tenerife, which we did not publish, this was against the offices of Mark Rowe’s enterprise there. This week news came out of raids at his businesses in the UK By Trading Standards, so this could just verify the Tenerife news.

This raid follows an investigation by the “Scambuster Team” of Trading Standards, offices of around 22 Mark Rowe companies were searched, employees questioned and documents removed for further investigation and as evidence if any criminal charges are brought.

trading standards

Among those raided were ABC Lawyers, Glenmore Consultants, Monster Rewards, Jive Hippo (replacement for Monster Credits) and apparently the TCA (Timeshare Consumer Association). The raid in Tenerife would most likely have been Hollywood Marketing SLU.

It looks like we will have to wait until the new year before we know the outcome, this follows the news last month of another enterprise EZE Group, where the directors and owners Dominic O’Reilly and his daughter Stephanie O’Reilly pleaded guilty at Birmingham Magistrates of “Aggressive” sales tactics and “Coercion” with their product EZE Credits. They are to appear at Crown Court on 15 December, whether they will be sentenced then or just remanded on bail until the New Year remains to be seen.

Now on with the article from Irene Parker.

TARS – Timeshare Advisory and Resolution Services

An Honest Timeshare Exit Program – Who knew?

TARS Limited Term Deed Program – A Monthly Update

case

By Irene Parker

December 5, 2017

In October Inside Timeshare featured the launch of TARS TIMESHARE ADVISORY AND RESOLUTION SERVICES LLC new “limited term deeded” program.  “Consumers enjoy all the “pros” of traditional timeshare and none of the “cons”, plus even more benefits,” announced TARS President and General Counsel, Martin M. Kandel.

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-24/

The limited deed/limited fun program is geared toward fixed week resorts, but the same strategy could be implemented by major timeshare point sellers, solving the problem a timeshare owner faces when life changes and now they own a vacation product they don’t want, they can’t afford, and can’t sell. TARS could eventually neutralize resale and listing scams. Scam revenue would turn into new buyer revenue which would be a win-win for everyone except the scammers.

https://search.justice.gov/search?affiliate=justice&query=timeshare+report

Inside Timeshare has received timeshare complaints from 223 readers (176 when the October 26 article was published). Members sometimes describe catastrophic financial distress when denied a release.

I asked Dennis F. DiTinno, CEO and President of the Liberté Management Group of Companies and Chairman of TARS to provide an example of how the limited deed works. “The TARs program offers the member an option to purchase a limited term deed for five or ten years. The term will be the decision of the Associations, but we would not recommend any term less than three years. We feel the five year plan best suits the Association and the owners. The design is to utilize the units’ maintenance fee costs with an increase annually to make the tax repercussions better for the Association – a major savings, but each unit in each resort would be different,” Dennis explained.   

All Seasons Vacation Resort in Madeira Beach and the Voyager Beach Club Treasure Island are the first to launch a TARS program. TARS had just signed up their first sale when we first talked to Dennis and he said other owners told him they would be glad to sign up when they returned home.

The example Dennis provided was for a Voyager unit with an annual Maintenance fee of $510. A five year limited deed could be purchased for $6,000. The now former perpetual deed owner becomes a limited deed owner. At the end of five years the term is up and the unit reverts back to the HOA.         

At this point skeptics raise their eyebrows. Wait! A $510 annual maintenance fee turns into $1,200 a year or $171 a night for a seven night stay? The Liberté website offers a one bedroom gulf view for $1,053 a week. So the limited deed would cost the member $735 ($1,200 – $1,053 = $147 x 5 years).

One timeshare insider suspects it’s a crafty upfront scam. I know Dennis and Martin Kandel so I have no concerns there. Another insider I contacted voiced a concern about what would happen if TARS went out of business. Liberté has been in business 35 years managing seven fixed week resorts and brokers resales and rentals as well. Liberté is a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association.

Dennis received a great congratulation from one timeshare advocacy organization, told this can be a huge positive change for the industry. Dennis also spoke with Robert Follis at the Florida Attorney General’s office who also saw the program as a solution to many problems.  

When I called Voyager, I spoke with M J Hassall, also with Liberté, who expressed great enthusiasm. “Every owner is unique so we provide a one on one presentation. One obstacle is convincing owners this is not just another ruse to get them to buy more weeks. This really is important information they need to know about. We have presented the plan to about 15 members with about 50 percent in favor of the program,” explained M J.

“In conjunction with select strategic partners, TARS will provide an a la carte menu of products and enhanced services designed exclusively for the legacy market segment. One of the partners is Let’s Go N Travel,” M J added.

This led me to Let’s Go N Travel which will be the subject of January’s monthly TARS update. I spoke with Chip Langdon at Let’s Go N Travel. Chip described Let’s Go as a Vacation Club boasting 450,000 members. More on how this fits in with TARS later.  

https://www.facebook.com/4life4less/

TARS provides a new way to address old problems (www.tarserv.com) in an effort to provide legacy resorts with a means to maintain their resorts for a decade or more in order to plan for robust continuation or an orderly repurposing of the resort and its timeshare program. This would seem a concept owners need to wrap their heads around, as they may not have yet thought about an exit or even if they need one.

Thank you to all at TARS for their help as we learn more about this evolving program. As a former deeded fixed week owner, I can see spending the extra money on something I enjoyed for 30 years, paying an extra $735 spread out over five years to be done with it without the hassle of dodging scams or waiting for an over supplied product to sell. As with any product, if it meets the needs of the consumer, it will sell itself. Timeshare does not sell itself. It is product that has to be “sold” and often requires six to eight hours of brow beating, “pitching heat” and deceit, according to 220 of our readers. We hope, working with developers, such tactics will diminish. We know there are good timeshare sales agents out there selling the product the way it should be sold. Inside Timeshare endorses Disney for their scarce complaint record.

Inside Timeshare will publish a monthly resale recycle report to follow along as TARS progresses. I still need to call my favorite fixed week timeshare people at Port Elsewhere in the Missouri Ozarks and Maui Hill at Maui Lea to hear what they think.

 Liberté

At least this provides a positive topic members and developers can agree on – the need for an honest timeshare exit to shut off the scam valve.  

http://resorttrades.com/timeshare-advisory-and-resolution-services-llc-tars-and-the-liberte-management-group-join-to-expand-services-for-legacy-resorts-and-owners/

Irene will be keeping us updated on a monthly basis on TARS Limited Term Deed Program, could it be that there is some honesty in this industry called timeshare? Only time will tell.

Other news coming in from the US is the link up between ARDA (American Resorts Development Association) and Europe’s RDO (Resorts Development Association). It has been rumoured for sometime that the RDO is what you might call “strapped for cash”, well they have this year lost one of their major members, Silverpoint. Could this link up be the saviour of them?

Kwikchex has also laid out the scope of its new mission, running the “Timeshare Helpline”, on behalf of the RDO, which replaces the disgraced and bankrupt TATOC. As we know TATOC was supposed to be an independent body representing timeshare owners through their committees, but under the leadership of Harry Taylor, they did the bidding of their benefactors. These benefactors were the industry and RDO members.

So the question is if the new helpline is run by Kwikchex and the Timeshare Task Force, paid for by the RDO, how can it be independent and on the side of the consumer?

Have Trading Standards and other Authorities been taken in by them, the same way as Citizens Advice Bureau were taken in by TATOC?

Inside Timeshare leaves you the reader to draw your own conclusions.

Remember

“Non enim videtur”

“Not all is as it seems”

monday

Start the Week

Welcome to the first article of the new week, over the weekend the debate on Los Claveles has seen the opposing views getting rather heated and personal.

One reader who is an owner at Los Claveles has sent in the following response to the article published on 30 November. Inside Timeshare has agreed not to publish the writer’s name and abide by his wishes.

His response is well written, it lays out his view on the situation in a clear and precise manner, giving a very good opposing argument.

Response to The Opposition View

The “Press Release” submitted by Mr Barrow, who is a director of the WimPen Holding Company at Las Casitas and has a long term family association with Mr Pengelly, is deeply flawed and highly questionable regarding the title “Los Claveles Club” which is a misrepresentation of the Official “Club Los Claveles” as defined in the Club Constitution. It takes no account of the unique ownership structure, governance and committee-led stewardship of the resort over many years that has resulted in the resort being financially strong, in sharp contrast to other former WimPen resorts. Without going into all the details, Mr Pengelly’s handling of the sale of the Los Claveles management contract to Onagrup is widely recognised as having been lacking in judgement and consideration for the owners, and disrespectful to their elected representatives in the weeks following the sale. Since then, Mr Pengelly has presided over flagrant abuses of statutes and constitutional frameworks  governing the community of owners at Los Claveles; disregarded a petition calling for his resignation and a vote of no confidence in him at the 2016 Escritura Community AGM, which he refused to accept (as a result of which ALL the owners left the room, except for 3 owner couples, calling the meeting illegal). In addition Mr. Pengelly has practised non-compliance with arbitration orders and awards; turned a blind eye to the physical assault of the Club President and intimidation of Club Members by an Onagrup employee; condoned false accusations of fraud being made by Onagrup to the Spanish Police against the Club President and Chairman; and allowed the unlawful sacking of long term staff members. As a result, his once decent reputation in the timeshare industry is now in tatters.

For the record, the notice of termination given to WimPen for Club Los Claveles on 31 March 2015 was not a “knee jerk reaction” as described by Mr Barrow but a considered decision precipitated by the arrogant attitude of Onagrup to the Club Committee and a flagrant disregard of the Club Constitution regarding rental policy.  It was a unanimous decision by elected committee members in response to the representations made to them by hundreds of concerned owners in the 2 months following the sale to Onagrup, and was also supported by the Escritura owners’ representative. Mr Barrow’s representation of this decision being based on the Club Chairman’s casting vote is wildly inaccurate and misleading. The notice of termination made provision for Club Members to have the final say at the subsequent AGM in June 2015. This was heavily influenced by the contribution of one single owner, a commercial lawyer by profession. He raised such fears in the minds of those attending that they would become personably liable for damages in a breach-of- contract claim from Onagrup that many changed their mind and voted not to risk that eventuality. Otherwise, the vote would have been much more conclusive in favour of the termination. This same owner subsequently changed his views and has since given his support to the committee. Regardless of this the view of Onagrup that it still held the management contract for the resort only came about because it combined the votes of both Club and Escritura owners despite the vote being taken separately. .

The issue here is not with the committee, as Mr Barrow would have owners believe. It is with WimPen, Onagrup and a minority of owners that he is now representing who are not prepared to accept the democratic constitutional process of governance of the resort. They refuse to accept that every effort was made by the Club Chairman to negotiate with Onagrup. even going to the lengths of travelling to Barcelona to meet with Onagrup senior management, prior to the members democratically voting at the SGM of January 2016 to take the dispute to arbitration because Onagrup would not agree to abide by the Club Constitution.

The situation now is that WimPen, i.e. Onagrup, is appealing the arbitration.  And much like Mr Barrow and the self-elected members of the protest action group he is leading, WimPen has taken it upon itself to illegally carry on managing Club Los Claveles without a contract which expired on 2 May 2017, claiming that it has a right to do so while the appeal is being heard. This is not so. Meanwhile, the Club Constitution is being completely disregarded by both Mr Barrow and WimPen in advocating that members should pay their maintenance fees to an illegal agent who has no contract to manage Club Los Claveles. This same agent is sending threatening letters to members who have followed the Constitution and paid their maintenance fees to the Club, refusing access to their accommodation until they pay again and blocking RCI members’ exchanges.

Marilyn Fry, who has a close, long term tie with Mr Pengelly and family, also seeks to mislead by failing to explain that owners who do not follow the Club Constitution and deliberately pay their maintenance fee to WimPen automatically place themselves in conflict with the rules governing their membership of the Club and risk being suspended. However, the Club Chairman has simply reminded the tiny minority who have taken this course of action that they are in breach of the Constitution, that they have an outstanding debt to the Club and that they have therefore placed their membership of the Club at risk. A similar tiny minority have placed themselves in the position of paying their maintenance fee twice, i.e. once to the Club and a second time to WimPen simply because they took it upon themselves not to follow the committee’s instructions, or its process for overcoming WimPen’s illegal demands for gaining access to their Los Claveles accommodation.

Equally misleading is her statement about secrecy and censorship. The committee is bound by the rules of arbitration and is therefore restricted in what it can and cannot communicate to Club Members. No member has been banned from the owners’ website, and the normal rules of moderation apply to Los Claveles social media groups. A tiny number have been suspended for failing to comply with these rules.

The solution that is supported by 90% of the 971 members of Club Los Claveles who voted at the 2017 AGM, a record high number, is for WimPen to abide by the Club Constitution and Arbitration orders and awards, and to withdraw from the management of the Club, along with the Trustee FNTC, a company that was dismissed in 2012 but also refuses to go. This will allow the members to regain control of the Club, appoint their chosen Administrator, Trustee and management service providers, and restore the loyal staff who were wrongfully dismissed under Mr Pengelly’s watch. Only then will the resort return to peaceful normality, and continued prosperity and enjoyment for the owners.

As this article was being prepared for publication, Roger Barrow sent in the following, Inside Timeshare publishes this in order to try and keep a neutral and balanced stance.

LAS CASITAS AGM:

Dear Charles

Its a good news story for those Los Claveles owners who are interested and remember the days of happy AGMs where owners have full control, with healthy, friendly debate and a great get-together in the bar the evening before.

  1. Administrators report – Approved
  2. Accounts for year to Aug 2017 – Approved
  3. Budget and proposed 3% increase in fees ( first increase for 3 years)  – Approved
  4. President re-elected
  5. Reintroduction of Owners’ Representative – Approved
  6. Appointment of Wimpen for a further 3 years – Approved
  7. Bar Franchise offered further 3 year contract – Approved
  8. Charges for more than one WiFi connection – Approved
  9. Acceleration of upgrade of Lounge/Dining room – Approved
  10. Replacement of baths with walk in shower – Approved

Four different resorts approved new 3 year contracts for Wimpen at AGMs this weekend

Regards

Roger Barrow

As you can see, there does seem to be a very wide difference of opinion between the other resorts as well as the differing opinions at Los Claveles. Inside Timeshare will continue to publish articles showing the opposing views, especially those with a clear and precise argument.

As we were preparing for publication, the following news came in from Madrid:

The Supreme Court has once again ruled in favour of a former UK client of Silverpoint, this court has once again ruled as per their previous judgements.

In this case the court has awarded back over £45,000 plus legal fees and interest, also declaring the contract null and void. This is the 77th ruling made by Spain’s highest court and leaves no doubt that the interpretation of law 42/98 is correct.

If you need any help or advice on any timeshare related matter, Inside Timeshare is here to provide it. Contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.

letter-from-america

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to December’s first Friday’s Letter from America, this week Irene Parker examines Non-Disclosure Agreements in timeshare and should they be permitted. But first we have a look at what has been in the news in Europe.

Last month we ran the article on the court case involving Dominic O’Reilly and his daughter Stephanie O’Reilly of EZE Group, they both pleaded guilty to some very serious charges at Birmingham Magistrates court. Their case has been sent to the Crown Court for sentencing in January, it has now been reported that they will be back in court on 15 December. Whether they will be sentenced then we will have to wait and see, but if they are, they may be having Christmas dinner behind bars.

Yesterday we published an article with an opposing view of the Los Claveles saga, this has prompted some rather heated comments. It would seem that each side is accusing each other of telling lies, this is not the way forward, there will always be a difference of opinion, just because one person does not agree does not make it a lie!

Just having opposing views does not mean you cannot work together, it is your resort and that is what counts not the bickering or personal animosities.

 

The courts once again have been busy, with no less than three Supreme Court ruling this week.

tribunal-supremo

After publishing last Friday’s article it was announced that the Supreme Court had made another ruling against Silverpoint, the court awarded the client over £42,000, plus £3,000 which is double the deposit paid within the 14 day cooling off period. The client will also receive back their legal fees and legal interest.

On Monday 27 November, the Supreme Court again ruled against Silverpoint, declaring the contract null and void and awarding over £23,000 including the return of legal fees and interest.

On the same day they issued another sentence against Silverpoint. The contract was declared null and void with the return of more than £37,000 plus legal fees and interest.

It was the turn of the Court of First Instance in Tenerife on Tuesday 28 November to issue a sentence against Silverpoint, the judge following the Supreme Court rulings ordered the return of over £11,000 and declared the contract null and void.

On Wednesday 29 November the Tenerife Courts again found against Silverpoint with the return of £11,000 and the contracts declared null and void.

The same day from Madrid the Supreme Court announced yet another ruling against Silverpoint, contract declared null and void with the return of £7,000 plus legal fees and interest.

Other cases this week saw rulings from other courts around Spain which included the return of all payments and contracts being declared null and void against Anfi, Blue Bay and Puerto Calma

Now just to rub it in, as if Dominic and Stephanie O’Reilly havn’t got enough problems the list also included a sentence against EZE Group!

The total amount being returned to clients this week alone is a staggering 403,336.25€

All these cases have been brought on behalf of clients by Canarian Legal Alliance, with this week’s Supreme Court rulings bringing their total to 74, another record for the legal history books!

law

So on with this Friday’s letter

Timeshare Non-Disclosure Agreements

When they are fair and when they are not

 cloud

By Irene Parker

December 1, 2017

High school civics classes must be having interesting and lively class discussions about American politics today. Sexual harassment accusations have taken over the media and are raising questions about the damage caused by non-disclosure agreements (NDA). Sexual harassment settlements require the victim sign an NDA agreeing not to disclose what happened.

New Jersey lawmakers are proposing NDAs be banned in cases of sexual harassment. As NJ.Com reported, “Corporate boards of directors keep on approving settlements to cover executives who then go on to commit the same offense.”

http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2017/10/harvey_weinstein_scandal_has_nj_dems_ready_to_ban.html

Timeshare members should lobby for a similar prohibition, especially when a member receives nothing in return after surrendering timeshare vacation points that can easily cost $100,000 or more. Out of 220 timeshare complaints voiced by our readers against multiple developers, 115 allege they were sold or up-sold by deceit and bait and switch, some just days after purchasing. Members have reported on the many ways sales agents and their companies can avoid the rescission or cancellation period. Especially in these cases, an NDA seems harsh.

The most common allegations of deceit reported by our readers include:

  •  The ability to sell or rent vacation points
  •  The ability to pay maintenance fees with points
  •  The need to always buy more points in order to have adequate availability
  •  Agents from the same company accusing each other of selling the member the wrong product. The member is told to buy more points to change from one product to the next only to be told by the next agent, they still bought the wrong points! The member is required to sign an NDA even when all they did was buy more points.    

One lawyer I spoke with, who asked not to be identified, said he is shocked by the use of NDAs in timeshare. He explained that as a litigator he saw large settlements awarded without a non-disclosure, but in timeshare even members who receive nothing in return for surrendering vacation points must sign an NDA.

When Inside Timeshare publishes an article about a member’s complaint, we no longer feature the article if the resort helps the member resolve their issue. We do maintain a complete list of all member articles for regulators and law enforcement and have compiled a 90 page complaint summary. With over 200 complaints, patterns emerge. Repeated complaints against certain sales agents point to repeating offenders. Comparing notes with law firms across the country, we have learned certain timeshare sales agents are household names at their offices as well.

Inside Timeshare published Deneice’s article September 29, 2017.

lady

 Inside Timeshare has received 23 reader complaints concerning Diamond Resort’s Las Vegas sales centers. Deneice Vargas alleges she was fraudulently up-sold in Las Vegas. Eight of the members reported a positive outcome working with Diamond Resorts to resolve their complaint.  

Initially, the DRI advocacy agent Deneise worked with seemed to agree with Deniece and had asked for supporting medical documentation about her husband Louis’s diagnosis of Bell’s palsy. Relieved, Deneice submitted the information only to learn the customer service agent who had been helping her quit and the new agent seemed to dismiss Bell’s palsy as if it were a common cold. I personally felt the loss because the hospitality agent who quit called me about my complaint over two years ago. We did not always agree, but I felt she had a moral compass.   

Deneice reached out to us recently to let us know how things were going. She was shocked to receive a call from one of Diamond Resort’s advocacy hospitality agents. According to Deneice, when DRI Consumer Advocates are not advocating, they make collection calls. “They called at 6:50 AM! Isn’t there a law that says you can’t do collection calls outside of normal business hours? I suspect the advocacy department called demanding payment because I was not answering the phone from the collection agents,” said Deneice.    

If there were no loan, I’m confident DRI would allow Deneice to surrender her points for resale, but Deneice’s situation is complicated by her allegations of deceit and bait and switch and the outstanding loan. We reached out to Diamond for comment, but there was no response. Deneice’s original article:  

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-21/

If Deneice’s resort does decide to help her, she will be required to sign a non-disclosure agreement, agreeing not to say anything disparaging against her resort. One benefit (for our advocacy efforts) is that Deneice will not have to sign an NDA if she forecloses. We lose a lot of advocates because of the NDA. I’ve gotten to know Deneice and feel she will be of great benefit to our team of core advocates determined to stop or at least reduce the “pitching of heat” prevalent in timeshare today, bolstered by points based programs that offer easy deception. One of our advocates is a Florida detective who worked economic crimes undercover.

As a non-lawyer, I often rely on NOLO for legal advice. An added benefit of NOLO is somehow they prevent timeshare exit scam artists from posting ads all over their articles.

https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/nondisclosure-agreements-29630.html

When I looked up nondisclosure agreement on NOLO, the site connected me to Richard Stim. I submitted this question to Mr. Stim at http://dearrichblog.blogspot.com/

I write for Inside Timeshare. We are receiving a flood of timeshare complaints. If someone who feels they were sold by deceit and bait and switch, spending $95,000 for a timeshare, convinces the resort to take the timeshare back with nothing in return, should they have to sign an NDA? Thank you for your help.   

ballchain

What property would anyone buy, be it a boat, home or car, financing a loan at 12% to 18%, knowing the product they were buying could not be sold?  Not one of our 220 readers knew, at the time of purchase, they could not sell their timeshare. There is a limited secondary market for some timeshares. Contact a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association to find out how your timeshare fares on the secondary market or if you are stuck with a product you don’t want, can’t afford, and can’t sell.

http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

Thank goodness for Social Media. Here are some self-help member support groups offering good advice and a shoulder to cry one when one finds themselves caught in a timeshare trap.

https://www.facebook.com/timeshareadvocategroup/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/DiamondResortsOwnersAdvocacy/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/180578055325962/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/465692163568779/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1639958046252175/

Thank you Irene and all who contribute to these articles, they are certainly bringing new information to members / owners in the world of timeshare.

Inside Timeshare once again reminds all readers to do their due diligence when deciding which companies to do business with, as always, doing your homework will prevent the loss of your hard earned cash. If you need help in checking who to trust contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.

Have a good relaxing weekend and join us again next week.

weekend cat

 

stop press 1

Just as we were about to publish, this came in from the Supreme Court in Madrid, another Silverpoint contract declared null and void with this particular client being awarded over £90,000 plus legal fees and interest. That is now 75, yes, 75 rulings from Spains Highest Court!

After publishing this also came in.

The High Court in Tenerife found against Silverpoint yet again. The judge has declared this contract null and void with the return of over £74,000 plus legal interest.

 

coming together2

Los Claveles: The Opposition View

Continuing with the story of Los Claveles, Inside Timeshare has been asked by Roger Barrow to publish the following letter.

It is published as there are always two sides to every debate, without this balance nothing will be solved. All owners must have access to both arguments, you may not agree with this letter, but there are many owners who do not know what is going on. From the many comments and emails we have received there does appear to be some personal grudges being vented.

Inside Timeshare asks that you put these aside and try to work together, you all believe that you have a lovely resort, many of you have owned for years. Going through the internet we have found many negative comments about other timeshares, but not about Los Claveles or in fact any of the other resorts such as Las Casitas, where Roger is President of the Committee of Owners.

We leave it to you the readers to decide.

los claveles opposition logo

PRESS RELEASE

Los Claveles Committee – Owners Fight Back

In 2015, Ivan Pengelly of WimPen, who were the appointed administrators for Los Claveles along with several other resorts in the Canary Islands, sold his shares to OnaGrup, who he judged were the best company to help improve the rental income for blocked and unsold villas in the resorts. All the resorts were suffering from an aging population of owners and an increasing number of debtors. This sale to OnaGrup was subject to a confidentiality agreement.

Once the sale was complete, Ivan Pengelly announced the sale to the resort owners. While there were a few ‘bumps in the road’ and much anxiety by owners in most of the resorts, calm and measured negotiation with OnaGrup resulted in amicable and mutually agreeable arrangements for the continued management of the resorts. With the exception of Los Claveles that is.

A Los Claveles committee meeting, on the casting vote of the Chairman, decided to terminate WimPen’s contract. A subsequent General Meeting voted 329 to 236 to retain Wimpen, however this result was overturned by proxy votes, including the chairman’s discretionary proxies. The final voting was 863 for termination with 823 against.

“We believe this decision was premature and we want to challenge the Claveles committee and way they have handled this dispute”, said Roger Barrow, chair of the newly formed opposition working group. “It has led to the most acrimonious of disputes, with owner set against owner. The dispute has now launched into an expensive arbitration and legal battle, when the committee could have followed the simple and straightforward process to appoint a new administrator, a process set out in the constitution.”

“It was a knee-jerk reaction which we believe owners will regret,” said Mr Barrow.

So, what is the situation now? While everyone awaits the full outcome of the arbitration and legal appeals, Wimpen, now without a contract, have continued as Acting Administrators, successfully managing the resort. They look after the finances, maintenance, cleaning, resort improvements and employ the staff. Owners still must pay their maintenance to WimPen to gain access to their villas.

“The club committee are also demanding payment with threats that owners are acting illegally and risk losing their membership if they don’t”, said Marilyn Fry, the group’s secretary. “This leaves owners bewildered, confused and very anxious. Some have paid twice to Wimpen and the Club, a few have successfully obtained a refund from the club. But for owners, this is a very unsettling situation”.

“There is also an unsatisfactory level of secrecy in the club”, continued Mrs Fry, “With owners who criticise or oppose the committee’s actions banned from the owner’s website and social media, which is heavily censored”.

So, what is the solution? The opposition working group are setting out to challenge the owners’ committee and believe that by giving WimPen a new contract, owners can regain control and should then allow Wimpen time to show what they can do before following the correct process to either continue with WimPen or appoint a new administrator.

“We all want the same thing in the end,” said Mr Barrow. “A happy and efficient resort that operates as successfully as all the other resorts in WimPen’s portfolio.”

www.losclaveles-alt.eu | info@losclaveles-alt.eu | 0796 222 4554

The opening paragraph clearly explains the problem that all timeshare resorts have, owners who are now elderly, many unable to travel, owners who can no longer afford the maintenance fees and a new generation that do not believe in the concept of timeshare.

With this diminishing population of owners the only way these resorts can survive is by increasing the maintenance fees of the remaining owners, or by renting out the unsold and returned weeks.

Inside Timeshare has given you a platform to begin a discussion and resolve this issue, it is your resort, you are among the lucky owners of timeshare, you do have a say in how your resort is run. For those who own in the points system, which the Spanish Supreme Court has deemed illegal, they do not have these rights. They are members of a vacation club, with only a right to use and this is subject to availability.

Inside Timeshare will continue to publish news as it comes in, we also hope to publish the news that you have all come together and resolved the issue. We wish you all the best.

capone

The Tuesday Slot with Irene Parker: Marriott Vacation Club Racketeering Lawsuit

Welcome to the Tuesday Slot, in this article Irene Parker looks at the Marriott Vacation Club and the law suit for racketeering.

First some recent news fro the Supreme Court in Madrid which came in this morning, this is the 73rd ruling by Spain’s Highest Court.

Another Silverpoint contract has been declared null and void with the British clients set to receive over £37,000 plus legal fees and interest.

No details are yet available, but as with other cases the main infringement is likely to be a contract over 50 years. The one important factor is that these contract contravene the Spanish Timeshare law 42/98.

Now for Irene’s article.

marrioot symbol

The Marriott Vacation Club Racketeering Lawsuit – an Update

Timeshare Wars – Members vs Developers and ARDA Part II

evolution

November 28, 2017

By Irene Parker

Part I – The Manhattan Club and the possible dismantling of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

http://insidetimeshare.com/tuesday-slot-irene-parker/

Part I describes how New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman achieved a $6.5 million settlement for The Manhattan Club timeshare members after a battle that lasted almost three years. ARDA, the American Resort Development Association, seemed to be on the side of the TMC developers. In today’s article we look at ARDA’s involvement in the Marriott Racketeering lawsuit filed May 2016. Timeshare members should research ARDA ROC before making their voluntary donation which appears as an “opt in” or “opt out” donation on their maintenance fee invoice.

In the Marriott racketeering lawsuit, attorneys for the plaintiffs, Anthony and Beth Lennen, challenged Marriott’s points based system. Once again ARDA’s lobbyists are at the forefront.

“This was bigger than a lawsuit,” Hunter says. A negative ruling “could have a consequence of being devastating, conceivably, to the industry.” Florida Trend

I can imagine slave traders and slave owners making the same argument ARDA lobbyist Gary Hunter makes in opposition to the challenge to the points based timeshare product.The legal structure of the points based timeshare product is complex. It seems the points based programs are not products that should be associated with real estate. It would be as if a country club charged me closing costs for joining their right to use program. Bluegreen seems to employ a similar model. As usual, I asked timeshare attorney Mike Finn of the Finn Law Group if he agrees with me.

“Several developers are using a similar trust based hybrid product like Marriott’s. I think Bluegreen may have initiated it originally, but don’t hold me to that. Yes, the products are very similar. I felt Bluegreen was intentionally hurting their defaulted owners with their credit reporting as ‘foreclosures’, when I knew this was incorrect for the same reason as the allegations in the Marriott lawsuit, namely that the interest the ‘owner’ ends up with is personalty, not real estate. You cannot accurately call a personalty repossession a ‘foreclosure’ as there’s no legal procedure to ‘foreclose’ on personalty, according to UCC codes. My efforts to get Bluegreen to change were ignored; hence our litigation which resulted in at least 11,000 individuals getting foreclosures redacted from their credit reports. However, in our preparation, at the last minute, we researched the Florida timeshare act and realized Florida had anticipated our move! The statute was modified to define the Bluegreen timeshare plan as “real estate”. It was like legislating a duck into a goose,” Mike explained

https://www.finnlawgroup.com/learning-center/timeshare-vs-vacation-home

Is timeshare deemed real estate when it comes to charging buyers fees associated with actual real estate, but not real estate in matters having any control over the property? Is this a case of having your cake and eating it too?

I asked timeshare member and economics professor Michael Nuwer to review the amended Marriott lawsuit complaint filed October 25, 2017 by the plaintiffs’ law firm, Newman Ferrara LLP. The complaint suggests suspicious legislative maneuvering intended to circumvent the lawsuit. The amended complaint addresses the Marriott-forced law changes in 2013 and 2017. The recent (2017) amendment to the Florida Timeshare Act purports to exclude pre-existing weekly owners as “interest holders” and pre-existing Condo Declarations as “encumbrances” with regard to sales of multisite timeshare plans that use pre-existing timeshare estates. According to the complaint,

“It allows massive profit-making – including administrative fees, closing costs, recording fees, transfer taxes, maintenance, assessments, and title insurance premiums.” Amended Marriott complaint 6:16-cv-00855-CEM-TBS

“As far as I know, none of the trust fund based timeshare systems “convey real property interest,” said Michael. “Ownership is a “beneficial interest” in the trust fund, although a recent ruling in Canada found the Diamond Resort Embarc members don’t even have that.”

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-canada/

“If Florida law requires a real property conveyance, then I think there could be a problem,” Michael added.

Michael Kosor, a Wyndham owner and timeshare advocate, circulated a similar argument at the last two Nevada legislative sessions, proposing greater disclosure, but again ARDA’s lawyers fought against the members. The legislation proposed would have allowed better disclosure as to the lack of or limited secondary market and the fact that timeshare today has nothing to do with real estate. Timeshare agents typically inform buyers during their presentations that they are real estate agents, further enhancing a false security that the buyer is protected by real estate rules and regulations.  Even the name reflects the change. Fixed week timeshare buyers were “owners”. Points based buyers are “members.”

I have been researching timeshare since attending an astonishingly deceptive sales presentation July 2015. Like peeling an onion, I discovered at timeshare’s core, the points based system provides a recipe for deceit. As the Lennen complaint describes, point programs began in 2008 when timeshare developers did not know what to do with aging, foreclosed or repurchased inventory.

Inside Timeshare has received 216 US timeshare complaints from our readers, the majority concerning points. Not one of the 216 members understood, at the time of purchase, the difficulty selling their timeshare. Of the 216 complaints, 201 allege deceit and bait and switch on the front end of the sale. Of the 216 complaints, only two came from a Marriott member. It saddens me to see Marriott singled out when the entire industry may be guilty of selling a product that is more smoke and mirrors than reality.

The Marriott racketeering lawsuit was first reported by Paul Brinkmann May 2016 at the Orlando Sentinel

Case No. 6:16-cv-855-Orl-41TBS

According to the suit, Marriott (NYSE: VAC) timeshare customers pay fees associated with owning real estate — such as closing costs and recording fees — but don’t actually own any real estate. Despite not actually being real estate owners, the lawsuit says, buyers are still paying closing costs, recording fees, title policy premiums and real estate taxes.

Marriott has argued, in its motion to dismiss the case, that “plaintiffs have misread the statutes that they assert have been violated” and “the allegations are without merit and the MVC Plan fully complies with applicable law.”

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/brinkmann-on-business/os-marriott-timeshare-rico-20160524-story.html

Except it seemingly did not fully comply with applicable law, so ARDA lobbyists and industry executives forged ahead to initiate legislative changes that would change the definition of “beneficial interest” so that Marriott would comply.

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/brinkmann-on-business/os-comptroller-marriott-rico-20170113-story.html

The following excerpts are from a November 23, 2017 Florida Trend article. The full article is linked below. In bold is my emphasis.

“Engineering the Law” Politico

However, Marriott began fighting the suit on another front. The company turned to the Florida Legislature, acting through the American Resort Development Association, the trade group that represents the timeshare industry. At the time, ARDA’s chairman was Steve Weisz, Marriott Vacations’ president and CEO.

In both provisions, the lobbyist, Gary Hunter, of Hopping, Green & Sams in Tallahassee, included extra sentences saying the changes were meant as “a clarification of existing law” — an effort to ensure Marriott could use them as a retroactive defense in the Lennen lawsuit.

ARDA sent more than talking points and issue briefs. A few days after Hunter sent in the additions to the bill, the organization gave $25,000 to the Republican Party of Florida and another $25,000 to a committee controlled by Senate Republican leaders. In April — on the same day that both the House and Senate scheduled the legislation for floor votes — ARDA gave another $10,000 to the state Republican Party. (ARDA, which represents a heavily regulated industry and works on legislation every year, is a reliable source of money for the state GOP, which controls all levers of state government. The organization gives more than $100,000 to the party and its affiliates every year.)

The legislation passed both chambers in late April, and Gov. Rick Scott signed it into law a month later. After the legislation passed, ARDA gave another $50,000 to the fund controlled by Republican Senate leaders.

Two weeks to the day after the bill became law, Marriott went back in court in Orlando, alerting Judge Mendoza to the new Florida law whose provisions “go to the very heart” of the case. “These clarifications of existing law … decimate much of the complaint,” Marriott’s attorneys wrote.

A spokesman for Marriott declined to comment on either the lawsuit or the legislation. But Hunter, the lobbyist for the American Resort Development Association who worked the bill, says the goal of the legislation isn’t just to help Marriott defend itself. It is, he says, meant to protect the entire timeshare industry from similar attacks in the future, should a judge, who is unlikely to be familiar with the history and intricacies of timeshare law, interpret state statutes in a way that no one in the industry ever intended.

http://www.floridatrend.com/article/23307/engineering-the-law-marriotts-class-action-timeshare-battle

Florida Republican Representative Mike La Rosa, Oceola County was one of the lawmakers behind the amendment along with Republican Senator Travis Hutson, St. Johns County. Representative La Rosa is a member of ALEC. Senator Nan Orrock of Georgia has described ALEC as a “corporate bill mill.”

https://www.alec.org/person/mike-la-rosa/

After the legislative amendment was made, Mr. Brinkmann at the Orlando Sentinel once again picked up the thread:

A third-party observer, Ben Wilcox of the nonprofit government watchdog group Integrity Florida, said the timeshare law changes are suspect.

“It has the appearance of unethical influence, the appearance anyway,” Wilcox said. “The question would be, does it represent misuse of office or conflict of interest? Is it meant only to benefit those corporations and change the rules of the game?”

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/brinkmann-on-business/os-marriott-timeshare-legislation-20170719-story.html

Legal Dept
It’s not unusual for Florida to spearhead legislation that ultimately gets rolled out nationwide. Like the 2017 Florida amendment, in 2015 Florida passed a bill that alarmed advocacy groups. Advocacy groups felt the 2015 bill made it more difficult to be released from timeshare contracts. This new amended 2017 bill is also expected to be rolled out nationwide. ARDA lobbyist Gary Hunter is instructing Senator Hutson to remove language from the proposed 2017 Amendment that provided that the law applied only to Florida properties. He called the language “non-substantive” clearly intending to broaden the reach of the amendment to cover properties from single-site timeshare plans outside of Florida (which make up the bulk of MVC Trust properties).

Timeshare, in my opinion, is virtually an unregulated industry. There is no federal enforcement, and some Attorneys General may be influenced by lobby dollars. Florida is a timeshare Mecca with billions of tourist dollars flowing into the state. As mentioned in Part I, the Florida Timeshare Division only acted on 110 out of 2,360 timeshare complaints from April 2012 to April 2014.   

https://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/29/us/lobbyists-bearing-gifts-pursue-attorneys-general.html

How will it end? I fear big money will get its way at the expense of middle class timeshare buyers, even it means labeling a duck a goose.

Marriott Inside Timeshare July 2017

http://insidetimeshare.com/starting-the-week/

Contact Inside Timeshare or a member sponsored self-help group if you have a timeshare concern or a story to share.

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Thank you Irene and all who helped with this article, especially Mike Finn of Finn Law Group for his legal views, this will certainly be of interest not just to those across the Great Lake, but also those owners in Europe.

If you have any questions or comments on this article or any other timeshare matter, please contact Inside Timeshare and we will do our best to help.