Browse Month

November 2016

thoughts

My Thoughts Today: End of November

Yes, it is that time again, the end of another month and what a month it has been. Canarian Legal Alliance has now had 36 Supreme Court rulings in favour of their clients, the latest was on 28 November.

In the latest ruling, again against Anfi, the British clients will receive £22,940 plus legal interest and legal fees, with their contract being declared null and void. Once again the Supreme Court reiterated their previous judgements that floating weeks are illegal.

This latest ruling comes just 4 days after the Supreme Court ruled against Palm Oasis /Tasolan, again the ruling was about floating weeks. In this case the Norwegian clients have been awarded 8,810€ plus legal interest and legal fees. Their contract was also declared null and void.

It does make you wonder why these companies are taking these cases, which have already been ruled over at the lower courts, all the way to the Supreme Court?

We know that Anfi, the RDO and others, still believe that the courts have got it wrong, but after 36 rulings in favour of clients, one has think are they just trying to delay?

It has to be pointed out that these rulings cannot be changed, the Supreme Court has unanimously found in favour of the consumer on each case, with lower courts now using them in their deliberations.

Tribunal-Supremo

We have even seen this month the High Court Number 4 in Malaga using these judgements in the case against Leisure Group Ltd. In this case the CLA client has been awarded 12,390€ plus legal interest and legal fees. Their contract has also been declared null and void.

Canarian Legal Alliance has now spread its wings from the Canary Islands and over to the mainland. They have had success in the past at the courts in Fuengirola and also in Barcelona, this latest case in Malaga just goes to prove that any contract sold that is illegal will be ruled against no matter where. CLA are certainly becoming a force to be reckoned with.

We have again this month published articles on the changing face of the TCA, it must also be pointed out that several readers have also noticed that articles published here, are several days later appearing on the TCA website. The content has been juggled around a little, but it can be clearly seen from the style of writing where they did originate.

Inside Timeshare is to be honest, quite flattered that they are using our articles, the only problem is one of acknowledgement. When using articles written or published by someone else, it is normal practise to state where this came from citing the source and usually providing a link.

In another piece regarding the TCA, we published the article on incorrect information, this concerned their post on cold calling. In this they stated that “Cold calling in the UK is illegal as it is considered a breach of privacy”. As we showed in the article, cold calling is not illegal, but there are some very important a rules regarding how it is done. These were published along with a link to the Information Commissioner’s website for the full regulations. (see link below)

https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-pecr/electronic-and-telephone-marketing/telephone-marketing/

data-protect

We also highlighted a problem regarding owners data, in this article and the follow up, we looked at the battle going on between the resorts / developers and owners, as to who controls / owns this data.

One of our readers, Edward, wrote part of the first article, here he showed how his resorts community of owners have been trying to use the members database to contact and inform owners of changes at the club. Even the Spanish Data Protection Agency believe that it belongs to the owners and the resorts / developers are only users and custodians of this information.

We all know that lists of members are sold on to others, as we stated in both articles, even Diamond have acknowledged employees and ex-employees have taken data and sold it on. We even explained that for many on the sales staff, keeping records of clients is like an insurance policy, to be used when they no longer have a job. Remember data is a commodity, it can and will be sold, it has yet to be proven if any of this data has been misused by owners committees, that I very much doubt.

Irene also published many articles this month, one was just after the presidential election, this was titled “Dialogue: The Way Forward”.

In this piece she explained how the divisiveness of the election equates to that in the world of timeshare, owners Vs resorts / developers. In the article we address the problem and the only solution, “Dialogue”. The need to work together to ensure that owners and the industry benefit, it is a long shot but somewhere along the line there must be a coming together, if not there will no longer be an industry.

In the article “Illness: Is not a Reason to Surrender your Timeshare” myself and Irene highlighted a very huge problem, that of the elderly and sick. This is a problem for owners on both sides of the great lake, we have seen this with the ongoing story of Mrs B and MacDonald Resorts. Owners unable to use or travel due to illness yet still paying maintenance and being unable to surrender their membership. In some cases they can, but the financial penalty is quite often a huge one, for instance, MacDonald Resorts want 4 years worth of maintenance, but this is not guaranteed, it is if they “allow” you out. (see link below regarding MacDonalds)

http://insidetimeshare.com/macdonald-resorts-reasonable-recompense-relinquishing/

Tauro Beach also came into the news again this week, with the announcement that the Canarian Government was revoking the concession awarded to Anfi Group for the Tauro Beach Project. This follows the prosecution of the former head of the Coastal Authority, the investigation into the Mayor of Mogan over the permissions and licenses given for the project. This will obviously cost Anfi a fortune, not just what they have already spent on it, but the cost of repairing the damage caused. The question is now who will foot the bill, the company or the members with increased maintenance?

Playa-Anfi-Tauro-Canarias-Ahora_EDIIMA20160716_0223_18

So, that is November, it now remains to be seen what happens in December. Although with the Christmas and new year period, it will be a rather quiet month. Inside Timeshare would like to thank Irene and all the other contributors to the articles published this month. These contributions help to make Inside Timeshare more balanced, they also provide a great source of information which might just get missed.

If you require any information on any article published, or you have something we have missed, Inside Timeshare would love to hear from you. If you have a story you would like to share, contact us and we will work with you to publish it.

across-the-pond

The Alphabet Soup of Timeshare Lobby Organizations: TATOC – RDO – ARDA ROC & CARDA

Should Resort Timeshare Owners Worldwide Pay the Voluntary ARDA ROC Contribution?

questman    By Charles Thomas and Irene Parker

November 27, 2016

Across the oceanic great divide, there is an alphabet soup of timeshare political lobby organizations.  Are they on the side of the timeshare owner or on the side of the developer?

First off, who are they and what are they:

RDO (Charles)

TATOC (Charles)

The RDO, or Resorts Development Organisation, is the trade association for the timeshare industry in Europe, its function is to ensure standards within the industry are maintained and that members abide by a code of conduct. These members fund the organisation with annual subscriptions, they also provide the board of directors, it is a self policing organisation, funded and controlled by the people who make their money selling the products.

The RDO says that it helps to protect the consumer, but as we know, it is their own members who have breached the timeshare laws, just look at the many cases being brought in Spain. The only protection they appear to offer consumers is constantly attacking any company offering a service who is not one of their members. They say you should only deal with RDO “accredited” companies, any other company who is not a member is likely to be a scam.

The press has highlighted in the past, many transgressions RDO members have perpetrated, MacDonald Resorts is just one. This company was the subject of several articles by the Award Winning Journalist Tony Hetherington, one was titled “The timeshare contract that even death will not save you from”. It followed the story of one owner who could not get out of her contract on the death of her husband. What did the RDO do, nothing.

They state one of their missions is to “Educate” journalists as they are ill informed on the subject, that the industry has been the victim of poorly researched articles. Yet these articles are highlighting the plight of their own members customers!

Another partner of the RDO is TATOC, The Association of Timeshare Owners Committees, as the name suggests they represent the owners committees, but how can they represent owners when they are also funded by the industry?

The current CEO, Harry Taylor is no stranger to the Industry, between 14 June 2007 and 18 June 2013, he was listed as a director with Diamond Resorts European Collection Ltd. The strange thing is he is also listed as being appointed director of TATOC at the same time, 23 January 2007. (See Company House PDF).

harry-taylor-personal-appointments-free-information-from-companies-house

TATOC should be representing your rights, but we have seen on many occasions they have backed the plans of the resorts / developers themselves, again a case in point is MacDonald Resorts. There has been a move by this company to remove all fixed week owners into their points system, this has been resisted by many owners and is the subject of ongoing battles. Yet the advice from TATOC is to change to the points system, saying it will be better for them, backing MacDonald Resorts to the hilt at the expense of the people they say they represent.

It has been stated by Inside Timeshare many times, there does need to be dialogue between owners, resorts and developers, but the owners should be a separate voice, not one funded (run) by the industry. (See following link on trade associations inc, Tony Hetherington articles)

http://insidetimeshare.com/new-member-egtbw/

As for the “voluntary contributions” added to maintenance bills, this does not appear to be the case in Europe, so far we have not seen this and it is possible it would be highly contested if it were to be introduced.

ARDA and ARDA ROC

Timeshare owners worldwide who own a timeshare in the US may pay more attention to ARDA ROC’S “Voluntary” donation this year. Depending on the developer, the fee can range from $3 to $10. Owners must call their resort accounting department to have the charge removed unless it is an “opt-in” request.

For owners asking: “ARDA what?” – ARDA stands for American Resort Development Association and ROC is the timeshare owner arm – Resort Owner’s Coalition.

One reason timeshare owners are taking a closer look is because legislation passed in Florida last year outraged timeshare owners and timeshare advocacy groups. The legislation went into effect July 1, 2015.

One clause, simply put, “Currently, if there are errors in the contract, then a buyer has a right under Florida law to cancel that contract after 10 days. Under the new bill, errors or omissions that are “nonmaterial” would NOT allow a buyer to cancel after 10 days.” (Deanna from Winning the Timeshare Game)

http://timesharegame.com/florida-bill-weaken-timeshare-protections/

RedWeek also weighed in:

http://www.redweek.com/resources/ask-redweek/arda-roc-donation-in-maintenance-bill

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hot-off-the-press

Tauro Beach Project: Canarian Government Revoke Anfi Concession.

The newspaper La Provincia on 27 November 2016 has published news on the ongoing problems with the Tauro Beach Project, it has been announced that the Canary Island Government is to revoke the concessions awarded to Anfi for the development of this area.

la-provincia

This comes after the investigation started by SEPRONA, the Guardia Civil  Nature Protection Service into irregularities into the licences and permissions that were granted. We have already seen the head of the Coastal Authority, Jose Maria Hernandez, dismissed from his post and facing charges for “Breach of Trust” and Forgery of documents. This case has been declared admissible by Court No3 of San Bartolome de Tirajana. Also an investigation is underway into the Mayor of Mogan, over her involvement.

It transpires that Anfi are being stripped of the concession and being accused of starting the work without providing the correct paperwork. They have also been accused of encroaching on land that was not part of the original project and not completing the project correctly. It appears that they have only laid sand on a fraction of the beach, 1300 sq meters and not the 3811 sq meters as agreed. Environmentalist are also up in arms as the 70,000tonnes of sand imported from the Sahara has not been treated. This according to them means it could contain “invasive species”, which could have a detrimental effect on the local environment.

Playa-Anfi-Tauro-Canarias-Ahora_EDIIMA20160716_0223_18

The current permits allow Anfi to develop the beach area, building hotels, commercial center and beach services for profit, with the concession running for 50 years. Because of the infractions uncovered, the licences and permits will be revoked, with initial proceedings being heard at the local court of San Bartolome de Tirajana.

This is certainly a huge blow for the Anfi Group and the new 50% owners Lopesan. The financial consequences of this could be huge, it may mean that Anfi will have to spend to put things right, but it also means they have lost the huge investments already made in the project.

It now remains to be seen what will happen next, will there be more charges as the investigation continues?

How is this all going to affect Anfi as a whole, will it mean an increase in maintenance to help cover the losses incurred in the project?

As the investigation goes on, Inside Timeshare will bring you the news as it comes out.

Click on the PDF links for the La Provincia article:

costas-abre-expediente-al-grupo-anfi-para-revocarle-la-concesion-de-tauro-la-provincia-diario-de-las-palmas

costas-open-file-to-the-anfi-group-to-revoke-the-granting-of-taurus-the-province-diario-de-las-palmas

Follow these links for more information:

https://m.facebook.com/notes/gran-canaria/surprise-tauro-beach-so-dodgy-the-government-is-taking-it-away/1664104110273792

https://youtu.be/txEIuzIT7M4

http://insidetimeshare.com/first-prosecution-tauro-beach-project-filed/

http://insidetimeshare.com/mayor-mogan-investigation-anfi-tauro-beach-project/

http://insidetimeshare.com/tauro-beach-project-latest-news/

http://insidetimeshare.com/anfi-tauro-beach-project-people-flooded/

If you have any questions about this story, contact Inside Timeshare and we will be pleased to answer them. If you have any information about this or any other subject Inside Timeshare would like to hear from you.

latest news

MacDonald Resorts and Reasonable Recompense for Relinquishing.

Inside Timeshare has run several article on the difficulty many people have in “getting out” of their timeshares, not just in Europe but also in the USA.

Recently one of our regular readers Alan Stewart sent in some information which to say the least was staggering, this involved one company that we have written about in the past, MacDonald Resorts.

As we know they have put into place a relinquishment programme, which they believe is fair, most would not agree. Under their system a limited number of people can apply to hand back their membership, this is on a first come first served basis. It is also only offered every other year with limited numbers. Another aspect is the amount of maintenance they require in order to hand back, four years worth. For many that could be a huge amount.

The information Alan has supplied, apparently from the AGM documents is as follows:

From the Villacana Club;

36 apartments have been removed from the club and transferred to MRL. (MacDonald Resorts Ltd)

939 Holiday Certificates have been given back to MRL.

Also that £417,163 went into the Clubs Sinking Funds because of the money paid by owners to get out, but what it doesn’t say is that £1,251,489 went into MRL’s own pocket because of this.

I have just found out that they have also got from Elmers Court £1,091,985 that’s £2,343,474 so far from just two clubs.

I wonder just how much they received altogether from all the Clubs for their so called “REASONABLE RECOMPENSE”

In his message Alan uses the term from MacDonalds themselves “REASONABLE RECOMPENSE”. What is reasonable about taking these amounts from members who have paid their maintenance bills for years?

Why do they still pursue old ladies such as Mrs B for non payment, even though they paid for 10 years without using due to illness? (see link below)

http://insidetimeshare.com/illness-not-reason-surrender-timeshare/

It is well known that for these companies to continue to operate they need the maintenance / management fee from you their members. With an ageing membership and the lack of “new blood” buying into these clubs, they have dwindling finances, as they tell you themselves, the cost will be passed to remaining members. That is the excuse they use for “Reasonable Recompense” from those wanting to leave.

The question is why are people not wanting to buy in?

The simple answer is the internet now offers a bigger choice, without the problem of maintenance, another reason is probably down to the industry itself. Many may have seen the problems associated with timeshare from their own parents and family, this would obviously put them off. So again the industry has only itself to blame. Unfortunately it will be the remaining owners who will have to stump up the money to keep these clubs going, after all someone has to pay and it will not be the company.

Thank you to Alan for the information, it is through people like yourself that we can share with and inform others of what is going on.

friend-or-foe

Timeshare Transfer Agents and Exit Companies: Friend or Foe?

Irene Parker and I take a look at timeshare relinquishment comparing Europe to America. As many Europeans own timeshares purchased in America, it’s useful to have the complete picture. This time she asks the question “Timeshare Transfer Agents: Friend or Foe?

For those not familiar with the term, Transfer Agents advertise offering timeshare owners a guaranteed “deed-back” even if the timeshare program is not deeded. (more on this further on).

In Europe we have a different take on this subject, as we do not have the same model of Transfer Agents like the US. We tend to have resale firms and exit companies, some purport to be legal firms, who for a sizeable fee will relinquish your contract. Many of these companies do both, so the lines can be a ltiile blurred. Although we do have some of the same problems, such as resorts /developers who do not recognise the sale and or transfer.

Here we bring in the ongoing story of two elderly sisters, known as Mrs B. Around two years ago they took up the services of a company  who claimed they would get compensation for them if they joined their “Class Action” group. But in order to do this they had to pay around £5965 to relinquish their two timeshares, one was Oasis Lanz in Lanzarote, the other was Dona Lola Club on the Costa del Sol, run by MacDonald Resorts and Hotels.

Mrs B signed a power of attorney so the company could work on her behalf, all appeared to be above board. After around a year she eventually received notification that her timeshare had gone, both had been transferred / sold to a gentleman for £1 each. Inside Timeshare has all documents relating to this.

Sounds all well and good.

Well, as far as Oasis Lanz is concerned it is, Mrs B has not had any contact from them or received any maintenance bills. The problem is Dona Lola Club and MacDonald Resorts, they will not recognise the transfer. This has now caused a problem for Mrs B and her sister.

They have been subject to threats of legal action by a debt collecting agency, Network Credit Services, employed by MacDonald Resorts. According to them there is £1412.54 (as of April 2016) for maintenance, accrued after the supposed transfer, (this amount increases as time goes on).

So why do MacDonald Resorts not recognise this transfer?

On speaking to Network Credit Services and explaining that the debt was under dispute, Maureen stated that MacDonald Resorts will not recognise any transfer made by this company, because in Maureens words McDonalds just get paperwork back from  saying no longer required”. In other words, there was no actual sale or legal relinquishment. You will see the same in the article by Irene, using a company to take on the transfers.

This case is still ongoing with official complaints about the chasing of this “debt” going through the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Another aspect that is very common in Europe is the “Bait and Switch” tactic employed by many companies claiming to be “resale” firms.

The basis of this method is very simple, the timeshare owner either contacts a company they have found on the internet, or, they have been cold called by. They promise they can sell your timeshare and even give a very high valuation over the phone. Next they arrange a meeting to discuss your options.

Unfortunately there is no resale market, with one company actually stating this, so what then happens?

Simple, in order to get rid of your timeshare you must now purchase another product, be it leisure credits or discount holiday club. At the meeting ( read sales presentation), you are told that the product will cost around £10k to £12k. But don’t worry, we will discount that price for the value of your timeshare, so it will only cost you a fraction of that amount.

This was used to dupe many owners into Club Class and DWVC, where the incentive was the cashback offer. With this you are given a certificate for the value of the timeshare plus the cost of joining the club. In 3 to 5 years, as long as you follow the rules (which were complicated) you could then claim back the value on the certificate. So far we have never known anyone who did get paid out.

But what happened to your timeshare?

For many it was simple, they did not get rid of it, then after a couple of years they found they owned years of back maintenance. The timeshares were not transferred or relinquished, they are still liable for the maintenance and still own it, causing many a stressful situation with debt collectors.

So, let us look at what the situation is in the USA.

Timeshare Transfer Agents: Friend or Foe?

dollar    By Irene Parker November 20, 2016

Lately, a company by the name of Resort Release has been running an ad on my Facebook feed. It is always frustrating to invest time and energy campaigning to improve the timeshare industry, only to have companies we don’t approve of take out ads promoting their service. At least Inside Timeshare can control who posts on their site.

Transfer agents advertise offering timeshare owners a guaranteed “deed-back” even if the timeshare program is not deeded. The upfront fee ranges from $3500 to $7000 or more. Contracts taken back are “bundled” 25 to 50 and sold back to the developers, similar to what happened during the worldwide subprime mortgage crisis. The developers resell for full value.

What else can happen to the points or weeks or “inventory” recovered?

According to Greg Crist of the National Timeshare Owners Association,   

“There are basically four buckets that transfer companies often attempt to put inventory into…

Bucket 1 – Works with an inventory broker who may or may not have a direct inventory recovery agreement. *Branded properties only

Bucket 2 – Lists timeshare properties on eBay and Craig’s List for $1.00

Bucket 3 – Transfers to “Mules” *Foreign Nationals who may be judgement proof

Bucket 4 – Transfers to Companies who later dissolve the corporation administratively. *Leaves resort pursuing a clouded title, doubling recovery costs and impacting association’s bad debt line, which all remaining owners on the roster end up absorbing.”

saleman

Keep Reading

cold-calling

Timeshare Consumer Association: Incorrect Information

What are the regulations regarding cold calling?

This question has been prompted by the latest post on the TCA website, in their post they talk about a company based in Barcelona called La Moneda, this particular company was highlighted on 4 November by Mindtimeshare. This in itself is not the problem, it is the incorrect information they give regarding cold calling.

They state “Cold calling in the UK is illegal as it is considered a breach of privacy”. This is actually incorrect, according to the Information Commissioner’s Office website they state:

You can call any individual who has specifically consented to receive marketing calls from you – for example, by ticking an opt-in box”.

“You can also make live calls without consent to a number if it is not listed on the TPS – but only if that person hasn’t objected to your calls in the past”.

“In practice, this means you will need to screen most call lists against the TPS register. You will also need to keep your own ‘do not call’ list of people who object or opt out, and screen against that as well”

call-centre-2

The rules for live marketing calls are very simple and are as follows (again taken from ICO website):

“The rules on live marketing calls are in regulation 21. In short, you must not make unsolicited live calls to:

  • anyone who has told you they don’t want your calls; or
  • any number registered with the TPS or CTPS, unless the person has specifically consented to your calls – even if they are an existing customer.

You must always say who is calling, allow your number (or an alternative contact number) to be displayed to the person receiving the call, and provide a contact address or freephone number if asked”.

TPS is the Telephone Preference Service for individuals, all lists must be screened through this service, but it only applies to companies based in the UK, any company based elsewhere is not bound by it.

CTPS is the Company Telephone Preference Service and is for companies and other corporate bodies.

calls

We know that cold calls can be annoying, but it is a legitimate marketing tool, as long as the regulations are adhered to. In the end you are the one in control, you can just say not interested and ask them to remove you from their list. Once you asked them to remove you, then it is illegal for them to call again.

It is just a shame that a so-called Consumer Advice Association cannot even get their facts right, so the question has to be asked, can you trust any advice they give?

I leave you to decide on that one.

Follow the link for more information on this subject:

https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-pecr/electronic-and-telephone-marketing/telephone-marketing/

If you have any questions or comments on any article published, contact Inside Timeshare, if we do not know the answer we will find it.

locked-in

Illness: Is not a Reason to Surrender Your Timeshare!

Today’s article is one many European owners will identify with, getting out of your timeshare when no longer being able to use or travel due to illness. Yet they are expected to continue to pay the yearly and often risings maintenance fees regardless, Mrs B a MacDonalds owner that Inside Timeshare has been working with for around 6 months is a classic case. She and her sister owned at the Dona Lola Club, they purchased around 15 years ago, due to illness both of them were unable to use or travel, even to the resorts in the UK for the past 11 years. Yet they continued to pay the maintenance year on year.

MacDonalds would not let them surrender, despite their ages (both over 80) and the fact they are both unable to travel. Eventually they signed up with a company to get rid of the timeshare, this was duly done and recorded by a notary, (we have the documentation). Unfortunately MacDonalds do not recognise the transfer and have sent in a debt collection agency to recover the unpaid maintenance. (The case is with the Financial Ombudsman).

Is it fair that people such as Mrs B and Ralph Marble should be tied into something they can no longer use or even afford?

Once again Irene Parker has sent the following article on the case of Ralph Marble and his Diamond Resorts membership.

Should those with Debilitating Medical Issues be required to pay Vacation Maintenance Fees until they Die or until the end of their Descendant Lineage?

image03       By Irene Parker        November 14, 2016

Mae West, German Immigrant turned Vaudeville and then Hollywood star famously said, “Less is more.”

image00

Today, we ask timeshare developers, ARDA, TATOC, RDO this simple question:

Is what happened to Ralph Marble alright with you?

http://www.clickorlando.com/news/investigators/timeshare-woes-for-one-man-who-tried-to-cancel-after-an-illness

Surely not even Wall Street, venture capitalists and private equity investors think the situation that exists, requiring those with serious illnesses to pay maintenance fees for vacations they can’t take, is all right? If they do, there is something deeply wrong with our society.

According to the interview,

Marble told Washington that he tried to cancel his timeshare membership several times to no avail. Marble was told they couldn’t let him out of his membership, even though he disclosed to them that he had a medical condition.

Diamond Resorts International responded with a letter stating, “We are unable to grant your request, a surrender of ownership.”

Statements from Marble’s membership show that maintenance fees have gone up every year.

The first initial payment was $200 a year, but the last bill he received was for $684.

Michael Finn of the Finn Law Group only handles timeshare cases, and he says Marble’s story is not uncommon.  “It’s not intended to let anybody out and it’s intended to be a lifetime obligation.”

The timeshare industry is a billion-dollar industry, and once you join many say you can’t get out.

And if you think that you can sell your timeshare, Finn says think again. “The resale market for timeshares is nearly non-existent. Your timeshare must be paid off, and most are completely worthless.”

Marble said he attempted to sell his timeshare twice. “They turned out to be bogus, they went off with our money,” he told reporter Washington.

The good news for Marble was that Diamond Resorts International did let him out of his contract after we (the reporter) contacted them.

Is the media our only hope?

Diamond Resorts International released the following statement:

“At Diamond Resorts International, we regularly work with our owners who find themselves in difficult health, financial or other circumstances and are seeking to relinquish their ownership. These requests are considered on a case-by-case basis. In addition, earlier this year we announced a program called Transitions by Diamond Resorts that will launch in the coming months. It is intended to formalize the process for owners in good standing who wish to relinquish their ownership without having to resort to third party timeshare relief companies.”

Mae West also said, “Your line isn’t low enough to trip me.”

image02    Public awareness is our goal. Prospective timeshare buyers should ask:

  1. May I take the unsigned contract and have a timeshare lawyer review it?
  2. May I see a five year history of maintenance fee increases?
  3. Please provide details of a secondary market. In the US, owners can call a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association to ask, in advance of signing a contract, whether a secondary market exists for the timeshare you are considering.

http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

To find out what your timeshare is worth, check Sharket: https://sharket.com/

For those Diamond Resorts owners in Europe, there is at least a ray of hope, Diamond are putting into place ways that people can surrender their membership. They already have a programme whereby those over 75 can be released.

They also allow for those where a partner has died and the remaining member can surrender, there is also provision for those in financial difficulty and illness to also hand back. Much of this may be due to the changes in the timeshare laws within Europe, which have strengthened legislation in favour of the consumer.

Inside Timeshare also asks the same question as Irene, is it right that people such as Ralph Marble and Mrs B be locked into paying for something they no longer have any use for, especially when maintenance has been paid when never used?

I think we all know the answer to that question.

It now remains to be seen what the trade bodies ARDA, RDO and TATOC have to say about this, after all it is their own members who are making life difficult for owners such as these. Surely, there must be a way forward, it does the industry no good when matters like this get into the news, giving the impression that it is an industry solely interested in getting your money. At least for Ralph his nightmare is over, thanks mainly to the publicity and help from News 6 and the story from Eryka Washington.

Inside Timeshare would like to thank Irene for another insight into the world of timeshare in the USA. If you have any questions or comments about this or any other article, Inside Timeshare would like to hear from you.

catch-up

Catching up on Some News.

Catching up with some of the news from last week, Canarian Legal Alliance look to be on a role, another four Supreme Court ruling have been announced. 2 November, they announce 3 rulings in one day, then on 11 November they announced another.

Again these ruling reaffirmed previous judgements from Spain’s Highest Court, contract over 50 years, Floating weeks and the taking of deposits during the cooling off period all ruled illegal, with the contracts being declared null and void. Just on these four alone a total of 95,570€ has been recovered.

CLA also announced the payout of 41,190€ by Anfi to their Finnish clients, the contract was also declared null and void. As the spokesperson for CLA confirmed, the courts are taking notice of the Supreme Court, sentences are coming through faster and the payments are also getting quicker.

It was also announced that Court No 5 of The First Instance in Tenerife, found for their British clients against Resort Properties / Silverpoint. In this judgement the court used the precedent of the contracts being over 50 years to make their ruling. The client will receive £17,476 plus legal interest, with the contract being declared null and void.

It certainly appears from the the way these judgements are coming in, the process is getting faster. With all the new cases this law firm has in various stages of the legal process, there will be many more being announced. At present, they seem to be announcing at least 3 rulings each week, sometimes more.

http://www.canarianlegalalliance.com/news/

On another note, it has been publicised that Tolemex Ltd (Bridgewell Consultants Ltd), owning company of the Timeshare Consumers Association and the forum timesharetalk has officially filed to be “struck off” the companies register. So the company is being dissolved, the question is why?

We know that this company is part of the Monster family, with Mark Rowe being the sole director, we also know there is a move by the law firm Athena Law to bring a case against them for liable. Could this be a method to avoid it?

To add to this it was also announced that Monster Travel and Sellmytimeshare.tv (Hollywood Marketing SL) have also had their membership terminated with the Direct Marketing Authority. This comes after an investigation by the Direct Marketing Commission, who found they had breached the codes of conduct laid down by the DMA.

So the next question is what will happen to the TCA if the owning company is dissolved?

Who or what company will take control?

Is it the end for the TCA?

These questions may be answered sometime in the future, but until then we will keep watching and report it when the news breaks.

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Dialogue: The Way Forward!

Today Inside Timeshare publishes another article submitted by Irene Parker, with the end of the election in the USA, Irene looks at the divide in the nation and how this also equates to the divide in the timeshare world. In this article she looks at the great gap between owners and developers, using a video from Parker J. Palmer titled Stand in the Tragic Gap, showing how there are two sides to any controversial issue.

Again Irene calls on developers to join with owners to find a solution which will benefit both parties, it has been said before in previous articles, until both parties work together then there is little hope for this industry. There are many owners who love what they have, but there are also many who feel they have been let down, either with the “resale” or “secondary” market, or down to the problem of handing back when no longer being able to use either from illness, financial changes or just old age. This is also a problem for many owners in Europe, some developers have put in place exit strategies, some are fair, others are downright greedy with up to 4 years maintenance payments and only limited numbers being allowed to exit on a first come first served basis. In other words you need the luck of a lottery win.

Inside Timeshare hopes this article will explain the problem and how it can be solved, enjoy.

 

How Will the Outcome of the US Presidential Election Affect Timeshare?

c1By Irene Parker, November 9, 2016

Like the Clinton and Trump camps, timeshare owners and developers cannot heal until the two sides listen to each other. If we continue to

“Stand in the Tragic Gap”

Timeshare will continue to be a battlefield with timeshare owners at odds with timeshare developers. True and meaningful dialogue could heal an election or timeshare. Sometimes timeshare and elections overlap, as in the case of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi:

http://insidetimeshare.com/news-across-pond/

According to the Tragic Gap, creator Parker J. Palmer says there are two sides to any controversial issue. One side Parker Palmer calls “corrosive cynicism” – “greed is how this works, I take mine, run and forget these other people and their needs.” The other side is “irrelevant idealism”. Parker Palmer claims both sides cause a functional disconnect that takes us out of action.

Ironically, my name is Parker and the CEO of Diamond Resorts is David Palmer.

Take a listen:

http://www.couragerenewal.org/723/

Next consider:

Timeshare owners of the Diamond Resorts Grand Beach Resort, a 192-unit property in Orlando, Fla. … learned in a letter in September that their annual maintenance fee would rise 14.9 percent this year.

But here’s how the CEO, David Palmer, described it to investors in 2014, per a NY Times article written by Pulitzer winner Gretchen Morganson

“Anything that is put in the budget that gets expended on an annual basis, we get our 15 percent fee,” Mr. Palmer explained to investors at a September 2014 conference, according to a transcript. “That is basically a 100 percent profit business.”

Many remember the junk bond debacle and subprime mortgage issues that drove unsuspecting homeowners into foreclosure, while unscrupulous lenders like Drexel Burnham Lambert made billions.

Keep Reading

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Owners Data: Update.

Inside Timeshare has received an email from Greg Crist, CEO of the NTOA in response to Edwards article yesterday on Owners Data. In his email Greg addresses the fact the developers community has been battling the issue of the the breach of owners records for decades. In his opening he states:

“I think the developer community has been dealing with “owner records data breach issue” for decades. Those lists of owners have been stolen…sold and resold many times over and it continues to happen at present day. (***Get a quote from the Orlando Florida PD – timeshare resale task force…and they will tell you that people are making more money selling lists of owner records than actually selling timeshare or resale***)”.

When you consider the last part, that people can make more money from selling these lists than selling timeshare or resale, it goes to show how valuable this information is. It is not just timeshare that has suffered, in the UK there was a proliferation of calls regarding PPI (Payment Protection Insurance), again where did this information come from? Was it stolen by ex-employees or sold by the companies themselves?

landing-pages

 

There is also another form of compiling these lists which does not involve theft, that is the landing page on the web. When searching the internet for say a resale company, you will quite often find a website which offers the service, on many there are no company details, they direct you to a form which you then fill in. It will ask for your contact information, what timeshare you own, the maintenance fees etc. This information is then sold to resale companies for quite substantial amounts per lead. There is nothing wrong in this, you have initiated the search and voluntarily given the information.

Another area which has resulted in personal information being sold is one that many have fallen foul of. When taking out a loan or even applying for a store rewards card, such as Tesco Club Card, how many people did not tick the box, this box was the opt out for your information being passed on to third parties, which may have or provide goods and services which may be of interest to you. Whether it has been changed we don’t know, but many declared that it should be an “opt in” not an “opt out”, quite simply the box was so small most never even noticed it.

The two examples above are not illegal, what is illegal is for employees or ex-employees to steal and then sell this information. In the world of timeshare, especially in Europe, many sales staff in the past were on commission only, in many cases some of the sales companies did all they could to withhold commissions. It was not uncommon for a client to “cancel” then the salesperson did not get paid, when in reality the client completed. This practise was instrumental in staff “stealing” the data, many even kept their own records for future use, a kind of unemployment insurance policy.

data-theft

Wyndham according to Greg has gone after former employees:

Wyndham has actually pursued former employees who either acquired the data illegally or purchased it from an insider to use for the thief’s own ill-gotten gains”.

As mentioned in yesterday’s article, Diamond has also informed their members of a claims company set up by ex-employees, who they say are using “stolen” client lists. They then contact the owners with a view to claiming compensation for misselling.

This is a problem and one can understand the industry in their view that legislation preventing owners groups such as HOA or Owners Committees from accessing this information, will protect them. But the question is who stole the information, was it the owners or the employees?

Will this legislation stop the theft of these lists by employees? Somehow we think not.

As highlighted in Edwards article, the Spanish Data Protection Agency even stated the information belonged to the owners, the resorts or management company were just “Custodians”. The Community of Owners are the true owner and controller. Yet we see them being denied access using data protection and protecting them from abuse as an excuse.

Is this just another example of a huge divide between the industry and owners?

In the end the developers need to work with owners if the industry is to survive, they need to listen and take note of the concerns of the people who in effect pay their wages and keep them in business. Without some level of cooperation there is no hope, both sides will be at loggerheads and who in the end will be the losers?

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