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December 2016

end-year

2016 End of Year Review

So here we are at the end of another year and what a year it has been, it started with the relaunch of Inside Timeshare, bringing you truthful information and news you would otherwise not get.

One of our first articles explained what fly buys are, the fact you would get a cheap holiday but be subject to attending a presentation. At this you would be pitched a holiday product of some sort, be it a holiday club or timeshare. The article also warned of the pitfalls of not attending the presentation, either being charged the full accommodation price and in many cases being removed from the resort.

We also highlighted many “scams” that timeshare owners have been subjected to over the years including many new ones. The latest being the article on Litigious Abogados (see links). We also showed how some of the so-called resale companies operate, giving you the reader the information to make an informed choice.

http://insidetimeshare.com/1059-2/

http://insidetimeshare.com/litigious-abogados-update/

http://insidetimeshare.com/litigious-abogados-latest-information/

CLA Logo

Another theme Inside Timeshare published was the on-going woes of Anfi, the first article titled: “The Great ANFI Battle of the Partners”, explained the story of the two partners in the Anfi empire, the Lyngs and the Cazorlas. We then published the story of legal history being made with the very first Supreme Court ruling, this was the case of the Norwegian lady, Mrs Tove Grimsbo and her battle with Anfi. The case was brought on her behalf by Canarian Legal Alliance.

Since that auspicious occasion, Canarian Legal Alliance has gone from strength to strength, securing 36 rulings from the Highest Court in Spain, 29 of these have been against Anfi. Others have been against TasolanPalm Oasis and Holiday Club Puerto Calma, with the ruling against Puerto Calma confirming the Fractional did indeed come under Timeshare Laws. This resulted in around 243,000 Euros being returned to a British client.

There have also been 24 High Court and 21 Local Court rulings against various timeshare companies including Resort Properties / Silverpoint and Club La Costa. Some of these Courts have been in Maspalomas, Arona, Barcelona and Fuengirola. There are approximately 800 live cases in various courts and over 2000 clients. The total claim value is around 80 million Euro, with 117.208.00 Euros reclaimed per month, there are on average 2 to 3 cases per week being heard.

(These figures are what we have on file, there have obviously been more cases, but we have yet to receive an update).

This is certainly an impressive achievement by this law firm, who has in the past suffered from some very negative press instigated by the industry itself. Inside Timeshare congratulates the whole team at Canarian Legal Alliance, including the clients who in some cases have waited years for these results.

Another series of articles have been about MacDonald Resorts and the ongoing battle of Mrs B, now known as Mrs Price. It is a case that has riled us at Inside Timeshare, who are fighting on her behalf. The story revolves around MacDonald Resorts refusal to accept that she no longer owns a timeshare at Dona Lola in Spain, continuing to harass this 87 year old via a debt collecting agency Network Credit Services. This harassment has included threats of court action to recover a debt that is not owed, this case has been referred to the Financial Ombudsman Service. Inside Timeshare will continue to highlight this case until MacDonald Resorts abandon the chase for money. It must also be noted that the RDO, which is the industry trade body has also washed their hands of this company.

In the April article “The Resurrected” a warning was issued about an old company from Fuengirola had come back to life. It is the story of Ramirez and Ramirez, who several years ago were very active in deceiving many timeshare and holiday club members out of thousands for bogus claims. It must be said that very little has been heard of them since.

Mark of excellence

We have also had a few light hearted moments, although they did come with a serious message. In the spoof article “A New Member to EGTBW”, it explained about the trade bodies for the timeshare industry operate. This was extremely fun to write and gave many people a good laugh, the only problem was that it was actually based on fact.

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

Back in July we started to publish the ongoing story of the Tauro Beach Project, the fact that irregularities had been uncovered and an investigation had been started by the Guardia Civil Nature Protection Service (SEPRONA). As the story unfolded the Head of The Canarian Coastal Authority had been dismissed and is now awaiting trial for wrong doing in public office and forgery of official documents. Then in August we published the story of the local inhabitants and their homes being flooded, this instigated further investigations which also include the local mayor. The story continues. (search Tauro Beach for further information).

We also teamed up with Irene Parker in the United States, she has provided some valuable information and interesting articles on the world of timeshare across the Great Lake. Below is her latest article.

What Timeshare Owners Can Look forward to:

Timeshare Lawsuits 2017

By Irene Parker,  December 26, 2016

2017

Our Inside Timeshare mission is to offer timeshare owners accurate reporting on both the good and bad aspects of timeshare today. While we admit we bear more to the negative side of timeshare reporting, this thirteen page report from the US Department of Justice listing timeshare scams explains why:

https://search.justice.gov/search?query=timeshare+fraud&op=Search&affiliate=justice

The other reason is because the industry is not well regulated. Timeshare owners do not have the level of organization or funds necessary to compete with timeshare developer lobbyists. Lobbyists used to primarily direct their efforts towards influencing lawmakers, but more and more efforts are now being directed towards influencing US Attorneys general:

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

Looking to 2017, we need to look back and reflect on timeshare’s unresolved and continuing legal battles. Timeshare developers, former timeshare sales agents and  solicitors, timeshare owners, federal and state regulators and advocates continue to weigh in on possible changes that will make timesharing more owner friendly and less predatory.

Will the final piece of this legal and regulatory puzzle result in a less aggressive and deceptive industry – or will practices continue unabated and unchecked resulting in more of the same?

round-table

Westgate

Westgate is facing lawsuits in several jurisdictions and a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Investigation. Allegations include fraudulent and deceptive business practices ranging from high pressure sales tactics, failure to honor timely rescission requests, elder abuse, illegal debt collection practices and impermissible telephone solicitations.” The Capitol Forum June 27, 2016

https://www.buzzfeed.com/matthewzeitlin/financial-regulators-are-looking-into-americas-largest-times?utm_term=.pbyQ8MPbx#.pmA2BeVyM

Colorado Attorney General

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman is suing Highlands Resort, Sedona Pines and twelve other defendants for deceptive trade practices.

Another US Attorney General Exposes Deceptive Tactics.

Wyndham $20 Million

Former Wyndham sales agent Trish Williams was awarded $20 million for exposing deceptive sales practices. While the amount will probably be reduced on appeal, it sends a message that courts and juries are listening.  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/25/business/my-soul-feels-taller-a-whistle-blowers-20-million-vindication.html?_r=0

Hyatt

Candace Czarny and two other former Hyatt timeshare agents would like to see the industry improved. They are in year five of a class action alleging deceptive practice.

http://insidetimeshare.com/whistleblowers-expose-timeshare-sales-tactics/

The Manhattan Club

Attorney Douglass Wasser represents 30 Manhattan Club defendants.

“To my knowledge there has been no dismissal of any Manhattan Club proceeding at this point.  The NY Attorney General investigation is proceeding, and the motion to dismiss a currently pending class action suit has been adjourned to January 5, 2017 for now. Three prior class action suits at the Manhattan Club have been dismissed.  But, at least for the time being, the current class action still survives,” Mr. Wasser reported November 15. 2016

http://www.reuters.com/article/manhattan-club-ruling-idUSL1N18U0DL

Marriott Racketeering

“The Marriott racketeering lawsuit seeks to abolish Marriott’s points program, which attorney said is unique among timeshare companies. It also seeks the return of fees and costs paid by buyers.” Paul Brinkmann reported October 13, 2016 for the The Orlando Sentinel.

 http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/brinkmann-on-business/os-marriott-timeshare-racketeering-20161013-story.html

Diamond Resorts

A recent class action was filed against Diamond Resorts:

https://topclassactions.com/lawsuit-settlements/lawsuit-news/348667-diamond-resorts-class-action-high-pressure-timeshare-sales-deceptive/

Matt Daniel Finazzo, et al. v. Diamond Resorts International Club Inc., Case No. 5:16-cv-02256, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

holidays-are-hereI don’t mean to be the Grinchess that stole Christmas, so to end on a positive note,

People are listening!

Charles Thomas and I are hearing from people all over the world who are joining forces to work towards:

  • A legitimate secondary market
  • Less aggressive and deceptive selling
  • Less predatory lending

Thank you from timeshare owners to our regulators and lawyers working to protect us. Human leverage and a clearinghouse of information exchange is the answer.

inside final small

So that is the end of 2016, we hope you will join us in 2017 and also help us to get the news out to others. Without your information many of the articles, particularly on possible scam or bogus companies will not be published. So from the Charles and Irene, we wish you a very happy and prosperous New Year.

happy-new-year

anfi ariel view

ANFI: Resale Vs On-site Purchase

Inside Timeshare has recently received many enquiries from readers regarding Anfi Resales, which have been private sales either through resale companies, ebay or advertised in newspapers. Would they be better buying those rather than direct from Anfi?

 

As we know, timeshare does not have a great resale value, which many owners who have paid upwards of £15,000 for a basic week have found out. With this also comes very hefty charges for maintenance, which tends to rise each and every year.

 

For those who have purchased privately for very low amounts they have found they do not qualify for any of the benefits which Anfi add on for those who purchase on-site at Anfi. These services such as the Anfi Vacation Club are included in the price when purchasing direct from Anfi, they are not free as many have been led to believe. It is also the case the annual fees are higher for these purchases than for the resale weeks, as these services will be included in the annual fees.

anfi-resale-pageWhat are these so-called benefits?

As a purchaser through Anfi Sales the following are part of the package:

  • Anfi Vacation Club Membership (this allows for internal exchanges)
  • Club and week exchanges (again internal exchanges)
  • RCI Worldwide Exchanges (You can join RCI privately and exchange through them)
  • Springfest 2 for 1 offers (very few and far between)
  • Bonus Weeks (available through RCI anyway)
  • Being able to bank or save weeks (Bank through RCI anyway)
  • Members week offers (never available)
  • Rental programme (only when available, very rare)
  • Anfi buy-back (only when available, very rare)
  • Discounts for on-site services (Restaurants, bars etc, prices are higher than off the resort anyway)

As you can see from the above, you are not actually getting anything for the higher price that you pay when purchasing direct.

Below are some examples of resale weeks advertised either privately or by resale companies.

These four are or have been posted on ebay and Timeshare Hypermarket, what needs to be remembered is that these prices are what the seller believes they can get, most of the time they will sell for a great deal less.
anfi-hyper-1

anfi-2-bed-ebay

This is taken from a Norwegian resale website, a penthouse for week 3, sleeping 6. The price at the current exchange rate is 14,000€ this would sell on-site for upwards of 45,000€

Again this is the price that the owner and the resale company have agreed they believe they can get.
anfi-penthouse-norwegian

These two are advertised on a German resale website, Anfi Beach Club would sell for upwards of  15,000€, Club Monte Anfi for more. Again the prices shown are what the resale company and owner believe they can get, they will more than likely sell for a lot less.
german-anfi-2

So to answer the question is yes you are better off with a resale week, you can join RCI directly and receive the benefits of exchanges through them, purchase the bonus weeks that RCI offer, usually at a better price than Anfi would offer.

As for the so-called discounts, try going off resort to places like Patalavaca and Arguineguin where there is a wider selection of restaurants and bars at much more reasonable prices.

Then when you eventually decide it is no longer for you, you will not be making such a loss as the person you purchased from.

Remember the cost of the timeshare from any resort will always be more than it is actually worth. They do after all have large overheads like the sales staff and marketing costs, these are the bulk of the price that you pay. So if you can pick up weeks for as little as 1500 € which means Anfi over prices the weeks by 90 % ….which is also the reason why the maintenance fees are so high.

 

christmas

What’s Right about Timeshare?

A Holiday Spirit Look at the Industry

By Charles Thomas and Irene Parker

December 19, 2016

car

In the Spirit of the Season, Charles Thomas and Irene Parker would like to thank all our readers. Charles is a former timeshare sales agent and I am a veteran timeshare owner. We each have our stories about timeshare to tell.

Charles:

We have both over the past few weeks written numerous articles about the woes timeshare owners have been facing, some have been out and out horror stories. The story of Mrs Price and MacDonald Resorts has featured prominently over the past few months, this has still not been concluded. Other stories have highlighted the minefield of resales or as they say in the States the secondary market, another aspect has been the bogus law firms and claims companies that prey on those who wish to get out of their timeshares. Another theme has been about the sales agents and the methods employed to secure “the sale”.

I have personally been involved in sales side of the industry, having worked for several companies in the past, I was aware of the pressure that many sales staff are under to get the sale. The misinformation they are forced to give, if they didn’t hit their targets, they lost their job. In some cases if they were in company accommodation that meant they were on the street and homeless, usually in a foreign country.

But it is not all doom and gloom, there are some owners who are very happy with what they have, for them it works well, a case in point are friends of mine, Kim and Andy. They very kindly wrote their story on their timeshare experience for publication. There is also a Facebook page called International Timeshare Appreciation Day, which is held on 1 November. (see links)

There are also some very good timeshare companies out there, who do sell with ethics and morals. They also put their members first, with excellent customer service. These are the ones we never hear about. Two in Europe are Hapimag of Switzerland, whose members are predominantly Swiss and German, the other, is one that you tend not to associate with timeshare, Butlins, who have their Blue Skies membership. In all the research I have done, I have never come across a single complaint about either of them. Maybe others need to change to their model.

http://insidetimeshare.com/happy-owners/

https://www.facebook.com/InternationalTimeshareAppreciationDay/?fref=ts

Irene’s story:  One day, in 1984, my fiancée told me he bought a timeshare. Little did he know it was owned by the Mafia.  Timeshare owners always receive notices of annual meetings, but shortly after his purchase, we received an invitation to Holiday Shore’s annual meeting encouraging us to attend because our deeded fixed week timeshare was scheduled to be auctioned off on Tuesday at 3:30 PM on the step of the Sheriff’s office.

It was the first and last timeshare annual meeting we ever attended. Holiday Shores is located in the Missouri Ozarks and was a popular vacation spot for the Mafia.

There was not enough room for all of us at the scheduled location, so we all moved to the church where we managed to get a seat in the rafters. The resort’s timeshare attorney dramatically rolled out a scroll that flew out about 20 feet as he explained the Bennett family of New York was putting a lien on the property as the construction company had not been paid by their cousins who owned the resort property.

Fortunately for us, Jim Marshall of Marshall Missouri was an owner and a state representative.

The story has a happy ending because, thanks to Mr. Marshall, our timeshare was taken over by the owners and the resort lived happily ever after. It’s still there.

The moral of the story is that owners can make a difference.

Timeshares are not all bad. Twice we exchanged our timeshare through RCI and did not return home because we bought a house at the exchange location. We moved to Hawaii because of that every year trip to our Maui Hill timeshare and my stumbling onto a job opening the first Edward Jones office on the Big Island called Hawaii.

After nine years in Hawaii, we exchanged our Port Elsewhere week in the Ozarks for Petoskey Michigan and bought a house while on vacation. It worked until we realized moving from Honolulu to northern Michigan wasn’t all that smart, but the place is really pretty in August. Tired of white out roads, we exchanged Port Elsewhere for Cave City, Kentucky at Diamond Caverns (no relation) at Mammoth Cave. Again we bought a house.

This prompts our kids to pause when we tell them we are going on vacation and ask, “Are you coming back?” We’ve become known as the Prodigal Parents.

We look forward to continue our battle fighting for timeshare reform; a better secondary market, less deceptive and less aggressive sales practices, but for now we wish you a

Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday Season.

A Christmas Present Complement to Disney from Timeshare Attorney Mike Finn

He’s never had a Disney timeshare client.

The End

children

 

Both Myself and Irene wish all our readers in Europe, The United States and beyond and very Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

 

friday-review

Friday: The Week in Review.

We ended last week with the ongoing story of Mrs B, now known as Mrs Price and her continuing battle against MacDonald Resorts. The article explained the events leading up to the present dispute over a “So-called” debt for past maintenance and MacDonald Resorts refusal to accept she no longer owns.

In the article “The Story of Mrs B: Open Letter to MacDonald ResortsInside Timeshare called for MacDonald Resorts to do the right thing and let two elderly and not well ladies out of their contract. It also called for them to call off the debt collecting agency Network Credit Services, from issuing threats of legal action. So far there has been no response, even though they did receive the article via email along with many others including several newspapers. The story continues.

On Monday we published an article by Irene Parker, entitled “Another US Attorney General Exposes Deceptive Tactics”. This was originally published the previous week but was withdrawn for re-writing.

colerado-seal-ag

This follows on from others she has contributed about the battles in the USA between timeshare companies, workers and owners. It explains the story of the Colorado Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman and how she is suing Highland Resorts at Christie Lodge Colorado for deceptive trade practices in the Denver County Court. The State is also sales manager Greg Penrod and twelve other defendants.

Irene in her article also spoke about how sales agent are made to commit these practices, and were prevented from saying anything due to confidential non-disclosure agreements. She is preparing part II of this article which Inside Timeshare will publish in due course.

On this note Inside Timeshare has a message for the TCA (Timeshare Consumer Association) who published “Highland Resorts Legal News”.

Irene Parker was surprised to read such similarities from her Highland Resorts article on Timeshare Consumer Association as it so closely paralleled the article she wrote this week. The same thing happened the day after she wrote the Saldana family story. As the TCA article was published so soon after the Inside Timeshare article was published, she wondered why credit was not given to the author of the original article. This is how professional journalists do things in the US. She wondered if things were different in Europe. She is glad to see the information disseminated to a wider audience. Since she is planning on writing a second part, she wondered if TCA would like her to just send them her article so they could publish it under her name?

la-provincia   the-canary-news-views-sunshine-logo-2016-250

 

 

On Tuesday news came in about the saga that is Tauro Beach Project, La Provincia (Spanish daily paper) and Canary News (local English language paper), published the story about how much of the beach has been washed away by the sea.

Inside Timeshare has been following this story since August, when the sea flowed up the beach and flooded local homes. There is currently a huge investigation underway, which also includes the Mayor of Mogan. It is also investigating alleged corruption and impropriety at the highest levels of the Canarian Coastal Authority, the former head has already been formally charged with wrongdoing in public office and forgery of official documents. The case is already at the court of San Bartolomé de Tirajana in Maspalomas.

http://insidetimeshare.com/tauro-beach-latest-development/

Yesterday, we published the story of a company that was highlighted in September, Litigious Abogados. Since the first publication, more information has come to light, with one reader supplying vital information about how they are operating. This reader also provided documentary evidence with court papers and bank details, these court papers are almost certainly fake. Below is a “stamp” we have made in around 2 minutes just from a google image download and basic windows paint, with a little more work it could be made to look better. It is also a “stamp” not used by the courts.

jl

The week has also been a good one for clients of Canarian Legal Alliance, with several more victories in various courts.

On 14 November it was announced that the Court of First Instance in Tenerife had found for the clients of CLA against Dinastia Resorts SL. In this case they were awarded 15,950€ with their contract being declared null and void. The sentence followed Supreme Court rulings that contracts over 50 years (perpetuity) were illegal.

Yesterday 15 November, saw 2 more announcements, the first was for Swedish clients of CLA being awarded over 114,000€ including legal interest against Anfi. Again the High Court No 5 of Las Palmas found in accordance with the Supreme Court that floating weeks and perpetuity contracts were illegal. The contract was again declared null and void.

In the second announcement, again Swedish clients, have been paid out 72,885.78€ in compensation, following a recent judgement. This was against Holiday Club Finland / Puerto Calma. Again the ruling made was for the length of the contract, over 50 years (perpetuity) with the contract being declared null and void.

So an early Christmas present for some.

This again goes to show, through the hard work of the legal team at CLA, their clients are finally getting justice and the Supreme Court rulings are having a profound effect on the lower courts.

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

If you would like any further information on articles published, contact Inside Timeshare and we will be pleased to help. Also if you have any questions about any company that you are not sure about, send us a message, we will then contact you by personal email and if we don´t know them we will help you find the answers.

 

Have a good weekend. weekend01

consumer alert

Litigious Abogados: Latest Information

Back in September Inside Timeshare published the article Litigious Abogados Who Are They? Since then we have received the following information from one reader who has been contacted by them, this article explains how they are operating.

litigious-abogados

This reader received a call and emails explaining that they had won their case against Club la Costa at the Court of First Instance, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, they had been awarded 24,261 Euros. Fantastic news, the only problem is they did not even know they had a case going through the courts.

img_1627 img_1628

There is also a small matter of “TAX” needing to be paid in order to release the funds, this amounts to 21% of the awarded amount and totals 5,094.83 Euros, which has to be paid into the account of one D Harstun SL at the Banco Sabadell.

img_1633

According to the accompanying letter, the Procurator for their case, Davido Harstun Jaime, has already signed the tax forms on their behalf and once payment is received by the Court Procurator Office, the tax lawyer for Litigious Abogados Mrs Olivia Navarro will liaise with them to execute the tax logistics and have the funds released by the Court Funds Office. This letter is signed by Manuel Mar Prilo (Abogado). Along with the contact number 0034 822 250 489

No lawyers have been found with any of these names. Also when this number was called a native English speaker answered with “Claims Department how can I help you”, when asked what the company name was he just hung up.

To back all this up, copies of the tax forms duly made out were sent to the client, along with a copy of the court sentence.

agencia-tributaria

This document is almost certainly a fake, from genuine documents Inside Timeshare has on file, it is missing some vital information, even the “court stamp” is one that has not been seen before (google justice logo images and it is on there). It is also strange that a case has gone to court, been adjudicated, sentence passed and the money paid into the court by the timeshare company in such a short space of time. All this without any statement being given to the court by the client no power of attorney given to the “lawyers” to act on their behalf and most important not even knowing they had a case going to court. This is not how it works.

 

court_doc-page-001
Copy of Court Sentence (Right click to enlarge)

Also there is the matter of “TAX”, when a client instructs lawyers to instigate legal proceedings, court taxes are paid at the time the case is lodged, once the court has made judgement the client will receive the awarded amount without the need to pay any tax. Especially not to a named individual or company. If any tax was due, this would be paid directly to the court or the tax authorities.

This is a sophisticated fraud, which plays on the uninformed public in another country. After all if you receive documents that look official, not knowing how the laws and tax systems work in a foreign country, would you not believe they were genuine. In this case the person had found the original article and contacted Inside Timeshare for advice and confirmation, fortunately he did not pay any money to them. So that is 5000€ this lot will not be getting.

The problem is now, how many others have they taken in?

Litigious Abogados Contact details are:

Tel: 0800 862 0102

The address given is:  Calle Duque de la Torre 29, 114, Santa Cruz, Tenerife.

This address is not quite correct, it should read: Calle Duque de la Torre, 29 Arona Casco 38640 Arona Tenerife. This address is actually for Oficina del Servicio de Atención Ciudadana which is part of the Ayuntamiento or local council offices. (Checked on google maps street view).

cab-arona

Links to previous articles

http://insidetimeshare.com/1059-2/

http://insidetimeshare.com/litigious-abogados-update/

If you receive any calls or receive any official looking documents by email or post be very wary of them, especially if you have not instigated any legal process. It also takes a long time for these cases to actually get to court, then there is the process of the loser taking it to appeal which will prolong the case even further.

Inside Timeshare would like to hear from anyone who has had any contact with companies such as this, it is through your information that others can benefit. If you have any comments or questions about this article or any other matter, contact Inside Timeshare through the comments section.

taruo-beach-sands-wash-away

Tauro Beach: Latest Development

Nature is now taking its own course on Tauro Beach, La Provincia, has today published the latest in the debacle that is the Anfi Tauro Beach project. The Canary News which is the English language paper in Gran Canaria, has also published the news on their website.

The warnings that were given about the nature of the tides and waves by locals have come to life, a huge chunk of the beach has now been washed away, revealing what is left of the original pebble beach.

The project to create an artificial beach involved importing 70,000 tonnes of sand from the Western Sahara, this was laid after the old pebble beach was removed. It was also laid without first being treated, this say environmentalists, could cause problems due to invasive species being in the sand. It has already had some detrimental effects on the marine area that is protected which is only 300 meters away.

It is now only 5 months since Anfi stated that work was now completed and weeks after the announcement that Anfi was to lose the concession and rights to run the beach for profit over the next 50 years. This was announced by the Canarian Government with the initial proceedings taking place at the Court of San Bartolome de Tirajana.

The beach has been closed to the public since work began and is still fenced off. Canary News also makes reference in their article about the major investigation being conducted for “corruption investigation and accusations of impropriety at the highest levels of the Canarian Coastal Authority”. We have already seen one prosecution of the former head of the authority and are just waiting for the court to complete the trial. The Mayor of Mogan is also currently under investigation and it remains to be seen how many more people end up being prosecuted.

Back in August, we saw the homes of the local people being flooded which ended up with a barrier being built to protect homes from flooding again, now with the sand being washed away, what of the remaining beach, after all we have not yet seen the winter storms or very high tides yet.

 

http://suscriptor.laprovincia.es/gran-canaria/2016/12/13/marea-lleva-parte-arena-playa/889842.html#

Tides take sands from Tauro beach

So the story goes on, as more news comes in, Inside Timeshare will publish it here. If you have any comment or questions about any article published, or if you have some information you would like to share, please use the contact form on the website.

colerado-seal-ag

Another US Attorney General Exposes Deceptive Tactics.

Timeshare is not having a good time right now, in Europe and especially Spain the industry is reeling from very costly litigation. This is costing resorts and developers a fortune in returning money for purchases made which have gone against the laws put in place to protect consumers.

In the United States the industry is also under fire, most recently a former sales agent has been awarded $20 million for unfair dismissal by Wyndham. She had been branded a “troublemaker” after she complained about unfair and dubious sales tactics being employed.

We have also seen the NY Attorney General close down the sales operation at The Manhattan Club, due to allegedly fraudulent sales practices involving a “bait and switch” scheme. Manhattan Club buyers learned there was a lack of availability for those who purchased memberships, while the general public could easily book online. A court battle that began in 2014 continues today.

The following article by Irene Parker explains the most recent news coming in from across the Great Lake.

Colorado Attorney General Scores a Goal for Timeshare Reform

By Irene Parker

December 12, 2016

keep-calm

All timeshare owners and buyers want is honesty and a fair price for their timeshare, along with reasonable maintenance fees and a legitimate secondary market. Now a third US Attorney General scores a goal for timeshare reform by exposing deceptive timeshare business practices.


There is something flawed if a product cannot be sold, if it is not sold same day. Even car shoppers are allowed to think about it, and many timeshare purchases cost as much or more than a luxury car. There are first day pricing incentives and consumers are told they cannot buy in the future.


According to Highlands Resorts’ sales manager Steve Abrahamson, named in the lawsuit, “In the eighteen months he worked for Highlands Resorts, not a single consumer returned after their sales presentation to make a purchase. In his fifteen years in the timeshare industry, Abrahamson never saw a consumer purchase a timeshare after leaving a sales presentation.”


http://www.businessden.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/5B3AF6808EF5C.pdf


Colorado Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman has sued Highlands Resorts at Christie Lodge in Avon, Colorado for deceptive trade practices in Denver County Court. The state is also suing sales manager Greg Penrod and twelve other defendants. Several were outbound telemarketers.


Sedona Pines Resort in Arizona was also named in the lawsuit. I spoke to a former Diamond sales agent. Diamond agents cannot disclose any company policies or procedures due to a “CNDA” sales agent agreement they are required to sign. It stands for “confidential non-disclosure agreement” discouraging Whistleblowers. Not all agents are dishonest, so the sales agent who realizes something very wrong and harmful is being done to consumers, wants to tell their story.

In this case, the former sales agent said Diamond Resort owners, desperate to be released from rising maintenance fees, went to presentations at nearby resorts hoping for alternatives. Some Pines brokers would inflate the price of the Pines program to make Diamond owners think they were getting something for their Diamond points or weeks as a trade-in. A dollar amount would be added onto the purchase price as a “trade-in” if the consumer purchased a Sedona Pines program.

The Colorado lawsuit provided an example of fake pricing. “A fake price sheet itemized costs totaling $25,224, which included $6,995 in RCI upgrade points. If the buyer purchased today, Highlands promised to pay the $6,995.  However, Highland did not pay the $6,995. They only paid $179 in RCI dues instead of the $6,995 for RCI points.”


Amy DiPierro is a reporter for BusinessDen. She writes:


According to the state, “Highlands Resorts and its owner, Telluride resident Todd Herrick, “intentionally deceived, misled, and financially injured consumers” using high pressure selling tactics. Highlands Resorts is one of a larger group of timeshare companies controlled by a resort called Sedona Pines in Arizona. On its website, Highlands Resorts says it operates one resort in Durango and two resorts in Arizona.   


The state, which is represented by the office of Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, is seeking payments of $325,000 from those four defendants and a permanent injunction that would stop them from, among other things, advertising timeshares without displaying fees and conditions. A spokesperson did not respond to a message seeking comment.

http://www.businessden.com/2016/12/07/ag-sues-timeshare-firm-for-deceptive-tactics/


Similar deceptive and misleading sales and marketing tactics are outlined in other lawsuits. Candace Czarny and two other former Hyatt sales agents filed a class action Whistleblower lawsuit against Hyatt timeshare. Candace is seeking Hyatt owners who feel they have been deceived by misleading and deceptive tactics.


http://insidetimeshare.com/whistleblowers-expose-timeshare-sales-tactics/


A jury awarded former Wyndham timeshare sales agent Trish Williams a $20 million Whistleblower award. Wyndham issued a statement saying the tactics used are not representative of their company policy, according to the NY Times.
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/25/business/my-soul-feels-taller-a-whistle-blowers-20-million-vindication.html?_r=1


The Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery III recovered $3 million for Festiva timeshare victims.  


https://www.tn.gov/attorneygeneral/news/38312


The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is in the second year of a Westgate timeshare investigation.

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/brinkmann-on-business/os-probe-westgate-resorts-tactics-20160318-story.html

It’s getting harder to believe these practices are not representative of timeshare.

 

whos-next  Who’s Next?

 

 


Part II of this article will examine the fourteen defendants charged with violating the “Do Not Call” list to offer vacation incentives they proclaim are valued at $1,900. The lawsuit claims these certificates cost the developer $40.

I personally received a call from Fort Lauderdale yesterday. When I mentioned I was on the DNC list, he apologized and proceeded with his pitch. This is outbound telemarketing, so there is no way to contact the person or company that called.

We’re up to three Attorney Generals who have sued the timeshare companies. Timeshare developers figure in the cost of owner lawsuits as part of their annual budget. They do not figure in the cost of an Attorney General suing the company.

In the case of Christie Lodge, the resort is open but the sales program is not operational.

get-involved

So the question that must be asked is when will the industry wake up and change how it operates, not just in the USA, but in Europe and the rest of the world?

Inside Timeshare once again thanks Irene for her contribution, without her efforts we would not be able to bring you the news from across the water, bringing consumers together in a cause that affects all timeshare owners. Honesty, integrity and fairness are the elements that are missing in this industry, it must be said that not all are guilty of this, there are some who do work by these principles, but it is those who don´t that give it a bad name and reputation.

If you have any questions or comment about this or any other article published, use the comment section to send us a message. If you have a story or information that you would like to share, Inside Timeshare would like to hear from you.

  weekend

complaints

Call for Change in the US Timeshare Industry

Continuing with our US timeshare theme, Irene Parker today highlights some of the problems that beset consumers in the USA, she asks the question who do consumers go to when they have a problem or complaint?

In this article she tells the story of an elderly couple Kathie and Wes Olds, who are Diamond Platinum members, 50,000 points, the concerns they raise about the constant upgrades and how they were encouraged to open a Diamond ResortsBarclaycard”. By using this card for purchases they could earn a 1.5% cashback award that could be used towards maintenance fees. As they found out later, it was not going to be that easy.

Irene also explains how the Olds, were told they could use their points towards the $8,200 a year maintenance fees at $0.50 a point, only problem is to be eligible they would need to purchase more points. As Irene put it previously the Olds were now part of the “Continuous Money Making Machine”.

Enjoy the article, it is certainly an eye opener.

FTC = Federal Trade Commission

FBI = Federal Bureau of Investigation

Is the FTC or FBI an avenue for Change for Diamond and other Timeshare Owners Devastated by Little or no Secondary Market?

By Irene Parker

Inside Timeshare

December 5, 2016

burglar

Timeshare today has been reduced to high pressure, often hours long sales presentations demanding prospects sign a perpetual contract today or lose incentives and perks that will be gone forever. The contract language often includes, “Heirs, successor trustees and personal representatives bound by the contract obligations.” Throw in the limited or nonexistent secondary market and you have a recipe for disaster.

Inside Timeshare previously told the story of the Saldana family. The family has since surrendered their Diamond contracts due to rising maintenance fees. Remaining is a $33,000 home equity loan. With legal help, they quite possibly could have been released from a timeshare loan. Timeshare buyers are often encouraged to obtain a home equity loan due to timeshare’s 14% to 18% loan interest rate. This conveniently lets the timeshare developer off the hook when the owner can no longer afford the rising fees.

http://insidetimeshare.com/irene-parker-write-barclay-card-usa/

The Saldana family was encouraged to open a Diamond ResortsBarclaycard” to become a Diamond platinum member so that they could charge their maintenance fees. A Diamond “point” historically costs $2 to $4 a point, but if used for maintenance fees, is worth only a few pennies on the dollar. They declined.

The Olds Family did open a Barclaycard.

Kathie and Wes Olds, ages 68 and 69, acquired enough Diamond points to become Platinum members. Like the Saldana family, the maintenance fees have become cost prohibitive. The Olds family own 50,000 Diamond points.

At their last Diamond “Owner’s Update” at Mystic Dunes in Orlando, Wes and Kathie expressed their concern over rising maintenance fees. The sales agent said they were in luck. Apollo Global Management, the private equity firm that purchased Diamond in a $2.2 billion buyout this past September, said effective February 2017 owners could “cash in” their points for $.50 a point and use them to pay maintenance fees, but they would need to buy another 10,000 points for $37,000. The sales agent suggested a home equity loan. Remember, we said points historically have sold for $2 to $4 a point.

Keep Reading

time to update

Wyndham Whistleblower: Update

Following on from the article published on 1 December titled: Whistleblowers Expose Timeshare Sales Tactics, Inside Timeshare was sent an an article written by Gretchen Morgenson of The New York Times. It is an interview with Patricia Williams, who recently won her case against Wyndham for unfair dismissal, the San Francisco jury awarded her $20 million for lost earnings, emotional distress and punitive damages.

patricia-williams

In the interview which was conducted by telephone, Patricia explained how she was branded a “troublemaker”, because she pointed out and complained about inappropriate sales techniques she and other sales staff had to employ. The constant high pressure selling especially to the elderly, with upgrades along with loans or mortgages, in some cases credit card accounts were also opened for purchasers without their knowledge or permission.

Patricia had worked in the timeshare industry for over 15 years, she was also, as all timeshare sales agents in the US, a licenced real estate agent, so it is not hard to see the dilemma she was in. It is about personal integrity.

This trial has caused her considerable stress, she was unable to find work as a sales representative in any field, it also had a severe effect on the relationship with her longterm fiancé, resulting in a break up. She also admitted that it had caused her to start drinking heavily, and at times she had to “raid” her parents kitchen for food. The only work she could get was low paid, with the most recent being a hostess at a restaurant for only $9 an hour.

Patricia was finally asked if she would do the same again, even with the knowledge of the consequences of being a “whistleblower”, her answer was definitely, “Protecting these vulnerable elderly owners,” she added. “That was the main reason I was able to continue.”

It is such a shame that this case had to be brought, if Wyndham had listened in the first place, changing how their product is sold and the way sales agent are made to lie, timeshare would have a better reputation. This is not just the case in the US, Europe has also seen the same tactics employed. Sales staff saying anything to get the sale, the oral representation clause, if it was not written down it didn’t happen.

For the full interview and article see the link below.

nytimes

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/25/business/my-soul-feels-taller-a-whistle-blowers-20-million-vindication.html?_r=1

If you have any comments or questions about this or any article published, use the comments section to contact us. If you need any information on any company or want to know how to find it, Inside Timeshare will be pleased to help.

latest-news-1

News on Friday

We ended November with news of another Supreme Court ruling for clients of Canarian Legal Alliance. Just after publishing (30 November) it was announced that the High Court N2 of las Palmas had found in favour of Norwegian clients of CLA against Palm Oasis /Tasolan.

In this ruling, which followed all the judgements of previous Supreme Court decisions, the contracts were declared null & void, due to the contract being over 50 years and the taking of deposits within the 14 day cooling off period.

The clients in this case have been awarded 448,000 Norwegian Crowns or 49,334€, this also includes legal interest and the return of all legal fees.

Then to start the month of December, it was announced that a British family have just received an early Christmas present, 49,888€. This money is now in their bank account, and was awarded against Anfi several weeks ago, they have still yet to be paid the legal interest and the return of legal fees.

This once again shows that the Supreme Court is having a profound effect on these cases, with payouts coming a lot faster. So it is congratulations to all at CLA and especially their clients.

truth1

Yesterday 1 December, Andrew Penman of the Daily Mirror published an article on The Timeshare Consumer Association. Inside Timeshare has been following this story for some time and has published articles on this subject.

His article titled “The Timeshares Consumer Association claims to be an independent consumer champion, but is it”? Tried to find an answer to this question, unfortunately he did not.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/timeshare-consumer-association-claims-independent-9367808

Mark Rowe denied owning or running the TCA, yet all company records show that he is the director and was appointed in place of William Aspinall on 8 July 2016. It must also be noted that since that date all posts on the TCA website and its sister site timesharetalk, about Monster Travel and Sellmytimeshare.tv have been removed. Readers of this site have also commented that they have placed posts about them and they have been removed within hours.

It was also reported by one of our readers back in September that they had contacted TCA for advice, this is her message to Inside Timeshare:

“We bought our floating week timeshare before 1999. We decided to contact the TCA to see if they could explain how the new Spanish laws affect or don’t affect our week. Had read somewhere about a Deed of Adaptation and were just curious to see if they could shed any light. A very nice young lady answered. Said she would find out and call us back at 11a.m. the next day, which she did. She explained what we could do told us that the TCA recommend Sell my Timeshare. We explained why we would not be happy to do that and she replied that the TCA found them to be a very reputable company. As Kevin said in an earlier post, It is a sad state of affairs.

And just because I could, I wrote about this on Timeshare Talk in response to another post relating to SellmyTimeshare.tv. (Only last night 22nd Sept)

Yep, you guessed it. The fairies have been busy in the night again and both posts gone this morning. You have to laugh!”

So the question is what is the truth?

It seems that even the intrepid Andrew Penman is having difficulty in answering this one, see the link below for the above comment and others.

http://insidetimeshare.com/monster-credits-associated-companies-summary/

If you have any comments or questions about any article published, Inside Timeshare will do its best to answer, if we don´t know the answer we will find it for you.

Have a good weekend.   friday-again

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