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March 2017

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Friday Letter from The US: Part II: What is our Timeshare Advocacy Group Doing Today?

Here we are again, another Friday and another letter from America, courtesy of Irene, following on from last week’s article.

Firstly the similarities between ARDA ROC and the RDO TATOC, both are industry trade bodies and owners organisations funded by the industry. Both require their members to abide by a code of ethics, but neither will arbitrate or investigate their own members. One difference is that ARDA ROC will not recommend any resale company, but RDO and TATOC will recommend any company that is one of its members.

Both bodies also actively focus on chasing scam and bogus companies, the RDO has employed kwikchex to head their Timeshare Taskforce. This company runs Timeshare Business Check, who contact businesses and question them for transparency, they list those who are not RDO or TATOC members, basically saying if they are not members or submit to their questions don’t touch them. They have no legal mandate and the owner has what can only be described as a very poor track record as a director. (see following link).

http://insidetimeshare.com/kwikchex-chris-emmins/

Only last week we announced and published the news that ARDA have donated $30,000 to TATOC and their Consumer Helpline, which received charitable status after initially being rejected. This donation was given because it is said they help and advise European Owners of US timeshares.

This is obviously a saving grace for TATOC as many of their members are withdrawing their membership or reducing their membership status, as was seen by Silverpoint dropping from Platinum to Silver.

Harry Taylor himself has been somewhat discredited over the Lakeview debacle, which has been going on for sometime. He has also been a very vociferous supporter of MacDonald Resorts and their forcing owners from fixed weeks into points. There is a class action ongoing by members who do not want the change as it then gives MacDonald’s “ownership” of the resorts and reduces members to “right of use only”.

This is happening in Spanish resorts, where we know that the points system is illegal, yet is still going ahead. MacDonald Resorts have a very bad reputation for the way they deal with members including the elderly. Yet they are main contributors to Harry Taylor and TATOC. Even the RDO have had nothing to do with them since 2005.

So we now move on to Irene’s article.

Part II: What is our Timeshare Advocacy Group Doing Today?

Part I: What is ARDA ROC Doing Today?  

By Irene Parker

March 31, 2017

Boss

“What is ARDA ROC Doing Today?”

http://insidetimeshare.com/friday-letter-america/

ARDA, the American Resort Development Association, is the national organization representing the timeshare industry. The ROC in ARDA ROC is the Resort Owners’ Coalition looking out for timeshare owners’ or members’ interest. Critics argue ARDA ROC works against timeshare owners when the interest of the owner and the developer diverge. It should be noted that non-deeded point members don’t “own” anything as they are right-to-use programs.

 FAQ Timeshare Resale Questions found on ARDA ROC website

Can ARDA-ROC or ARDA help me?

ARDA provides professional and educational development for its members provides industry research and data and advocates for policies that promote the vitality and continued growth of the industry. Based in Washington, DC, ARDA is comprised of nearly 1,000 corporate members and one million timeshare owner members.

Question: How many readers knew they were a member? Donations range from $3 to $10 as an opt-in or opt-out donation. That adds up to approximately $5 million a year in voluntary donations.  How many timeshare members even know what the letters stand for?  I didn’t. I was told it was an organization that helps timeshare owners. Foreign buyers who buy a US timeshare are also charged. How much do you think they know about ARDA ROC?

More from ARDA ROC FAQ

Neither ARDA-ROC nor ARDA provide information about complaints they receive.  ARDA-ROC and ARDA do not mediate, arbitrate or otherwise resolve individual disputes between a consumer and an ARDA member or non-member business. They don’t buy or sell timeshares OR recommend companies with whom you should do business. Neither can tell you if a company is “legitimate.”

ARDA does not have any regulatory authority, although they do require member companies to agree to abide by their Code of Ethics. Failure to do so may result in expulsion of the company from membership.

http://www.ardaroc.org/roc/resource-library/default.aspx?id=2771

Timeshare owners, often unaware they have signed a perpetual contract without a secondary market, consider the lack of a secondary their primary concern. ARDA has focused their efforts on chasing timeshare transfer agent scams, but little is mentioned about the cause of the scams, which is the lack of or limited secondary market.

 Thank you to Disney because Disney does allow a secondary market. “Disney is known for exercising their first right of refusal. When a timeshare company exercises their first right of refusal, the effect supports the resale price,” explained Tom Tubbs of Island Consulting Realty. Check out those Disney resale prices. Is your timeshare on the resale list below?

http://www.timesharestogo.com/listings/index.phtml

Deeded weeks can almost always be listed. If a resort has converted from weeks to points, non-deeded points with no secondary market will not be listed as the members of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association feel such points are worthless on the secondary market. If denied a voluntary surrender, a seller in this situation has nowhere to turn but foreclosure or the well reported transfer agencies that may or may not get you out of your timeshare.

Tom is a LTRBA member. I’ve gotten to know quite a few of the members and respect what they do to work with what little secondary market they’ve got.

http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

Tom cautioned against making a blanket statement accusing ARDA ROC of not doing anything for members. A good example is the Virgin Islands. They are trying to slap an extra $300 onto an exchange. “If that happens, Aruba and other locations may try to follow suit,” warned Tom. In Hawaii, our two bedroom timeshare at Maui Hill slipped in a $6.90 a night Hawaii some kind of tax.

However, when the interests of the timeshare developer are at odds with the timeshare owner, the result is controversy. Issues like:

Owner access to membership lists. Timeshare owners receive endless calls offering vacation giveaways due to a mysterious $1800 credit on our maintenance fees, yet the developers work to pass laws or put up obstacles preventing owners from contacting other owners. No one on our Advocacy Facebook group will question why developers don’t want that!

https://www.redweek.com/resources/ask-redweek/timeshares-refuse-to-share-owner-lists

The lack of a secondary market.

Back to my $7 ARDA ROC “Voluntary” Donation

accountability

This “voluntary donation” can be difficult to remove from your account.  

What is this voluntary ARDA-ROC fee doing in my maintenance fee bill? – RedWeek.com

I asked timeshare Mike Finn of the Finn Law Group why it has been impossible to have my voluntary $7 removed from my timeshare maintenance fee invoice?

“Indeed you are quite correct that several other resorts include a line item in their maintenance fee statement for an ARDA-ROC contribution. I guess they get away with it because it’s allegedly voluntary. However subsequent maintenance billing beyond the first one incorporates that so called voluntary contribution and lumps it in with the subsequent maintenance fee total billing. If you don’t pay your bill after you receive the initial bill and you pay it after you receive a subsequent bill, you’ll probably be inadvertently including that voluntary contribution into your maintenance fee,” Mike explained.

Our Advocacy Group will begin having monthly conference calls to:

  • Target legislators that might be willing to consider owner concerns;
  • Educate the general public about what questions to ask before buying a timeshare. We wish someone gave us that advice!
  • Get updates on current legislation;
  • Get updates on legal and regulatory matters;
  • An update on the measurable success of our Advocacy Group.

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

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

Happy group

So there we have it the end of another week in the murky world of timeshare, Irene and myself thank those who have contributed to all the articles we publish, hoping it gives you the owners and readers an insight into what is going on. We have had many people contact us for advice and help, and through the contributions from readers, we have highlighted many dubious companies.

It remains for Irene and myself to wish you a very happy weekend, have fun.

weekend

 

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The 3 R’s of Timeshare: Part 1

Today we start with the first of a three part article on what Irene calls the 3 R’s of Timeshare, although this first part begins with “F”.

In the US this is Foreclosure, which to those of us in Europe would just be Relinquishment or Surrender. What we have to remember in Europe is that for our American cousins, timeshare tends to be governed by Real Estate Law and financial agreements are usually associated with a mortgage rather than a personal loan or finance agreement. So foreclosure will be similar to repossession of your house for not keeping up with mortgage payments. Failure to keep up payment on a loan does not result in the timeshare being “repossessed”, as the finance is separate from the timeshare.

As for relinquishing or surrendering your timeshare in Europe, this very much depends on who you purchased with, some companies are better than others.

As a very good example of the bad, we only have to look at MacDonald Resorts, this particular company has been the subject of many press articles, including some published here on Inside Timeshare. This company is renowned for not allowing people out of their contracts even after death, so this means the children inherit the timeshare and the subsequent maintenance bills.

A very good case which Inside Timeshare has been working on is that of Mrs B, an 87 year old lady in ill health, who used a company to relinquish her contract. This was done by selling to a third party, MacDonalds refuse to accept this, stating they do not recognise the transfer, even though we have notary documents proving the transfer. Consequently they are pursuing Mrs B for arrears in maintenance, passing the debt onto a debt collecting agency who are threatening court action if it is not paid. Inside Timeshare is now lodging a formal complaint to the Financial Conduct Authority as the debt is “under dispute” and should not be chased by the agency.

This company also “offers” a limited number of members to hand in their timeshares every couple of years, but only on the payment of 4 years maintenance fees.

Another company that is renowned for being very difficult to get out of is Petchey Leisure, now owned by MGM Muthu. As far as they are concerned your contract is in perpetuity and that means never ending, so even your grandchildren will end up with the maintenance bills.

Diamond Resorts in Europe on the other hand seem to be getting their act together, for several years now they have allowed any member over 75 to hand back their membership. They also allow others to hand back in what they term as “exceptional circumstances”. These are the death of a partner, illness and financial difficulties. For those who do not fall into these categories they will allow surrender on payment of upto 3 years maintenance fees.

So now on with Irene’s Article.

The 3 Rs or F of Timeshare:

Part I Resolution, Relinquishment, Refund or Foreclosure

What will happen when you decide your timeshare decision was a mistake?

Part II: The 3Rs of Timeshare

Part III: 2 More Rs  – Timeshare Rentals and Resales

By Irene Parker March 28 

Contract picture

Except for failure to pay child support, there is no debtor’s prison. Anyone feeling desperate, angry, worried, ashamed or scared about their timeshare situation can rest assured they can put their timeshare troubles behind them through the 3 Rs or F of Timeshare.

The words I used above are how I describe timeshare members who have reached out to Inside Timeshare or to me through our Advocacy Facebook Page, burdened by high interest loan payments and rising maintenance fees. Our goal is to convert this owner into an informed and empowered owner.

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

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

Often, life without timeshare can be achieved without legal assistance, but we have a crew of able bodied lawyers there if you need them as a last resort. Advocacy works but has its limitations. All of our Advocates are unpaid, helping individual timeshare owners and members while working towards timeshare reform.

Last week we quoted Mr. Nusbaum’s feelings about the secondary market. Mr. Nusbaum is President and CEO of ARDA, the timeshare developer lobby.

“This is a legacy problem. People buying a timeshare today are buying it from multisite clubs that have management forever and sales teams forever, so the ability to recycle inventory will not be a problem in the future.”  June 2014 RedWeek

On the other hand, here is another Nusbaum quote from the same article sounding somewhat contradictory:

“The developer community is not without some dirt under their nails in this. We’ve created a business model that needs recycling. We want to help the secondary market. For self-perpetuity, it’s insane not to have a healthy secondary market.”

But most of all, according to Nusbaum, the long-term outlook is improving because the largest timeshare companies are developing programs that offer exit strategies for their owners. The complete RedWeek article:

https://www.redweek.com/resources/ask-redweek/timeshare-resales-arda-predictions

“Exit strategies” are voluntary surrender programs. Requests are evaluated case by case. It is difficult to determine how many requests are granted compared to the number of requests overall. Are these programs just media window dressing to make it look like the industry is responding?

Michael Kosor has worked with Nevada Senator Becky Harris in an effort to propose legislation that would allow better disclosure as to the limited, or sometimes non-existent, secondary market.  

“Actions by the timeshare industry, regulators, and legislators, are analogies to firefighters rescuing the elderly trapped in a burning building. Until the cause of the fire is identified, consumers will continue to be lured into these burning (defective) timeshare products that are not supported by a secondary market. While I applaud the rescue, we should not allow the industry and those responsible for consumer protection to hide behind said rescue efforts while they inexplicably fan the flames. Ambulance chasing fraudulent transfer agents is a back-ended solution – a Band-Aid reaction.”

Treating symptoms without studying the cause can be problematic for medicine or timeshare. The cause in the case of timeshare is the active destruction of the resale market for the benefit of immediate developer profits.

“Where are the association Boards we elected to represent our timeshare interests”?

“Owners clearly would like to see more done to advance and advocate for an improved resale market,” continues Michael. “Why is it our advocacy group is the only voice in this discussion? With the exception of a few legacy associations, virtually none of the industry affiliated associations have an active resale program available to owners to assist in exit and preclude foreclosure, if a voluntary surrender is denied”.

I approached my association a few years ago, the Wyndham Grand Desert, and was told “this was not their responsibility.” Instead, my (and most all) associations’ leaders throw owners wishing to exit (which we all do eventually) to the wolves of the current resale environment or transfer agents. They then enter into very lucrative repurchase contracts with and for the developers. These repurchase contracts provide the association pennies on the dollar of outstanding assessments, then give the developer very low cost inventory to sell as new to the next owner.

The real issue is not merely failing to fix the resale market. Worse, the industry is actively working to build the recycle model which requires the intentional undermining of the resale market. Advocate owners and members understand the cause and the fact the industry has no desire to fix the problem. It’s sad that we as advocates have to educate and walk the elderly, the ill and those burdened financially, through the foreclosure process when all else fails.

The developers consider themselves benevolent when they allow the surrender of a $25,000 to over $100,000 vacation plan in exchange for a surrender of zero value. As long as the vacation points or weeks stay in the hands of the developer, there is no free market system. Lenin would be proud.

Back to the 3Rs or F of Timeshare

We want to avoid the F for foreclosure, but for some owners there is no choice.

Let’s get this last and most unpleasant option out of the way so we can focus on more positive outcomes.

Where do we start? Pull out all those documents and start digging!

Magnify

I hear a lot of “I think” or “I’m not sure” when I ask the following questions:

  • When did you first buy your timeshare?
  • Where did you buy your timeshare?
  • How many points do you own?
  • What was the sales agent’s name?
  • What interest rate are you paying if you have a loan?
  • What do you want to happen?

We begin at the end – Foreclosure

If a member has an otherwise unblemished credit score, he or she can work to have the reason for foreclosure added to a credit report.  I asked timeshare attorney Mike Finn of the Finn Law Group some questions about the foreclosure process.  We use one unnamed resort as an example, but the procedure is similar to all timeshare companies. A common question is:

Will the timeshare company try to ruin my credit for non- payment of maintenance fees loans or both?

Mike Finn: Generally no credit reporting on maintenance fees, yes they do on “mortgage” payments. Most timeshare property owner associations, which are separate non-profit entities, do not report non-payment of maintenance fees largely because they don’t maintain subscriber contracts with the credit reporting agencies. However, once referred to collection, those agencies do maintain subscriber relationships and that’s where the issue becomes relevant.

Can or will members be taken to court for non-payment of maintenance fees loans or both?

Mike: Can yes, will, maybe not so much

Do they place liens for non-payment of loans?

Mike: Yes in the sense that they do pursue foreclosures, yes for maintenance fees as well.

Do they place the lien just on the timeshare? In other words, does the lien apply just to the timeshare, or does the lien apply to a member’s primary residence as well?

Mike: The word ‘lien’ can be utilized in more than one way. In the timeshare world it typically means the security interest filed against the timeshare itself by virtue of nonpayment of maintenance fees. Only the timeshare interest itself is impacted by that kind of lien, not the owner’s property beyond the timeshare. A mortgage lien on the timeshare caused by non-payment of the initial purchase price can, under certain circumstances, become a judgment which could be satisfied by going after the defaulting party’s personal assets. This very rarely happens, but it has happened, so we can never, say never.

Is it advisable to just stop paying fees without the aid of an attorney?

Mike: It really does depend on your ability to endure collection calls, letters threats, and a foreclosure on your credit report is quite damning, it will make refinancing or new residential purchases an issue for about 5 years. Rarely will they sue for deficiency balance.

http://www.finnlawgroup.com/learning-center/can-a-timeshare-hurt-my-credit-score

http://www.finnlawgroup.com/english/learning-center/page-12

According to Charles Thomas, here is how it works in Europe

This resort employs a debt collection agency, one they use is called Daniels Silverman, the debt is passed on to them (usually sold), they now own the debt and will threaten court action – whether they will is another matter. If this does occur, then yes credit rating will be affected as it will then be a County Court Judgement and failure to pay will result with the court bailiffs being sent in to recover either cash or goods to the value. Only they have the right of entry into the home.

As for a loan, if it is with a third party i.e. Barclays Partner Finance, any failure to keep up payments will result in County Court action as above and credit blacklisting.

It is advisable to seek advice from an attorney before just stopping any payments, as by doing this the debt cannot be passed on to an agency as under the Financial Conduct Authority regulations. The debt can be classified as “under dispute”.

According to the Canarian Legal Alliance CLA, when the firm takes on a relinquishment with a loan attached, they also try to have the loan agreement cancelled.

It is advisable to completely check any company that offers relinquishment services, as this is an area which is fraught with con artists.

Below is our Inside Timeshare article on debt collection with links to various authorities, it also includes a list of those resorts who employ debt collectors and a list of those who have taken people to court.

As Charles Thomas reported, Europe maintains a thriving timeshare foreclosure and collection industry as well.

http://insidetimeshare.com/maintenance-arrears-debt-collectors/

Our Advocates, relying on their experience and expertise, are here to evaluate and work together, each bringing a piece of the puzzle to help you find your answer.

Conference table

Next week we continue with Part II – The 3Rs of Timeshare:

Resolution, Relinquishment, Refund

Part III – The 2Rs of Timeshare – Rentals and Resales

Contact us today if you would like to share your story or work with us by becoming a Timeshare Advocate.

http://insidetimeshare.com/friday-letter-america/

Thanks to Irene, Mike Finn and Michael Kosor for their contribution.

As you already know as owners of timeshare, whether in Europe or across the “Great Lake” in the US, once you purchase timeshare, getting out of it is fraught with obstacles. It does depend on who you own with, some are better than others. In Europe, Spain is leading the way with timeshare law, it is giving “consumers” more protection, making it easier to get out.

Inside Timeshare hopes these articles are of benefit to you the owners, that only through coming together and sharing information can we hope for any change in the industry.

If you have any questions or want to share your experience contact Inside Timeshare or join the Advocacy FB page.

 

latest-news-1

More Trouble for Silverpoint?

It would seem the woes that are befalling Resort Properties / Silverpoint are just getting bigger. It has now come to our attention that it is the turn of the Beverly Hills Heights Resort, the news is not good for those who own at this resort, a number of apartments are now going up for sale.

We have seen the same thing happen at the Beverly Hills Club in the past year or so, where the owners were moved to the Heights when the resort was sold. It is now effectively a hotel, with the apartments available to the general public. The same has also happened to part of the Palm Beach Club, another Resort Properties / Silverpoint resort.

beverly hills heights
Beverly Hills Heights

Owners who are affected have been told they will be moved to other apartments at the heights or to the Hollywood Mirage. This seems to be causing quite a stir among the owners at this resort, many are becoming very vociferous, taking to the discussion forums and venting their anger.

Could all this be a result of the years of misselling, which is now coming back to haunt the company?

Only in first three months of this year, the Supreme Court has made five rulings against Resort Properties / Silverpoint. This is also alongside numerous judgements at the courts of First Instance and High Courts in Tenerife.

On the 1 March the Supreme Court awarded over 90,000€ which included the original purchase price, double the deposits and maintenance fees. The court also ordered that the client receive back their original legal fees and legal interest, with the contract being declared “Null & Void”.

On 6 March, the same court ruled in favour of a German client, returning over 30,000€ plus legal fees and interests, again declaring the contract “Null & Void”.

tribunal supremo

It was also announced on 21 March that the Court of First Instance Number 1 in Arona, ruled in favour of another client, awarding 44,000€ plus interest and legal fees. Then on the following day the news was broken that the High Court Number 3 of Santa Cruz de Tenerife awarded 37,308.40€ along with the initial legal fees and interest and the contract declared “Null & Void”.

Then yesterday 27 March, it was announced that the Court of First Instance Number 5 in Arona found for a British client. The amount awarded was a staggering £111,134.00, plus the return of initial legal fees and interest. Again the contract was declared “Null & Void”.

This is certainly showing that the Supreme Court rulings are being used in the lower courts, the Supreme Court has ruled on the following points:

Taking of deposits is illegal;

  • Floating weeks and Points systems are illegal;
  • Contracts over 50 years (perpetuity) are illegal;
  • Clients are Consumers not Investors.

All of this is a result of the hard work of one group of dedicated lawyers based in Gran Canaria. Yes it is those lawyers and the team which is Canarian Legal Alliance, which since the very first Supreme Court ruling in March 2015, have gone from strength to strength.

These are not just against Resort Properties / Silverpoint but also there have been many rulings against Anfi, Palm Oasis (Tasolan) and many others. These cases are also being highlighted in the Spanish press, which is having what can only be described as a field day.

http://www.eldiario.es/canariasahora/tribunales/Varapalo-Supremo-timesharing-comercializado-Canarias_0_619088490.html

CLA Logo

All we can say at Inside Timeshare is well done to the lawyers and team at CLA, to the readers beware of the companies that purport to be the ones bringing these cases, especially when they have only been formed for a matter of months. There are many of them jumping on the bandwagon, misleading you the consumer into believing they have done the job. Can they actually prove they have won these cases?

We will be publishing articles on some of these over the coming weeks, some we have already highlighted, some are very sophisticated frauds. If you are in doubt, wanting to know more and who you can trust, Inside Timeshare can point you in right direction to find the answer. Remember, doing your homework and due diligence will save you not only money but a lot of stress and heartache.

homework

across-the-pond

The Friday Letter from America

Back in January, Inside Timeshare published Irene Parker’s article Attorneys General and Timeshare under Trump, This was at the time of the now President Trump’s inauguration. In the introduction, we broke the news to our US readers of the plans  Mr Trump had going through planning in Scotland, for a second golf course and the increase in the number of timeshare apartments.

This apparently came as a big surprise to our American readers, it would seem they had no idea that he was also involved in “timeshare”.

Below are three links to two major UK daily newspapers, the last link is around 9 months old, but shows the opposition that Mr, now President Trump faced from local people. In this particular article is the story of a quarryman who refused to sell his home to Trump, who described him as a “disgrace” for not wanting to sell him his “pigsty of a home”. I don’t know about you, but in the UK and especially in Scotland that type of remark about someone’s home is a total insult.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/donald-trump-organization-golf-links-resort-scotland-aberdeen-conflict-interest-a7534596.html

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/dec/22/planners-reject-donald-trump-revised-plans-scottish-golf-resort#img-1

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/jun/23/donald-trump-faces-wall-of-opposition-as-he-returns-to-scotland

Now to Irene’s article.

What is ARDA-ROC Doing Today? An Analysis

By Irene Parker – March 24, 2017

torch

After reading the March article “What is ARDA-ROC doing today?”

http://resorttrades.com/what-is-arda-roc-doing-today/

It seems a good time to revisit my $7 “voluntary” donation to ARDA-ROC. The word voluntary has a nice ring to it so for years when paying our maintenance fees, if I was asked if I would like to make the voluntary donation to ARDA-ROC, I said, “Sure.” Since then I have learned too much to ever answer in the affirmative again, unless proven wrong.

According to Lisa Ann Schreier, the ARDA board only lists one timeshare owner. Of the 23 board members, included are Frank Goeckel, Diamond Resorts, recently departed with a $2 million handshake and Franz Hanning, departed after the Trish Williams $20 million Wyndham Whistleblower verdict with a $3.4 million handshake.

http://www.ardaroc.org/roc/about/default.aspx?id=1354

Of the $816,068 ARDA made in political contributions, 74% went to Republicans and 26% to democrats. This breakdown was also provided by Lisa Ann Schreier:

https://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/lookup2.php?strID=C00358663

Like it or not, timeshare is all about politics. President Trump, or his family, is going into the timeshare business. Pictured to the left of President Elect Trump is long-standing friend David Siegel, owner of Westgate timeshare. Given the current political climate it would not surprise me if the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau halted their investigation of Westgate. The CFPB was spearheaded by Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. That’s the organization that helped the Wells Fargo victims.

trump
David Siegel seated to the left of Donald Trump

As Charles Thomas of Inside Timeshare previously reported,

“Well it is actually quite simple for those in Scotland, back in 2008 there were some very heated debates over Mr Trump’s plan to build an 18 hole golf course and resort in Balmedie Aberdeenshire. This met with considerable resistance from the local people, but eventually Trump won through.

The original plan was to build a 450-room hotel, a second golf course, 500 luxury homes and 900 timeshare apartments along with a second 18 hole golf course. In a recent article in The Guardian newspaper these plans now intend to double the number of homes and timeshare apartments”

Whether you are or were for or against now President Trump, it is clear he is on the side of the timeshare developer which has become a battlefield pitting owners against developers.

Now to our main attraction:

What is ARD-ROC doing today?

A breakdown for soundbite reading and request for more information:

In a perfect world the only thing ARDA-ROC would be doing today would be writing checks, sitting back and relaxing. But, it’s not a perfect world and so a typical day for Chairman Ken McKelvey goes something like this:

ken McKelvey
Ken McKelvey

It is a Thursday and McKelvey started his day discussing a new wrinkle in the South Carolina transfer legislation that ARDA-ROC has been proposing.

I believe this is South Carolina House Bill 3647 tightening the language of timeshare transfers. In our last article we reported how the nature of the perpetual contract, rising maintenance fees and little or no secondary market spells a disaster for aging original owners if denied a voluntary surrender.

That was followed by a conference call regarding the proposed United States Virgin Islands timeshare fee.

This does sound like a benefit for owners because an extra $300 slapped onto an exchange seems exorbitant.

The day before was loaded with details regarding a Saint Maarten Parliament Timeshare Ordinance and its potential impact on consumers.I know nothing about the Saint Maarteen Parliament Timeshare Ordinance but it sounds ominous.

Along with a final draft of legislature in Florida regarding the sunset clause to help legacy properties gain reasonable voting requirements to extend into the timeshare agreements into the future. Whew.

This is Florida House Bill 818 concerning a reset to continue beyond the sunset provision.

And he’s just a volunteer who is happy it is not Monday.

The ongoing operations of ARDA-ROC is both reactive and proactive; on one hand they react to any proposed legislature, dealing with real estate or tourism proposed laws that have any tentacles that could possibly affect timeshare and on the other hand they write and lobby for legislature that could help timeshare owners.

This lobby effort sparked outrage among owner advocates. Did my $7 go to this effort?

“The bills (House Bill 453 and Senate Bill 932) have been sponsored by two politicians from Central Florida — deep in the heart of time-share country: Rep. Eric Eisnaugle, R-Orlando, and Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland.

Both politicians have received money from time-share interests — an industry that showers cash on Florida politicians and committees, including $300,000 to the Republican Party of Florida and $150,000 to the Democrats,” reported Scott Maxwell for the Orlando Sentinel.

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/opinion/os-florida-timeshare-tactics-scott-maxwell-20150411-column.html

Throughout the year, ARDA-ROC has lobbyists on retainer in up to 25 states, and territories, and who according to McKelvey “we HOPE the only thing we ever hear from them is an invoice.”

These lobbyists monitor and pick through every piece of proposed legislature with a fine tooth comb, seeking things that are rarely specifically spelled out to say timeshare, but could be interpreted to have grand impact on it.

This from Advocate Michael Kosor:

The “fine tune comb” can be seen in the Nevada State Bill 195 that would have allowed an Association Board to terminate its management contract (the most important and costly agreement a board oversees), issued to them by the developer, without obtaining a majority owner vote – an impossible effort. ARDA-ROC identified the change and successfully lobbied to have it removed.  This was clearly an owner friendly provision the industry did not support.  Lobbyists (of ARDA and ARDA ROC, they use the terms loosely and interchangeably) suggested (vaguely and without discussion despite being an absurd assertion) the original language was “intended to protect timeshare owners” and should not be changed.

Keep Reading

breaking news

Breaking news: Tauro Beach Project.

News has just come in from El Diario Canarias Ahora that the prosecutor’s office have requested three and half years imprisonment for the former head of the Canarian Coastal Authority, José María Hernández de León.

eldiario

The prosecution allege that the former Head of Costas illegally authorised the construction of the artificial beach at Tauro without the promoter of the project (Anfi) having fulfilled the condition required by law.

These works were to build an artificial beach using 70,000 tonnes of imported sand from Western Sahara. It was the first works of its kind that the Coastal Authority, part of the Environment Ministry had authorised in 25 years.

The indictment presented to the Court of Instruction number 3 of San Bartolomé de Tirajana, denounces that the then head of the Costas José María Hernández de León, allowed these works to begin knowing that Anfi had not complied with the conditions demanded, then falsified the documents so that it appeared everything was legal and they had complied with the ministry.

Playa-Anfi-Tauro-Canarias-Ahora_EDIIMA20160716_0223_18

The Public Prosecutor demands that Hernández de Léon should be tried as a perpetrator for the crime of prevarication (being intentionally dishonest) with forgery of an official document. Along with the sentence of three and a half years in prison, they are also calling for ten years of disqualification for public employment and a fine of 18,750 euros.

It certainly looks like the Public Prosecutor is calling for a severe punishment, it now remains to be seen if the ex chief of the Costas puts forward any evidence which could implicate Anfi in any wrongdoing. With such a sentence hanging over him he may just want to mitigate this by plea bargaining and save himself.

prison

As usual only time will tell, Inside Timeshare will bring you the news as and when it comes in. This story is by no means over.

Link to the El Diario article.

http://m.eldiario.es/canariasahora/tribunales/Fiscalia-exjefe-Costas-Canarias-Tauro_0_625388159.html

Search for Anfi Tauro in the search box for all previous articles on this story.

europe-usa

Timeshare Fraud: Happens on Both Sides of the Pond

We all know the “scams”, many timeshare owners have fallen victim to them over the years, from the “we will sell your timeshare for you”, “we can get you a legal surrender” to “we can get your money back and your contract cancelled”.

In Europe, as Inside Timeshare has highlighted in many articles over the past months, the proliferation of so-called claims companies and law firms is rife. From companies such as Litigious Abogados the rulings made by the Spanish Supreme Court have given them the tools to fool you the owners.

Many other companies who once peddled other products are also getting in on the act, companies such as the Monster Group, owned by Mark Rowe, now have a company called ABC Lawyers. All using the rulings as if they were their own, that only they can get your money back and cancel those contracts.

In the past it was the resale and transfer companies, many would charge to “relinquish” your timeshare, but would actually transfer it to a third party for 1€. Then after about 2 years, you find the demands for arrears in maintenance fees dropping through your door. The timeshare company does not recognise the transfer made by the company you paid. This is the problem Mrs B has had with MacDonald Resorts.

In the US this is also a very big problem, Irene Parker in today’s article continues to look at the US market, and what can and is being done to stop these fraudulent practices and protect you the consumer.

How to Reduce Fraudulent Timeshare Transfers

The Smart Money Turns to Logic and Simplicity

By Irene Parker 21 March 2017

goal chart

The National Timeshare Owners Association works diligently behind the scenes to stop fraudulent timeshare transfers by working with attorneys, law enforcement, regulators and other stakeholders in the timeshare community. It’s a collaborative effort as we highlighted last week with HOA Collection Agent Kristi Hanley. She explained the pervasive and unending attempts to defraud timeshare owners and developers alike along with the financial consequences.

http://insidetimeshare.com/timeshare-hoa-collections-agent-shares-experience/

 Gregory Crist, CEO of the NTOA says “This is white collar crime that we call the “Viking Ship” model. It is well funded and highly sophisticated. By design, it is creating further damage to the secondary market at a rapid rate and leaving behind a trail of clouded deeds. This is a serious problem we have on our hands right now. At the NTOA, we are sharing “Best Practices” with HOA’s and helping them utilize proper safeguards to protect themselves.”

However, there is light shining on the horizon. After our interview with Kristi we followed up with Dave Heine at requestmyestoppel.com and learned about Timeshare Pro Plus, a simple and effective way to reduce timeshare transfer scams. Today we will examine this innovative Cloud based technology and then hear what Laura Hey, Assistant Manager at Silver Beach Resort Daytona, has to say about timeshare transfer problems and about Timeshare Pro Plus.

According to the company’s website, Timeshare Pro Plus can improve timeshare transfer efficiency by at least 75% while reducing timeshare transfer fraud.  

If you are a timeshare owner wondering why you should be concerned with the nuts and bolts of a timeshare transfer, review this fifteen page Department of Justice timeshare scam report.

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

Everyone needs to do their part to stop fraudulent transfers. When a company contacts you asking if you would like to get rid of your timeshare, be the detective. Write down the name and location of the company, the website address, the caller’s name and a phone number to call them back.

The beginning of the timeshare hamster wheel, as described by a former timeshare sales agent, is the vacation give away. Those calls are usually outbound only and if you ask for a call back number, they will make one up or hang up. Transfer agents do offer more information as they must pose as a legitimate business.

Be an empowered and informed timeshare owner. Leave the desperate, angry and confused shackles behind. Become an advocate. If you are able to gather this information, report it to one of our advocates and we will take it from there by forwarding the information to the National Timeshare Owners Association.

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

Here are Timeshare Pro Plus bragging rights  Timeshare Pro Plus puts everything the resort’s back office needs to efficiently transfer a timeshare deed or contract while implementing some safeguards in the transfer process, under one umbrella by using the latest Cloud technology. This saves time, money and paperwork.

This software incorporates SSL encryption

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is the standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. This link ensures that all data passed between the web server and browsers remain private and integral.

The data center is HIPPA Compliant assuring the level of security demanded by the medical community.

https://home.timeshareproplus.com/

When Kristie Hanley said cleaning up the timeshare transfer business might be accomplished by requiring a simple signature from the timeshare resort, it sounded too simple and logical to be true so I contacted Dave Heine at Timeshare Pro Plus.

Sure enough, it is not simple. There are four parties involved in a timeshare transfer: The timeshare seller

⦁ The timeshare seller

⦁ The timeshare buyer

⦁ The transfer agent

⦁ The resort – pictured is Maui Hill – our favorite timeshare resort

Kristie’s suggestion was a good one, but requiring a signature from an HOA is not applicable to timeshare any more than it would be selling your primary residence. You don’t ask your HOA to sign your contract when you sell or buy a house or condo, but the HOA can put a lien on your property if you are past due on fees.

The same thing happens in timeshare. As Dave explained, timeshare scams are caused when the fictitious buyer is an individual or a company that has no intention of paying future HOA or timeshare maintenance fees. These companies charge upwards of $5000 or more to guarantee your transfer out of your timeshare unit, but in a fraudulent transfer the buyer disappears or was non-existent in the first place as soon as the transfer agent receives the owner’s transfer fee. Owners thinking they disposed of their timeshare learn the resort did not accept the transfer when they receive an invoice for maintenance fees at the end of the year.

I asked Dave how many resorts are using Timeshare Pro Plus. “Out of approximately 1000 or more resorts we work with about 50. Timeshare companies have been relying on the post office since before fax machines were invented. Resorts are slow to embrace modern technology from a fear of being cost prohibitive or from familiarity. Many take the approach of, we have always done it the way we have been doing it, it works, so why should we change?” offered Dave.

We would still be reading by kerosene lamps with that mentality.

One resort that is keeping up with modern technology is Silver Beach Resort in Daytona, Florida. Laura Hey, Assistant Manager, describes timeshare transfer as “a no man’s land” encompassing transfers from here to Hawaii and beyond. The problem is worldwide as told by one of our Inside Timeshare readers this week.

http://insidetimeshare.com/merdith-pritchard-readers-experience/

Ironically, Laura said many of the fraudulent companies are not in Florida. Florida is a mecca center for timeshare. Laura feels this may make it easier for the perpetrators to be caught operating in a state always on the watch for fraudulent transfers.

Silver Beach uses Timeshare Pro Plus and acknowledges it has made a difference, but Laura does not feel the problem can be eliminated by software alone. It takes people working together, more information, hard-hitting questions and legislative efforts. “We feel a sense of joy and victory whenever we outwit those preying upon the vulnerable,” said Laura. “Recently we received two recorded deeds, but we are not sure the transfer is legitimate. More needs to be done to make sure that, for example, a timeshare delinquent $10,000 in maintenance fees isn’t transferred to a person that doesn’t exist. When we requested a driver’s license to confirm the identity of two buyers, we learned both Nevada driver’s license were fake.”

Laura went on to warn timeshare owners to stay away from Postcard companies.

http://tstoday.com/members/magazine/issue118/39-postcard%20warning.pdf

 

It seems there is no end to the creativity and the ingenuity generated by timeshare’s lack of a secondary market. In summary – here is what we at Inside Timeshare propose:

Work towards an improved and viable secondary market.

Ask your resort if they use Timeshare Pro Plus and if not, ask what the resort does to ensure legitimate transfers.

Report companies that call asking if you want to be released from your timeshare.

Help spread the word to encourage people to ask the right questions when buying a timeshare, including talking to a member of the US Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association to compare the benefits or lack of benefits buying on the secondary market.

http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

I hope more resorts look into Timeshare Pro Plus because reducing timeshare transfer fraud is one point timeshare owners and developers can agree on.

For more information about Timeshare Pro Plus contact Dave Heine.

http://resorttrades.com/business-directory/timeshare-pro-plus/

world hub

As we have seen, much of the problems around these “scams” and “frauds” are actually caused by the industry itself. By over valuing  the product as “an investment” as if it was actual “real estate”, lack of a resale or secondary market to the selling of contracts that breach the laws.

When there are problems such as this, it leaves owners with nowhere to go, they are then vulnerable to the clever “scammers” who then fleece the desperate of thousands.

If you need any help or advice on any company contact Inside Timeshare, we can point you in the right direction. We will show you how to check out these companies for yourself, remember doing your due diligence will save you money in the end.

  

 

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Friday Review: News from Across the Ocean

Inside Timeshare once again publishes the Friday article from across the Great Lake (The Pond to our American Cousins). Today a new contributor, Laurie Sabbagh, with additional notes from our senior writer Irene Parker, who is doing a great job in rousing timeshare owners in the US to work together and improve the industry.

Firstly, we are getting more and more information on that outfit operating out of Tenerife, the Litigious Abogados family. The latest addition which we reported on 14 March Abel Garcia, was very interesting. As we said in the article, the website was registered on 5 January 2017, the name of the “law firm” was never heard of, yet the court document showing “Keith Baker” being sentenced, is dated 17 January 2017. Well we have never heard of a case going to court and being adjudicated with sentence being passed within 12 days. Wow, these lawyers are good!

We have also heard from another reader who had dealings with Stephen Fairclough and Meredith Pritchard Claims Consultancy Limited, another figure of just under £6000 has been paid, given the details of Jose Dorta of D&M Lawyers, yet no case or anything. This reader also suspects that the elusive Stephen Fairclough is back in Portugal.

So now on to our new contributor.

A Diamond Resort Member Does Her Timeshare Homework

Timeshare Members Instructing Other Members

Board

By Laurie Sabbagh  

Notes from Irene

March 17, 2017

Diamond Resorts member Laurie Sabbagh is also a member of our Diamond Resorts Advocacy Facebook Page. Our mission statement:

We seek to provide Diamond Resorts members a way to proactively address membership concerns; to advocate for timeshare reform; to obtain greater disclosure from the company; to advocate for a viable secondary market; and to educate prospective buyers.

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

Today Laurie educates prospective and current owners. Not many timeshare buyers comparison shop. Timeshare sales presentations are almost always same day sales. A timeshare sales agent named in the Colorado Attorney General’s investigation of Highlands Resorts explains why:

“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://insidetimeshare.com/another-us-attorney-general-exposes-deceptive-tactics/

From Laurie:

I recently started reading the invaluable Inside Timeshare articles and web postings of timeshare advocate Irene Parker after joining the member sponsored Diamond Resorts Advocacy Facebook Group. In February I posted that I would soon stay at Diamond’s Los Abrigados resort in Sedona. Irene asked me to attend the “members update” to find out if sales agents were adhering to the Arizona “Assurance of Discontinuance” rules.

https://www.azag.gov/press-release/attorney-general-brnovich-announces-800000-settlement-diamond-resorts

After more than ten years of dodging the member updates, (i.e., sales pitches), I reluctantly accepted the invitation from the concierge to attend a 55 minute presentation.First, a little background on my Diamond “The CLUB” membership:

My membership started in 2006, when I purchased 8500 points in the Hawaii Collection when it was part of Sunterra. This vacation ownership interest (VOI) gave me a right of use equal to one week at either the Point at Poipu in http://Kauaior the Ka’anapali Beach Resort in Maui that I could reserve 13 months out, plus have access to resorts in the US and California Collections. In 2011 I received notice of a special assessment (SA) for a water intrusion problem at the Point. I scoured the internet to find out what was happening and learned that Sunterra knew about this massive liability when I purchased my vacation ownership, but its salespeople most likely weren’t informing prospective buyers about the problem prior to DRI’s impending purchase.

http://www.tstoday.com/members/magazine/issue123/7-poipu%20point.pdf

I was able to absorb the cost of the SA and considered myself lucky compared to owners who were on the hook for around $6,000 per deeded week for the water intrusion project – as many as 500 owners defaulted on their units because they either couldn’t or refused to pay the assessment. By reading Redweek and TUG I learned that management companies can change the terms of the Vacation Ownership Interest VOI membership agreement at any time, for practically any reason. I also read posts about high-pressure and questionable sales tactics being used to get consumers to buy into the various Collections  – some Hawaii Collection members were being told to get out of that collection by buying more points to transfer into the US Collection to avoid future SA’s, and vice versa. Reading about other people’s’ experiences was a wake-up call that it was not in my best interest to buy any more points.

Note from Irene:

I have received several complaints from people who attended sales presentations (one at Daytona Regency) told they should not have bought Hawaii Collection Points because Hawaii maintenance fees were going to increase dramatically or were encouraged to transfer Hawaii Points into the US Collection because Hawaii real estate is valuable, Hawaii Collection owners only can rent Points and only Hawaii members’ heirs can refuse inherited Points. Each transfer requires the purchase of more Points.   

Now to Laurie’s member update:

Two people

The promised 55-minute update turned out to be about three hours. The first salesperson, with whom I spent most of the time, was courteous and not high-pressure, although she did advise me to buy more Points to bring me into the Silver loyalty level which is 15000 Points. But to upgrade to Silver they were going to charge me over $8.00 a point, which would have cost more than $50,000! She also said the Hawaii Collection maintenance fees were more expensive and that I should join the US Collection. However, the second sales person I spoke with said with my small number of points, it costs only about $100 more per year.

Note from Irene:

According to SIRF Southern Investigative Reporting Foundation, Diamond points historically have sold for an average of $3 to $4 a point through 2014, according to data obtained from lawsuits. In a prior article, we reported Apollo plans to raise the price per point to $10 and then $12 per point.

http://sirf-online.org/2016/03/07/27464/

Back to Laurie’s sales presentation:

The sale’s agent also said that Apollo Global Management, the owners of DRI, would freeze that price for me for 18 months, and that the price was likely to rise soon.

Note from Irene:

Apollo Global Management founder, banker Leon Black, also founded Drexel Burnham Lambert of junk bond fame. Junk bonds did have some value, but a Diamond contract becomes worthless the moment it is signed should an owner need to sell, unless a friend or family member is willing to buy the Points.

Laurie:

I was also told that DRI members can use Points like cash for items such as airline travel, hotels, luxury items, and guided tours and adventures.  For example, Diamond Luxury Shopping enables Platinum and Gold members to apply Points towards products that are 30% off the best market price. But at a redemption point of $.30 per Point, this seems exorbitant to me.

Note from Irene:

I tried to use Points for an airline ticket. The Points we bought for $4 were worth $.07 for travel awards (Platinum $.10) so for $2,300 in equivalent maintenance fees dollars I could buy one domestic US flight. Customer Service told me this benefit is for convenience, not value.

Back to Laurie

Another example is that members can use 1500 points to purchase America the Beautiful – the US National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Annual Pass.  My 8500 Points cost $1,973 this year, which includes maintenance fees, The CLUB fee, taxes, and mandatory membership in Interval International. That comes to about 23 cents a point.  For me, 1500 Points for the pass equates to $348, not including the $10 processing fee for my “Valued” level of The CLUB membership. I paid $80 for the same pass at a National Monument we just visited. Seniors over 62 pay $10.

At the end of the presentation a third person asked me some questions, including if I was treated courteously. I said yes, but also said I was not interested in buying any more Points with DRI. I declined the $100 Visa gift card, since that was not my reason for attending the update.

All said my elderly parents and I had a wonderful week at Los Abrigados. I was able to secure the historic Stone House, an 1800 square foot property with four separate entrances for only 6500 points. I almost always book weeks for 50 to 75 percent off, within the 59 day discount period, and have experienced good value for my points.  Every year I’ve been forced to vacation or lose my points, and I’ve taken about 18 weeks of vacation at DRI resorts since I bought my membership. If I had not purchased this VOI, I never would have gone to all the places that The CLUB membership has enabled me to visit. However, I advise other members to only use points for timeshare use, not the auxiliary products or non-resort vacation experiences DRI offers.

Thank you to Laurie for sharing her knowledge and experience. Email us at Inside Timeshare if you have a timeshare story you would like to share.

share

Thank you Laurie and Irene, once again Inside Timeshare would like to thank all those who contribute, either through writing articles or supplying information on possibly rogue companies. It is through your efforts that we can inform the timeshare world on what is going on.

On another note Canarian Legal Alliance has been nominated for the Canary Awards which recognises individuals and businesses that make a difference on the Canary Islands.

Canarian Legal Alliance has been nominated in the Real Gran Canaria category for their outstanding services to timeshare consumers and their efforts in the changing of consumer law.

In the Business Person of the Year category is Csilla Nazali, the operational manager of CLA for her outstanding work with all the clients.

Follow the link and vote for them, I’m sure they will appreciate it.

http://thecanaryawards.com/vote/voting-categories-page-1-of-2/

 

family

Abogados Abel Garcia: A New Member to the Litigious Abogados Family.

abel-garcia-logo-1

Over the past couple of days Inside Timeshare has received more questions from concerned readers regarding the so called law firms in Tenerife: Litigious Abogados, Litigar Abogados, Abogacia Española, Fernando Holaci and the Procurado Davido Harstun Jaime.

There is a new website on the block with another new law firm and lawyer, Abogados Abel Garcia, with Abel Garcia being pictured on the website.

http://abogadosabelgarcia.com/

abel-garcia-abogados

This website was created on 5 January 2017, so is just 3 months old yet they are claiming victory over Resort Properties, where the “Director Kevin Baker” pleaded guilty. Strange that? The same name was the director of Club la Costa from Litigious Abogados and other resorts in previous letters, who also pleaded guilty.

This website is exactly the same as the previous ones except for the logo and minor changes. All photos are the same including the lawyers with two new names: Manuel Torres Privlo and Ramon Quena Cinol. Even using the same photographs as on the other sites.

simone-manuel-olivaz-111
Manuel Torres Privlo

 

 

 

 

 

 

ramon-quilnar-canal
Ramon Quena Cinol

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Again the letters state that the client has been awarded a substantial amount in compensation, including a very good copy of the court’s sentence. This again bears stamps, which to those not familiar with Spanish court documents would believe are genuine.

As in the previous articles the modus operandi is the same, to receive this wonderful payout all the client has to do is pay the procurator Davido the tax and the money will be released. Once again the client receives a colour photocopy of the cheque. This is issued on a Banesto cheque, which as we know was taken over completely in 2012 and merged with Santander. They stopped using Banesto cheques, cards and logo very soon after.

The address given is: Calle de Valentín Sanz, 16, 14, Piso 38, 002 Santa Cruz De Tenerife.

Which does exist, but number 16 looks like a fashion shop, but next door at number 14 there are plaques on the wall for a notary and abogado, but not the ones named on the website.

street view

The telephone number is: Freephone: 0800 802 1 778

with the email: garcia-ukclaims@consultant.com

This is indeed a very sophisticated operation, documents, letters, cheques and bank drafts do look very convincing. The standard of English on the letters is also very good, which again suggests an educated native English speaker is involved

redacted Court_Lodgment-page-001

Inside Timeshare cannot stress enough that on no account should you part with any money or even take any notice of the so called windfall that you have been told is waiting for you. Courts do not issue cheques.

If you have had any correspondence from any of the companies listed in previous articles or this new one, contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.

Links to previous articles or search Litigious Abogados, these have full lists of all names used:

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

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

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

http://insidetimeshare.com/litigious-abogados-plot-thickens/

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

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

http://insidetimeshare.com/litigious-abogados-plot-gets-thicker/

Remember it pays to do your homework.

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letter from america

A Timeshare HOA Collections Agent Shares her Experience

By Irene Parker, March 13, 2017

Hair pull

Inside Timeshare has written many articles about timeshare transfer agents, but not often does a timeshare developer offer insights from their perspective. Kristie works in HOA Collections at a west coast legacy resort. Her job can’t be easy, so we appreciate Kristie taking the time to answer our questions.  

The timeshare resort asked not to be identified. Attorney Mitchell Reed Sussman’s response to the interview is posted at the end. We reached out to Timeshare Exit Team but they have not responded.

Irene: We are grateful that you have come forward to offer a developer’s point of view. Tell us your biggest concerns.

Kristie: I am excited to have been asked to offer my thoughts concerning this difficult topic and happy to provide any assistance you may need in the future. The biggest problem we see is that only the seller has to sign the deed. One thing that might help alleviate transfer scams is if both the timeshare owner and the resort representative had to sign to sell and receive property. Year to date I have tracked 85 individuals, representing $352,000 in uncollected dues because of what we consider to be fraudulent activity.

We have been able to address many fraudulent practices by working closely with the National Timeshare Owners Association (NTOA). Our establishment met CEO Greg Crist at the TBMA Orlando Conference a few years ago. Since then, we have worked together to stop some of the seemingly never ending fraudulent activity. Greg and his team have always provided positive outcomes. I would encourage every timeshare establishment to reach out to NTOA. They are the best in the industry.

Owners pay transfer companies thousands of dollars to be relieved of their timeshare which in the end often does not relieve them. This negatively affects the current dues paying owner with Maintenance Dues increases due to “Viking ships” that have no intention of paying dues. The term Viking Ships refers to Vikings who put their dead on ships and then shipped them out to sea.

We also work with Dave Heine @ requestmyestoppel.com. His program was set up to try to assist timeshare companies in an effort to stop fraudulent transfer activities by having a place for the purchaser & seller to sign as well as the estoppel & account information pages. His program can be built into any resorts policies. This saves all parties time and money.

Real Life Examples

The following article is about a Waunakee Wisconsin businessman who took over unused timeshares for a fee and will have to refund money to owners and return the timeshares to resorts, according to a consent judgment.

Jail

http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/state-gets-judgment-against-waunakee-time-share-wholesaler/article_11d2cf8b-f2d9-5cdb-86d3-054e9148e417.html

NTOA works behind the scenes in their effort to stop fraudulent transfers.

https://www.ntoassoc.com/

“Most NTOA members are timeshare owners, but twelve HOAs have joined NTOA as non-profit Associate Members. We assist HOA members when an HOA suspects fraudulent activity by working cohesively with the resort under attack while cooperating with and coordinating regulatory and law enforcement agency efforts,” Greg explained.

“Our HOA members agree to abide by NTOA’s Timeshare Owner’s Bill of Rights and Best Practices Agreement. Most if not all legacy resorts, meaning sold out traditional timeshare resorts, fight fraudulent practices on a daily basis. When a deeded timeshare is not properly transferred, the resort must hire a lawyer to resolve “clouded title” issues. This costs a resort from $200 to $2500,” he added.

Our interview continues:

Irene: Question 1 – Have you seen a dramatic increase in owners seeking release or more children and heirs taking over their week?

Kristie: We have seen both. Individuals seek a release because either they don’t want to burden their children or they have stated the kids don’t have the money or the time. Our resort and our owners have matured.  Other reasons for release include age, health, finances or are not able to travel like they used to.

If they do transfer the timeshare to the kids, they have stated it’s because they don’t want to give up the property and because of the wonderful memories. They want to keep the family tradition going.

Question 2 – Have your owners been successful selling their weeks and does your resort maintain a resale department or refer to Licensed Timeshare Resale Brokers?

Some of our owners have had great success selling their week and some have had difficulties. Based on feedback, it seems that it is about 50/50, with half selling on their own and half having a licensed resale company sell it.

When a customer calls we strive to give them all the information they need to make an educated decision. We advise customers about the many frauds and guarantees and to stay away from timeshare attorneys. We advise them of the transfer costs and re recording fees and even provide the paperwork they will need.

Question 3 – What are the some of the problems you have encountered when owners seek release through transfer agents?

We see fraud and incorrect deeds being prepared and recorded.  It seems that nine out of ten transfer companies are fraud and when one gets shut down 20 more open up. We have seen timeshares that have been transferred to individuals and companies that keep buying them but then never pay dues.

We have new transfer policies in place for all resale companies. All companies requesting a transfer must provide their company information so we can make sure they are a legitimate company.  We also cross reference addresses and phone numbers and if we find that the customer has chosen a resale company that is not legitimate we immediately advise the customer.

Question 4 – Are you familiar with Resort Release, endorsed by FOX celebrities Laura Ingraham and Dave Ramsey? If so, what is your opinion?

I am not familiar with Resort Release but I am familiar with radio hosts Laura Ingraham and Dave Ramsey and how they have endorsed certain resale companies. Unfortunately they are endorsing the wrong companies giving false information to clients. They both get paid to endorse companies to make it sound good regardless of the outcome. They are in advertising.

Most resale companies promise to get an owner out of their timeshare, but if it’s a deeded property they have to transfer the deed. The resale company might be able to get someone out of a contract, but they can’t get our customers out of a deed. The deed must be transferred to a legitimate party and all of our transfer procedures must be met for a transfer to be valid.

Question 5 – Are you familiar with Timeshare Exit Team? One of their agents contacted me and asked me to review their program. What is your opinion of this firm?

I would never endorse or advise anyone to use their services ever!! They specialize and advertise “Cancellation of Timeshare Contracts” but we don’t have contracts. We have deeds. We have chosen not to do business with Timeshare Exit Team because of their inability to follow our procedures and because of the quality of work previously sent to us.

Timeshare Exit Team has been involved with two other timeshare resale companies and/or timeshare attorneys that were involved with transferring 18 of our deeds since 2014 to four individuals that have never paid the dues and are delinquent in the amount of over $18,000. Out of the four individuals we were able to track, we learned that they are all associated with each other thru business dealings, contract employees or registered agents. They must assume that the association will eventually foreclose or take the property back but it is very costly to foreclose and we do not accept property back. It seems as long as they get their money they will make an effort, but if it doesn’t work out in their favor they just transfer the deed to anyone without making sure of whom they are selling it to.

Our newest issue is with the US Consumer Attorneys. They also specialize in Timeshare contract cancellations. They have transferred deeds to the same individuals as stated above that have never paid, and seem affiliated with timeshare Attorney Mitchell Reed Sussman.

We were never notified of the transfers and none of the procedures were followed. This seems to be a repeat of the Timeshare Exit Team accounts all over again. We would be happy to work with any timeshare resale company as long as the procedures were followed.

Question 6 – When you deny someone a release, and they foreclose, with no loan, do you or the collection agency file a lien or report this to credit reporting agencies?

The account is considered delinquent 30 days after the due date. We send a few letters before filing a lien on the property. Once the lien is recorded and the customer has received the final notice we send the account to a 3rd party collection agency. They will report the account to the credit bureau. They work the account and report it negatively for a year. After the year we pull the account out of collections and evaluate the account for litigation.

Question 7 – Are there any transfer agencies you feel are appropriate for owners denied surrenders or are they better seeking help from a timeshare attorney?

We refer our clients to a company called The Timeshare Guys @ 877-987-4897. This is a legitimate resale company that we use all the time.

http://www.timeshareguys.com/

We never refer our clients to a timeshare attorney. Everyone we have dealt with has taken money from our owners and not been able to perform the work they promised they would do. The timeshare attorneys send us letters telling us that their clients will no longer pay the dues and we need to transfer the deed back to the association. That is not our policy and unfortunately our customer paid thousands for something an attorney cannot do. In this situation we refer our customer to the Secretary of State, or State Bar Association to file complaints to try to get their money back.

Question 8 – If an owner is denied a release, how likely is it a transfer agent will be able to release the owner, as some transfer agents guarantee a release and others offer money back guarantees? Is there such a thing as a guaranteed transfer agent?

If our owner is denied a release, a transfer agent will certainly not be able to get the owner released. If they offer a guarantee and money back they are only deceiving the customer. The board members are the only ones that have the authority to release a client and there are policies that must be followed for that to happen and it does not happen often.

Question 9 – What do you charge an owner for a one week deed-back if your resort accepts the transfer?

Usually we charge two times the amount of the dues plus hard costs.  Each owner’s request is reviewed by the board and our owner’s situation is taken into consideration. The board will never agree to transfer the deed just because the owner is tired of paying. This is deeded property like a home and is treated as such.   

Question 10 – Are transfer agents necessary? If an owner is denied a release, ads say the owner can get released through a transfer agent. The deed goes back to the developer anyway and the owner can be charged $5000 or more.

Our association would rather deal directly with our owners to avoid the transfer agent fee but it seems the customer reaches out to transfer agent first. If the transfer agents were legitimate they would be helpful because they can prepare & file any paperwork.

Question 11 – Are there any other specific company names you can provide that timeshare owners should watch out for?

 

Kristie: There are so many timeshare resale companies that just pop-up and think they know what to do. I am not sure how they get lists of owners but they get the names and prey like wolves on consumers. Some of companies we have had the most problems with and would advise owner to stay away from are: Tek Solutions, Vacation Ventures, Resort Access, Tanya’s Timeshare, Superhealth Technologies, Sunshine Groves, Sunshine Clearing, Starla Missions, and Fireside Registry, just to name a few. Then we have the deliberate scams that timeshare attorneys and resale companies transfer to – individuals that never pay and never notify us. We usually find out about things like that when the customer gets the bill or we stumble upon it in the recorder’s office.

Irene: Thank you Kristie for answering my questions. It sounds like the popular timeshare slogan “Vacation Planning Simplified” does not apply to vacation un-planning. I learned a lot from Kristie’s answers. It will take some time to digest. Inside Timeshare will continue to unravel the mysteries of our timeshare world.

think box

Mr. Sussman responded as follows:

While I understand their position, the simple fact is that if the timeshare had any value at all….the resort should be thrilled to take it back so that they can resell it for a profit.

Of course, since the timeshare is a liability and not an asset, the resorts refuse to take back what is essentially a lifetime financial obligation.

Senior citizens are especially vulnerable.  When for health reasons or simply lack of income they are unable to utilize the timeshare the resorts have zero sympathy, refuse to take back the timeshare and then report the owner as a deadbeat to the credit reporting agencies.

Shame on them and bravo to any attorney, willing to sue or otherwise punish the resorts for taking advantage of the weak and infirm.

If a resort wants attorney’s in the field of timeshare cancellation to not feel as I do, they should simply agree to take back their timeshare when asked by their owner. Not by the attorney. Why should there have to even be attorneys in this field?

If timeshare resorts maintained a policy that would allow owners who are no longer willing and able to travel out of their timeshare, there would be no need for timeshare attorneys or timeshare transfer companies.

Mitchell Reed Sussman

Attorney at Law

The views expressed in this article are the views of the interviewee. Timeshare transfer agents and the problems resulting from fraudulent transfers – as evidenced by the Department of Justice timeshare scam report linked in our article below – is a subject Inside Timeshare will be closely following.

http://insidetimeshare.com/consumer-protection-week-usa/

 

Inside Timeshare would like to thank Kristie for her time and insight, it gives owners / members more information on this mysterious world called timeshare. Also a big thank you to Attorney Mitchell Reed Sussman, his views on owners being able to hand back without the need of an attorney will, we believe, be welcomed by many on both sides of the pond.

 

We welcome your comments and stories, contact Inside Timeshare if you have something you would like to share. It you the reader who provides the information which will help others.

 

week review

End of the Week Review.

We started this week with Irene’s article on Consumer Protection Week in the US, we end with another.

While in Europe and especially Spain, we have seen more news coming from the Supreme Court. At the start of the week it was announced that Silverpoint formerly Resort Properties, have been ordered to pay back 169,000€. This was announced in the Spanish newspaper El Diario (see link), the Spanish press have been very fast to publicise these rulings, which have gone virtually unnoticed in the UK press.

http://www.eldiario.es/canariasahora/tribunales/Varapalo-Supremo-timesharing-comercializado-Canarias_0_619088490.html

In another case, the Supreme Court ruled against the same company for infringements of the timeshare laws for a German client. In this particular case the court again stated that the client was a consumer not an investor as Silverpoint had claimed. The client’s contract was declared null and void and awarded over 30,000€.

These cases have been brought by the Canarian law firm Canarian Legal Alliance, who so far since the first Supreme Court ruling 2 years ago, have secured over 3 million euros for their clients, with over 1.2 million euros already in the accounts of the clients.

CLA Logo

To celebrate the 2nd birthday of the first ruling, the Norwegian lady who made legal history visited the lawyers who fought her case. Mrs Tove Grimsbo, had an epic battle which lasted several years, her case was highlighted extensively in the Scandinavian press, but through the perseverance of her lawyers she eventually won through.

 

http://insidetimeshare.com/meredith-pritchard-new-exit-claims-company/

So on to Irene Parker’s End of Consumer Protection Week article.
End of Consumer Protection Week March 5 – 11

By Irene Parker

satisfied

Consumer Protection Week ends today. Here are some tips on purchasing and owning a timeshare. Timeshare is a good product for some but it does not work for everyone.

“Buyer Beware!”  The psychological methods used by some timeshare companies and agents are designed to wear the consumer down – difficult to overcome even by the strongest individual. “My personal opinion, working as a sales agent for Diamond Resorts and Hyatt, convinced me that greed and making the sale at any cost is the corporate culture. I saw manipulation, threats, deceit and fraud used to make sales. When you have a good product, these methods are not necessary to make the sale,” reported one former timeshare sales agent.

Do your homework. Few will buy a house or car without some comparison shopping. Contact a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association to compare developer versus secondary market prices and benefit or lack of benefits when buying a “used” timeshare.

http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

Ask yourself if the “FREE GIFT” is really worth signing a perpetual contract, accompanied by perpetual maintenance fees, in a same day sale, with little or no secondary market.  Most timeshare companies do not offer buy-back programs and voluntary surrenders are not guaranteed.

If you are a timeshare owner who feels you were lied to or deceived in your timeshare purchase, and if resolution is not achieved after contacting your resort:

File a complaint with the Attorneys General of the state where you signed your contract, where you live, and where the resort is domiciled.

http://www.naag.org/naag/attorneys-general/whos-my-ag.php

File a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under the mortgage option (even if no mortgage).

https://www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint/

In some states the standard of fraud is as simple as dealing honestly and fairly. In such states, if you were lied to, the contract is fraudulent.

We should begin now planning for Consumer Protection Week 2018. Consumer Protection Week should provide a benchmark as we set goals today that can be measured next year. Goals that can determine where and how timeshare business practices have improved.

As Irene said, do your homework, anything to do with timeshare is a minefield, from first purchase, to resale companies and then to all the so-called legal and claims companies that are now proliferating, especially in Europe following the rulings made by the Spanish Supreme Court.

There are so many companies jumping on that particular band wagon, some are very sophisticated operations, such as Litigious Abogados (see link for the last article, or search Litigious Abogados in the search box for all articles).

http://insidetimeshare.com/litigious-abogados-plot-gets-thicker/

Another facebook group has also got off to a flying start (see link below), it is a closed group but welcomes new members. It is a forum for dialogue and debate, taking a different approach to many of these groups that use social media, by encouraging opposing views. They have even welcomed a Diamond sales agent, who has even agreed with some of the owners views on sales practices. This is what is needed if timeshare is to change.

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

So there we have it, thank you to Irene and all the contributors in the US, also to the readers who have supplied information on some of the companies we have researched. It is your information that is helping others to negotiate this murky world of timeshare. Have a good weekend.

friday-again

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