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April 2017

letter from america

Friday’s Letter From America

Another week over and another Friday Letter From America from our intrepid travelling writer Irene Parker.

Before we go to Irene’s article, a little news from Europe, we begin with the never ending successes of the lawyers at Canarian Legal Alliance, we begin with an announcement  which came in after publishing last friday’s letter. The Court of First Instance N1 in Arona Tenerife found for the CLA client against Resort Properties / Silverpoint, declaring the contract null and void, this was on the basis it was for floating weeks.

CLA Logo

These contracts according to the Supreme Court are illegal, under law 42/98, the contract must specify a week, date and location. The judge in the case at Arona awarded the client the return of 26,000€ plus legal interest.

On Tuesday 25 April Anfi was on the receiving end of another judgement at the Court of First Instance N5 in San Bartelomé de Tirajana. In this ruling the Judge found for the clients on two infringements of the timeshare law:

  • Contract is over 50 years in duration (perpetuity);
  • It contained floating weeks.

Again the contract was declared null and void and the client will receive 39,413€ plus legal interest.

On Wednesday 26 April the Court of First Instance N5 in Arona found once again for the client against Resort Properties / Silverpoint. In this case the client has been awarded over £25,957 plus legal interest, for a contract which was for a duration of over 50 years (perpetuity).

Yesterday Thursday 27 April, CLA announce another First Instance ruling against Anfi, for a contract over 50 years in duration and the illegal taking of a deposit within the stipulated 14 cooling off period. Over £37,913 plus legal interest was awarded back to this client along with the contract being declared null and void.

It is certainly a case of the lower courts adhering to the ruling laid down by the Spanish Supreme Court in Madrid, it leaves no doubt as to the illegality of many of these contracts with case after case being won, leaving many happy ex-owners timeshare free and reimbursed with money paid.

Inside Timeshare again this week published the latest in the saga of the “fake law firm” in Tenerife, Abel Garcia Abogados, one of the many in the Litigious Abogados family. This time one lucky gentleman decided to do an internet search of this “firm”, he came across our previous articles and contacted Inside Timeshare for clarification. This has saved him from losing thousands of pounds, he also provided Inside Timeshare with the letters documents and emails he received, these have been passed to our lawyers to be included in the denuncia to the Guardia Civil.

Another “firm” was also highlighted, FHA Marketing. Very little is known about this one as there are no entries at company house and their website registrant is hiding behind a privacy service, so it is not known who is behind them. One thing is for certain they haven’t got all their facts right.

So now onto the “Travelling Writers” article.

A Reader’s Response to Nancy Callahan and our Experience at Diamond Resorts Scottsdale Links

guitar

By Irene Parker

April 28, 2017

One of our readers emailed us with a sophisticated comment in response to our article about Nancy Callahan’s extraordinary experience, unaware she and her husband had acquired a $143,000 loan to purchase 50,000 Diamond vacation points. Our reader’s comment is kind of heavy, so I’ll start by sharing our more light-hearted Friday, end of the work week comment about our Diamond Resorts, Scottsdale Links experience, post Clarity.

http://insidetimeshare.com/another-nightmare-timeshare-street/

We checked into Diamond Resorts Scottsdale Links in Arizona a few nights ago. Our unit is spacious and clean. We found good value using our Diamond points in that we used 6000 points to stay two weeks at a Sedona Diamond property as well. It’s surprising how many timeshare members don’t think about timeshare math, converting maintenance fees dollars into equivalent real dollars in order to make a comparison as to whether it would be less expensive to book online.

Sometimes it is more expensive to use points, but in this case, $.23 per point in maintenance fees times 6000 points equates $1,380 for two weeks or $98 per night. Online the cost was $112 per night for a one bedroom unit, but there was also a $13 per night fee and a 13% tax so we are way ahead. Of course, the initial amount we spent purchasing our points is not factored in. The older you are the less advantage buying a timeshare, as there is less time to make up that initial outlay.

We are not asked to attend sales presentations. It takes some convincing, but you can request that your name be taken off the prospect list.

Diamond’s new Clarity program is about accountability and transparency and respect for the customer. The program was recently launched in response to the Arizona Attorney General issuing an “Assurance of Discontinuance” which includes a toning down of the aggressive nature of the sales presentation and, most importantly, requires the sales agent not to deviate from printed sales material.

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

Diamond is certainly not alone among their industry peers in needing to improve the integrity and honesty of a timeshare sales presentation. In the case of Nancy Callahan, the agent went pretty far afield of actual policy, as explained by our reader.

I found only one lapse in transparency at Scottsdale Links. Of all places, it occurred at the activity center! I had asked activity representative Brandy if there were any good activities this week. “You’re in luck!” said Brandy. “We have a cowboy guitarist and singer tonight”.

The cowboy singer was Wally Bornmann. Wally started his performance singing Cowboy songs by composers no one, out east anyway, would ever recognize and worked his way up to Gene Autry. He peppered his songs with cowboy stories like when Gene Autry paid $5 for the lyrics of a song when he was traveling cross country that became famous. “It may not sound like a lot, but at $1.67 a mile, it wasn’t bad pay at the time,” explained Wally.

“Do cowboys use Facebook?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” responded Wally.

“Aren’t you a cowboy?”

“No”, said Wally. “I know a lot of cowboys, but I would be at best a cowboy looking in. I have great respect for the work a cowboy does. Only Diamond Resorts calls me a cowboy.”

As a Diamond Resorts member Advocate, I reported this lapse in transparency to Brandy.

“Wally isn’t a cowboy,” I explained. “There’s no need to call Wally a cowboy”. What Wally is, is a gifted “Cowboy Song Artist and Exceptional Storyteller.” Wally played a song he wrote that made me cry, ‘Till Morning Comes Again”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-XBdDT-GiU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aEVzayDyZo4

Fishin’ for Chickens was written by Hobo Jim, the Official Hobo of Alaska!

We have a lot of European readers. Arizona is a real special state that is now more Diamond member friendly thanks to Clarity. Next time our overseas friends hop over the pond, consider Scottsdale Links in Scottsdale and then head up to Red Rock Country in Sedona just south of the Grand Canyon. It’s our favorite place to hike.

The moral of my story is that Diamond has a product and if sales agents would stop overstating availability, understating maintenance fees and loosen the restrictions on secondary points so an owner could sell the darn thing if they had to, through a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association, members would stop complaining so much.

Now on to our Reader’s Response

group table

It is very disconcerting to see that the unfair, unethical and misleading business practices described by these Diamond members’ experiences are not isolated incidents. It is clear that it has become endemic of the entire accepted Diamond sales process, as well as with other timeshare companies.

The misrepresentation of the ‘Legacy’ program as a ‘resale’ option when it is merely a way to ‘share’ a block of points with other family members, the embellishment of the value of points earned through the Barclay Credit Card, including how many points are actually earned, what they may be redeemed for (for example, NONE of the down payment for the purchase qualifies) and the false representation of the amount that may be applied to the maintenance fee.

In addition, the common representation that points have a “Currency Redemption Value” is being made by every ‘successful’ Diamond Sales Agent and is expected by the managers of the business unit. Basically, the actual benefit described in the Member Directory allows a member to redeem “up to 30%” of annual points towards, “up to 30%” discount on travel rewards.

Specific rewards have their own restrictions, limitations, terms and conditions however; what the sales reps are telling customers is that they may redeem their points for .30¢ per point. They tell customers that using this formula that with 50,000 points they can get $15,000 back EVERY YEAR! They use this to upsell, as with these unsuspecting customers in this article; that they will be able to pay ALL their maintenance fees and costs and that actually buying more will cost them less.

It would be bad enough if this were a case of a few outlaw sales reps pitching heat, however; this is encouraged by the industry. Sales agents are coached and compelled to present the product this way and reprimanded, ostracized and eventually terminated for NOT ‘going along with the program’.

Accurately presenting the product leads to lies being discovered by the customers that they were ‘pitching this heat’. It is absolutely disgusting to me that a product that promises to deliver quality family vacation experiences is sold with such reprehensible disdain for honesty and integrity.

Inside Timeshare wants to thank our industry insider for explaining what the Legacy program is and what it is not. Sometimes we hear so many versions of a program we don’t know what to believe.

honest

If you have a question or concerns about Diamond Resorts or any timeshare, contact Inside Timeshare or one of our Advocacy Groups.

We seek to provide Diamond Resort 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/

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

So there we are, another week over and more news from the murky world of timeshare.

If you have any comments or question about any of the articles published or have been contacted by any company highlighted, contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.

Have a great weekend and to Irene, enjoy your vacation.

weekend02

 

who are they

FHA Marketing: Who are They?

Inside Timeshare was today asked to check out another company calling about timeshare claims, FHA Marketing.

Their website:

http://fhamarketing.co.uk/

There is no address given on the website only a phone number 0121 667 9401 which is Birmingham.

Shows no company information, no Company House registration number, then when searching Company House we find no record of any company with this name. The website itself was only registered on 15 March 2017, so is a very new company. The registrant is hidden by a privacy service, so there is no way to find out who is behind it.

fhamarketing_logo-01

Inside Timeshares contact called the company as they had been informed of the call by one of their own clients, when they asked about company details and registration numbers they were told “sorry I wouldn’t know anything about that I only manage the call center”. Well, surely if you are working for a company you would have all those details to hand.

They say in their email that they are working with a number of legal teams across the UK, running compensation claims against timeshare companies. They also go into some detail about the “groundbreaking” court rulings which are making this possible.

Their “legal actions” are processed by “claims assessors” who collate information for a claim on a no win no fee basis. These assessors offices are in Redditch with a satellite office in Manchester, the only company found in Redditch with an office in Manchester is RSB Legal. (So are they working with them?).

If the claim is successful it will be split 70/30 with 70% going to the client, this is the same figure for RSB Legal. Now the other factor to bare in mind is, even if the claim is successful you will still own your timeshare and be able to use it. If you want to be rid of it the assessor will give “free, independent and valuable advice on this”. (I will also wager that it will be a very hefty cost).

So it looks like they are going down the section 75 credit consumer act route.

There is only one problem with this, Inside Timeshare has not come across any case where a section 75 claim has paid out for any timeshare. After all you will have owned it for many years and been using it, so the credit card company quite rightly will claim that there is no claim as you have received the goods and services you paid for. Just because the law now says that any timeshare purchased in Spain which breaches their timeshare laws makes the contract illegal is not a basis for a claim.

The only way to claim for a mis-sold timeshare under the Spanish law is through legal action in court (which will aslo make the contract null & void) using a bona fide law firm with experience in this field. These are actually very few and far between as most law firms would not touch this area before the law was clarified by the Supreme Court. Which also brings up the point of the comment at the end of their email:

“Latest ruling from European Supreme Court in relation to perpetuity  –

EU LAW states that ‘’timeshares can only be sold for a period of between 3 and 50 years’’.

THIS IS THE LAW. PERPETUITY IS ILLEGAL”

This ruling was not from the “European Supreme Court” which does not exist, it is known as the European Court of Justice.

This ruling was made by the Spanish Supreme Court in Madrid, with the first and subsequent 50 rulings being secured by only one law firm, which we have mentioned here in the past, Canarian Legal Alliance. These rulings also only apply to timeshares purchased in Spain since January 1999 when the law 42/98 was enacted.

CLA Logo

The EU Timeshare Directive is not law, they are just that, “directives”, which member states should enact into their own domestic laws. Spain included the maximum term for contracts no longer than 50 years as they believe it is wrong to enter into a contract with your children inheriting a contract they never agreed to. Spain also included the “Points and Floating weeks” systems, as these did not provide any tangible product as they are a “right to use” and “subject to availability”.

So once again the point of the story is due diligence, do your homework, ask the questions, can they prove what they say? How long have they been in business? Are they registered companies? (Although this in itself does not mean they are legitimate).

If you have been contacted by any company and want to know about them or how to find the information for yourself contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction, after all that is what we do day in day out.

lies

A Narrow Escape!

Inside Timeshare received from another reader more information on the group of fake lawyers operating out of Tenerife, these are known by various names which we have been publishing since September 2016.

LIT

Luckily for this particular gentleman he found the information about them on Inside Timeshare before he paid them any money. He was completely taken in by them, believing the official looking letters and a copy of the court document showing the case had been lodged. For some reason he decided to check the internet and came across one of our articles on Abel Garcia Abogados, after seeing this he contacted us for confirmation.

It was the images of all the other documents we have been receiving over the past 6 months or so which we published in our articles that drew his attention. After all, they were just like the ones he had received.

Court_Lodgment-page-001
Fake Court Document

Another fact was that we had highlighted the name of a director, Keith Baker, this name has been used in other documents but for different timeshare companies. These have included: Silverpoint / ; Club la Costa and Diamond. In each case he is the director and has pleaded guilty to the mis-selling of the timeshares. His personal and business assets in Spain and the Canary Islands have also been seized in order to punish him and pay back those he sold to.

It just seems strange that the same person is a director of separate and competing timeshare companies, (although in one he is named as Keith Balker, possibly a typo). Well, for a director of a timeshare company to plead guilty in court on these charges is, as far as we know unheard of.

ZT00196247 page-001
Fake Procurator

The latest letter from Abel Garcia, in the second paragraph states the following:

“As you have been informed, following a ground breaking ruling against, Resort Properties S.L on Tuesday 10th March 2015, one of the directors Mr Keith Baker pleaded guilty to the indictment of the Spanish civil code. The High Courts of Santa Cruz declared 28 of our clients’ contracts NULL AND VOID & seized Mr Baker´s assets & personal accounts in Spain & the Canary Islands.”

Now the other strange thing is, this gentleman was told by Abel Garcia in the introductory letter that the case had been lodged with the court, but he had no idea he had instituted the legal proceedings in the first place. So the question is how did this “law firm” lodge the case in the client’s name when he did not instruct them or give power of attorney to the “law firm”?

He also received two emails, first this one:

From: Abel Garcia [mailto:abel-garcia@consultant.com]

Sent: Thursday, April 6

To: XXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Subject: Claims Department

Dear

I hereby attach a letter with some good news from one of our Lawyers Mr Ramon Quena Cinol                                            

Assuring you of our best attention at all times, we would like to send you our best regards.

Kindly confirm receipt of this Email and the attachment.

Yours sincerely

Lucia Nohemi Carlitos

Departamento Legal

PDF of attached letter: Abel letter judgement

Then around 10 days later:

 

From: Abel Garcia [mailto:abel-garcia@consultant.com]

Sent: Friday, April 21

To: XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Subject: Santa Cruz Claims

Dear 

We are pleased to inform you that an official lodgment has successfully been implemented. Your case can now be pursued with the Santa Cruz courts should you wish to proceed.

Our Lawyer’s office will then liaise with you every step of the way until final settlement is obtained. We have been informed that there are very strong grounds for compensation.

Assuring you of our best attention at all times, we would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your involvement thus far and send you our best regards.

I remain

Yours sincerely

Maria Sanchez Gotera.

Departamento Legal.

This email is confidential and intended for the named recipient only. If you have received this email in error, please notify us immediately and delete the email. You must not copy, distribute, disclose or take any action in reliance on it. This email message and any attached files have been scanned for the presence of any computer viruses.

© 2013 Ilustre Colegio de Abogados de Tenerife. Todos los derechos reservados.

European Union Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC

PDF of attached letter: Abel Letter Intro

The name of the sender on the second has been seen before and is in a previous article, the second name Lucia Nohemi Carlitos is a new one.

At least this is one UK resident and timeshare owner who has been saved thousands of pounds by just getting inquisitive and doing his homework and due diligence!

We have said it before and we will say it again, unless you have personally instructed a legitimate law firm to act on your behalf, you do not have any claim waiting to be heard at court. This gentleman’s story is a stark reminder of DO YOUR HOMEWORK AND DUE DILIGENCE.

For all the articles on this group of “fake law firms” type litigious abogados in the search box.

foolus

 

nightmare

Is This Another Nightmare on Timeshare Street?

Just before publication Inside Timeshare received this news:

Nancy and Dan Callahan had been denied what they demanded until Inside Timeshare sent a draft of Nancy’s article to Diamond Resorts for comment. The company has since worked with the family to reach a positive outcome. The problem is, Inside Timeshare has received information from four other Platinum members voicing the same complaint as Nancy, from the same Las Vegas sales center, claiming they were told things like “people will be standing in line to buy your Legacy points” when not one member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association will even list Diamond’s non-deeded points. All the respondents have credit scores in the 800 range and in the 60s or 70s, but considering foreclosure due to variations on Nancy’s theme.We have also heard from lessor loyalty level members and from other sales centers, especially in Virginia and Ka’anapali Hawaii where one side of the ocean will sell US Collection points while the other side claims the member should not have bought Hawaii points due to special assessments or the anticipation of rising maintenance fees. They are then instructed to buy more points to go from one side of the ocean to the other. As one former Diamond Resorts sales agent told Inside Timeshare, “It’s a Hamster Wheel.”

Nancy and Dan Callahan Share their Timeshare Experience

Why don’t corporations admit wrongdoing?

Grabbing hand

By Nancy Callahan

Without our Diamond Resort’s Advocacy Group, my husband Dan and I would not have known where to turn. Even though, as in our case, Diamond Resorts turned their back on us saying we lied and their sales agent at Polo Towers told the truth, we know where we stand and we know we are not alone.

I am 69 years old and my husband Dan is 67. We are both disabled and we both retired from civil service. Dan is a retired army Lt. Colonel and a combat Vietnam and Desert Storm veteran.  

We are Diamond Platinum members. We feel our most recent Diamond purchase was made under deceptive and extremely high pressure selling techniques. We had been struggling with two loan payments of $329 and $121 but the most recent purchase we did not even realize we made, will drive us into foreclosure.

Diamond sales agent Rick Casper in Las Vegas on January 22, 2017 sold us 50,000 Diamond points bringing our total number of points up to 106,000. Our new loan payment is $2,133 a month which we cannot pay.

We did not realize we made this $142,000 purchase until we returned home and checked our credit cards. Prior to this purchase we owned 56,000 Diamond points which cost approximately $101,000.  As I have had a double mastectomy, undergone cancer chemotherapy, radiation and have had two knee replacement surgeries, buying more vacation points was in no way our intention. Dan has had two minor strokes and a mild heart attack. He has chronic pain and is on 25 medications prescribed by the VA and our doctors. Dan also suffers from PTSD.

The $142,400 purchase price for the additional 50,000 points purchased from Rick Casper included:

  • $121,025 loan
  • $17,000 charged to a DRI Barclaycard
  • $4,375 charged to our Hilton VISA Card which is being disputed
  • $142,400 total plus our prior $101,000 purchase totals $243,000 in DRI points.

The current balance on the loan is $142,850 financed at 12.93% plus a monthly collection fee of $6.

Our credit score before this fiasco was 825. It has dropped 50 points since we disputed our Hilton VISA charge. We have received harassing calls for several weeks from Diamond.

We were not provided a truth and lending statement. The copy we have has has no signature or initials by a Diamond representative.

How in the world could anyone make a $142,000 purchase without their knowledge?

multi arm

It’s not as difficult as you might think.

We were invited to attend a presentation at Red Rock Casino in Las Vegas to learn about new and exciting ways to use our Diamond points. Rick was there when we showed up and said, “I thought you were supposed to come to Polo Towers and not Red Rock Casino in Vegas.” Rick had arranged a conference room for the day.

Rick said we should join the new “Legacy program” that allows members to sell blocks of Diamond points to a third party with all Diamond benefits intact. This was said just to us as Rick took us to a private presentation because we were Platinum members. The benefits Rick talked about involved selling Diamond points and those benefits could only be obtained if we became part of the Legacy Program. He said if we joined the Legacy program “people would be standing in line to buy our points.” One of the biggest complaints from members is that you can’t sell Diamond points. “You will have enough points to travel to even Dubai Paris and London,” Rick said. Rick said if we joined the Legacy Program we would receive as Platinum members 50,000 bonus points.

I was in terrible knee pain that day as I had not brought my pain killers with me. Rick provided me with two glasses of wine in a-Styrofoam cups with plastic lids because alcohol is not allowed at presentations.

Rick also talked about how using Diamond’s Barclay MasterCard to make purchases was a wonderful way to offset maintenance fees through purchase credits. We signed up for the Barclaycard for this purpose. Rick, however, used the card to charge $17,000 worth of Diamond points. He did not explain that, when the card is used to offset maintenance fees, the offset is only 1.5%.

Six hours went by and we had still not decided on the Legacy Program. As the hours wore on, my pain increased and I became more and more confused. I walk with a cane so it was an effort just to walk to the restroom and back as it was some distance. I was exhausted. Dan is diabetic and needed to eat so Rick ordered room service. Dan was confused due to diabetic symptoms. We were so overwhelmed by the time we were signing contracts, we did not even realize we were buying points. Rick kept saying we would be receiving 50,000 DRI bonus points.

When we returned home we were shocked to see the charges to our credit card. We were signing things just to get out of there thinking we were just joining the Legacy Program and opening the new Diamond Barclay Credit Card that would pay for our maintenance fees through purchase credits.

Diamond Resorts has a new Consumer Advocacy Department which “Promises to help Diamond owners with their membership from Day One!” Aaliah Moore, one of Diamond’s Consumer Advocacy “Hospitality” agents has denied that Rick Casper made any misrepresentations and determined we were aware of what had transacted. We have learned from our Advocacy Facebook, there have been numerous complaints filed against Polo Towers with at least four directed against this same sales agent. All the families are financially devastated.

We were told hardship surrenders are reviewed and considered on a case by case basis but we would be denied based on deception and misrepresentations. The amount of money we would lose is too much to walk away from just so Diamond can take back our points and resell them for full value.

We will be filing a complaint with the FBI at IC3.gov alleging Financial Institution Fraud under the FBI White Collar Crime division. As credit cards were charged, we will be filing with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

We are notifying the timeshare lobby ARDA ROC that Diamond is violating ARDA’s Code of Ethics, the FTC because Diamond is one of the only major timeshare companies that cannot be listed with a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association due to restrictions the company places on the use of points bought second hand more restrictive than Diamond’s competitors.

We would have never agreed to buy 50,000 points. We were struggling with the two loans we already had outstanding with Diamond and our home mortgage as we bought at the height of Las Vegas real estate and are underwater on our home mortgage. We sent Aaliah a spread sheet explaining our situation thinking she would realize it was obvious we would never buy $141,000 worth of vacation points given our medical condition, medical bills and home mortgage! We would have cancelled the contract immediately if we had known.  

The maintenance fees due on the new points are $6,830 in addition to the existing $9,554 or so paid for 2017 maintenance fees which we prepay each month on a credit card.

At prior presentations other deceptive tactics were used. We were told we had to buy Hawaii points in order to get availability on Maui. Then at the next presentation on the US mainland on March 1, 2014 we were told we should not have bought Hawaii points because it is dangerous to own Hawaii points due to special assessments at Diamond’s Poipu property.  We were told we had to transfer back to Diamond US Collection points. They said Hawaii point owners were charged a onetime fee of $9,000 for Poipu assessments. We had to purchase additional points to bring the Hawaii points back to the US Collection to get out of the Hawaii Collection.

Another reason we would not have purchased more points is because we have not been happy with the points we owned before this new purchase.

There have been many resort properties that we have never been able to make a reservation for. When we are able to book a reservation, these presenters wear us down with their high pressure tactics. When we say no to one salesman, another one appears with an even harder pitch. We check into Diamond properties with a sense of foreboding.   

We have notified the National Timeshare Owners Association that they need to warn existing owners about the harm Diamond Resorts is doing to many of their members.

The Arizona Attorney General’s officeAssurance of Discontinuance

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

A billion dollar class action Albright Stoddard Warnick & Albright in Nevada

http://insidetimeshare.com/1billion-law-suit-diamond-resorts-international/

A Diamond Advocacy member sponsored Facebook

We seek to provide Diamond Resort 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/

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

advocate 1

At least in this case Diamond has reached out to this couple, and come to a positive outcome. Although there is still a long way to go before we no longer have stories like this coming in, it does seem as if Diamond are starting to take notice of these complaints, they are too similar to be isolated incidents.

Inside Timeshare welcomes any dialogue with the industry if it improves thing for the better, but it is your experiences that will make them look again at how they operate. If you have an experience, good or bad, you would like to share contact Inside Timeshare or one of the advocacy groups that we work with.

 

friday dog

Friday’s Letter From America

Here we go it’s Friday again, the end of another busy week in the world of timeshare, it does seem to be a world that never sleeps. There is always something new to be reported, be it another “bogus” company or an old company coming up with a new “scam”, the ingenuity of some is beyond belief.

So far this week the news from the Spanish courts has been flooding in, with more owners having their contracts declared null & void and the return of all their money. The intrepid lawyers that form Canarian Legal Alliance have been very busy. Most of these judgements have been from the lower courts, who are applying the Supreme Court rulings with a vengeance, leaving no doubt what the interpretation of the timeshare law is.

Inside Timeshare has also been receiving a great deal of information about one company and their new product, yesterday’s article “New Name Same Company” shows the lengths some will go to appear to be different. Unfortunately for them, some of us can see through their smoke and mirrors, so we shall be keeping a very watchful eye on their activities.

On the “Bogus” law firm front Litigious Abogados and their other associated “lawyers” are still at it, the UK Action Fraud website has been receiving many reports of their activities. Inside Timeshare can also report that the Guardia Civil have an extensive file handed to them for investigation. So we wait with anticipation as to what the outcome will be.

So, now on to this Friday’s article from Irene and Irina, Resale and Rentals.

Consumer Advocate Las Vegas Attorney Bob Massi Launches Season 3 of Property Man in Arizona on Business FOX  

https://www.facebook.com/RealBobMassi/

Two more Timeshare Rs – Resale and Rentals

By Irene Parker – Resales

Irina Allen – Rentals  

April 20, 2017

Sign post 

If you own or are thinking of buying a timeshare – the Bob Massi Property Man show has provided important tips for timeshare buyers and sellers. In Season 2 Florida, Mr. Massi interviewed members of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association. The LTRBA members offered important tips for consumers interested in buying a timeshare as well as tips on how to avoid a scam when a timeshare member or owner needs to sell.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHCdcS2Ds-U

As a follow up to Mr. Massi’s prior timeshare segments, my husband and I were interviewed to express concerns and problems faced by Diamond Resorts International timeshare members. There are many who use and enjoy their Diamond timeshare, but as has been widely reported, rising maintenance fees and the lack of a secondary market can spell disaster for families who need to get out from underneath their Diamond timeshare. Timeshares can cost $100,000 or more so walking away with nothing can financially devastate families.

Our interview airs this Friday, April 21 at 8:30 PM EST on FOX Business. Las Vegas attorney Bob Massi has been a champion consumer advocate for the underdog. While showcasing spectacular homes of the wealthy, he also contrasts the flip side of wealth by interviewing consumers struggling with faulty or predatory lending practices.

Mr. Massi interviewed my husband and me after receiving a multitude of complaints after his segment featuring the home of Jackie and David Siegel. The Siegels own Westgate Resorts, a timeshare company based in Florida. The segment, “The Queen of Versailles” resulted in a multitude of complaints about timeshare. The Queen of Versailles is the name of the documentary featuring the Seigel’s massive 90,000 square foot home with 30 bathrooms, a 20 car garage and a 4,000 square foot clothes closet. The original documentary took Best Director at Sundance. Many wealthy Americans have built large homes, but with enough complaints to prompt a two year Consumer Financial Protection Bureau investigation of Westgate’s business practices, I wondered about such wealth at the expense of timeshare owners unable to sell and sometimes not even able to give back their timeshare.

Mr. Massi’s Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association segment warned timeshare owners to work through a licensed timeshare broker. Ironically, FOX Celebrities Dave Ramsey and Laura Ingraham are paid to endorse firms like Resort Release, transfer agent firms licensed timeshare brokers warn consumers to avoid.

http://thetimesharecrusader.blogspot.com/2016/11/an-open-letter-to-dave-ramsey-and-laura.html

A sequence of events led up to our interview with Mr. Massi. My husband and I attended a grueling and demeaning timeshare presentation at Diamond Resorts Grand Beach Resort July of 2015. We had purchased two Diamond contracts with few problems, but when I witnessed the tactics being used during this predatory sales presentation, I became alarmed. I returned to our unit at Mystic Dunes, turned on the television, watched “The Queen of Versailles”, and wondered how the wealth was won.

I wrote to Mr. Massi about my concerns. Never dreaming a response, I was surprised to receive a call from a FOX producer asking if my husband and I would be willing to be interviewed by Mr. Massi. Having just accepted a position as an interim music director, I declined, but was contacted again six months later and agreed to the interview. The producer said they had a multitude of responses to their first timeshare segment, but I was the only one invited to be interviewed, as I was the only respondent who wanted to talk about the positives, in addition to the negatives of timeshare.

To prepare for the interview I contacted LTRBA member David Cortese of Magical Realty in Orlando and asked if he would list our Diamond points. David was one of the LTRBA members interviewed by Mr. Massi. David sadly informed me he doubted that any of the LTRBA members would our list Diamond points as they felt the restrictions the company places on the use of secondary points are more onerous than that of any other major timeshare company.

To me this sounded like unfair business practices and a violation of fair trade. I filed a complaint with the FTC, but they just sent an autoreply pointing me in the right direction. If thousands of people complain, they go to Congress to enact better laws. That hasn’t happened.

Timeshare attorney Mike Finn of the Finn Law Group maintains a steady 500 timeshares cases. Mr. Finn said about 20% to 25% of his timeshare cases are against Diamond Resorts. He said he has never had a Disney client. I asked Mr. Finn why legislators have not addressed the harm done to consumers when a perpetual contract does not have a secondary market. A secondary market is not to be confused with a voluntary surrender or exit plan as those leave the consumer who has spent $25,000 to over $100,000, often financed at 12% to 18% interest, with nothing. The timeshare developer takes back the points and resells for full value.

“Instead of shunning the secondary market, embrace it; the developers should invest some of their profits into stabilizing the resale market. Take the lesson the auto, boat and camper industries have long ago learned, that a healthy resale market is essential to the entire industry, from beginning to end there must be a continuous flow, a circle of economic life, if you will. If you can’t set up a used timeshare lot across the street from your project, at least sponsor knowledgeable licensed real estate brokers well offsite so as not to compete directly with your retail operations. Sure you’ll lose some initial business to these brokers, but by indirectly supporting these brokers, you’ll make timeshare interests affordable to the folks who really can’t afford to buy retail, but can perhaps afford to repurchase the interest of your newly divorced initial purchaser (something that you arguably owed the poor gal or guy anyway) and, more importantly perhaps, support the continuing financial health of the resort via the annual maintenance payments now to be made by the new owner, and ever crucial to the future of the resort you built and developed. Timeshare developers could take pride, not just profit, from making family vacations an affordable part of the American lifestyle by opening up that opportunity to even more folks!”

http://www.finnlawgroup.com/learning-center/the-unconscionable-suppression-of-the-timeshare-resale-market

“Timeshare doesn’t need new litigation to assist the establishment of a re-sale market. All they need to do is support it from a market standpoint! They clearly have zero interest in doing that,” Mr. Finn added.

The Second R: Rentals (to be continued)

Part I – The 3Rs or F of Timeshare

http://insidetimeshare.com/3-rs-timeshare-part-1/

Part II – The 3Rs Resolution, Relinquishment, Refund

http://insidetimeshare.com/part-ii-three-rs-timeshare/

If you or someone you know has a timeshare problem, contact Inside Timeshare or one of our Advocacy groups. Our advocates are members helping other members, bringing our experience and knowledge to other members or owners while providing a clearinghouse of information about legal and legislative issues facing timeshare today.

Diamond Resorts has implemented a new Clarity Program after the Arizona Attorney General issued an “Assurance of Discontinuance” and an $800,000 settlement. Diamond also has a Consumer Advocacy Department that claims to help members from Day 1 if they have concerns about their membership or purchase.

Timeshare owners worldwide would like to thank Mr. Massi and Business Fox for bringing this important topic to the attention of the public in America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines. Inside Timeshare works with contributors and timeshare members in an ever expanding horizon.

We seek to provide Diamond Resort 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/

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

Jigsaw men

So there we have it, the end of another week, Inside Timeshare again thanks Irene and Irina for their contribution, we also thank all who have contributed information to help others. Next week we will be highlighting another military family who have fallen foul of the sharp practices of some timeshare sales agents. These stories are all too familiar, the consistency of the testimonies of different families bares witness to some very nasty sales techniques.

If you have a story to tell or have any information about a company that you would like to share with others, Inside Timeshare would love to hear from you.

Have a great weekend.

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old tricks

New Name Same Company

Following on from Monday’s article which highlighted Keys Concierge and the relationship with Silverpoint, Inside Timeshare has received further information from one of our readers.

This reader attended a presentation at Beverly Hills Club in Tenerife, one of the Silverpoint resorts, he was then sold a one year trial membership of Keys Concierge, the new “lifestyle product” which we found out is the new product Silverpoint are marketing.

silverpointlogo

According to the information received, the new company selling this membership is called:

Signallia Marketing Distribution SA, with the CIF. A76539030, based at Avda San Francisco 12, Arona Tenerife. When the CIF number and the company is checked there is a little surprise. Lo and behold the company was formerly known as Silverpoint Vacation Solutions SA.

So there we have it, new company name, same CIF and address, but I would not be surprised if they deny that they are still Silverpoint, a little like Silverpoint tried to deny they were Resort Properties.

As for the new product, it is a credits based lifestyle membership, offering stays at Beverly Hills Club (no longer timeshare), Beverly Hills Heights (part of which is being sold off) and Hollywood Mirage. They also offer a “concierge service” where their “lifestyle managers” do all the work for you, make your bookings and travel arrangements even helping you with switching your utility company.

Some of the “benefits” are the discounts you can get from utilising your Keys membership, from 5% discount at Marks & Spencer, 4% discount at Sainsbury’s or even 8% at B&Q! You can also get upto 15% discount at Disneyland Paris among others. (see the link for offers).

https://www.keys-concierge.com/discovery-offers

Keys concierge

Looking at the website, the product is very similar to others in the past, a Discount Holiday Membership Club, with other services attached. Did we not see something similar with the same type of “Lifestyle” promises from Club Class Concierge?

They also had a “concierge service” which would “enhance” your lifestyle, your very own personal assistant to do all the mundane things like booking travel or theater tickets. Massive discounts which never materialised, either on the holidays or the other products they listed.

It is also sold that you “earn” more credits when you book anything with them, which “saves” you even more. I’m sure we’ve heard this before with “Leisure Credits”?

So the next question is, now that Silverpoint is no longer “selling” timeshare, or no longer members of the RDO, will Kwikchex business service be contacting them for a transparency report? Will they “comply” and if not what will Kwickchex say?

Will Mindtimeshare even post anything about them and this “New Product”? After all Mindtimeshare does publish about companies that are not “Timeshare” and in their eyes are “bogus or scams”. We shall watch those blogs and all the other forums for any comments about this new venture. Somehow I don’t think we will have to wait to long for answers.

On another note, Silverpoint again lost another case, the news was announced on 18 April. The High Court No 3 of Santa Cruz de Tenerife found in accordance with the Supreme Court rulings and declared the CLA client’s contract null & void. They ordered Silverpoint / Resort Properties to return over 27,000€ plus first instance legal fees and legal interest.

So just to finish, Silverpoint Vacations Marketing SA are now Signallia Marketing Distribution SA, a new name and a new product to peddle, will this product turn out to be a good one or will it go the same way as others before it? As usual it is all left to questions needing answers.

If you have had any contact with this company or product and want to aire your views, contact Inside Timeshare and we will share it with our readers. (see one readers comments) http://insidetimeshare.com/keys-concierge-another-credits-based-lifestyle-company/#comment-4014

It is through your experiences and information that others can be warned as to what is going on and be prepared.

 

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“An Anatomy of a Timeshare Foreclosure” A Reader’s Response

Following on from last Friday’s article where we highlighted the case of a Filipino families experience with timeshare, a reader emailed his response. Irene decided that it was worthy of its own article.

This Friday we will publish another in the series of articles by Irene, this one will focus on “Resales and Rentals”, this will be part III of the series The Three R’s of Timeshare.

A Reader’s Response to “An Anatomy of a Timeshare Foreclosure”

A reader’s response poses more questions than answers

Question man

By Irene Parker

April 19, 2017

One of our readers emailed comments and questions about Friday’s “An Anatomy of a Timeshare Foreclosure” article. As I attempted to answer his questions, I realized the complexity of his questions and comments are worthy of an article.

http://insidetimeshare.com/anatomy-timeshare-foreclosure/

I don’t understand the Monarch to Diamond transaction.  Is there an explanatory paper about the transaction?

The Monarch to DRI transaction is exactly like the ILX to DRI transaction. My husband and I were ILX owners. Monarch and ILX acquired owners are the most disgruntled because they received the greatest upheaval in maintenance fee increases. The Castle Law Group ran ads just because so many former ILX owners were in foreclosure.

“When Diamond Resorts International purchased Los Abrigados Resort and Spa in 2010, a pattern of rising maintenance fees began. Now, as thousands of owners have become delinquent, Diamond wants them to get current, or they will go into foreclosure.”

As reported at a Monarch annual meeting, “Of the 40,000 remaining Monarch owners, 33% have not paid their 2016 maintenance fees.”

The goal is simple and does not require reading ILX or Monarch to DRI acquisition documents. Sales agents are instructed to get the former deeded owners to give up their deed and convert to DRI points.

Deeded timeshare weeks are defined as real estate but points are “right to use” like a country club. No one says I am an owner at a country club. Points are much easier to “take back” as opposed to weeks which require an actual foreclosure process.

The murkiness started after Diamond acquired ILX. The article linked below is my mock interview with Scott Miller of Greenhaven Road Capital. ADW Capital and Front Four Capital are the two private equity firms that wrote a letter to Palmer encouraging the exploration of ways to “maximize shareholder value” because the Diamond stock price was in the doldrums. Former Diamond CEO David Palmer’s background is private equity. Mr. Palmer was urged to take the company private.

http://insidetimeshare.com/new-across-atlantic/

As you can tell from the tone in the article, there is no interest expressed in enhancing owner value. One of our Diamond Facebook administrators said that in listening to several Diamond conference calls with shareholders, not once did Palmer mention a benefit to owners. In fact, he boasted about how when Diamond buys a property, they “immediately add 15% onto every annual budget item and that is a 100% profit to shareholders.” Mr. Miller actually used the lack of a secondary market as a reason to buy the stock.

Shortly after acquisition Grand Beach Orlando owners received a notification stating “we will be raising maintenance fees 14.99%.” The increase is always due to the resort being in bankruptcy and therefore neglected. Odd expenses started popping up. I was sent a copy of an agreement stating, “Stephen Cloobeck is allowed 50 hours of annual use on the most expensive aircraft in the DRI fleet and the DRI flight crew for non-business use.” After the Apollo acquisition, DRI PR said DRI no longer owns or leases aircraft. This type of expense was not a normal ILX or Monarch expense. Palmer earned $19 million in two years and Cloobeck and other executives millions more.

Apollo Global Management acquired Diamond September 2016. Banker Leon Black formed Apollo after filing bankruptcy after the Drexel Burnham Lambert junk bond fiasco. Michael Milken went to jail. Note Diamond’s rebuttal.

https://www.thestreet.com/story/13624491/1/is-apollo-returning-to-its-junk-roots-with-its-acquisition-of-diamond-resorts.html

Many analysts reported on 11 quarters of consecutive growth but few financial analysts, with the exception of Pulitzer winner and New York Times financial journalist Gretchen Morganson, reported on this oddly coincidental 2Q earnings report explaining Diamond’s dismal 2Q downturn due to improper inventory valuations (that’s us) announced shortly after the $2.2 billion announcement. Earnings had to be restated back to 2014 and caused a significant drop in earnings.

https://www.thestreet.com/story/13702895/1/diamond-resorts-international-s-second-quarter-earnings-reversal-is-worrisome.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/07/business/accounting-error-may-not-derail-a-deal-but-ex-director-bails-early-anyway.html

There is mention of Monarch “equity” and Monarch “points”.  What is the connection?  

A fixed week deeded property can be listed with a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association for no upfront fee. The broker gets paid after the sale. Even points for any major timeshare except Diamond Resorts can be listed with one of the 64 LTRBA members. The members feel Diamond points are worthless on the secondary market due to restrictions the company has in place on use of points purchased on the secondary market more onerous than other timeshare companies.

http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

Buying Diamond points so that you don’t lose equity is nonsense because we all know DRI has no resale value unless you can find a buyer that doesn’t care about resale value. One of the LTRBA members I spoke with said even the market for Diamond’s deeded weeks is soft. You can always sell to friends or family but the members I talk to would never sell their DRI points to a friend or family member as they are so dissatisfied with the program and alarmed at the rise in maintenance fees. Again, acquired owners are the most exposed. There are many Diamond owners who use and enjoy their points. The problems arise if a member needs to sell. One owner from Wisconsin checking out of Diamond’s Los Abrigados Resort in Sedona said to me while packing his trunk, “I tell my kids if they act up I will name them as beneficiary to my Diamond points. I attend sales presentation to annoy the sales agent and hang out by the pool to warn others. The sales agents just roll their eyes and say, oh, he’s just an ILX guy.” He had stayed five months at Los Abrigados so in all likelihood was a Platinum member.

How can Diamond justify their salesmen explaining to Monarch owners, the complexities of the Monarch/Diamond transaction at a dinner or short meeting?  

I can answer that! The dinner or breakfast or 55 minute group session is followed by a three to seven hour (so far the reported record is seven) high pressure brutal and demeaning sales experience as I reported happened in this article. Diamond has introduced a new Clarity program that is intended to tone down the aggressive nature of the sales experience. Diamond is certainly not alone in the high pressure department. It was the sales presentation I wrote about in this article that led to my writing to Las Vegas Attorney Bob Massi, host of Business FOX Property Man. Our interview with Mr. Massi will be aired this Friday April 21on Business Fox at 8:30 PM EST.

http://insidetimeshare.com/peasant-venice-queen-versailles/

Only a senior customer service person may know enough to explain.

We have a lot of high powered advocates that can explain better than a Diamond customer service representative as we know more than the longest tenured customer service person. They may not even own Diamond points.

Diamond should have produced a summary of the transaction that could be understood by the layman.  

Again, there’s no mystery. ILX and Monarch went bankrupt. Diamond bought them. Get the deeds and replace with ethereal points. Monarch owners found themselves not having access to resorts they had stayed at for years. Lawsuits resulted. This case led to the filing of a billion dollar class action in Nevada.

https://topclassactions.com/lawsuit-settlements/lawsuit-news/457692-diamond-resorts-class-action-says-elderly-targeted-abusive-sales-tactics/

Diamond would not do that because they are happy to confuse the Monarch owners and just want to sell Diamond points without truthfully explaining the consequences of doing that.

That is obvious if you read the first example in Friday’s article. I have used that example often as it is the most glaring but I have heard from about two dozen Monarch owners all reporting variations on the theme.  

The above are only a few of the aspects that I need to have explained to me before I can start to understand the issues.

The timeshare developer lobby ARDA has supported laws making it more difficult for owners to contact other owners. We can certainly see why. Laws are passed to protect our “privacy” but as we all know, we are bombarded with solicitations.

Thank you for these comments and observations. Our Advocacy group has been accused of “victimizing the uneducated”. Many are happy with their Diamond points, but those that get hit with one of life’s roadblocks, no longer able to afford the timeshare and up-sold for the wrong reasons, can face financial ruin when that day comes.

Other Apollo related articles by New York Times journalist Gretchen Morganson:

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/09/business/wells-fargo-isnt-the-only-firm-that-needs-a-lesson.html?_r=0

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/28/business/keeping-investors-on-a-need-to-know-basis.html

We seek to provide Diamond Resort 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/

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

A2A

Contact Inside Timeshare or an Advocacy Group if you have questions or concerns about your timeshare.

Once again Inside Timeshare would like to thank our readers for all their comments and contributions, keep them coming. If you would like to share anything with the rest of the world contact either Inside Timeshare or the Advocacy facebook page, this is where you will find out what is going on in the world of timeshare.

If you require any information about any company that has contacted you or you are thinking of dealing with but need to know more, Inside Timeshare is here help. If we don’t know the answer we will find it .

 

Monday

Since the Weekend

We start the week with news of Friday’s court cases (14 April), 3 sentences were announced against Anfi, two from the High Court of Las Palmas and one from the Lower Court in Maspalomas.

The amounts awarded for these three cases is well over 100,000 euro, a severe blow to this resort, again the courts ruled as per the Supreme Court judgements. Contracts over 50 years, floating weeks and the taking of deposits within the cooling off period, (including by a third party), have all been deemed illegal.

gavel

All three clients in these cases are from Norway, they had employed Canarian Legal Alliance to fight their cases and release them from those illegal contracts. The courts declared them null & void and ordered that Anfi repay them their purchase price, plus double the deposits, legal interest and legal fees.

Along with the ongoing problems of the Tauro Beach Project, which again we have seen the authorities removing people from the beach, as it is still fenced off and closed to the public, these awards are a severe blow.

 

Back in January, we published the article about another new credits based lifestyle company, Keys Concierge.

Keys concierge

The company became active on 6 August 2015, with the director being one Franz Markus Deutsch, who we know is associated with Mark Cushway of Silverpoint fame. In this article it was mentioned that due to the association between the two directors and their past relationship, could this new product be the new one being sold by Silverpoint?

silverpointlogo

Keys Concierge Another Credits Based Lifestyle Company.

 

Since that article, a reader has sent in the following information:

They attended a presentation at Beverly Hills Heights, where they signed up for the £995 1 year trial membership. They would receive 995 credits, which would give them access to multi discounts across major high street and grocery retailers. One which this reader was interested in was the 6% discount at Asda, being a major shopper there it would certainly save him a great deal.

The thing is this reader was not totally taken in, he checked with Asda and other retailers, not one of them had heard of Keys Concierge as a business, let alone had any “deals” with them. In his words “I am now a little dubious about their offer”. Inside Timeshare has contacted Asda and is waiting for a reply.

It does go to show that doing your due diligence and research is very important. There are many of these “Lifestyle Products” making an appearance these days, many are replacing the sales of “Timeshare”, as they do not come under timeshare law. (Is this why Silverpoint split from the RDO?)

These “lifestyle Products” “Credits” etc, make promises of big discounts and saving money, where have we heard all that before? Why would you pay for “credits” or “vouchers” to get a discount anyway?

If you have any questions or comments on any article published on Inside Timeshare we would love to hear from you. If you have had any dealings with any company mentioned and would like to share your experience with others use the contact us section.

It is through your information that others can find out who to deal with.

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Anatomy of a Timeshare Foreclosure

Inside Timeshare today publishes another article by Irene Parker our US writer, she today highlights the plight of a Filipino family who have had a bad experience with pressure sales tactics. It is not an uncommon story, we have seen this all too often, the falsehoods told by some sales agents just to secure a sale, “you need to buy more points or lose what you have”.

This particular story is being translated into Tagalog, the Philippine language to be submitted for publication in the Philippines, also for publication in the Californian Filipino Press. We are also waiting for a contributor from Australia to submit his comments on timeshare “down under” to Irene, this is taking Inside Timeshare onto a worldwide stage.

As one of our regular US readers told Irene, Inside Timeshare is probably the first international timeshare publication that he has ever known. We know from some of the emails received, we are read all over the world, the news and views we publish are relevant and of interest to all timeshare owners, wherever they are.

According to certain sources, DRI think that Inside Timeshare is not being fair on them, oh dear! Does that mean we are doing it right?

What we at Inside Timeshare have called for in past articles is dialogue, recognition of that facts that the product has been sold aggressively, that certain groups especially the elderly have been targeted with these tactics and to change the way the product is sold.

For timeshare to become the product it was at first envisioned to be, resorts and developers need to change how they perceive the owners / members. They are not “cash cows” to be milked at every opportunity, but the cornerstone of the business. Without them there is no business.

So now on with today’s article, we hope it helps you the reader to understand what is going on.

Anatomy of a Timeshare Foreclosure

Part I: The 3Rs or F of Timeshare

The 3 R’s of Timeshare: Part 1

Part II: The 3Rs of Timeshare

Part II: The Three Rs of Timeshare

Part III next week: Two more Rs – Rentals and Resale

By a Diamond Resorts Filipino owner and Irene Parker

Betty and Rolf Burmeister

Two Diamond Resort members share their story

April 12, 2017

debt

 William, age 70, and his wife Mary, age 71, are a Filipino couple and residents of California. The family has asked not to be identified. William said the family has maintained a good credit score until now and are horrified that at age 70 they must face foreclosure. Mary was working just to pay for their loan and annual maintenance fees, but can no longer work due to complications from diabetes. They are worried about the lien Diamond will place on their assets and the burden they will be leaving their children.  

Mary worked as a hand therapist and William worked as a physical therapist. Nurses are the #1 export out of the Philippines, according to William. William and Mary are especially angry because, like so many Diamond Monarch owners alleging deception, they feel they were forced to buy points or lose Monarch “equity”.

The family owns 60,000 Diamond points. Historically, according to information culled from lawsuits, points have sold for $2 to $4 so we can estimate at least $180,000 spent on a vacation plan over time.

Diamond Resort’s non-deeded vacation points cannot be listed with any of the 64 members of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association, so families find themselves forced to foreclose if they are not eligible for a voluntary surrender due to a loan outstanding. Diamond Resorts is the only major timeshare that cannot be listed with an LTRBA member due to restrictions the members feel are more onerous than other timeshare companies.

http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

William and Mary’s complaint is similar to this complaint posted on Trip Advisor from the same Diamond Cancun Resort in Las Vegas. We have heard from five other families with similar complaints from Diamond’s Las Vegas Resorts. This was the first complaint reported:

I am at the Cancun resort in Las Vegas and went to a breakfast where they said they would simply update me about the changeover to Diamond. I was told that I should have been invited to a dinner where I would have been given options, decided by a judge in a legal ruling against Monarch due to their bankruptcy. They proceeded to show me a print out that said when my current term expires in August. I would have to pay $573 per quarter to Monarch. They said that due to the bankruptcy, I would have no equity. That was option one. Pay more, have nothing. The other option they said was to transfer into Diamond at a cost of $12,000 plus and pay a yearly maintenance fee of $1,700. Less than the $2,292 I would soon be giving Monarch. They also told me that I would then have equity of $41,000 that I could sell. I was in tears. I do not have any extra money. In fact I have been looking for ways to get out of Monarch for over a year now. They said that was not an option and that as an owner, I was now proportionally responsible for their debt. I felt trapped and signed all the papers to transfer, with no idea how I can pay. After reading the comments above I am even more scared. I am trying to start my own business and am already in severe debt. They claimed when they ran my credit though that it looked better than most and assured me I qualified for financing. I would have to pay off, basically transfer to credit cards, which I can barely make my payments on now before I could look to sell. One of the reps assured me that she would put me in touch with someone who could help me sell my points. She even gave me her cell phone number to call after the sale/transfer is finalized. I am really scared though. Please help! We have to do something. It seems as though they have no qualms about lying to and robbing people for their own benefit.

William and Mary’s story in their own words:

  • William and Mary own 60,000 Diamond points
  • Mortgage balance:  $85,968.25 financed by Diamond at 13.1%
  • Monthly mortgage payment:  $1,375
  • 2017 Maintenance Assessment Fee – $9,034.05

filipino family

In Las Vegas at Diamond’s Cancun Resort in 2013, we were told we should have received an invitation to attend a dinner to discuss the transition of Monarch MGV to Diamond. The sales agent asked us to write a letter stating that we did not receive the dinner invitation and therefore should be given the same benefits and price per points similar to those who attended the dinner. He said he would fax our letter to another Diamond office in Las Vegas.

In hindsight:

  • I should have asked for a copy of the FAX transmission.
  • I succumbed to the fear factor. The agent stated that due to Monarch’s bankruptcy we will lose our EQUITY if we do not purchase additional Diamond vacation points.

The concierge stated that this meeting will be only for one hour. We were held in that meeting room for close to five hours. We eventually broke and signed a contract to buy more points.

We constantly get telephone calls inviting us to attend more updates and we generally turn them down. We had a telephone sales encounter one time from the same Diamond Las Vegas Cancun Resort office trying to sell us more points. This telephone encounter lasted for over three hours. It is very difficult to get away from them once you get sucked in.

Next, we made a fatal mistake by attending a “free” dinner meeting in Pomona, California July 2015. At that meeting, the sales pitch was, we need to completely get rid of our Monarch points by buying more Diamond points in order to prevent the increase in maintenance fees due to less and less people owning Monarch.

The example they gave was the hurricane in Cabo San Lucas that damaged the Cabo Azul property. The sales representative said that if we still own Monarch, we will be assessed increased maintenance fees to pay for the repair of the Cabo property.

Another example he gave was the water damage at The Point at Poipu, a Diamond acquired property in Hawaii. He said owners were charged for special assessment to repair the property.

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

Like the previous meetings, this meeting lasted for over five hours. We went home close to midnight. Your focus, decision making and judgement falters if you are kept that long. The increase in maintenance fees after this purchase started our financial struggles.

Keep Reading

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Part II: The Three Rs of Timeshare

After we published Fridays article, news came in from Canarian Legal Alliance, of four more sentences at the Court of First Instance in Arona, Tenerife. These were once again against Silverpoint, again this lower court applied the previous rulings made by the Supreme Court in Madrid.

In one case the court ordered the return of 85,000€ plus legal fees and legal interest, the client’s contract was again declared null and void. In another two sentences the clients were awarded with the return of over 25,000€ plus legal interest, with the contracts declared null and void. A rather expensive end to the week for Silverpoint, with no sign of these cases letting up.

The week also started on a bad note for Anfi with CLA announcing another sentence issued by the Court of First Instance in Maspalomas. Once again this lower court ruled as per the precedent set by the Supreme Court that contracts over 50 years were illegal, therefore the contracts have been declared null and void.

Court Masp
Court of First Instance Maspalomas

The clients in this case have been returned with over 14,000€ plus legal interest. They are now timeshare free and are no longer bound by the rising maintenance costs. So what a start to the week for those lawyers at CLA.

So, on with today’s writings by Irene Parker, in this article she explores the three R’s, Resolution, Relinquishment and Refund.

In Spain one of the three R’s is hitting the industry, as we have seen from the opening of today’s article, many owners are receiving back their full purchase price and some, purely because the timeshare companies have sold a product that does not comply with Spanish Timeshare Law or the Directives issued by the EU.

For those who do not have a claim, the other option is relinquishment also known as surrender, unfortunately this does depend on who you own with, some are easier than others. One company that is renowned for not playing ball is MacDonald Resorts, there have over the years been many articles written and published about how they make it very difficult for anyone to get out of their contract. They say they allow a limited number out every two years upon payment of 4 years maintenance fees, this is done on a first come first served basis, so no guarantee.

Some resorts, especially the smaller independent and usually family owned resorts, just allow owners to hand back, in some cases they will even pay back something. This obviously is good for both parties, the member is released and the resort has inventory to sell. Win Win!

Part II: The Three Rs of Timeshare

Resolution, Relinquishment or Refund

Part I of the 3Rs or F of Timeshare

Part III – Two More Rs – Rental and Resale

http://insidetimeshare.com/3-rs-timeshare-part-1/

travel lights

By Irene Parker

April 12, 2017

Most consumers are unaware of the perpetual nature of a timeshare contract. The combination of rising maintenance fees and a mortgage interest rate ranging from 12% to 18% if a loan is attached can spell disaster when the timeshare member can no longer afford the timeshare due to illness, unemployment or age.

We hear a lot about the elderly being targeted, but our advocates have also heard from the young. So far the youngest person I have interviewed was 19 and pregnant when she signed her contract just after midnight. When I explained what a perpetual contract meant, she was shocked.

“A perpetual contract in itself is not harmful,” explained timeshare attorney Mike Finn of the Finn Law Group. When you buy a house or car the contract is perpetual. The problem comes when there is no secondary market as Mike explains in his article, “The Unconscionable Suppression of the Timeshare Resale Market”.

http://www.finnlawgroup.com/learning-center/the-unconscionable-suppression-of-the-timeshare-resale-market

The First R: Relinquishment

Timeshare developers and the timeshare lobby ARDA seem to think voluntary exit programs are the answer. How does this help the family who has spent $25,000 to over $100,000 to purchase a timeshare, only to get hit with a life event that results in not being able to afford the timeshare shortly after purchase? Would you buy a house that could not be sold? The price of a timeshare can easily rival the cost of a modest condo or home.

Howard Nusbaum, CEO of ARDA is quoted in a June 2014 RedWeek article in reference to the lack of a viable resale market, “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.”  Recycling inventory is the term used when a resort “takes back” your points or forecloses due to nonpayment of a loan or maintenance fees.

Timeshare companies are starting to offer voluntary surrender programs, but surrenders are evaluated on a case by case basis. The money invested in a timeshare can easily run over six figures, so walking away from that kind of money without a fight, when you feel you have been defrauded, doesn’t seem right.

The Second R: Refund

A refund is not easy to come by. Litigation takes years and if you win, there will in all likelihood be an appeal. Timeshare developers know the industry is virtually unregulated and that they are protected by the oral representation clause.

Let’s examine the most common complaints our advocacy group has heard to determine if these tactics meet the FBI’s definition of white collar crime.

Reportedly coined in 1939, the term white-collar crime is now synonymous with the full range of frauds committed by business and government professionals. These crimes are characterized by deceit, concealment, or violation of trust and are not dependent on the application or threat of physical force or violence. The motivation behind these crimes is financial—to obtain or avoid losing money, property, or services or to secure a personal or business advantage.

These are not victimless crimes. A single scam can destroy a company, devastate families by wiping out their life savings, or cost investors billions of dollars (or even all three).

https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/white-collar-crime

The most common complaints:

  • The agent said I could sell my shares,
  • Maintenance fees increase only modestly,
  • You can get airline and other travel awards but the value is zilch,
  • It’s less expensive to book online than to use my points,
  • The contract is perpetual? Who knew?
  • The interest rate is 18%!! I didn’t know till I started paying!

According to the FBI, there is corporate fraud and mortgage fraud. Corporate fraud includes accounting schemes designed to deceive investors about the true financial condition of a business entity by manipulating financial data, share price or other valuation methods.

While the definition above is most often applied to stock transactions, we can draw some comparisons to a timeshare point. Availability of accommodations, the value of travel awards can be overstated and the escalation of maintenance fees can be understated.

Mortgage fraud is a subcategory of financial institution fraud known as “fraud for profit”:

Fraud for profit: Those who commit this type of mortgage fraud are often industry insiders using their specialized knowledge or authority to commit or facilitate the fraud. Current investigations and widespread reporting indicate a high percentage of mortgage fraud involves collusion by industry insiders, such as bank officers, appraisers, mortgage brokers, attorneys, loan originators, and other professionals engaged in the industry. Fraud for profit aims not to secure housing, but rather to misuse the mortgage lending process to steal cash and equity from lenders or homeowners. The FBI prioritizes fraud for profit cases.

The backend of timeshare fraud has been widely reported, but there has been little attention paid to the front end. The industry needs to stop focusing only on the backend of timeshare scams as detailed in this US Department of Justice Timeshare Scam Report and take a closer look at the front end – the timeshare sales presentation.

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

Timeshare members who begin their complaint with “the salesman said” are sadly told about the oral representation clause contained in a timeshare contract.

 Wyndham has appealed Trish William’s $20 million Whistleblower award.

In 2010, the plaintiff, Williams, reported that elderly customers were being defrauded by Wyndham salespeople, who were opening and maxing out credit cards without their knowledge and lying about reducing interest rates, maintenance fees and the ability to obtain rental income from their timeshares. She also disclosed an illegal, industry-wide practice of falsely representing that if owners spend enough money, often hundreds of thousands of dollars, Wyndham would buy back the timeshare at full value at the owner’s request.

Evidence presented at trial revealed that Wyndham employees engaged in “pitching heat,” high pressure sales tactics involving deliberate lies and misrepresentations to get people to buy more timeshare “points.” These sales practices included “TAFT” days, which stands for “Tell Them Any F@#*ing Thing” days, where employees were encouraged to say anything to make a sale as long as they didn’t put it in writing. The highest selling sales agent was quoted as saying, “I sold my soul to the devil. I can say whatever I want so long as I don’t put it in writing, that’s why Wyndham has good lawyers.”

https://dolanlawfirm.com/2016/11/wyndham-vacation-whistleblower-verdict/

R3: Resolution

hope

Diamond Resorts has instituted a new consumer advocacy department to help members or owners resolve disputes. A member sponsored Diamond Resorts Advocacy Group works with members and Diamond’s advocacy department to resolve issues. There is always the possibility the member just doesn’t know how to use the booking system. Blanket statements like “You can always book online cheaper than using Diamond points” are not accurate. My husband and I are Diamond owners. We just booked two weeks in Sedona for far less using our points than we could have by booking online.

We wish all complaints could be resolved by better understanding the resort’s program, but that is not always the case.

Our complaint format is included in this Inside Timeshare article. Inside Timeshare readers can use this form when contacting Inside Timeshare or their resort when problems arise. Of course there are many who use and enjoy their timeshare year after year. Those owners don’t need us, yet.

http://insidetimeshare.com/friday-post-look-past-week/

Our Diamond Resort Advocacy Group:

We seek to provide Diamond Resort 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/

Let’s keep working together to improve the industry.

Inside Timeshare is here to listen and respond.

fix prob

Related story

http://insidetimeshare.com/?s=hoa+collections

Inside Timeshare would like to thank all those who help to make these articles, especially Mike Finn of Finn Law Group, who helps Irene with the legal aspect of her writing.

If you have any questions or comments on any article published, contact Inside Timeshare and we will try find you the best answer or solution. You can also join our facebook pages and join the discussions. It is through these that we all find out what is going on.

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