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Friday’s Letter from America

Here we go another Friday’s Letter from America, this week Irene Parker explains reporting a crime to the FBI, regarding timeshare complaints. To us in Europe this appears a little excessive, especially when we take the situation with timeshares purchased in Spain. But in the US, consumers do not seem to have the same protection as those in Europe.

Now for a round up of European news, once again Anfi have been ordered by the High Court in Las Palmas to return over 36,000€ plus legal fees and legal interest to an ex client. In this case the contract was again declared null and void, the main infringement of the timeshare law is once again the contract duration of over 50 years, or what is known as perpetuity. This point has been the subject of many rulings from the Supreme Court.

Still on the subject of Anfi, a Norwegian journalist and Anfi member is starting to ask questions about the accounts for Puerto, Monte and Gran Anfi. It would seem that they are owed huge amounts from Anfi Sales and Anfi Resorts.

At present Inside Timeshare is looking into this and will publish in the near future, suffice it to say, from the copy of the post received, it looks as though there is a substantial amount outstanding. This journalist also asks the question if this is the reason for the lack of maintenance and upkeep at the resort?

More on this subject as and when we get the confirmed information.

Amador Galeca, one of the “Fake” law firms which springs from the Litigious Abogados family has been active again, with Inside Timeshare receiving many enquiries as to if these are genuine.

Once again, these firms are not genuine law firms, they have in place a very elaborate fraud, designed to fool owners into believing they have cases at court. Search Litigious Abogados in the search box, there you will find the story going back around two years.

The unfortunate aspect of this is the frequency with which they change the names of the law firms and the websites. This makes it very difficult for the authorities to keep up on their investigations. The one thing that does help, is the fact the websites are all the same except for the names.

In the end, it is up to you to check if they are genuine before paying these companies, it is no use after you have made the bank transfer, that money is long gone. This is the reason for creating the urgency, with stories such as the director is pleading guilty and the trial is in 3 weeks, so you need to hurry if you want to be part of this claim!

Now on with this week’s Letter from America.

How to Report a Crime to the FBI

graph

By Irene Parker

January 19, 2018

There has been a change in strategy in reporting to the FBI if timeshare members feel they meet the definition of white-collar crime, financial institution fraud defined as “deceit, concealment, violation of trust, bait and switch.”

I’m still recovering from the comment Anthony Davis posted January 11 in response to one of my articles. Anthony wrote that he recorded a timeshare sales presentation. Anthony is an army vet, 90% disabled after serving three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Coincidentally, someone who works in law enforcement contacted me just after I spoke with Anthony, informing us they wanted to donate a GoPro Hero 5 Session camera. My husband and I picked up the camera and drove to Orlando to meet Anthony and Ashley. They came to Orlando because they said they were required to attend a mandatory timeshare presentation scheduled for January 13th. This was their second required new member orientation and they had to bear the air and Uber expense to travel from Tennessee to Florida for two days, just to attend the orientation. Armed with our new GoPro, we recorded an interview with Anthony and Ashley. We also recorded the recording of the orientation.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=phUjnrIG3bI

The next morning, alarmed at what I had heard on the recording, I contacted the FBI. It took a while to explain the significance of this recording, because the FBI is not as familiar with timeshare as they are with say, terrorism, but the agent took the time to understand. At the end of our conversation agent #2222 (I did not ask permission to use his real number) concluded timeshare members need to call their local FBI field office and report orally through the FBI public access line, selecting option #4, white-collar crime. I thought he was going to dismiss me by sending members to the Attorneys General Offices! Here are the FBI field offices:

https://www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field-offices

Previously, FBI agents had advised me to direct members to the IC3.gov portal. This is the FBI’s online complaint site. Filing at IC3.gov is similar to filing an online AG complaint. Timeshare members who feel they have been a victim of deceit and bait and switch should still file with IC3.gov, in addition to filing orally with your local FBI field office. Here’s the IC3.gov link:

https://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx

From the FBI website (my comments are in italics)

Mortgage fraud is a subcategory of Financial Institution Fraud. It is crime characterized by some type of material misstatement, misrepresentation, or omission in relation to a mortgage loan which is then relied upon by a lender. A lie that influences a bank’s decision—about whether, for example, to approve a loan, accept a reduced payoff amount, or agree to certain repayment terms—is mortgage fraud.

Inside Timeshare US has received 278 timeshare complaints from readers. Of the 278 complaints, 263 allege that what happened to them meets the definition of white collar crime, “deceit, concealment, violation of trust, bait and switch.” Several timeshare members have reported timeshare sales agents advised them to falsify information, or the agent on their own falsified information, discovered when the member compares what they signed at the time of purchase to the document the timeshare company provides to the member after they asked for a document when pursuing a complaint.

The FBI and other entities charged with investigating mortgage fraud, particularly in the wake of the housing market collapse, have broadened the definition to include frauds targeting distressed homeowners.

This includes distressed timeshare members as a timeshare loan is considered a mortgage and is reported as a foreclosure, the same as a home mortgage foreclosure. However, timeshare attorney Mike Finn of the Finn Law Group did sue Bluegreen and managed to get foreclosed knocked down to “charged off” on behalf of 11,000 Bluegreen members and, going forward, Bluegreen no longer reports their timeshare point “take backs” as a foreclosure. Foreclosure is the most damaging hit to a credit report, and according to Mike, timeshare companies tend to pick the most damaging category to report.  

There are two distinct areas of mortgage fraud—fraud for profit and fraud for housing.

  • 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.

Timeshare member can relate to this definition! We have compiled three repeat offender summary reports. One of the reports describes highest loyalty members being up-sold to buy more points because they will be able to pay maintenance fees or sell points when no such program exists.

The FBI seeks to maximize its impact on the mortgage fraud and financial institution fraud as a whole through collaboration.

For example, the Bureau operates Financial Crimes Task Forces within several field offices throughout the country that act as force multipliers in addressing large scale financial fraud schemes. Comprised of federal, state, and local regulatory and law enforcement agencies who work together on a daily basis, these tasks forces have been an effective way to merge valuable resources of participating agencies.

By leveraging the skills, knowledge, and resources of various government agencies and private industry, the FBI and its partners are able to bring more perpetrators of fraud to justice.    

Common Mortgage Fraud Schemes (I selected those pertinent to timeshare)

  • Foreclosure rescue schemes: The perpetrators identify homeowners who are in foreclosure or at risk of defaulting on their mortgage loan and then mislead them into believing they can save their homes by transferring the deed or putting the property in the name of an investor. The perpetrators profit by selling the property to an investor or straw borrower, creating equity using a fraudulent appraisal, and stealing the seller proceeds or fees paid by the homeowners. The homeowners are sometimes told they can pay rent for at least a year and repurchase the property once their credit has been reestablished. However, the perpetrators fail to make the mortgage payments and usually the property goes into foreclosure.

The DOJ places timeshare exit scams complaints second only to debt collection complaints. Timeshare exit scams flourish when timeshare companies do not allow a secondary market. This is a 13 page DOJ report on timeshare exit scams:

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

One new timeshare term I learned is “Viking Ship” comparing fraudulent timeshare transfers to the term used to describe how Vikings put their dead on a ship, set fire to it, and shipped it out to sea.

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

Loan modification schemes: Similar to foreclosure rescue scams, these schemes involve perpetrators purporting to assist homeowners who are delinquent in their mortgage payments and are on the verge of losing their home by offering to renegotiate the terms of the homeowners’ loan with the lender. The scammers, however, demand large fees up front and often negotiate unfavorable terms for the clients, or do not negotiate at all. Usually, the homeowners ultimately lose their homes.

Foreclosure is a guarantee, but you certainly don’t need to pay anyone to help you foreclose. These scams say foreclosure meets their promise of a guarantee!

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

Law rights

Thank you to our FBI field offices for even listening to us as no one else is. We appreciate the efforts of Attorneys General but they are limited in their scope. Federal enforcement is needed.

If you need help with a timeshare concern, contact Inside Timeshare or contact one of these U.S. advocacy groups we endorse, feeling they are truly member supported, not influenced by industry.

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

There we have it, timeshare consumers in the US now have another way of fighting back, things across the Great Lake are a little more complicated for timeshare consumers than in Europe.

If you have any questions or comments about this or any other article published, contact Inside Timeshare, we will help you get the best advice possible.

Have a good weekend.

weekend cat

truth mask

What Do You Believe?

Inside Timeshare is receiving many enquiries from readers who are so confused they don’t know what to believe anymore. The subject is regarding court cases against the timeshare companies.

They are receiving letters from their timeshare resorts and companies stating that the claims about court victories against them is false, that it is all a ploy to get their money. So what is the truth?

Inside Timeshare agrees there are bogus law firms and claims companies out there, after all we have published many articles about them, but the fact is these court cases and the rulings from the Spanish Supreme Court are genuine.

For too long the timeshare companies have been selling their products in breach of Spanish Timeshare Law, now they are having to pay the price with all the legal action being taken against them. Obviously they don’t like it, they will do and say anything to stop their members from getting justice.

It is costing them not just in the amounts being awarded by the courts, but it is also costing them in the reduced amount they receive in maintenance fees. They are losing income, not only from maintenance fees but also from selling the product to new members, sales are reducing at an alarming rate.

Sales Decks are closing, the sales teams are being laid off, the OPC’s on the streets are disappearing, new members are becoming a rarity. The existing membership base is now retired or getting very close to retiring. Their children don’t want the timeshares, to them is it a waste of money, they use the internet and get their holidays far cheaper.

In the light of this it is not surprising they are going on the offensive and denying everything. Unfortunately for them the truth is out there, the Spanish press along with other countries are publishing the stories. The court documents are there and can be verified quite easily, there are several ways this can be done, obviously directly with the court that issued the judgement, but there is also an official website which can be used, although it can be a little confusing to use.

Below is a link to the website which shows Supreme Court Sentence 373/2017 against Silverpoint. To see the full sentence click on the title for the entry.

https://www.iberley.es/search/?form%5Bcollection%5D=sentencias&form%5Bterm%5D=373%2F2017+tribunal+supremo+sala+de+lo+civil&form%5Bsave%5D=&form%5Brequest%5D%5Bdate_from%5D=&form%5Brequest%5D%5Bdate_to%5D=&form%5Brequest%5D%5Bnum_sen%5D=&form%5Brequest%5D%5Bnum_rec%5D=&form%5Brequest%5D%5Bid_cendoj%5D=&form%5B_token%5D=v20bRsJcl3_oPlj09fv-H8J_EX1FkQ__IjvREimVyHo

This link will show a ruling from the Supreme Court Sentence 684/2016 against Anfi.

https://www.iberley.es/search/?form%5Bcollection%5D=sentencias&form%5Bterm%5D=684%2F2016+tribunal+supremo+sala+de+lo+civil&form%5Bsave%5D=&form%5Brequest%5D%5Bdate_from%5D=&form%5Brequest%5D%5Bdate_to%5D=&form%5Brequest%5D%5Bnum_sen%5D=&form%5Brequest%5D%5Bnum_rec%5D=&form%5Brequest%5D%5Bid_cendoj%5D=&form%5B_token%5D=I_ObFuVA45vnXtSEUP_reRzF5FfDF_0Jr45lUj8YCXw

So back to the question of our title, What Do You Believe?

The facts are there, you believed what you were told when you were sold the product, most of that has turned out to be untrue, so can you actually believe what they are now claiming?

We leave it to you the reader to decide.

If you have any questions about this or any article published, contact Inside Timeshare and if we don’t know the answer, we will find out for you. We are here to give you the facts and the truth!

 

tues

The Tuesday Slot with Irene

This week Irene explains the trials and tribulations of a veteran and his dealings with a major timeshare developer, you can see the interview in the Youtube video attached to the article.

These stories are becoming more common, especially now that they are getting coverage, it is a very sorry state of affairs when men and women who give their all, are then treated in the most despicable manner. One of the most disturbing facts that has come to light is that some of the sales agents are ex service personnel themselves, the only explanation is they use this “brotherhood” bond as a tool. They actually have no morals, just the greed of the pay cheque!

Inside Timeshare leaves it to you the reader to make up your own mind.

January 13, 2018 was an Overwhelmingly Sad Day

Anthony and Ashley Davis Share their Timeshare Experience

Whistleblowers of America

Help for military and government workers who seek justice

https://www.gofundme.com/whistleblowers-of-america

Army seal

By Irene Parker

January 16, 2017

https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/4

18 USC 4 Misprision of a Felony

Whoever, having knowledge of the actual commission of a felony cognizable by a court of the United States, conceals and does not as soon as possible make known the same to some judge or other person in civil or military authority under the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 684; Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII, § 330016(1)(G), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2147.)

Information provided by Scotty Black, MS Criminal Justice

Inside Timeshare is receiving an escalation in timeshare complaints reported by our readers, including 14 active duty and retired military in the last 60 days, directed against four timeshare companies. Anthony and Ashley Davis complained about a timeshare up-sell. Since they recorded the actual presentation, we called the FBI. After explaining what happened, the agent I spoke with advised me to direct timeshare members to contact the FBI public access phone line if they feel they were a victim of white-collar crime, financial institution fraud, which the FBI defines as “deceit, concealment, violation of trust and bait and switch.” Members seeking to report should contact their local FBI field office and report orally their allegations. The public access line is available 24/7. Members should also file with IC3.gov along with other regulatory agencies listed on our complaint form.

http://insidetimeshare.com/file-timeshare-complaint-revised/

The Nevada Real Estate Division in the past dismissed timeshare complaints with a “You don’t have proof” response, but for the first time, Anthony actually recorded a bait and switch. In addition, one advocate with experience working economic crimes under cover is encouraged by her Nevada Real Estate Division response. They are listening, no longer dismissing.

Anthony and Ashley, an army couple, told their story during an interview we recorded in Orlando January 13, 2018. We also recorded their recording of the predatory sales presentation that we have made available to law enforcement and regulatory authorities. My husband and I struggled with a GoPro donated to our advocacy group, so our first attempt posted below is a little rough. It’s a start.

hero  Ashley describes her husband as a hero.

Anthony’s military service consisted of three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. At age 26, he is 90% disabled. Ashley’s is active with the Army National Guard Military Police. Anthony was medically discharged from the Army due to traumatic brain injury. He suffers from seizures, in addition to symptoms associated with PTSD.  Some cannot fight back, but Anthony took advantage of resources available to veterans seeking to rehabilitate. Anthony earned an MBA. He currently works as a credit analyst for Ford Motor. Prior to Ford Motor, Anthony worked for Nissan in arbitrations.

Anthony continues to defend his country by advocating for timeshare members who feel they were victimized by predatory timeshare sales and marketing. Anthony sacrificed his health to keep our country safe. We humbly thank him for advocating for us. This is the first report from a timeshare member in which we don’t have to say “alleged”. Recording a person to person meeting is legal in Nevada.

https://p2lawyers.com/blog/2016/1/31/is-it-legal-to-record-a-conversation-in-nevada-without-the-other-partys-consent

Here’s what happened

Anthony and Ashley bought a trial timeshare program in 2016, and attended the required timeshare presentation in Florida. They purchased 7500 annual timeshare points May 2017. This purchase required a new member “orientation” which took place in Las Vegas, November 2017. Told if they did not buy an additional 7500 points, their maintenance fees would be $250,000 over the next ten years because they did not receive a letter. Had they received the letter, they were told they would not have to buy points and maintenance fees would only increase 2 to 5% instead of the 10 to 15% under the old program. Knowing they could never afford $250,000, they purchased an additional 7500 points.  This second purchase of annual points required a ludicrous second new member “orientation” which took place in Florida Saturday, January 13, 2018. Anthony and Ashley had to incur the cost of airfare and Uber, flying to Orlando from Nashville to stay two days in order to attend this mandatory orientation, leaving their five kids in Nashville with relatives. Again they were told their first two purchases were worthless. I found their story overwhelmingly sad.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=phUjnrIG3bI

Thank you Anthony and Ashley – you are timeshare advocates now. On behalf of all timeshare members and all Americans, we deeply thank you for your service and for your sacrifice.

salute      

We started Saturday, January 13 in the U.S. with a message from a timeshare advocate from the EU who forwarded me a post designed to smear Canarian Legal Alliance. I informed Charles Thomas. As he was tracking down the libelous offender, he learned Canarian Legal Alliance lost one of their long-standing associates, Ian Smart. So January 13 was not a good day, but soldiers and advocates don’t give up. We respond to adversity and we move forward to work toward justice, accountability, transparency and respect for all timeshare members. We are hoping timeshare developers will work with us to stop the “pitching of heat” to sell a timeshare product.

Contact Inside Timeshare or a member sponsor advocacy group if you need help with a timeshare concern.  

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

divided

Thank you to Ashley and Anthony, Inside Timeshare hope that a resolution is around the corner, we also hope that the developers take note and reign in these unscrupulous agents. Timeshare has a bad reputation already, but these people are just making it worse. Inside Timeshare will continue to highlight these cases in the hope that the developers and the authorities eventually put an end to these practices.

consumer alert

The Monday Briefing

Welcome to the start of another week, we begin with a quick look at a few companies that have been contacting timeshare owners with regards to claims.

The first is a company called Burgess Cooper International, according to information received they have an address in Dublin, Republic of Ireland:

Clifton House, Fitzwilliam Street Lower, Dublin, Ireland

This address is the Clifton House Business Center, which provides short and long term serviced office space. These types of offices are in regular use by many of the companies we highlight. There is also no record of any company registration either in Ireland or the UK Companies House.

Burgess Cooper also give the following telephone number: 03333 444 053

They also have a website

www.cooperburgessint.com

which was registered on 24 November 2017, the registration details are privacy protected, which means we are unable to find out who is behind this company. Their email address is linked to the website:

info@cooperburgessint.com

Now considering when this website was registered it does make their claims to clients on their success very dubious indeed, in fact they show two case studies on their website, although they do not give much in the way of detail.

It does look like the type of claim the will be filing for a client will be under Section 75 of the Credit Consumer Act 1974, this will be against the owners credit card company. One fact to remember here is most will have purchased over 6 years ago, will have used their timeshare and therefore will not have a valid claim against the credit card company. So do they also then make a charge for relinquishing the timeshare as the claim is on a “no win no fee” basis?

**********************************

The next is Centaurus Mediations, their website was registered on 2 November 2017 and once again is privacy protected:

http://centaurusmediations.com

info@centaurusmediations.com

The telephone number they provide is. 0034 922 927643

The address they give on the website is:

237/3 Royal Palm, Calle Santa Rosa 1 Los Christianos Arona

and they also show a map on their contact page. The strange thing is according to their About us page, “Centaurus Mediators has its headquarters in our luxury Tenerife offices”. Which also house their mediators, negotiators, claims assessors, human resources, accounts and company officers.

Yet this address if for the The Royal Palm Holiday Apartments, so looking at Google maps on satellite view, there appears to be no luxury offices on that street, could they just be using an apartment?

According to their website they have already had the following success:

  • 327 Mediations
  • 151 Relinquishments
  • 97 Successful Claims
  • 64 Agreed Terminations.

There is a company registration with the CIF Number of B76750868 according to the registration Centaurus Mediations SL was only registered on 31 October 2017 so considering this date the above statistics are very impressive. The Sole Administrator is one Caroline Hiberry, who is also listed as the sole administrator for the following companies:

Some of these are very familiar from the past.

**********************************

Another company that has surfaced is Britanica Consumer Consultancy, with the address:

130 Old Street, London. EC1V 9BD

Which again is a service address.

Telephone number: 0207 100 9649

There is no website and the email address is just one registered with outlook.com

britanicaccltd@outlook.com

No registration at company house can be found, so with the information above does make the company look very dubious indeed.

The modus operandi is very familiar, the owner is told that the court has awarded them a substantial amount, even though they didn’t even know they had a case or claim at court!

A slight difference to this operation is that it is not “tax” that needs to be paid to release the money, it is translation costs for all the paperwork. The cost for this is in the region of £2,000!

The strange thing is how did the court have the case before the paperwork had been translated into Spanish?

Again, unless you have employed the services of a lawyer, had translations done and had your case filed at court then you will not have a case or any money awarded to you. The courts do not award money in this way, they also do not employ the services of any company to trace clients.

Just these three companies we have highlighted goes to show how careful you must be, if you are contacted by any company offering anything similar to the above think and think again. Do not part with any money especially by bank transfer or any other means such as Western Union. It is also very important to remember any reputable company does not ask for payments to be made into the name of a private individual.

If you require any help in checking the validity of any company or the story they tell you, contact Inside Timeshare, we will point you in the right direction.

Remember doing your homework will save you a lot of money in the end.

homework1

letter-from-america

Fridays Letter from America

In this week’s Letter from America, we welcome Lisa Ann Schreier to our pages, she is the author of two books the most well known being Timeshare Vacations for Dummies. In this article Lisa gives a very good insight into the timeshare industry and how it is weighed in favour of the developers and not the consumer. But first a quick look at Europe.

timeshare for dummies

This week has been rather quiet, although we have received several enquiries on companies contacting our readers, these are still being researched, but all are offering something similar, claiming your money back with a relinquishment or that your resort has already been found guilty and there is a substantial amount of money waiting for you at in the Spanish Courts. All you need to do is pay the tax!

Obviously this does set the alarm bells ringing, as unless you have actually employed a lawyer, given authorisation for them to act on your behalf, had all documents translated and the case filed on your behalf at court, then none of the above is true. We will be publishing when the research is done.

Some news from mainland Spain came in this week, the Court of First Instance in Fuengirola has declared a contract with Heritage Resorts null and void. The UK clients have also been awarded their purchase price back which amounts to over £8,000, also a return of maintenance fees paid amounting to over 8,000€, plus legal fees and legal interest, then to cap it all the judge ordered that the deposit paid within the cooling off period be returned back double, this comes to over £12,000!!!

Now on with our first article from Lisa.

lisa ann

Timeshares have long suffered from a negative image, brought on for the most part by the outdated and heavy handed marketing and sales practices that are still in use, despite what those in charge of ‘spin’ in the industry would like us to believe.

However, as 2018 dawns, it’s becoming clear that the developers and the national association that protects those developers have carefully crafted an environment where they reign and consumer protections are dangerously close to non-existent.

We’re not just talking one concerning developer practice here, but rather a carefully orchestrated business model that puts consumers at a clear and some would say, illegal disadvantage.

Consider this:

—At least one major developer, has a clause buried in their contract that bans any owner from starting or joining any class action lawsuit, forcing them instead into arbitration which in their case, they pre-selected the exclusive filing location or venue, making it costly and inefficient for the consumer and is so knowledgeable about the pool of available arbitrators from experience in using them, that they can in part control the outcome by striking any proposed arbitrator that hasn’t previously ruled in favor of the developer. The one shot that a consumer can’t compete in that game.

To protect themselves, within that clause the developer states that a consumer may ‘opt out’ of that restriction if they notify the developer within 30 days of purchase. Talk to 100 of their owners, and 99 of them are unaware of this.

Another developer, now exiting the industry themselves and formerly based in New York City, wrote their contracts in such a way that unsuspecting owners literally gave the developer the right to change the Offering Plan several times annually without owners’ knowledge or advisement. Changes were made with the New York State’s Attorney General’s office as well as with New York City Real Property Records to change the type of deeds the owners held.  You guessed it; the changes that were made inevitably favored the developer and put the owners at a disadvantage.

—Then there is the inability to access or use what you purchased until well after the rescission period. In the United States, there is a legal rescission or cooling off period which ranges from 3-10 days. On the surface, that sounds like adequate consumer protection. But dig a little deeper as I did in this article I wrote for Senior.com

https://senior.com/timeshare-industry-keeps-rescinding/

and you’ll see that while almost all developers pressure you to purchase within the scope of a 2-5 hour sales presentation; promising you the price is for ‘today only’, they are under no obligation, legal or moral, to process the paperwork giving you access to what you purchased within that same legally mandated rescission period. Additionally, developers are getting ‘creative’ in how they give you the legal paperwork concerning the purchase and the rules concerning rescission. Several developers now routinely use a CD ROM or a tablet of some sort, both of which are difficult at best to access while on vacation.  

—Check any timeshare contract and you’ll find the ‘oral representation clause’.  This nifty clause, also known as ‘the salesperson can lie all they want during the sales pitch’ clause allows salespeople working on behalf of timeshare developers to say whatever is necessary to obtain the sale during the course of the 2-5 hour sales pitch and be under no obligation to live up to any of it. To wit; one major developer is telling unsuspecting consumers that they’ll be able to ‘cash in their timeshare points’ at $.30 per. When the owner attempts to cash those points out, they are of course told that no such program exists.

—Most salespeople extol the many virtues of timeshare ownership, among them being the ‘full bundle of rights’ that being the ability to use, exchange, rent, sell or will their interest. Ah yes, the ability to sell. What they don’t mention is that in the majority of cases, the resale timeshare market is so depressed that there are hundreds of thousands of owners who are listing their timeshare for sale for less than  $1,000 and in many cases for nothing after spending upwards of $20,000 for their ‘piece of paradise.’ (In 2016, the average price of a timeshare was over $21,000)

—The American Resort Development Association (ARDA), funded by timeshare developers and exchange companies among others, has a Code of Ethics.

http://www.arda.org/ethics/

However, several high ranking members of ARDA including at least one serving on the Ethics Committee, have been copied on at least 80 and as many as 100 detailed complaints from one consumer advocate on behalf of owners. ARDA’s response?  They have ignored every single complaint. What, I ask you is a Code of Ethics good for if it’s not enforced?  The answer of course is ‘window dressing.’  It looks good but is in fact empty.

Skeptics of the premise that the consumer is clearly at serious disadvantage in timeshare matters will fall back on the old adage ‘caveat emptor’ or buyer beware. Defenders of the timeshare industry will point out that more than 7 million people own timeshare. However, even a cursory look behind the numbers will reveal an industry that consistently struggles against a negative image and furthermore, steadfastly refuses to do anything to change that, relying on the fact that consumers can not possibly read, understand and agree to language contained within mounds of paperwork signed while on vacation.

The timeshare industry has cleverly written their own rules. I’ve yet to find another product that has been able to do that and whose rules of governance so clearly disregard common legal and moral obligations to the consumer.

For timeshare and the vacation ownership industry to survive, some drastic steps must be undertaken, including sales and marketing methods of attracting new owners along with creating sustainable owner programs that show consumers that they are indeed a real stakeholder.

Lisa Ann Schreier has been involved in the timeshare community since 1998. After cutting her teeth as a timeshare salesperson and manager at a number of Orlando area resorts, she grew increasingly frustrated with the antiquated marketing and high pressure sales techniques that were (and sadly still are) the norm in the industry. Seeking to be a catalyst for positive change, she wrote ‘Surviving A Timeshare Presentation…Confessions From The Sales Table’ and ‘Timeshare Vacations For Dummies’.  She is a frequent contributor to major media outlets and a sought after speaker at consumer advocacy groups. In addition to her articles at Senior.com, she is the lead timeshare advocate at Elliott.org. Her ‘tell it like it is’ blog about timeshare issues is a source of solid information and continues to alert consumers to the myriad of less than reputable companies and practices.

Lisa’s blog can be accessed at:

http://www.thetimesharecrusader.blogspot.com

Twitter users can follow her at @LisaLooksAt

Questions?  Looking for assistance?  Email Lisa at lisaschreier617@gmail.com

Thank you Lisa, we hope to publish more of your insights in the future.

If you have any question or need any advice about any article published or about any company that has contacted you but don’t know where to start, contact Inside Timeshare and we will be pleased to help. Remember, doing your checks before hand will save you a money and a lot of stress!

Have a good weekend.

weekend

Tribunal-Supremo

Spanish Timeshare Laws Simply Explained

Over the past few months Inside Timeshare has received many enquiries regarding timeshare claims, in this article we look at the law in Spain and what constitutes a valid claim.

In December 1998 Spain passed Law 42/98 which came into effect on 5 January 1999, this was a result of the European Timeshare Directives which were put into place to protect consumers. Under these directives each member state had to put into their own domestic laws regulations governing the sale of timeshare.

Spain was one of the first to do this, as a result they have some of the strongest regulations in Europe.

For a long time many resorts / developers failed to abide by them, continuing to sell the same way as before. This has now resulted in many cases going to court with resorts / developers being penalised for their failure to comply.

At first, many cases taken to court by consumers were being lost as the resorts successfully argued that they were in compliance of the laws. This all changed in March 2015, when the Supreme Court in Madrid ruled on the very first timeshare case.

justice

This case involved a Norwegian lady who had a case against Anfi in Gran Canaria, the case took around 5 years to complete, but it had a profound effect on cases to follow.

The timeshare laws which have been the subject of consistent breaches have been the taking of deposits or any payment within the cooling off period, this also includes by a third party. Many resorts tried to get around this by using Trust Companies, but the court has also ruled that this is indeed a third party.

The other main area of contention was the perpetuity contract, the law states that contracts should be for a minimum of 3 years and a maximum duration of 50 years.

Both of these have been ratified by the Supreme Court on many occasions, which now puts them into jurisprudence. What this means is that they are no longer up for discussion and all courts must abide by them.

There have also been some other significant rulings made by Spain’s Highest Court which have strengthened the law and benefited consumers.

The points and floating week systems is another which the Supreme Court has also ruled on and is now enforceable by all courts in Spain. The reasoning behind this ruling is that these systems have no actual substance, unlike the fixed week fixed apartment system which was the original timeshare model, there is no week number or apartment number attached.

With the old fixed week system you were guaranteed the week and apartment assigned, this could be changed using either the internal exchange system or one of the major exchange companies. So it was actually flexible. It also made it impossible for the resort to oversell membership, as they could only sell 51 weeks of each apartment.

With the points and floating systems you actually own nothing, you are a member of a vacation club with the right to use subject to availability. This also allowed the resorts to oversell the membership as they were not governed by the 51 weeks in each apartment. This has obviously led to many complaints of not being able to book the weeks that members actually wanted.

Another major breakthrough came in January 2017, when the Supreme Court ruled against Silverpoint. This came about due to many cases against Silverpoint for selling packs of weeks as an investment.

The theory behind these sales was purchasers would buy a series of weeks, which the company promised to sell within 2 years, with the purchaser making a profit. Very few if any ever achieved this, usually the story was that what they had purchased was not selling well and they would need to upgrade to a better resort in order to sell. This has left many with huge loans as these were financed mainly by Barclays Partner Finance, with the loan agreements being completed by the sales staff.

There were many cases taken through the courts but Silverpoint successfully argued that the purchasers were investors not consumers.

The first case involving a UK purchaser ended up at the Supreme Court, the total time from start to finish was around 5 years. This court ruled that these purchasers were indeed consumers of a timeshare product and not investors. The thinking behind this ruling was that maintenance fees were also part of the purchase, also the court believed that to be classified as investors, this must be a primary source of income. This resulted in these consumers having full protection of the timeshare law, which also maintains that timeshare should not be sold as an investment.

Since the first ruling in March 2015, there have been 84 rulings made by the Supreme Court, each and everyone backing up the previous one. At present there are still around 100 cases pending and waiting to be heard by this court, some of these will also bring new changes and clarification to the laws.

cropped-TRIBUNAL_SUPREMO_DE_ESPAÑA4

There has also been an update to the 42/98 law with the introduction of Law 4/12 which has included the changes brought in the Timeshare Directive of 2008.

So unless you purchased or upgraded in Spain after January 1999, have at least one of the major points ruled by the Supreme Court you may not have a valid claim. You will also need to employ the services of a Spanish Registered lawyer, preferably one with the experience of timeshare claims.

At Inside Timeshare we have heard from one consumer who decided they wanted to employ the services of a lawyer registered to practice in Spain but of their own nationality. His claim failed. The lawyer did not have the knowledge or experience of this complex area of law, believing that because of the Supreme Court rulings it would be an easy case to win. This client has now taken on the services of another lawyer with the experience in this field to lodge an appeal as he was not given the correct legal advice. This has obviously cost him more, hopefully he will win the appeal.

This does go to show that just because the Supreme Court has made these rulings, it is in the end down to the lawyer or law firm that you engage, if they do not have the knowledge or experience in this field then you may end up losing a lot more.

If you have any question on this subject or wish to check if you have a valid claim contact Inside Timeshare and we will give you the facts.

tues

The Tuesday Slot with Irene

In this weeks Tuesday Slot we welcome a new contributor Karen Krokosh, but first a quick look at what has been happening in Europe especially in the courts.

The year has certainly not started well for the timeshare industry, the first week of January has seen the Supreme Court in Madrid rule on 6 occasions against Silverpoint from Tenerife.

This court has declared these six contract null and void as they were over the 50 year period allowed by law, what is known as perpetuity, they also contained the points or floating weeks systems.

tribunal-supremo

The court also reaffirmed the position of the taking of any payment within the given cooling off period, even if taken by a third party as prohibited. This cooling off period was introduced to protect consumers and allow them to decide whether they wished to continue with the purchase, as these are usually made as decisions on the day.

The total amount the court has awarded in these cases is a staggering 321,274€ with legal fees and legal interest.

In another case against Silverpoint, the High Court in Tenerife has ordered the return of over £31,000 plus legal fees and legal interest to a British client. Again the contract was declared null and void as it contained the points or floating weeks system.

In the Court of First Instance at Maspalomas, another British client has been awarded over £19,000 plus legal fees and legal interest, with the contract being declared null and void. In this case the contract was sold by Anfi and was for a duration of over 50 years, which is not allowed under the Spanish Timeshare Law 42/98.

All these cases have been brought on behalf of client by the law firm Canarian Legal Alliance, so contrary to what the timeshare industry is is saying, this law firm is doing what it says and winning on behalf of their clients.

As they say the proof is in the pudding!

On with this weeks Tuesday Slot.

Sell My Timeshare Now,

A Timeshare Listing Service for Buyers or Sellers

Diamond Member Karen Krokosh Issues a Warning

face1

By Inside Timeshare Contributor Karen Krokosh

Comments about SMTN follow Karen’s article

January 9, 2017

I responded to a Sell My Timeshare Now (SMTN) solicitation. Not only did the company over promise the ability to sell Diamond’s non-deeded U.S. Collection points, they told me they could help me recoup expenses by renting my points. DRI does not allow renting through a third party site. As a resource for timeshare members, SMTN should abide by Diamond’s official rental policy by not accepting rental listings. Here is the current DRI rule:

2.5.1 A Member is not prohibited from periodically renting the Accommodation reserved for the Use Period or the reserved Other Redemption Opportunity pursuant to these Club Rules.

However, the use of Points to reserve Accommodations or Other Redemption Opportunities for commercial purposes or for any other purpose other than the personal use of the Member or the Member’s family and guests is prohibited. Use by a Member of public advertising or an online website to seek renters shall be deemed a prohibited commercial use.

Members who are primary developers of Club Resorts (that is, members of the Diamond Resorts International group of companies) and providers of Other Redemption Opportunities are specifically exempted from this restriction, and are entitled to use their reserved Accommodations and reserved Other Redemption Opportunities for promotional, rental, or other commercial purposes.

Diamond is not the only timeshare with little or no resale value. While some timeshares like Disney, Hilton and Marriott can be sold, it has been widely reported Diamond’s non-deeded points are especially difficult to sell. I contacted a few members of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association. Not one would accept a DRI listing, feeling the restrictions the company places on the use of secondary points are too severe.

http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

SMTN agent Sandra Van Lanen suggested a list price of $12,000 for 3,000 points. We paid about $12,000, so in no way was that price realistic as I dropped my price from $12,000 to $7,500, $5,000 and $1,000 with no offers. What was SMTN’s response? They said, “It takes time.” There are about 15,000 Diamond Resorts members on a variety of Facebooks and websites and I’ve learned many of them would be willing to give away their Diamond points. I would have been laughed off these sites posting these ludicrous amounts. I am committed to exposing this company and others that are taking advantage of those already burdened by loan payments and maintenance fees.

Here’s what I paid SMTN:

The original “Advertising and Marketing” product was priced at $1,798. I was given a discounted referral of $1,498 USD, but paid initially a deposit of $699, agreeing to pay the remaining balance of $799 when the timeshare sells. Since that is never in almost all Diamond cases, I decided to cancel the lifetime listing. When you cancel, SMTN has the right to bill you for the remaining balance.

promotion

I have also learned many of the listing and resale companies are staffed by former timeshare executives and sales agents. Some are legitimately trying to help those desperate to get out of their timeshare, but others prey on the desperate. This is a Department of Justice report about timeshare resale and release scams:

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

Many timeshare buyers report they were sold a timeshare by deceit. I looked up the definition of racketeering. While timeshare exit plans are not violent crime against property, I see a similarity. The sales agents who sold us the problem are now the ones coming around to “help” us. “A common example of a racket would be if a group of people cut the tires of cars on a specific street, and then that same group, or one in concert with the one cutting tires offered ‘protection’ to the owners of the cars for a price. This fits the definition of a racket because without the organization’s slashing of tires in the first place, the demand for ‘protection’ would be low or non-existent.”

https://www.investopedia.com/terms/r/racketeering.asp

I have been trying to get rid of this timeshare for years. I was so relieved to find the member sponsored Diamond Resorts Advocacy Owners Facebook where I learned that Diamond has launched a new program called Transitions and from what Inside Timeshare told me, I am eligible! I am hopeful, waiting to hear back.

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

Comments about Sell My Timeshare Now by Irene Parker

After Friday’s article about the importance of Better Business Bureau ratings, I checked the SMTN BBB rating. My red flag was raised when I learned Karen paid up front money to list her Diamond points. Accepting upfront money to sell your timeshare is illegal in Florida, but it seems companies can work around the law by calling it an ad or subscription fee, or a market analysis.

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-31/

SMTN has been sold twice since 2010. Scott Roberts is the owner of Vacation Innovations and SMTN is a wholly owned subsidiary of V.I.

The BBB has assigned SMTN a D rating. I called SMTN and talked to Mike. The first question I asked Mike is, “Can I rent my DRI points through SMTN?” Mike said renting DRI points is no problem. When I informed him DRI does not allow the renting of points through a third party site like SMTN, Mike said he would have someone from legal call me. We did not hear back. Irina Allen is one DRI member who had her Diamond account suspended, accused of renting points on RedWeek.

http://insidetimeshare.com/monday-start-another-week/

This is what BBB notes on SMTN, providing a good example of how the Better Business Bureau can assist consumers by providing important information.

According to BBB files this company has a pattern of complaints that centers around the company’s advertising claims. Complainants allege they are guaranteed a time frame in which their timeshare will sell. Many consumers allege the company makes a promise that their timeshare will sell quickly. The company responds to the complaints and reiterates the company policy which reads the company does not guarantee when a timeshare will sell.

On March 23, 2016 BBB reviewed the complaints on file and determined the pattern described above has not been eliminated. BBB sent a letter to the company requesting cooperation in responding to and eliminating the pattern of complaints.

BBB received a response from Sell My Timeshare Now (SMTN) who addressed concerns raised. SMTN has introduced a video that consumers are encouraged to view that clearly outlines their services. In their business model explanation SMTN says that: “…SMTN never promises buyers are waiting; does not request wire transfers, greendot moneypak payment or purchase of prepaid credit cards; does stand behind the services it promises and always strives to deliver excellent service to all of its clients”… Additionally, SMTN hired a law firm to review the complaints and details surrounding each one. This review of these recordings has shown that the communications between SMTN and individual consumers (when they are available) has been shown to differ. SMTN has also instituted training for salespeople. They are to only make promises that are consistent with the guarantees and promises made by the company in writing. SMTN is recording calls made by their sales people to confirm the training is being followed. SMTN now has a policy for their salespeople who consistently fail to comply with the training which results in their dismissal from the company. Finally, they informed BBB that they will be further training their customer care employees to offer to help earlier in the process and be sure to make certain the consumer is satisfied with the resolution.

On December 5, 2017 representatives of SMTN met with the BBB to update us on improvements they are making to their organization. They have taken steps toward improving customer service by hiring a new Customer Service Manager. They have put in place an “audit group” that will contact consumers on the day they sign the contract with SMTN and then again 90 days out as a way to ensure customer satisfaction. It is anticipated that by proactively working with their customers, the number of complaints will be reduced substantially. BBB will work closely with SMTN to follow their progress and to continue to address any complaints that may come in.

Consumers are, once again, requested to contact SMTN prior to filing a complaint with BBB at 1-877-815-4227.

This Business Is Not BBB Accredited

Sell My Timeshare Now, LLC

D

Customer Review Rating:

35%

62%

[12] Positive Reviews

[1] Neutral Reviews

[21] Negative Reviews

[34] Total Customer Reviews

[107] Total Customer Complaints

Composite Score:

Sell My Timeshare Now, LLC has received 1.93 out of 5 stars based on 34 Customer Reviews and a BBB Rating of D.

This content is provided by the business and may contain advertising. BBB does not review or endorse this content.

https://www.bbb.org/concord/business-reviews/timeshare-resale-and-rental-marketing/sell-my-timeshare-now-in-portsmouth-nh-92008632/Alerts-and-Actions

According to a post found on RedWeek, published on the internet, SMTN does seem to charge a considerable upfront fee. A member had asked whether they should buy timeshare points through SMTN.

Good question. Here is the straight scoop:

ken1193

1 month ago

Sometimes you will find a timeshare of interest on the SMTN site which may be available at a price acceptable to you. HOWEVER, you will have NO say or ANY choice regarding the “closing” entity. Closing costs through SMTN are quite excessive — multiple times the cost of customary and usual closing costs. You have no option to conduct a SMTN transaction “in person”, but that is the case in most any resale timeshare transaction, so SMTN is not unique in that regard. It would frankly be both highly unusual and entirely unnecessary to conduct a resale timeshare transaction “in person”. Objective, third party “closers” who have no association with either buyer or seller (not an available option via SMTN, unfortunately) look out for the interests of BOTH buyer and seller, holding all funds in escrow until closing if necessary. This obviously eliminates any need for any travel or physical presence by either the buyer or the seller just to “close” on a resale transaction.

With SMTN, you essentially have to determine ALL of the collective costs as a buyer and then ask yourself if that bottom line figure is acceptable to YOU to acquire that particular timeshare listing, despite the exorbitant closing costs. Far more often than not, the answer will be NO, but there are (relatively rare) exceptions. In all fairness, in the performance of your due diligence you really have to look at the big picture and ask yourself if the TOTAL expenditure involved justifies acquisition of that particular timeshare for YOU. You obviously first need to accurately determine the bottom line total figure before you can possibly make that fully informed evaluation and personal decision.

SMTN of course has nothing whatsoever to do with maintenance fees, regardless of the resort involved. Maintenance fees are determined only by individual resorts — and they are engraved in stone. That said, I would certainly want to verify the accuracy of any figures SMTN indicates as maintenance fees. This is very easily done by contacting the resort directly for confirmation of any figures claimed by SMTN in their listings.

Last edit by ken1193 on Nov 28, 2017 05:27 AM.

https://www.redweek.com/forums/messages?thread_id=14010;page=last

Keep calm Homework

Thank you to Karen for her advice! We look forward to hearing more from Karen as our first new Inside Timeshare contributor of 2018.  Contact Inside Timeshare or one of these member sponsored U.S. timeshare groups if you need help with a timeshare. It can save you money.

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

If you require any information regarding this article or any other published on Inside Timeshare, please use the comments or contact form and we will get back to you. If you are considering using the services of any company and are unsure of how to check them we will also be pleased to help.

 

consumer alert

Another New Name to the Litigious Abogados Family

Once again information has come to Inside Timeshare on another name to add to the family of “fake Lawyers” in Tenerife which is part of the Litigious Abogados family, Abogados Canarias.

abogados-canarias-logo

Their website

http://abogados-canarias.com/

Was registered on 8 November 2017 and is under a privacy registration through GoDaddy.

There are also a few new “lawyers” names to add to the previous ones, along with new faces, these are:

Manuel Cilavoz Varintosabogados-canarias-manuel-cilavoz-varintos-300x300

Manolo Derban Ferolitaabogados-canarias-manolo-derban-ferolita

Juan Cretedos Dolabarisabogados-canarias-juan-cretedos-dolabaris

Fernando Siltal Crostenaabogados-canarias-fernando-siltal-crostena

According to their website, the firm was founded on Monday 2 July 1990, by Manuel Cilavoz Varintos, which is again the same precise date as all the others. Which is not surprising as the websites are identical apart from the name of the law firm, the lawyers names, emails and address, even the logo is very similar to previous ones.

4 Calle de S. Francisco, Santa Cruz De Tenerife

 

This address is genuine, but according to google street view the plaques on the wall for the two lawyers offices situated there do not show these names. So once again could the actual law firms located there know that their address is being used?

They show 2 telephone numbers, the freephone number which is UK, but through the internet can be answered anywhere in the world. The other looks like  a Santa Cruz de Tenerife premium rate number.

Freephone: 0800 802 1662

Tenerife Tel: 0034 822 680 088

Again the email addresses given are for the free email service consultants.com so are not even linked to the website.

email: varintos-uk-claims@consultant.com

email: abogados-canarias@consultant.com

The procedure is the same as all the other “fake firms” which have been highlighted in the past, your timeshare company is being taken to court, usually within the next few weeks, you can be part of this case, but a fee will need to be paid to the Procurador.

Within weeks of this being paid you will receive a document stating that the director (could it be one of the old names or possibly a new one), pleaded guilty and the court has awarded you a substantial amount. You may also receive a copy of the court cheque with your name on it and the amount. But again to release this money taxes will need to be paid, usually around 21% of the awarded amount.

Once this has been paid, if the old scam is running the same, you will receive an envelope posted from Tenerife airport, this will have a copy of the court document awarding you the money. The problem is the envelope will be open and the cheque missing.

As in the previous scams, another company will be in touch stating they have been appointed by the court to investigate the missing cheque and get the money back from the bank. Just wondering if the cheque has been cashed by that gang of Romanians again?

Obviously, this new company will also want paying before they can work on retrieving the money for you.

Remember, unless you have instructed a law firm of lawyer to start proceedings on your behalf, you will not have a case in court. Also cases do not get heard that quickly, most will take around 14 months to actually get to court.

There is also the point of taxes to be paid on the awarded amounts, this is not true, there are no taxes to be paid. As for the Romanian gang cashing the cheques, courts do not issue cheques, we wait to see if they are still using the bank Banesto, which has not existed since 2012!

We will keep you posted as new information comes in.

Today Rip Off Britain highlighted this group of “fake lawyers” in their programme, they showed the address used by Litigious Abogados which Inside Timeshare highlighted back in September 2016, Calle Duque de la Torre, 29 Arona Casco 38640 Arona Tenerife. As we stated at the time this office is for the Oficina del Servicio de Atencion Ciudadana, which is the equivelent of the Citizens Advice Bureau.

All the addresses that the various incarnations of this company has used are for other legitimate law firms or Council Offices. Obviously when a search is done on the internet such as Google Earth, they show up as genuine addresses.

It must also be noted that Canarian Legal Alliance has made denuncias to the Police on this matter as several of their own clients have been taken in by them. Much of the information they have supplied to the authorities has been from the research Inside Timeshare has provided. This matter is subject to an ongoing investigation and is being taken seriously by the Guardia Civil.

Search Litigious Abogados in the search box for all articles relating to this.
If you have been contacted by this or any other “law firm” and want to know if they are genuine, contact Inside Timeshare, we will check them for you and point you in the right direction.

Stay safe, do your homework and double check any company that contacts you with a wonderful story that your timeshare company is about to be taken to court.

homework

letter-from-america

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to the first Friday’s Letter from America of 2018, we may be only 5 days into the New Year, but the Supreme Court has just made another ruling against Silverpoint.

Another client of Canarian Legal Alliance has had their contract with Silverpoint declared null and void, with the return of over £11,000 plus legal fees and interest. This now makes the number of rulings from the Supreme Court made by CLA to an astonishing 83!

Once again it is that time when maintenance bills start to drop onto the door mat, for many this is a difficult time, especially for the elderly who can no longer afford to pay the ever increasing bills.

For one elderly lady which Inside Timeshare has been highlighting for some time it has happened again. This is the case of Mrs B, as you will remember, MacDonald Resorts refuse to acknowledge that she no longer owns her timeshare at Dona Lola in Spain.

Mrs B and her sister, who are now in their late 80’s, employed the services of a company to be rid of their timeshares around 3 years ago. This company “sold” the timeshares and transferred them to another person, this was duly notarised by a notary in Spain. The Lanzarote timeshare has caused no problem, but MacDonald’s refuse to accept the transfer.

Mrs B has now received another demand for over £3000 for maintenance, obviously this will end up being sent to a debt collection agency which will incur even more fees.

It must also be remembered that they had not used the timeshare for over 10 years, yet still paid the maintenance until the transfer. Both are virtually housebound and cannot afford to pay these extortionate amounts.

Tony Hetherington has published several articles about MacDonald Resorts and their chasing of maintenance fees, even after the death of the owners or severe illness.

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/experts/article-2698355/TONY-HETHERGINGTON-Even-death-not-rid-timeshare.html

MacDonald Resorts is one of the worst offenders in the timeshare industry for this type of behaviour, it is companies like this that have given timeshare the reputation it has. Greed it seems is the order of the day.

Now for this weeks Letter from America.

Hope for Beleaguered Timeshare Members!

Start with the Better Business Bureau

By Irene Parker

January 5, 2018

The Nightmare on Timeshare Street article scheduled for today has been cancelled because the resort listened and responded to the member. We don’t yet know the outcome, but at least the member has not been dismissed or ignored. The customer is not the enemy. The enemy is the timeshare sales agent that “pitches heat” making outrageous claims to sell points, knowing they are protected by the oral representation clause and that there is no federal enforcement.

If you have a complaint about your timeshare, first and foremost, contact your resort. It’s surprising how many who contact us have not tried to resolve their issue with the timeshare company before contacting an attorney or an exit company. It is the opinion of Inside Timeshare, in most cases, a member can accomplish what an attorney or an exit company can accomplish by following our complaint form. We are here to answer any questions for free.

How to File a Timeshare Complaint: Revised

In the U.S. it’s best to begin with the Better Business Bureau, although the BBB is not a regulatory agency. It is a nongovernmental nonprofit that serves to promote a community of business that consumers can trust. The BBB does not solve consumer disputes. Success is not based on the outcome, but whether the business responded or not.

A BBB complaint is the easiest to file and can serve as your blueprint as you work your way down the list of appropriate agencies. File a complaint only if you feel you were a victim of deceit and bait and switch. “I can’t afford this” or “there is never any availability” or “you can always book cheaper online” are not specific enough complaints.

We compare the Better Business Bureau ratings among five major vacation point sellers. First, an explanation of the rating process from the BBB website:

The BBB rating rates only how cooperative and responsive a business will be to consumer issues. BBB ratings are based on information in BBB files with respect to the following factors:

Business’s complaint history with BBB.

The BBB rating takes into account the following information with respect to closed complaints that relate to a business’s marketplace activities:

  • Number of complaints filed with BBB against the business.
  • The size of the business.
  • If complaints have been filed, whether in BBB‘s opinion the business appropriately responded to them.
  • If complaints have been filed, whether in BBB’s opinion the business resolved the complaints in a timely manner to the customer’s satisfaction.
  • If complaints have been filed, whether in BBB‘s opinion the business made a good faith effort to resolve complaints, even if the customer was not satisfied with the resolution.
  • If complaints have been filed, whether in BBB‘s opinion the business failed to resolve the underlying cause(s) of a pattern of complaints.
  • The age of resolved complaints. Older resolved complaints have less of an impact on the rating than newer complaints.

⦁ Type of business.

⦁ Time in business.

⦁ Transparent Business Practices

⦁ Failure to honor commitments to BBB.

⦁ Licensing and government actions known to BBB.

⦁ Advertising issues known to BBB.

From Best to Worst based on Stars

BBB Accreditation: If a business has been accredited by the BBB, it means BBB has determined that the business meets accreditation standards, which include a commitment to make a good faith effort to resolve any consumer complaints. BBB accredited businesses pay a fee for accreditation review and monitoring for continued compliance.

https://www.bbb.org/council/for-businesses/about-bbb-accreditation/

Disney Vacation Club, Marriott Vacation Worldwide, Diamond Resorts International, Bluegreen Vacations Unlimited, Wyndham Vacation Ownership

                                                                     # of stars      # of Complaints       # of reviews +      –   neutral

A+ Disney Vacation Club                            5/5                             9                          1        1                   0      0

No Government Action No Pattern of Complaints

Accredited since 1991, in business since 1990

 

A+ Marriot Vacation Worldwide          3.68/5               123                                  11        0                   11     0

No Government Action No Pattern of Complaints

Not accredited, in business since 1994

 

A- Diamond Resorts International       3.27/5          1,115                                   89       2                  86      1

Government Action noted

Not accredited, in business since 1996

 

C+ Bluegreen Vacations Unlimited       2.47/5           781                                108         9                 95      4

Pattern of Complaints

Not accredited, in business since 1966

 

C+ Wyndham Vacation Ownership      2.39/5         2,085                             96             4                 92      0

Government Action noted and a Pattern of Complaints

Not accredited, in business since 1994    

Next week: The Consumer Protection Agency – What’s left?

A survey of all timeshare appropriate regulatory agencies:

http://insidetimeshare.com/chicken-soup-timeshares-soul/

Always Remember:

U.S. Self-Help member sponsored groups we believe not to be industry influenced:

We seek to provide timeshare 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/timeshareadvocategroup/

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

Contact Inside Timeshare if you have questions about this or any other article published, we are here to give you the best advice possible.

 

tues

The Tuesday Slot with Irene

Welcome to the first article of the New Year, as the holidays are just coming to a close there is not a lot of news to bring. This will no doubt change over the next few weeks, when we begin to receive emails and questions on the myriad of companies that will be starting their New Year campaigns.

As usual we warn all our readers to be careful before engaging with any company that contacts you, especially with news that your timeshare resort is being taken to court (with the director pleading guilty) and you can also be part of this for a small fee.

Some basic points on the subject of claims, unless you purchased your timeshare in Spain after January 1999, you will not have a claim in the Spanish courts. If you have been offered a no win no fee claim, beware that it does not entail a large fee to relinquish your timeshare or even the purchase of another product, such as “Lifestyle Credits”. These no win no fee claims are usually the enticer, the promise of large sums to be returned, then it turns out it is a frivolous claim under Section 75 of the Credit consumer Act 1974.

Over the next few weeks we should be receiving the news from the Crown Court in Birmingham on the sentences for Dominic O’Reilly and Stephanie O’Reilly of EZE Group. If you remember they pleaded guilty to charges of Aggressive Sales Practices and Coercion, contrary to The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

Another group of companies are also subject to investigation from Trading Standards and could also be facing criminal charges, these are the companies of Mark Rowe, which include ABC Lawyers. At the beginning of December it was announced that several enterprises had been raided, with employees being questioned and documents seized for further investigation.

We will be keeping an eye out for any news on these and will bring you the news as it comes in.

Now for the first article from Irene Parker for 2018.

Timeshare Advocacy Group™

Plans for the New Year

By Irene Parker

January 2, 2017

  • Boost our media outreach group
  • Boost our legislative outreach
  • Boost our active duty and retired military outreach group

Inside Timeshare published many Nightmares on Timeshare Street articles in 2017. All were written or submitted by highly educated professional people. In 2018, will timeshare developers continue to hide behind the oral representation clause, or will they instead consider their customers might be telling the truth?

Timeshare Advocacy Group™ ended 2017 with a total of 260 timeshare complaints of which 245 alleged they were sold by deceit and bait and switch. The other 15 could not afford the timeshare. Members contacted us through Inside Timeshare or one of the U.S. self-help, member supported Facebooks posted at the end of this article. Many complain they had responded to unsolicited marketing calls asking if they wanted out of their timeshare only to learn the money they paid was lost.

Timeshare developers are beginning to listen. Wyndham now offers a surrender program called Ovation and Diamond Resorts announced just last week a surrender program called Transitions. Inside Timeshare has already received several questions from readers about Diamond’s Transitions program. We will be reporting on our readers’ transitions experience in 2018.

Legacy resorts are those that are sold out, free standing, deeded weeks. Liberté Management Group of the Pinellas Islands, Inc. announced TARS, a “limited deed, limited fun” exit plan will be operated as a subsidiary of Liberté and will be jointly headquartered in Treasure Island, Florida. We will continue to follow TARS in 2018.

TIMESHARE ADVISORY AND RESOLUTION SERVICES LLC EXPANDS SERVICES FOR LEGACY RESORTS AND OWNERS

Unfortunately, the majority of our readers are saddled with high interest rate loans, thus not eligible for a voluntary surrender program. It’s important to remember transferring to a lower interest rate loan through a third party lender is not advised, according to timeshare attorney Mike Finn of the Finn Law Group. When transferring to a third party lender, the money in questions is no longer between you and the timeshare company. According to Mike,

Another tremendous and informative article! I think the one major, major admonition I have for anyone, client or not, who has purchased a timeshare with developer financing and may want to reconsider the merits of the purchase (and, of course, assuming the rescission period has passed), do not, I repeat, do not under any circumstances, attempt to re-finance the purchase via a home equity line or a transfer to a lower interest credit card, or, for that matter any other methodology that has as its objective, re-paying the developer with other third party money.

http://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-2/

Also, anyone buying a timeshare should look to see if their contract contains an arbitration clause. We advise timeshare members exercise their right to opt out of arbitration within the allotted time available to opt out.

To start 2018 off on a positive note, this is an article Inside Timeshare published back in July about a company we firmly endorse, ruled by a bunch of little critters.

http://insidetimeshare.com/lesson-timeshare-companies/

What does Disney Vacation Club do other developers don’t that almost eliminates complaints? The reasons are detailed in the article, but in my opinion, it is mainly because Mickey allows and supports a secondary market.

Think about it. What if the primary residential housing market decided you could not sell your personal residence. Inside Timeshare has received complaints involving amounts up to, and on occasion exceeding, $500,000. This is easily the cost of a home. Timeshare companies tell us to think of our vacation points as a second home and they always greet us when we arrive, “Welcome Home!” Not being allowed to sell your home would devastate the housing market, and in our opinion, is destroying timeshare today. Out of 260 reader responses, not one knew when they purchased their timeshare, the limited or sometimes lack of a secondary market.

We have forged remarkable relationships with many of our readers, some who have moved on, having signed a non-disclosure agreement agreeing not to say anything negative about their resort, or were subjected to an arbitration ruling that was private and binding. In this way Inside Timeshare provides a voice for the voiceless when victims of white collar crime, financial institution fraud, are effectively silenced and isolated.

It’s easy to get discouraged, but Inside Timeshare and advocacy groups have made remarkable progress. So we soldier on into the New Year.

Contact Inside Timeshare or one of these U.S. member supported self-help groups if you have a timeshare concern. We’re here to listen and act, going a step beyond helpful posts.   

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

If you have any questions or comments on any article published, contact Inside Timeshare, if we don’t know the answer we will find out for you. If you require any information about any company that you may be thinking of doing business with, but need to find out about them first, get in touch and we will point you in the right direction.