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Consumer advice

Claiming Money Back From Your Credit Card.

There is a little tool that many people can use to get money back from companies they have paid, then never received the goods or services paid for. It is called Section 75 of The Credit Consumer Act 1974.

 

The law was put into place as protection for the consumer, it is not a case that your credit provider is doing you a favour, they are equally liable for the money if anything goes wrong. There are certain rules that govern this, provided you have paid using your credit card any sum over £100 you are covered for the full amount up to £30,000, even if you paid the balance by cheque or transfer.

 

Where I have seen this has been mainly in the holiday ownership area, mostly with resale companies. How many of you have paid a company to sell your timeshare only to find that in a year’s time they have disappeared?

closed

 

If this is the case you can claim this back from your credit card company, as they are  “jointly and severally liable”. The criteria for this claim is you have never received the goods or services promised, i.e. the sale of your timeshare. The company is no longer around or has gone into liquidation and or it was a fraudulent transaction under timeshare directives. This last point is using the EU Timeshare Directives about resale companies taking upfront fees, this is not allowed, the same as taking deposits within the cooling off period.

 

Many companies get around this by saying it is a marketing fee, in order to put your timeshare on a higher profile. Even RDO & TATOC members use this. To me it is still taking upfront fees to sell your timeshare. But this is obviously a point for those with legal brains to argue. At the end of the day there is no resale market, just look on ebay, people cannot even give them away.

 

Another area that section 75 has been successful, is with the various holiday clubs that have been around. Several years ago Incentive leisure Group / DWVC and Club Class were taken out of business by the authorities in the UK. Many people had paid thousands to join these so called clubs with the view of being free from their timeshare and maintenance.

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Happy Owners!!

Yes, there are some owners out there who are happy with what they bought years ago, some have learnt how to use the system to their advantage, this is one story.

 

Kim and Andy have been friends of mine for several years, we met while I was working at a restaurant and were old friends of the owners. Each year they come back for their week at Anfi Beach Club, which they have owned for around 15 years. They have a fixed week and return to the same apartment each time. This suits them perfectly.

 

Over the years Kim & Andy have however been subject to the coffee and chat routine with in house reps. They have tried to convert them or upgrade them to floating weeks, points and even tried the sell them Tauro Golf. Each time they have declined.

on holiday 2

As they have said they like what they own. “The apartment we own is situated so that we get the sun from 9.30 am until around 5.30 pm on our balcony”. Sounds idyllic. “ We also have great views and it is relatively peaceful, whilst still being close to the pool and beach”. They also added “this year when we arrived the apartment had new appliances fitted, these were of good quality, so we felt our maintenance fees had been well spent”:

 

Why did they not take up any of the offers? “We realised that these little chats were nothing more than a sales meeting, they could not offer us the guarantees that we had with our fixed week at the Beach Club”. They also said that these meetings were taking up valuable time from their week, so now they politely decline any invitation from the rep and continue to enjoy their holiday.

 

Around ten years ago they also purchased Infinity Points from Petchey. They bought 60,000, and these could be used to book at a multitude of resorts. As they said “whenever we wanted, each resort / week had a set number of points, we could save points from 1 year to use the next or borrow from the upcoming year”:

on holiday 1

As they pointed out there is an exchange fee to book RCI resorts that were out of the Infinity Portfolio. “This was working well for us in the initial years. However on one visit to Grangefield Oasis we fell prey to one unscrupulous rep”.

 

They remember his name was Sheldon, he managed to convince them to upgrade another 40,000 points. This gave them 100,000 points to use, it also according to him gave them enough to qualify for corporate membership and the company could then rent out  the points making them some money which would cover the maintenance costs.

 

“On our next visit to Portugal when we went for our “chat” with the rep, we discovered that this was not right”, how many times have I heard this. “The rep concerned had been caught doing this a lot and was subsequently sacked”. They were told that unfortunately there was nothing that could be done to reduce the points back to the original 60,000 or compensate them in any way for the additional costs. “So we had to put it down to a bad experience and learn from it”:

 

Initially they struggled to use all their allocated points before they expired, they just didn’t have the time or afford to take that many holidays. As the years have gone on “we have found it easier as we have used our points to send family away and have enough points for better apartments”. They have also found “a place we love in Portugal that also enables us to have short breaks as well”:

 

They are now looking forward to the future when the extra points will allow them to spend more time away in the winter sun. They also now avoid doing the rep chat wherever they go.

 

This does show that for some timeshare is working, I have said it before it is not the concept but the way in which it is sold that is the problem. The experience of Kim and Andy at the hands of Sheldon show this.

on holiday

Inside Timeshare would like to thank Kim and Andy for their time in talking to me and writing their experiences down for this article. Inside Timeshare wants to create a balanced view, not just highlighting the bad things around this industry, but also show some of the positive outcomes.

 

Charles Thomas

 

Inside Timeshare

How do I Find a Genuine Firm?

This is a question I am asked frequently, there is no simple answer. It is a matter of doing your homework, finding out where to look and how to look. The internet has made this easier, the only problem is which sites are genuine and which are not.

 

Firstly, let´s take a look at small claims companies, these are the ones you may be familiar with doing PPI claims. There are many such entities around, they tend to be using the Credit Consumer Act 1974 Section 75 as a way of reclaiming your money. There have been many pop up around the timeshare industry over the years. Many originated around the time that DWVC was in the spotlight and being closed.

 

A general rule is that section 75 can be done by yourself, Google it and the first two items will be Which and Money Saving Expert. The latter is run by Martin Lewis. Another source of help is Citizens Advice, or even your own bank.

claimmoney

Both these sites explain what the act is and how to go about claiming. Both have an extensive archive of template letters, they are easy to use, replace the markers with your information and the reason for your claim. Generally this will be not receiving the goods or services paid for or promised. Another general claim is the company has disappeared. This particular claim is one I have been involved with in the past, usually from bogus resale companies.

 

If you get a company to do it for you, many will work on a no win no fee basis. But remember when you do have a successful payout it may cost upwards of 40% of your claim.

 

Most legitimate companies will be registered with the Financial Service Authority, some may even be registered with the Ministry of Justice (Claims). These registrations depend on the type of work they do, but obviously they are the ones to investigate further.

fsa logo

Law firms, this should be the easiest, but how many people have been taken in by slick operations and websites?

 

Genuine Law Firms will be registered with the relevant authorities, in the UK it will be the SRA, these can be checked using Bar Registration Numbers. In Spain I use a website reddeabogados, they have made it a little more difficult to use than I remember. Again use the Bar Association Registration Numbers. All practising lawyers must be registered with their bar association. Using Spain as an example, a lawyer working in Malaga will be registered there, a lawyer in Barcelona will be registered in that city.

sralogo

If you are looking to find a lawyer to represent you in another country, a good first stop is the British Consulate for the area the lawyer is in. You can also go to the Embassy or Consulate of the specific country to check. In the world of timeshare doing this just diligence is the most important step you can make. It is the difference between losing thousands or getting the result you wanted.

One reader has sent in a comment which will be of use. There are some European Lawyers that are registered with the UK SRA as “Registered European Lawyers”. You can ask to see their certificate of registration, if they are registered then you can be sure the SRA has checked their qualifications. (See comments for the full version 04/05/16).

 

Inside Timeshare can help begin the process of research, if you have been contacted or are looking to contact any company and wish to know how to check them, we will help. Inside Timeshare can also put you in touch with various companies depending on your problem. We will also offer any advice if you wish to make a section 75 claim, showing where to get any supporting evidence.

 

Remember, do your homework and stay safe from the sharks!

Bogus Calls and Money Awarded.

We have mentioned this item before, albeit briefly. It concerns calls from so called law firms and claims companies, the pitch is usually that a court case has been heard and assets have been seized, usually from companies that have taken money from you in the past.

 

These will range from resale scams, bogus Section 75 claims companies to fake law firms. These new companies are probably the same ones that took the money from you in the first place. Hence they know all the details.

 

If you have ever paid a company and they have disappeared, or even been closed down by the authorities, you would probably have been informed at the time. Especially if you reported it to the authorities yourself. The courts do not contract out to others to trace you. That is the job of the Courts and Police.

police

The way the scam works is very simple, you are informed by telephone or email that the court has awarded you ex amount. Usually more than you actually paid, this is the enticer. Quite often a second call from an official sounding body confirms this. You may be given a number to verify the information given, when you do call, it will be confirmed that this is the case and you have indeed been awarded the money.

(see link below)

 

http://insidetimeshare.com/fraud-warning/

 

Then comes the crunch.

 

In order for you to receive the amount stated, taxes will have to be paid, in advance, you may even receive via email an official looking form from the tax office. (Easily downloaded from the internet see pdf below). Now in order to get the tax you will also need a Spanish NIE number. This is called Numero de Identificación de Extranjero, or Foreigner’s Identification Number. It is a Spanish tax identification number issued to all foreigners. Now this is a stroke of luck, the company calling can also arrange this for you, obviously for a fee.

Spanish Tax Form

Now, you do not need this number unless you come under the following:

 

  • Open a bank account
  • Buying, selling or insuring a property
  • Arranging a mortgage or credit
  • Pay taxes
  • Being employed
  • Registering with employment agencies
  • Registering to study
  • Applying to start a business
  • Registering with social services, receiving social security benefits
  • Applying for a driving licence
  • Inheriting assets

 

You would not need it to receive any money due in compensation paid by a court plus there would not be any tax to pay.

 

For more information on NIE Numbers check the link below:

 

https://www.angloinfo.com/spain/how-to/page/spain-moving-residency-nie-number

 

These types of fraud are becoming ever more sophisticated, we have seen a great rise in recent times of this pitch. This is mainly due to the publicity of genuine court cases being won in Spain, the people use the fact that these cases are being shown in the news, which then convinces you they are indeed genuine.

 

Remember, the courts do not operate in this way, there are procedures they follow. If you are not aware that you are part of a case, then you probably are not. If you have never reported any loss of money to any type of scam, then you probably are not part of any case. There is only one way to claim any compensation and that is by going through the courts yourself with a genuine law firm.
If you receive any calls like this contact Inside Timeshare and we will check it out for you. This is what we do, research and research, giving you the tools to find out the truth. We are here to help you save your hard earned money.

CLA Making the News Again.

It looks like the lawyers at Canarian Legal Alliance are becoming quite the celebrities around Europe. Over the past month their legal battles with the timeshare industry have been attracting a lot of media attention.

 

The renowned Norwegian Business Magazine, Kapital, ran a lengthy article on the law firm, highlighting the Grimsbo v Anfi case. This has resulted in CLA gaining a much higher profile among Norwegian timeshare owners.

 

The following link will take you to the articles in Norwegian and an English translation.

CLA IN NORWAYS LEADING BUSINESS MAGAZINE

 

Recently El Diario, a Spanish national newspaper also ran an article on the Anfi cases and the Supreme Court judgements. These rulings appear to have caused quite a stir in Spain, probably because it has made legal history, as well as putting Spain at the forefront of protecting customers from the timeshare industry.

The following link shows the El Diario article.

eldiario

 

http://www.eldiario.es/canariasahora/economia/Anfi-timesharing-reclamaciones-clientes-anticipos-ventas-turismo_0_504650586.html

 

Another newspaper MaspalomasAhora (Maspalomas Today) also ran an article explaining the Supreme Court rulings. They also highlighted the number of cases that are ongoing and those in the process of being submitted. The amounts of money involved so far are quite staggering, with this being set to increase substantially.

 

Follow this link to view the article.masahora

 

http://www.canarianlegalalliance.com/maspalomas-ahora-highlights-cla-cases-anfi-group/

rdo-logotatoc logoholiday clubanfi logo

So it would look like all the information the RDO, TATOC, Holiday Club and ANFI have been putting out is false. These and other timeshare companies have been denying anything is wrong, that there are no court cases against them. The press around Europe seems to disagree with them. They have highlighted over the past year, many of the cases that this particular law firm has won, including all the Supreme Court Rulings. The industry is certainly feeling the pinch, but they only have themselves to blame, their past and ongoing greed is catching up with them.

 

Inside Timeshare will bring you the latest information as it is received. If you have any question regarding anything to do with timeshare, holiday clubs, resale, relinquishment or how to claim Inside Timeshare will give you the best advice possible. If we don´t know the answer we will find out.

MacDonald Resorts: No Stranger to Bad Press.

mcdonald logo

MacDonald Resorts and Hotels are no strangers to the press, over the years there have been articles in many newspapers about how they treat their members. Mrs B from the previous article is just one in a long line.

 

Tony Hetherington from the Mail on Sunday has highlighted this on many occasions, in one article dated 25th April 2014, he even mentions that MacDonalds will even make the executors of a will liable for maintenance fees.

mailonsunday

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

 

This article also highlighted the problem owners face on trying to end their contracts, MacDonalds makes it virtually impossible to end them. Although they did say they were making efforts to provide an exit solution.

 

Well we know what that usually means, and even Tony Hetherington showed this in the article. Yes we will let you out, but you must pay up to 4 years maintenance fees first. Inside Timeshare has been in contact with many owners who have had to pay considerable sums, just to be free of the burden of maintenance. I have also seen comments on different forums from uninformed people, just don´t pay the fees, they won´t come after you. Well unfortunately we know only too well MacDonald Resorts will send in the debt collector.

 

Due to the age of many owners that are in the position of wanting out, not paying is not an option. These people have been brought up in a different culture, one that a debt is a debt and should be paid. To them being threatened with court action is a no no. MacDonalds know this so pursue with vigour.

 

What of The RDO in all this?rdo-logo

 

As we have stated many times before this organisation is there for the resort owners and developers. If they were a genuine trade body regulating the industry, these unfair practises would not exist. Go to the RDO with any complaint about your resort, the answer will be the same every time. They do not investigate complaints against their own members.

 

What of TATOC?tatoc logo

 

Exactly the same, they do not investigate or mediate against any RDO member, yet they are supposed to represent you the owners. Harry Taylor is well known in the industry, he has sided with the RDO for years, even making a career out of his leadership of TATOC.

 

Again it is up to you the owners to fight these injustices, demand Independent oversight of this industry to protect yourselves. Demand a new Owners Association that is not funded by the industry. The RDO and TATOC will not do it for you.

If you require any information or impartial advice on how to deal with any timeshare problem, Inside Timeshare is here to help. If we do not know the answer we will find out.

inside final small

The Resurrected!

One thing that never surprises me is the number of companies that disappear for a while and then suddenly reappear. One company that seems to have been resurrected are our old friends from Fuengirola, Ramirez & Ramirez Abogados SL.

ramirez1

Around six years ago this company was targeting clients who had dealings with Incentive Leisure Group, purchasing the Designer Way Vacation Club membership. Their pitch at the time was reclaiming the purchase price and promoting a class action against ILG and the cashback scheme. They passed themselves off as a law firm, with a website called specialist-lawyers.com.

 

This company was headed up by one Fabian Marcelo Ramirez, who was also the administrator of several sister companies in the same area peddling the same product. These were Fuengirola Servicios 2002 SL, Key Properties Town Advisory and Greenges SL. Many people had dealings with these smooth talking outfits, all losing very substantial amounts of money.

scacert

Ramirez & Ramirez began to have a field day when the ILG & DWVC operations were closed down by the Office of Fair Trading (UK) in September 2012. Clients were bombarded with calls claiming that a class action was being pursued by Ramirez & Ramirez, or that there were substantial amounts of money being held by the Courts in Malaga which were waiting to be paid out to them.

 

One Genuine Law Firm in Malaga had many dealing with Ramirez & Ramirez, LawBird whose website belegal.com highlighted them for several years, even to the extent that Antonio Flores was taken to court for liable. Ramirez lost the case with the judge actually saying in open court that it was not wrong to call Ramirez a “crook and swindler”

 

http://belegal.com/blog-by-antonio-flores/tag/ramirez-and-ramirez-abogados/

 

Then all of a sudden around June 2013, they disappeared, phone lines no longer working and the website closed down. After a few months, around October 2013, clients began receiving calls and emails from another company offering to help. These emails were signed by one Marcelo Ramirez.

 

Was it the same person, or one of the ex employees with the client list. Personally I think it was Marcelo himself. This didn’t last long as once again it all stopped. But the story is not over.

 

Just recently in the past month Ramirez & Ramirez seems to have come back from the dead. The address given is the same as before, Calle Cordoba no 35 Edif Villa Blanca 1C, 29640, Fuengirola, Malaga. This time all cases they had running have been won and the money is waiting for you. Only a matter of fees to be paid and you can have it back. Oh well, I suppose old Ramirez must be a little short of cash after his holiday!

backdead1

Remember the courts do not operate in this way, and if there are any fees to be paid, why not take them from the awarded amounts and send the remainder to the client. That seems to make more sense. So don’t fall for this smooth talking pitch, Ramirez did not have any cases going to court, they are not abogados / lawyers, they just have a very long track record of duping people out of their money.

 

If you have had any contact with this company recently Inside Timeshare would like to hear from you. Give us your story and we can warn others of any change in this companies pitch.

How did I ever get into Timeshare?

How did I ever get taken in by the timeshare sales rep?

 

I have got to be stupid to have fallen for it!

 

Am I that stupid I fell for the smooth patter?

 

These are just a few of the comments many people have expressed when trying to sort out their timeshare problems. The answer I tend to give is no you´re not stupid or daft, I even know of barristers and senior police officers who have been taken in.

 

There are several things you have to remember, you were most likely on holiday in a foreign country, it was hot, you were relaxed and probably had a drink. The next stage, the fast talking lad or lovely young lady with the scratch card that stopped you on the street (OPC). The excitement they showed when you win the “Star Prize”, that’s infectious. If you have young children with you the scratch card may have been given to them, not to forget the free water park tickets, so you feel obliged to go so as not to upset the kids!

 

Next you get into a taxi with this perfect stranger and whisked away to an unknown destination, what was that we tell our kids? Don’t talk with or go with strangers! Then we go ahead and do it. All the time the non stop chatter from the OPC, how you are his first ever winner. Forget the fact everyone’s a star prize winner.

starprize
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Fractional. What is it?

Fractional Ownership, is it just another word for Timeshare?

 

Well it depends on where you are and what scheme you have entered into. In the United States Fractional is regulated by Real Estate laws.

 

Generally a property is divided up into say  Four, with owners each having 3 months use. These properties may be Freehold or Leasehold with either 50 or 99 year leases. In the US the value of these properties tend to follow the values of the property market. It gives the owners a quality holiday home without laying out for a second home. These properties also tend to be on managed resorts or condominiums, so maintenance fees are usually applicable. The positive side to this is when it is time to give it up, it can be sold and if the market value has increased then thank you I make a profit.

 

The problem now comes with Europe, Fractional Ownership is governed by Timeshare law. It is the resorts that are marketing it, Club la Costa and Diamond being the biggest. So if it is subject to Timeshare laws, then obviously deposits paid within the 14 day cooling  off period applies, as does the selling of it as an investment.

CLCdri logo

During my research I have spoken to many people who have purchased Fractional, all have told me the same thing. They purchased to be rid of their timeshare, and the only way was to take on a fractional, owning several weeks for periods starting at 5 years up to around 20 years. At the end of this period the property would be sold and they would reap the rewards, then being free from their timeshares. Well to me this smacks of what a friend described as “A Pig In A Dress”.

pigdress

The property is going to be sold, but all fractional owners must agree. Did they all buy at the same time and for the same period?

 

If not how can any agreement be reached, also who has the controlling shares?

 

Somehow I cannot see the resorts selling off all the available Fractions, thus losing control.

 

So what happens at the end of this period, does the consumer revert back to their original timeshare?

 

This scheme is still in its infancy in Europe, it looks and sounds great with the slick, smooth, fast talking sales rep. But it does look as though it is not property you are buying but the Right of Use. In other words it seems that it is just another way of selling Timeshare. We have already seen another term take over from that dreaded word, Holiday Ownership.

slicksaleman

On the Club La Costa Members Blog dated 10th July 2012, it states that First National Trust Company who are the trustees of the Fractional Property Owners Club, said that “this model should never be advertised as an investment”. I wonder if the sales staff have been told this in training, or have they been told to ignore it? We have seen this with other aspects of timeshare sales in the past and look where that has led, litigation for misrepresentation and mis selling.

 

http://clcmembers.blogspot.com.es/

 

Is this just another scheme like points or floating weeks to fleece you of your hard earned money?

 

Only you the consumer can answer that, unfortunately by the time you actually find out you may be the loser of thousands.

 

If you have been to a fractional presentation or have purchased, Inside Timeshare would like to hear your story and your views. Even if you are happy with your purchase I am willing to publish your comments, unlike many other blogs Inside Timeshare looks for balance.

balance

My Thoughts Today.

Every morning I switch on my computer and start looking at the various timeshare related websites, I am amazed at some of the verbal diatribe that many present. The use of language to say the least is appalling, most of the time the content does not even reflect the topic that they headline.

computer

One site that I looked at today, which shall remain nameless, could not even get the details of their association correct. Rather than saying National Association it stated they were members of a Nation Association. If they can not even get these small facts correct, how can you even trust what they offer?

 

Most at the end of the day are just after your money, they do not really care if you have been wronged. The information given is confusing to say the least. Facts are not given, sources are none existent, and most of the time they are either timeshare industry related or on the periphery.

 

One piece I was reading today was from the Chief Executive of the RDO, in his blog of January 4th 2016, He ranted on about the legal system in Spain, that it had got the laws wrong on timeshare, from how I read it only English law was correct. Mind you, it was in defence of his own industry, TIMESHARE. The industry that his organisation should be regulating and ensuring that its members do the right thing.

 

This organisation only exists to make sure they have a business, the consumer is just fodder for their coffers. Is it any wonder that there are so many claims going through the courts, when the governing body will not even investigate its own members? If they did what they should and what is right, maybe there would not be so much controversy around the industry.

rdo-logo

Timeshare is a sound concept, it is the way in which it is sold that is the problem. All the lies that “UPS” are told on the sales decks, nothing in writing apart from the contracts, which as we have seen from the Spanish courts in accordance with EU Directives on timeshare, are unfair and illegal. How many times have we heard “it’s an investment, you are buying bricks and mortar”. “Your children can inherit it, what a legacy to give them, something they will remember you by”.

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