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Start the Week: Around the Internet

Welcome to Start the Week, today we have a look at some of the items found while having a look at some of the forums, groups and blog sites on the internet about timeshare.

First we look at a discussion on the Diamond Resorts Advocacy page of Facebook, one of the members started a thread regarding an owner update meeting at their resort. During this meeting the sales agent was discussing transferring their deed week into points, part of the pitch was that there were no maintenance fee associated with points.

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

Well you can imagine the comments that abounded following that post.

So, if there are no maintenance fees attached, that has to be good, yes?

No, after the owners pushed and pushed the sales agent, they admitted there were fees associated but this wasn’t maintenance, so what is it?

As you can guess, just a change of name, it might be management fees, club dues or some other concoction of words, but in the end they are what they are, extortionately high fees!

To us in Europe especially the UK it is what we call PC or political correctness, I prefer to call it Newspeak from George Orwell’s 1984, change how you say it to confuse the masses. Some good examples are the cook, you are not a cook you are a nutrition technician, a garbage collector or what in England we call a binman or dustman, they are waste disposal engineers. It makes no difference what they change the name to it is the same thing.

We also received from a reader a post in the Anfi del Mar Contracts FB page, it was an advert for a timeshare for resale, it was far far less than what they probably paid for it. This is a subject we have published in the past, (see link below).

http://insidetimeshare.com/anfi-resale-vs-site-purchase/

We all know that as far as resales are concerned they really do not have any value, just search ebay “timeshare for sale”.

https://www.ebay.co.uk/b/Timeshare-Accommodations/123812/bn_2315002

Many of those advertised are either for the derisory sum of £1 or even less, we have even seen them for £0.01, this particular one even showed the annual maintenance fee of £687!

There are many others such as Marriott, which are not cheap when originally purchased being advertised for over £2,000, this is the value the owners believe it is worth, having paid around £15,000 upwards for in the first place.

We all know that many owners believed the original sales pitch, it was property, it is an investment, it will go up in value. The only thing that is likely to go up is maintenance fees!

There is also another problem associated with resale, the “scam” companies that have been set up, taking upfront fees to list the timeshare for sale, knowing full well that it will never sell. As Lisa Ann Schreier asked in her “Open Letter to Timeshare Developers” published on Inside Timeshare, Why do you not buy back?

http://insidetimeshare.com/timeshare-resale-lisa-ann-schreier-open-letter-to-developers/

A very valid question.

Another valid question to our readers is: What do you think your timeshare is worth, considering what you paid for it? We would love to hear from you.

Last Friday, Mindtimeshare published another warning of a cold calling company called Resort Management Direct or RMD, this is actually an old company offering bargain priced holidays at various resorts. The whole point is what is known as “flybuy”. Part of the deal is that you attend a presentation for a timeshare.

What is a Flybuy?

http://www.resortmanagementdirect.com

The Warning put out about this one though is very disturbing, the call from a lady called Angelina, states that she is calling from “Resort Management at Club la Costa. So once again we have a company calling timeshare owners purporting to be from their resort.

For the full story go to https://mindtimeshare.me/2018/10/26/resort-management-direct-confirming-clearly-they-are-calling-from-club-la-costa/

So there we have it, from timeshare sales agents trying to bamboozle owners at update meetings to Owners believing they actually have a timeshare that is worth something, finishing with a “flybuy” company clearly stating they are from a legitimate timeshare resort. You really do have to be careful and not believe the first thing you are told.

Have you had an experience of sales agents giving you the runaround, have you tried to sell your timeshare and ended up losing money, or even had a call similar to those of RMD, if so Inside Timeshare would like to hear from you.

 

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this weeks Letter from America, today’s article is all about heirs inheriting your timeshare, with the introduction by Inside Timeshare’s very own Irene Parker, with contributions from Tom Tubbs of Island Consulting Realty and Mike Finn of Finn Law Group. This article will not only be of interest to our American readers but also to our European contingent.

But first Europe, news came in late yesterday of another High Court ruling from Tenerife against Silverpoint. Following a ruling against them at The Court of First Instance, Silverpoint appealed to the High Court. This court reaffirmed the previous courts verdict, consequently the original verdict has been upheld. The clients contract has been declared null and void due to lack of tangibility (a previous judge described it as “a bag full of smoke”), the client has been awarded over 24,000€ plus legal interest.

Again this is a case brought on behalf the client by Canarian Legal Alliance, these lawyers are just going from strength to strength.

After the article published yesterday about the “FAKE” law firm in Tenerife using the name of Mindtimeshare, another reader has sent in the following information on Abogados Litigación España  and JDD Juan Drimals Deolaro, which we highlighted on 22 October.

It is another “FAKE” compensation claim against Diamond, Grand Vacation Club and Sunterra, the Procurator fee was to be paid to one Ramon Juanca Comez in Tenerife who is also a “fake”. They also confirmed that a successful claim had been awarded amounting to 18,348€ plus 703€, obviously a “tax” of 20% would need to be paid before the court would release the money. Below are the bank details for the client to pay the procurator:

The Beneficiary  Ramon Juanca Comez

Address  C/Tortieras , Edif . Juntas , 323 Santa Cruz  38004 Tenerife 

A/C  IBAN … ES16 2038 9043 6060 0046 1027

BIC …..CAHMESMMXXX

Bank Address Avda.Santa Cruz 188 38600 Granadilla de Abona Tenerife

Now the address above is incorrect as this IBAN Number is the following bank in Valencia:

IBAN: ES1620389043606000461027  

BIC: CAHMESMM

Bank: BANKIA, S.A.

PINTOR SOROLLA 8
46002 VALENCIA

Branch number: 9043

SEPA Credit Transfer is supported.

SEPA Direct Debit is supported.

B2B is supported.

SEPA Instant Credit Transfer is supported.

 

Now on with today’s Letter from America.

Are Timeshare Developers the Pot Calling the Kettle Black?

The Heir Scare – The Same Scare Provided by a Timeshare Sales Agent and a Timeshare Exit Company Sales Agent!

A Second Warning We Wish We Did Not Have To Give

By Tom Tubbs of Island Consulting Realty

Following Phyllis and Marcy’s report

Introduction by Irene Parker

October 26, 2018

If Tom Tubbs Island Consulting Realty’s second warning wasn’t so sad it would be amusing. The most common complaint Timeshare Advocacy Group™ receives is:

“The sales agent said we had to give up our deeded week and buy points.”

The member, especially if a senior, is browbeat, told they have to give up their timeshare deed or they will be the last man standing, left holding the maintenance fee bag. Often the mostly bogus reason provided is that your heirs will be responsible for a deeded timeshare but not for non-deeded timeshare points.

The deed is usually paid in full, so by buy buying points via a loan, or charged to a credit card, the sales agent has created a liability when none existed. I’m not an estate planning lawyer, but I found this RedWeek post from a practicing estates lawyer:

To all those inquiring about your heirs being saddled with this albatross: I have been a practicing estates lawyer in NY for nearly 50 years. The information given to you by Laura (I believe her name was) was basically correct: your beneficiary cannot be “forced” to inherit (and therefore have to pay for maintenance etc.) for the timeshare. The legal route is to execute a disclaimer within 9 months after death, and make sure that you do NOT accept the timeshare by using it or otherwise indicating acceptance (e.g., trying to sell it as if you own it). However, each state has its own laws as to how one disclaims. ……Note though: the (resort) can then also disclaim it, so there are some further fine points legal steps that must be implemented in your Will or trust to deal with that possibility. But most definitely your heirs are NOT bound to accept the timeshare and make the payments if a proper disclaimer strategy is included in your estate planning documents.

stevenw on May 02, 2017 06:01 PM.

This is a complaint I read perpetrated by a timeshare sales agent falsely telling a deeded owner that she had to give up her deed or her heirs would suffer. Inside Timeshare previously published this account by Phyllis, age 67. She ended up representing herself in court and negotiated a lesser amount with the credit card company arbitrator. Following this scare offered by a timeshare sales agent, is the identical scare offered by a timeshare exit company sales agent.

What a timeshare sales agent told Phyllis (Unedited)

I feel I am a victim of fraud. I was asked to attend a breakfast to talk about upgrades on a timeshare I own. I was told it would last only 55 minutes. 4 highly pressured sales people took turns on me and held me for 7 hours, bouncing me into 3 different rooms. I told them I didn’t want it and that I already owned the timeshare over and over again. They said I have to buy into the new and I own my timeshare for ever, and that I could never get out of it. They said my Monarch timeshare went bankrupt and I had to invest with them or they would go after my children for payment. I had a panic stress disorder attack. I was tired and hungry.  I was tired. In order to get out of there I signed under dearest. I am a senior citizen 5 feet tall women and he is a 6 feet tall man standing over me stating he was a child of GOD and he can help me then said to me “I am a friend I can tell you the best thing to do only if I signed”. He added the BANK CREDIT CARD. I was misled to only use the card for shopping that my points would go up and maintenance fees would go down. I never received the card. I never used the card. Now I have a trial date May 8, 2018 to pay their lawyers in the amount of $3446.04. I received a letter stating the timeshare went into foreclosure. Since the timeshare and the bank are together I should be out of paying the bank as well? I need help. Could someone give me advice? Can I get someone to go with me and represent me? I am afraid and stressed. Please email me on what I can so as soon as possible. Thank You.

A pitch from U.S. Consumer Attorneys that Marcy submitted to Inside Timeshare which we previously published. Marcy called me the same day Phyllis did; both said they were having a panic attack over the result of their timeshare debacle. The timeshare exit company US Consumer Attorneys threatened Marcy as follows:

Louis S called me and said he was with US Consumer Attorneys Group and that he was calling about my timeshare. He was aware that I was a Diamond owner and that I owned at Ka’anapali Resort. He sent me a copy of their contract and said I needed to pay him $2900 to get out of the contract.  He said he is an attorney with US Consumer Attorneys Group. He said Diamond was going to take my house and my children would be responsible for paying all Diamond debts and that they would even attach my wages.  He said Diamond would also take my Social Security payments and my retirement.

I have not paid my Diamond maintenance fees for about three years. I wanted to deed it back to Diamond but they would not take it back when I was not behind on maintenance fees. I tried to sell it but no one wanted it.

Given the fact that many exit scam artists are former timeshare sales agents, it’s no surprise they will take the deception with them when they leave their timeshare sales job and make the move to an exit scam. Not all exit companies are scams, but this Federal Trade Commission link listing scams cannot be posted to often:

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

Thank you once again Tom Tubbs for this important year end warning.

From Tom Tubbs at Island Consulting Realty:

A Second Warning We Wish We Did Not Have To Give

Hi Folks. So last week we warned you about “Exit” companies and this week we’re giving you a little bit of a different take on them. Why? We don’t want to beat a dead horse but it’s important that you do not fall victim to this. This time of year is when these companies get more aggressive in that they know your maintenance fee will be due soon and it’s a prime opportunity for them to pick your pocket. But first….Just what is an “Exit” company?

Well, these are the folks who “create” a problem that does not exist. This is a very common sales tactic with just about anything out there for sale or service. With timeshares, these companies create the VERY false impression that your timeshare is actually a burden instead of an asset. They give you the VERY false impression that you can’t sell it (although that’s what we’ve been doing for folks for the past 33 years….) and that when you die your kids will then be strapped with it (also false). Then they have a solution! (Of course!). Give them $3500 plus the deed to your timeshare and they’ll get you out of it. What great guys!

So in a nutshell what you have here is a company creating a problem for you that minutes earlier you did not know you had, and then solving that problem for you by you giving away your timeshare and your money! Problem is, for many of these companies it’s all one big fat lie; as the following story will tell….

Orlando woman says timeshare exit plan was all a lie

American Consumer LLC charged thousands then filed

Chapter 11 bankruptcy

ORLANDO, Fla. – Lisa Eller, a timeshare resort customer for 18 years, is convinced American Consumer LLC never intended to negotiate an exit from her resort contract despite promises from then Chief Operations Officer Cory “Hubb” Hubbell, that he could get it done.

    “He’s a smooth salesman; he seemed like he knew what he was doing,” Eller said. “He said, ‘It takes us about 12 months to work the program.'”

 Eller and her husband agreed to pay $2,350 for the program but just this week discovered no one from the company, aka A Consumer LLC, ever contacted her resort.

“They present themselves as people who have contacts at these resorts,” Eller said. “Our contract was paid in full; we were just paying maintenance.”

The last time Hubbell spoke to Eller was in March, according to Hubbell’s Facebook account, he left the company in May. Eller’s attorney, Jennifer Beaman Clark, told News 6 that when she advised the resort representative that her clients had been trying to resolve this for a year she was told, “It was the first time they had been contacted about the account.”

 According to records obtained by News 6, American filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Sept. 9. The registered agent, Brevard County Attorney Michael Sarocco, said he would try to help consumers who wanted to get their money back but that he had no official ties to the company. In an email to News 6, Sarocco wrote, “I no longer represent the company and do not have authorization to make any statements on their behalf.”

A review of state records shows Saracco was the registered agent for American Consumer Credit LLC along with another 12 companies all linked to the same manager: Dana Micallef. Micallef started the company in 2011 and, according to state records, lives in Daytona Beach. Still, it appears he has been calling customers from a New York area code.

Rebekah Nelson hired the company last September and agreed to pay $2,800 to get a release from a timeshare in Vista, California. Nelson told News 6 a man she believes to be Micallef, asked her to wire $700 to continue the contract. “They block the consumer from talking to the timeshare so you don’t know (American) is not doing their job,” she said.

Nelson is convinced there are dozens of victims who fell for the same scheme.

News 6 found a website that explained how the company claimed to complete the exit:

“When you enter into the contract termination process with Aconsumercredit™, we start to permanently remove your timeshare contract burden. No more fees. No more payments.” Nelson said she was told to stop paying her timeshare fees and that is when her credit was ruined.

If you believe you are a victim of this company, contact Mike Holfeld at [email protected]

For more information, contact attorney Saracco: [email protected]

See you next week!

Tom Tubbs, Broker, R.N.G.

Island Consulting Realty

800-809-6020 or 941-922-3808  www.TimeSharesToGo.com

Senior Licensed Real Estate Specialist

Co-Founder: Licensed Timeshare Resale Brokers Association

Board Member: Florida Timeshare Owners Group

Doctor of Funology

Related articles:

By Mike Finn of Finn Law Group:

How Can I Eliminate my Timeshare Liability for my Heirs?

https://www.finnlawgroup.com/eliminate-timeshare-liability-for-heirs/

Timeshare self-help groups:

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

https://everythingabouttimeshares.com/consider-exchange-options/

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

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

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

Thank you to Irene, Tom and Mike for your contribution this weeks, we are sure this will be of great interest to all timeshare owners on both side of the “Great Lake”.

If you have any questions or comments on any article published, please use our contact page and get in touch, we welcome your input. If you need to find out about any company that has contacted you or you have found on the internet then get in touch and we will help you find out if they are genuine and trustworthy.

Friday is upon us and the weekend beckons, we hope that you all have a great one and just relax, join us again next week for more on the murky world that is timeshare.

A New Twist In the Saga of Litigious Abogados

As if things couldn’t get any stranger, the “FAKE” law firm in Tenerife Litigacion Abogados which is one incarnation of the “FAKE” lawyers we have dubbed the Litigious Abogados family has now surpassed themselves with the lengths they will go to dupe timeshare owners.

The blog sight Mindtimeshare is now the victim, timeshare owners are now receiving calls from one Joyce Adams, who claims she is calling from a “law firm” called Mindtimeshare, from the following number:

0034822684554

Another number given is:

0800 802 1982

 

They have even set up an email address, again using the free email address provider of consultant.com, one thing you will notice is they have spelt it wrong:

[email protected]

As well as the Mindtimeshare name they are also using their logo, if you look at it carefully is not the same typeface as the original.

The story is the same as always, the consumers timeshare company is being taken to court and you can be part of the case. All you need to do to “benefit” from this is to pay the Procurators fee into an Escrow Account with the court in Tenerife.

One snag here, the account is in the name of the “Fake” Procurator Alexander Bowross. If you were paying money into a court I very much doubt that it would be into the account of a named individual!

For those of you who are aware of mindtimeshare you will know they are not a law firm, but a consumer advice blog site which also issues warnings of rogue and bogus operations, just like Inside Timeshare. Over the past year or so, Inside Timeshare has been sharing information on this “fake” lawyers in all their incarnations, we shall continue to do so which is why we are publishing this article today.

Inside Timeshare will continue to publish articles on these “FAKE, BOGUS and DUBIOUS” companies to warn you the reader and help you to save your hard earned cash.

If you have been contacted by any company or found one on the internet and want to find out if they are who they say they are, contact Inside Timeshare, we will help you to find out if they and what they say is genuine.

Remember the golden rule

CHECK, CHECK AND CHECK AGAIN, DO YOUR HOMEWORK!

Tomorrow in Friday’s Letter from America the article is entitled

Are Timeshare Developers the Pot Calling the Kettle Black?

The Heir Scare – The Same Scare Provided by a Timeshare Sales Agent and a Timeshare Exit Company Sales Agent!

With an introduction from our very own Irene Parker along with Contributions from Tom Tubbs of Island Consulting Realty and Mike Finn of Finn Law Group.

This article will also be of benefit to our European readers as they will also be familiar with this subject, so join us tomorrow for more Letters from America.

 

The Tuesday Slot

Welcome to this weeks Tuesday Slot, once again this is not the article we had scheduled, that has been pulled at the last minute. The original article (which as always was sent to the timeshare company Holiday Inn Vacation Club for comment), was a particularly heart wrenching story of woe, but thanks to someone at the timeshare company, (some of them do have a heart), the matter has been resolved. All we can say to Holiday Inn Vacation Club is thank you and well done for responding so quickly.

Inside Timeshare has been receiving many emails from readers wanting to check on companies calling them, it is that time of year, as maintenance bills start to arrive, so all these companies are getting in with the usual pitch, we can get you out of your timeshare. Unfortunately most are bogus and fake law firms, which we have highlighted in previous articles. So beware the caller, get as much information about them as possible, then contact Inside Timeshare for further help.

We have also heard from one of our German readers regarding Diamond Resorts (Europe), it would appear that Diamond may have changed the policy on exiting the contract. We do know they have exceptional circumstance, which are over 75, death of a partner, financial difficulty and medical, where they will allow exit for free. For those who do not fall into this category they were allowing an exit on payment of 2 years maintenance, well, according to our German reader who applied for this, he was told “NO”! They would only let him out when he fits the exceptional circumstances or reaches 75, until then he must continue to pay maintenance.

We will be keeping an eye on any other developments regarding this, it does seem strange that this policy has suddenly changed. If any of our other readers have experienced this please do let us know, it may be that this was just a one off incident from an un-informed member of staff.

How to File a Timeshare Complaint (October 22, 2018 revision)

               

Start with the Attorneys General Office

If necessary, continue to the FBI at IC3.gov

Finish with the Federal Trade Commission, if Section 5 is violated

If you were sold a timeshare as an investment, file an SEC complaint

“I was told that in order to be released from a timeshare, which was a deeded timeshare, I had to turn the deed into points. Believing the sales agent, on June 19th I bought $12,000 worth of points for no reason. A few weeks after the purchase I learned through Social Media the company has a voluntary surrender program. I had told the sales agent that my wife had bought this timeshare 18 years ago and that I had hated it for 18 years. I explained that I was only attending the presentation to find out how to get rid of it. At that point he should have advised me of the voluntary surrender program instead of selling me points for no reason. The response from the company was it sounds like a ‘he said she said’ and to make matters worse, there is a six month waiting period for the voluntary surrender program.”

We have received 634 timeshare complaints as of October 22, 2018. Recently, several complaints have been from timeshare members who say they were told the timeshare was an investment; the timeshare could be rented for income, and would be easy to sell. The complaints were directed against four timeshare companies.

Marketing a timeshare for the purposes of generating income, or leading the buyer to believe the retail price is what the timeshare is worth, is selling the timeshare as a security without being registered as a security with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Therefore, we have added the SEC as an avenue for grievance if this applies to you.

We have also added the AARP fraud alert. The AARP hotline responders have been responsive, but misleading in their advice. We will be publishing an article shortly to address why we believe AARP is providing misleading information.

https://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/?CMP=KNC-DSO-Adobe-Bing-FWN-Core-Brand-Brand&s_kwcid=AL!4520!10!73804843580956!73804805721970&ef_id=W0ZctQAAAJQd2ANC:20180725171110:s

One Attorney General’s office is directing people to a list of timeshare attorneys. The member pays the attorney, the attorney has no timeshare experience, and the member ends up referred to us. We help for free and the lawyer gets paid. This has happened several times. Do not use an attorney without timeshare experience. The field is too specialized.   

In all but a few cases, the timeshare company has dismissed member complaints with “You signed a contract” or “It doesn’t matter what the sales agent said.” If timeshare companies would acknowledge that some timeshare sales agents do intentionally mislead the consumer, there would be no need to file complaints and no reason for the existence of member supported advocacy groups.

According to FBI agents and lawyers our advocates have consulted, it is not legal to hide behind fine print, but it takes volumes of complaints to raise a regulator’s eyebrow. The Federal Trade Commission released its 2017 complaint report, listing travel, vacation, and timeshare as one of the most costly frauds at $1,710. Our reader complaints dollar amounts range from $4,000 to $400,000 or more. We wish members were only losing $1,710. Inside Timeshare has received complaints from 81 veterans and active duty military and law enforcement.   

Travel, vacation, and timeshare frauds were the most costly with people losing a median amount of $1,710. The FTC also broke out fraud losses for members of the military and found their median fraud loss to be 44 percent higher than the general population.

https://www.jacksonsun.com/story/opinion/columnists/2018/04/06/ftc-releases-2017-complaint-statistics/493425002/

Most of the members contacting us have an outstanding loan. The industry has created this nightmare because if you buy a house and have a loan outstanding, you can still sell the house. When the member alleges they experienced unfair and deceptive sales practices, they have signed a perpetual contract with little or no secondary market. Timeshare companies list a viable secondary market as a risk to their shareholders.

Timeshare Members need to be especially vigilant about “Get you out of your timeshare” firms because many are scams. Some are not. Timeshare Advocacy Group™ (TAG) has a scam research team formed by members who have themselves been scammed. This 15 page US Department of Justice timeshare scam report illustrates the seriousness and extent of the problem, caused by the lack of a viable secondary market.     

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

Advocates for reform feel the problems that exist in the industry today are caused by an overreliance on the oral representation clause, iron clad developer based contracts, the lack of an adequate secondary market, and limited enforcement. We don’t dispute there are many who use and enjoy their timeshare and many sales agents who sell the product properly, but here are the most common timeshare complaints reported by our readers:

  • The agent said I could easily sell my points,
  • The agent overstated the value of travel awards to pay for airline tickets, or the use of a travel credit card to pay maintenance fees,
  • The agent said I had to give up my deeded timeshare and buy points,
  • The agent said I have to give up my deed and buy points or my heirs will be burdened,
  • The rescission clause was dodged because the agent said the (bogus) program would not be available until after the first of the year, or we were not allowed access to the booking site until after the rescission period.    

To begin your complaint, raise your right hand.

Do you promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God? Present your information factually and without opinion or inflammatory language.

Information Needed to File a Timeshare Complaint

Name (s) and age of member

Phone Number

State of Residence

Member Number

For each contract in dispute:

Where Purchased and Date of Purchase

Number of Points Purchased

Sales Agent and Sales Agent ID# (if available)

Purchase Price

Down Payment

Amount Financed and Interest Rate

Loan Number

Current Loan Balance

Name of Credit Card if one was used to pay the down payment

What do you want? Do you seek Refund or Relinquishment?

Why? Is it due to Deception, Health, Age or Financial Burden?

Complaints expressing dissatisfaction with general availability will go unheeded as will a request based on not being able to afford the timeshare. If you feel you were deceived, list the reasons why. If there was no deceit, ask for relinquishment. Maintenance fees must be current and there can be no loan outstanding. Just like your personal residence, you can’t go to your home mortgage lender and say you can’t afford it. The difference is you can sell your home if there is an outstanding loan.  Section 5 Federal Trade Commission, explains unfair and deceptive practices:

FTC Unfair Practices

An act or practice is unfair where it

  • causes or is likely to cause substantial injury to consumers;
  • cannot be reasonably avoided by consumers; and
  • is not outweighed by countervailing benefits to consumers or to competition.

 

FTC Deceptive Practices

An act or practice is deceptive where

  • a representation, omission, or practice misleads or is likely to mislead the consumer;
  • a consumer’s interpretation of the representation, omission, or practice is considered reasonable under the circumstances; and
  • the misleading representation, omission, or practice is material.

https://www.federalreserve.gov/boarddocs/supmanual/cch/ftca.pdf

MOST IMPORTANT – Purchase Timeline

It is better to state your narrative as a narrative referring back to the figures at the top of your complaint. Begin with when you first became involved with the company and proceed chronologically. Keep your history brief up to the point when things began to go wrong.

After you complete your complaint, email it to the appropriate resort department. Expect to be denied. Typically your resort reviewer will restate your concerns, produce your initials and signatures, point out the oral representation clause and inform you, “If something was important to you, you should have asked for it to be put in the contract.” File a rebuttal if you disagree with the company response.

Mark your email to the resort urgent if you are in financial distress. It is best to file a complaint before the debt collectors are hounding. If one of our advocates is assisting the member, the member will report back to us if the issue is resolved. Due to the required non-disclosure, terms and conditions will not be discussed.

Attorneys General

If the resort has dismissed your complaint, the next step is to file a complaint with the Attorney General of the state where you signed your contract. It can take sometimes a month to hear back from an AG. You can find any Attorney General by searching the state name and Attorney General. Some states will direct you to the real estate or consumer division. You should file a complaint with the state Real Estate Division against the agent if the agent was deceptive. Not all states require timeshare sales agents be real estate licensed.     

We have determined, based on reports from our readers, some Attorneys General walk lockstep with the developer, responding to complaints with, “You should not have relied on verbal representations.” Thus, in those states, the consumer is out in the cold and at the mercy of the developer’s decision. In other states, Attorneys General have opened investigations and reached settlements based on a volume of complaints and a pattern of consistent reports of deceptive behavior.

The FBI

Any complaint reported to the FBI should be of a more egregious nature. “They promised me a free cruise but it wasn’t free” is an example of a complaint that is not serious enough for the FBI. Our opening example, describing a buyer told they had to give up their timeshare deed when that was not necessary, would merit an IC3.gov report. To determine if your complaint is serious enough to file an FBI complaint, review the FBI definitions of criminal acts:  

White-collar crimes are characterized by deceit, concealment, or violation of trust and are not dependent on the application or threat of physical force or violence. The motivation behind these crimes is financial—to obtain or avoid losing money, property, or services or to secure a personal or business advantage. These are not victimless crimes. A single scam can destroy a company, devastate families by wiping out their life savings, or cost investors billions of dollars (or even all three).

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

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

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

The FBI has advised our members, if the allegation involves credit card fraud, the member should also file a complaint with the Secret Service.

https://ask.metafilter.com/81136/Should-I-call-the-Secret-Service-over-credit-card-fraud

Most important, consider reaching out to local or national media. Reporters look for content and are surprisingly easy to reach. Write an article about your experience. The more people who come forward, the more the public is made aware of timeshare black holes before engaging in a timeshare sales presentation.

Summary of Regulatory and Law Enforcement Agencies

  • The Attorney General’s office where you signed your contract. Most AG complaints can be filed online.
  • The Real Estate Division of the state where the agent is licensed if your complaint is against the agent.
  • The FBI at IC3.gov portal if you feel you were deceived. For allegations of a serious nature you may also contact an FBI field office to file a tip orally. Have your facts and figures ready. The FBI complaint website is called IC3.gov which stands for Internet Crime. This is a bit confusing. IC is the name of the portal. That doesn’t mean it has to be an internet crime. Click IC3 as your choice when filing. Sometimes your local field office will pay closer attention than say Las Vegas, where losing money is a tourist attraction. You can find your nearest field office from this website. https://www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field-offices https://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx
  • The Federal Trade Commission is one of the most important agencies to file with, because it is federal. Most states have incorporated a portion of the FTC’s “Unfair and Deceptive Trade Act” in their state law. It’s tricky to find the timeshare tab. Look for “next page” until you find it.   
  • The media – the court of public opinion is often the only court available. Inside Timeshare, published in Spain, welcomes member submissions, positive or negative.
  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for credit card or lending complaints, under the mortgage option (even if no mortgage), selecting the bank involved. Timeshare has dodged this regulatory bullet because most members don’t know the identity of the lender as the timeshare company often services the loan (Timeshare companies are not an option from the CFPB’s drop-down menu). CFPB is the organization that helped Wells Fargo victims. The CFPB lost influence after the roll back of the Dodd Frank act March 2018. The Dodd Frank act was enacted after the abuses caused by subprime lending. The CFPB is still considered a regulator. https://www.consumerfinance.gov/
  • File a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. The company’s BBB rating can be misleading in that the BBB only rates how efficiently a company responds to complaints. Sometimes the BBB allows you to log in and file a rebuttal. If you file a complaint, a review is not allowed. We have received complaints from members reporting that a company representative called, saying the message is time sensitive, but does not answer the phone when the member repeatedly tries to call back. We suspect this boosts the company BBB rating because the company can report, “We reached out.”
  • Lawmakers – The problem is the timeshare buyer typically does not buy in their state of residence which is why lawmakers don’t seem to take timeshare seriously. Still, any effort to contact lawmakers is encouraged.
  • The Securities and Exchange Commission for selling timeshare points as an investment without being registered as a security.
  • AARP Fraud Watch

If this sounds like work, it is, but you can file with some, all, or none of the agencies. If you pick two, pick the Attorney General and the FTC. We have a team of advocates who can answer questions and help guide you through the process. We feel “Action and Advocacy” is the best way to change questionable timeshare business practices. Many families contacting us are financially devastated by their decision to buy a timeshare. We seek to promote consumer awareness.   

Depending on the seriousness of your complaint, you may forward your complaint to the firm’s public relations office or firm and to ARDA, the timeshare industry’s PAC, for violating ARDA’s Code of Ethics. ARDA’s Code of Ethics can be found on ARDA’s website. ARDA ROC does not mediate disputes, but ARDA does have a Code of Ethics. Due to lack of response to over 200 of the more serious complaints we forwarded to ARDA, we do not recommend owners make the voluntary “opt in” or “opt out” ARDA ROC donation on your maintenance fee invoice. Not one of the members we questioned knew what ARDA ROC stands for, yet collectively members gives ARDA ROC about $5 million a year. It is the opinion of our advocates, that although ARDA lobbies for the industry and for timeshare members, when the issue at stake is one that is at odds with members, members lose because they have no voice.

You may also forward your complaint to the Association of Vacation Owners.

https://avoworldwide.com/news/

AVO has been tracking our complaints for research purposes. http://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-with-irene-3/

If you are granted a positive outcome, you may not say or write anything disparaging about the resort, but there is no harm in staying involved by referring timeshare members who need help to Inside Timeshare or to one of the self-help groups listed below we know are not industry influenced.  

Who We Are and Why We Do This

Our advocates are not attorneys and we do not provide legal advice. We have researched regulatory agencies and are here to direct consumers to the appropriate regulatory and law enforcement agencies. The right to file a regulatory complaint is the right of every citizen who feels they have been wronged.  

It’s a good idea to contact a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association to find out whether your timeshare has a secondary market. http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

Venting on complaint sites has no effect whatsoever but an organized campaign to track complaints and report alleged fraud has already born fruit in the form of Attorneys General investigations and greater public awareness.

If all else fails, we will refer to an attorney if the member can afford one. If you are forced into foreclosure, but have an otherwise unblemished credit report, you can write to the credit reporting agencies in an effort to explain why you were deceived and why you were not able to resolve your dispute.

Contact Inside Timeshare or email Irene Parker at [email protected] or call 270-303-7572 EST if you are interested in becoming a volunteer. Feel free to call any day of the week from 1:00 to 5:00 PM EST. It’s best to schedule a call. All calls and emails are returned within 24/48 hours.  If your email is not returned, please resend and send a text message.

 Self-help groups seek to provide 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. We hope to promote a better relationship between disgruntled timeshare buyers and their respective resort. We appreciate all timeshare companies who have responded to article drafts and resolved customer issues. Inside Timeshare would always rather see a dispute resolved over publishing an article.

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

https://everythingabouttimeshares.com/consider-exchange-options/

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

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

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

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

October 23, 2018 Irene Parker

Timeshare Advocacy Group     

Related article: FTC Section 5

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-12/

If you have any timeshare problem or need help in checking if a company is genuine, contact Inside Timeshare with the details, we will point you in the right direction.

Another Fake Law Firm from the Litigious Abogados Family

Here we go again, yet another fake law firm has sprung up in Tenerife, again it is linked to the Litigious Abogados family. This one is called Abogados Litigación España  and JDD Juan Drimals Deolaro, with the website:

http://abogadoslitigacionespana.com

Which was registered on 11 October 2018 and is due to expire on 11 October 2019, so not only has it been registered for only 11 days, but will only last for 1 year. As usual the registrant is hidden by privacy protection. They also show another fake CIF Number (company number) to add credibility: A12475921

The address is also very familiar as it has been used before:

Calle de San Francisco, 6, 38001 Santa Cruz de Tenerife, España

Telephone numbers are:

Freephone: 0800 862 0036

Tenerife Tel: 0034 822 684 562

With the email addresses which again are not linked to the website but are free email address providers:

[email protected]

[email protected]

The “company” was founded in August 1990, a slight difference to previous one as they do not give the day or the date, but the founder is Juan Drimals Deolaro, another name that we published in the article Litigacion Abogados on 10 October, using the same photograph:

The names and photographs of the lawyers are also the same although they do have a new name and photograph for another young lady on the contact page, Mevalena Cacha Coquina. She is in fact a young lawyer from a firm in Chile, Carmen Castillo Arenas, obtaining her law degree in 2006, the firm she works for is Manuel Acuña Kairath Abogados, based in Santiago, Chile.

Mevalena Cacha Coquina

Manuel Doleva Elkulete

Valentin Foga Rehalna

Manuel Selbon Vamilos

They also show many official logos such as the Ilustre Colegio de Abogados for Madrid and Santa Cruz de Tenerife including this one below.

Well, we don’t need to guess what the pitch is going to be, we are by now very familiar with their modus operandi, the news that your timeshare company is being taken to court within the next few weeks. Pay the “FAKE” Court Procurator a fee and you can be included.

Then the great news that the director of your timeshare company pleaded guilty, (we just wonder what name will be used for this director), with the court awarding you a very substantial amount of money. One snag, they now need 20% of the awarded amount to pay “TAXES”!

This firm is just the latest incarnation of many which have now been operating for around 3 years, continuously changing names and website addresses, one thing that has remained constant is the all the websites are the same and the story is always identical.

Remember, unless you have personally instructed a law firm and gone through all the legal procedures, then you do not have a case in court. Do not be fooled by these criminals, it is a very elaborate and well put together fraud, we know many who have fallen for it and have lost thousands with no way of getting it back.

If you have been contacted by this “fake law firm” or one with a similar story, then contact Inside Timeshare, we will help you check their validity.

Our warning is always the same:

CHECK, CHECK AND CHECK AGAIN, DO YOUR HOMEWORK!

 

Consumer Warning: A New Fake Law Firm in Tenerife Part of the Litigious Abogados Family

Just as we expected after the last article about a new fake law firm in Tenerife, Litigacion Abogados, this one is called ADN Alberto Dlendro Nabalez, Litigacionespaña SL and is another in the family of Litigious Abogados.

The website http://litigacionespanasl.com which is only 14 days old was registered on 3 October 2018 with as usual the registrar hidden by privacy protect. According to the home page the company was formed on Thursday 20 August 1990, a date we have seen before. They also show a fakeCIF number A19626885, which is the same as for Litigaciones SL.

The address is also very familiar

4, Calle de S. Francisco, 4, Santa Cruz, 38001-38002, Tenerife

With the following telephone numbers.

Freephone: 0800 862 0 314

Tenerife Tel: 0034 822 680 013

These numbers are also the same as for Litigaciones SL.

Once again they show photographs of their lawyers, which we have again identified.

Alberto Dlendro Nabalez the founder, who is actually López Saavedra, an Argentinian lawyer.

Manuel Rintas Quejom, who is in fact a lawyer based in Orland called David Haenel.

Valentino Afelergo Barile, so far unidentified.

Juan Iominan Ovaso, who we highlight in an earlier article is in fact the Argentinian Lawyer Alberto Nisman, who was assassinated in 2015. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alberto_Nisman )

We also have the 2 young ladies from the article on Litigaciones SL http://insidetimeshare.com/start-the-week-litigaciones-sl-a-new-name-in-the-litigious-abogados-family/

Vittoria Tetazi Normez (Actual person identified as Johanna M. Herrero, Born Argentina, and runs a law firm in Boston USA, http://www.johannaherrerolaw.com/attorneys-1/ )

Maria Gosadema Raviya (At present unidentified)

Now for a firm whose website was only registered on 3 October, they have really surpassed themselves, they actually have a case being heard in court on 30 October, and to be part of this case a sum of money has to be paid direct to the “Court Procurator” directly. As yet we do not know what name they will be using for this Procurator.

So we now have a new name with the same old fraud.

This just goes to show how careful timeshare owners must be, if you have any doubts about the authenticity of any caller, email or company you have found on the internet, you should do your homework and check them thoroughly. If you need any help in this, use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will help you make the checks.

Remember, do your homework, you know it makes sense!

The Tuesday Slot

Welcome to the Tuesday Slot, this article replaces the one originally scheduled as at the last minute the problem may have been resolved, news on this will be published when we have confirmation. So this week we publish the results of the election where our very own Irene Parker stood to be elected to the HOA Board of Diamond US Collections as a representative of all members.

As for news from Europe, the courts have not issued any new sentences, although many cases have been heard.

On the fake “lawyers” front Inside Timeshare has received many emails from anxious owners being contacted by those we have highlighted. All are telling the same story, their timeshare company has been taken to court and found guilty, they have awarded the owners so many thousands of pounds in compensation, but to release it they must first send 20% of the awarded amount to cover tax. For those of you who are familiar with our articles, you know what this is, a complete and utter scam.

Since our article about Silverpoint on 3 October, Inside Timeshare has been overwhelmed with emails from very concerned purchasers, this has resulted in the lack of article being published. It was felt that these enquiries were to be answered and addressed, so our apologies for the lack of articles.

We have also received an email from one reader who has contacted a law firm in the UK and they want £850 to conduct a viability report to see if there is a claim on a no win no fee basis! For a more intense report they want £1,200 This law firm Seth Lovis is charging money from a timeshare owner to see if they can take on her case!

This is totally unethical, Inside Timeshare will do this for free, then we will pass you on to a lawyer who has the experience in this field.

Now for our Tuesday Slot.

Diamond Resorts Election Results – U.S Collection HOA Board

5,387,000 Votes! A Landslide Psychological Victory

By Irene Parker, Candidate finishing #8

October 16, 2018

Diamond Resorts announced election results for their U.S. Collection which was held  October 10, 2018. I finished #8 with 5,387,000 votes.

I have been researching this industry for over three years now. I keep hearing the same complaints over and over from those who bought timeshares from several developers. It’s a broken record coming from 614 families, as of October 14, all but a handful alleging unfair and deceptive sales practices.

My husband and I owned three timeshares for 30 years, our life revolving around the next vacation. I didn’t even know how to use Facebook until I attended a pathetically aggressive timeshare presentation in 2015. I wrote a couple articles and started to hear from timeshare buyers complaining of unfair and deceptive sales practices. I saw that there were a number of Attorneys General investigations and settlements launched against several developers.

I resent being called an “industry hater” by one developer, as I loved this industry for 30 years. It is preposterous for timeshare lobbyists and developers to insist there is no problem with the front end of the timeshare sale – only with exit companies “targeting” timeshare members who would otherwise be happy timeshare owners. Families report being financially devastated and don’t know where to turn.

I have always said half a problem goes away when confronted. Either the industry will confront the deceit on the front end of the sale, or Timeshare Wars continue.

All but a handful of the 621 families have reported:    

  1. They said it was an investment,
  2. They said it was easy to sell,
  3. They said to fill out an application to see if we were eligible, but they opened a credit card and charged it for the purchase (or down payment),
  4. They said we could pay our maintenance fees with this new program, but the program didn’t exit,
  5. They said we could sell our timeshare if we bought more points, but the program didn’t exist,
  6. They said we could pay our maintenance fees by using a credit card, but we would have to charge $200,000 in a year to pay a $2,000 maintenance fee,  
  7. They said airfare would be included when we booked a stay,
  8. The sales agent said the last agent did not sell us enough points,
  9. They showed us a book of resorts, but there is never any availability when we try to book,
  10. They said we could rent our timeshare, but the resort does not allow this,
  11. They said if we did not give up our deed and buy points, our children’s’ credit would be destroyed if something happened to us,
  12. Hours long tag-team, high pressure, aggressive sales presentations,
  13. They said if we didn’t change to another program our maintenance fees will go through the roof,
  14. I should not have bought a timeshare in Hawaii because they have hurricanes,
  15. I should not have bought a timeshare in Florida because they have hurricanes,
  16. The sales agent said he would be my personal representative, but he never returned my calls or text messages.    

Timeshare Advocacy Group™ mission statement:

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.

Our Diamond Resorts member-sponsored advocacy Facebook launched by an economics professor broke 2,000 members today:

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

My campaign bio:

Irene Parker has experience and knowledge in the fields of finance, sales and marketing. Irene holds an MBA from St. Louis University, and holds a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) certificate. Irene retired from Edward Jones Hawaii. She served as a founding member of the Salvation Army Board of Directors, Waimea, a member of the Condo Board at One Archer Lane, Honolulu, a member of The Ombudsman Advisory Board in Kentucky, and was a Kentucky CASA supervisor.

You did!

Thank you,

Irene

Timeshare Advocacy Group™

Facilitator

Well, all we can say is well done to Irene, you certainly gave them a run for their money, your hard work and tenacity has proven that the little people can make a difference. Also a very big thank you to all those who voted for Irene, your voices have been heard.

If you have a timeshare problem that you would like real information on, then use our contact page and get in touch, we have a wealth of knowledge from so many sources that we will find a solution for you. When you contact us, please let us know from what part of the world you are from and where you own or are a member, it will help us put you in touch with the right people.

More Fake Law Firms Surface

Today we publish another 2 fake law firms, the first is another incarnation of that fake outfit in Tenerife which we have dubbed Litigious Abogados Family.

The new name is Litigacion Abogados with the website

http://litigacion-abogados.com

Which was registered on 5 September 2018 so only a month old, as usual the registrant is hidden using a privacy service.

The address given on the website is one that we have seen before

6, Calle de SAN. Francisco, Santa Cruz, 38001-38002, Tenerife

With the following telephone numbers

Freephone: 0800 862 0036

Tenerife Tel: 0034 822 684 562

The email addresses are once again the @consultant.com which is a free email address provider and not linked to the website.

[email protected]

[email protected]

The website is exactly the same as all previous ones apart from the names of the lawyers, the homepage states that the company was founded on Thursday 2 August 1990 by Juan Drimales Deolaro, pictured below.

The other lawyers are named as

Manuel Doleva Elkulete

Valentin Foga Rehalna

Manuel Selbon Vamilos

So far the actual people in the photographs have not been identified, but rest assured they will have just been taken from images posted on the internet.

We can bet the same format will be used, that your timeshare company is being taken to court and for a fee paid to the procurador (yet to be identified) you can be part of the case. Later you will receive notification that the director of your timeshare company pleaded guilty and to release the funds a tax will need to be paid. We know the rest of the story.

This is a fake law firm just like all the others that have preceded it, do not be taken in by them.

Our second fake law firm is rather interesting, they are called VB Ballesteros y Asociados, the website which looks very professional is

https://vbballesterosyasociados.com/

Registered 5 June 2018 and again the registrant is hidden by a privacy company based in the UK. The address given is

Doctor Fleming s/n, 28032 Madrid.

Telephone number which is a Spanish mobile

0034 634 066 899

With the email address

Email. [email protected]

On the About page they give a lawyers registration number 108099 when this is checked with the lawyers register for Madrid there is a lawyer named as Virginia Benítez Ballesteros, who was registered 21 June 2013. Making some checks on this lawyer we did find several references to her, one was her facebook page and she lists where she has studied, which is quite impressive, she also shows she is working for Enveld Capital SA and is Company Secretary and on the Board of Directors. So we can can safely say that whoever is behind this fake law firm is using this young ladies good name and registration number.

Miss Ballesteros has been informed of this illegal use of her name and registration number and no doubt she will take the appropriate legal action, it is just totally despicable that these crooks and swindlers are using the good name of a hard working young lady.

If you have been contacted by either of the above or even by any company claiming to be a law firm, then use our contact page and let us know the details. If you are unsure how to check on the validity of any company, contact us and we will help you find out. It is through your information that we can warn others.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this week’s Letter from America, we publish another “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” article this week which focuses on Westgate, we welcome our new contributor who wishes to remain anonymous for obvious reasons. But first a quick look at the timeshare news from Europe.

Another Judge at the Courts of First Instance Number 2 in Maspalomas has joined other Judges in deciding on a case at the pre-trial stage rather than sending it for a full trial, that now makes Courts numbers 1, 2, 3 and four all following the same route.

Usually the pre-trial stage is used to allow a last minute out of court settlement and deciding if the case warrants a full trial. These courts have now decided that it is a waste of valuable court time to set dates and hold the full trial, the reasoning is that it is a matter of the contracts, they violate the timeshare laws and are cut and dried cases. This will be good news for many clients who are waiting to go to court as it will now speed up the process considerably.

We have heard from another reader who informed us of a company called Litigation Services SL with the company registration number B93268936, they give the address C/ CORONEL RIPOLLET, EDF SANTOS REIN S/N FUENGIROLA (this is a rather seedy street).

The director is listed as CALLE GUDEN DANIEL ERNESTO Appointment: 15/10/2014, but another very old familiar name is also listed although he was dismissed on the above date, SHARIFI DADVAR MAHMOUD REZA.

According to the caller, the courts have seized sizable amounts of money from Timelinx and DWVC (Designer Way Vacation Club) which we know are no longer in existence, Litigation Services SL will help you to claim the money you paid. Obviously they need a fee to process this. The thing is there are no funds waiting at court to be claimed, we also know that in the past this company has had links with the likes of Greenges, Fuengirola Servicios 2000 and our old friends Ramirez and Ramirez.

It would also seem that not only those who had dealings with DWVC are being targeted, but Club Class Concierge clients are being contacted. The story is that there is a court case against them in the Spanish Courts, The company is called Key Legal Claims and they will represent you in court and obtain the money you paid Club Class.

The caller is Emily Carter with the phone number 01212852941. Emily will require a release fee to get the money from the courts, as we have seen in the past this is not the case, there is no money being held by the courts for either of these “Clubs”.

Now on with our Letter from America

My Westgate Timeshare is Up in Smoke!

By a Westgate buyer

October 5, 2018

The peasant of Venice and the Queen of Versailles revisited,

Comments from Irene

The Siegel’s “Queen of Versailles” Florida home

Their lavish pad is nine times larger than other houses in the area (90,000 square feet) and has a $20 million mortgage, which is 100 times the size of the average mortgage in Central Florida, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2310067/Construction-FINALLY-restarts-vast-Queen-Versailles-mansion-recession-hit-owners-raise-30m-needed-complete-it.html     

By a Westgate owner who wishes to remain anonymous. Contact Inside Timeshare if you would like to contact the author.  

Wealth Achieved at What Price?

Up in Smoke

I own a Westgate timeshare. I purchased the timeshare in Gatlinburg, Tennessee a while ago. In November 2016 the resort caught fire and my unit was burned to the ground. They are rebuilding, but the new units are totally different from the units being replaced.  I am being asked to pay for a unit that has not been built, and given less options for the same money. I don’t see how this can be fair, but given the way in which we have been treated, I don’t think ‘fair’ is anything Westgate cares about.

The manner in which I was induced to sign the original contract attests to this:

The timeshare would be a great investment because it is real estate,

  • I could sell it,
  • I could rent it to make my money back,
  • I could get a tax break, the same as a homeowner,
  • I could get a loan to pay off my loan because it was an investment.

Westgate sales agent Zak told us it was best to buy low because in years to come the value of the property would increase.  He provided an example of one of the original owners that purchased paying only $3000, and then showed me what the property is worth today. I now know timeshares are a liability, almost impossible to sell for even pennies on the dollar. The salesman misrepresented pretty much everything to make the sale.

Timeshares are not the same as real estate, and with little to no secondary market, not an investment. Many timeshares, including Westgate, can be bought online for $1. The market is flooded with timeshares and it is almost impossible to rent them out. Tax deductions are not allowed.

I relied on what the sales agent said. Now I am left with payments for something that is not what was described. Based on my experience, the poorly regulated timeshare product benefits only the sales agent, in the form of commissions, and the timeshare company, who apparently has amassed a fortune at our expense.  

Our timeshare sale began with deception. A mandatory update, which is not mandatory, stated it would last 30 minutes, but it was a sales presentation that lasted 4 hours. They didn’t care about my sightseeing tour plans ruined. There has never been a time when staying at a Westgate vacation resort that I have not been pressured by employees trying to sell or upgrade me to a pricier unit. Despite making loan payments every month plus maintenance fees, before you can even use the week, you have to undergo the pressure imposed by a Westgate employee, taking up one of your vacation days, trying to sell you something that you don’t want or need.

When I think about my Westgate experience these last five years, listening to sales agents making promises unfulfilled, having spent thousands of dollars, what I have is worth nothing. This has been a nightmare.

I have tried to contact Westgate to talk about my concerns. They strung me along for months and months saying they’d get back to me. Eventually, their paralegal wrote a generic cut and paste letter stating that I had signed a contract so that was that. This is the level of care Westgate shows its owners?

Their home is 90,000 Square feet?

Thank you to this Westgate owner, who wishes to remain anonymous, but has provided their contact information should others wish to contact them through Inside Timeshare. These are member accounts hoping to warn others to know that what they bought is probably worth nothing. The timeshare developer is always welcome to present their side of the argument.  

My question to timeshare developers is, how much is enough? Inside Timeshare has heard from 609 timeshare members and owners, many families financially devastated, alleging unfair and deceptive sales practices. Most signed off on high interest loans.

We thank timeshare members for submitting their experiences in the hope of warning those thinking about buying a timeshare, to be aware the purchase they are about to make can have devastating financial consequences.

What house, condo, boat or car would you buy that could not be resold? What would happen to the residential home market if buyers learned after their purchase, the “asset” they bought had no secondary market? It is not uncommon for Inside Timeshare to hear from timeshare buyers who paid $100,000 or more for a timeshare, easily the cost of a condo or home. Timeshares are hard enough to sell, but almost impossible with a loan attached. You can sell a house or a car with a loan, but not a timeshare.

You can rent the documentary “The Queen of Versailles” from Netflix, about the 90,000 square foot home being built in Orlando by Westgate owners David and Jackie Siegel. The documentary took Best Director at Sundance some years ago.

https://www.justwatch.com/us/movie/the-queen-of-versailles#

As a former stockbroker, I have no objection to great wealth, but given the Dashiell’s articles submitted last week and today’s article by a Westgate owner, I ask, “Wealth at what price?”

http://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-7/

I have heard from Carolyn Willis, a third Westgate buyer, whose timeshare went “Up in Smoke” also, angry beyond words.

 The Siegel’s 90,000 square foot house led to my timeshare advocacy efforts. I attended a pathetically aggressive timeshare sales presentation July 2015. When I returned to our unit, I turned on the television and happened to tune into Las Vegas attorney Bob Massi’s FOX show Property Man, featuring the Siegel house.  Disgusted with what I had just experienced, I wrote to Mr. Massi. About a month later the FOX producer called me and said they had received a flood of timeshare complaints. The producer said the segment was not even about timeshare, but about the Siegel’s palatial home. She said Mr. Massi is a friend of the Siegels. I was the only respondent invited to be interviewed by Mr. Massi. She said I was selected because I was the only respondent who said I wanted to talk about the positives of timeshare and not just the negatives.

 My house in Venice 1,770 square feet

Sometimes it takes a peasant revolt.

I described my timeshare presentation experience in fairytale format. My husband and I were in between homes, moving from Bowling Green, Kentucky to Venice, Florida. The comparison was irresistible, so I christened myself the peasant of Venice, as my LinkedIn profile describes.

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

Contact Inside Timeshare if you have a timeshare experience to share. We know there are many who use and enjoy their timeshare. They may not be aware that timeshares often have virtually no secondary market. Many reaching out to us only learned this when life circumstances prompted them to look into selling their timeshare.  Timeshare companies list the lack of a secondary market as a risk to shareholders in their annual reports. There is little empathy for the timeshare buyer who has spent thousands of dollars only to learn their timeshare is, by design, worth nothing. Greenhaven Capital Management touted the lack of a secondary market as a benefit for private equity investors. In a moment of anger, I wrote this mock interview after reading about Greenhaven, touting the timeshare stock BECAUSE of no secondary market. I find this shameful.  

My apologies to British comedians Bird and Fortune

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

Do not pay anyone money upfront to get out of a timeshare without checking with Inside Timeshare or one of these self-help groups. You will find straight answers at no cost on these sites.

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/

That’s it for this week, remember if you have been contacted by any company with a story that your timeshare company or club has been taken to court and there is money waiting for you, it will be a scam. If you need any help in checking the validity of any company that contacts you or one that you have found on the internet or advert, then use our contact page and we will point you in the right direction.

Have a great weekend and join us again next week.

The Tuesday Slot

Welcome to The Tuesday Slot, this week we welcome another new contributor Wilma Miller with her “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” and her Buyer Beware article. First we have a quick round up of European news.

October is now with us and in the next few months the annual maintenance bills will be arriving, this will also bring in many calls from “companies” offering cancellation of contracts and claims against timeshare resorts. The warning is beware the fantastic offers these will come out with, from the guaranteed cancellation and the promise of no win no fee claims.

As usual it is important to do your due diligence before engaging with any company, that means check and check again. There are many questions you should be asking yourself:

  1. How long has this company been operating, can they actually have done what they state in the time they have been working?
  2. If they are offering “no win no fee” claims, how are they going to claim?
  3. In order to do the claim do they want money upfront to cancel the contract first?
  4. Are they going to sell you another product?
  5. What lawyers are they going to use if taking the case to a Spanish Court?
  6. Can these lawyers be verified as genuine and registered with their relevant bar associations?

If you need help in answering any of these questions, then use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will point you in the right direction.

The Courts of First Instance in Maspalomas began the month with another ruling against Anfi, in his ruling the Judge of Court No 4 declared the contract null and void, this was on the basis that the contract was longer than the stipulated maximum of 50 years as required by Law 42/98. The judge also awarded double the deposit paid within the cooling off period as this is also in breach of the law, in this case the German client has been award over 66,000€ plus legal interest.

Right click on image and select open in new tab to enlarge

Last month ended with a bang for Canarian Legal Alliance with a total of 18 sentences being issued in various courts ranging from First Instance to High Courts, there were also 6 provisional executions of sentences whereby Anfi has been ordered to deposit  over 184,000€ with the court. These provisional executions of sentences will speed up and ensure prompt payouts for the clients.

In all the 12 other sentences were against:

All contracts were declared null and void and the total awarded was over 286,000€

It would also appear that Abogados Lopez another fake law firm has become active again, with calls to existing CLA clients telling them that they have taken over their case from CLA. Beverley Pritchard is another new new name along with Ricardo Sanchez.

http://insidetimeshare.com/news-on-wednesday-more-warnings/

The telephone numbers being used are the same as before:

0034 951 242 867 which is a Malaga code

0034 602 654 670 which is a Spanish mobile

0044 1291 440 500 which is a Chepstow code, although when trying to call this number back a recording states the number does not exist.

If you are an existing client of Canarian Legal Alliance and receive a call from any of the names or numbers above including the original name of Hope Brugge, do not pay them or give them any information, they may sound credible, but are a complete scam.

Now for our Tuesday Slot.

A Buyer Beware Timeshare Experience

Diamond Resorts

By Wilma Miller

October 2, 2018

We first encountered Diamond Resorts while on vacation June 2017. Their people knocked us off our feet with free tickets to a show, and switched us from the Stratosphere to Diamond’s Polo Towers Suites. They even picked us up in a limousine! All we had to do was attend a 90 minute presentation. It’s easy to catch people off guard while on vacation.

Looking back, I believe the presentation room was designed to be noisy and crowded. The 90 minutes turned into hours. I am 78 and my husband James, a Vietnam Army veteran, is 75. As the hours wore on we became more tired and more confused. The presentation began about 11 a.m. and lasted all day.

James has health issues. He was not feeling well after several hours had passed, but the sales agents just kept on. It did not even register when we mentioned his health issues. Sales agents Ninmar N and Diana C were vague on how the program worked. They were vague on the cancellation procedure, and the payment procedure. We felt pressured into signing and we were not allowed enough time to read the documents. They showed us the documents as they explained what was in them, but did not give us a chance to actually hold or read them before we signed. They hurried us through the signing process by placing papers in front of us, telling us what it said, asking us to sign. We later received a copy.

They had said we were eligible for a senior package. We’ve learned there is no such thing called a senior package. We did not know the maintenance fees would be so high. We did not even know we had purchased a timeshare. Jim kept asking if this was a timeshare. They never admitted it was.

We bought 3000 points. They charged $14,000 to two Diamond’s Barclaycard. We were not aware we had opened the cards, much less that the cards had been charged. We repeatedly told the sales agents we were not interested, but they kept insisting we sign the contract.

After the signing process, they placed the Diamond Resorts U.S. Collection Public Offering Statement in our packet. We were not given an opportunity to even see what it was, much less read it. They said no one ever reads it. When we looked at it later it said right on the front – THE PROSPECTIVE PURCHASER SHOULD READ THIS REPORT BEFORE SIGNING ANY PAPERS!

In our opinion, the biggest deception of all was when they told us the payment would be $80 per month with no interest and Diamond Resorts would invoice us for the payment. This is in complete contrast to what has since transpired. Instead of one payment of $80, there are two payments, making it double the price they told us.

We received two Diamond Barclays Bank Credit Cards in the mail. As I mentioned, we were not even aware the cards had been opened. One Barclaycard was in my name and the other in James’ name. Neither agent mentioned credit cards during the presentation. They said we had to fill out an application to see if we would qualify. We never received a copy of the application.

To add insult to injury, the credit cards had no interest charges until now. Now the two payments are too much for us to afford.

After we received the high maintenance fee bill and credit cards, we went back for our orientation August 2017. We told them several times that we wanted to cancel or sell the timeshare. We said we wanted out.  When we told one person, they would get another person to talk to us. They tried to sell us an upgrade even when we said we could not afford what we bought! We talked to several sales people, but they ignored our concerns. It was obvious to us they did not care.  We never saw our original sales agents. Despite being told it was an orientation, we received no training or explanations.

We complained to Diamond Resorts directly. They dismissed our claims out of hand. They expect us to pay for something based on being told:

  • This was a great financial investment that would increase in value,
  • There were tax benefits as owners,
  • We could easily sell it,
  • Diamond had a buy-back program but recommended we never use it because we would lose all our points,
  • We would have a personal representative or coordinator assigned to us. They said this several times.  We never heard from anyone, much less a personal representative or coordinator.

They did not tell us:

  • How much vacation time we would get. We kept asking the sales agents but never received an answer. They bypassed every question.
  • We received 3000 points, but when we asked how we could use them, they gave us a confusing run around.
  • When we asked about maintenance fees and other fees, they avoided answering our questions by changing the subject.

We have sent a letter saying we cannot and will not make payments. We received a lot of collection calls. We sent a letter asking that the calls be stopped. They did stop. We had a high credit score before this. We stopped making payments around March. We received a form saying they would settle for a lower amount. They were talking about the Barclaycard.  

James has been diagnosed with cancer. It’s hard enough growing older without having to go through this. How many seniors will be harmed and harassed before lawmakers and Nevada regulators do something to stop this?  We fear it will never stop, so the best we can do is write about our experience, hoping it will help others.

When I submitted this article to Inside Timeshare, I was told about this member sponsored Diamond Resorts Members’ Facebook page. I wish I knew about this Facebook before we got ourselves into this. It’s been a disaster.

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

This article was written and submitted by Wilma Miller. We invite Diamond Resorts and Barclays to respond. We publish member accounts, good and bad, in an effort to warn the general public to know what they are signing and what they are buying.

That’s it for today, remember to do your homework before engaging with any company that has contacted you or one that you have found on the internet. It must also be pointed out that just because a company advertises in a prestigious publication, the radio or the TV, this does not mean they are genuine, these are sold advertising spaces, the marketing companies that sell them do not check on the authenticity of the company advertising. They will also publish a disclaimer, that they are not responsible for the content or authenticity of the advertiser.

If in doubt, use our contact page and we will be pleased to help you with your checks.