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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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”.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Diamond Resorts International: Share Price Falling.

On the 22nd January 2016 The New York Times ( by Gretchen Morgenson) published an article about Diamond Resorts International. Following this article the Share Price plummeted by around 15% on the New York Stock Exchange. So what prompted this plunge?

 

The article highlighted the high pressure sales tactics that Diamond sales staff employ at their sales presentations. A lady called Mrs Mary Ann Gutierrez aged 77, who had been an owner at Lake Tahoe California for around 25 years, visited one of the timeshare units she owns. While checking in she was given a $100 gift voucher to attend a presentation. She was then subjected to 5 hours of hard sell. Before this happened she had to fill out various forms including her credit card details.

 

The pressure she felt was enormous, but she did not give in, eventually the sales staff gave up trying. The next shock came a little later, a Diamond representative gave her a voided credit card voucher for $4,840. This sum had been deducted from her card without her permission, the Diamond sales staff felt that confident she would purchase, they put the transaction through before the end of the meeting.

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This was not the only case The New York Times Highlighted. (See link below)

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/24/business/diamond-resorts-accused-of-using-hard-sell-to-push-time-shares.html?_r=0

 

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, is looking very closely at the timeshare industry in the US, and many are calling for tighter regulation and controls. It may be that as in Europe self regulation does not work. Is it time for outside control of this industry?

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What is a Flybuy?

Have you had a call offering a cheap holiday at a quality resort?

Did it sound tempting?

Did you think it was too good to be true?

Was it one you found on the internet?
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The chances are it was a promotional holiday run by lead generating companies. These are what are known as “Flybuys”. The whole point is to provide another company such as a holiday club or timeshare with potential customers.

 

In order to qualify for this amazing offer you have to meet certain criteria, be between certain ages, have full time employment, have a certain income and also be either married at least 3 years or been a couple for this time.

 

The terms and conditions which if you actually read them are rather interesting. I have read three from different sites and they are worded almost the same, as if it is the same person writing them. As many of these companies are linked this may be true. Failure to comply with any of these terms and condition could result in the loss of the accommodation or incur severe charges.

 

Another condition is that you must attend a some kind of meeting. Obviously a “Sales Presentation”. Kate Palmer of the Telegraph did a piece about this in March 2015. (see link below).

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/money-saving-tips/11496625/Return-of-the-timeshare-The-bargain-holiday-where-you-cant-leave-the-hotel.html

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These holiday offers are nothing new, Timelinx used this offer with calls to owners of timeshare, offering Bonus Weeks. Once the offer had been taken the unsuspecting owners were then pitched for the DWVC Club, with them taking the timeshare off their hands and issued with the Cashback Certificate. We all know what happened next. The cashback certificate was worthless, you then found out a few years later on receiving a maintenance bill that the timeshare was never transferred. those  great deals you were shown were never there as the small print said “Subject to availability”.

 

The other company using this idea was Club Class, they used the same tactics of Cashback  great discounts and being rid of your Timeshare.

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“TIMESHARE” A Dirty Word For Many.

Why does the word Timeshare have such a negative meaning among many people? After all the concept is actually a very sound one, especially in the early days. It gave people a guarantee of high standard resorts, the feeling that you were part of an exclusive club and for many it felt that it was the holiday home they always dreamed about.

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So what changed?

 

During the 1980´s and 90´s which was a boom time for the industry, it was not very well regulated. It was full of what can be described as dubious practices and people. Many of the companies involved especially in Tenerife and Southern Spain had what you might say criminal connections.

 

The industry was policed in the same way as the mafia families in the USA, controlled their various activities. Using some very nasty tactics against rivals. This is not speculation or made up, many times over the years have there been articles in the press and on the news of murders and beatings of rivals.

 

The industry controlled the sales people and the OPC´s (Scratch card touts) with the use of security commonly known as “Clumpers”. These “Security” staff would ensure no one would work on their patch, using various means like clumping, hence the name. Anyone breaking the rules would be on the receiving end of a baseball bat at the very least.

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FRAUD WARNING

I have spoken to a gentleman today who has received a strange call. He was informed that the Courts in Malaga had dealt with a case involving a resale company he dealt with around 15 years ago, which he lost a considerable amount of money and his timeshare.

In this call the person gave the name James Hodkins along with the telephone number  0034603152281 which is a Spanish Mobile. He told the gentleman that the court had a considerable payout waiting for him and that a tax had to be paid before the money could be released.

Shortly after he received yet another call from Anthony West, who claimed he was from Customs & Excise in London. The number given was 0845 9615544 the code is UK but the 961 belongs to the Valencia area. In this call it appeared to back up the previous call that money was in fact being held.

Thankfully the gentleman in question thought that something was amiss and contacted me for clarification. He has reported this to Action Fraud and has the crime number if they call again. He is also passing on the telephone number to the police to trace. In Spain to buy a mobile a passport or ID card has to be shown as all phones are registered. Hopefully they will be traced and put out of action.

Remember if you have been taken in the past, the chances are this could well happen to you. The courts do not operate in this way.

If you have any information similar please let us know so we can publish it to warn other. If you need any advice contact us through our comments section.

Want to Sell Your Timeshare?

How do I sell my timeshare? The answer to this is with great difficulty, there are many companies out there who say they can sell it for you or have buyers waiting. Some are genuine some are not.

for sale

If you think about it, timeshare is losing its appeal, resorts and developers are not making the sales like they did in the past. The number of sales staff and sales decks are dwindling, the guys on the streets with scratch cards are also disappearing, they are not as visible as they once were. Yes it is safer to walk the streets while on holiday without being trapped by them.

 

So if the big companies can´t sell them because no one wants it, how can these resale companies sell them? Go on to their web sites and see how many are up for sale, literally hundreds. Google timeshares for sale and see the number of companies listed, the best one to look at is ebay.co.uk

 

Just today the timeshares for mainland Spain is 34, all varying in price. Mostly what the owners perceive to be the value of their so called investment. After all the original sales pitch was “you are buying property and it goes up in value”. One is being offered for £2.99, another has a bid for only 25 pence. Yet another has 2 people watching, the others not a single bid or offer.

 

For Tenerife there are 23 listed with a Club la Costa  holiday voucher for only 10p. Another for 99p, and again only one with anybody watching. There is even one for a Marriot Timeshare in Florida for £1. The chances are the ones that are being watched are interesting those who already own at that particular resort and see them as a bargain. So why are these not selling or being given away? The answer is simple THE MAINTENANCE FEES.

 

If you decide to go down the resale company route beware, it is illegal to ask for any upfront fees. Some companies will get round this by quoting it as a marketing cost to put your timeshare on a higher profile on their web site. Others say it is a guarantee in case you pull out or do not complete the paperwork transaction. Unfortunately it may even be with them for a year and never sell.

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Quite often what happens next is the corporate buyer pitch, this is usually where you end up going to a meeting and being pitched for another product. The point of you selling is to be free, not becoming involved with another type of club which may or may not work, or even be genuine. So you are stuck between a rock and a hard place.

 

Whatever you decide keep your expectations low regarding the price, remember timeshares or not worth the value that most people think they are. Think about other options such as relinquishing, there is always a charge for this service, the matter is how much. Many resorts will do this but they may be very expensive charging several years maintenance.  Do your homework and due diligence before committing to a company, the information is out there.
If you require any information about a company you intend doing business with and want help in finding this information, contact us and we will help you free of charge.

Is It Resale?

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On 9th March 2016 the TCA posted a piece by Harriet Cooke of The Sun newspaper, her article from February 2016 was about Sell My Timeshare, a resale website. In the article it stated that 2,250 timeshares had been sold or cancelled by them in 2015.

 

This to me seems very odd, as many people I have spoken to in the past have informed me that they had contacted this company when trying to rid themselves of their timeshares. What then has happened is a meeting has been set up with Glenmore Consultants at one of their offices; Bournemouth, York or Stratford upon Avon.

 

At this meeting the client is then pitched to purchase Monster Credits in order to be rid of their timeshare. These credits can then be used for future holidays, with no time limit, some have even been told they are able to sell the unused credits for a small profit.

 

So in order to be rid of the timeshare the client pays Monster Travel a hefty sum of money in return for credits. This is not a timeshare resale. It reminds me of the ILG DWVC and Club Class meetings.

 

Monster Travel is a registered business, it is part of Hollywood Marketing SLU based in Tenerife. Although according to their web site, from the 3rd March 2016 they have been renamed Monster Group (Travel) SLU.
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