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End of Month

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End of August Roundup

Considering August is usually a quiet month with all the holidays, Inside Timeshare has had quite a run on articles. We began August with news on the Tauro Beach Project entitled “Tauro Beach: In the UK News”.

This followed the publication of a story in The Guardian, a UK newspaper, on the importation of the sand used to build the beach, from Western Sahara. The article by Anders Lundqvist and Rowan Bauer, two independent journalists who investigated the possible illegal importation of the sand.

They explained that if this sand did originate from the Western Sahara, which it most certainly looks like, it was against UN Resolutions and rulings from the European Court of Justice. In their article they quote the head of SEPRONA in Gran Canaria, Lt Germán Garciá who stated “The sand was brought illegally, it was discharged with no control at all,” we know this has caused concern among environmentalist on the Island, as there is a protected area just 300 meters off the beach.

gc-seprona

For the full story follow the links at the end of this article.

The following day we published the Mid Week Report, this started with the news that TATOC had truly gone as their website is no longer accessible. It was then followed with a link to The Canary News, an English language newspaper based in Gran Canaria. The Canary News article by Ed Timon, the editor, gave a very good insight into the history of Western Sahara, which was the subject of the previous article.. (Again see links below).

We also published the first article of the month from Irene Parker, from our US branch, this was to do with a lawsuit in the US by Welk Resorts against Timeshare Exit Team. This is the first in a series of articles highlighting lawsuits by timeshare developers against resale / exit companies and law firms.

Loyalty: No Such Thing in Timeshare was the title of the next article. This highlighted Timeshare Compensation’s blog on Silverpoint now known as Signallia. In this blog Timeshare Compensation warns its readers of the “dodgy” past of this company, which was very surprising indeed as the owner of Timeshare Compensation, Mark Rowe, is an ex-senior sales manager of Silverpoint and thereby employee of Robert “Bob” Trotta, as well as colleague of the CEO Mark Cushway. Told you there were some strange things in the world of timeshare!

loyalty1

In our first Friday’s Letter from America for the month, we published the article by Eron Grant, this covered the question of why does ARDA have a code of ethics? One question we have also asked of the RDO.

Once again that family of fake law firms in Tenerife came up, yes you know the ones, Litigious Abogados.

Another new contributor from the US made her debut, Bonita Hill. Her article was on the question of Diamond’s Clarity Programme, regarding the Oral Representation Clause. This was launched in response to an Assurance of Discontinuance issued by Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich. Diamond has stated they intend to go beyond the requirements of the AOD.

We then published “Truth, What is Truth?” This was in response to readers enquiries about Anfi denying losing any court cases. This has caused confusion among members, after all these cases have been publicised in the press, yet Anfi tell everyone it is not true! So who do you believe?

In the next Friday’s Letter from America, we published Part 4 “Our DRI Misadventures” by David Franks. He Joined our team of writers from the US, some months ago and has given us a great deal of fun. He certainly has a style of his own and is a welcome member to the team.

We then started our “Hug Your Haters! A Customer Service Message” by Irene Parker, this is based on the book Hug Your Haters by Jay Baer. He is to be a keynote speaker at the Interval International Shared Ownership Conference to be held at the Miami Beach Eden Roc Hotel October 23 – 25. Mr. Baer has advised more than 700 companies including The United Nations and 32 Fortune 500 companies.

Next came the news of a story we published last year, it involved The Manhattan Club in New York. The NY AG Eric T Schneiderman had suspended all sales at the club back in July 2014, this followed many complaints of deceitful practises. The case is now finally over, with a settlement of $6.5 million, also the owners are being forced to sell and have been barred from participating in the timeshare industry. Well done Eric, one for the consumer!

Attorny_General_Eric_T_Schneiderman
NY AG Eric T Schneiderman

Once again Karen Garello from our Timeshare Advocacy, contributed another “Secret Shopper Report”. In this article, Karen gives sound advice on the questions you should ask when going on a sales presentation. Following her advice could save a lot of problems in the future.

It was back to Europe for our next piece, this was titled “ Timeshare In the Press”. This was actually very timely as it followed on from the Truth What is Truth article, it was based on the article in the Spanish paper El Diario. It highlighted the Supreme Court rulings, mainly against the Tenerife company Silverpoint, who just like Anfi deny any cases going to court or being lost.

It also included the article published in The Canary News, based on the one from the paper La Provincia, this began with a recap of the groundbreaking first Supreme Court ruling back in March 2015. Again throwing out the claims of the timeshare industry that these are all fictitious cases.

There followed a couple more articles by Irene Parker and a Timeshare Advocate. The first highlighted the  lawsuits between developers and law firms, the second was an open letter to the timeshare industry. Whether they take any notice is another thing.

In The Monday Briefing, we again focused on the Litigious Abogados family, giving a recap on how they operate their rather sophisticated scam, but also some sound advice which if followed will protect you from becoming one of their victims.

In the same article we welcomed and wished all the best to a new forum for timeshare owners, Timeshare Users Forum. This has been set up by disgruntled members of Timeshare Talk, a previously independent forum. We won’t go into detail here, but you can read the full article.

The last article for August was Part II of Hug Your Haters: A Customer Service Message.

So that is it for August, tomorrow we don’t cross the great lake to the US, we go to the land down under, for another Letter from Australia, contributed by Justin Morgan, on the role of private equity and the secondary market in timeshare. Do join us and bring your didgeridoo!

didgeridoo

Links to some of this month’s articles.

http://insidetimeshare.com/tauro-beach-uk-news/

http://insidetimeshare.com/tauro-beach-latest-development/

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/28/trouble-in-paradise-the-canary-island-beach-accused-of-illegally-importing-sand?CMP=share_btn_fb

http://insidetimeshare.com/loyalty-no-thing-timeshare/

http://insidetimeshare.com/truth-what-is-truth/

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-15/

http://insidetimeshare.com/manhattan-club-6-5-million-settlement/

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-16/

http://insidetimeshare.com/timeshare-in-the-press/

http://insidetimeshare.com/legal-news-us-castle-law-group-pc-v-timeshare-developers/

 

thoughts

My Thoughts Today: End of January

We began January with an update on “bogus” law firms Litigious Abogados and Litigar Abogados, with the addition of a third firm called Abogacia Española, with the founder being Fernando Holaci. All three websites are the same except for minor alterations such as colour and the names of the founder and the lawyers.

The method of enticing timeshare owners to pay is also very sophisticated, with fake court documents, copies of compensation cheques and official looking documents from the so-called Procurator, Davido Harstun Jaime.

LIT

They begin by sending or calling prospective clients about the court case they are about to conduct against their timeshare company, that they are eligible to participate. In order to be registered on the coming court case, a sum of around 1,500€ is required. This has to be paid quickly as the case is due to be heard within the month.

Once this sum is paid, the client receives another email with the fantastic news that their case has been won, with the court awarding many thousands back to them. All this is done within weeks, a feat not seen in a Spanish court or any other court for that matter. Now comes the main part of the “sting”, in order to get this sum paid out court taxes etc need to be paid first, the amount varies from client to client depending on the court award. But they are in the region of £4000 to £8000. For further information see the link below or search Litigious Abogados in the search area for all the posts.

http://insidetimeshare.com/litigious-abogados-plot-thickens/

Another article published was around a Credits based lifestyle company which popped up on our radar called Keys Concierge. The reason for this article was very simple, it is the link between the director of Keys Concierge, Mr Franz Markus Deutsch and the CEO of Silverpoint / Resort Properties, Mr Mark Cushway.

The company became active in August 2015 and has a credits based system to purchase goods and services. Credits are also “earned” with each purchase and shows substantial discounts on holidays and products. So far there has been no other information come to light.

http://insidetimeshare.com/keys-concierge-another-credits-based-lifestyle-company/

Inside Timeshare with Irene, also broke the news of a settlement between the Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich and Diamond for $800,000 which revolved around “Allegations of Consumer Fraud Act Violations”. This is a story that we have been following all month. (see following articles).

arizona-ag-seal

After the “Breaking News” of the settlement, a joint article by Charles and Irene on the role and use of OPC´s in the timeshare sales cycle. It began with an outline on what regulations various countries in Europe have on controlling how these “scratchcard touts” operate. Going on to explain how they work in the US, with Irene laying out the information they are after. She also spoke about an OPC that she knows personally. It was an insight into how you ended up on the presentation.

This was followed by more Litigious Abogados updates and the article “Thinking of Buying a Timeshare”. It was closely related to the previous article on OPC´s as it explained how the scratchcards work, then going on to ask “Is it worth buying one”?

It came to the conclusion that it depends on what you are after, it also weighed up whether to buy from the developer or a resale. There was also a link to Mike Finn of the Finn Law Group, who also gave some very sound advice.

Again we went across The Great Lake for more news from the US,

http://insidetimeshare.com/timeshare-news-across-atlantic/

In this article Irene gave her analysis of the importance of the Arizona Attorney General’s settlement with Diamond. Irene told the story of the nightmare suffered by Irina Allen and her purchases, along with the fact she had her membership suspended on false allegations of being a “mega renter” with an AirBnB account. She had even been advised by a sales rep to buy more points as renting will help pay the maintenance.

Another article we published was on the subject of plagiarism, this was prompted by posts appearing on the TCA website which more than resembled articles written by myself and Irene. Any author will recognise their own writing style and use of words. Especially as the grammar used by the TCA writers is to say the least very poor.

But, the main point was the use of information not just from Inside Timeshare but also from Canarian Legal Alliance. In all the posts on the TCA site, no mention or accreditation to where  this information had come from. It all appeared  the TCA was taking credit for the information and the Supreme Court victories achieved by CLA. Whenever Inside Timeshare publishes any article that uses information or news from another source, that source is always credited for it. That is the basic rule of any journalist or writer.

http://insidetimeshare.com/tca-using-others-work/

plagiarism

The next article on US timeshare had a very happy ending, back in November Irene explained that Wyndham had launched “The Ovation” surrender programme. After receiving this news Inside Timeshare contacted one of our readers, Steve, who owned at Wyndham. Due to his personal circumstances he wanted to surrender his ownership, he did not have a claim, so relinquishment was the only option.

It was explained to Steve about the Ovation news and he duly contacted them to surrender his ownership. Within two months he got the news that they had indeed accepted his surrender request. Since then Diamond have also accepted the surrender of his European membership, although due to his statement of events at the point of sale, Diamond are investigating and we hope to report on that in the near future.

http://insidetimeshare.com/wyndhams-ovation-surrender-program-latest-news/

On the day President Trump was inaugurated Inside Timeshare along with Irene published the question “Attorneys General and Timeshare under Trump”. The article explained how the business and politics are linked, including the role of the “lobbyist”.

This was a subject being asked by many owners of timeshare in the US and only time will tell what effect his presidency will have on them.

http://insidetimeshare.com/attorneys-general-timeshare-trump/

In the article “And So it Begins”, it followed Irene being banned from the Diamond Resorts International Members facebook page. The reason, a few thought her posts and links to our articles were political, Inside Timeshare posed the question “what is not political nowadays”?

The real reason of her ban is simple, she asks questions about Diamond, she writes about Diamond, she questions Diamond, she questions the practices of the sales reps, but she also has dialogue with Diamond. She brings to their attention the concerns of thousands of members, she has also had statements from senior Diamond employees which she has used in her articles.

In her following article she called for advocacy in timeshare, highlighting Diamond creating an Advocacy Department, even contacting Maya Pogoda, Diamonds Public Relations Representative, who is also helping to launch the Diamond Advocacy and Clarity programme. But to some on the facebook page she was attacking Diamond, when in reality she and Inside Timeshare are calling for dialogue. Yes we do highlight the ugly, but we also highlight the good.

In another twist to this tale, two more people have been banned from this group, the reason? They have been highlighted in articles by Irene and published on Inside Timeshare, They are Irina Allen and the Saldana family. Do those calling for a ban who are the administrators believe in two sides to a story or are they only interested in promoting their own ego´s, one openly boasts how he owns so many points yet has never actually paid for them, one wonders how he got them? You know who you are and Inside Timeshare awaits your response.

http://insidetimeshare.com/timeshare-advocacy/

CLA Logo

Back to Europe, Canarian Legal Alliance has been hitting the news again, published on the 26 January, was the news of two Supreme Court rulings against Silverpoint / Resort Properties. In the first judgement the court announced that the Club Paradiso product was indeed timeshare and fell under the relevant laws, they also concluded that the client in this case was a consumer not an investor as Silverpoint claimed. This has significant implications for other “Club” schemes operated by other companies.

This case was picked up by The Northern Echo follow the link:

http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/15045851.Woman_wins_a_landmark_legal_ruling_on_timeshares/?ref=rl&lp=2

Within days there were another two verdicts delivered by the highest court in Spain, again against Silverpoint. In the fourth ruling, the court reiterated the earlier verdict that the “Club” scheme was timeshare, this was in relation to Hollywood Mirage and Beverly Hills Club Vacation package. Now if memory serves me correctly the second ruling on “Club” schemes now puts that into jurisprudence.

 

In the last article this month, Irene gave her views on Diamond’s Clarity programme, she had an interview with Maya Pogoda the Diamond PR and also had comments from Executive Vice President, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Michael Flaskey. Now if this isn’t creating a dialogue, well I don’t know what is!

This will be followed next month by Part II: How Owners Feel About Clarity.

We have also been informed of a major news item that is just breaking, we hope to have an article on this tomorrow, Irene is busy on it now. But we must remember she is several hours behind us, so watch this space.

Inside Timeshare publishes these articles to keep you informed of the latest news, developments and views in the world of timeshare. Much of it you would never hear about, especially as many forums will remove posts the administrators don’t like. We will continue to publish even if it is controversial, that is what we believe in, the freedom to question, criticise and comment.

Inside Timeshare would like to thank all those who have contributed to articles this month, either through information or comments, without you the stories would not be there.

great quote

 

thoughts

My Thoughts Today: End of November

Yes, it is that time again, the end of another month and what a month it has been. Canarian Legal Alliance has now had 36 Supreme Court rulings in favour of their clients, the latest was on 28 November.

In the latest ruling, again against Anfi, the British clients will receive £22,940 plus legal interest and legal fees, with their contract being declared null and void. Once again the Supreme Court reiterated their previous judgements that floating weeks are illegal.

This latest ruling comes just 4 days after the Supreme Court ruled against Palm Oasis /Tasolan, again the ruling was about floating weeks. In this case the Norwegian clients have been awarded 8,810€ plus legal interest and legal fees. Their contract was also declared null and void.

It does make you wonder why these companies are taking these cases, which have already been ruled over at the lower courts, all the way to the Supreme Court?

We know that Anfi, the RDO and others, still believe that the courts have got it wrong, but after 36 rulings in favour of clients, one has think are they just trying to delay?

It has to be pointed out that these rulings cannot be changed, the Supreme Court has unanimously found in favour of the consumer on each case, with lower courts now using them in their deliberations.

Tribunal-Supremo

We have even seen this month the High Court Number 4 in Malaga using these judgements in the case against Leisure Group Ltd. In this case the CLA client has been awarded 12,390€ plus legal interest and legal fees. Their contract has also been declared null and void.

Canarian Legal Alliance has now spread its wings from the Canary Islands and over to the mainland. They have had success in the past at the courts in Fuengirola and also in Barcelona, this latest case in Malaga just goes to prove that any contract sold that is illegal will be ruled against no matter where. CLA are certainly becoming a force to be reckoned with.

We have again this month published articles on the changing face of the TCA, it must also be pointed out that several readers have also noticed that articles published here, are several days later appearing on the TCA website. The content has been juggled around a little, but it can be clearly seen from the style of writing where they did originate.

Inside Timeshare is to be honest, quite flattered that they are using our articles, the only problem is one of acknowledgement. When using articles written or published by someone else, it is normal practise to state where this came from citing the source and usually providing a link.

In another piece regarding the TCA, we published the article on incorrect information, this concerned their post on cold calling. In this they stated that “Cold calling in the UK is illegal as it is considered a breach of privacy”. As we showed in the article, cold calling is not illegal, but there are some very important a rules regarding how it is done. These were published along with a link to the Information Commissioner’s website for the full regulations. (see link below)

https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-pecr/electronic-and-telephone-marketing/telephone-marketing/

data-protect

We also highlighted a problem regarding owners data, in this article and the follow up, we looked at the battle going on between the resorts / developers and owners, as to who controls / owns this data.

One of our readers, Edward, wrote part of the first article, here he showed how his resorts community of owners have been trying to use the members database to contact and inform owners of changes at the club. Even the Spanish Data Protection Agency believe that it belongs to the owners and the resorts / developers are only users and custodians of this information.

We all know that lists of members are sold on to others, as we stated in both articles, even Diamond have acknowledged employees and ex-employees have taken data and sold it on. We even explained that for many on the sales staff, keeping records of clients is like an insurance policy, to be used when they no longer have a job. Remember data is a commodity, it can and will be sold, it has yet to be proven if any of this data has been misused by owners committees, that I very much doubt.

Irene also published many articles this month, one was just after the presidential election, this was titled “Dialogue: The Way Forward”.

In this piece she explained how the divisiveness of the election equates to that in the world of timeshare, owners Vs resorts / developers. In the article we address the problem and the only solution, “Dialogue”. The need to work together to ensure that owners and the industry benefit, it is a long shot but somewhere along the line there must be a coming together, if not there will no longer be an industry.

In the article “Illness: Is not a Reason to Surrender your Timeshare” myself and Irene highlighted a very huge problem, that of the elderly and sick. This is a problem for owners on both sides of the great lake, we have seen this with the ongoing story of Mrs B and MacDonald Resorts. Owners unable to use or travel due to illness yet still paying maintenance and being unable to surrender their membership. In some cases they can, but the financial penalty is quite often a huge one, for instance, MacDonald Resorts want 4 years worth of maintenance, but this is not guaranteed, it is if they “allow” you out. (see link below regarding MacDonalds)

http://insidetimeshare.com/macdonald-resorts-reasonable-recompense-relinquishing/

Tauro Beach also came into the news again this week, with the announcement that the Canarian Government was revoking the concession awarded to Anfi Group for the Tauro Beach Project. This follows the prosecution of the former head of the Coastal Authority, the investigation into the Mayor of Mogan over the permissions and licenses given for the project. This will obviously cost Anfi a fortune, not just what they have already spent on it, but the cost of repairing the damage caused. The question is now who will foot the bill, the company or the members with increased maintenance?

Playa-Anfi-Tauro-Canarias-Ahora_EDIIMA20160716_0223_18

So, that is November, it now remains to be seen what happens in December. Although with the Christmas and new year period, it will be a rather quiet month. Inside Timeshare would like to thank Irene and all the other contributors to the articles published this month. These contributions help to make Inside Timeshare more balanced, they also provide a great source of information which might just get missed.

If you require any information on any article published, or you have something we have missed, Inside Timeshare would love to hear from you. If you have a story you would like to share, contact us and we will work with you to publish it.

thoughts

My Thought Today: End of October

So here we are the end of another month, we started October with news of a Supreme Court ruling which stated that “Fractional” was indeed timeshare. In this instance Puerto Calma, Holiday Club Finland was ordered to repay over £235,542.00 as they had sold it as an investment.

Then Inside Timeshare reported the news of the first prosecution in the ongoing Anfi Tauro Beach Project.  The former head of the Canarian Coastal Authority José Maria Hernandez has been charged with administrative malfeasance (wrongdoing in public office) and forgery of official documents. The prosecutor Javier Ródenas considers that Hernandez verbally authorised the works despite warnings of serious breaches then committed an act of forgery by drafting a document which was then signed by him in April. This document gave the impression that it was written in February when the work actually commenced.

Local residents build defences to protect their homes

We then published an article from Gran Canaria Info which explained recent developments into the goings on at Anfi.

http://gran-canaria-info.com/content/timeshare-law/anfi-del-mar-and-the-future-of-gran-canaria-timeshare-in-2017

This online publication is a great source of information to the expat community and visitors in Gran Canaria, it often publishes in English, news from the Spanish press.

letter from america

Moving on from timeshare matters in Europe we published a piece by Greg Crist, the CEO of NTOA (National Timeshare Owners Association) in the USA. He explained about a timeshare donation scheme which had recently been slammed by a US Federal Judge. In this scheme, owners donated their timeshares, which were valued at high amounts and then received tax relief as charitable donations. The scheme has cost the tax man around $19.4 million.

http://insidetimeshare.com/u-s-federal-judge-slams-timeshare-donation-scheme/

Greg again sent over information on what was happening across the pond, with the article about combating fraud. It was very much a month of information from the USA with articles from the Orlando Sentinel and Irene Parker on Marriott facing charges of “Racketeering”.

Irene Parker submitted another article, this time on how Barclaycards are being issued by timeshare sales staff. Irene was comparing this to the scandal of finance being arranged by sales staff in Europe without the normal due diligence being carried out. We finished the US theme with Irene´s article on timeshare and politics and how it is split between the two political camps.

The Anfi Tauro Beach project again hit the headlines with the news that the current Mayor of Mogan, Onalia Bueno has been place under investigation for licences and permissions for the project. This followed on from the first prosecution and is still underway.

Also published was an article on Trustees in the timeshare industry and whether they are independent or not. This article was prompted by several enquiries from readers, with some of the content supplied by them. legal clipart

So to finish the month, Canarian Legal Alliance announced another two Supreme Court victories on behalf of their clients. In the first to be announced on 26 October, their client will receive 11,806€ and their contract declared null and void. Again the court reaffirmed its position that floating weeks are illegal, this case was against Anfi.

In the second announcement made on Thursday 27 October,another Supreme Court ruling, again against Anfi. In this ruling the client has been awarded 19,000€ and again the judgement was about floating weeks. The contract was also declared null and void. This now brings the total of rulings from the Supreme Court in respect of timeshare contracts to a staggering 27, with more still waiting to be heard, so there is more of this to come.

Just as we were about to publish news came in of yet another victory at the Supreme Court in Madrid, this brings the total number of rulings from the highest court in Spain to a phenomenal 28, you can’t argue that this particular law firm is not doing what is says.

The latest ruling this time involves another resort, Palm Oasis / Tasolan, the court ruled the client was not provided with all the information required by law, this resulted in the court ruling that the contract was flawed. In this instance the contract was declared null & void with the client being awarded 10,608€ plus legal interest. It would seem the courts in Spain at least, are on the side of the consumer, it only now needs other countries to follow that example.

It now remains to see what November will bring, if it is like this month it certainly will keep Inside Timeshare Busy. Have a good Halloween night and enjoy the party.

haloween