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letter from canada

Friday’s Letter From Canada

Welcome to the first Friday’s Letter From Canada, Inside Timeshare is pleased to give a warm welcome to Club Intrawest Owners Group who have contributed this week’s article. As Usual we start off by looking at the European timeshare scene.

At the moment, which is nothing unusual for this time of year as it is rather quiet, that will change after the summer holidays when the maintenance bills start to arrive. That is when we start to see a lot of new or resurrected bogus companies start to appear.

bogus clipart

On the legal front, the courts in Spain have been very busy, with an almost daily announcement of cases being resolved. At the moment there seem to be two companies in the firing line, Anfi in Gran Canaria and Resort Properties / Silverpoint in Tenerife.

Anfi, which was the dream project of the late Norwegian Bjorn Lyng, who wanted to build a resort which was pure luxury, has for some time been on the receiving end of many claims for breaches of the timeshare law.

Many of these, involve the taking of deposits within the statutory 14 day cooling off period, contracts with a duration of more than 50 years and the floating weeks and points systems.

This week the Court of First Instance in Maspalomas has ruled on two case to the value of 44,131€ and 35,485€ respectively. In both cases the contracts have been declared null & void.

Resort Properties / Silverpoint have also had several rulings against them this week.

The first was at the Court of First Instance in Arona Tenerife, the judge ordered the return of £22,736, this was followed by a Supreme Court ruling with the judge ordering the return of 37,400€.

Tenerife

We then had another Court of First Instance ruling of around 25.000€ and as we go to print our sources in Madrid have informed us of another 3 rulings by the Supreme Court. At the moment we have no idea of the amounts involved, but we do know that all contracts have been declared null & void.

On the fake law firm front, one gentleman has had lucky escape, he received correspondence from Armando Gareca Abogados, part of the Litigious Abogados family, who we highlighted sometime ago. He received notification to pay the initial procurador fees to get the case into court, but something made him suspicious. He did a search on the internet and found the articles posted on this website about them.

Needless to say he realised he was about to be the victim of an elaborate scam and has not gone ahead. He sent a message of thanks as this has saved him not only a substantial amount of money, but a lot of stress. This does go to show that you must do your homework before engaging with any company, especially if they have contacted you with a story that sounds too good to be true.

homework

Tauro Beach

The Anfi man made beach project.

It has been awhile since we had any news on this sorry subject, so here is the latest.

As we previously reported the beach has been fenced off denying access to the public, with security guards and police removing anyone who entered the beach. Although recently massive crowds have flocked to the area in defiance, a new strategy has now been implemented.

This new move has also had the impact of denying access to the homes of people who live there, all paths and access roads have now been blocked with rocks and other implements. Videos and photographs have been posted on facebook by one resident who has been campaigning against this project from the start and also published in laprovincia a Spanish newspaper.

This is another example of how a timeshare company behaves, not just to it’s own members but to the local community. It is also an example of how elected authorities view the people they are supposed to serve. Please show your support for the people and post your comments on the links.

Follow the links to view the posts from this local resident and the La Provincia newspaper.

http://www.laprovincia.es/gran-canaria/2017/07/20/grupo-anfi-cierra-acceso-playa/961620.html

https://www.facebook.com/naiana.rguezllavata/posts/1491927374183912

https://www.facebook.com/naiana.rguezllavata/posts/1492232357486747

Now on with our latest contributors.

Club Intrawest v. Canada

Club Intrawest (Embarc)Timeshare

Must Pay Millions in GST Back Taxes

Following Recent Federal Court of Appeal Decision

gavel

July 21, 2017

On July 11, 2017, In a decision that will likely affect all timeshares and owners of timeshares with properties located in Canada, the Federal Court of Appeal set aside the Tax Court of Canada’s decision in the case of Club Intrawest v. Canada. In doing so, the Court of Appeal substituted its own decision to refer GST assessments back to Canada Revenue Agency for reassessment of GST just for services supplied in Canada in relation to vacation homes situated in Canada.  Federal Appeal Court Judges Nadon, Gauthier and Dawson agreed with the Tax Court’s finding that a principal-agent relationship does not exist between the club and its 22,000 members. This decision also confirms that members of Club Intrawest (now re-branded Embarc by Diamond Resorts International (DRI)) do not hold beneficial ownership in the real estate and equipment in vacation home resorts and do not control the Club.  The Court found that members merely own a right of occupancy in exchange for their resort points. This contradicts sales presentations, financial and marketing materials by Intrawest Corporation (“Intrawest”) and now DRI, to the effect that members have beneficial ownership of vacation homes and control the Club through election of the Board of Directors, responsible for managing the Club’s operations.  The ruling will require the club to pay reassessed GST back-taxes for tax years 2002-2007. The GST/HST tax liability for tax years 2008-2016 is unknown at this time.  All timeshare owners with vacation homes in Canada may be impacted by this decision and may also see themselves assessed for back taxes on the supply of services in Canada related to vacation homes situated in Canada.

“Based on a detailed survey answered by more than 400 members, I expect that the majority of our members will be shocked and disappointed that the court found that members have no beneficial ownership in the vacation homes.  About 79% of them remember being told by Intrawest and DRI sales representatives they would own a real estate interest in the resort properties. About 91% of members also remember they were explicitly told that members controlled the Club and that resort properties were vested in a trust for the benefit of members. The Federal Court of Appeal now tells us that no evidence was produced that ownership of these homes has been vested in a trust for the benefit of members”, says Patrick Cormier, Volunteers Team Leader of the Club Intrawest Owners Group (Embarc), (CIOG) a grassroots movement of over 3400 members.  “However, it seems clear that the Intrawest/DRI-dominated Board of Directors anticipated the GST liability all along since it began accumulating a C$14 million reserve from members’ resort fees under a 2011 Board resolution without informing members until the CIOG raised the GST issue with the Board in 2016”.

Club Intrawest was established by Intrawest Corporation in 1993 as a stand-alone not-for-profit Delaware corporation, but with Intrawest in a controlling position. Intrawest ensured they had control of the Club in several ways, including by granting themselves (as “Declarant” member) a 15 times voting power advantage over individual members guaranteeing Intrawest and now DRI, ongoing and complete control over all aspects of the Club.  In addition, Intrawest and now DRI voted in their own employees on the Club’s Board of Directors to maintain a controlling majority on the Board, hired themselves as manager and pay themselves a guaranteed 10 to 15 per cent management fee on all financial transactions.  Club Intrawest (Embarc) members have no control of the club or effective means for recourse, even though members, other than DRI, own 95 per cent of the timeshare points.

About the Club Intrawest Owners Group (Embarc), (CIOG)

The CIOG is a grassroots movement of over 3400 members who are banding together seeking fairness and transparency in their Club’s operation for all 22,000 members.  The CIOG is disputing and challenging unfair actions of Intrawest Corporation, Diamond Resorts International and their domination of the Club’s Board of Directors and Management Company. The CIOG came together as a volunteer group in December 2015, following Intrawest’s announcement of the sale (without member input) of Club Intrawest’s management to DRI. Following the sale, DRI rebranded the club to Embarc and fully controls the not-for-profit timeshare.  For more about the group, visit

www.citheownersgroup.org.

Judgment of Federal Court of Appeal:  see link

http://decisions.fca-caf.gc.ca/fca-caf/decisions/en/item/232795/index.do

canadian flag

Clearly this is an evolving story. Inside Timeshare will continue to monitor and report ongoing developments.

Other member sponsored Diamond Advocacy groups include:

DRIP launched by over 1,000 British Diamond members

http://drip.enjin.com/

Diamond Resorts Owners Advocacy Group and because timeshare concerns are bigger than any one resort Timeshare Advocacy Group ™

We seek to provide Diamond Resort members a way to proactively address membership concerns; to advocate for timeshare reform; to obtain greater disclosure from the company; to advocate for a viable secondary market; and to educate prospective buyers.

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

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

Some of the points in this article regarding the judges decisions are very similar to those from the Supreme Court in Spain. Especially on the system of “points”. The Spanish Courts also agree that they are not owners but members with only a right to use, it makes us wonder if the Spanish rulings may have had an effect on this?

Anyway thank you to our Canadian cousins or should we say “Canucks”, we look forward to more contributions from you. Also a great big thanks to Irene who is helping to make this happen. It is through articles like this we make the world smaller and help timeshare owners no matter where they are. So welcome to the global timeshare family from, The Philippines, Australia, USA and Europe. We now need some from South Africa!

Have a good weekend and don’t forget to do your your homework!

weekend cat

letter from america

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this week’s Friday’s Letter from America, we continue with Chapter Three of David Franks DRI Misadventures, but first more news from Europe.

We started the week with the article about members at Anfi complaining about the lack of availability, trying to book 12 months in advance and still fully booked. It is not just Anfi that we see this problem, it happens at every resort that runs the floating week or points systems, hence the Spanish law making these systems illegal.

Why is there no availability?

The answer is actually very simple, when resorts sold fixed weeks with an apartment number allocated to it, they could only sell 51 weeks in each apartment. Once these had been sold there was nothing left for the sales staff to peddle, the resorts no longer had another source of income other than the maintenance fees. So they came up with points and floating weeks, whereby you became members of a “vacation Club” rather than an owner.

fully booked

In this way they could continue selling, in essence quadrupling their membership base, this also had the effect of increasing the amount of maintenance they receive. The down side is obviously for the members, more members than accommodation or weeks available, do the maths. NO AVAILABILITY!

In our midweek post, Irene Parker explained CASA, Court Appointed Special Advocates and how it could work for timeshare. Irene has personal experience of this as she herself was a special advocate. It certainly is something worth looking at.

Once again, we highlighted another “fake law firm”, Amador Ganeca Abogados, another in the list that make up the Litigious Abogados family. As we stated the website was only registered on 16 June, so it is only a month old, yet according to them they have over 15 years presence on the internet!

The “lawyer’s” shown on the website have been used before, names have been changed and even slight differences in spelling, none of them are registered with the bar association and the photo’s can be easily downloaded from sites such as Google images. Just search for lawyers and you will probably find the same pictures!

justice2

It has also been a very busy week in the courts, with another Supreme Court judgement against Resort Properties / Silverpoint being announced, which brings the number against them to eleven.

According to our sources, the courts in Maspalomas have also had a very busy week, the first to be announced was against Puerto Calma Marketing SL & Vista Amadores SL. This was quickly followed by six judgements against Anfi Sales SL. As yet we have not received any copies of the sentences, or the amounts awarded, but all contracts have been declared null & void.

Now on with our Friday’s Letter from America.

Our DRI Misadventures – Chapter Three

Stand Back. These People are Professionals.

customer cartoon

By David Franks

Friday, July 14, 2017

You might wish to read the first two chapters:

Chapter 1: Vegas, Baby! — http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-5/

Chapter 2: Missouri Loves Company — http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-10/

(You might not. They’re pretty harrowing.)

Once we returned from our idyllic ordeal in Branson, and having—I thought—a better idea of our opportunities and obligations as new members starting in 2016, I set about booking the “Dream Vacation” we had selected: four nights in Miami and a seven-night western Caribbean cruise.

It took me relatively few phone calls—but more than I should have needed to make—to discover the following things:

  1. The prompts in the DRI phone routing system are not particularly helpful.
  1. Even people who work in DRI customer service find the phone system and internal organization confusing.
  1. DRI is not consistent about demanding adherence to “what the paper says”.  That is, they will use what the text of contracts, disclosures and descriptions say to limit the traveler, but they allow themselves a fair bit of latitude in holding up their end.  The best way to find out how weaselly their language is is to hear their interpretation of “what the paper says”.

After talking to a relatively small multitude of vacation professionals, I eventually got the “Dream Vacation” booked.  We would stay at the  on April 5,6,7,8 and cruise the week of April 9-16.  As the “Dream Vacation” leaflet features a photo of the front of the Penguin Hotel, which faces the ocean, I asked about upgrading the room from “standard” to “ocean-view”; I was told that I would have to arrange that with the hotel directly. (I understand that this is standard practice, but I started to wonder what all of those concierges we had accumulated in Branson were supposed to do for me.)

By November 16, I had found it necessary to escalate the room upgrade issue, as the Penguin Hotel had not received notice of our booking and I could not yet upgrade our reservation to an ocean-view room, which has limited availability.  I also found in my conversations with the hotel’s reservations desk that the supposed retail value of the “standard room” included in the package is not nearly what the leaflet claimed, even at peak season; indeed, an ocean-view room at peak season cost less than the claimed retail value of a standard room, which has no view at all.  Neither the people I talked to at DRI, nor the hotel staff (including two managers), could help me with this issue for some two weeks longer.  While there were some communications problems within the hotel’s reservation department, it appears that the problem was largely due to DRI’s delay in informing the hotel of our reservation, their unwillingness to deal directly with the hotel regarding the issue, and their convoluted organizational structure.

During my ongoing e-mail correspondence with DRI, one of the people I had corresponded with moved to a new position, and another person had continued the exchange without her own signature.  This caused a jarring change in tone.  At one point, I called M.W., my self-professed concierge in Branson, and he hung up on me.  After some two months—on January 13,2016—I was finally able to get the room upgraded, and I had both DRI and the hotel confirm that I had booked an ocean-view room.  Their trademarked slogan to the contrary, DRI apparently does not love to say “yes”, and despite my (and the hotel’s) problems with their service and procedures, DRI declined the opportunity to pay for the room upgrade.

Scheduling our flight and dealing with cruise details were relatively straightforward, probably because I was working directly with the airline and with Carnival.  The issues I had raised with DRI over the course of almost two months (!) of calls and e-mails were never fully acknowledged or addressed; my various contacts at DRI simply stopped returning my calls and e-mails, offering website links in lieu of transfers or introductions to the proper people.

Board

Important points so far:

  • The retail value of the hotel accommodation was touted as “up to $2,000”.  One of the reservations people (both available hotels used the same reservation desk) assured me that under no possible circumstances did either a “standard” room in either hotel or an ocean-view room at the Penguin ever go for $500 per night.
  • Dream Vacations” cannot be booked five days before or after Presidents’ Day, Easter, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. More often than not, the block around Presidents’ Day blocks Valentine’s Day. According to the reservations department, these blocked holidays are the periods when the retail values of the hotel accommodations are highest—though even then, they didn’t go for $500 per night.
  • The salesman who gave me his personal cell phone number and told me to think of him as my concierge hung up on me the first and only time I called him.
  • The “Diamond Bonus Points” trifold brochure (which is replete with legalese that I was apparently expected to memorize) features a quote, ostensibly from a delighted DRI member: “One of the reasons that we bought with Diamond was mostly for the flexibility … The flexibility is really limitless.” Word to the wise: it isn’t.
  • DRI has trademarked the slogan, “We Love to say Yes™”.  They haven’t said “Yes” to me since we signed the contract.  This is a tragic waste of a trademark.

respect

Inside Timeshare would like to thank David Franks for his article and all those who contributed to previous articles. We also thank those who have supplied information about new companies springing up and the insights into how members feel.

Have a good weekend and beware of any company that promises you anything, check them first, remember doing your homework is vital to save you from being scammed.

weekend02

letter from america

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome back to Friday’s Letter from America, last week we did change it to Australia to welcome our Aussie contributor Justin Morgan with his first article, which happened to coincide with Irene Parker’s first anniversary. Today we hear from our first Bluegreen owner, who also happens to be a detective in law enforcement, so this proves that all are vulnerable to the smooth talking sales staff.

Irene reported just as we were about to publishing today’s article, that four Diamond Members have been able to resolve their vacation issues this past week. Members tell us they appreciate having a human instead of a department to talk to. Previously members complained of continually having to start over with seemingly endless departments.

We hope other timeshare developers follow suit as timeshare complaints are widespread.

Now we have a look at what is happening in the European world of timeshare.

The National Police in Spain have busted a major scam being run from the Costa del Sol, they raided several premises and homes in the Velez Malaga – Torre del Mar area. Around 40 were detained, they included a husband and wife, son and daughter-in-law, along with it is reported two lawyers. The detained are mainly British, who have run several businesses in the area over a number of years, these targeted mainly British timeshare owners.

Police raid

The scams involved timeshare resales, holiday packages and discount clubs, this has over the years netted millions of pounds, with the police recovering around 100,000€ in cash, expensive watches, jewels and several high end cars.

It is believed the companies, which are well known by Inside Timeshare and other similar sites, are, Halfmoon Holdings, Excalibur Sales & Marketing, Blue Chip and Rosedale Marketing. The only problem is, when one of these raids takes place and they are put out of business, there are many others ready and waiting to fill the gap. No doubt, we will see a series of companies offering to help victims get their money back, for an upfront fee obviously. So readers beware!

Follow the links to read the stories in the UK tabloids.

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/3952419/dozens-arrested-over-timeshare-scam-that-saw-500-brits-conned-out-of-life-savings-in-multi-million-pound-costa-del-sol-racket/?utm_source=TWITTER&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=SprnklrSUNOrganic&UTMX=Editorial%3ATheSun%3ATwImageandlink%3AStatement%3ANews

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/costa-del-sol-cops-uncover-10745713

On the legal front, it looks like those lawyers from Canarian Legal Alliance have been busy this week, with several announcements of cases won.

We started the week with a judgement from Tenerife against Resort Properties / Silverpoint followed on Tuesday with news that the Court of First Instance in Maspalomas GC, awarding a client who purchased at Anfi, over 59,000€ with their contract being declared null & void. Once again the court ruled that the contract was longer than the stipulated period of 50 years.

On Wednesday, the Court of First Instance in Arona Tenerife, again found against Resort Properties / Silverpoint, in this case the judge ruled the contract was missing information which is required by law, the period again was longer than the 50 years allowed, plus deposits were taken within the 14 day cooling off period.

The British client will now receive over £14,000 plus legal interest and has had their contract declared null and void.

On Thursday there were two announcements the first from Tenerife, the Chayofa Golf & Tennis Academy, was ruled against by the Court of First Instance, the contracts signed under the company United Sales 1997 Ltd were declared null & void. Again the infringements were the perpetuity contract and the illegal taking of deposits, the client will now receive over £9,000 plus legal interest.

Malaga Court

The second was from the High Court in Malaga, Club la Costa was found guilty with the contract being declared null & void. One of the main aspects of this case is the company is a UK registered Limited one, Club La Costa Leisure Ltd, which was probably an attempt to bypass Spanish law. As we have seen in the past, some companies have used this along with the clause that “this agreement and contract is subject to UK law and the jurisdiction of UK courts”, but it is evident now that this does not wash, if the timeshare was sold and the contract was signed on Spanish territory, then clearly Spanish law will apply.

Now on with our US Article.

A Bluegreen Member Responds to Timeshare Advocacy Group™

A detective shares her Bluegreen Timeshare experience

Complaint queue

By Irene Parker

Friday July 7, 2017

Typically our Inside Timeshare readers don’t contact us to report positive timeshare experiences so our email inbox often looks like the cartoon above. Today we hear from a Bluegreen member who found promises made did not meet what was purchased. Not as familiar with Bluegreen we checked internet sites and determined Bluegreen is a company that could use a customer satisfaction evaluation.  

Bluegreen members can join a member sponsored discussion Facebook consisting of 770 Bluegreen members. More and more timeshare members are launching sites where members can advise other members.

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

Timeshare Advocacy Group™ is an umbrella organization consisting of volunteers stretching from the EU to the US and beyond including contributors from the Philippines and Australia. A few complaints have little or no effect, but a volume of complaints, especially directed against individual sales agents, can paint a pattern of deception.

A complaint process has evolved over the past year. Working through resort representatives, volunteer Advocates assist other members as we work through the “3 Rs or F of Timeshare” – Resolution, Relinquishment, Refund or Foreclosure.

Here is our advice for those not knowing where to turn:   

  • Prepare a written complaint and request for resolution. Submit to the resort.
  • If the resort denies the request, file first with the Attorneys General of the state where you signed a contract, where you live, and where the timeshare is domiciled. Some Attorneys General are influenced by lobby dollars, so don’t be discouraged if your complaint is denied. There is still merit filing “for the record” because the Attorney General’s lack of concern can be quantified and reported. Some states refer you to a different department.
  • File a complaint with the state real estate division against the agent (ID #) if you feel the sales agent is at fault.
  • File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission because every state has incorporated some part of the FTC Consumer Fraud Act into their respective state consumer protection act.
  • Report your grievance to ARDA http://www.arda.org/ethics/ – this organization is the American Resort Development Association – Resort Owners Coalition. ARDA ROC does not resolve individual member disputes, but they do have a code of ethics that should be enforced. When the needs of the member and the developer diverge, lobby dollars go to the side of the developer, so think twice about the “voluntary” opt in or opt out donation to an organization that may not always serve your best interest. I have not been able to get the $7 donation removed from my account.   
  • The FBI definition of White Collar Crime – Financial Institution Fraud – is “deceit, concealment, violation of trust and bait and switch”. File a complaint with IC3.gov if this is the case. IC stands for Internet Crime, but your complaint does not have to involve the internet. That’s just the FBI portal for complaints. https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/white-collar-crime
  • File a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, although this agency has been vastly diminished due to the rollback of the Dodd Frank Act. According to a banker I spoke with recently, they are still the regulators. Given the CFPB’s diminished capacity, file with this agency only if a credit card played a part or there is a loan outstanding.
  • Reach out to local and national media. This is by far the most important and effective tool. Typically, timeshare buyers don’t buy a timeshare in their state of residence, so state lawmakers have expressed little interest and can also be influenced by lobby efforts. http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/taking-names-scott-maxwell/os-gov-rick-scott-signs-bad-timeshare-law-20150617
  • Become an Advocate for change by assisting other members with the process outlined above. Encourage others to stop venting and act. This is one example of a military family that was able to resolve their dispute through Timeshare Advocacy Group™ http://insidetimeshare.com/consumer-protection-week-usa/ and a hat’s off this 4th of July week to all those who serve in the military.
  • Last on the list is the Better Business Bureau. The BBB does not resolve complaints. They merely report how efficiently a company responds to complaints so ratings can be misleading.

None of the above agencies will act on behalf of a specific individual, but a volume of complaints can prompt an investigation. Tennessee, Colorado, New York and Arizona are four states where Attorneys General have opened timeshare investigations       

law enforcement

Our Bluegreen member complainant works in law enforcement. Lela Renea is a detective appalled that, even though she works in law enforcement, alleges she became the prey.   

Lela purchased 6000 Bluegreen points in Las Vegas March 2015 for $8,200. Lela alleges she was a victim of deceit and bait and switch for the following reasons:

  1. Lela was told if she purchased more points her maintenance fees would stay the same. The maintenance fees have increased from $560 a year in 2015 to about $700 a year for 2017.
  2. Lela was told she would receive a free cruise, but after all the fees and charges it cost as much as if she had booked it herself.
  3. Lela was told the Barclaycard had a low interest rate of 5% when in actuality it was 25%.
  4. Lela was not told she was entitled to 4000 bonus points. The points expired before she was aware of them.
  5. Lela was promised availability she says does not exist.
  6. Lela was showed a Presidential Suite that was said to be comparable to all Bluegreen accommodations.
  7. Lela was not aware she had purchased so few points it was almost impossible to find adequate availability.

Lela has sent Bluegreen a demand letter requesting a refund. She will be filing complaints with regulatory and law enforcement agencies if her demands are not met. Lela will become an Advocate.

Lela’s friend and co-buyer contacted Pinnacle Vacation to do a transfer but Lela is worried Pinnacle may be a scam.

https://www.complaintsboard.com/complaints/bluegreen-vacation-club-c4809.html

lawsuit

The following lawsuit was filed against Bluegreen but was dismissed October 2016. It voices many of Lela’s complaints. Again, the problem is the oral representation clause that timeshare attorney Mike Finn of the Finn Law Group has frequently described as “a license to lie”.

The BlueGreen Vacations Timeshare Sales Tactics Class Action Lawsuit is Kyle Miles, et al. v. BlueGreen Vacations Unlimited Inc., Case No. 1:16-cv-00937, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California.

The plaintiffs are represented by Todd M. Friedman and Adrian R. Bacon of Law Offices of Todd M. Friedman PC.

BlueGreen Vacations Unlimited Inc. has been hit with a class action lawsuit that accuses the timeshare company of using “hard sell” tactics and misinformation to convince consumers to enter into timeshare contracts.

During the timeshare presentation, the plaintiffs were reportedly informed that, if they were not satisfied with the timeshare contracts BlueGreen was selling, BlueGreen would buy back the contracts.

According to the timeshare class action lawsuit, BlueGreen also misled the presentation attendees by representing that the timeshare contract’s maintenance fees would not increase, when in reality, the maintenance fees increase on an annual basis.

However, the plaintiffs allege that the terms that were actually contained in the timeshare contract are different than the terms promised during the timeshare presentation.

They also claim that they were pressured to open two BlueGreen credit cards and to put the entire $5,000 down payment on the cards.

advo

Our local Florida news station today reported vacation rentals, as opposed to hotel bookings, have increased from 50% in 2014 to 70% in 2016. Our readers continually express disappointment and dismay over what they describe as an escalation in deception and overly aggressive timeshare selling. These are mostly members who were happy with their timeshare until deception set in. We want timeshare to be a healthy and robust industry. If the developers and lobby organizations don’t heed the damage being done by sales agents “pitching heat”, one wonders how the industry can survive in the millennial’s world.

Inside Timeshare thanks Lela for coming forward. We look forward to a new collaborator as a lot of what we do requires the skills of a detective. It did not take long to explain the basis of an IC3.gov complaint to Lela.

So there we have it, another week over in the timeshare world, with some good news for many and the start of a judicial nightmare for others. Inside Timeshare thanks all those who sent in the information which helps to form our articles, again thanks to Irene for editing the US contributions, together we are making a difference.

weekend

 

letter from australia

Friday’s Letter from Australia (No, you have read that correctly)

Welcome to Friday’s Letter from (America) now Australia, this is just to confuse our American cousins, the reason is that we welcome our first Antipodean cousin to our pages. Justin Morgan, makes his debut with his first contribution to Inside Timeshare. It is ironic that it happens to be on the first anniversary of Irene Parker’s very first article, which was about the acquisition by Apollo of Diamond.

Since her first article, Irene has been a major contributor and very much a driving force in bringing the problems of owners in the US to the fore. She has also become a very valued friend not just to myself but to all those she met while visiting Gran Canaria.

But enough of that, how about some news of timeshare in Europe?

Diamond Resorts has had a battering in the courts in Tenerife, Canarian Legal Alliance has secured a victory for one of their clients with the High Court declaring their contract null & void, with the return of over 29,000€ plus legal interest. In this case the court stated that the contract did not contain specified information required by law, with the product being the points system which the Supreme Court has deemed illegal due to their lack of tangibility.

This is the fourth verdict delivered against Diamond by the Tenerife courts this year, which our sources indicate is just the tip of the iceberg!

justice2

Anfi, based in Gran Canaria is on the defensive, it would seem they are already sending out new contracts after the vote last Friday 23 June, which coincided with another defeat at the High Court in Las Palmas. In that case the court declared the contract null & void as it was for more than 50 years.

As this is being written, the news has just arrived from our contact at the Court of First Instance in Maspalomas, that another contract has been declared null & void, with the client being awarded over 35,000€ plus legal interest.

At the same court yesterday Palm Oasis / Tasolan, were ordered to repay over 31,000€ and declaring the contract null & void. In this case the court ruled against the points system, which it deemed as selling nothing but promises.

On the Tauro Beach project, which has been the subject of many articles, it seems that the beach is still closed to the public, although many people are ignoring the fences and entering the area. There still seems to be no indication when this area will be fully open to the public, it may not be for sometime yet as there are several court cases pending.

So now on to this weeks article.

Who is Apollo? What is Apollo?

Two Diamond Member Consumer Advocates offer their opinion

Up Down

By Michael Nuwer and Justin Morgan

Introduction by Irene Parker

June 30, 2017

In honor of my one year anniversary writing for Inside Timeshare, it is only fitting to revisit Apollo Global Management’s acquisition of Diamond Resorts as Apollo’s Diamond acquisition was the subject of my inaugural article June 30, 2016.

http://insidetimeshare.com/700-2/

I had been shouting my timeshare concerns from the rooftops since my husband I attended a pathetically aggressive sales presentation July 2015 at Diamond’s Grand Beach Resort, which ultimately led to our appearance on the FOX News show Property Man, interviewed by Las Vegas attorney Bob Massi.

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

The first I heard from Diamond was a year later in reaction to my Apollo article written for Jim Cramer of CNBC’s Mad Money’s investment news service, TheStreet. Diamond contacted TheStreet demanding a rebuttal. Diamond members are still waiting for Transitions, a relinquishment program that must still be in development.

http://www.thestreet.com/story/13624491/1/is-apollo-returning-to-its-junk-roots-with-its-acquisition-of-diamond-resorts.html

Diamond boasted 11 quarters of robust earnings growth until shortly after the Apollo acquisition announcement. A delayed 2016 second quarter earnings report was attributed to accounting irregularities.

http://www.thestreet.com/story/13702895/1/diamond-resorts-international-s-second-quarter-earnings-reversal-is-worrisome.html

According to a May 2017 KROLL Bond Report, Diamond’s default rates remain elevated.

The collateral pool of DROT 2014 – 1 has experienced elevated levels of defaults, which similar to certain other vacation ownership companies in the industry, Diamond Resorts attributes to an increase in the number of borrowers who have been solicited by lawyers to get out of their timeshare and/or have sent Diamond Resorts “cease and desist” letters.  

https://www.krollbondratings.com/announcements/3705

A National Mortgage News article appeared indicating the interest rate on the Apollo acquisition was raised due in part to the earnings restatement. Earnings had to be restated back to 2014 resulting in an earnings decline from the prior earnings report. Since the merger was announced as an all cash $2.2 billion deal, I did not understand the comment about the raised interest rate.

advocate 1

We seek to provide Diamond Resort members a way to proactively address membership concerns; to advocate for timeshare reform; to obtain greater disclosure from the company; to advocate for a viable secondary market; and to educate prospective buyers.

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

Timeshare Advocate Michael Nuwer explains. I now understand what it meant when Diamond owners were informed Diamond is owned “by an affiliate of an affiliate of funds.” It’s pretty high finance.

Apollo Global’s acquisition of Diamond Resorts was organized as a “leveraged buyout”.  Here’s how the deal worked:

Apollo created a shell company called Dakota Parent. Four of Apollo’s investment funds own this company. Dakota Parent created a wholly owned subsidiary called Dakota Sub. Dakota Sub borrowed $2.2 billion dollars (a big chunk of it, $1.1 billion, from the four Apollo funds) and bought 100% of the DRI shares — 72.7 million shares at $30.25 each. Then DRI merged into Dakota Sub, changed the company name to Diamond Resorts International, and thereby took on all Dakota Sub’s debt. This is the way leveraged buyouts typically work. Former Diamond CEO Cloobeck used the same structure when he bought Sunterra in 2007.

Now that all is said and done, DRI is a wholly owned subsidiary of Dakota Parent. The equity in Dakota Parent is owned by the four Apollo funds. Diamond has $2.2 billion debt on which it must make interest payments. The primary lenders are the four Apollo funds. They are in for $1.1 billion, $500,000,000 at 7.75% and $600,000,000 at 10.75%. The secondary lenders are in for $800 million, and another $200 million is secured by some DRI assets (I think they are consumer loans).

There are two ways Apollo makes money on this deal assuming all goes well. First, the four Apollo investment funds receive interest income out of DRI’s cash flow. They are guaranteed $103,250,000 per year. High profits or low profits, it doesn’t matter, Apollo gets paid. Further, the Apollo investment funds own a claim to all the equity growth of the company (that is all value over $2.2 billion). Thus, if they can sell the 72.7 million shares for $45 each, not an unreasonable number if all goes well, Apollo’s capital gain will be about $1 billion.

Aussie Flag

From Justin Morgan Australia

As a tax accountant, finance planner, part time private equity guy, I completely agree that the Apollo deal will only end in debt being laid upon Diamond members, for the benefit of those who arranged the details of a LBO merger that, when combined with the liabilities of the timeshare structure that utilized Association Board powers and targets them, it becomes a lethal mix that allows financial dealers to write their own checks bigger each year. It seems there is no end to how high they could simply raise their own salaries, pay-outs and ‘returns’ towards simply legally expecting members to pay their share of these increased contributions.

In the economy, we have certain protections such as Trade Practices Acts, Fair Trading Laws, financial regulation, monopoly laws…All this is designed to prevent abuse of market power. In my opinion, I would characterize this Diamond set-up as worse, because there is NO market that is anything other than what DRI, and the timeshare industry in general, allows. It is engaging in practices specifically designed to restrict the market to only it and its approved associates.

I feel this exploits consumers at near will, and I wonder where Apollo will set their ceiling …Looking at how the deal was structured, they see huge opportunity to lend to a membership base locked up in dubious legalities and unfair contracts. All this would not be legal in Australia. I’m amazed at how it turns out to be in the US. And I write this from Mexico, where it is well known what happens when dangerous cartels form and throw their money around here.

Circumstantial evidence is that the proof is in the pudding, but proving it in the US, where the banks and private equity already got away with much…well, I can only hope that the powers that be realize that it won’t get better if they keep allowing the average consumer and householder to be abused by what is, in my opinion, predatory sales and lending.

If the new DRI were to strip assets, it’d be left holding the large liabilities, but that is usually the reason why they then go back to legacy members warning of bankruptcy if they do not buy more points. It looks like the new DRI is just financially ‘creating’ this balance sheet to look exactly how it should look to siphon off more money from members. They already have their interest windfall. Next would be the stripping, and finally, the call for more contributions to boost management revenue…all this whilst the members are forced into more debt.

This is a strategic type play from the banking world, but DRI and private equity were some of the quickest learners out of the Great Financial Crisis. Many learnt how the banks do it. Private equity rushing into timeshare is the new rush to create financial instruments that creates only ‘liability’ for the timeshare owner. The financial guys profit from the creation of liability, which is their ‘debt-holding’. In a near zero interest rate environment, Apollo is looking to create the debt, then shift it across to the membership…effectively, they’ve already done it. Now they must get their $1.1bn back, and the result is just pure profit for the financial players. This could turn out to be a textbook case of why this must be stopped immediately. It will possibly play out over years.  Bravo Irene for taking a stand. I will support your efforts however I can. You’ve struck here what I believe is the actual core of the New Timeshare. The Old Timeshare was less sophisticated, but for those of us who know that private equity in this industry is licking its lips over several recent acquisitions, the old caveat of “buyers beware” may even be too late.

Teacher

Thank you to Michael and Justin for their reader responses which are possibly the most sophisticated reader responses in the history of Inside Timeshare. More and more timeshare Advocates are coming forward bringing their expertise and experience to the timeshare table.

Contact Inside Timeshare or one of our Timeshare Advocacy Group™ Facebooks or websites if you need timeshare assistance or can become an Advocate.   

So there we have it, another week over in the murky world of timeshare, Inside Timeshare thanks Irene for her efforts in bringing so many people together to share their views and experiences.

To our latest addition to the Inside Timeshare family, a very hearty welcome and we hope to hear more from those in the “Land Down Under”, who we do tend to forget share the same experiences as us in Europe and the US.

It’s Friday, the weekend is here, so break out the BBQ’s and let’s PARTY!!!!!!!!

barbie

letter from america

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this week’s Friday’s Letter from America, today we publish part two from David Franks, Our Diamond Misadventures. But as usual we start with some news from Europe.

Today there is a Special General Meeting of owners from Anfi, they are being asked to vote for one of three resolutions. These are in order to bring Anfi contracts in line with the laws in Spain, which as we all know are being enforced rigorously by the courts, with almost daily announcements of contracts being declared null & void with all monies returned. As we mentioned in a previous article it is a case of closing the stable door after the horse has bolted.

After last weeks article was published there were yet more announcements from the courts, the first was against Palm Oasis (Tasolan SL), with the court declaring the contract null & void with the repayment of 31,577€, a very happy ex-owner indeed.

Then on Friday evening we were informed of another decision from the Court of First Instance against none other than Anfi! The amount awarded is a staggering 59,053€.

So far this week there have been another two against Anfi, another against Palm Oasis (Tasolan SL) and two more from the Tenerife courts against Resort Properties / Silverpoint. So it looks like those lawyers from Canarian Legal Alliance are flying.

The “fake” law firms from the Litigious Abogados family in Tenerife have another name added, a new Procurador going by the name of Daniel Marco Yariz. This Procurador is working on behalf of Abogados Amable & Garcia who we highlighted in Friday’s Letter from America on 12 May. Their documents to those who are not familiar with them do look genuine, especially those from the “courts”. They certainly are growing, the question is how much money have they managed to swindle from unsuspecting owners? (Search Litigious Abogados for all articles).

One of our regular readers has informed us that he has been banned from the forum timeshare talk, because he posted one of our articles about Mr Mark Rowe. Not surprising really, as it is owned by him. So the question is can you trust this forum?

So, now on with this weeks article from David Franks.

Our Diamond Misadventures

Chapter Two: Missouri Loves Company

By David Franks

travel

June 23, 2017

Once back from our two Vegas experiences – the vacation proper and the DRI ordeal as chronicled here:

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-5/ –

my lovely wife and I resumed our mundane lives and occasionally perused the Diamond Resorts material in anticipation of our membership’s becoming active in 2016. After ignoring several email and phone offers for a “free” weekend resort stay, and realizing that a resort stay was inevitable, we decided to give a resort a chance and – God help us – we booked a weekend and the obligatory “New Member orientation presentation lasting approximately 90-120 minutes” at the Suites at Fall Creek in Branson, Missouri. This would not be too long a drive from our hermitage.

We arrived at the Suites at Fall Creek on Saturday, October 17, 2016. After a check-in that included an introduction to the concierge desk, we deciphered the map they provided and found the two bedroom suite they had hidden at the back of the Suites at Fall Creek property. Though it would pass for nice, with a kitchen I might have been able to get used to during a week’s stay, it wasn’t luxurious, and it didn’t alter our conviction that resort staying is not for us. We went out and drove around for a look at Branson, found a satisfactory restaurant, had an adequate evening meal and found our way back to our pied-a-terre.

We arose early for the 8 a.m. breakfast that was part of the presentation. The dismal breakfast buffet should have served ample warning of what was to come. After that unfortunate incident and being chatted up by friendly salespeople, the group dispersed and my lovely wife and I were ushered into the office of M. W. for our individual “orientation”. He was shocked – shocked! – that M. R. in Las Vegas had sold us such a small membership. He proceeded to tell us what we should have been told in Las Vegas: the membership was too small to accomplish what we wanted. But boy, did he have a way to fix that. (Just think! A tag team that works halfway across the country!) In the face of our complete – and reinforced – lack of interest in resorts, M.K. gave us the same assurances as we had received in Las Vegas: that between Diamond and Interval International we would have access to comprehensive travel services, discounted travel and a 20- or 30-cent point redemption value for all DRI and II services. We mentioned our liking for train travel, and he told us that Diamond was working on an agreement with Amtrak.

In addition to a reprise of the Vegas promises, we were offered the incentive of double bonus points with a purchase, which would put us at Gold membership level for two years so we could really put our membership through its paces. If we still didn’t like what they had to offer at the end of the two years, then we could sell our membership. There was no mention of the particular difficulty of reselling DRI memberships in the secondary market. Having looked at the figures for another assortment of membership packages, membership did not appear to be too good to be true; rather, as presented, it seemed a reasonable value: the redemption value of points at 20 cents was approximately equal to the maintenance fees. We selected a membership that brought us to the Silver level. We were told we would have a 30-cent point redemption value for all services for calendar 2016 and 2017, and 20 cents per point after that. The first two years seemed a good value, but the ability to resell was the clincher.

Among the blandishments proffered was a variety of “Dream Vacations” from which we could select one to try out Diamond’s expert travel service. We selected a Miami-and-cruise vacation for 7,500 points.

About fifteen minutes after filling out credit card applications, my lovely wife and I were each miraculously handed a Diamond Resorts-branded MasterCard issued by Barclaycard US. I say “miraculously” because issuance was based on our assertion as to the value of half of our liquid assets – a figure they could not have verified in the time they took (this was on a Sunday), and a formula I’ve never seen used anywhere else. I guess our credit scores helped. And “miraculous” because the two cards covered the entire remaining cost of the new slab of membership.

Desk

M.K. gave us his personal cell phone number, and told us to think of him as our “concierge” if we ever needed anything – the third concierge we acquired that weekend. He also asked us to give him a good rating with Diamond, as he had never received a complaint from a client. With breakfast, “orientation”, selling, credit card applications, additional enticements, contract paperwork, and being left alone in M.K.’s office for awkward periods, the ordeal took over seven hours.

The next morning we were able to flee the premises with little disruption or delay and enjoy a fine drive home.

Important points so far:

meeting

  • Again, the 20- or 30- cent exchange value of points, for all types of travel, was the only value mentioned in the presentation.
  • Again, convenient, discounted travel was emphasized.
  • Again, the availability and advantage of comprehensive travel service through Interval International was emphasized.
  • The last time I talked to Amtrak, they knew of no arrangement with Diamond Resorts.

∙ ∙ ∙

If you are a Diamond member, here is the link to our Advocacy page on Facebook:

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

advocate 1

Thanks to David for your contribution and also to Irene Parker for the editing, we are certainly getting a great team of contributors together. OK, mainly from across the great lake, if you have a story you would like to share, contribution are welcome.

When we have some news from the Special General Meeting being held by Anfi, we will share that with you. In the meantime have a great weekend.

fridaycat

letter from america

Friday’s Letter From America

Welcome to this week’s Friday’s Letter From America, Irene Parker’s article this week focuses on eleven Platinum Diamond Members who have had problems. But first a round up of the news from Europe.

Once again, those lawyers from Canarian Legal Alliance have made legal history in Spain. Back in March 2015 they secured the first Supreme Court ruling against the timeshare industry, on Tuesday 13 June, they did it again with their 50th ruling from Spain’s highest court. From our sources, no other law firm in any field has managed to get this many rulings through this court. It certainly has shaped the way the timeshare laws are now being applied.

This latest ruling was against Silverpoint in Tenerife, a company with a long history of litigation against them. Since January the Supreme Court has ruled on no less than 10 cases brought by CLA on behalf of their clients.

Yesterday, Thursday 15 June, it was also announced that the Court of First Instance of Granadilla de Abona Tenerife, has ruled against Diamond Resorts Tenerife Sales SL. The client’s contract was declared null & void and the court ordered the return of over 29,000€ this was because the contract was the Diamond points system.

On Wednesday 14 June we published the Anfi CEO’s letter to members, in his letter he still indicates that the Supreme Court has got the perpetuity contracts decision wrong, he also says that it is not true that Anfi are losing. Well here we go, Wednesday 14 June, the High Court No 3 of Las Palmas once again declared an Anfi contract null & void in respect of the contract being over 50 years in duration (perpetuity) and that it also contained “Floating Weeks”. In this case they have been ordered to pay back over 10,950€

The truth is there and plain to see, it can also be easily verified through the courts themselves. Sounds like the “Fake News” syndrome is catching!

At least in Spain, consumers are getting the protection of the law, maybe our cousins across The Great Lake will take heart, that there is some light at the end of the tunnel. Now to Irene’s article.

 

Eleven Platinum Diamond Members Cry Foul

Romeo and Lily Dalisay Share their Story

be strong

By Irene Parker

June 16, 2017

It’s not easy to stand up against wealth and power, whether you are a woman accusing a famous comedian, or a former FBI Director accusing the President of the United States. Any timeshare member who has come forward to share their story can relate to the discomfort felt when the decision has been made to stand up publicly for truth and justice.

Inside Timeshare previously published the story of Romeo Dalisay, age 70, and his wife Lily, age 71, a California Filipino family. Romeo is a retired physical therapist and Lily a hand therapist. The family has maintained a good credit score until now, facing foreclosure for the first time in their life.  Mary was working just to pay for their Diamond Resorts loan and annual maintenance fees, but can no longer work due to complications from diabetes.

Romeo and Lilly decided to release their identity after reading Angela Johnson’s Inside Timeshare article. It was also of great comfort to read about the Fournier family and the lawsuit filed against Diamond Resorts by attorney Amir Goldstein, as the Fournier family is struggling with the foreclosure process as well.

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

The Dalisay family is one of eleven Platinum Diamond member families that have reached out to Inside Timeshare alleging they were up-sold to a higher loyalty level by deceit, concealment, violation of trust and bait and switch.

Out of the eleven Platinum member complaints, Diamond’s Advocacy Department has resolved three. Three of the eleven complaints involve Diamond’s rental policy change, which states Diamond members can only rent to friends or families. All hold contracts allowing rentals and were sold on the benefits of renting.

philipines flag

The Dalisays are one of four Filipino families who have reached out to Inside Timeshare. Diamond has helped two of the four Filipino families resolve their complaints. The Dalisays first article was translated into Tagalog.

Diamond Resort’s non-deeded vacation points cannot be listed with any of the 64 members of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association, so families find themselves forced to foreclose if they are not eligible for a voluntary surrender due to a loan outstanding. Diamond Resorts is the only major timeshare that cannot be listed with an LTRBA member due to restrictions the company has placed on the use of secondary points the LTRBA members feel are more onerous than other major timeshare companies.

http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

Inside Timeshare has received numerous complaints from Diamond members concerning Diamond’s Polo Towers and Cancun Resorts sales tactics. Of the eleven Platinum members filing complaints, six are from these two resorts. One of the six was up-sold by a Polo Towers sales agent while she was training Diamond’s sales agents in Virginia.

In brief, here is a description provided by nine of the eleven Platinum member complaint allegations that do not concern the rental issue except for Irina. Irina Allen has been accused of renting, although she says she only posted one ad on RedWeek on the advice of her sales agent. There are many Diamond rental ads posted on RedWeek. Irina also alleges she was upsold by deceit. The families are listed only by number.

  • Ka’anapali Hawaii sales center, up-sold from US to Hawaii Collection or there would be no Hawaii availability. Virginia sales center, up-sold to take advantage of a 30 cent maintenance fee reduction program that did not exist, Polo Towers Las Vegas sales center, “should have been invited to a meeting” up-sell from Hawaii to US Collection, or they would regret being Hawaii Collection members.
  • Branson MO up-sold to obtain a survivor release benefit, already available, a Ka’anapali up-sell US to Hawaii claiming only Hawaii points can be rented and only Hawaii members have survivor release options.
  • Polo Towers, a Legacy up-sell because points will appreciate and buying Legacy points is the only way to sell points. Complaint resolved in member’s favor.
  • Polo Towers, a Legacy upsell so they could sell their points. Complaint resolved in member’s favor.
  • Polo Towers, a Legacy up-sell as the only way to sell points. Unresolved Irina Allen up-sold in order to use secondary points, the subject of an upcoming article.
  • Polo Towers, a Legacy up-sell as the only way to sell points. Complaint resolved.
  • A Polo Towers sales agent, working in Virginia to train Virginia sales agents (as she said she helped developed many of Diamond’s policies), a Hawaii to US upsell or there would be no US availability. US to Hawaii upsell or there would be no Hawaii availability and renting Hawaii points is allowed only in Hawaii to cover maintenance fees.
  • Romeo and Lily Dalisay described herein.

Back to Romeo and Lily’s story in their own words

The Dalisays are former Monarch owners. Convinced to give up their Monarch deed, they currently own 60,000 Diamond points. The mortgage balance is $85,968 financed by Diamond at 13.1% and the monthly payments are $1,375. Maintenance Fees for 2017 are $9,034. Historically, according to information culled from lawsuits, Diamond points have sold for $3 to $4 a point, so the Dalisays have spent at least $200,000 on vacation points.

Many Monarch owners at all loyalty levels have contacted Inside Timeshare alleging deception, claiming they were told they had to buy additional points due to Monarch’s bankruptcy as they were responsible for their share of Monarch’s debt, when in fact many Monarch owners were able to deed back their Monarch week for a $250 fee.

In Romeo’s and Lily’s words

In Las Vegas at Diamond’s Cancun Resort in 2013, we were told we should have received an invitation to attend a dinner to discuss the transition from Monarch Grand Vacations to Diamond.

“You should have been invited to a dinner” is being used today on Gold Key and Intrawest owners. It seems designed to confuse.

The sales agent asked us to write a letter stating we did not receive the dinner invitation and therefore should be given the same price per point as those who attended the dinner. He faxed our letter to a Las Vegas Diamond office. We were told that due to Monarch’s bankruptcy we would lose our equity if we did not purchase additional Diamond points. The promised one hour meeting lasted five hours. We eventually broke and signed a contract to buy more points.

We constantly received telephone calls asking us to attend more updates. We generally turn them down, but accepted an offer from Diamond’s Cancun Resort. A previous telephone sales encounter from Cancun lasted over three hours.

In Pomona, California July 2015 at another meeting, we again were told we had to get rid of our Monarch points by buying more Diamond points in order to prevent the increase in maintenance fees due to less and less people owning Monarch.

This is a difficult topic and one of great interest to Intrawest and Gold Key owners as well because it is unclear how diminishing numbers of deeded members will be treated. At a 2016 Monarch Annual Meeting it was announced 30% of the remaining 40,000 Monarch owners had not paid their 2016 Maintenance Fees.

The Pomona sales representative said that if we keep our Monarch deed, we will be assessed increased maintenance fees to pay for the repair of the Cabo property caused by a hurricane. Another example he gave was the water damage at The Point at Poipu, a Diamond acquired property in Hawaii.

This meeting lasted over five hours until midnight. Focus, decision making ability, and judgement falter if kept that long. The increase in maintenance fees after this purchase started our financial struggles.

A total of four credit card accounts were opened to pay the down payment.

http://insidetimeshare.com/timeshare-finance-barclays-hot-water-high-court/

In 2016, we took out loans to pay our maintenance fees. We also used points to pay maintenance fees, but a point purchased for around $4 is only worth $.04 if used to pay maintenance fees.

stick men

Many of the tricks of the timeshare trade, like promising a buy-back program when none exists, are not unique to Diamond. What is unique is an organized effort among 5,000 Diamond member supported Websites and Facebook members determined to report deception when it occurs by obtaining the sales agent’s name and ID number, the resort location, and date and nature of alleged deceit. In other words, we act to hold Diamond accountable when members feel “the script” is nowhere to be found.

We seek to provide Diamond Resort members a way to proactively address membership concerns; to advocate for timeshare reform; to obtain greater disclosure from the company; to advocate for a viable secondary market; and to educate prospective buyers.

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

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

We hope the goals of accountability and transparency promoted by Diamond’s new CLARITY™ program are acted on and enforced as we work in partnership to make sure they are.

Our Timeshare Advocacy Group™ motto, courtesy of Jimi Hendrix, is Knowledge speaks, wisdom listens. It is our hope that one day timeshare developers will not look upon customers such as those described in this article as “the enemy”. Those mentioned in this article with issues resolved issues were initially denied and had to fight for a positive outcome. We teach our children to admit when they make a mistake, but grown-ups working in the corporate liability world must abandon this important principle in order to survive in a sometimes customer unfriendly world.

truth set you free

So there we have it another week over in the murky world of timeshare, thanks to all those who contribute, either by writing their stories or just giving us the heads up on the latest news. The truth is out there as Mulder and Scully from the X-Files would say, it is just a matter of who you wish to believe, those who sold it to you or independent sources?

friday dog

Have a good weekend.

stop press

Just as we were about to publish this news came in from the High Court Number 3 of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Diamond Resorts Tenerife Sales SL, (Diamond Resorts Management Ltd), Club Sunterra Europe Ltd,(Sunterra Europe Ltd) Diamond Resorts International have just been ordered to return over 33,451€, with the client’s contract being declared null & void.

letter from america

Friday’s Letter From America

Welcome to this week’s Letter From America, from Irene Parker, as usual in her own style she explains what is happening across the Great Lake, but first a look at the week’s news in Europe.

Inside Timeshare is receiving many questions about the Anfi SGM and the vote to change the constitution, it seems to be causing a lot of confusion. No one seems clear as to what it is all about, so in a nutshell here it is.

Voting on Resolution 1

To establish occupancy periods for a maximum of 50 years duration, with an option to extend for further recurring occupancy periods of 50 years.

This will bring the contracts in line with the 50 year rule established in Spanish timeshare law, but it allows you to extend voluntarily to another 50 years.

Voting on Resolution 2

To limit the duration of the Timeshare Scheme to a maximum of 50 years.

The same as resolution 1 without the option to extend to another 50 years.

Voting on Resolution 3

Total change of Timeshare Scheme to adapt to Spanish Act 4/2012.

This adapts the contract to  “Rotational Enjoyment Rights” Anfi explains it thus:

“Every current holder of a membership certificate shall be allocated a number of rotational enjoyment rights, equal to the number of membership certificates they currently hold and which will entitle them to enjoy the same week of use as they currently hold”.

It will not make any difference unless you accept the new contract and sign them, it will however affect any new sales and those contracts.

As usual it is framed to confuse, why is it that anything to do with timeshare is made complicated, confusing and difficult for mere mortals to understand. Well, quite simply that is how they sold it to you in the first place!

The courts in the Canary Islands have been busy again this week, with many cases against timeshare companies being heard. Some of these sentences have yet to be announced, but as usual, we think we all know the outcome!

It has also just been announced that another ex-Anfi owner who won their case some time ago, has now received into their bank account the awarded amount. Their contract was declared null & void and now they can enjoy the 15,531€ as well as being timeshare free.

We have also been inundated with enquiries into several “claims” companies, all offering claims on a no win no fee basis. Then comes the crunch, they want several thousand pounds upfront! Obviously this is to relinquish the timeshare then the claim will be pursued, this claim is more than likely to be under the Credit Consumer Act 1974, Section 75. Which as we have stated before will not get paid out as the purchase was more than likely over the 6 year limit, (limitations act) or the fact that they will say you have received the goods and services as you have used the timeshare.

Again it pays to be cautious, so on with our Letter from America.

A Tina Timeshare Pinocchio Tale

Told by a Wyndham owner, possibly foreclosed by now, Mr. Patrick

pinocchio

By Irene Parker

June 9, 2017

Wyndham member Gene Patrick was one of several Wyndham owners to go to the trouble of making a YouTube about his timeshare trouble, continuing on with our “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” series.

Comments ranged from “this is the most boring video I’ve ever watched” to “this is the most informative video I’ve ever watched.”

Mr. Patrick is a videographer. I side with the latter, although the video is long at 45 minutes. Mr. Patrick is also an effective storyteller, but for those who would rather read a short article than watch the video, here are the seven lies (allegations) he described. He seemed to lose count after three, but I believe I found seven. Mr. Patrick did provide a disclaimer stating these were his opinions or allegations, a word I have come to detest in that, even if only half the highly educated and professional people asking Inside Timeshare for assistance with their timeshare troubles are telling the truth, Timeshare has a problem.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q218fyTmYpc

The back and forth comments among the 244 respondents sound familiar. Timeshare Facebooks that maintain a quota of happy vs angry members, admonish the angry members as irresponsible suckers that should have known better. Lawmakers and timeshare developers seem to agree with those hurling insults.

A Timeshare Tale

bloke

Gene and Melissa Patrick used his mom’s RCI points to stay at a Wyndham Resort. He was told he had to attend a member update or he would be charged $77 for a gift. He should have stopped right there, but like so many of our readers, he continued on.

We will call the sales agent Tina Timeshare as the sales agent in the video is like so many others we have reported on. As we always say, we know there are those trying to work fairly and honestly in timeshare, but the proportion of bad apples seems to be higher than even the proverbial used car salesman. Watch the video, but give it a chance. It seems boring in the beginning but the plot becomes more interesting as it thickens. For now, we will just itemize the allegations mentioned.

#1 A timeshare is tax deductible

This is a gray area, so we will defer to RedWeek and TimeSharing Today. Tax laws change, so a date would have been helpful. Apparently, in Mr. Patrick’s case, his timeshare was not tax deductible.

https://www.redweek.com/resources/articles/timeshare-tax-deductions

#2 Jim Cramer of Mad Money said Wyndham is a good investment.

Yes, Jim Cramer has been known to tout timeshare stocks, but that is not the same as saying buying a timeshare is a good idea. Mr. Patrick learned that the television clip he was shown was about Wyndham stock. Fifteen insiders made over $600,000 million on the Apollo buyout of Diamond, but that doesn’t mean buying the timeshare is a good idea. Mr. Patrick feels timeshare stock investors make money at the expense of so many who are duped into buying a timeshare.

One of our readers reported that he was shown a clip of the Ellen DeGeneres show at his Mystic Dunes presentation and told Ellen bought “hundreds of thousands” of Diamond points. Inside Timeshare is following up with Ellen on that one.

This is a good time to slip in the article I wrote for Jim Cramer’s investment news service, TheStreet, about timeshare contracts. At least Cramer allows opposing views.

https://www.thestreet.com/story/13653117/1/the-timeshare-industry-has-improved-its-reputation-but-still-faces-scrutiny.html

Tina advised Mr. Patrick that he had to promise not to sell the membership to someone for a higher price than what he had to pay. It was at this point Mr. Patrick began to lose track of the lies. “The pace of the deceit was so fast I could not keep up,” he lamented.

#3 Wyndham has a buy-back program

Mr. Patrick said his job had just been cut to 32 hours from 40 and he was unsure about his employment stability. “Not to worry Mr. Patrick! Wyndham has a buy-back program,” Tina assured him.

#4 The 90 minutes presentation was heading into its eighth hour

My favorite is #5

#5 God wants you to buy a Wyndham timeshare! He wants you to enjoy life.

Mr. Patrick might have been confused at this point because Tina probably meant “God wants me to enjoy life.”

#6 Your credit is Golden!!!

Melissa raises an eyebrow. “Our credit is golden?  Our credit score is less than 650. Our credit is not golden.” Mr. Patrick might have been confused here as well, because 650 is no problem whatsoever for a timeshare purchase so in that sense, his credit was golden, at least for the sales agent.

#7 is a sin of omission. Maintenance fees go up.

It wasn’t until the eighth or ninth hours, with pens in hand, were the Patricks told about maintenance fees and at that point they were about to collapse from exhaustion it seemed. The kids were getting a little tired too.

the end

That’s the end of our article, but we don’t know the end of the story. We do know that after Mr. Patrick lost his job he learned the hard way Wyndham did not have a buy-back program.

Which side are you on?

Like timeshare sales agent Chuck used to tell us on our timeshare Facebook, we’re all irresponsible suckers and should have known better. Lawmakers, timeshare developers and some Attorneys General seem to be on Chuck’s side.

ARDA says nine million own timeshares and 83% are happy with them. That leaves 1,530,000 not happy with most complaining about being sold by deceit, concealment, violation of trust and bait and switch. I’m on the side that thinks timeshare needs greater disclosure.

Diamond Resorts agrees too as they have launched a CLARITY™ program that, if followed, and that’s a big if, does provide accurate statements about their program. Inside Timeshare has heard stories reporting when CLARITY™ has worked and when it hasn’t.

The consumer is not off the hook here. I don’t blame the buyer for not reading word for word an 81 page contract, but the CLARITY™ forms ARE easy to read and are written in English rather than legalese. Items in bold are in bold on the form. I would have bolded what I have underlined. There are 20 items to be initialed on the legal size single sheet including:

I have reviewed the chart of Maintenance Fees for past years. I understand annual increases are normal.

The purchase of additional points will not decrease my maintenance fees.

Diamond does not offer a buy-back program and makes no representation regarding tax deductions, refinancing opportunities, or that there will be a secondary market for the sale of Points. Points do not typically appreciate in value.

I many not engage in any commercial rental activity to rent out Points for cash through online or print advertising to the general public and understand that my membership may be suspended or terminated if I do.

My membership is perpetual and may transfer by gift, or intestate succession upon my death. However, the transferee is not obligated to accept the transfer.

Redeeming points for reimbursement of travel services does not provide the best monetary value for my Points and is typically not lower in cost than spending cash for the same arrangements.

Non-Platinum Loyalty members cannot redeem Points for Maintenance Fees. Only Platinum Loyalty members may use Points to pay part of their annual Maintenance Fees, but that is not the highest and best use of Points. There is a $100 transaction fee and the redemption value per Point is currently $0.04 per Point and a maximum of 50,000 points can be redeemed.  

That about covers what Inside Timeshare has heard from readers asking Inside Timeshare for assistance with their Diamond complaints. I fell for two of the above.

So the moral of this story is not “Don’t buy a Timeshare” but “Timeshare Buyer Beware” and talk to a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association before buying any timeshare to compare the cost of buying resale or from the developer and the benefits or lack of benefits for doing so. Some may specialize in one resort or another like David Cortese of Magical Realty who specializes in Marriott Vacation Club, or Judi Kozlowski of RE/MAX who likes Hilton Grand Vacations, feeling Hilton has the most consumer friendly secondary market.

Contact Inside Timeshare or our member sponsored Diamond Advocacy Facebook to join the discussion.

We seek to provide Diamond Resort members a way to proactively address membership concerns; to advocate for timeshare reform; to obtain greater disclosure from the company; to advocate for a viable secondary market; and to educate prospective buyers.

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

There we have it, another week over and time to enjoy the weekend, breakout the BBQ’s, open a few tinnies or some vino and as our Aussie cousins say “Stick another shrimp on the barbie”!

Have a great weekend and as we always say before engaging with any company that either contacts you or you contact with anything to do with timeshare, it pays to do your homework!

stop press 1

Just as we were getting ready to hit the publish button this latest news has just come across The Great Lake from Irene Allen.

Lawsuit: Diamond Resorts ‘Harasses’ Timeshare Owners

 

https://www.classaction.org/news/lawsuit-diamond-resorts-harasses-timeshare-owners

It tells of a huge class action filed on 10 May 2017, so it looks like Diamond are being hit on both side of the lake!

 

weekend02

 

letter from america

Friday’s Letter From America

It’s that time again, another Friday Letter From America, this particular article has been submitted by Dr. Jeffrey Taylor, it really does shed some light on the Diamond Clarity Programme.

An Almost Nightmare on Timeshare Street

A Diamond CLARITY™ Experience

Shaking hands

By Dr. Jeffrey Taylor

Introduction Irene Parker

June 2, 2017

First the good news: CLARITY™ worked! Diamond’s CLARITY™ program was launched after Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich issued an “Assurance of Discontinuance” having received hundreds of complaints filed by Diamond members who either lived in Arizona or purchased in Arizona.

Inside Timeshare previously reported on an instance in Sedona Arizona when a few sales agents must not have gotten the memo about CLARITY™. Diamond did reach out to those members and resolved the dispute.

Today we are grateful to report an example of how CLARITY™ is supposed to work and did work. Unfortunately, the Taylors previously purchased two 50,000 vacation point packages they allege were sold by similar deceptive tactics spending approximately $150,000 per package. The Taylors hope Diamond will help them resolve the prior purchases applying the same principles of accountability, transparency and RESPECT for the customer.

Inside Timeshare is grateful to Jeffrey and Debra Taylor for coming forward to explain why timeshare is an industry in need of reform. Diamond Resorts is certainly not the only timeshare company under scrutiny. The Taylor’s story is long, but tangled webs often are.

Today’s timeshare story comes from Diamond’s Virginia sales center. Inside Timeshare has received several additional complaints from the same Virginia sales center, including the most recent report written by Marjorie Menacker.

http://insidetimeshare.com/another-nightmare-timeshare-street-client-experience-diamond/

Timeshare Buyers Beware – A Lesson

By Jeffrey Taylor, PhD

My wife Debra and I were original Sunterra owners. Convinced we had to become Diamond points owners after Diamond acquired Sunterra, we gave up our deeded weeks and purchased enough points to become Platinum loyalty level members. We had been having problems with availability and were assured becoming a part of the official Diamond program would resolve the issue. However, after upgrading to Platinum in 2013, we still had problems with availability.

Twice we were convinced we had to purchase additional points and did purchase two 50,000 point packages. We would have purchased a third based on tall tales, but thanks to CLARITY™, the deception was stopped. CLARITY™ kept us from making a third mistake. We are sharing our story hoping others will come forward as Diamond needs to know about the harm being done to families like ours.

How CLARITY™ worked

Our meeting took place at a Diamond Sales Center in Williamsburg, Virginia in 2017. We were having serious issues with Diamond’s program and wanted to meet with a vacation counselor. After signing a contract to buy more points, we met with a Diamond Quality Assurance person named Rick who went over the new CLARITY™ forms with us. In doing so, we realized we almost succumbed to what we feel is deception a third time. Rick asked us to write a letter.

Rick:

Thank you again for the professional way in which you handled the horrible misrepresentation that happened during our owners update yesterday. My wife and I were so upset that it was difficult to put our thoughts together in your office. We have never had a business transaction where things were not only misrepresented, but outright lies were told.

My family has been a member of Diamond for almost 27 years. We have 150,000 points. Our sole purpose in coming to Williamsburg was to have an owners update. We were specifically interested in the ways that we might sell Diamond points and see if there were ways to offset the cost of maintenance costs. We made it clear we had no interest in purchasing new points.

We met with Geoffrey Cash for over six hours. After going over a number of routine items, Geoff got to the point of explaining some “New” programs that were instituted at Diamond on Apollo’s recommendation. He made it clear that Apollo was advising Diamond,  making sweeping changes to improve Diamond’s customer satisfaction. He then started a three hour conversation on a “new” program of maintenance fee offsets. The story we got was that Apollo thought that the value of Diamond points was undervalued, but that now Platinum members could use a 30 cent per point value to pay maintenance fees. Geoff did indicate that the going rate for fees was at 4 cents a point, but that platinum members had this new program. We were told that we could use ANY amount of unused points in November and a check would be cut to pay the maintenance fees. I took Geoff’s calculator and multiplied 100,000 by 0.3 and said, “So if we had 100,000 points left over in November, we could get a $30,000 check to pay fees with”. He said this was correct.

But in being totally honest with us, Geoff indicated there was a “catch”. Apollo could only do this for Platinum members who had a minimum of 100,000 points, but 100,000 of our 150,000 points were “deeded” and another 50,000 were in the Diamond trust. To qualify for this program we would need a total of 100,000 “trust” points. Geoff flatly stated that to be a “full platinum benefits member” we need to purchase 50,000 additional “trust” points in order to benefit from the maintenance fee program. We were shown two pieces of paper with 10 and 20 year projections of the maintenance fee cost now as opposed to the reduced costs over the same time periods if we purchased the additional points. The reduction amounted to about half the fee costs, from $380,000 for 10 years to about $180,000 in the new program.

We rejected a quote for 50,000 points. They came back with a 25,000 point quote. Finally we were presented a quote for 10,000 points and told our “equity” would cover the missing 40,000 points. Geoff went into a detailed written analysis of how the total cost of the 10,000 points over 10 years would be paid for by the maintenance points offset savings. The only reason we purchased the 10,000 new points was to gain access to the maintenance fee offset. We have zero need to purchase additional vacation points. Geoff acknowledged that he understood.

The paperwork that Geoff used to explain and justify getting these new points we found out later were shredded. Why were the sales related handwritten documents destroyed rather than presented to the buyer? We have no proof of what we were told. Geoff told us twice that we should not be concerned if the “finance guy” did not know about the deals we were offered. He said finance people were several months “behind” the sales promotions.

Thankfully Rick, you caught this and prevented us from making a big mistake based on serious misrepresentations.

It appears most of the information we received is seriously incorrect. Debra called the Platinum number this afternoon and tried to verify several key points. Almost everything was not in agreement with what Geoff told us, and the written guides Geoff gave us contradict what he verbally told us. At best this is unprofessional, at worst it’s fraud.

Thank you again for the professional treatment that you demonstrated with us.

Sincerely

Dr. Jeffrey L. Taylor and Debra C, Taylor

Why we purchased two 50,000 point packages for $150,000 each

truth

Thanks to CLARITY™ the 2017 upsell was cancelled, but the 50,000 points we purchased in Williamsburg in 2016 and 50,000 points purchased in Hawaii in 2014 at Ka’anapali were sold employing the same level of outlandish claims.  

The Hawaii Up-Sell

In 2013 we were Platinum members. Availability had not improved. We went to Hawaii in 2014. Here we were told that booking priority came from the DRI collection. We were told the Hawaii collection was the DRI flagship “Premier” collection and being in this collection would solve all our availability problems. We had to purchase another 50,000 points in order to transfer our 50,000 US collection points into the Hawaii collection.

This was the first time we heard about the 30 cent per point maintenance fee reimbursement program (we know now does not exist), said to be part of the new Diamond level above Platinum.

We were also told that “renting” the weeks around Christmas in Hawaii would generate more than enough money to cover the yearly maintenance fees and was routinely done by members. When we expressed concern over how complicated this seemed, the salesman said he could help advertise the rental.

 

The CLARITY™ forms were not available at this time but the policies are the same: I may not engage in any commercial rental activities to rent our Points for cash through online or print advertising to the general public and understand that my membership may be suspended or terminated if I do.

Now we owned a total of 100,000 points but availability did not improve.

The Williamsburg Virginia Up-Sell

We went to Williamsburg for our anniversary in March of 2016 to get some answers. When we arrived we were immediately singled out as “premier double platinum members” and were assigned to their best representative, Brandi.

They explained that Brandi was based at the Polo Club in Las Vegas and was visiting the Williamsburg center to train everyone on the latest DRI offerings. She claimed to have helped develop many of Diamond’s policies.

Brandi said she would get to the root of our problems. We had Brandi go on her computer and log into our account to try and make reservations. Sure enough, there was no availability. She seemed perplexed. In checking our account Brandi was “horrified” to find that there was key information missing from our account that would help in booking resorts. After about an hour she said she knew what the problems were and, unfortunately, there was not an easy fix.

Brandi said the Hawaii Collection points only gave us booking priority in Hawaii. She said our current status in the Hawaii collections was essentially useless in booking US collection resorts. No one in Hawaii told us this fact. In addition, there was still an issue with the original grandfathered points that were not “real” DRI points. Our understanding was that the Williamsburg and Hawaii collection purchases resolved these problems and gave us priority in booking at all DRI resorts. She stated absolutely not. This was devastating news. We had points that were worthless unless we went to Hawaii every year or “rented” points.

Irina Allen has had her 139,000 Diamond points suspended, accused of renting her points. She owns Hawaii points and disputes Brandi’s verdict. “The Taylors could have used Hawaii points to book on the US Mainland as they would only lose the 13 month reservation priority. They could make reservations in any of the US Collection resorts up to 10 months in advance.”

“But gosh,” said Brandi, “You seem like such nice people.” Brandi said she was going to see if she could help because we were so upset. The answer from management was to buy another 50,000 points in the US collection so we could convert the other 100,000 points to the US collection. DRI was going to allow us to do this with only a 50,000 point purchase as opposed to 100,000 points if we did the deal that day. Our choice was leaving with 100,000 useless points or taking the 50,000 point purchase for 150,000 US points total.

We made several points clear to Brandi. We could not afford the maintenance fees over time on 150,000 points and we could not use that many points in a year.

I asked if DRI bought back points or if we could sell them. Brandi indicated that DRI did indeed buy points back. She said the market value of DRI points was $10 a point at that time and going to $12 or more in the future. Since they were selling us the 50,000 points at a huge discount of $3 a point, we could easily sell them on the open market for $3. However, if we were going to sell that low, DRI would most likely buy the points back at the price we paid for them. To prevent people from buying and dumping points, we would need to wait two years before DRI would buy them back or we could sell them.

Note from CLARITY™: Diamond does not offer a buyback program and makes no representation regarding tax deductions, refinancing, or that there will be a secondary market for the sale of Points. Points do not typically appreciate in value.

As far as too many points, Brandi told us about points being just like money and we could get rental cars, cruises, hotels, and travel tours for 30 cents a point in 2017. The same amount per point would be true for maintenance fees. When we pointed out that we could not find this on DRI’s web page, Brandi said the 30 cent deal would be in the 2017 handbook. She knew all of this because she was part of the Polo Club management team who were developing the policies.

Note from CLARITY™ form: Redeeming Points for reimbursement of travel services does not provide the best monetary value for my Points and is typically no lower in cost than spending cash for the same arrangements.

That brings us up to February 2017 in Williamsburg seeking answers because very little that Brandi told us came to pass. Geoff spun six hours of dialog, again telling us our points were not “real” platinum points and we need to buy more. That triggered the investigation and the complaint we sent Rick.

new beginnings

All Diamond members hope CLARITY™ does indeed mark a new beginning. If what the Taylors said they were told is true, it meets the FBI definition of White Collar Crime which is “deceit, concealment, violation of trust and bait and switch.”

Inside Timeshare has been receiving a number of complaints from Diamond members with very similar, and in some cases, identical complaints from highly educated professional people. It’s getting harder and harder to accept that the Taylors and all those featured in our articles are making up allegations.

Dr. Jeffrey Taylor worked 30 years for Perkin Elmer in sales and sales training.   Debra worked as a Special Education teacher until their special needs grandchildren required their support.

The Taylors found Inside Timeshare by finding our member sponsored Diamond Advocacy Group launched February 2017, now up to 300 Facebook members.

We seek to provide Diamond Resort members a way to proactively address membership concerns; to advocate for timeshare reform; to obtain greater disclosure from the company; to advocate for a viable secondary market; and to educate prospective buyers.

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

Here are other Inside Timeshare “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” articles

By Neina Orrillo

http://insidetimeshare.com/diamond-in-the-news-again/

By David Franks

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-5/

Barclaycard and Member stories

http://insidetimeshare.com/timeshare-barlcaycard-us/

By Marjorie Menacker

http://insidetimeshare.com/another-nightmare-timeshare-street-client-experience-diamond/

By Eron Grant

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-4/

By Nancy Callahan

http://insidetimeshare.com/another-nightmare-timeshare-street/

A Filipino Family

http://insidetimeshare.com/anatomy-timeshare-foreclosure/

By Laurie Sabbagh

http://insidetimeshare.com/friday-review-news-across-ocean/

A Military Family

http://insidetimeshare.com/consumer-protection-week-usa/

The Hurleys

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

Irina Allen

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

Kathie Old

http://insidetimeshare.com/call-change-us-timeshare-industry/

Wyndham Trish Williams $20 Million Whistleblower Jury Award

http://insidetimeshare.com/wyndham-whistleblower-update/

The Peasant of Venice and the Queen of Versailles

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

Sylvia Saldana

http://insidetimeshare.com/irene-parker-write-barclay-card-usa/

Thanks to Dr Jeffrey Taylor for his excellent views also to Irene who is coordinating the articles from the other side of the great lake.  So all that remains is to wish you all a very good weekend.

friday dog

letter from america

Friday’s Letter From America

Welcome to this week’s Letter From America, and what a week it has been, Irene Parker has been kept busy with the Diamond Advocacy work, as well as being slave to writing for Inside Timeshare. Keep it coming Irene!

There have been some great results for some of those the advocacy team are working for, in one case thanks to the publishing of one article Diamond reached out to a family and resolved the problem. This was even before they had lodged a complaint, so it does show that they are watching what we publish and that your voices are being heard.

Irene also confirmed that another family have had a successful resolution, we are unable to publish the details as they are subject to a non disclosure agreement. But Inside Timeshare will give credit where credit is due and say well done to Diamond Resorts International, As we often say, take notice of your members and you will prosper as a company.

Back over this side of the great lake, we have been publishing a very disturbing story about Los Claveles. The news coming in is some of the worst that I have personally ever heard, elderly people being forcibly removed from their apartments, being forcibly prevented from lawfully entering their apartments and the resort.

los claveles logo

The President of the Owners Committee, who is I believe 70 herself, has been subject to verbal and physical abuse, ( the verbal being threats of sexual abuse). All this by staff and security of the Ona Group. Long standing staff and resort manager have been sacked and replaced by Ona Groups own personnel, even though their contract to manage the resort on behalf of the owners has ended. If this is not criminal behaviour, what is?

We will be keeping you upto date on any developments as they come in, Inside Timeshare has promised to keep this story in the public eye.

That group of groundbreaking lawyers are at it again, Canarian Legal Alliance has published the results of another two victories this week, there are more but until they publish them we cannot.

The first was on Monday 22 May, in this case it was Holiday Club in Gran Canaria. The Court of First Instance No1 in Maspalomas, ordered that the contracts be declared null & void due to various infringements of the timeshare law. They also ordered that as they also had taken deposits within the cooling off period, which is forbidden, they would have to pay back DOUBLE the amount received. The client in this instance will receive back over 36,000€.

In the second case, Silverpoint have been ordered to return to the German clients over 24,000€ plus legal interest. The contract was also declared null & void.

The judge of the Court of First Instance No3 in Arona, Tenerife, found various infringements in the contract, and found that the documents were indeed illegal. This is another blow for this particular company, who have been the subject of many years of legal battles, clients are now seeing justice thanks to the rulings of the Supreme Court.

Now to this Friday’s Letter From America, this article by Irene was first published in 2016, due to the problems of the Los Claveles owners, she thought it would be appropriate to re-publish it, in support of these beleaguered owners.

The Mafia Owns my Timeshare?

How to take back your holiday or vacation

al capone

By Irene Parker

May 26, 2017

Inside Timeshare first published this true story in 2016. Given the shocking timeshare battle between the original owners of Los Claveles and the Ona Group taking place in Spain, we thought this would be a good time to publish it again in a show of support for our timeshare brothers and sisters. Here in America we are no strangers to fights over HOA (Home Ownership Associations, Club Committees, (IT comment))  timeshare board control.

Retired Officer Douglas Goldie’s letter brought back memories of our story, especially in reference to divided loyalties between timeshare owners and timeshare developers, except our owner and knight was a state representative.

It all started when I started to pitch the invitation to the annual meeting of Holiday Shores in the trash bin when I happened to read something to this effect:

You are invited to attend the annual meeting for Holiday Shores. Please consider attending or your week will be auctioned off on the steps of the Sheriff’s office on Tuesday at 3:30 PM.

It was the first and last timeshare annual meeting we ever attended.

Here’s what happened

One day, in 1984, my fiancée told me he bought a timeshare called Holiday Shores.  Little did he know it was owned by the Mafia.  Holiday Shores is located in the Missouri Ozarks and was a popular vacation spot for the Mafia.

Needless to say, we attended. There was not enough room for all of us at the scheduled location, so we all moved to the church where we managed to get a seat in the rafters. The resort’s timeshare attorney started the meeting by dramatically rolling out a scroll that flew out about 20 feet as he explained the Bennett family of New York was putting a lien on the property as the construction company had not been paid by the resort owners. Somehow the resort discovered the owners of the resort and the owners of the construction company were cousins.    

Fortunately for us, Jim Marshall of Marshall Missouri was an owner and a state representative. The story has a happy ending because, thanks to Mr. Marshall, and the efforts of the timeshare owners sticking together, our timeshare was taken back and the resort lived happily ever after. It’s still there.

The moral of the story is that owners can make a difference.

Richard Rohr in his book, Immortal Diamond, talks about Swiss psychiatrist C. G. Jung and how he feared the manipulation, violation, and “annulment” of the human personality. Although Jung was often critical of Christianity, his comment parallels Pope John Paul the II when he described “rigid capitalism” as when capitalism becomes destructive, denying many of the essentials of humanness.

Battles like the one taking place at Los Claveles and at various resorts in America and Canada are really about greed. Ever an optimist, Inside Timeshare reaches out not only to timeshare owners, but to timeshare sales agents and developers to come to the table to work out differences. Listen, don’t dictate.

A 90 year old young new friend of mine named Ed said in a Centering Prayer meeting after reading Mr. Rohr’s passage above, “Unity is about Flow. When we are divided we are not “In Synch”. Whether the division is over timeshare control or the political divide at its worst in America, let’s hope both sides of the industry and our country take a deep breath, clean out our ears, and listen.

As I wrote this story, the phone rang with a second positive outcome this week from a timeshare member angry with Diamond Resorts. She happily reported that the issue she and her husband had with Diamond Resorts had been resolved and she knew it would not have happened without the availability and efforts of our Timeshare Advocacy Group.

It’s easy to focus on the negatives, but we must give credit where credit is due. The wheels turn slowly, but they won’t turn at all if no one is listening and no one will listen if timeshare members don’t organize, energize and act to let the people who control our vacation know when the motivation for greed has overpowered human compassion and understanding.

Sometimes timeshare reform feels like this but together progress happens.

hammer

We seek to provide Diamond Resort members a way to proactively address membership concerns; to advocate for timeshare reform; to obtain greater disclosure from the company; to advocate for a viable secondary market; and to educate prospective buyers.

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

Inside Timeshare (Charles & Irene) thank all those who have contributed in this week’s articles, we also thank you all for the comments and support on the Advocacy and Inside Timeshare Facebook pages.

These are your stories and experiences, by sharing them you help others to see they are not alone. Keep contributing and let’s work together to bring some justice to owners and members.

Have a good weekend.

weekend cat

letter from america

Friday’s Letter From America

Welcome to this Friday’s Letter from America, first a recap on the past week.

On Monday we wished the National Timeshare Owners Association a happy anniversary. For 20 years this organisation has been the voice of US timeshare owners, it is a totally independent body, not governed by the industry. Greg Crist the CEO works very hard to create a dialogue with the industry, he believes as we do that without dialogue there can be no changing of attitudes.

We also warned about another new addition to the Litigious Abogados family, Abogados Amable & Garcia.

Their website http://www.abogadosamablegarcia.com/ is the same as all the others, except for new photographs of the so called “lawyers”, (probably just downloaded from the images on the web), even the names are variations of the others used. We have yet to see what the paperwork is like and what names appear on those and the emails, somehow we think the “Departmento Legal” will have the same ladies names as all the others.

Yesterday we publish the story about the legal action by the London law firm Edwin Coe, who are representing around 106 clients against Barclays Partner Finance. This case is being held at the High Court in London, it revolves around the issuing of loans for the sale of timeshare as an “investment” by Resort Properties / Silverpoint, with a claim of over £1.5 million.

This article has already prompted a huge response on both sides of the great lake.

On another matter, it would look like that MGM Muthu (formerly Petchy) are being very aggressive in chasing “arrears” in maintenance. Many of these that we are hearing about are those who believed they no longer owned as they “sold” years ago.

These demands are coming from “Customer Services” and signed by Luliia Sulovei. They threaten court action if they are not paid and also demand around £3000 plus the “arrears” to be paid for them to grant a surrender. Most of those contacting Inside Timeshare are elderly and some are widows. This is not a nice situation and in our view amounts to bullying and extortion!

extortion

We will be publishing a full article on this in the next week or so.

Now, on with this weeks Letter from America.

Don and Irene are making their way back home today from Arizona. Irene met many new and old Diamond Advocacy Group friends during her stay and two baby rattlesnakes. (These may have been trainee sales agents). Irene has a degree in biology and said she used to teach a class on reptiles. Irene says she likes snakes and alligators (you would need to to survive a timeshare presentation). Yes, they were rattling.

Irene would like to thank Diamond CEO Michael Flaskey, intervening on behalf of the ailing pool table at Spoke and Wheel restaurant at Los Abrigados in Sedona. Kyli, the restaurant manager, contacted Irene informing her that the antique Brunswick pool table (and I thought Brunswick only made pin spotters) is to be restored to its original glory and another manager, that same day, went out and purchased additional pool sticks (we call them cues). Don and Irene ate at the restaurant. The food was superb. While dining, the Diamond Advocacy Group gained a new member. Many of the guests staying at Los Abrigados are original ILX owners. Now they are Diamond members.

Eron Grant is not a pool table, but she hopes Mr. Flaskey will show her family the same compassion.

Diamond Resorts was a Huge Mistake!

Good choice

By Eron Grant

May 12, 2017

I have asked Inside Timeshare to publish an account of our experience with Diamond Resorts. We hope to warn others to not fall victim to high pressure same day sales and encourage readers to become involved with our Diamond Advocacy Group before buying something they will live to regret later.

We seek to provide Diamond Resort members a way to proactively address membership concerns; to advocate for timeshare reform; to obtain greater disclosure from the company; to advocate for a viable secondary market; and to educate prospective buyers.

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

Many Diamond members are happy with their Diamond membership. I believe if sold properly, Diamond’s vacation program could be of benefit to some families. In our case the program was grossly oversold in terms of availability. The Diamond program will not work for us as we have all the basic timeshare benefits we need as Marriott timeshare owners.

Here’s what happened

We stayed at Diamond’s resort, The Ridge in Sedona Arizona, over Thanksgiving 2016. We booked our stay through Interval International. At the time, I had not heard of Diamond Resorts.

I called the concierge at The Ridge to ask for restaurant recommendations. She said she would get back to me. I thought it odd that a concierge needed to get back to a guest about restaurant reservations.

Later that day the concierge called back asking if anyone had scheduled us for a presentation with a DRI team member. She told me about a few restaurants she thought we would enjoy, adding that Diamond would give us a $150 gift card if we agreed to attend a 90 minute sales presentation. We agreed.

When we arrived we told the sales representative, Karen Calvano, we had a tee time scheduled in a few hours. She seemed irritated and said we would not be finished in that amount of time. Puzzled, we told her the concierge told us the meeting would only take 90 minutes. She wanted to know who told us that. She complained about the tee time when we followed her to the presentation area. She kept saying that she felt rushed going through the presentation. The presentation lasted six hours.

Ms. Calvano told us that Diamond owns numerous properties and that finding something in our local Texas area would not be a problem. We specifically asked about Texas and Louisiana because we are both working and with the kids, we can’t easily fly to take vacations due to the expense and trouble flying entails. We did say we could drive to New Mexico to ski with our kids, and added that we wanted to stay at Great Wolf Lodge.

We agreed to purchase 3500 Diamond points. When I tried to book Great Wolf Lodge, I learned it would take approximately $11,000 in equivalent DRI maintenance fee dollars to stay one week at Great Wolf Lodge when it could be booked online for $3,300. The same holds true for New York City and other big cities because Diamond does not own these properties. They are “affiliated” properties so never discounted.

I recently got in contact with another Diamond member on our DRI Advocacy Facebook group who reported an almost identical complaint. According to a DRI customer service representative, the only property available near Boston was Great Wolf Lodge Fitchburg.

The Fitchburg property was available August 14 – Aug 18 for 16,000 points.

Diamond only had availability for a Deluxe Queen.

Searching the Great Wolf Lodge Fitchburg site directly, Great Wolf had availability for a Wolf Pup Den for four nights for $1429.96 plus 270.31 tax totaling $1700.27.  At $.23 per point DRI maintenance fees, this equals $3,680 in equivalent maintenance fee dollars so $3,680 for the same property, the same week, could be booked directly with Great Wolf for $1700.

Back to our Diamond experience

Ms. Calvano told us we would be assigned the Platinum loyalty level due to being Marriott members. We own a three bedroom Marriott timeshare in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Therefore, Ms. Calvano said we could book a studio room and upgrade three times at no additional fee. Later we were told this was not true.

As we were leaving, Ms. Calavano said to contact her at any time if we had questions or needed anything at all. I emailed her on December 1, 2016 with a question but never heard back.  

In December 2016 Linda Barton, Member Marketing Agent called us and asked to attend an “orientation for new members”. She said we would learn all about our new membership, and told us to be sure to bring our tablet given to us by DRI. The orientation took place January 13-15, 2017. It was called a Diamond “Once in a Lifetime Event” in Orlando, FL. My husband had asked what this event of a lifetime entailed. He was told we would learn all about our new membership and possible upgrades. “But we just purchased our membership! We are not going to spend any more money,” my husband informed Ms. Barton.

Looking back, we should have suspected the orientation would end up a sales presentation. At the orientation the sales representative, Chris, told us we would only be allowed to upgrade one time at no extra fee. This contradicted what Karen Calvano had initially told us.

Chris said at the orientation we could sell our points back for 30 cents per point if we were platinum, but the brochure we had been provided said it was 10 cents per point. When my husband asked Chris to show us on paper where it said $.30 cents per point, Chris pointed to his handwritten notes to show us where he had written that number down. My husband demanded he show us somewhere in the DRI paraphernalia where it said points could be sold back for $.30 per point, but Chris said, “Never mind if you’re not interested. I don’t want you to have hard feelings.”

Next, we were handed over to another DRI employee who repeatedly said, “I am not sales.” He then proceeded to encourage us to purchase more points, because we could get them at a low cost of $4 something per point which, according to him, was unheard of. The fee to purchase the additional points was over $3,000 with another $4,000 something due in a year or so after that. We turned it down. This ordeal took over 3 hours.

We contacted the Diamond Resorts Advocacy Group at Diamond that promises “to assist Diamond member from Day One should a member have questions or concerns about their purchase!”

Diamond refused to cancel our contract. We filed a complaint with the Arizona Attorney General after learning Diamond had been issued an “Assurance of Discontinuance” as a result of over 400 complaints filed against the company just in Arizona. Diamond automatically denied our claim, but after filing a rebuttal the Arizona AG said we are eligible for consideration.

In response to the Arizona AG action, Diamond has introduced a new program called Clarity that is about Accountability, Transparency and RESPECT for the customer. As far as we are concerned, nothing could be farther from the truth.

Here’s a bit of information about one of our local Texas businesses owned by Jim McIngvale. Mr. McIngvale has owned Mattress Mack since 1981. It is a hugely successful business in Houston.  

Gallery Furniture believes in being on the right side, in other words, to be on the Gallery Furniture customers’ side instead of defending the industry. Advocate for the customers! Gallery Furniture makes it very clear, that we’re here for the Gallery Furniture customers, to better their lives with high quality furniture sold at the best price possible, not to pad the pockets of our manufacturers. Come out to Gallery Furniture TODAY for the best customer service in the business… (August, 2015):

http://www.mattressmack.com/macks_weblog/satisfied-customers/

Mr. McIngvale can be booked for speaking engagements.

Customer care

Perhaps Diamond would like to book him soon?

Thank you Eron for your contribution and another thank you to Irene Parker for coordinating it from the States.

Inside Timeshare welcomes contributions outlining your experiences, it helps other to know that they are not alone. Together you can influence the industry, changing the way they view the owners / members, along with the NTOA, the advocacy facebook pages and this publication you do have a voice. The industry is taking note, we know that for a fact, it is just a matter of time before they actually implement real changes.

All it leaves us to say is we hope that Irene and Don have a safe journey home from vacation, that all of you have a great weekend.

weekend cat

 

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