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The Tuesday Slot

Welcome to The Tuesday Slot, this week we welcome another new contributor, known only as “Industry Observer” as he wishes to remain anonymous. The introduction is once again by our very own Irene Parker, who was very excited to have this published, as it is from someone who has watched the industry for many years even though he has never purchased. It is certainly a very welcome independent insight into the timeshare industry and sales presentations.

Firstly a little news provided by Canarian Legal Alliance, they are certainly going to be keeping the courts busy over the next month.

At present they have in various courts around Spain 75 pre-trial scheduled, the three main timeshare companies are Anfi on Gran Canaria, Silverpoint on Tenerife and Club la Costa who have resorts on mainland Spain and the Canary Islands. Pre-trials are basically a formality and a last chance for a settlement to be reached before the case goes to a full trial. At the Courts in Maspalomas, Gran Canaria, 4 judges have been dealing with cases at this stage and issuing sentences without the need to go to a full trial. They have sat on so many cases now that they feel it is a waste of the courts time to set full trials. This has certainly speeded up the process for many clients.

Along with the pre-trials, the are 26 trials to he heard against the same timeshare resorts, again at various courts around Spain. We hope to bring you news of the conclusions as and when the cases are concluded and the judges issue their judgements.

One of the many complaints that Inside Timeshare receives from readers about their timeshares is the number of resorts that are advertising on the internet and the various booking websites.

This was sent to Inside Timeshare from one very angry reader, (see link below), it is for Select Marina Park, Mijas, Costa Del Sol. This is a Club la Costa Resort, which as we know is not a cheap timeshare to buy. It also uses the points system, which has been deemed illegal by the Supreme Court on many occasions, the reason is that it lacks any substance.

What that means is that you do not actually have any guarantee of booking your holiday accommodation, it is subject to availability. Yet this resort is being advertised on hotels.com for a fraction of the cost of the exorbitant maintenance fees that owners / members are required to pay annually, on top of the original extremely high purchase price. Is it any wonder that so many timeshare purchasers want out of their contracts!

https://uk.hotels.com/ho278895/?q-check-out=2019-02-24&tab=description&q-room-0-adults=2&YGF=14&q-check-in=2019-02-17&MGT=7&WOE=7&WOD=7&ZSX=0&SYE=3&q-room-0-children=0&fbclid=IwAR1grWTKZjEyb8FbVqjn5cSw_7EABpY-akPpfUEq9Z51wfQ_LSmrzDgiTVs

Now for our Tuesday article.

Why at Age 70 I Have Never Attended a Timeshare Presentation

Introduction by Irene Parker

Timeshare members are always grateful when a member who has been through the complaint or foreclosure process, thinks beyond their own Nightmare on Timeshare Street to support others. There is nothing more frustrating than groveling before timeshare customer service representatives who dismiss complaints of unfair and deceptive sales practices with, “You signed a contract” or “We are not responsible for what our sales agents say.” Our deepest gratitude to the author of today’s article who has been keeping Charles and me informed of industry developments over the past two years so we can in turn pass that information on to our readers. He has never owned a timeshare.  

By an Industry Observer

January 22, 2019

I have been a timeshare industry observer since 1985. I have concluded that timeshare is not for me. I shun contracts (especially perpetual ones) and I don’t plan very well in advance. For those with disposable income and the ability to plan, timeshare may be a rewarding experience. However, I would advise looking to the resale market for the best bargains. And, I would study the industry before dipping my feet in the resort pool.

In 1985 my wife and I were at North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on our first beach vacation. Upon leaving the supermarket, I noticed a flyer underneath our car’s windshield. Similar flyers were under all the out-of-state car windshields. The flyer offered a $40 gift to preview a new resort in North Myrtle Beach. Husband and wife were required to attend. A minimum income of $30,000 was required, as well as a driver’s license and credit card. Military couples with a certain minimum grade level were also welcome. I thought, “Why do they have to pay people to go see something for sale?”  People don’t get paid to look at houses or condos, and condos were quite the rage in Myrtle Beach in 1985.

I filed this experience in the back of my mind. It would reemerge numerous times in the future. On subsequent vacations to Myrtle Beach, Virginia Beach, Charleston, Orlando, Branson, and of course, Las Vegas, I would become more than aware of the smiling faces of OPCs who wanted to be my friend to get me to attend a tour, open house, remodel, new resort – whatever. Each approached us at a boardwalk or a booth, often a hyped-up boy or girl who had something special to share with me for only a few minutes of my time (90 minutes). I always reacted poorly to these solicitations since #1: I was on vacation and #2: I am not a real estate guy.

Fast forward to 2012 – I was in the midst of closing a company that I had run for 24 years. The economy had been unkind to the printing industry. I had to close the doors to my tiny empire and move to an early retirement. Fortunately, I could afford to do so. In 2013, finding myself with time on my hands, I decided to study the timeshare industry which had been in the shadows of my vacations. Three of my friends owned timeshare in different systems. I had quizzed them on their experiences. One loved his relationship.  The other two had mixed feelings about whether the process was worth it.

I began to google the names of timeshare operators along with keywords – problems, complaints, regrets, and lawsuits. Come to find out, there were a lot of people who bought timeshares that either didn’t want them or felt they had been duped into buying them. As mentioned, many are satisfied with their purchase, but it appeared many families had been financially harmed by their decision to buy a timeshare.

I have spent five plus years spending an hour or two a day on sites like TUG, RedWeek, Inside Timeshare, Inside the Gate, YouTube, and complaint sites. I developed a theory as to how the timeshare companies succeed in plying their trade.

Here are my simple conclusions:

First:  It starts with a bribe. It may be money, food, gambling, discounts, shows, or trips. Prospects are offered something of value by an OPC (outside person contact) for attending a presentation.  David Siegel, Jr. of Westgate timeshare fame, has termed prospects “mooches.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_gFaO11sNY

Second:  It is seldom the promised 90 minutes. The goal is to play a game of attrition. The longer the interview, the better the chance of capitulation – the customers will buy SOMETHING even when there may be an agreed upon pact not to buy. There is a good possibility that the prospects will break down and sign just to get their gifts and get out the door.

Third:  There will be more than one presenter. First is the “greeter” who will become your friend. They need to see your driver’s license and credit card. The driver’s license is to verify the family relationship and the credit card is to run a credit check. The credit check may be an unwanted surprise. The first sales agent will extol all the virtues of membership. If there is no bite, he/she will get approval to lower the price. After the initial sales agent, comes the manager or “closer.” He/she is out to make sure a sale happens. The friendliness will have worn thin. Prices will be reviewed and maybe lowered again. The sale needs to be made. If no sale has ensues, then comes the “survey person.”  He/she will review the presentation, the offers, and reasons for not buying. He/she will try one last attempt to sell an exit package. It may be a “discovery” “trial” or “sample” package. This will allow the prospects the chance to check out the resorts in the system, but requires another presentation. Trial packages are limited in scope and availability.

Fourth:  The whole job of the sales team is to make a SALE and that sale needs to be made TODAY. They know no one comes back later to purchase a timeshare. The sales team is on commission. They don’t eat if they don’t sell.

Fifth:  Truth may take a back door to the need for a sale. There is a clause in most, if not all timeshare contracts, that says the prospect did not rely on verbal representations to make their purchase. How many of us have relied on the ethics of the salesperson sitting across from us when buying a car, boat, condo or house? In Florida timeshare sales agents are licensed sales agents but they are exempted from the ethics requirement! It’s pretty scary if you can’t rely on ethics.

The terms of the contract are in the contract – not in the words of the salesman. The salesman may say that the company will buy back your timeshare. They won’t. He/she may say that the timeshare will go up in value. It will not.  He/she may say that you can go anywhere at any time. Complaints about availability abound. Attorney Mike Finn called this verbal representation clause a “license to lie,” and the beleaguered buyer unwittingly signs voluminous documents containing this one toxic sentence timeshare companies over-rely on.

Sixth:  Most timeshare contracts are perpetual. Once the three to ten day state contract rescission period is up, the buyer may have no other option but to pay the mortgage and maintenance fees if they cannot convince the timeshare company to break the agreement. It can be sold or given away, but the marketplace is almost non-existent. A default can have dramatic consequences on one’s credit score.

Seventh:  Sales people will make sure that no hand-written notes leave the room. False promises are not in the contract. The contract is long and initialed in many places. There are three things to be especially aware of.

  1. There is often a clause that says the company can change the terms and conditions of the contract whenever they want. Why even have contracts when benefits can be changed at any time?
  2. Accommodations are subject to availability. There are many complaints about lack of availability. Actual availability often cannot be verified until the buyer has access to the booking site, conveniently after the rescission period has expired.    
  3. These days contracts are often signed electronically, meaning your initials are stored and then tapped, tapped, tapped on a cheap tablet even tech savvy buyers find hard to read.

Eighth:  Timeshare contracts have a rescission period, which varies by state. It may be three to ten days. There are creative ways sales agents and their company can dodge the rescission period. A new program to be relieved of maintenance fees (that doesn’t exist) won’t be available until after the first of the year. While on vacation, sometimes with the kids, reviewing complex contracts can be a difficult chore. Sadly, even reading the contract doesn’t always disclose some of the pitfalls, like availability.

Ninth:  Roughly 50% of the cost of a timeshare purchase is the marketing, promotion, and commission costs. Think about it. If you list your house for sale, you pay 6% or 7% commission. What would happen to your home price if you had to pay a 50% commission to buy? Add that to the false promise that your timeshare is easy sell and you have a disaster waiting to happen. Sellers are lucky to get 10% of their initial investment back, thanks to the lack of an adequate secondary market. Timeshare developers don’t even want the timeshare back. You may even have to pay the developer a fee to take the timeshare back.

Ten:  Timeshares can be purchased on the resale market for pennies on the dollar. Sites like Tug2.net, Ebay, and Redweek have real people selling real timeshares for bargain prices. You can check with a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association to find out if your timeshare has a secondary market value. They can explain the pros and cons of buying from the secondary market compared to buying directly from a timeshare sales center. Plus LTRBA members have knowledge of all timeshares.

Don’t jump. Don’t believe you have to buy TODAY. Research the company. Research the industry. Social Media is here to stay. Chances are there is a member Facebook page out there for the timeshare you are considering, with members reporting positive and negative experiences you can evaluate. Do your timeshare math to calculate the purchase price, borrowing costs, and annual fees, not to mention special assessments. Check the resale market.

Vacation Smart!

Thank you to our Industry Observer for his observations. Here are a few member sponsored sites to check with to determine if you are jumping into your vacation dream so that you don’t end up one of our Nightmare on Timeshare Street authors:

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

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

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

Thank you Irene for the introduction and a very big thank you to our industry observer for this article and all your information over the past two years.

If you have any comments on this or any other article, please use our contact page, we welcome your insights.

If you need any information about any company that has contacted you, that you have found on the internet or from an advert in a publication, then again use our contact page and we will help you do your credibility checks. Remember, doing your homework is one of the most important ways of saving you from losing your hard earned cash.

 

Start the Week: Associates of John “Goldfinger” Palmer Now in Court

It has been announced that the Audiencia Nacional, or Spain’s National Court in Madrid is to hear the case against the business associates of the late John “Goldfinger” Palmer. This case has taken many years to get to this stage, but at last we may be seeing a conclusion to what has been called one of the largest frauds in Spanish timeshare history.

The trial which begins today, Monday 21 January 2019, will see the following defendants appear. Richard Cashman, who is attributed to be Palmer’s lieutenant, Keith Peter Davies, head of the organisation on Gran Canaria, Dean Lawrence Wells, the promoter of the operation, Darren John Morris, Paul John Murry, Christina Ketley, Ramonón Solano Pérez, Jorge Maximiliano Gallart, Neil Campbell and Jacoba Klazina.

The case revolves around the selling of timeshare properties between 1993 and when the organisation was dismantled in 2002 by the then Judge of the Audiencia Nacional Baltasar Garzón.

In the scam which saw hundreds of unsuspecting holiday makers losing many thousands of pounds each, was based on the overselling of timeshare properties with the promise of resales for a profit. It also morphed into a non-existent holiday club set up by the organisation.

At the time of his death at his Essex home in June 2015, Palmer was on bail from the Spanish Courts, even though he had served time in the UK for similar offences.

The Prosecutor’s Office is calling for prison sentences of 8 to 12 years, plus fines of over 2 million euros as a result of its provisional findings. These are for crimes ranging from illicit association, conspiracy, fraud and in some cases illegal possession of firearms.

Although this case has taken many years, it would appear at last that justice may be done, this is may help close a very sad chapter in the lives of the victims, whether they will ever get any of their money back is unlikely.

The Audiencia Nacional is a special and exceptional high court, its jurisdiction covers all Spanish territory, as well as international crimes which come under the jurisdiction of Spanish courts. It consists of:

  • Criminal Chamber
  • Appeals Chamber
  • Administrative Chamber
  • Social Chamber

This case is being heard in the Criminal Chamber which is competent to try serious crimes such as: terrorism, money laundering, genocide, plus many more. It also makes decisions about extradition demands from foreign countries and the execution of European Arrest warrants. They may also hear appeals against rulings from the Juzgados Centrales de lo Penal, (Central Criminal Courts. Decisions by any of these divisions may be appealed to the Supreme Court.

Links to the announcement in the Spanish press.

https://m.eldiario.es/canariasahora/tribunales/Audiencia-Nacional-estafadores-Canarias-Goldfinger_0_859164155.html

https://www.laopinion.es/sociedad/2019/01/20/juzgan-red-mafioso-john-palmer/946217.html

Past articles on John Palmer, the second link includes a recording of the Roger Cook investigation.

http://insidetimeshare.com/timeshare-dirty-word-many/

http://insidetimeshare.com/press-release-from-cla-plus-a-quick-look-at-the-biggest-timeshare-fraud-in-history/

It may be some time before any news comes in about this case, but Inside Timeshare will be publishing the result when it is made public.

The Tuesday Slot

Welcome to this weeks Tuesday Slot, today Irene Parker looks at what constitutes proof when making a complaint, this is something Inside Timeshare has heard from the many readers who have reached out with their “Nightmares on Timeshare Street”, “you have no proof”. Attorney Mike Finn also gives his view on the subject, as usual his contribution is clear and concise.

Some Timeshare Regulators Respond: You have no proof

What is Proof? Strength in Numbers

By Irene Parker

Tuesday January 15, 2019

Rule 406 – Habit; Routine Practice

Evidence of a person’s habit or an organization’s routine practice may be admitted to prove that on a particular occasion the person or organization acted in accordance with the habit or routine practice. The court may admit this evidence regardless of whether it is corroborated or whether there was an eyewitness.

There are volumes of timeshare complaints and a sizeable timeshare exit industry created by the lack of a secondary market and by the practice of “pitching heat” which is defined by the industry as the practice of unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices. It is a term well known and unique to the timeshare industry.

Why do some state Attorneys General pursue complaints based on a volume of complaints, while Florida’s timeshare division, the Department of Business & Professional Regulation (DBPR) and Nevada’s Real Estate Division (NRED) dismissed all of our readers’ complaints with, respectively, “Verbal representations are hard to prove” and in Nevada, “You have no proof.”

Not all Attorneys General turn a blind eye. Outgoing Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen recognized the problem in Connecticut, nowhere near the hotbed of timeshare sales as Florida or Nevada. Still, any regulator speaking up to support the reduction of unfair and deceptive sales practices in the acquiring or the disposing of a timeshare is appreciated. Timeshare complaints rank second on the list of complaints at the Connecticut Attorney General’s office.  

https://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/local/Timeshare-Troubles–What-To-Do-Before-You-Buy-and-Sell-504017151.html

So what does constitute proof?

After hearing from 659 timeshare members, including 94 veterans or active duty service members, the best item of proof I can determine from the illustration above is probable cause: facts and circumstances that would lead an ordinary person to believe. We have compiled a summary report of 71 highest loyalty timeshare members who all describe how they were up-sold into insolvency, believing sales agents who told them that by buying additional points they could sell points or be able to pay maintenance fees. These programs did not exist. I find it hard to believe anyone with an ounce of common sense could read this 135 page report and not conclude these previously loyal members had been duped. I have sent this report to Senators, but they seem to feel “They signed a contract” suffices. Influential lobbyists likely play a part.

I asked attorney Mike Finn about proof. According to Mike, proof is anything that a trial judge receives from the witness stand or by the introduction of a document. “It is up to the judge to decide what is relevant – the testimony can be either oral or documentary. A judge may or may not deem the testimony allowable as evidence, but don’t undersell oral testimony,” Mike explains. “As stated in Rule 406 above, is the evidence presented of a common theme or is there a consistent pattern of complaints? It may still be hearsay, which makes it less reliable or relevant, but a summary report from 71 high loyalty timeshare members, all testifying that they purchased for similar reasons, reasons that did not exist, may very well be credible. Trial judges have a lot of discretion or latitude to render a decision over what is relevant or not relevant. Oral proof can serve as proof.”

One obstacle is that about half of the 71 highest loyalty timeshare members signed a non-disclosure agreement. Does that mean they cannot share their experience in a court of law? According to Mike, “There are times when a disclosure can be made despite the witness having signed an NDA. Even if a subpoena cannot overcome an NDA, the fact that all of these people filed claims and prevailed after signing a confidentiality agreement, would present a common intent, plan, scheme or motive that encouraged unfair and deceptive sales practices. It becomes more relevant when the practice has been reported time and time again. Everything is possible, but may not be probable. Not all judges see things the same way, but common intent does follow the rules of evidence. Rules of evidence are reliable and courts use them.”

In Florida, a two party state, both parties must be aware of an in-person recording, making proof even more difficult to come by. In Nevada, only one party must be aware of an in-person recording. Members should consider recording their sales session in states where this is legal.

It seems we keep circling back to the court of public opinion. Let the timeshare buyer be informed that all complaints that begin with, “The sales agent said” will be dismissed with, “You signed a contract.” Then at least the timeshare buyer would know they cannot believe a word a timeshare sales agent says. That at least would be fair and not deceptive, a level playing field.

 There seems to be in the timeshare industry a corporate culture that promulgates deceit. The sales agent deceives, the company responds, “You signed a contract” and when this response is seconded by the state regulator, there is, in effect, no regulation. One former timeshare sales agent described this process as a hamster wheel of recycled inventory, leaving the young, the old, veterans and active duty service members in the wake of timeshare foreclosure. Families are financially and sometimes physically devastated. Many seniors have reported weight loss, inability to sleep, and in one case, a heart attack, when questioned about the financial harm caused by buying a timeshare. It is ironic that vacation plans are supposed to reduce stress.    

Another question raised is whether the buyer signed under duress, after hour’s long sales sessions, provided only a 20 minute signing period for a buyer to review a document that the best lawyer could not review in less than a few hours.

Where do we go from here?

Strength in numbers – Keep sharing your stories.

We hope regulators, lawmakers and Wall Street will not turn a blind eye. We have heard form 659 readers, and these are only the readers we have followed along with resolution or lack of. There are thousands of Better Business Bureau complaints, lawsuits and Attorneys General investigations involving thousands of timeshare buyers. Let’s hope greater awareness will at least alert the consumer, the deck is stacked against them.

Self-help groups we feel are not industry influenced:

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

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

Thank you Irene and also a very big thanks to Attorney Mike Finn, Inside Timeshare is sure this article will help to explain to our readers the problems that many of them face when filing complaints. This is a huge problem not just in the US but also in Europe and the rest of the world. The one thing that can be said is that Spain has brought in laws to regulate the sale of timeshare, the industry had plenty of time to get their house in order, but as we know they thought they were above the law. Now they are finding the full wrath of the law and it is costing them millions.

For those who purchased timeshare in Spain, they now have the courts and judges on their side, no longer can the sales agents use misleading tactics to gain a sale. We are also seeing a very significant drop in the sale of timeshare, with many sales decks being closed down. The unfortunate side effect of this are the number of bogus claims companies getting on the bandwagon, using the law to dupe the unsuspecting owners. Many of these have been set up by former sales agents and managers and in many cases using stolen data of their former clients to “scam” them out of yet more money.

Whether you attend a presentation for a timeshare, receive a call about claiming or relinquishing or even find a company on the internet or advert in a publication, the advice is always the same, do not commit to anything until you have done your homework.

Mid Week Report: Diamond Resorts Receive Second Supreme Court Sentence

The Supreme Court, Spain’s highest judicial body has again found against Diamond Resorts as per their previous 129 rulings. This week alone Diamond have lost 2 cases at the highest court in Spain, it all centers on their points system which has been declared an illegal product due to lack of tangibility and the length of the contract.

In the past three years, the Supreme Court has ruled on 131 cases involving the sales of timeshare, each time it has upheld its previous rulings, on many occasions it has added further rulings on the interpretation of the Spanish Timeshare Laws 42/98 & 4/12.

The latest case started with a trial at the Court of First Instance No 24 in Tenerife, the judge in this instance found for the clients as dictated by the previous ruling of the Supreme Court and the Spanish Timeshare laws.

The infractions were the contract had no end date, which is in contravention of the law as laid down and reinforced by previous rulings, the law clearly states that a timeshare contract should be a minimum of 3 years and a maximum of 50 years in duration. The second was the points system, which shows no tangible product, this being a fixed week number and fixed apartment number, which guarantees the purchaser the period and accommodation each year.

The Judge ruled in favour of the client, declaring the contract null and void plus the return of all money paid. However, Diamond did not agree and promptly appealed the decision to the High Court.

During this appeal, Diamond pleaded that what they had sold was not timeshare, that just like Silverpoint, these were “investors” and not consumers of timeshare. For some reason the judges at the High Court agreed and overturned the decision of the Court of First Instance.

The lawyers of Canarian Legal Alliance representing the clients, placed an appeal with the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court had already previously ruled on the point of “investors as opposed to consumers”, ruling that they are consumers.

On 13 December 2018, the judges of the Supreme Court overturned the decision of the Tenerife High Court upholding and reaffirming the ruling of the Court of First Instance, in favour of the client and in accordance to their previous rulings.

The court along with the original decision declared the contract null and void, awarded over 11,000€ plus they ordered the return of all legal fees for the original case and the appeal, sending it back to the original court for execution of sentence.

The full sentence can be seen in the PDF below.

Supreme Court 2nd Diamond sentence data protected

Over the past 3 or so years the Supreme Court has been consistent in reaffirming their previous rulings, which all courts must abide by. The basic rulings are that deposits or any payment made within the cooling off period are illegal, including those made to a third party. The points and floating weeks systems are not permitted as they do not guarantee anything to the consumer. The duration of the contract is another aspect they have consistently ruled upon, that any contract with a period of more than 50 years is not permitted.

As with the Silverpoint rulings on the “investment packs” which Silverpoint argued made the purchaser an “investor” not a “consumer”, the court has ruled these are indeed timeshares and the law applies. This is also being used in the case of fractional ownership and more recently the Silverpoint Company Participations, the courts have ruled that they are timeshare and that the consumer has the full protection of the timeshare law.

On the point of “investing”, timeshare is not an investment in property, it is a right of use and enjoyment of accommodation for specific periods of time, therefore it should never be marketed or sold as an investment. This is actually borne out by First National Trust in 2012, they are the trustees for the Club la Costa Fractional Owners Club, they informed CLC that fractional should never be marketed as an investment. (See link below).

http://clcmembers.blogspot.com/

Over the years we have seen many timeshare companies change the product, giving it new names, in many cases it has been a blatant attempt to bypass the timeshare laws, but thanks to the courts and especially the Supreme Court, this has been thwarted.

As with any new law, it has taken a long time and many test cases to clarify the interpretation of the law, there is still a long way to go as timeshare companies try to evade the strict laws which now govern the sale of any timeshare product in Spain.

  • Have you purchased a timeshare in Spain or upgraded since 5 January 1999?
  • Is the contract over 50 years in duration?
  • Is it a floating weeks or points system?
  • Have you purchased fractional?
  • Did you purchase the Silverpoint “Investment Weeks”?
  • Are you a participant in the Silverpoint “Company Participation” scheme?
  • Have you paid any money within the cooling off period?

If you can say yes to any of these questions, then you may have the right to have your contract declared null and void, along with the return of at least your purchase price, double whatever paid within the cooling off period.

If you require any information on what your rights are and whether you do have a valid and viable claim, then use our contact page and we will point you in the right direction.

You should also bare in mind that these claims must go through a Spanish court using a genuine Spanish registered lawyer, your contract must also still be running. Once you have cancelled any ownership / membership, then you lose your right to file with the courts.

Remember, before you do anything, do your due diligence and check who you are dealing with, do not take at face value some of the claims many companies will make. If you require any help in determining the validity of any company that contacts you, that you find on the internet or through adverts in magazines or newspapers, then contact Inside Timeshare for the best advice possible.

Stay safe and do your homework.

Start the Week

Welcome to Start the Week and our countdown to the Christmas break, we begin this morning with news from the Spanish Courts.

This morning Inside Timeshare has received the following information regarding our old friends Silverpoint, this company is certainly taking a bashing in the courts, contrary to what some might have you believe.

The other breaking news is there has also been another ruling from the Supreme Court, making 130 in total against the timeshare industry, the company on the receiving end is Diamond Resorts.

On Thursday 13 December in the Court of First Instance No 5, Arona Tenerife, Silverpoint were once again found to be in breach of the Spanish Timeshare Laws 42/98 and 4/12, in respect of their product called “Company Participations”.

As we have reported on many occasions this scheme was designed to bypass the current timeshare legislation, instead of purchasing weeks in an apartment the unwary consumer is sold “participations” in apartments which are “registered” as companies. These companies are administered by Silverpoint and Excel Resorts, with the purchaser believing they are “investing” in a “company”. The terms of the contract are complex, with purchaser having no rights to know who the other participants (share holders) are, they also have no right to use the apartments they have purchased these in these “participations”, but are given weeks they may use in other apartments and resorts.

As with the old Silverpoint scheme of “investment weeks”, purchasers are promised a variety of incentives, these are in the form of “dividends” paid each year for the rental income of the “participations” they have purchased, unfortunately many are still waiting to receive them. They also then have the option after 3 years to “sell” their “participations”, but not on the open market, they can only be “sold” to other participants, but only through Silverpoint who will broker the sale.

In the latest sentence, the judge has clearly stated that these “Company Participations” contracts are a blatant disguise of a timeshare product.

The sentence also states and reiterates the ruling from the Supreme Court (STS16/2012 of 16 January) that these purchasers are indeed Consumers and not investors. (Page 2 of the sentence PDF below)

Silverpoint Sentence 13 Dec

The court declared the contract null and void and ordered Silverpoint to return the full purchase prices plus double the deposit paid, a sum of over 108,000€.

The courts have also place another 3 embargoes on Silverpoint accounts securing over 130,000€ for clients who have been awarded their money back.

The Supreme Court has issued their 130th ruling against the timeshare industry, the very first against Diamond Resorts!

The court has upheld previous rulings that the points system is illegal, along with the perpetuity contract which contravenes the maximum duration of 50 years as demanded by law.

Diamond Supreme Court 11 Dec

Although the amounts awarded are not substantial, this ruling now proves that even Diamond are not immune from being prosecuted under Spanish Law.

Both of these cases have been brought on behalf of clients by Canarian Legal Alliance, the leaders in the field of timeshare litigation.

In other news, it has been announced that the CEO of the American Resorts Development Association (ARDA), Howard Nusbaum is to retire in 2019. The board of directors has appointed a committee to search for a new CEO, the members will be working alongside a leading executive search company Spencer Stuart, who will be managing the process.

Whoever is appointed will certainly have a lot on their plate, the timeshare industry is in dire need of a thorough shake up, so let us hope that the new CEO will have the guts to make sure their members start to treat consumers in a better way than we are seeing at the moment.

So that’s it for today, if you require any information on any of the articles published, companies that have contacted you or would like to know where you stand in regards to your purchaes of any timeshare product, especially the “company participations” from Silverpoint, then use our contact page and we will get back to you.

Silverpoint: Company Participations is Timeshare

A few years ago Silverpoint changed their usual “investment” packs  into “The Company Participation Scheme”. This is where the clients are then sold “participations” (not shares), in “registered” companies. These are actually apartments that are registered as companies with names like “Palm Beach 112”, using the names of the resorts along with a number, (possibly the apartment).

Once again like the “investment” weeks the whole point is to dodge the strict timeshare laws, which at first Silverpoint were successful in doing so. They actually fooled the courts in the early days that the purchasers were not buying timeshare but were investing in property. Eventually the Supreme Court ruled that these clients were buying timeshare and were not investors, therefore they had the full protection of the timeshare laws.

Since that first ruling Silverpoint has been on the receiving end of many court cases, almost on a daily basis, with the court’s finding for the clients. This is costing Silverpoint hundreds of thousands of pounds.

In a new and unprecedented case these “Participations” have been shown to be what they are, timeshare by another name, or what we at Inside timeshare would call a “Pig in a Dress”.

Company Participations “Pig in a Dress”

It all revolves around a case brought by Canarian Legal Alliance on behalf of clients at the Juzgado De Primera Instancia No2 in Arona Tenerife, (Court of First Instance), on the 20 November 2018.

In this pre-trial hearing, which is usually a precursor to a full trial, something very extraordinary took place, before the Judge, Dña Lara Etelvina López Jiménez, Silverpoint and their legal team admitted that the “Company Participations” are indeed “TIMESHARE”!

This admission is going to have a very profound effect on all pending cases, it also opens the gates for many more “victims” to come forward and place claims against Silverpoint, not just to be reimbursed with their “INVESTMENT” but also have the contract declared null and void.

Judge Lara Etelvina López Jiménez decided on this admission that there was no need for a full trial to take place and closed the proceedings issuing her judgement and sentence within days of the case.

She ordered that the contract be declared null and void with the return to the client of 81,700€ including legal interest and fees. (Click on the PDF to see the court document).

Silverpoint_Company_Participation_Sentence_1_instance

The client was represented by the CLA Team of lawyer Miguel Ángel Méllian Santana and Procurador Buenaventura Alfonso Gonzalez.

Miguel Ángel Méllian Santana

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So what exactly is this “Company Participation”?

Well, it is a rather sophisticated scheme designed as we said to circumvent the timeshare laws, “Participants” purchase a number of participations in the companies, which are actually the apartments registered as companies. The idea is they will receive a “rental” income with a yearly dividend of about 4% of the income rental. They are also should be able after 3 years to “sell” their participations, the only thing as we have found out from one of our readers is that they can only be sold to other participants. One slight problem here, they don’t know who they are and have no way of finding out, but according to our readers information, Silverpoint will approach them with the sale!

Attached to these “participations” are also holiday weeks which the “investor” is able to use, which does put them into the realms of timeshare.

Now as far as the “dividends” are concerned, some have received them in the first couple of years of “investing”, but as we are increasingly finding out most are now way behind on receiving them for this year.

The reason is that Silverpoint and Excel Resorts, who are the managing company of the resorts themselves have had a very severe falling out, with Silverpoint losing all marketing rights. So when these “investors” enquire and complain that they have not received their dividends for this year, they are told by Excel that they are waiting for Silverpoint to pay them.

When the “investor” makes further complaints and threatens legal action, it appears that Excel pays them the dividend, the only thing is it is with the “investors” own money which they have paid for the “participations”. I don’t know about you, but to me this looks like the classic “Ponzi scheme”!

What is a Ponzi Scheme?

Here is a simple explanation.

A Ponzi scheme (/Ponzi/ also a Ponzi game) is a form of fraud which lures investors and pays profits to earlier investors by using funds obtained from more recent investors. Investors may be led to believe that the profits are coming from product sales, or other means, and remain unaware that other investors are the source of profits. A Ponzi scheme is able to maintain the illusion of a sustainable business as long as there continues to be new investors willing to contribute new funds and most of the investors do not demand full repayment and are willing to believe in the non-existent assets that they are purported to own. (It is also known as a Pyramid Scheme).

It is actually named after Charles Ponzi who became notorious for exploiting it in the 1920’s, it also has roots in literature, being used in two Charles Dickens novels Martin Chuzzlewit (1844) and Little Dorrit (1857).

In further developments it has also come to our attention that Diana Aitchison, Chief Operating officer for Mark Cushway at Silverpoint, has recently parted company with Silverpoint, she is apparently now in the reservations department of Excel Resorts and Hotels.

This does indeed acknowledges a huge split between the two companies, one problem which Excel will have with the move of Diana Aitchison, is the fact that she signed off many of these “participations” for Silverpoint. This along with the fact that Excel is listed as “Sole Administrator” for these “registered” companies indeed shows a legal link which will only help those future cases.

We will bring you further information as we get it, but for now this recent development is going to please many of those who “INVESTED” in this scheme.

Have you been a victim of this or a similar “timeshare” scheme?

Have you been a victim of Resort Properties / Silverpoint and want to know the way forward?

If so use our contact page and let us know, Inside Timeshare will explain what your options are and point you in the right direction. You have rights under Spanish law for redress, don’t lose out on your chance to regain your hard earned money and have the contracts declared null and void.

Silverpoint: The Story Moves On

Silverpoint formerly Resort Properties and now also known as Signallia Marketing Distribution SL is no stranger to these pages, or to many of those readers who have in the past purchased timeshares from them.

Many of these purchasers have also been taken in with the promise of “investment packs”, these are packs of weeks and apartments which were sold with the promise of a substantial return after two years. This return was supposed to have happened with the resale of those weeks, but these never happened, leaving many with huge maintenance fees and even bigger Barclays Partner Finance loans.

The story was always the same, the weeks and apartments that the clients purchased could not be sold as they were not sought after, in order to secure the initial “investment” the clients needed to “upgrade” to better quality apartments which were being sought. This “upgrade” would also be financed with a BPF loan arranged by firstly Resort Properties and then Silverpoint.

At the helm of this enterprise was the Chief Executive Officer Mark Cushway, who is still at the helm, although they insist they no longer sell “timeshare”.

Mark Cushway

A few years ago these “investment” packs were changed to “The Company Participation Scheme”. This is where the clients are then sold “participations” (not shares), in “registered” companies. These are actually apartments that are registered as companies with names like Palm Beach 112, using the names of the resorts along with a number, (possibly the apartment).

Once again like the “investment” weeks the whole point is to dodge the strict timeshare laws, which at first Silverpoint were successful in doing so. They actually fooled the courts in the early days that the purchasers were not buying timeshare but were investing in property. Eventually the Supreme Court ruled that these clients were buying timeshare and were not investors, therefore they had the full protection of the timeshare laws.

Since that first ruling Silverpoint has been on the receiving end of many court cases, almost on a daily basis, with the court’s finding for the clients. This is costing Silverpoint hundreds of thousands of pounds, in the past few weeks alone the courts have ordered they repay around half a million pounds.

One of the continuing themes from our readers emails is how has Cushway got away with this timeshare “scam” for so long?

The simple answer is, he has others in the front line doing his bidding, according to his profiles on the internet, he paints a picture of total respectability.

In Tenerife another associate of Mark Cushway being linked to Silverpoint & Signallia Marketing is called Lee Burton.

Lee Burton

Apparently he is well known in timeshare circles, mainly as a bit of a henchman. He is closely associated with Mark Cushway, as well as others in the industry.

Inside Timeshare has also been informed that this individual is also under investigation for lying to the court under oath, which is known as perjury. A Criminal Denuncia (official police complaint) has also been filed against him on this very matter. He is a person of significant interest to the Guardia Civil, this is a police force that you do not want to get on the wrong side of.

It is believed from our sources that his role is ensure the smooth running of the operation and dealing with any “problems”. Judging by his reputation, a role he is well suited for.

As we were getting this article ready for publication, Inside Timeshare received an email from a very concerned daughter whose 91 year old Mother has these “Company Paticipations”.

It tuns out that she wanted to hand back her membership with Palm Beach Club several years ago, she did not expect any payment, just to hand it back and be free of the burden of the maintenance fees. Well it didn’t quite work out like that. She was told that the only way was to “invest” nearly £30,000 (at the age of 85) in the “Company Participation Scheme”.

It now turns out that she is unable to get back her “investment” as promised, the only way is to sell her “participations” to another holder, this was the advice given by Diana Aitchison one of the senior managers at Silverpoint.   All well and good, the only problem is she is unable to find out who the other “participants” are.

The other question is did an 85 year old lady actually understand what she was getting into, according to Diana she does not think so, somehow we think not as well. So if Diana Aitchison was aware of this why did she not do something about it?

Diana Aitchison is a former Director of Resort Services at RCI (Resorts Condominiums International) and was appointed as Chief Operating Officer at Silverpoint by Mark Cushway in May 2013.

Diana Aitchison

She is now trapped in this scheme and is obviously getting very worried that she has now lost all her money. It would appear from this and other emails Inside Timeshare has received on this subject, that it is the elderly that are being targeted. All are retired, all are being coerced into this scheme and to finance it by going for equity release. Is this they way to conduct business? Inside Timeshare thinks not!

If you have been “sold an Investment” in this scheme, or have had any dealings with Silverpoint and want to know where you stand legally, then get in touch with Inside Timeshare. We will be able to point you in the right direction to get the best advice possible.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to our Friday’s Letter from America, this week Wayne Robinson explains why it is often very difficult to cancel after purchasing a timeshare, but first a quick look at Europe.

Earlier this week it came to our attention that one of the largest tour operators TUI had been advertising weeks at Anfi Emerald for 1000€ p.p.p week, this was for a 1 bed deluxe apartment and included flights, transfers and breakfast. Now when we consider that members have paid thousands for their floating weeks along with the annual maintenance fees, yet we constantly hear from them that there is no availability, it makes you wonder what is going on?

This is not just a problem with Anfi, we have heard from many timeshare members that they are constantly having trouble booking, yet they see their own resorts being advertised on the various booking websites. Is it fair that these people pay thousands for what they are told is exclusive to members and find they can in many cases book cheaper than their maintenance fees, without having to pay the initial purchase extortionate price.

In another twist, mindtimeshare which formerly under the now discredited Alberto Garcia, was funded by the RDO (Resorts Development Organisation), has just published what can only be described as a rebuke of their former paymasters.

It revolves around the liquidation of Enduria Travel, also known as the Travel Shop and was based in Gran Canaria, they were also affiliate members of the RDO. In their article, mindtimeshare explained that they actually expressed concerns to the RDO about this company, but the RDO still accepted their membership. All we can say is how things have changed.

Today is what everyone is calling Black Friday, but at the start of the week it was for Anfi BLACK MONDAY!

Canarian Legal Alliance received on that day alone 12, yes 12 sentences against Anfi in favour of their clients, with over 900,000€ awarded, plus all contracts were declared null and void. They also received another sentence from the High Court in Tenerife against Silverpoint. In all this year CLA have secured over 11 million euros in awarded claims.

Now for this weeks article.

5 Strategies Timeshare Resorts Use To Prevent Cancellations

By Wayne Robinson

Black Friday November 23, 2018

Today is Black Friday in America, celebrated by standing in long lines at shopping malls to be followed by Cyber Monday, when stay at home shoppers shop the internet. I hope you will add my book Everything About Timeshares: Before, During and After the Sale onto your Cyber Monday shopping list.

Available through Barnes and Noble:

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/everything-about-timeshares-wayne-c-robinson/1129749757?ean=2940161600962

Many timeshare buyers do not even think about the contract they signed until after the rescission period has passed. Given that buyers are often not allowed onto the booking site until after the rescission period, the product the consumer bought is for the most part bought sight unseen and untried. Anything we can do shed light on these important rescission days could save the timeshare buyer untold grief and money, should they come to regret their purchase.

The Rescission Period     

The rescission period is the time allotted by local governments for consumers to review their purchase and legally cancel their timeshare. The length of time varies by state, but is typically three to ten days. In Aruba, and in some American states, there is no rescission period.

If the timeshare buyer cancels their purchase during the rescission period, the government requires timeshare companies to give purchasers a full refund of any monies they have received. There is nothing more frustrating for a sales team than to spend 6-8 hours making a sale that later cancels. Sales agents and their managers will do everything they can to prevent new owners from cancelling their timeshare purchase during the rescission period.

Here are 5 strategies that many timeshare resorts use to prevent new timeshare owners from cancelling during the rescission period.

  1.      Sales agents will avoid the rescission clause that is included in the documents.

Although the rescission clause is clearly written in the documents, many timeshare agents or Legal Verification Officers (VLO) will avoid mentioning this very important item. Many reps will discuss other matters to avoid the clause that outlines the rescission.

The resort’s management will not allow sales reps to mention the rescission period during the sale presentation.  Mentioning it could lead to disciplinary action or being fired.

This is how many timeshare sales reps avoid having their sales cancelled.

Most timeshare buyers will not review the paperwork during the rescission period. After a 6-8 hour grueling sales presentation, the last thing the new owner wants to do is review all the legal jargon included in the documents.  If the rescission period is not mentioned by the staff, too often the buyer is not even aware of it. In some states trial products have no rescission period.

Each state rescission period is listed in this chart provided by ARDA, the American Resort Development Association.  There have been more than a few complaints from timeshare members who were denied release, despite being only a half day late. Instructions on how to rescind are buried deep within the contract, and sometimes instructions are vague.

http://arda.org/uploadedFiles/ARDA/Government_Affairs/Government_Affairs_Call_Out_Boxes/RescissionPeriodsDec2012.pdf

  1.      They will follow-up to overcome Buyer’s Remorse
Photo by Samantha Hurley by Burst

It is important for the timeshare sales staff to keep in touch with their new clients shortly after the sale to prevent them from cancelling.  Most clients will have buyer’s remorse and reconsider their purchase after the buyer has taken the time to think about their purchase, research the company that they just spent $21,000 on (on average), to ensure that they did the right thing. For this reason, sales reps need to be available just in case the client wants to cancel. After all, it might have been a very expensive and unexpected purchase that was sold on emotion

According to a Redweek article, Dr. Amy Gregory, assistant professor at the University of Florida has been studying the impact of buyer regret and remorse and rescission decisions. She says that most timeshare buyers regret their decisions.

A whopping 85 percent of all buyers regret their purchase (for money, fear, confusion, intimidation, distrust and other reasons).”

Dr. Gregory’s findings are as follows:

  • The average rescission rate is 15% – essentially identical to the daily average percentage of people who buy a timeshare following a sales presentation.
  • 85% of all buyers regret their purchase, citing reasons including money, fear, confusion, intimidation, and distrust.
  • 41% of buyers never thought they would regret their purchase but ended up doing so; 30% were neutral prior to buying, but came to regret their decision.
  • 95% of all buyers go back to their resort and sales team for more information after the sale, usually within one to three days, seeking more information about maintenance fees, resale options, and pricing alternatives.

Some sales reps will treat their new owners out for a nice dinner to help “bond the relationship.”  This tactic works well as the new owners are getting to know the sales agent on a personal basis rather than as a sales person.  After all, the salesperson used their own money and time to take the new owners out for dinner. Why would they consider canceling with “their new friend?”

  1.      They will follow-up by phone.

If the new timeshare owners are on vacation some resorts will require the sale staff that made the sale to meet with the new clients the next day, or call them within 24 hours. This is to overcome buyer’s remorse, and to answer any questions or provide clarifications.  Often, the new owners forget the verbiage made during the presentation.

  1.      The resort may reduce the sales price.

If the new timeshare owners decide that they want to cancel, the resort can offer to reduce the price. Often this “second round” rendezvous could require another 2-3 hours of negotiations. Many take the bait and purchase at the lower price, or some keep the original agreement.  Unfortunately, the timeshare company may not change the original rescission period, and the new owners now have less time to reconsider their purchase.

Consumers need to be aware that the “today only” price will always be available the next day, week, month or maybe even years later.

  1.      The resort may offer more gifts.

If the resort offered gifts, there are hundreds or thousands of additional monies that was left on the table because the sale did not exceed their “bottom line” price.

If the new owners want to cancel, the management can offer more gifts to “sweeten the deal.”  These free gifts might include free accommodations, free meals, free activities, free or discounted RCI weeks or other options.

New owners must be aware of the new terms that might have entered the contract.  These terms could include paying rack rates for the free accommodations or paying the highest advertised prices for any gifts just in case they decide to cancel the deal. This action could add into the thousands of dollars if they decide to cancel.

Timeshare resorts will use every strategy that they can, including embarrassment and condescendence to keep the sale, but it’s the consumer’s final decision to end the relationship or move forward. Therefore, it is imperative to read all the documents thoroughly before signing, or present it to an attorney during the rescission period.

Wayne C. Robinson is the author of Everything About Timeshares:  Before, During and After The Sale. He is a former timeshare executive who is advocating with consumers to assist them their timeshares problems, and to help consumers better understand the timeshare business from an “insider’s” perspective.

For more information, visit his website at www.everythingabouttimeshares.com

Related article: About Wayne Robinson

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-21/

Self-help groups we feel are not industry influenced:

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

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

Thank you Wayne for your contribution this week, it is certainly an eye opener.

If you have any questions or comments about this or any other article, then Inside Timeshare would love to hear from you. We hope that you have a great weekend and join us again next week.

News from the Courts

Inside Timeshare has received the following information from Canarian Legal Alliance, going by this news they are certainly having a very busy time.

By the end of last week, 9 November they had 31 pre-trials or full trial in the Spanish Courts, these were on mainland Spain and the Canary Islands. They also filed 44 new cases with the courts, so the judges are going to be busy for a long time yet.

They also last week received sentences in for the following:

  • 4 against Anfi Del Mar at the Courts of First Instance
  • 1 at the High Court, again against Anfi Del Mar
  • 1 against Silverpoint in Tenerife

In total they recouped over 206,000€ for their clients plus all the contracts were declared null and void, leaving the clients timeshare free.

Court of First Instance, Maspalomas

It is also becoming more common for the judges at the courts in Gran Canaria of not sending the the cases to a full trial, but issuing their sentences after the pre-trial. It was also announced that one judge in Tenerife has also followed suit and will not be sending the case for a full trial, but will issue his judgement in due course. This is obviously speeding up the process and is good news for the clients.

This week has also started on a good note with judgements issued on the following dates:

12 November

In the Court of First Instance in Maspalomas there were two against Anfi, again no trial but issued after the preliminary hearings, the first was issued 1 month after and the second was issued in just 7 days. The clients are to receive over 112,000€ and 31,000€ respectively.

In the High Court in Tenerife, Silverpoint were on the receiving end with the order to return over 15,000€ to the client and the contract being declared null and void.

On 13 November, again after a pre-trial the judge ordered the return of over 23,000€ and a German client will receive back over 103,000€, both Anfi contracts have also been declared null and void.

Anfi once again have been on the receiving end of 2 more judgements at the Courts of First Instance in Maspalomas, the infringements of the timeshare laws were perpetuity and floating weeks. The first client has been awarded 0ver 53,000€ plus legal interest. In the second this client has been awarded over 45,000€ which includes double the deposit paid, plus legal fees and interest.

Another timeshare company was also ordered to repay over 36,000€ plus legal interest for a perpetuity contract. This contract with Puerto Calma was also declared null and void.

So there are some very happy ex-timeshare owners, who will be celebrating this week.

Canarian Legal Alliance also announced this week they have broken another record, they have received their 300th sentence against various timeshare companies so far this year, with still just under two months left to go. This is double the number they achieved last year and equates to more than 1 a day. The total amount awarded in these sentences is a staggering 10.8 Million Euros.

This is just for timeshares sold in Spain that have infringed the now strict timeshare laws, for clients of timeshares purchased elsewhere in the world there is another branch to CLA, this company is called CLA International FZE and their head office is located at:

The Fairmont Dubai, Office 508, Sheik Zayed Road, Dubai, U.A.E.

+9714 311-6657

FAX:+971 4332 8810

[email protected]

https://clainternational.ae/

With branches spread around the world and a network of International Lawyers who specialise in timeshare litigation, they are opening the doors to many more timeshare owners who are in need of specialist help. Obviously with the success of the Spanish lawyers it will not be long before we start to see this spread to success in other parts of the world.

Friday’s Letter from America

Today Timeshare Advocacy Group Secret Shopper Coordinator Pete Gibbes describes a remarkable Diamond sales presentation. Inside Timeshare is always ready to publish a good report. Pete has not yet heard back from the sales agents and managers who said they would look into the complaint that prompted Pete to become more involved with advocacy efforts. Inside Timeshare will follow along and report in as soon as Pete hears back.

On 17 October Inside Timeshare published an article warning about another new “fake” law firm in Tenerife called,  ADN Alberto Dlendro Nabalez, Litigacionespaña SL, we have now had another reader send us information on the contact they have had with them. It seems that the Director of their timeshare resort The Harbour Club at Los Gigantes, Tenerife, has been charged with fraud. ADN have told our reader that many owners are getting together to cancel their membership, ADN would do this for them for 20% when the claim goes through.

Our reader then received another call informing them that a date has been set for a hearing on 20 November at 12.20pm. All they need to do is pay the “fake procurator” as soon as possible and they would be part of the case. This is very speedy indeed, but as we have said before this is all a FRAUD, there is no case, the director has not been charged with fraud and no trial date has been set. If you have had a similar call to this regardless of who you own with, then contact Inside Timeshare, your information is invaluable in helping others steer clear of this outfit.

http://insidetimeshare.com/consumer-warning-a-new-fake-law-firm-in-tenerife-part-of-the-litigious-abogados-family/

It has been a very busy week for the courts all over Spain, on Wednesday 7 November there were 15 cases being heard in various courts against a variety of timeshare companies and resorts.

In Tenerife another High Court has affirmed a First Court sentence and declared a Silverpoint contract null and void, with the return of their initial payments and double the deposit paid.

Continuing with Anfi, after yesterday’s article, it was announce that a further two sentences have been received from the Court of First Instance No 1 in Maspalomas, both contracts have been declared null and void with the return to both the clients of over 43,933€ and 47,582€ respectively.

Court Sentences PDF’s

Anfi Sentence a

Anfi Sentence b

Now for this weeks Letter from America.

Our Diamond Resorts Experience

A Not So Secret Shopper Reports

By Pete Gibbes, Timeshare Advocacy Group™ Secret Shopper Coordinator

November 9, 2018

We stayed at Diamond’s Los Abrigados Resort in Sedona Arizona October of this year. I was treated like royalty during a member update and sales presentation, neither of which would have lasted 15 minutes unless I had more concerns. Our sales promotion presenter, who said he had been with Diamond Resorts for 27 years, said that if we would like to buy more points we could talk about it. If not, was there anything else we wanted to ask? I asked if I was in an alternate universe.

They maintained that the company no longer employs hard sell because they found it to be counterproductive.

The internet is flooded with complaints that begin with, “The sales agent said….” only to be dismissed with, “You signed a contract” or, as we were told in 2016, “We are not responsible for what our sales agents say.” In my opinion, any company which does not take responsibility for their salesperson’s words and actions is implicitly incentivizing them to misrepresent the product in order to elicit a sale. When the sales agent is allowed to keep his or her commission, time after time, undisciplined or not terminated, that company is rewarding unfair and deceptive business practices.

To avoid being fleeced, I advise – don’t believe a word a timeshare sales agent says. “You signed a contract” is a fair response for simple buyer’s remorse.  If companies refuse to reverse transactions when allegations of misrepresentations are detailed and credible, sales will ultimately be affected.

I hope our experience at Los Abrigados is representative of future updates to come.   We received “Priority Check-in”, i.e., whisked to their VIP accelerated check-in which, according to the Diamond Resort’s website, is reserved for ‘Gold‘ and ‘Platinum’ loyalty owners, but I’m just a ‘lil old Silver member’.

During the update I was asked to document my previous purchase elicited, I believe, by deception. They actually wanted me to put it all down in writing because they wanted to directly bring my case to Diamond. They said to specifically use the word ‘misrepresentation’, because that has been the term which phony sales presentations have been scrutinized over. They also said to be sure to put that I was pursuing legal remedies, because Diamond took that seriously.

Two or three higher level people at the update were shocked and dismayed about how we had been treated in 2016. A senior manager appeared and commiserated with us. He sweetened the vouchers. They maintained that several years ago the abusive sales practices were addressed and things changed for the better. They were glad that I had let them know how I had been so shabbily treated before. They wanted to go to bat for me. (My account of what happened in 2016 follows this Secret Shopper report.)

At the sales presentation we were told that we could use our Diamond points to pay for nights at ANY 3 star rated hotel. I’d be reimbursed for 300 (or 400?) points per night. Now that’s not a bad deal, at least for many Diamond stays. At 400 points per night for 7 nights you’d be paying 2800 points for a very nice lodging, and it would be wherever you wanted to go, whether there was a Diamond resort available or not. I had not heard of such a benefit. This time around I will confirm if this is true. I have this sales agent’s contact information. He said to call him anytime about anything.

Also, there are supposed to be now 39 different ways for you to spend points, although he said points for flight miles wasn’t a very good use of points at $.07 to $.10 per point. It would take about $2,000 in maintenance dollars to book one domestic airline ticket. Typically, the best of use of points for any timeshare member is to use the points to stay at the resort’s properties. There are 39 different ways to use points? That may be a whopper.

I would like for someone familiar with alternative uses of points to refer me to where all these uses are detailed so we can calculate the actual value. I don’t see them listed on the Diamond website. Members need to do their timeshare math, as using the Barclaycard to pay maintenance fees is only at 1% per purchase, so it would take $200,000 charged in a year to pay a $2,000 maintenance fee bill. When members are told, “You can pay maintenance fees by charging purchases to a Barclaycard”, do the math to determine the actual value of this strategy.  

We were given all kinds of extra vouchers and discounts to attractions because I had had such a poor experience with the company. The concierge seemed amazed at the generosity of our discount/voucher amounts. He said he had never seen anything like it. Thought somebody must have made a mistake. This may have been a bit of luck, but our unit had what surely must have been the best view of the red rocks as anyone there.

The entire experience was far friendlier than I have ever experienced at a Diamond Resorts property. It was bizarre. Could they have been apprised that I am TAG’s Secret Shopper Coordinator? Or does Los Abrigados just happen to be a resort where members are treated particularly well? If my dispute over our 2016 purchase gets resolved, I will credit the sales team at Los Abrigados. I certainly would praise this particular resort, if my experience is typical, which I don’t know. I thought you would find my experience of interest. Maybe someone can even explain it to me.

All in all, I felt like Donald Trump must feel like when he stays at one of his properties. I do have to say that if the people I dealt with were ‘acting‘, they should be up for some awards, because even my highly tuned BS detector never flashed any warnings. Unfortunately it never did two years ago either. Proof is in the pudding, as they say.

It may be advisable to make all the people on our advocacy site Co-coordinator Secret Shoppers.

Here’s what happened to us at a Hyatt presentation in Charlottesville 11/18/2016.

My goal here goes well beyond getting this transaction reversed. I am hoping all those who feel that they experienced unfair and deceptive sales practices will come forward and file regulatory complaints and warn prospective buyers to be EXTREMELY skeptical of anything a timeshare sales agent says. This is not fair to those selling the product honestly, but the liars are so good, it is impossible to tell the difference.

We originally purchased 11,500 points in 2007 at Lake Tahoe Vacation Resort. We were not unhappy with Diamond until the 2016 Virginia purchase.

We learned about six months after our purchase that a Diamond “buy-back” program described in great detail by our sales agent does not exist. The buy-back program was the only reason we purchased the additional 4000 points for $15,500.

We attended the member update only because we wanted to get out from under the Diamond points we had already purchased. It was then DRI sales agent Mark W offered us a “great new deal” whereby DRI members who bought enough points to become Silver loyalty members could sell back ALL Diamond points.

After multiple “no” responses to other reasons to buy additional points, Mark W brought up the non-existent program that was of great interest to us. He said that if we became Silver members, after three years, we would have the option to sell all our points back to Diamond for $108,000. He said Gold loyalty members would be able to sell points back in two years. He put this in writing (which I have), by writing down $108,000. He also wrote 2Y=G and 3Y=S.

I was extremely skeptical because I had never heard of a timeshare buying back points. However, after he repeated this ‘new deal’ about five times, we finally decided he must be telling the truth. We signed.

When we ultimately learned there was no buy-back program we repeatedly asked Diamond to cancel the contract. Diamond’s response inevitably was, “It doesn’t matter what the salesman said,” or even wrote down apparently. They said that we had signed the contract.

My oral and written requests to get our contract cancelled began around June 2017. When you buy additional points, obviously you are not thinking about selling. It is only until you inquire about selling you learn you were duped.

I am encouraged by the Sedona Diamond representatives and their willingness to look into our complaint. There is a lot more detail to our complaint, but no sense rehashing it here since the entire experience is well documented. I look forward to hearing what my new friends at Los Abrigados find out.   

Advocacy Facebook offer support groups for those who have had bad timeshare experiences like ours. Our Facebook has over 2,000 members.

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

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


Contact us at Inside Timeshare or one of our Advocacy Groups if you or someone you know needs timeshare help.

Don’t forget the book by Wayne C Robinson, Everything About Timeshares, Before, During and After the Sale, with the forward by Irene Parker, you can obtain your copy from the link below.

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/everything-about-timeshares-wayne-c-robinson/1129749757?ean=2940161600962

So that is all for this week, join us again next week for more news and views on the world of timeshare, have a great weekend.